We recently had a lovely visit from Miriam Latimer, beloved illustrator of children’s picture books such as The Prince’s Bedtime (which is sold at the Buckingham Palace gift shop—little trivia there for you!), Ruby’s School Walk, Emily’s Tiger, Shrinking Sam and Shopping with Dad. We asked Miriam to be our guest blogger today and share with us some of her discoveries on her first trip across the pond…we hope you enjoy her story.

My journey to the American Ambassadors conference began with a cheerful ‘Hello’ at the airport, which came from the lovely Tessa Strickland. Our flight landed and Tessa guided me through the maze of the Boston subway to the Barefoot offices, which I was so grateful for. Without her I would have got completely lost.

From that point, I had three days of inspiration, laughter, creativity, thought provoking conversations and even dancing. I even saw my first wild chipmunk. Someone needs to bring those cute creatures over to England.

I also met a very large bunch of inspiring, friendly and helpful Barefoot Ambassadors and staff who made my trip so wonderful. It felt like a big Barefoot family. Barefoot Books seems to attract people with similar ideas, longings and interests. This means that everyone seems to gel so well. The fact that we were all welcomed into Nancy’s beautiful house and garden also made the weekend extra special. I have been inspired by all the beautiful colours and patterns around her home.

On the Saturday I went to the Barefoot Books Studio in Concord and held a workshop with about 25 children. It is not a store like any other. It feels more like someone’s living room. The way it is decorated is so beautiful. That must be why people almost use it more like a community centre than a bookstore. Everyone loves spending time in there, and I can see why. Everyone who walks through the door is greeted warmly and made to feel at home.

We had story time together, and the children did a great job of spotting the dragonfly on every page of Ruby’s School Walk, and shouting out ‘I must be brave, I must be strong’ as Ruby says it in the book.

We then preceeded to each make a snappy crocodile from the story to take home. We finished off by taking our own walk around the studio, spotting the monsters from Ruby’s School Walk on our way. Here too, the children helped by shouting out ‘I must be brave, I must be strong,’ before they could turn the monster over to find that there was nothing to be scared of at all.

My wonderful time in the Studio also consisted of a lovely lunch with a bunch of excitable and friendly children, and the pottery studio also asked me to paint a plate to hang on their wall along side Clare Beaton’s plate that she did on her recent trip. I look forward to seeing the result.

The Barefoot publishing world came alive to me whilst I was there. There are so many exciting new ways to excite children about books. From phone apps, to sing alongs. I can’t stop singing ‘Up, up, up, up in a balloon, up so high I can touch the moon’ since my visit.

Barefoot Books creates such rich books for children, filled with history, wild imagination, colours and textures. That is the world of books I want to be part of. That together with the lifestyle which goes along with it. A lifestyle full of delight and wonder and wild imagination. What a great world to live in.

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