I’ve known Renita for a while now. Originally from America, Renita now lives in Wigtown, which the book town in Scotland, with the most stunning views across the estuary. When I’ve performed at the festival, the children have all been whipped up to a frenzy by Renita, who welcomes them in and “settles them down” [...]
[Gallery not found]I had a fantastic day yesterday, and I think the children and teachers who attended the Gloucester Schools Partnership Pupil Voice Conference did too. We opened with talks from The Olympic Swimming Champion, Sharron Davies and Singer, Jono McNiel and myself, outlining the twists and turns that brought us to the current point in our careers. Sharon Davies awed us all by showing how long her arms are. She clasped her hands behind her back and wriggled them around her head so that the ended up in front of her. One girl in the audience could do the same. Apparently, apart from being a good party trick, it is a sign of a potentially good swimmer. Long arms are a physical advantage in swimming.
Then the children went off in groups to give their own presentations based on their aspirations and how they imagine themselves in 2020. It was wonderful to see that the children’s characters really suited some of their choices. Knowing what you are good at and what suits you best is a real bonus in life – I’m still frustrated and searching for the one thing I’m really good at!
After lunch we let balloons off into a lowering, windy sky. Each balloon carried aloft the wishes of the person who released it. (One teacher was heard to say, “I hope those balloons don’t drift off to sea and strangle an hundred turtles!”)
Then While other children learned about karate and cake decorating and singing, I led an illustration session based on my Viking Vik Books. My children were aged from reception to year six, so it was quite a wide spread. Even though some claimed they couldn’t draw, everyone did beautiful drawings – as I know all children and adults can do if they just sit down and have a go.
The Gloucester Schools Partnership is a wonderful idea, About forty schools belong. They meet up to share expertise within the group for professional development and organise group meeting days like yesterdays. There is another similar group in the country. I think it’s a really good idea.
I felt really energised at the end of the day. Talking to teachers, I felt that the new, creative curriculum is starting to ease up the stultifying effects of the Literacy Hour and give more freedom and inspiration back to teachers. Just as things have started to move in a positive direction, I truly hope the new Government are not going to take us back to Victorian basics again.
Thanks to Kevin Rowe, Melanie Newnham and everyone else who worked so hard to make it such a really great day.
I’ve been telling a story about this little girl in schools and libraries for about ten years now. The story has changed and evolved in that time. I thought I had it cracked when I rewrote it around a pop-up gimmick I invented. But the banks crashed, the recession hit and it proved too expensive. I’ve been thinking about how to rewrite it ever since. I had one major rewrite, but it didn’t work at all.
It’s amazing the way the subconscious works. Last night I had an email from the editor I was working with at the time, Natscha Biebow, with a lovely picture of her son on his first birthday. She was writing to say she wouldn’t be returning to work.
I suppose, subconsciously, I’d been awaiting her return to get on with the story. Her email must have loosened something in the brain, because I woke at 5.30 with the answer. It was so simple I can’t think why it’s taken me ten years or more to think of it!
Am I going to tell you the secret? Of course not! Unless you are a picture book editor and would like to have a little look!