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!
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.
Flying High takes you into the wonderful world of birds, through rhythm, rhyme, story and song. And – on this occasion – finger-puppets too.
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.
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!’
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’.
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!
Meanwhile, if you haven’t checked out the newly revamped York Theatre Royal, do. See what a £6 million redevelopment looks and feels like!
Here’s a sneak preview of the cover of my new book, Flying High!, which will be published later this year by Brambleby Books:
Isn’t it wonderful? Designed by Tanya Warren at Creatix Design for Brambleby, and featuring a superb photo taken by Lee Walker.
The eagle-eyed amongst you will have spotted that this is very much the companion volume to my first Brambleby book, i.e. Buzzing! But whereas Buzzing! was all about minibeasts, Flying High! is – you’ve guessed it – all about birds.
Flying High! takes you through the seasons, bird by bird, poem by poem, fact by fact. (Oh, and giggle by giggle, of course!) All accompanied by stunning photos from a whole array of talented bird photographers. And a fabulous Foreword by the RSPB Vice-President himself, none other than Professor Sir John Lawton CBE FRS.
All very exciting!
I’ll let you know when publication is imminent …
‘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:
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 …
… freshly baked pizzas and coffee and cakes, all accompanied by exquisitely crafted book-themed songs written and performed by the fabulous Bookshop Band.
Waterstones was on hand to sell books, with a nice big space for us authors to sign and dedicate copies for our readers.
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:
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: firstname.lastname@example.org‘
And … it even has its own beer!
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.
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.
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.
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!
Have you heard your first chiffchaff of this (so-called) Spring yet? A member of the audience at our ‘Flying High’ show on Friday has – in York Cemetery.
Don’t know what a chiffchaff sounds like? You obviously weren’t at our ‘Flying High’ show! I defy anyone who was there not to be able to instantaneously recognise a chiffchaff when they next hear one!
Thank you to everyone who packed Jacob’s Well on Friday and joined in our York Literature Festival ‘Flying High’ show with such gusto. And listened to Catherine Heinemeyer’s telling of the Sumerian Anzu Bird story with such attentiveness.
Particular thanks to John Illingworth, for taking these fabulous photos of the event:
Thank you too to Conor and Paddy, without whom we never would have got the venue set up in time!
And a big Thank You to Festival Director Miles Salter and his band of stalwart volunteers for putting on another fantastic York Literature Festival.
Oh, and if you’d like us to come Fly High at your school or event, just get in touch!