Tag Archives: literature festival storytelling

My work with the children of service families overseas

I have just been updating my calendar for March and as ever my schedule is bonkers. March begins in Warrington in the first 15 days I’ll go to Glasgow, Plymouth and Slough. I’m also heading back to Paderborn for what maybe the last time.

I have been visiting Bishops Park School in Paderborn, Germany for the past three years to work with the children of service families. It has always been a real highlight and privilege to spend time with the military community and I have always been made to feel very welcome by the staff and children.

In a lot of ways it’s just another day at the office but it’s the little differences that make my time in Germany special. For instance, the school day starts and ends earlier than a British school day so having reached my hotel bed at midnight I am in front of the children at what feels like 7.30am! Then there’s the fact that you are quite clearly working in a German building in a German town but as soon as you walk through the door you know you are in a British school whose population reflect the many nationalities who serve in our armed forces. For the children it’s there normal but when you think that whilst I prance about in the school hall the parents of the children I’m entertaining may be in some far flung dangerous corner of the world in the name of our national safety I find it very humbling.

The school has been really supportive and I have been able to do some crazy and ambitious stuff with the children. Some of the sessions were from my regular repertoire (eg The Hundred Mile an Hour Dog and The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party!) but we’ve also done other stuff including a huge narrative poetry workshop and tiny sessions for children with additional needs and through the staff I’ve been introduced to some really high tech ideas. A lot of what I do is about access and exposure to high quality performance and storytelling. It always pleasing to be able to share a story or run a project with a small school but to work with a group of children so far from home who might not otherwise have such an experience is wonderful and I feel that I am a better storyteller and person for having had the opportunity.

The MoD previously announced that Germany is to close in 2019 and that service families were to return home or be redeployed around the world. I recently read that Paderborn may remain open until 2023 but I don’t know if I’ll be a part of the school’s future plans. Would I like to carry on going back? Of course but then, you know, there are schools in other parts of the world too… how does The Enormous Crocodile in The Falkland Islands, Shakespeare in Cyprus or Greek Mythology in Brunei sound to you, because to me it sounds amazing!!

I work in schools, museums and libraries in England, Scotland and Wales and have led storytelling sessions at the Guernsey Literary Festival and Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival. If you looking to book a storyteller for an overseas school or festival or for work with international students in here the UK, contact me.

My Space Chase is on the launchpad

In 1969 Apollo 11 took astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to the moon. To celebrate their achievement this summer the Reading Agency’s Summer Reading Challenge is called The Space Chase and this storyteller is on the launchpad and ready for his latest mission.

Space is not new territory for the Summer Reading Challenge. Many moons ago I worked with the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea to devise a piece about reading in a year when the theme was to do with a Space Hop. Back then I mainly worked in east London and west London seemed a million light years away. Today I am pitching to a galaxy of library authorities from Plymouth and Devon to Glasgow and Fife.

This summer I am offering two projects to libraries.

This year I am working with the Roald Dahl Company to present The Enormous Crocodile. The story may be fairly tenuously tied to the theme but I’m sure children everywhere will enjoy finding out how the enormous crocodile became the first reptile in space and I see this summer’s reading challenge as a brilliant opportunity to share this marvellous story.

I am pleased to announce another brand new storytelling presentation developed with the kind permission of Walker Books and in collaboration with poet, author and eater of cake, Dom Conlon. If You Believe… will be a trio of stories told over 45 minutes and suitable for 3-11 year olds including Jonathan Emmett’s Bringing Down the Moon, Simon James’ The Boy from Mars and a specially commissioned story by Dom Conlon The Cow that Jumped over the Moon (working title). In Bringing Down the Moon a Mole attempts to pull down the lovely moon but soon finds out its not as near as it looks. In The Boy from Mars when Stanley’s Mum goes away a not so very well behaved Martian but will Stanley return before his Mum gets home? and when it came to approaching someone to write a story about space, I’m really excited that Dom Conlon, author of Astro Poetica and I will eat the Moon! agreed to work with me; I’m sure he’ll deliver a tale which is out of this world!

