IBBY Italia

Visiting the IBBY Italia Camp on the island of Lampedusa was an extraordinary experience. Thank you to everyone at the Bibioteca di Lampedusa per bambini e ragazzi for making me so welcome and allowing me to share their special space.

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The library is a real achievement, a bright, creative dynamo in the heart of the town. I’m full of admiration for what the librarians and the volunteers achieve there.

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When I arrive I’m challenged not to be busy, not to perform as usual, but to observe, to learn instead. And I do. I see experienced practitioners slow everything down to a mindful observance that is entirely focused on each and every visitor. I read some wonderful picture books and use silent books (those without pictures) that make such sense in a community that doesn’t speak a common language.

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The camp is perfect for those who are happy not knowing what might unfold in the day ahead. For me, there are some magic moments. A family of four stand in the doorway, the father encouraging his wife and two small daughters inside. The mother sits down at one of the children’s tables and adjusts her headscarf. Her six-year old daughter clings to her mother’s dress sobbing, a picture of abject terror. I’m sitting nearby with a book open on my lap. The mother tries to calm her daughter and, as she begins to quieten she looks around. Her eyes light upon a balloon hanging from the ceiling. I touch her arm gently, and look at the balloon. She hesitates, doesn’t know whether to trust me. Then she nods. I stand and quietly put out my hand. She slips hers into it. We collect the balloon. She takes it to her mother, who says something I can’t understand to her. The little girl looks at me, approaches and places a small kiss on my cheek. I offer her my picture book. She takes it, sits down and starts to turn the pages. Later that day, she waves to me in the street. She’s back in the library the following day.

Later, a 13 year-old boy, one of the young librarians, shows me the book review he’s written. It’s in the monthly magazine he makes with three friends.

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There’s a poem he’s written in it too. I read it out loud. It’s very good. He tells me soon he’s going to the Scientifico Lyceo, the secondary school in Palermo on the mainland, where he’ll have to board.

I visit the primary school nearby - one of the three schools on the island - and take part in two workshops on gender and identity.

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I listen to talks in the library in the evenings in Italian, two by the renowned anthropologist Marco Amie and another that makes a fascinating comparison between the experiences of immigration on the islands of Lampedusa and Lesbos in Greece.

When I have time, I read the island’s history, and am moved by its story. I explork the port…

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visit the turtle hospital…

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and am shocked by the amount of plastic recovered from so many of their stomachs.

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I listen to a heart-breaking talk at the cemetery and visit many unmarked graves belonging to hundreds of drowned refugees that didn’t make it alive across the Mediterranean.

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I visit the boat graveyard…

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where boats are labelled with the date and the number of people who perished on them. Many have never been identified.

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The heavy rain that falls during my visit seems immaterial, as the air from the sea is as soft as silk.

It’s a very intense, very concentrated experience - and a remarkably gentle one too.

One not easily forgotten.

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Working in the IBBY Library on Lampedusa

I’m taking part in the International IBBY Camp (29th Oct - Nov 3rd) working in the Library on Lampedusa Island, both with those who volunteer all the year round in the Library and those who find it the first real place of culture and welcome in their journey across the Mediterranean.

More later ….

Coming up!

 GIRL ON A PLANE at The Mill Arts Centre, Banbury, Saturday 15th September, 12.30.

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Delighted to nominate Knights Templar School, Hertfordshire, for the Society of Authors Reading for Pleasure Award.

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West Cork Literary Festival

I read from my short story, Salvage, chosen for inclusion in the 2017 Fish Anthology, at the anthology launch on July 17th.

 Copies are available on Amazon

Copies are available on Amazon

Empowering Authors Conference - Society of Authors

I will be speaking at the Society of Authors Empowering Authors Conference on 17 June.

10.30am - 7.30pm, Waterstones Piccadilly, 203-206 Piccadilly, London W1J 9HD.

A dynamic, empowering and knowledge-packed day to help children's writers and illustrators.

Book online through Eventbrite or call 020 7373 6642 to make an offline card payment.

www.societyofauthors.org

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Jewish Book Council review of Girl on a Plane

'Moss explains the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in clear and unbiased terms.'

 Moss explains the plight of the Palestinians as Anna comes to understand it. After days stuck on the plane nearly starving in the intense desert heat, Anna gets to know one of the hijackers, a man not much older than she is. Anna asks him questions about why he’s there and develops empathy for the hijackers and an understanding that she’s being used as a pawn in a much larger fight. Though Anna is not Jewish,  Moss explains the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in clear and unbiased terms,  and the reader can feel Anna struggling to understand the pain and frustration felt on both sides.  For more:  http://www.jewishbookcouncil.org/book/girl-on-a-plane

Moss explains the plight of the Palestinians as Anna comes to understand it. After days stuck on the plane nearly starving in the intense desert heat, Anna gets to know one of the hijackers, a man not much older than she is. Anna asks him questions about why he’s there and develops empathy for the hijackers and an understanding that she’s being used as a pawn in a much larger fight. Though Anna is not Jewish, Moss explains the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in clear and unbiased terms, and the reader can feel Anna struggling to understand the pain and frustration felt on both sides.

For more: http://www.jewishbookcouncil.org/book/girl-on-a-plane

North Herts Schools Book Award

Delighted to hear that Girl on a Plane has been voted the winner in the older readers' category of the North Herts Schools Book Award.

Linda Aird, Librarian at St Christopher's School, writes: Girl on a Plane was the winner by a very healthy margin, and was obviously much enjoyed and admired by the large group of 11 - 16 year old students who voted it their favourite. I personally found the book a compelling and fascinating read, and liked the way you showed both sides of a very complex story.

