All around the world, authors' blogs are getting updated with photos from school visits as National Book Day comes around again. And why should I be any different? There I am on the left hand table of the panel. I've been at Notting Hill and Ealing High School with the good people in the pic below. Check it out! Over on the far left, there's Lu Hersey of Deep Water fame! And who's that next to her? Eloise Williams, writer of Gaslight! That's the wonderful Sara Grant in the middle and - hey, wait - is that Eugene Lambert of The Sign of One towering over Kimberley Pauley, writer of Ask Me? Yes it is! And then there's me too.
On a more serious note: the pupils were fabulous and they bought books by the armful. I shifted more copies of The Poison Boy than ever before at an event - the bookseller sold out. Even a YA title like Lifers sold respectably to year 7s and 8s. Kids had their money folded into neat envelopes with their names on and spent it all delightedly. I signed and signed and signed.
Where am I going with this? Well, about this time last year I was at a school in Blackpool. The pupils filed in, listened to me talk and filed out again. No-one bought a book. The teacher was slightly embarrassed and apologised but I didn't mind. The children had been told to bring their fiver in, parents had been reminded... but no-one had any cash on them the day I rocked up.
And it's schools like this second one - and plenty of others - that are struggling to staff their libraries, where borrowing numbers are plummeting. You've seen it all on Twitter, I guess. It's a bleak future for kids if they can't get their hands on books at home and they can't get their hands on books at school either.
Anyway, I'm spending much of the rest of the week on trains. Mostly writing and thinking wistfully about Dirk Gently. Onwards and upwards!