Youth Theatre flies high!

The ginormous invitation (taller than I am!) from Project B

In my recent podcast, recorded at the Ledbury Poetry Salon, I talked about how the poems in my two books (Buzzing! and Flying High!) can help children develop empathy by enabling them to see the world through other creatures’ eyes.

Last Saturday I had the privilege of seeing that put into action in an extraordinary way by the members of York Theatre Royal’s Project B Youth Theatre group, led by Catherine Heinemeyer. Under Catherine’s tutelage, the 5- to 8-year-old children in Project B didn’t just see the world through other creatures’ eyes, they experienced the world as other creatures. They became those other creatures.

And in exploring others’ emotions and behaviours, they were, of course, being able to explore their own too.

Let me explain.

Catherine decided to devote this term to birds, specifically through a selection of the poems in my new book Flying High! Discover the poetry in British birds. I was sent a stonking invitation (taller than I am!) created by the members of Project B, to come to their end-of-term sharing, where they were going to perform for their parents. And where I joined in too.

In their sharing, the children acted out the contrasting behaviours of Starlings – now scrapping with each other, now swirling round elegantly all together as a mass murmuration – to my Starling poem called ‘Startling’.

They divided into (posh) Great-crested Grebes and (common-as-muck) ducks and performed my ‘Different Strokes’ poem.

As I performed my poem about a Blackbird building a nest, they built their own nest together:

Project B children sitting in the nest they'd created

Project B children sitting in the nest they built

And then, as we all joined in with my poem about a Blue tit leaving its nest, they experimented with leaving their safe, cosy nest (or not!):

Project B children leaving their cosy nest (or not!)

Project B children leaving their cosy nest (or preferring to stay put!)

In my podcast, I also talk about the importance of rhythmic rhyming poetry for developing children’s language and broadening their vocabulary. You can hear this in action in this clip of the Project B children reciting, along with me, my courting pigeon poem:

(The footsteps you can hear in the background are them pattering around as pigeons, trying to attract a mate.)

I was entranced by the use Catherine and Project B made of the material in my book, and hope others will use it in similar ways too. It’s always a complete joy to me when children read out my poems. But watching them performing the poems and exploring the different behaviours and emotions in them like this was remarkable. And very moving.

Catherine described my taking part in the session as ‘a real 360 degree experience’ for the children. It was for me too!

With Project B after the sharing

Anneliese Emmans Dean – theBigBuzz – Bringing poetry to life

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Flying High! down Sussex way

I took all 170 minibeast photos that appear in my first book, Buzzing! But when it came to my second book, Flying High!  I knew that I had neither the equipment nor the expertise needed to take the bird photos it required. And so it is that only 9 of the photos in Flying High! were taken by me. The rest have been taken by extremely talented bird photographers from around Britain. One of whom is Phil Winter.

I’m proud to relate that there are 13 of Phil’s extraordinary bird photos in Flying High!

Phil is from East Sussex. His local newspaper, the Sussex Express, picked up on this story a couple of weeks back, and featured him – and Flying High! – in the following article:

Article from the Sussex Express, July 2017

Article from the Sussex Express, July 2017

Which photos in Flying High! are by Phil? Well, they’re all listed under his name on the Acknowledgements pages. They include Tawny Owls at night on page 116, a Blackbird begging for food on page 50 and a Robin in the snow that opens the Winter section on page  96. Check them out. They’re stunning.

Meanwhile, on the Gallery page here, you can see a photo of the farm on which Phil takes lots of his photos. (Well, it’s mostly a photo of the lovely little girls who live on the farm – but you get a glimpse of the landscape too!)

Thank you to Phil, and to all the talented photographers who’ve allowed their photos to be included in Flying High!

Anneliese Emmans Dean – theBigBuzz – Bringing poetry to life

 

Today’s the day!

Great excitement here, as today’s the day my new book, Flying High! Discover the poetry in British birds is published! I hope you enjoy it!

Buy your signed copy, with free postage, for £9.99
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Anneliese Emmans Dean – theBigBuzz – Bringing poetry to life

Little Feet fly high at York Theatre Royal

York Theatre Royal rang to the sounds of birdsong plus the patter of (relatively) tiny feet last Saturday. Why? Because storyteller Catherine Heinemeyer and I were putting on performances of our Flying High show there as part of the fourth Little Feet Festival of Children’s Theatre.

Catherine Heinemeyer and I performing Flying High at York Theatre Royal

Catherine Heinemeyer and I performing Flying High at York Theatre Royal (Photo: Eloise Ross)

Flying High takes you into the wonderful world of birds, through rhythm, rhyme, story and song. And – on this occasion – finger-puppets too.

Finger puppet at Flying High at York Theatre Royal

(Photo: Eloise Ross)

It was fabulous to see so many young children in the theatre, enjoying the (newly refurbished) spaces, and the shows and activities put on specially for them.

Taking part in Flying High

Taking part in Flying High (Photo: Eloise Ross)

How did our show go down?

Ursula’s mum called it ‘a wonderful show. My daughter loved it and was talking about it today when I poured her water at tea time!’

Listening to Catherine's story ...

