Friday, August 23, 2013

Visiting the Storytellers in the Australian Capital Territory 2013

While visiting Canberra for the launch of Children's Book Week and the CBCA Awards, I was able to connect with the ACT Storytellers .

The ACT Storytellers Guild holds two Story Circles a month and all are welcome. With Canberra’s sprawling suburbs, the group meets on the north and south of the city. The first Wednesday of each month is on the South Side and the second Wednesday of each month, is on the North Side.

I attended the North Side Story Circle and can report that these tellers have told more stories than most of us have had hot dinners. They’re highly skilled and living in the National capital has given them opportunities which those of us living elsewhere have not enjoyed. Between them, they’ve crafted stories for the National Museum, War Memorial, Botanic Gardens and other national institutions. Some have worked alongside, historians shaping primary source material for telling inside exhibitions or in collaboration with horticulturalist and rangers and education officers.

The ACT is also home for Patsy Allan who has made telling stories to the very young her specialty. On the day of my visit, Patsy had just launched her DVD, The Wonder and Joy of Storytelling to Young Children. Pasty, makes, tells and writes stories. She is a well-loved storyteller with much to teach all of us who dare to tell to the very young – surely the most challenging but rewarding audience.

The North Side Story Circle was attended by nine tellers who made good use of the time to try out stories before going public. Mary French (our hostess) used the gathering to share a tale to commemorate 48 years of marriage to Eric with an immaculately crafted story about their wedding day. Vonny Kemister tested a story she is learning to tell at the Botanic Gardens, while the resident teller, Roslyn Hull is away. Vonny’s story comes from Olga Earnst’s Fairy Tales from The Land of the Wattle (1904). If you are interested in reading these early Australian Fairy stories, you can do so HERE. (This takes a while to download so be patient. Its worth it.)

Thank you to the Act Storytellers for good company, fine food and the warm fire.

Visit Patsy Allan and The Wonder and Joy of Storytelling to Young Children available: HERE 

Visit the ACT Storytellers Guild: HERE 

Storyteller Roslyn Hull was unable to make the Story Circle but the following day Ros took me on a tour of The Australian National Botanic Gardens and talked me through her role as the resident storyteller. We made this little video (rough as it is) to share how she approaches storytelling in this setting. Be amazed Ros's knowledge and enthusiasm is exemplary! Australian National Botanic  Gardens: HERE

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Children's Book Week and there are Lyrebirds everywhere!

How beautiful is this? This morning I was invited to a school where the children were reading Lyrebird! A true story and making little birds.

The teacher (Wally) had an ipad handy and we made good use of Museum Victoria's Wildlife App. MV Field Guide to Victorian Fauna.

Its free and the students were able to see and hear the birds.

No time for a long post - too much to do. As well as BOOK WEEK there is the Melbourne Writers Festival.

Gotta zip!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Children's Book Council of Australia Book of the Year Awards 2103

I've just returned from a flying visit to Canberra for these prestigious awards. The CBCA work tirelessly organising the longest running children's festival in Australia; it all began as far back as 1945.

The volunteer committees read through hundreds of books, sorted into various categories, and a short listing guarantees the work a life in schools and libraries across the country.

I'm deeply grateful for all the hard work that goes into the awards and humbled by the respect the CBCA show to the authors, illustrators, publishers, editors and designers.

Lyrebird! A true story was named an Honour Book. Peter Gouldthorpe and I had great fun signing copies and chatting to the children who attended the awards.

Seeing our book on the display table with the other award winners was a heart stopper!

Entries are now open for the 2014 Awards. Details HERE

Monday, August 12, 2013

Kamishibai in the Rex Arcade: Daylesford Words inWinter 2013

You could be excused for thinking that the only kind of storytelling I do is Kamishibai but its not the case. What is true, is that I have an enormous amount of fun travelling around with my story box.

Here I was snapped in an arcade in the indescribably picturesque town of Daylesford (about 100 ks north west of Melbourne).

I busked with my stories for two hours. I confess I didn't ride my bike all the way but I did wheel it up a hill and down a hill and through the town.

The event was the Daylesford Words in Winter

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

A special day all round! Celebrating literacy and numeracy week.

I had the best time today.
I definitely have the most wonderful job in the world. (Well ... it suits me.)

Today I worked in a school which educates children with special needs. I'm rarely invited into these schools and I was a little anxious. The teacher and I batted emails to each other for weeks about the best way to plan for success. In the end we abandoned the formula most commonly used, that is 45 - 55 minute sessions and a fee as recommended by the Australian Society of Authors for school visits.

This rigidity was not going to work. We all know that the smaller group, the easier it is on every one,  so we settled on  7 x 30 minute sessions.

I knew this would be exhausting and not something to be attempted on a regular basis but this was a special occasion and a good night's sleep repairs any damage.

The school caters for students from primary through to secondary so today was a great work out.

Unless I'm deluding myself, I think the day was a great success. Taking time to negotiate and plan with the teacher in charge of my visit and both of us, and the  school willing to be flexible, smoothed the path.  We also gave ourselves permission to fail. Taking the pressure off created a wonderful cooperative atmosphere.

I took a boot load of props and stories thinking that visual storytelling would assist those students with language challenges. As well as auditory processing problems, I suspect some of the students spoke English as a second language.

The kamishibai was the most useful tool in my kit.
My own story about Split Dog worked a treat.
Claire Saxby's There was an Old Sailor was a lifesaver with the younger grades.

Thank you Mathieu for the photos. And thanks Nola for suggesting I have a go.


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