Treasure in Easingwold

Never has the run-up to a gig of mine been so nerve-wracking, or so top secret! How come? Read on …

It all started when BBC Radio York contacted me to let me know (highly confidentially!) that they’d chosen my ‘Birds and the Bees’ poetry show at Easingwold Community Library that week as the ‘Treasure’ in their Saturday-morning treasure hunt, called Finders Keepers. Not familiar with Finders Keepers? All is explained in this clip, from the 9am beginning of this Saturday’s show:

So, six cryptic clues that listeners have to solve by noon, taking the Radio York reporter (+ side-kick) to locations around North Yorkshire. And come down to the wire it did, this week!

The idea had been that the Radio York reporter would reach me (i.e. the ‘Treasure’) at Easingwold Community Library at around 11.50. My first job, therefore, was to arrive at the library nice and early, get myself set up and ready to hand over the all-important envelope – i.e. the solution to the final cryptic clue – and be interviewed about the upcoming event that afternoon.

And thanks to my driver-and-roadie husband Mike, that I managed to do:

Arrived at Easingwold Community Library with Finders Keepers 'Treasure' envelope

Arrived at Easingwold Community Library at 11.20 with the Finders Keepers ‘Treasure’ envelope

From then on we just had to wait and hope that Radio York reporter Abigail would find her way to us. Diana, one of the Easingwold Community Library volunteers, set up a tranny in the library to follow events:

Library volunteer Diana following Finders Keepers on the radio

Library volunteer Diana following Finders Keepers on the radio

It got later, and later, and later – and the final clue was finally picked up, at Ampleforth College Prep School at Gilling Castle, at 11.40. The clue was:

The good news is that a couple of people phoned in not long after, with a possible solution to this clue:

The bad news is that by this time it was around 11.47, and it takes some 20 minutes to get from Gilling Castle to Easingwold. So we in the library were somewhat despondent, convinced that no-one was going to reach us by noon. Which would mean no publicity for the library and my event there.

Nevertheless, hope springs eternal, so library volunteer Diana despatched me to stand outside the library with my ‘Treasure’ envelope to see if I could spot the Radio York reporters and get them to us asap.

So there I am standing outside the library, and a woman comes running towards me with a phone clamped to her ear and she’s waving at me. I assume this is the miracle we’ve been waiting for, and I hand the ‘Treasure’ envelope over to her. She’s puffed and one-handed (other hand occupied with the phone), so together we tussle with the envelope and get it open and she reads out the ‘Treasure’ down her phone.

Now what I didn’t realise was that a) it was 11.59 by this time (i.e. one minute before the noon deadline) and b) this wasn’t actually the Radio York reporter. This is what had been happening whilst I was stood outside the library scouting for BBC reporter Abigail:

The fabulous Jess, at Easingwold Community Library, with the 'Treasure' envelope

The fabulous Jess, at Easingwold Community Library, with the ‘Treasure’ envelope

So, mission accomplished! The ‘Treasure’ was found – albeit in a rather unorthodox fashion – in the nick of time. The ‘Treasure’ being:

The Finders Keepers 'Treasure' revealed!

The Finders Keepers ‘Treasure’ revealed!

Explanation: Easingwold Library hosts poet Anneliese Emmans Dean and her Big Buzz stories this afternoon.
TREASURE’

With Jess, Treasure found, outside Easingwold Community Library

With Jess, Treasure found, outside Easingwold Community Library

Some time later Abigail, the Radio York reporter, did reach us at the library. By this time, though, the Finders Keepers programme had finished, so there was no time to broadcast an interview with us about our event.

BBC Radio York Finders Keepers reporter Abigail with Easingwold Community Library volunteer Diana, and Jess, who saved the day!

BBC Radio York Finders Keepers reporter Abigail with Easingwold Community Library volunteer Diana, and Jess, who saved the day!

However, Abigail did record an interview with us, and it was broadcast around 40 minutes later (as part of the next programme, hosted by Ross Dickinson):

So, our event and the library did get publicity after all!

Following all this on a phone app in her car on the way down from Scotland was Lyn Fenby, one of the volunteers at Easingwold Community Library, and the person who had invited me to come and put on a ‘Birds and the Bees’ show for them. She and her family arrived at the library just in time for the event that afternoon. I’d like to thank her for inviting me to the library for – as you heard – the first of what they hope will be a series of regular, monthly Saturday author events held there.

