The Etherington Brothers' Tour Journal

So there we were at the start of a week-long adventure in the heart of Scotland on the Scottish Friendly Children’s Book Tour. The plan was simple: in five days we visited ten schools and performed shows to thousands of children, while eating our bodyweight in fruit pastilles (Lorenzo) and drinking an ocean of coffee (Robin). Oh, and trying to be really, really funny. All the time. So, no pressure then.

Our tour got underway at Golfhill Primary School with an excellent character creation suggestion of a Zombie fastfood employee who dreams of competing in the Olympics ... in every single sport ... ever. It was a good start and the excellent suggestions and absolutely brilliant hand-drawn comics kept on coming over days 2 and 3.

At Chapelhall and St. Aloysius we performed our largest single show of the tour to 380 children. After much laughter and creativity had been wrung from the students and ourselves we held a MONSTER book signing session (the queue was so long that the poor girl at the very back missed her break, next lesson, lunch, afternoon lessons AND the bus home).

Bonkersball Stadium made real by pupils from Leadhill Primary School
The afternoon session that followed was … well … emotional is the best word to describe our reactions. Ahead of our arrival, the pupils at Leadhills Primary School had been working, in class and at home, on a series of art projects based around our book Baggage. The results were beyond magical. They had made snowglobes featuring pictures from our book, and scenes from their own lives … they had made the mystery case that Randall carries from Triptych City … they had even constructed a scale model of the bonkersball sports stadium – complete with GIANT MEATBALL! To Lorenzo and me they meant everything. The effort the pupils had made was incredible. And the best part of this story is that THEY had chosen what they wanted to do for the project. Amazing stuff.

Thursday saw a special show at Glenlee Primary School in which we were NOT the stars. There were a number of profoundly deaf or hard of hearing students in the group who enjoyed our ridiculous antics through the medium of sign language. The poor signer pretty much acted out our entire workshop (an exhausting and frankly spell-binding accomplishment) to the delight of her students. We try to make our shows totally inclusive and thankfully there are some incredibly talented professionals out there to help us bring this goal to life.

What the Etherington Brothers left behind them after the tour!
First up on our final day was Robert Smillie Memorial Primary. This was a cracking school, recently built and beautifully furbished. But most importantly it was full of giggling children ready for our show … a show with a twist as we were being video streamed live into classrooms across the Lanarkshires. It was a great experience: we love gurning at the camera!

Our final audience at Glengowan Primary School was brilliant. Laughter fading and show over, we signed books, high-fived and knuckle-bumped as many children as possible, jumped off a wobbly table in delight, and headed for home.

We would like to thank Scottish Friendly for facilitating such an incredible experience, not just for us, but for every author or illustrator lucky enough to join the tour. And of course, big final thanks to all the teachers, students and schools that allowed us to tear up your classrooms with our silly, silly antics.

For more information about the tour and for inspiration and learning resources for using the Etheringtons' excellent books in your classroom please follow this link.

Robin and Lorenzo Etherington

The Etherington Brothers are a dynamic comic book writing duo. Their brilliant events and excellent books inspired over 1600 pupils across North and South Lanarkshire during the Scottish Friendly Children's Book Tour in May 2013.