Diary Entry: Wednesday 11th January 2017 – First adventure of the author-mobile: West Felton Primary School and Booka bookshop

First outing this year for the author-mobile (my car, of course!). Drove to Shropshire today to visit West Felton C of E Primary School. (Beth from West Felton sent in a fantastic drawing, which you can find at the moment on ‘The Monster Draw’ page, for a competition to win an author visit for her school – go, Beth!)

Feeling rather conventional being off-boat and driving something other than a VW Beetle that is only being held together by rust, having now invested in author-mobile. It’s so hi-tech! It even has the magic little lines that heat up on the back window so you can see out the back! (Not used to this in Beetle which I could not see out the back of during the whole of winter. Nor on the boat, which, well, didn’t have a back window.) The CD player can hold six CDs! Six. Consensus was that this was overkill but I now see it as a necessity.

Enough of author-mobile rambles but must say got me to West Felton feeling very upbeat. I practically skipped into the school where I was met with LOTS OF EXCITED PEOPLE, HOLDING LOTS OF EXCITING DRAWINGS. I was so pleased that I told them that I immediately needed to use the toilet, which I did, and when I returned, there was EVEN MORE EXCITEMENT as I could hear some lovely people say, “Polly Ho-Yen just used our toilet!” They were excited I was there, and so was I!

Here is one of the drawings that I managed to take a photo of (I got over-excited after this and forgot to take photos of the others.) (Oh, by the way, the inspiration for this charming illustration was just my second book ‘Where Monsters Lie’, don’t you know??)


I waffled on for a little bit too long in assembly but we got talking about breakfasts you see and they were such a friendly lot. I mentioned in a very casual way that I did not like soggy broccoli in school dinners – remember this for later (and remember how casually I mentioned I casually mentioned it.)

Next, a lot of signing but I’d forgotten my sharpies – #authorfail! – but fortunately a very nice chap called Sam came to my rescue and let me borrow his whole pencil case of the things. (See what I mean about them being a friendly lot?)

After writing the wrong name in a dedication only once – #authorwin (for me) – I saw Beth’s class for a writing workshop which went by in a super flash, the way that time goes when you are really enjoying yourself and are surrounded by buzzy ideas and heaps of enthusiasm and friendly faces.

It was dinner time next and I tried to show brave face when I saw a pile of stinking soggy broccoli on my tray. Some of the children told me ‘it’s’not bad, really’ but I think they were having a laugh because  it was even worse than I remembered. As I masticated a piece as briefly as possible before swallowing, I remember thinking that it would actually be quite hard to recreate this flavour at home. You’d have to cook it for a good fifteen minutes and then leave it sit for perhaps another forty-five. I’m so sorry wonderful dinner-people of West Felton because everything else was smashing. Made my table chuckle though!

After I left the school, I decided to go and visit ‘Booka’ the brilliant independent bookshop in Owestry that had provided books for the day. I couldn’t have been more pleased about this decision because Booka is a bookshop of dreams, I cannot recommend a visit highly enough. I had a browse and a buy and even a little cup of tea with the owner Carrie and Peter, who’d sold the books at school. #authorjoy


It was quite hard to leave. I very much wanted to crawl into a corner and make a little book den around myself and live there forever. But though Carrie was very friendly I thought this might be taking it a bit too far and so reluctantly shuffled back to the author-mobile and drove back to Bristol, feeling very tired but very happy.




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