Fish Short Story

Delighted that my short story, Salvage, is one of ten chosen by competition judge, Neel Mukherjee, for inclusion in the 2017 Fish Anthology. I'll be reading from the story at the launch of the Anthology at the West Cork Literary Festival in July.

                   www.fishpublishing.com

                  www.fishpublishing.com

 http://www.westcorkmusic.ie/literaryfestival/

http://www.westcorkmusic.ie/literaryfestival/

Chailey School

Really enjoyed meeting the lovely staff and students at Chailey School on January 10th for a Girl on a Plane presentation in the hall and a writing workshop with Year 9 in the Library.

Girl on a Plane US review

Crossroad Reviews

This story starts out like any other. A girl is getting ready to go back to school and is flying out the next morning. She is part of a family that moves around a lot due to her dad being in the military.  The author did an amazing job letting us get to know Anna and her family before her world is turned upside down.  I wasn't very sure about this book when I first started but I found out early on that I wasn't going to be able to put it down.

This book is all told while Anna and the other passengers are being held hostage on a plane in the desert but the author again does an amazing job working with this environment. It never felt stagnant when the characters weren't going anywhere. The descriptions of their four days on the plane were vivid and I felt like I was right along with them. 

The flow of this story is worked out so well. Each point unfolds beautifully! This story of survival will touch your heart while ripping it open. All of the characters in this story were amazing. But the three main ones Anna, David, and Tim were the best. Anna is such a strong character. Even though she is in this very high stress situation she only loses her cool a few times. Usually she buttons it up and keeps going.  I hope if by some horrible turn of events I am ever in a situation like this that I could be like Anna as well.  Tim and David were amazing. I wish that the author could have given us more information on what happened to them afterwards.  I know via the amazing Q and A in the back of the book that in real life she did keep tabs with some of the other passengers but then lost touch, to only reconnect after this book was released. But for the story it would have been an interesting turn of events to know what happened to them. As well as the turtle!! 

Half way through this story I decided to look up the events of the 1970 Dawson's Field hijackings, as at the time I wasn't even born. And what I found were many pictures and information about what happened.  This is a great story for those who wish to have their children search about history.

The ending was great. I loved hearing about the future, 45 years later when Anna struggles to put the past in the past. This is one story that will keep you thinking about it for a while.  

Book in a Pinch: Girl's plane is hijacked by refugees

 Go Into This One Knowing: It’s a heart-pounding story based on the author’s real experience with the hijackings of 1970. 

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Carnegie

Absolutely delighted to hear that GIRL ON A PLANE has been nominated for the 2017 CILIP Carnegie Medal. Thank you to the incredible team at Andersen Press for publishing it, and to all the wonderful librarians that nominated it!

Roedean School

Miriam gave a talk about GIRL ON A PLANE to Years 8 and 9 at Roedean School, Brighton. To put the 1970 hijack in perspective, she showed a short film including real footage, then gave a PowerPoint talk about writing from life, a short reading, took questions and signed books.

From The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, USA.

MOSS, MIRIAM Girl on a Plane.
 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016 [288p] ISBN 978-0-544-78399-
$17.99
R Gr. 7-10

Fifteen-year-old Anna leads a divided life, traveling between her English boarding school and her family in Bahrain, where her father is stationed. The Middle East is a volatile place in 1970, however, and on this trip back to the UK, Anna’s plane is hijacked by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and flown to a desert airstrip in Jordan. There Anna and her fellow passengers wait as hostages, hoping for their eventual release and fearing a tragic end. Moss bases the story on her own experiences as a teen aboard a hijacked airplane in 1970, and she does an excellent job with the details of the experience, effectively conveying the convergence of small annoyances (drunk fellow passengers), serious discomforts (the scarcity of food and water, the temperature rising above 100°F in the airplane’s metal fuselage in the desert), and large fears (one captor who clearly wishes to kill them all). Anna’s bonding with her seatmates David (an agemate) and Tim (a young boy tending his beloved little turtle) adds another dimension of emotional reality, as do Anna’s wary conversations with one of the hijackers. Ultimately, the book combines you- are-there reality with the shape of fictional narrative, and it’ll make for wide-eyed and suspenseful reading. An extensive epilogue describes Moss’ recent return to the site; a note differentiates the fact from the fiction.
 

Booklist Review US

Girl on a Plane

On September 9th, 1970, 15-year-old Anna sets foot on a British Overseas Airways flight from Bahrain to London. Moments later, the plane is hijacked by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. The fourth in a series of recent hijackings, the 105 passengers on Anna's flight are used to negotiate the release of prominent PFLP "comrade" Leila Khaled from British prison. Rooted in Moss' real-life experience, the novel chronicles four devastating days in the Jordanian desert as Anna and fellow passengers are deprived of food, water and electricity, and enveloped by tanks, reporters, and rigged explosives - while the region erupts in civil unrest, and the world, including Anna's frantic family, holds it's breath. It can be hard to grasp the timeline of the book's major events, and some readers will crave an overview of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Nevertheless, Anna's agreeable first-person dialogue opens dialogue to interesting voices: freckled schoolboy Tim (and tough pet terrapin, Fred); cynical yet sensitive David; and Palestinian refugee Jamal. A unique glimpse into a pivotal point in world history.

Briana Shemroske

 

September 13th2016

GIRL ON A PLANE -  IS PUBLISHED IN USA by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.