Having spent quite some time at the library on Saturday (!), I got to see the excellent work the volunteers do there. It’s clear that this library – like all libraries – is very much a community resource, a community hub, and it’s vital that it stay open, continuing to serve its local community. Since April, when it ceased to be run and funded by North Yorkshire County Council, the only way it can continue to perform that vital role, is through the work of dedicated volunteers. Hats off to you all!

Gig-wise, what I really enjoyed about this one was the age range of the audience. From 8 to 80-something, I’d say. And at one time or another I saw smiles on all of their faces. Very gratifying.

Some of the audience joining in ...

Some of the audience joining in

Though most gratifying of all was when, at the end of the show, 8-year-old Gus from the audience spontaneously – and very fluently – read out my Kestrel poem from my Flying High! book. Fabulous!

And finally … as it happens, this was the first show I’d put on since it had been announced – the day before – that my book Flying High! had been shortlisted for this year’s York Culture Awards (in the ‘Excellence in Writing’ category). I was bowled over when Lyn mentioned this in her ‘thank you’ at the end of the show, and presented me with a fabulous bird-themed bottle of wine to mark the occasion. Gosh! It’s been quite a couple of days!

p.s. There’s been some lovely feedback on Easingwold Community Library’s facebook page:
‘We are keeping our fingers crossed that you will come back and see us again, such an excellent, inspiring, educational and buzzing workshop last Saturday, thank you again.’

Looking forward to a return visit already!

Anneliese Emmans Dean – theBigBuzz – Bringing poetry to life

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Sounds interesting …

The day after the momentous Brexit result in our EU referendum, we had the pleasure of welcoming a very special migrant to our garden here on the outskirts of York. Take a listen to this:

Isn’t it beautiful? It’s the first time I’ve ever, in the 20 years we’ve lived here, heard this bird singing in our garden. And it provided very welcome balm for the soul.

In case you’re wondering, what you’ve just listened to is a male Blackcap.

As anyone who has been to one of my Flying High! shows will know, I am a big fan of birdsong. And I’m very keen, through my Flying High! shows (often performed with storyteller Catherine Heinemeyer) and my forthcoming Flying High! book, to tune other people in to the joys (and occasional annoyances!) of the birdsong around them.

However, birdsong isn’t the only fabulous sound you might hear in your garden. If you listen carefully, you’ll hear all sorts of other interesting sounds.

For example, ten days after I heard the Blackcap singing, I was just about to go to bed when I heard a familiar sound through the bathroom window. We hear it every year at about this time. Have a listen. Do you know what it is?

The first time I heard it, I had no idea what it was. The answer is: two hedgehogs getting to know each other. They snuffle around each other like this for ages and ages. We feel very lucky that year after year, hedgehogs come to our garden for this special event in their lives.

Courting hedgehogs in our garden, 4 July 2016

Courting hedgehogs in our garden in Heslington, 4 July 2016

And here’s another intriguing sound. I heard it in the garden over the course of a few days last week. It was coming from our wooden trellis. Any idea what it is? (N.B. You need to listen very carefully!)

For the answer to this one, I’ll point you in the direction of my award-winning Buzzing! book. All is revealed on pages 20 and 21!

Meanwhile, may your life be enriched by tuning in to the sounds of nature all around you.

Oh, and if you’re wondering what the effect of leaving the EU may be on our wildlife here in Britain, have a read of this interesting document, The EU and Our Environment, drawn up in advance of the referendum by the RSPB, Wildlife Trusts and WWF.

Anneliese Emmans Dean theBigBuzz – Bringing poetry to life

 

Best in class?

Stop press: Send your votes by 8pm on Sunday 1st November to  justaboutbooksnsomerset@gmail.com (My book Buzzing! is in the Poetry category.)

Calling all primary teachers, teaching assistants and school librarians! What books do you find work best in class? I ask because the shortlist for the North Somerset Teachers’ Book Award has just been announced, and the organisers would like you to vote for which of these books you think will work best in your classrooms.

Screen shot of Website of the North Somerset Teachers Book Award

The North Somerset Teachers’ Book Award is a new award. As you can see from the screenshot above, it aims to:

‘champion a selection of the best children’s literature on offer for use in the primary classroom.

As professionals who work with children every day, we are passionate about raising the profile of quality children’s literature which will engage and inspire children to develop a life-long love of reading.’

Hear hear! And given all that, I’m mighty proud that they have shortlisted my book Buzzing! – Discover the poetry in garden minibeasts in the Poetry category. The other two poetry contenders are My Rhino Plays the Xylophone by Graham Denton and What Are We Fighting For? by Brian Moses and Roger Stevens.

Cover of my book Buzzing!

