Natural History Museum is Buzzing!

The Bug ClubWell, the future of entomology is in very good hands! I can say this with some authority as I spent Saturday at the Natural History Museum in London at a meeting of The Bug Club, which is the junior arm of the Amateur Entomologists’ Society.

The Bug Club members are not only enthusaistic and knowledgeable about insects, they are very proficient communicators too, as witnessed by the fascinating presentations they gave – complete with PowerPoint – on a variety of different insect themes, including moths, caterpillars, French insects and the Hairy Footed Flower Bee.

I was astounded by the quality of these presentations, given by children as young as 8 or 9! They were engaging and informative, and I heard every word. I wish I could say the same for all the PowerPoints I have sat through given by grown-ups!

Why was I at this get-together? Well, I was providing the morning ‘edu-tainment’, in the form of an insect-themed Buzzing! show. Followed by an insect-themed poetry workshop in the afternoon.

To inspire our poetry writing in the afternoon, Max Barclay, Collections Manager of the Museum’s Beetle (Coleoptera) and True bug (Hemiptera) collections, brought us in two cases of amazing insects. One was a case of moths and butterflies he himself had collected. The other was a case of beetles, collected in Asia in the 19th-century.

Beetles at the Natural History Museum

Beetles from the Natural History Museum collections to inspire us in our poetry workshop

The children’s imaginations were fired by these insects, and they came up with some fabulously vivid poems about them, which they went on to perform to the other Bug Club members and their families.

NHM-Stone-Jaws

Who could fail to be inspired by this extraordinary beetle from the Natural History Museum collections?

Judging by their performance, I’d say the future of poetry is in good hands, too!

Anneliese Emmans Dean with her band of poets at the Natural History Museum

With my band of poets at the Natural History Museum (Photo by Hugh McLeod)

Thank you to everyone at the AES who was involved in organising such an inspiring day. And to Max Barclay for letting us spend time close up and personal with some of the Natural History Museum’s insect collections!

NHM beetles

More inspiring NHM beetles …

Oh, and if you’re interested in becoming an entomologist (like Max Barclay), then I recommend reading ‘Working in Entomology’, a fascinating book by 14-year-old Bug Club member Rachel McLeod, which was launched at this Bug Club event!

Darwin at the NHM in London

The great man himself, Charles Darwin, presiding over everything at the Natural History Museum in London

Anneliese Emmans Deanwww.theBigBuzz.biz – Bringing Poetry to Life

Flying High on Friday

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:

Flying High with Catherine Heinemeyer at York Literature Festival. Photo by John Illingworth.

Flying High with Catherine Heinemeyer at York Literature Festival 2013. Photo by John Illingworth.

How big is a herring gull's wingspan? This big! From Flying High at York Literature Festival 2013. Photo by John Illingworth.

How big is a herring gull’s wingspan? This big! From Flying High at York Literature Festival 2013. Photo by John Illingworth.

Catherine Heinemeyer telling us the tale of the Anzu Bird, in Flying High at York Literature Festival 2013. Photo by John Illingworth.

Catherine Heinemeyer telling us the tale of the Anzu Bird, in Flying High at York Literature Festival 2013. Photo by John Illingworth.

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!

Anneliese Emmans Dean – www.theBigBuzz.biz – Bringing Poetry to Life

World Book Day 2013

I spent World Book Day last year with the pupils of Le Cateau Primary School, who helped me come up with the sub-title for my – then soon-to-be-published – Buzzing! book.

This year I spent World Book Day in the company of the pupils of Leeming and Londonderry Primary School, where I had the great pleasure of signing copies of my – now well-and-truly published – Buzzing! book.

World Book Day 2013

I also had the very onerous job of judging their World Book Day competition. The children had each brought in a photo of themselves reading a book in an unusual place. I had to judge which place was the most unusual!

It was an impossible task. There were so many fabulously unusual and quirky places, including upside down on a climbing frame, on a quad bike, and in a jacuzzi! Take a look for yourself:

The Leeming and Londonderry Primary School World Book Day competition entries

In the end I did choose a winner – but it was one of the most difficult jobs I’ve ever had to do!

Here’s to next year’s World Book Day! I wonder what it will bring …

Meanwhile, Thank You to Leeming and Londonderry Primary School for inviting me to spend this important day with them.

Happy Reading one and all!

Anneliese Emmans Dean – www.theBigBuzz.biz – Bringing Poetry to Life

Ribbon cutting at Elvington Primary School

I have done many jobs in my time, from shop assistant to translator for the High Court in London, but last Thursday I added another string to my bow: I became a Ribbon Cutter! Yes, I had the enormous privilege of cutting the ribbon to formally open the new wing of classrooms and library at Elvington Primary School – as you can see in the article from The Press below:

Article from The Press, 5 March 2013

Article from The Press, 5 March 2013

The pupils of Elvington Primary School are extraordinarily lucky to have such a fabulous new block to learn in. I visited their school when they had a couple of Portakabins as classrooms instead, and this new building is so much better! It even has underfloor heating – so I was able to teach an entire lesson in my stocking feet! Deliciously warm! (And the good news is that where the Portakabins used to be, the children are going to have a wonderful garden where they’ll grow fruit and veg! F.A.B.!)

