Oliver Meets Oliver in Manchester

I remember queuing up outside Waterstones many years ago, waiting to pick up my copy of the last Harry Potter book at the stroke of midnight. Lots of people were dressed up and the atmosphere was one of genuine excitement.

A number of years (and two children) later, I was inspired to queue up again at a bookshop, but this time it was a book signing by author and illustrator Oliver Jeffers (thankfully at a decent hour of the day).

Lost and Found was one of the first books I started reading to my sons. We went on to build a collection of his books, so when I saw an event on Facebook at Waterstones Deansgate where Oliver Jeffers would be signing copies of his new book, Here We Are, we decided to make it a family outing.

Driving into Manchester with the children in the back, I couldn’t help but feel a little apprehensive. We were all such big fans of Oliver Jeffers, I was worried he might be unfriendly or leave before we’d had our books signed. You know what they say about meeting your heroes after all …

On arrival, we met some friends who were there for the same thing. Delighted we were near the front of the queue, my only concern was how I would entertain my four year-old Sam, being that we were over an hour early. But book queues can be very sociable places and there were plenty of like-minded parents and kids to talk to and play with.

As we approached the author with our books, my normally shy eight year-old surprised me by immediately introducing himself. “I’m called Oliver too!” he announced proudly.

“Well Oliver,” Mr Jeffers said to him, “one Oliver should always shake another Oliver’s hand.”

As they shook hands, my Oliver was beaming and I needn’t have worried about a thing – the author went on to tell my boys that he began writing when he was about six or seven, but it wasn’t until he was well into his teens that he realised he was “quite good at it”.

Conscious there were still lots of peole behind us in the queue, we reluctantly said our goodbyes. Oliver later boasted that he’d been the only one of us to shake the author’s hand.

As for the book itself – although it was written for his baby son after becoming a father for the first time –  it’s a beautiful and thoroughly inspiring read whatever your age, and has all the makings of a true classic.