On Thursday the 25th of March 2021, I led my first book event with the help of Sainted Media and their extremely talented illustrator, Dean Queazy. This nerve-wracking adventure definitely threw me into the deep end of virtual events.

Aimed at children aged 4 – 7, the event was set to provide a platform to promote children’s book series The Bongles. The Bongles are a group of five quirky characters who live on an island and love to spread eco-friendly messages to their readers. I led the team in creating an interactive event to pique interest in not only The Bongles but also in the world of illustration. With the agreement of Dean, we devised a plan to engage children in the wonders of getting creative. 

Our first character drawing: Bubba.
Photo credit: Our Lady of the Missions Primary School, 2021.

In order to achieve this feeling of artistic inclusivity, Dean led the children in character drawing sessions after we showcased two animated audiobooks, TV Dinner and Pet Washing Machine. Children were encouraged to express their creativity as they were guided through how to make their favourite Bongles characters come to life. The event was wrapped up by a live Q & A in which children asked Dean about his career as an illustrator.

Four months of planning, designing promotional activities, reaching out to contacts, and running technical checks eventually led to our launch. Although the team and I planned everything from the welcome page to a post-event activity pack, technology decided to test us. Unfortunately, Google Meets kicked participants out of the meeting throughout the event and only four out of twenty classes were able to fully participate.

As Dean led the character draw-along, Viola and I took to attacking Google in the hopes of finding a solution. Unable to decipher what was happening, it was important that I kept the mood of the event positive and engaging for the children who were in attendance. Luckily, the team decided to record the session and as a result we were left with a fantastic recording that can now be used flexibly by teachers and schools, including those who were unable to join us on the day.

The Twins were our second character drawing.
Photo credit: Our Lady of the Missions Primary School, 2021.

Despite this obstacle, we ended up with some fantastic drawings and immensely positive feedback. Having access to organic marketing material has provided the team at Sainted Media with the opportunity to create some real buzz around any similar events in the future whilst achieving an event objective by building upon relationships within the education industry.

This opportunity has taught me the importance of always being prepared and ready for anything. I am immensely proud of how we overcame the issue and refused to let it dampen our successes. We received a multitude of images displaying the children’s artwork which further demonstrates our event triumph and the level of engagement that the event achieved.

Our third character drawing showcased Pet.
Photo credit: Our Lady of the Missions Primary School, 2021.

In the wake of such a success I am left in awe of how easily fears can be overcome. Leading any event is daunting but navigating virtual communications, video platforms, and internet difficulties definitely provides an added layer of pressure. However, these hurdles suddenly seem easier to overcome when you have a team behind you who are invested in seeing not only you, but the whole event, succeed.

What a truly fantastic learning experience and an opportunity I shall never forget. 

Join in the event fun here: https://www.thebongles.com/activities