One of the things I have enjoyed most this year has been going into schools for author visits and creative writing workshops. I love the way that young people are so creative and ready to try something new.

Recently I had the chance to take part in Cardinal Wiseman Catholic School's library exhibition, EXEGESIS.

       Contributers selected a passage
       from their favourite book and each
       book has its own display, with
       contributions from staff and students.
       You can read about it here

       The exhibition has been so
       popular that it's been extended
       until Friday June 19th.

It's always difficult to choose just one favourite book,  but whenever I try, the book that pops into my head first is Amy Tan's THE HUNDRED SECRET SENSES. I love its fusion of Chinese and American culture and the stories from the past that weave through the modern-day story.

The passage I chose is quite short, so I'll include it here.


I think Kwan intended to show me the world is not a place but the vastness of the soul. And the soul is nothing more than love, limitless, endless, all that moves us toward knowing what is true. I once thought love was supposed to be nothing but bliss. I now know it is also worry and grief, hope and trust. And believing in ghosts – that’s believing that love never dies. If people we love die, then they are lost only to our ordinary senses. If we remember, we can find them anytime with our hundred secret senses. 

This is one of my favourite books. I tried to choose a passage that doesn’t give anything away, because it’s a story with exciting twists. I grew up in Hong Kong and my parents are from England and Scotland, and Olivia, the heroine of THE HUNDRED SECRET SENSES, has an American mum and a Chinese dad. The book has lots of resonances for me in the mingling of the two cultures. This passage is from the end of the story. I love this way of looking at love.

The exhibition also includes a response to THE HUNDRED SECRET SENSES by a student, Aoife Mac Elhatton, who writes movingly on Diaspora and cultural inheritance.

A week before the exhibition, I joined the Library Group for a workshop to create a patchwork of pictures representing each of our special books. Everyone used different materials and as we shared the glue, scissors and coloured paper we chatted about books - lovely! The Library Group members all came with an idea in their head and I couldn't believe how quickly they worked.

It was great to go back the next week and see the exhibition as a whole, entering through the Narnian wardrobe door.

Inside, there are displays about new books as well as classics like ALICE IN WONDERLAND and BLACK BEAUTY

 and beautiful artwork by the students, including these stunning woodcuts:

If you are in Greenford before it closes, it's a lovely exhibition. Here  is the link again.

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