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Celebration for Sydney

Last night, for the first time in two whole years, I went to an evening book event in real life! Walker Books were having a small party to belatedly celebrate Sydney Smith‘s CILIP Kate Greenaway medal win for Small In The City in June. To win the Greenaway medal once is a big deal. To win it twice is extraordinary but that’s exactly what Sydney has achieved, having first won it for his beautiful illustration work in Town Is By The Sea (written by Joanne Schwartz) in 2017.

Footpath Flowers has been one of my go-to wordless picture books for a long time and, like many others, I was captivated by how Sydney conveys light and emotion in Town Is By The Sea and I Talk Like A River. And Small In The City is just a beautiful, touching masterclass in playing with expectations. So I was very excited to have the opportunity to attend the Walker event on behalf of FCBG.

It felt very weird to be travelling into London for an event at last! Just like the olden days! I was a bit nervous as I didn’t know anyone but I needn’t have worried! Get 40 plus bookish people who’ve been limited to zoom calls for two years in a room together and you can guarantee good company. I had hoped to film something for Picture Book Club but it proved too dimly lit for my ancient camera. There was wine, book chat, a lovely speech from Lizzie Sitton, Senior Commissioning Editor at Walker Books, a gracious response from Sydney Smith himself and much signing of books.

It was lovely to be ‘out out’ among the bookish again. It felt extra special because of the hiatus. It was a privilege to be there and I hope I never take such things for granted in future.