So there you have it; four stellar stories for children and families which means another summer of library storytelling is guaranteed to be a blast.

It’s one small step for man, one giant leap for storytelling kind (well maybe)!!

Partying into 2019!

Happy New Year! I hope you had a peaceful festive period and that the post Christmas blues haven’t set in just yet. This Christmas I had a run of children’s birthday parties. They were all so much fun and I’m just bursting with excitement to tell you more about them..

I started with a 1st birthday party in a play cafe in Islington. It was a bit of a tight fit but with shuffling tables (and parents) about we managed to create an adhoc performance space where I led a song, rhyme and storytime similar to the work I do for nurseries and libraries. I did a 30 minute set and tacted on some of my favourite global folk tales (Indian and Turkish) due to the wide age range at the party. Here’s the host feedback:

“I was a bit apprehensive as I had not seen John live however he was brilliant! and most of all the kids loved it just as much as the parents.”

Whilst the first party was fairly straight forward the second party was an absolutely bespoke project as I retold Chris Van Allsburg’s Polar Express for a book loving six year old in Greenwich. For reasons to do with preparation time and the difficulties I can have getting performance rights I decided quite early on that this would be a narrative storytelling (an abridged but interactive version of a far more elaborate story). Rather than just more drama roleplay activities, as it was a party I interspersed the storytelling elements with traditional party games like Follow my Leader, Blind Man’s Buff and Pass the Parcel. Here’s the hosts feedback:

“John managed to take a story we’ve read 1000 times and turn it in to a new and exciting adventure for my son and 20 of is friends. He held the audience of 3-6 year olds throughout and was energetic, innovative and entertaining throughout”.

For the last party I did something really quite exciting and at the same time really quite terrifying; I presented a who dunnit? for nine year olds. The party was held in a Pizzeria in Chingford and the eight guests were seated at a table. I shared a scenario about a missing birthday cake and then cast the guests as characters in the story. And do you know what? The children really got into it. They enjoyed playing the game of detectives and just as importantly I didn’t get thrown out of the restaurant for being a rabble rousing nuisance!

So three parties in two weeks. A very special first birthday, a retelling a family’s favourite story and a risky concept in a restaurant. Each had its challenges but they were a lot of fun and now the parties are over I want to do them all over again.

If you know somebody celebrating a birthday or are looking for party entertainment at affordable rates contact me to discuss how a storyteller can help deliver a unique and memorable event.

The (Birthday) Party season

At this time of the year I have usually downed tools for the festive period but with birthday party bookings to prepare for the Christmas week this year is a little bit different.  My usual feeling of triumphant relief at reaching the end of another year sane and solvent is still there but I can’t afford to get too demob happy as there’s still work to be done.

For me it seems birthday party bookings are like buses; you do none for ages and then three come along at once.  The three parties I’ll be entertaining at couldn’t be more different.  The first is a first birthday and will consist of songs, rhymes and stories, the second is for a six year old where I’m doing a narrative version of “The Polar Express” and the final one is for a nine year old and is to take place in a Pizzeria (I hope somebody warns the other customers!).

With every passing year I become more confident within my repertoire.  I know which stories will be winners and I understand the combinations to tell them in so that a set will be successful even if this means telling the same stories again and again but every so often I get a bespoke project; a new challenge, an excuse to develop new material.  Some bespoke projects will be more work than they are worth but just recently I worked up Sleeping Beauty, Rumpelstiltskin, Beauty and the Beast and reworked the Elves and the Shoemaker for some traditional tales and Christmas storytelling sessions.  I have previously blogged about the session I ran retelling the story of the Prophet Yusuf but I also had the opportunity to work up some Russian folktales for a school in Hampshire.  Here is their feedback on what we got up to…

“The visit was brilliant. We all enjoyed the stories which were perfect for our topic. We felt that it was pitched perfectly and the participation of children made it memorable and thoroughly enjoyable. Our children went on to tell and write their own stories based on this experience.A huge thank you and assurance that we would be keen to book John again and recommend him to others schools”.

