Please note that the cover image leads to a universal Amazon buy link for the book.
Also Will You Be My Friend? is in bookshops now or pick up your copy online here!
I was flicking through my sister’s extensive book collection (library!) a few months ago and came across a book of children’s poems. As I read, I made the ‘oh!’ sound at one or two (generally about grandparents!) and chortled at others (I particularly loved one about fussy eaters-turned out the fussy eater of the family loved it too!), and began to read some of them to my eldest, who is nine. He laughed and asked could he see it, whereby the others began to clamour to get to it (we finally settled it by getting the eldest to read). Now my kids are not bookworms by any means, and I can’t tell you how excited I got. They were fighting over a book! Not Lego, nor the xBox controller, but a real life, honest to goodness book! So I turned to my sister. That’s a great book, I said, did you get it in Easons? I expected her to tell me she’d got it somewhere random, some time ago and it was out of print and there was no way of me finding it anywhere. Instead she looked at me strangely and said ‘Was I talking about this? Because Gabriel wrote it! And he’s the bookshop tomorrow launching their new kids corner. I’m sure he’d sign one for you!
Now as an aside, isn’t life weird? That he should be signing THAT weekend? And that he was actually a relative? Anyhoo, moving along! We all landed at the bookshop the following morning, her four (aged 9 to 16) and my four (aged 2 to 9), filing into a gorgeous little bookshop that was swarming with children. They decided to take group photos with just the kids and that’s when things got interesting. I could see my six year old in the background bouncing along and was too far away to get to him. He was pulling faces and jumping all over the place among kids that were beaming with twinkly eyes, fully photo ready (my kids were not.)
Anyhoo, when they finished I ran up to Gabriel with two of them, with a four year old who was trying to make a run for it. Holding him squirming and fidgeting, I stuck a hand out to Gabriel. ‘Your book is amazing,’ I gushed. ‘I adore it, and the kids were reading it and laughing over it all morning. And some of the poems were so sad. They were just amazing!’ (Seemingly I only had this particular word in my box of tricks, I hoped silently he didn’t know I was a writer.) ‘I have a blog and I’d love to put a picture up of you and the book and the kiddies.’
Gabriel smiled, as he is beyond a smiley man. He beamed, actually and thanked me and said of course as I thrust about six books at him and asked him to sign for family and friends. In the meantime I had two trying to get away and he was trying not to look concerned as I continuously hauled them back, with them gnashing and griping (they’re not always like that!).
‘They’re having a great day,’ I gushed, ‘I can’t believe we’re here when you’re here.’
He nodded. ‘You’re staying in Coolahan’s aren’t you?’ He asked. ‘Do you know I’m related to Joe?’
‘So am I!’ I said (stupid brain had nothing more as I turned away, with what was probably a terrifying smile, again trying to keep one of the little fiends from escaping).
I’d love to say there’s a picture. We took about ten, but in one of them it looked like two were trying to escape, two more had grumpy kids in them, one looked like my nine year old was bullying the other, the other looked like his cousin had threatened him. None went with the ‘we are having a great morning here in X’s bookshop theme I was going for! Saying that we had an amazing morning I won’t forget, and came back with some stash (including our first David Walliams books, which have since been digested) and of course this, a book of poetry, signed, that has been read and re-read and re-read by all it was gifted to (my best friend has told me her little girl carries it about with her a lot!).
The reason I’m telling you this now is that it’s coming up to Christmas, and if you know kids that are ‘non readers,’ and would never have considered getting them a book, then this book is for you. If you have readers, this book is also for you. Ridunculously highly recommended.