Listening to Catherine’s story … (Photo: Eloise Ross)

And Festival co-organiser, Juliet Forster of York Theatre Royal, said she had ‘really enjoyed’ our show, and that it had been ‘a great addition to the festival’.

(Photo: Eloise Ross)

(Photo: Eloise Ross)

Flying High comes in lots of flavours, to suit different ages and attention spans, from tinies right through to grown-ups. Let us know if you’d like us to come fly high where you are!

(Photo: Eloise Ross)

(Photo: Eloise Ross)

Meanwhile, if you haven’t checked out the newly revamped York Theatre Royal, do. See what a £6 million redevelopment looks and feels like!

Anneliese Emmans DeantheBigBuzz.biz – Bringing poetry to life

 

Family Fun at Ryedale Book Festival

‘Step through the magnificent gates into a magical woodland world …’ the Festival brochure said. And it wasn’t wrong.

On Sunday, children, parents, grandparents and godparents galore gathered in Malton’s ‘secret garden’, Castle Gardens, for the Ryedale Book Festival Family Fun Day themed around nature.

The day started off with artist and illustrator Matt Sewell teaching us all how to draw birds, in his Spotting and Jotting workshop:

Matt Sewell teaching us how to draw birds

Matt Sewell teaching us how to draw birds

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Then storyteller Catherine Heinemeyer and I took to the stage to perform our Flying High show all about birdsong – ably assisted by members of the audience, young and not-so-young alike.

Catherine Heinemeyer and I performing Flying High, ably assisted by an audience member. Ryedale Book Festival, October 2015

Catherine Heinemeyer and I performing Flying High, ably assisted by an audience member. Ryedale Book Festival, October 2015

And the entertainments kept coming! I had had a word with the Mayor of Malton on the previous Friday about securing us good weather for the day, and she didn’t disappoint. It was a beautiful sun-soaked Autumn day. So we were able to enjoy and explore the outdoor space with a book-cover trail, particularly fine face-painting

Face painting by Sarah Corner

Face painting by Sarah Corner of facepaintingcorner.co.uk

… freshly baked pizzas and coffee and cakes, all accompanied by exquisitely crafted book-themed songs written and performed by the fabulous Bookshop Band.

The Bookshop Band at Ryedale Book Festival

The Bookshop Band at Ryedale Book Festival

Waterstones was on hand to sell books, with a nice big space for us authors to sign and dedicate copies for our readers.

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Signing copies of Buzzing! at the Waterstones bookstall

And whilst we were roaming the Gardens, Matt Sewell was at the boundary wall creating a wonderful bird-themed mural – a flurry of Long-tailed Tits:

Matt Sewell creating his mural at Castle Gardens, Malton

Matt Sewell creating his mural at Castle Gardens, Malton

All in all a lovely, lovely day with a huge range of inspiring activities and experiences for all ages. If you missed it this year, then do put Ryedale Book Festival in your diary for next year.

I’ll leave you with a quote from the Festival brochure:
‘The Ryedale Book Festival is an inclusive, community-led, not for profit organisation run by a team of dedicated volunteers with a passion for books. If you would like to get involved, contact the Festival team: events@ryedalebookfestival.com

And … it even has its own beer!

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Thank you to all the volunteers who put so much work into creating such a friendly and well-run Festival – especially Sarah Tyson, Audrie Woodhouse, Helen Lowdell and Pinelopi Bourke. It was a great pleasure to be part of it.

Anneliese Emmans DeantheBigBuzz – Bringing poetry to life

More big garden thrills

This time last week it was a Hummingbird hawkmoth and young robins that were providing big thrills in our small garden on the outskirts of York.

This week it’s a Hairy shieldbug (Dylocoris baccarum):

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A Hairy shieldbug on one of our poppies, 15 June 2015. Dig those colours!

and a recently fledged blue tit harrying its parent for food:

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Blue tits on our aquilegia, 16 June 2015

There’ll be more about these blue tits in my next book, Flying High, which is the bird sequel to Buzzing! But you’ll have to wait till next year to read that …

Meanwhile, keep your eyes peeled for big garden thrills where you are!

Anneliese Emmans DeantheBigBuzz – Bringing poetry to life

 

 

Flying High again

Storyteller Catherine Heinemeyer and I had great fun last week when we performed our Flying High show all about birds to The Children’s Society PACT Project Youth Club here in York. I say we performed the show ‘to’ them. Actually ‘with’ would be a much more accurate term, as the Youth Club members joined in with great gusto. They joined in with the poems I performed and they told us all about the birds in their gardens and then at the end, we all made up a story together, about a robin.

Joining in the storytelling

Joining in the storytelling

Catherine and I were thrilled to read the feedback forms we asked our audience to fill in. All the young people and all their support workers said they’d enjoyed the show ‘a lot’, and they all said they’d learned new things about birds.

Filling in the Feedback Form!

Filling in the Feedback Form!

My feedback about the evening: it was a joy to perform for (with!) these young people, and to chat with them afterwards. Thank you for having us!

Me with Catherine Heinemeyer and one of the Youth Club memb

Me with Catherine Heinemeyer and one of the Youth Club members at the end of our show

Anneliese Emmans DeantheBigBuzz – Bringing Poetry to Life