Teacher, Fareham, November 2018I 

Whenever I do a visit, whether it be to a school, a library or a literature festival the aim is to do the very best work possible and in recent years there has been a very definite correlation between the calibre of what I showcase and the plaudits I receive.  When I do a bespoke project I often only get one shot at getting it right and in the case of a birthday party there’s the added pressure of really not wanting to spoil the special day.  Making a good impression at a library may have more obvious rewards than making a good impression at a birthday party but you never know who is watching or where an encounter may lead so although it may be a private booking its as important as anything else I do (the last birthday party I did lead to two days of work at a school).  So this Christmas as I digest my turkey I’ll also be carefully chewing these projects over and thinking about how I can make them memorable, enjoyable and above all fun.

If you’re interested in a bespoke storytelling experience or are looking for a storyteller contact me.

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a peaceful and prosperous new year.

The Enormous Crocodile with the Roald Dahl Company

In September I was invited to meet with the Roald Dahl Company in central London to discuss the work I had been doing with “The Twits” over the past two years.  They wanted to know more about my version of the story and we discussed access and how storytelling could help Dahl’s work reach more people.  To walk into Roald Dahl HQ and to talk about stories was one of the biggest thrills of my life.  I had been worried about the meeting having had some issues with the licence earlier in the year but from that very first meeting Roald Dahl team have been very supportive.  In late September a producer from the company came along to watch me perform in north London.  This presentation became the basis for discussing a new project for next year.

“I’ve got clever plans and special tricks.”

I am pleased to announce that in 2019 with the support of The Roald Dahl Company I’ll be telling Roald Dahl’s “The Enormous Crocodile”.  This is a tremendous opportunity to tell a popular, short story by perhaps this country’s most celebrated author and to engage and inspire a very young audience (probably four year olds rather than the six year olds who loved The Twits, Hundred Mile an Hour Dog and The Chamber of Mischief) in stories and reading.  It’ll also be a chance for professional reflection and development as I see inside and learn from a very respected, high calibre creative organisation.  In the coming weeks I’ll be allowed access to some of the Company’s resources as we work up this story and revise my presentation of The Twits.  For the first time since my last theatrical bow in 2007 I’ll be part of a larger creative team which includes Joseph Attenborough as composer, Dan White as artist and excitingly, Amy Hodge who will act as dramaturg, director and co-conspirator.  I can’t wait to get started!

I’ll be launching the story in March and will announce more dates for both The Enormous Crocodile and The Twits in the coming weeks.  If you know a potential venue please tell them about the project.  I’m hoping that libraries and literature festivals will want me to visit to tell this story but I’m also interested in talking to reception class teachers, primary schools and primary academy trusts who feel their schools could be venues for larger multi school presentations and public showings as I try to find new ways of making this story accessible to the most possible people.

I hope this is a story gets everybody excited and that 2019 can be the year of the crocodile!

Imagegate: why it matters to me and why it should matter to all artists

The following relates to a series of social media posts I made on the 6th December 2018. As the matter has been resolved I have chosen to bring the whole story together in a blog for the sake of closure and because it deals with an interesting subject.

Four years ago I was lucky enough to be involved in City Read.  City Read is an annual month long, London wide event during which readers come together to share a single book.  I told “Private Peaceful” in 22 of London’s 32 authorities.  This was huge for my career; in one month I exploded into the consciousness of London’s libraries as I went from working in North London onto a much bigger stage (in 4 years I have gone from working in Hackney, Haringey and Islington to working for over 60 authorities across England, Scotland and Wales).  The project also presented an opportunity to work at The Museum of London in the Docklands.

The booking in question was a weekend event at the Docklands Museum and meant telling Private Peaceful three times in one day to public audiences.  I was technically working for City Read at The Museum of London rather than directly for the museum this was still a huge thrill; my background to this point had been in heritage rather than libraries and I had cut my teeth as a storyteller with Hackney Museum, Bruce Castle and the Cuming Museum.  My day at the Docklands Museum came and went all too quickly.  I was part of a larger event themed around the Great War.  It was a wonderful experience and I had a great time but to be honest I hadn’t thought much more about it until what I’m now calling Imagegate broke this week.

