I would be talking to kids aged eight to ten who can easily understand the four-colour printing process, the way the pages are laid out on the page (imposition), and the way the huge pages are folded into sections (signatures), so all I needed were some nifty, colourful slides and a few anecdotes of how my own book was printed.
I had a group of kids of random ages. And almost as many adults.
Would any of the parents be graphic designers, printers or publishers? Hmmm, I tried not to think about it.
Then I realised that with several very little ones in the audience I'd have to race through my powerpoint and get to the hands-on bit pretty smartish ... or I'd risk people just walking out.
Of course, I had loads of props. I had a wooden block to show that printing was basically "pressing something with inky onto something papery" and I even did a quick demonstration of how the image will be reversed when it's printed, so you need to 'offset' it onto another surface to get the image the right way round. It's called 'offset printing' after all. That's pretty technical for me, and I felt happy when one or two of the dads nodded as I waved my inky fingers and the piece of paper in the air.
Oh dear, was I making a fool of myself?
No! Definitely not. There were kids at the session who had been at the Dragon Mask Making craft session that morning. They were hooked.
I asked my lovely helpers to hand out sheets of A4. (As seen below, dressed for the occasion.)
Originally I had planned to just talk around the subject, so I hadn't really thought through a hands-on activity, but for someone brought up on hands-on activities, via BBC's ground-breaking Blue Peter programmes, I had no excuse. None at all. And my primary school teacher, Miss Muffett, would be proud of me.
Now, I told the children, we fold the sheet up and we number the pages, and when we unfold it, we have a strange order - like this:
Thank heavens for nerdy dads and kids who love numbers, I thought as my willing audience began folding and numbering. The father in the photo above was obviously totally absorbed. His daughter could well have been asleep, or cross-eyed trying to see what Daddy was doing. Some of the kids got stuck in, writing a story.
Yeah! I had got through to them! A few asked politely whether they could use pencils or crayons. And the boys who had been at my mask-making session stayed right to the end. Along with a girl of about seven who was in tears, as she'd made a mistake, and wanted to rewrite her story! I wonder how long her parents had to wait before she was ready to leave.