What were Snow White, Hephaestus (Greek God of fire and crafts), Cruella de Ville and Robin Hood among others, doing in the playground at St Benedict’s School, Ealing, west London, early one Friday morning in October? Celebrating Book Week, of course. And what an incredible week of stories, colour, excitement and fun it was. “Stories from around the world” was the chosen theme, providing a rich mine of tales, cultures and art for the children to explore.
Throughout the week an exhilarating vibrancy pervaded the school as visitors came and went, beguiling audiences with stories, poetry and the art of pop-ups. John Harris, the well-known story-teller, and Saviour Pirotta, noted author, held children in thrall as they wove words into tales of magical porridge pots, salt mills, greed, ancient Egypt and Japan, naughty grannies, Maltese ghosts and “silly billy” stories of lion’s pooh and wedding feasts.
Justin Coe, the poet, came in on Thursday October 7, National Poetry Day. He performed his poems with wit and a guitar, accompanied by much enthusiastic audience participation. In such a technical and visual age it was heart-warming to see children just sit and listen, entranced for up to an hour at a time, to the oral outpourings of these three skilled wordsmiths. Robert Crowther, ingenious creator of many pop-up books, completed the celebrity line-up. He talked about his books and how they were made. The children were taught how to make simple “slides” or pop-ups and had much fun in creating their own.