A Sunderland pupil has met his hero after designing the winning comic strip in a competition that 600 children entered.
Jayden Anderson, who attends Broadway Junior School in Sunderland, was able to meet Diary of a Wimpy Kid author Jeff Kinney at an interactive event for 600 pupils at Newcastle Civic Centre.
The event, which was hosted by the National Literacy Trust and Penguin Random House, is part of the Read North East campaign and Jeff's global tour for the thirteenth book in the series Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Meltdown.
Children had the opportunity to hear about Jeff’s writing process and his travels around the world, learn how to draw his famous character Greg Heffley, pose their own questions to Jeff and take part in other fun activities inspired by the new book. Each child was also gifted a copy of the The Meltdown to take home.
The event with Jeff Kinney comes after pupils across the region took part in a Diary of a Wimpy Kid comic book competition earlier this term.
The competition asked pupils to design their own three-panel comic strip inspired by those that appear in Jeff’s books, about something funny that happened when returning to school after the summer holidays.
Jayden, 10, won the competition and had the chance to meet his hero along with his classmates.
Claire Johnson, Year 5 teacher at Broadway Junior School, said: "My whole class entered the competition, where they had to design their own ‘Zoo Wee Mama’ comic strip, which is from the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series.
"When we found out Jayden had won, we couldn’t believe it! Everyone was so excited! Our whole class go to go to a special event at Newcastle Civic Centre last Friday, where we watched Jeff Kinney on stage promoting his new book ‘The Meltdown’.
"Much to our entertainment and enjoyment, Jeff led the event in a gameshow style - with lots of audience participation!
"There were 600 pupils in the audience, but only 34 children got to meet Jeff in person - our class! We were taken ‘backstage’ where we had an exclusive meet and greet with Jeff. We were all given a free copy of The Meltdown, which Jeff personally signed for us. He even had time to chat with us and answer questions.
"It was amazing! Definitely something we will remember forever."
Jeff Kinney said: "The work that the National Literacy Trust is doing in the UK to promote literacy is so very important and this is a cause I feel very passionate about.
"I hope that my event has helped to inspire children who may have had fewer opportunities to develop a love for reading.”
Jonathan Douglas, director of the National Literacy Trust added: “We were delighted that so many pupils from the North East were able to attend this exciting event with Jeff Kinney, an author who has helped so many reluctant readers to fall in love with books.
"We know that author engagement and fun and memorable events such as this one can support a child’s learning and encourage them to read for enjoyment outside of school. In turn this has an important impact on their happiness and future success.”