I was lucky enough to be invited to participate in the Edinburgh International Book Festival in August this year. And was even luckier to be accepted onto the outreach programme.

I went up to Edinburgh with my almost-13 year old son and we had fun! Edinburgh is a wonderful city and in festival season it becomes a celebration of   music, dance, drama, books. We were mesmerised by Ben Okri, astounded by Michelle Paver, thrilled by Mother Africa, delighted by Debbie Galiori and..and..and..

As part of the outreach programme I gave a reading at the Sick Kid's Hospital in Edinburgh. There I got to meet a very special little boy. After telling stories in a playroom attached to a ward of rosy cheeked children I was asked if I would go and tell a story to somebody waiting on another ward. There I was introduced to a child too sick to sit up. The nurses asked me to be very careful when approaching his bed not to touch any of the many tubes and drains going in and out of his body. He told me with his fingers that he was four. I read him a story about Anna Hibiscus. And told him a story about why Tortoise made a magic drum. When I had finished (and was ready to go) he very carefully held up a book that had been tucked down the side of his pillow. It was Thomas the Tank Engine! Immediately I guessed that he had probably had been waiting and hoping for me to read that very book all along! So I did. I read Thomas the Tank Engine in the Sick Kid's Hospital in Edinburgh. I think I had been waiting for that moment all along too because it was the most special reading of my life!



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