It started when a friend of mine contacted me to say she’d seen a soldier at the Museum of London who looked exactly like me and that she was glad my work was going well.  I joked that I was pretty sure I hadn’t been around to fight the Great War but I’d be interested to see a picture of my doppelganger.  She then sent me a link which left me speechless.  You see, my friend hadn’t been to the museum, she’d been on the museum’s website.  The Museum of London had had another family activity day themed around the Great War and it was my face being used to promote the event.  I meanwhile had had no idea.

Here’s what happened.  All those years ago I signed a piece of paper which allowed the Museum of London to take pictures of my storytelling sessions.  Its not unusual for me to sign such documents and I’ll be honest I encourage libraries, galleries and museums to take pictures so they can use them in the future.  Whenever I give consent for photos or videos to be made its on the understanding that they are shared.  This is mutually beneficial as I can then use the media in my own documentation and promotion (I still haven’t worked out how to take pictures of myself).  In this instance the photo hadn’t been shared after the event but I knew it existed because some time ago in an idle moment I’d put my name into a well known internet search engine and it had popped up as being posted by CityRead in 2014.  Four years on from the CityRead event the picture was selected to promote a family day because staff felt it summed up the kind of activities that would be happening on that day.  For whatever reason I wasn’t credited in the promotion nor indeed was I contacted about participating in the event.

So why does the use of a photo matter so much?  Well…

It has taken me years to hone and develop my repertoire; I have done thousands of gigs and hundreds of thousands of miles, all in the name of building a reputation as a top quality performance storyteller.  Everything you see in this picture; the facial expression, the pose, the clothes and to a point even the words that I’m saying in the photograph, that’s all me and my work yet my contribution to the photograph is not recognised when its reposted.

I spend a lot of time and energy on getting the right permissions to tell stories.  Whenever somebody takes a picture or makes a video of me I immediately lose control of my work.  If they then choose to put their media onto the internet I have to trust that they do this with discretion so as not to compromise my work or my professional relationships.  In this instance, if this photo had been a video the people who trusted me with “Private Peaceful” (Berlin Associates acting on behalf of Michael Morpurgo) wouldn’t have been at all impressed.

The event that my image was used to promote featured a storyteller and yet I was never asked to participate and had no knowledge that the event was even happening.  So whilst there might be a perceived link between me and the event I in fact had no control over its quality as it was nothing to do with me.  The friend who alerted me to the picture didn’t know this and had got in touch to congratulate me on working for the Museum of London.  What if she or any of my followers/supporters had attended the event on the strength of the picture?  They would be disappointed to discover that they had been mislead.  Storytelling is a resurgent art form and its practitioners are as distinct as any other kind of artist.  I would like to be thought of as more than a thinking man’s party entertainer and we have to be careful about devaluing the storyteller’s art as it will inevitably have a negative impact on storytelling’s integrity.

As a result of the image being reused its probable that more people have seen this photo than saw the storytellings I did back in 2014.  Its a fantastic photograph but when my picture was taken it would have been outrageous to suggest to me it would some day be used to promote another storyteller and yet I have been powerless to prevent exactly this happening.  Yes, my complaint has been upheld but the event has already passed.  Saying this I am thankful that my image has only been reposted by a museum and it hasn’t been associated with anything stranger or more extreme.

When I told my story on social media friends and colleagues rallied around me in shared indignation, baffled at how anybody could be so thoughtless / rude / discourteous and to their credit the museum were quick to recognise that they were in the wrong.  They offered to take down the photo, they are reviewing how they use images in future and they also offered to add me to their pool of freelance storytellers.  Perhaps then this cloud does have a silver lining.

There is learning in this for me too.  I’m going to have to become much stricter about when people take photos knowing where the picture will be used in advance.  I’ll also have to look at the images I use on my website; am I correctly crediting photographers and workshop participants and is there a point at which I should really stop using even the very best pictures?

