Wendy Cooling and I received the warmest traditional Indian welcome today at The Cambridge School, Indirapuram. The school was extraordinarily generous in hospitality and gifts and the teachers, principal and young students were delightful company.

A large turnout

A large turnout

Wendy was a little surprised to find that her expected audience of 150 students had swelled to 300 but took it all in her stride and with a little bit of quick thinking, adapted her talk to include them all.

Despite the large numbers and the need to use a microphone, Wendy captured her audience with amusing anecdotes from her schooldays and early reading life, including all the dreadful books she read as well as the wonderful ones. She went on to enthuse about the amazing worlds to be travelled through stories and books.

Wendy read a short story by Graham Greene with a grizzly theme and a puzzle at the end and then introduced Sherlock Holmes by donning a deerstalker hat and apologizing for not having a pipe.

She talked of detective and spy stories and how there is always a puzzle to solve and something to be saved. As a little light relief, volunteers were asked for to help solve the dilemma faced by the farmer who needed to cross a river with a fox, a goose and a bag of beans with only a small boat. There was great amusement as the volunteers became those three things and Wendy told the ‘goose’ he couldn’t give her the answer because geese can’t talk. Of course, the children quickly came up with the correct solution.

The session ended with Wendy reading an excerpt from Sherlock Holmes and leaving it on a cliffhanger to encourage the teenagers to read the book for themselves.

By Wendy Knight