As I mentioned when I was longlisted in August, the award review of Buzzing! highlights many of the features of the book that I had hoped would appeal to readers in general and teachers in particular. I wanted to create a book in which science met poetry, a book that would present a cross-curricular approach to minibeasts, a book that would enhance and support teachers in their practice. And a book that would make you giggle! (Learning through laughter, rhythm and rhyme being what I’m all about.)

Have I succeeded in this? Well, judge for yourselves! You can download a free sample from Buzzing! and a free Buzzing! teacher resource from my website. (Where you can also order copies of the book, if you are so minded.)

Meanwhile, here are some quotes from the award review of Buzzing!:

‘Never have minibeasts been more appealing than in this book!’

‘As you read [the poems], you find yourself getting into the rhythm of the lines and wanting to read aloud.’

‘Another strength of this book is the fact that it encourages the reader to find out more’

‘A great resource for livening up lessons on life processes and living things!’

‘Fun to use as a cross curricular resource or for performance poetry!’

You can find out more about how Buzzing! came into being in this perspicacious interview, carried out for the award by 12-year-old Tayler.

I think this award is a very valuable initiative – and not just because my book has been nominated! I believe it has great value for teachers, libarians and support staff in primary schools across the country. The award organisers have put a lot of time, expertise and passion into selecting books in five categories (Picture Books, Poetry, Quality Fiction, Read Aloud and Information) that they genuinely believe will support and enhance classroom practice. So do join in, peruse the books on the shortlist – and vote!

A note from the award organisers:

‘Voting is only open to teachers, school librarians, support staff etc. as we really want the winners to be chosen for what teachers think will work in class!’

Email your votes to justaboutbooksnsomerset@gmail.com

(Oh, and if you’d like a Buzzing! visit to your school at some point, just email me.)

Anneliese Emmans Deanwww.theBigBuzz.biz – Bringing poetry to life

 

Topic: Minibeasts!

All the pupils at Hague Bar Primary School in Derbyshire are studying minibeasts this term, and their classrooms, hall and corridors are teeming with fabulous minibeast artwork. How do I know? Because I was there on Friday, to add some minibeast poetry to the mix!

I started the day by performing my interactive, cross-curricular, minibeast poetry show Buzzing! for the whole school. (During which much giggling was had by all …) I then spent the rest of the day working with each of their four classes in turn – indoors and out. At the end of the day the children all came together in a sharing assembly and performed some of the fantastic minibeast poems they’d created.

How did the day go? Well, the Year 5/6 teacher Jacinta Robinson thanked me for:

‘your brilliant assembly and workshops.
The staff and children loved it!
We would all highly recommend you to other schools.’

And Year 3/4 teacher Leah Jackson said my minibeast poetry workshop with her class was:

‘fantastic. All the children were fully engaged and thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Every child produced something to be proud of.’

I was proud of the minibeast poems the children created too. As were their parents, some of whom had come along for the sharing assembly.

I think the school has something else to be proud of as well: the views it commands over the Derbyshire countryside. How’s about this for a view out of a classroom window?

The stunning view from a Hague Bar classroom

The stunning view from a Hague Bar classroom

I could go on at length about how enthusiastic and welcoming the children were, how inventive their poems were, how helpful all the staff were, etc. etc. etc. – but I have an important job to get on with. At the end of my visit the children bought more copies of my Buzzing! book than I had with me – so I need to go and sign and dedicate a lot more copies now and get them in the post!

If you’re studying minibeasts in your primary school and would like me to come and put on some cross-curricular minibeast poetry activities for your pupils, then do email me. I look forward to hearing from you.

Cover of my book Buzzing!

Anneliese Emmans Deanwww.thebigbuzz.biz – Bringing poetry to life

World Book Day 2015

World Book Day 2015: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

It was the best of times, because I spent the day edu-taining the pupils at Byron House, St John’s College School in Cambridge with Buzzing! shows, poetry workshops and Rhyme Time Rambles:

A World Book Day Rhyme Time Ramble at St John's College School

A World Book Day Rhyme Time Ramble at St John’s College School

More Rhyme Time Rambling at St John's College School

More Rhyme Time Rambling at St John’s College School

And I got to meet lots of lovely pupils as I signed copies of my brand new paperback Buzzing! book:

15 - 03 - Buzzing at Byron House 1

Signing copies of my brand new Buzzing! paperback at St John's School in Cambridge

Signing copies of my brand new Buzzing! paperback at St John’s College School in Cambridge

It was the worst of times because I had to judge the school’s Buzzing! bookmark competition. This was an impossible task, as the children had come up with such a wide variety of fabulous bookmarks. See for yourself here:

Just some of the entries to the St John's School Buzzing! bookmark competition

Just some of the many entries to the St John’s School Buzzing! bookmark competition

Buzzing bookmark comp - 2

Eventually I did manage to select some winners, but I would like all the pupils to know how wonderful their bookmarks were, and what a joy it was to look at them all.