Imagegate has not been a nice episode but it has been dealt with and I can move forward.  I still admire the Museum of London for their incredible programme of educational workshops and as a place I aspire to work.  They took action as soon as they became aware of a problem and it’s my hope that not only I work with them again but that they will consider how they work with storytellers in the future.

Thanks to everyone for their support.

Postcard from Guernsey #gsylitfest 2017

For the second time in a month I am en route to a literature festival.  This time its a little closer to home but certainly no less exciting.  I am going to be part of Guernsey Literary Festival.

Three weeks ago I was in an expo center in Sharjah telling stories to children and families.  The whole thing came about quite suddenly and was over almost as quickly.  My trip to Guernsey has been scheduled for over six months.  It all started last summer when seeing the success and popularity of my retelling of “The Twits” I contacted various literature festivals about what I was doing and Guernsey got in touch.  My sessions on Friday evening and Sunday afternoon will be the culmination of months of planning and I’m happy to say that Lauren and VB are travelling with me – the Kirk’s are on tour!

The following was written at the time and updated after leaving the festival.

Thursday evening

Lauren and I are sitting in the dark in a Premier Inn on the outskirts of Poole Harbour.  No, there hasn’t been a power failure, VB is asleep.

Its been a very long day.  We left Walthamstow in our camper van at midday and made our way down to Poole arriving just before 8pm.  We got the van last year and had a few weekends away in him (his name is Bertie) before Verity was born.  Bertie’s very comfortable even if it was a bit of a squeeze to get the pram, my work paraphernalia and everything we need for what will be camping trip inside.  Also what I find is that if you drive him too quickly the steering wheel shakes so I tend to cruise along – it takes longer but that’s part of the fun.

Progress out of London was pretty painless.  That’s great because VB had her second round of jabs this morning and we weren’t sure how she’d respond (the Nurse said she was a very brave girl).  Lunch was at Fleet Services and tea (we say tea in Lancashire) was a Fish and Chip shop on Bournemouth beach.  This was Verity’s first time on a beach and her first time in a fish and chip shop.  Tomorrow will be her first time on a ferry.  I’m sure if she could talk to us she’d tell us that she’s just as excited as we are as we head to the Channel Islands.

The ferry is just after midday tomorrow and the journey time is about three hours.  When we get to Guernsey we’ll have to find the campsite and then I need to be at the Castle Cornet for 5.45pm for a session of spooky stories and then to judge a fancy dress competition(!).  The weather forecast is reasonable so fingers crossed for smooth sailing.

Friday night

From sitting in a hotel room in the dark to sitting in a tent in the dark (this time it’s because we’ve only got one torch).

Today was rollercoaster-esque – calm at points, crazy at others.

Our journey to Guernsey was pretty straight forward.  We reached the ferry terminal in good time and the ferry actually departed early!  Unlike the cross channel ferries I remember from my childhood, we had allocated seats.  Verity was very patient and the other passengers took it in turns to coo over her during the three hour crossing.  I find my daughter completely amazing and it was lovely to stand on the viewing deck and point out Brownsea Island and the Isle of Purbeck as we left Poole harbour.  So what that she’s three months old and asleep as I did it, this was a special moment that I shared with just her.

Arriving in Guernsey we clear customs (after declaring my daughter’s bum as an offensive weapon) and it should have been straight forward to find the campsite but the road we needed was closed and typically I hadn’t printed off a map.  We eventually found ourselves (Guernsey’s not that big) but the lost time meant I was now under pressure to get the tent up and get back to Castle Cornet for my event.

Now when I say tent I should mention that our awning is so big that you could probably park our campervan in it and still have space.  Nothing makes me more stressed than putting up tents and by the time we arrive at the Fauxquets campsite Verity’s grouchy which means I won’t even have Lauren’s help to do it.  Somehow I get the tent up but not before throwing my toys and tent poles out of the pram in a manner that would make my daughter proud.  Then there’s just enough time to turn around and head back into town for my event.

