Visiting Day (Post 92)
Visiting Day (2003), along with quite a few others in the same series, was inspired when I worked as writer in residence at a Distance Education camp near Cairns. Oddly, I remember the inspiration for the story, but until I looked over it again today (something I haven't done with most of the books I've posted about) I remembered almost nothing about the plot.
While working with the children, many of whom rarely saw their classmates or teachers because they live a long way from schools, I learned quite a few things. Apart from the camp, which happened once a year, the teachers told me they tried to get out to see their pupils now and then. This sometimes involved a journey or two or more days to visit just one family.
In Visiting Day, Rex and Molly live on a remote cattle station. It was necessary that they should be in middle-to-upper primary school, and yet they could not be familiar with the visiting day tradition, so I decided they had until recently attended a tiny local school that had now closed down. They find such familiar activities as News and Projects different now they don't see their teachers or classmates. Molly writes an exciting story for News, including a helicopter rescue. Meanwhile, Rex illustrates his snake project with photos of snakes "in our paddocks". The children are pleased with the reaction from their teachers via radio and computer hook-up, and make their work ever more exciting. Then comes a problem. Their teachers are coming for Visiting Day... What if they want to see the helicopter? What if they expect lots of snakes? What if they want to pan for gold?
Molly and Rex are so concerned with their problem that they fail to keep an eye on their charge the retired, and very deaf, cattle dog Chips. Once that problem is averted, Dad extracts the reason they forgot about Chips. He refuses to lie to the teachers for them and leaves it to his children to dig themselves out of the mess they created. Of course, all ends well when their understanding teachers suggest a better use for over-active imaginations.
The embellished stories the children write are not true, but they are all based on a kernel of truth, as Molly explains. This models the way real stories are produced. Why? This is an educational reader. For the same reason, one of the children is shown dealing with editing her News story. The old deaf dog enjoying his retirement is modelled on our dear old dog Ace, who inspired The Follow Dog (Post 88). One of the teachers is named after someone I went to school with, and who subsequently taught our daughter in high school.
Visiting Day was published under my Nicholas Flynn pen name, as were the stories about Baker which include Creature Cottage (Post 86). The books also share an illustrator.
About the Blog
Sally is Sally Odgers; author, manuscript assessor, editor, anthologist and reader. She runs http://www.affordablemanuscriptassessments.com and Prints Charming Books. (Sally is me, by the way, and I am lots of other things too, but these are the relevant ones for now.)
The goal for 2017 is to write a post a day profiling the background behind one of my books; how it came to be written, what it's about, and any things of note that happened along the way. If you're an author, an aspiring author, a reader or just someone who enjoys windows into worlds, you might find this fun. The books are not in any special order, but will be assigned approximate dates, and pictures, where they exist. If you enjoyed a post, or want to ask about any of my books or my manuscript assessment service, post a comment and I'll get back to you.