8 June 2022
We were delighted to welcome author Julian Sedgwick to school on Tuesday 7th June 2022. The author’s latest book Tsunami Girl is in the Carnegie shortlist 2022, on the 2022 Read for Empathy list and the UKLA book award shortlist 2022.
Julian came into school to lead a writing workshop and to talk to all of our pupils in year 9. It was fascinating to learn about his aspirations growing up, as he asked pupils what they aspired to be when they are older. He talked about his life and overcoming problems, such as bullying, and the books he read and that inspired him as a child. When he was just seven years old he wanted to become a writer, so it was surprising to learn that his first book was only published 40 years later. Since then he has published six books for children.
He took our pupils to Japan, to a school in a small town by the sea, describing how it felt for the children in the school the day the Great Tohoku earthquake hit and subsequently a tsunami, on 11th March 2011 and how they were saved. The tsunami caused the meltdown of three nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, Julian talked about the effect this had on the surrounding area, how people could not return to their homes and how that would have felt.
Julian’s talk, though, like his book, was centred on hope. Julian has been immersed in Japanese culture, history and belief throughout his life. As part of his research for the book he visited the ghost town where the radiation was too high to return and also met the brave people who had slowly started returning. He talked to many survivors, their strong message of hope, along with their resilience and stories of recovery are reflected in the fictional characters of Tsunami Girl. The story is a coming-of-age novel set against the unfolding disaster, in creating the book Julian has collaborated with Manga artist Chie Kutsuwada, so the novel is part-prose, part-Manga. To finish off, Julian read an extract from Tsunami Girl as we watched Chie’s illustrations come to life. Afterwards, Julian answered questions from pupils and staff. He awarded a signed copy of his novel to a pupil who asked a thoughtful question that the author had never been asked before.
Thank you to author Julian Sedgwick for coming to school to talk to pupils and staff. Thanks also to Mrs Rigg, our school librarian, for organising such an inspiring and engaging talk.
You can find out more about Julian Sedgwick on his website here.