Driving back into town is a lot easier than driving out was but Guernsey’s roads are narrow and I’m glad I don’t have to do any 3 point turns or that I meet any large vehicles coming the other way.  Back in town we unload for the short walk into Castle Cornet only to discover I have parked on the wrong pier!  With only 25 minutes before I am due to start I have parked the van a lot further than a pram will be able to travel at speed.  Lauren waves me off and I leg it to the castle.

When I reach the castle I am greeted by a labyrinth of passageways which in my haste all seem exactly the same.  This castle was built to confuse invaders and as the minutes tick down I am totally baffled.  With 6 minutes to spare I find the South Battery where there is a marquee set up for the festival and the Museums at Night festivities.  Better still a friendly technician gives me a headset microphone.

The event is well received by a good sized crowd even if I am a bit flustered at the start.  I tell four spooky stories in my half hour slot covering hauntings, misadventure and witchcraft, and I leave the stage to generous applause.  Sunday’s event is a sell out and if the audience is anything like this evening’s it will be a fantastic afternoon.  After staging some photos in the castle grounds I track Lauren and VBz down at the van (Lauren couldn’t get the pram into the castle because it’s basically a vast network of ancient staircases) so has spent our hour apart food shopping.

I would like to break from my narrative about my time at #gsylitfest to mention that my wife is a hero.  She has the misfortune of being married to a workaholic who spends most of his life with the head in the clouds and barely a toe in reality.  She is my rock and my ship’s rudder and since Verity was born has been just brilliant.

Compliments paid and family reunited we leave St Peters Port and head back to the campsite for a noodle stir fry and to make a plan for tomorrow.

Saturday afternoon

Today I don’t have an event but there are still things to do and after a slow start including some tent maintenance and washing up from last night we head into St Peters Port.

I visited St Peters Port five years ago when I was freelancing for the Schools Shakespeare Festival.  It is a very picturesque place and today it is basked in sunshine.  We have a wander around the shops to buy some camping supplies and take the photos of the imposing Castle Cornet I forgot to take yesterday.  As we go we stop off at the Market Square which is easily recognised because of the series of inflatable marquees there.  There is a lot of festival activity here and volunteers in their recognisable black t-shirts are busy handing out brochures.  I meet Mandi at the ticket desk.  This is really putting a face to a name because she has been responsible for booking our accommodation and ferries and has been my point of contact with the festival up to now.  She shows me the Inner Street Market where I’ll be working tomorrow and we chat about Guernsey for a while.  It’s a lovely day so we head off to Cobo Bay but we’ll have to return tonight to touch base with the Tea Party organising team who will be decorating the space.

Saturday evening

We spend the afternoon at Cobo Bay on the western side of the island.  It is a long sweeping sandy beach broken occasionally by rugged rocks that jut out into the turquoise waters.  The weather is absolutely incredible and as I type it’s too easy to forget that this is actually a work blog rather than an advert for Guernsey’s tourist board.

Back in town I meet the team organising tomorrow’s event.  The event is scheduled for the Inner Street Market.  At one time it must have been a covered market but today it’s more of an arcade with HMV and the Co-op occupying the units at either end of what is a long rectangular space.  This is where I’ll be telling The Twits tomorrow afternoon to an audience of 100 children and their parents.

The premise of the event is very exciting.  The space is to be transformed into a magical world of Roald Dahl (the props, and scenic backdrops being prepared look fantastic).  Mrs Twit and Willy Wonka will welcome the guests and once I’m finished the Oompa Loompas will shepherd them onto the next activity.  In essence my presentation will become a part of a much larger interactive experience.  Having done something similar last year with “The Wind in the Willows”, I’m impressed by the vision and ambition of the project but I won’t lie, I’m glad I’m not the one who has to pull it off.  Between now and three o’clock tomorrow the organisers are going to put in a lot of work.

For the Kirk family it’s been a long old day and so after a dash round the shop we head back to our campsite – tomorrow Daddy has to work.

Sunday evening

It’s been another glorious day on the sunny island of Guernsey.