To celebrate the fact that the new block includes a library, I wrote a poem specially for the children to perform in praise of their ‘brilliant, brand new library’. Class 4 gave the world premiere performance of this poem as part of the opening ceremony in front of the whole school and lots of grown-ups who’d come specially for the ceremony. I’m pleased to say that the children did my poem proud!

Thank you to Head Teacher Mrs Rogers for inviting me to take part in such a special day at Elvington Primary School, and thank you to all the staff and pupils for for making me so welcome. I won’t forget the day I became a Ribbon Cutter in a hurry!

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

Another Buzzing! book review

Cover of 'Buzzing! - Discover the Poetry in Garden Minibeasts' by Anneliese Emmans Dean

Cover of ‘Buzzing! – Discover the Poetry in Garden Minibeasts’ by Anneliese Emmans Dean

Many thanks to Lynsey Evans of Book a Poet for her wonderful review of my Buzzing! book. The review begins:

Buzzing! is a brilliant book that will enthral and delight children, and it is easy to see why it has been nominated for this year’s Carnegie Medal!’

The review continues:

‘There is potential for hours of fun, whether that be reading the poems or the facts, studying the pictures or getting out into your garden or park to hunt for the wildlife depicted in the book – it offers lots of opportunities for learning and having fun as a family or with friends.’

You can read the review in full here.

And if you want ‘hours of fun’, then order your (signed) copy of Buzzing! here.

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

Askrigg antics

Yesterday my husband Mike valiantly drove through blinding sunshine, buffeting wind, pouring rain, occasional outbursts of hail, a smattering of sleet and a flock of sheep to deliver me to Askrigg Primary School in the stunning Yorkshire Dales. And it was well worth the journey. For starters, this school is definitely a top contender for my 2013 ‘Best View from a Staffroom’ award. Take a look at this:

The view from Askrigg Primary School staffroom

The view from the staffroom at Askrigg Primary School in the Yorkshire Dales

And what was going on inside the school was very uplifting too. And, on occasion, distinctly menacing – take a look at this ferocious shark that Class 1 had made:

The shark made by Class 1 at Askrigg Primary School

The shark made by Class 1 at Askrigg Primary School

As the school is currently learning about Raging Rivers, I themed my Buzzing! show and follow-on workshops around minibeasts that live in and near rivers. And they include, of course, the wonderful ‘Jewel of York’, the Tansy beetle, that only lives on the banks of our River Ouse.

Class 2 created some fabulous new riverside mini- (and maxi!)beasts from their imaginations, and Class 1 came with me on an imaginary Rhyme Time Ramble by the River, during which they created a glorious Spring soundscape.

A lunchtime Buzzing! book signing was the icing on the day’s cake.

Thank you to all 30 children at the school and to the staff for making me so welcome. And to Sheila Silvester, the School Library Adviser for North Yorkshire County Council, for setting up the visit.

You may know that the Tour de France will be coming through the Yorkshire Dales in 2014. Cyclists: you’ve got a treat in store! (But watch out for stray sheep round blind bends!)

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

Buzzing! book signing in Waterstones

Thank you to Waterstones in York for hosting my first ever Buzzing! book signing event yesterday.

Signing my first Buzzing! books at Waterstones in York, 24 August 2012

Signing my first Buzzing! books at Waterstones in York, 24 August 2012

After the months of intense work the publisher (Brambleby Books), designer and I put in to making Buzzing! the best book we could (not to mention the 8 years or so I spent writing it and taking the photos for it), it was fabulous to be able to share the book with individual children (and grown-ups).

I performed some of the poems for and with them, listened to them reading bits out to me, discussed some of the ‘Factabulous’ facts with them, and dedicated copies to them, their siblings – and even their dogs! Best of all was watching their faces light up with smiles and laughter and amazement at the book’s content.

I very much enjoy performing my poems to groups, e.g. on a school visit or at a festival, but it was very special to be able to share the book and its contents one-on-one with children in a completely unstructured setting, where we could wander from ladybirds to slugs to bees to moths entirely as the fancy took them.

Thank you to everyone who came along to the book signing – especially to Alex who so ably assisted me as a sandwich board (a role he was reprising from a couple of years ago at the Edinburgh Fringe).

Ably assisted at my book signing by sandwich-board Alex, York 24 August 2012

Ably assisted at my book signing by sandwich-board Alex, York 24 August 2012

Wonderfully, all the books were sold bar one (which would have been bought but the lady discovered she’d left her Waterstones vouchers at home!)

Stop Press: Waterstones have  invited me back to do another signing event in their York store in the Spring!

Anneliese Emmans Deanwww.theBigBuzz.biz