Saturday, 13 October 2012

VIPs at the Library :-)

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Friday was a very exciting day in my Library. We had a visit from the Children's Laureate - Julia Donaldson!  Her term runs from June 2011 until June 2013 and she follows the six previous CLs: Quentin Blake, Anne Fine, Michael Morpurgo, Jacqueline Wilson, Michael Rosen and Anthony Browne.
She arrived a 9am with her husband Malcolm. They met while at University and he was a medic. They have had quite an exciting life together, they live in Glasgow now, but did live in Paris where they used to busk on the streets.

Julia Donaldson arrives at Silverdale
 Lots of media people arrived early too, including someone from Radio Stoke, 6 Towns Radio, The Sentinel and Liz Copper from BBC Midlands Today - with her camera crew. They interviewed Julia, Malcolm and some of the children after the event. Even I was interviewed for some online page - I'm not sure where that would appear though!

Liz Copper drinking tea in my Library!
Julia looked pleases by the display that Tracy and Silverdale Primary had put together. There was lots of the children's work, photographs and they had even made crowns for Julia and Malcolm to wear. They did oblige at the end of the session and were photographed in them, with the teachers.

Malcolm had brought his guitar and a huge suitcase full of props - we wondered what kind of performance we were about to witness!

The children from two classes (about 60 of them!) arrived just before 10am, excited and chattering - but extremely well-behaved when the teachers asked them to do anything. They formed them into rows facing down the library, a teacher plugged in a boombox and when Julia had been introduced by Patrick Corfield - a Cabinet member from Staffordshire County Council, they sang a song for her that they had learned specially. It was from her book "Room on the Broom"

Julia and the grown-ups listening to Room on the Broom
 Some of them had costumes and masks and Julia was particularly impressed with a cat-shaped cauldron bag that one of the teachers had made. In fact she wanted to take it home and use it as a handbag - but she did give it back at the end :-)

Then it was time for Julia to talk to the children. She asked them how much they thought it would cost if she took a book home for her baby brother (Picking one out of the kinder box), and horror story for her teenage sister (taking one off the shelves) and another book for herself. (Taking one of her own books off the display)

Lots of hands went up - and the first guess was £10. "No" she said "It's cheaper than that! Another hand up "£8?" "No - it's cheaper than that!" This went on until we got down to 10p. "Even cheaper than 10p" she said. At last someone put up their hand and got it right "Nothing?" - "That's right! Nothing!" Then she asked me and Tracy how many books they could take out and she was amazed when we replied "As many as you want!" It was great that she asked how many of them had library tickets - only about half put up their hands though. Maybe we'll get a few more recruits after this event!

Monkey Puzzle in action!
 She then taught the children a new song of hers called "The Breathing Song" while Malcolm played guitar and we all did the sound effects. She then got everyone on their feet pretending to be animals so that she could pick out children to act out the story Monkey Puzzle. In fact one of the teachers turned out to be the best elephant - so she got the role!

Julia is passionate about getting kids to act out the books as well as just read them. They had a monkey puppet  as well as a butterfly and the performance really brought the book alive. There was lots of chance for audience participation too! Eventually the little monkey was reunited with his mum - so there was a happy ending.

The display by the children
 My favourite story was The Wrong Kind of Bark, which involved a boy called Finley who didn't listen to his teacher properly. Julia asked the teachers who among the classes had a good strong voice. A little boy called Harry was chosen and he was great! He found the story absolutely hilarious and really played it well. What a star!

Some of the others got to play children in the story too. Julia was pretending to be the teacher setting up a nature table in the class. She changed the main character's name to Harry just for today :-) The first day she talked at length about flowers and then asked the class to bring in any kind of flower the next day. When she asked Harry what she had just said - he could only remember the last three words "kind of flower"
So the next day the children bring in pretty flowers (supplied by Malcolm behind the scenes!) and Harry come in with a bag of flour! The teacher asks him what on earth he's brought that for and he says "You said "any kind of flour!" That was our cue to say "But that's the wrong kind of flower"
The next day it is nuts - and Harry brings nuts and bolts, "That's the wrong kind of nut!"
and the final day it is meant to be something from a tree like "a kind of bark" Children bring in an apple, a twig and some bark - then along comes Harry (in fits of giggles by now) with Malcolm on all fours with a collar and lead on - barking. "That's the wrong kind of bark!!"
There was uproar at this - and everyone was laughing! It was very funny :-)
Then she taught them another song where they all had to wander round the library pretending they were pushing supermarket trolleys. It was great!

Personalised book
 She then got Malcolm to put another chair next to hers - which she called "The Question Chair" - and invited the children to come up if they had a question to ask her. There were some very interesting ones - she was encouraged to write by her parents, her teachers and especially Malcolm, She has written 165 books! We also discovered that her favourite book from those that she had written were the ones featuring Princess Mirror-belle, because she is a bit naughty!

After that she signed books for everyone who had bought one, which took a good half an hour. I got one for Nathan - Tabby McTat.  Tracy bought one too! Then the children got back in their pairs and crocodiled off back to school.

Malcolm entertains the children as they wait to leave

Julia and Malcolm then did some more interviews including one with Liz Copper that appeared on Midlands Today later in the day. They had filmed quite a lot of the performance so were excited to find out how much they would show on the telly. You could catch Tracy and me behind the counter during some of it!

She posed for more photographs then around 12 noon she left to go to Macclesfield to meet the mayor. The next stop on her country-wide tour.

Malcolm gets interviewed too!

Julia signing books

Talking to Radio Stoke
Filming for Midlands Today
What a great morning it was - and quite a coup for Silverdale. Well done to the children of Silverdale Primary School for writing such wonderful letters that Julia chose to visit here.
The display in all its glory :-)

She was such an inspiration.It is a day that none of us will forget in a hurry!

Now we are looking forward to our visit from Simon Armitage, the poet, next Wednesday :-)

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful to imagine all the hubbub in the Library, Berni, and I am thrilled that you and Tracy were there to be part of the fun. It sounds like Julia D did libraries a very good turn by doing that exercise with the children about the cost of borrowing, although it is shocking really that some of them didn't realise libraires are free. Long live libraries!