The day starts in relaxed fashion.  Living as we do in east London it’s great to wake up to the sound of birds and be surrounded by fields and Fauxquets is the perfect getaway from the stresses of modern life.  It’s a well-equipped, well-kept place and the owners are lovely.  Once we mobilise we drive around the island before heading into town to Candie Gardens for a picnic lunch.  After lunch I grabbed my gear from the van and go over to the venue.

Today was seafront Sunday in St Peters Port and the road along a section of the harbour has been transformed into a street café cum artisan’s market for the day.  The locals and tourists are out in force.  There is an enormous cruise ship in today and I hear tourists from France, Germany, Japan and America as I pass through on my way to work.

Something miraculous has happened in the market square and the Inner Market has become the Dahl wonderland described to me yesterday.  There is Pin the Tail on Fantastic Mr Fox, George is demonstrating Science experiments, drawing with Matilda and Miss Honey as well as a Wonkavision photo booth and much more.  It’s all very impressive and my hat goes off to the team that made it all happen overnight – a vision is one thing but the skills to execute that vision are invaluable.

Again I break from my narrative to recognise the contribution of the volunteers who make Guernsey Literary Festival what it is – a lot of the organisation and the preparation is done enthusiastically and passionately out of sheer goodwill so that people like me can waltz in, do our bit and waltz off again afterwards.  During our short stay here the island there’s been loads going on; wherever we’ve gone on this sunshine island we’ve found a friendly, welcoming atmosphere which is both infectious and humbling.

I set up for my event being sure to load extra water pistols for this extra special occasion and then the guests arrive in their costumes for the tea party.  My particular favourite costumes are a pair of Roly Poly birds who put my little puppet to shame.

The event goes well – as ever I’m super hyped to be in front of an audience and I tell the story perhaps a little faster than normal partly because I am aware that the tea party itself is waiting.  At the end I am given another generous round of applause and the audience is whisked away by a colourful band of Dahl characters.  Again we manage to get a few pictures with the event photographer (when I met him on Friday I thought he was familiar – it turns out he was featured in the ferry company magazine this month!).  This done I say my thank you’s and goodbyes and Lauren, VB and I leave town.  Lauren and VB were present for the story.  It’s the first time in close to five years that Lauren has actually seen me working and obviously its VBs first time.  They leave after 15 minutes because it wouldn’t do for the storyteller’s daughter to scream the house down; I think she enjoyed it though.

So we head to Jerbourg Point for beautiful views of the Channel Islands.  My contribution to the festival was actually only 55 minutes but I have enjoyed myself immensely and so have my family.  The last few days will live long in the collective memory and as we watch the cruise ship heading out of the harbour it will soon be our turn to follow but one thing’s sure, I hope I’ll be back again soon.

Post script – Monday evening

We’re on the dock awaiting our ferry but I thought I’d slip a bit more into this blog which I might otherwise forget.  After a lovely afternoon out on the north coast we came into town in the afternoon and I slipped away from Lauren and Verity and managed to catch the last 10 minutes of Chris Riddell’s presentation at the library – if I was only going to see one event it had to be this one.  Chris Riddell is an illustrator and author of Goth Girl and until June is the Children’s Laureate, a title previously held by among others Julia Donaldson, Michael Rosen and Malorie Blackman.  He had already visited a couple of schools and worked with over 500 children.  When I arrived he was discussing his books and showing some of his wonderful illustrations.  As someone who works in libraries a lot it was heartening to see that he makes himself so accessible (let’s be honest, Guernsey is off the beaten track) and that the final festival event was being held in the library.  The young people he spoke to were entranced by his work and his craft and the queue for book signings snaked out of the room afterwards.  For me the turnout confirms that so long as we have great storytellers there is a bright future for libraries.  It was a perfect way for my experience of the Guernsey Literary Festival to come to finish.

My Guernsey Literary Festival (in Pictures) #gsylitfest

Chris George, one of the event photographers at #gsylitfest, was kind enough to share some images with me and I think they are brilliant.

You can see more of Chris’s work on his website.