Anthony McGowan Visits the Library

Monday 11 June 2012

As part of Reading Week, the library invited the award-winning author Anthony McGowan to come and talk to three KS3 classes about his books. Having started out as a novelist for adults, McGowan found fame with novels aimed at teenagers, in particular The Knife That Killed Me, winner of the Booktrust Teenage Prize, which he announced was in the process of being made into a film. He read an extract from the book which totally gripped his audience with its realistic portrayal of gang violence.

The main focus of his talk, however, was on his latest series of books aimed at 10 to 13 year olds, based on the life of a schoolboy called Dermot Milligan and his addiction to donuts. The first book in the series, called The Donut Diaries, has been chosen for the Southwark Book Award.  Mrs Toworfe’s English class, 7C1, along with a class of year 6 from Townsend Primary School, are reading all six books short-listed for the award and The Donut Diaries is a favourite to win. When the votes from all the participating Southwark schools have been counted, the winning book will be announced on 2 July. Children who enjoy The Diary of A Wimpy Kid will love these stories of a boy’s first experience of secondary school and will relate to the familiar difficulties Dermot has of trying to fit in and make friends.  The second book, Revenge is Sweet, has just been published, and a third, Escape from Camp Fatso, will be published soon. 

McGowan turned out to be a hugely entertaining speaker, totally unabashed about pretending to be a chimpanzee in order to recreate a hilarious scene when Dermot has an unfortunate encounter in the ape house at the zoo.  The loud hoots attracted the attention of a surprised group of the sixth formers trying to study in peace next door!  As a climax, McGowan (having checked with the teachers that they were happy to allow this beforehand) asked for two volunteers to eat a whole banana in one go, skin and all. What with the mimicking of chimps and the students egging on their friends the library has never been so noisy! Afterwards there was time for the children to buy discount copies of his books, signed and dedicated by the author.  Anthony McGowan made a deep impression and it is certain that neither the children or the librarians and teachers will forget the visit for a long time.  It is hoped the author will return as a guest to the Southwark Book Award party to be held in the library for year 6 from Townsend Primary School and 7C1 English class to help celebrate the Southwark Book Award winner.