In the meantime the students had much to keep them occupied. The school participated in a model competition aimed at raising awareness about endangered animals, an initiative coordinated by Lauren and Merlin Library. The Grade 8s took this task to heart and submitted three models: a panda, a tiger and a snow leopard. The models were then exhibited at St James Cavalier which at the time was hosting the first ever Children's Literature Festival. Some of the students, accompanied by the school librarian, attended this event in which they also got to meet, virtually (by means of a webcam), Lauren.
This did not mean that they were denied the opportunity to meet her in person. The children were really looking forward to her visit and, right enough, a fortnight later, Lauren visited the school. The students were in awe: you could hear a pin drop. They were completely absorbed by the tales of Lauren's youth spent in Africa surrounded by many exotic animals. She also told them of her work towards relocating zoo animals back to their natural habitat, and raising awareness about species that risk extinction.
Lauren also spoke about her books, four titles collectively known as the White Giraffe series. These were inspired by tales of her childhood, reworked and reshaped with heavy doses of imagination. They feature the adventures of Martine, who after the demise of her parents, goes to live with her grandmother in Africa. The books are spiced with drama and adventure, making them veritable page-turners.
Lauren St John is a truly inspiring person. Besides being an author, she also finds the time, energy and commitment to promote an extremely worthy cause. It was great getting to know her.