More beautiful Buzzing! bookmark entries

More beautiful Buzzing! bookmark entries

Thank you to all the staff and pupils at St John’s College School who made my World Book Day visit such a pleasure. Special thanks go to Julia Clarke, the school librarian, who did so much to enthuse the children about my visit in advance and to make it the success it was. I particularly enjoyed working with her to prepare my library poetry workshop.

What did the school make of my visit? Well, one member of staff said it was:
the best author visit we’ve had‘.
I can’t ask for better staff feedback than that!

More brilliant Buzzing! bookmarks

Yet more brilliant Buzzing! bookmarks

But did the children enjoy my visit? Well, here are some of their views:

‘I loved the way Anneliese performed her poems  – they were great!’

‘I liked Anneliese because she said that if you want to remember something you should write a poem about it. I think that’s really clever.”

‘I loved Anneliese’s visit as she was so inspiring.’

‘I loved Anneliese’s story telling in her Buzzing! show and I liked learning more about minibeasts.’

‘I loved the way Anneliese acted and the way her voice matched the insect and the way she remembered all those poems that she’d written.’

So, there you have it. If you’d like your school to have a buzzing visit, then do get in contact.

Anneliese Emmans Deanwww.theBigBuzz.biz – Bringing poetry to life

 

Buzzing! goes paperback

In the beginning there was the hardback version of my book Buzzing! It was nominated for the Carnegie Medalshortlisted for the Royal Society Young People’s book prize and selected as a National Insect Week recommended children’s book and teachers’ resource.

That edition sold out.

Then came the hardback reprint. Just in time for the Hay Festival.

And now, just in time for World Book Day, comes the paperback edition of Buzzing!

Cover of my book Buzzing!

Cover of my paperback book Buzzing!

Just as colourful. Just as funny. Just as educational. But lighter – in your hand, and on your wallet. (Just £9.99 instead of the hardback £14.99.)

To celebrate the paperback launch, for the next two weeks (till 15 March 2015) I’m donating 50p for each book ordered on my website to the Bumblebee Conservation Trust (registered charity 1115634 & SCO42830), who wrote the Foreword to the book. (And who do sterling work for bumblebees and, therefore, for us all!)

Order your signed paperback copy of Buzzing! – with free UK p&p – here!

And if you’d like me to dedicate your copy to someone, just let me know their name when you place your order.

Anneliese Emmans Deanwww.theBigBuzz.biz – Bringing poetry to life

 

National Poetry Day 2014

I had the great good fortune to spend this year’s National Poetry Day in glorious rural North Yorkshire, where the sun shone brightly and the flags were hoisted in celebration!

Flags hoisted for National Poetry Day 2014 in rural North Yorkshire

Flag hoisted to celebrate National Poetry Day 2014 in rural North Yorkshire

(Well, I like to think that’s why they were hoisted!)

I was the guest of the Hutton Rudby Ladies Luncheon Club, for whom I performed my Buzzing! poetry show in which I introduced a range of garden heroes and garden villains in ‘edu-taining’ rhythm and rhyme. After which came a delicious lunch!

I met some very interesting ladies in the course of my visit – and was lucky enough to be given lifts to and from the nearest station by two of them. (Thank you Margaret and Barbara!)

Enjoying National Poetry Day in North Yorkshire

Enjoying National Poetry Day in North Yorkshire

So, what did the ladies think of their National Poetry Day entertainment? Well, here’s some feedback from their Speaker Finder:

‘Your poems are very clever and your photos are beautiful. You kept everyone interested in your talk with your enthusiastic, lively approach. It it is an inspired way of getting a message over to people of all ages. Everyone I spoke to enjoyed your visit and I am sure went away a little wiser.’

Well that’s good to hear!

If you’d like some poetry entertainment for your event, you don’t have to wait until next year’s National Poetry Day. Any day can be Poetry Day! Just contact me to find out more.

Meanwhile, thank you to Hutton Rudby Ladies Luncheon Club for inviting me to share National Poetry Day with them, and for making me so welcome. (And for arranging such glorious weather!)

Anneliese Emmans Dean – www.theBigBuzz.biz – Bringing poetry to life