The P-Factor 2017

So excited was I by the prospect of judging the Ryedale Book Festival P-Factor Grand Final this year that I penned a poem. But I only penned it a couple of days before the event. Did I have time to learn it? Did I have the nerve to perform it at the event itself?

As the poem aimed to inspire the children to give the very best of themselves in their performances that afternoon, I decided to take my courage into my hands and give it a go. Here’s the result:

The results that really counted that day, of course, were those of the P-Factor competition itself. Schools from around Ryedale came to Malton to perform the poems they’d learned in front of a panel of three judges – poets Mandy Coe, Catherine Boddy and me (all of whom had performed for the children in the morning).

The P Factor 2017 Judges: Catherine Boddy, Mandy Coe, and me

The P Factor 2017 Judges: Catherine Boddy, Mandy Coe, and me

I knew from the last time I’d judged the competition (back in 2015, along with John Hegley, P-Factor founder Andy Seed and Steven Nash) that I was in for a treat! And this year’s contestants did not disappoint.

The props this year included a real live chocolate cake, which a child proceeded to consume in front of our very eyes as part of his rendition of Michael Rosen’s ‘Chocolate Cake’ poem!

Over the course of the afternoon children performed a wide variety of poems. They rapped, they made us laugh, they brought a tear to our eyes. They all brought poetry to life.

We judges were only supposed to come up with one winner and one runner-up. But the three girls from Kirkbymoorside Primary School were so good that we had to invent a special ‘Highly Commended’ prize category just for them!

The Runners-up of this year’s competition were … the team from Wellburn Hall School with their fabulous rendition of an Anansi Spider poem:

The Wellburn Hall School P-Factor 2017 runners-up, with the Mayor of Malton and a gaggle of poets

The Wellburn Hall School P-Factor 2017 runners-up, with the Mayor of Malton and a gaggle of poets

And the winners were … the Langton Primary School team, with their faultless performance of Michael Rosen’s ‘Strict’ poem!

The Langton School winners of the P Factor 2017 - with the Mayor of Malton and a gaggle of poets

The Langton School winners of the P-Factor 2017 – with the Mayor of Malton and a gaggle of poets

This is such an inspiring event. An entire auditorium full of children cheering about, and performing, poetry – for a whole day. Whoof! And the competition gets live-streamed back to all the schools involved!

Hats off to Karen Saunders and Sarah Tyson of Ryedale Book Festival for all they do to make this event happen. And to all the other Festival volunteers and tech people who made this year’s event go so well. Massive thanks too to the teachers and pupils of all the schools involved, for the time, energy and creativity you put into the competition.

I’m already looking forward to next year’s event!

P-Factor 2017 Runners-Up from Wellburn Hall School in costume!

P-Factor 2017 runners-up from Wellburn Hall School in costume!

Anneliese Emmans Dean – theBigBuzz – Bringing poetry to life

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The WOW Factor

If you thought The X Factor was exciting, you should have been at the Grand Final of The P Factor in Malton on Friday. It was amazing!

The P Factor is part of the Ryedale Book Festival, and is the brilliant brainchild of award-winning Ryedale-based author Andy Seed. The idea is to get children across Ryedale learning and performing poems (of their own choosing). The early rounds of the competition are held in the schools themselves, then the winning group from each school comes to Malton to perform at The Grand Final.

Teams from 11 Ryedale primary schools turned out to perform this year. I was one of the four Grand Final judges, along with fellow poets Messers John Hegley, Steve Nash and Andy Seed, all of whom performed for the children in the morning.

The 2015 P Factor judges - Steven Nash, Andy Seed, me and John Hegley

The 2015 P Factor judges – Steven Nash, Andy Seed, me and John Hegley

Then, come the afternoon, we had the great privilege of watching teams from all 11 schools perform a huge variety of poems, from funny ones to frightening ones, silly ones to sad ones. Dressed up and armed with a wide variety of props, the children all shone as they performed their poems on stage, under bright lights, to an audience of nearly 300.

The children came from the following schools: Terrington St Mary’sSt Joseph’sSt Benedict’sSettringtonNortonLangtonKirkbymoorsideGillamoorFostonAmotherby. And I’d like to congratulate every single participant from every single one of those schools. You were fantastic!

However, we had to choose a winner. Not easy! But our unanimous decision was that the runners-up were Amotherby Primary School, and the winners were … Kirkbymoorside Primary School, with a fabulous multi-media performance of Michael Rosen’s ‘End of the World’ that included an erupting volcano. You can see pictures of the Year 4 winners in a reprise of their performance on the school’s website.

The winning team was presented with medals and a cup by none other than the Mayor of Malton:

The Mayor of Malton, Cllr Joan Lawrence, at the 2015 P Factor Grand Final.

The Mayor of Malton, Cllr Joan Lawrence, at the 2015 P Factor Grand Final.

The Very Great John Hegley declared the day to have been ‘better than the X Factor’. And who am I to disagree?

The 2015 P Factor Winners from Kirkbymoorside Primary School, getting ready to go home after their triumphant performance.

The 2015 P Factor Winners from Kirkbymoorside Primary School, getting ready to go home after their triumphant performance.

Thank you to all the pupils, parents and teachers who put so much work into this competition. It was all well, well worthwhile. And thank you to Andy Seed and Sarah Tyson of Ryedale Book Festival for making the competition happen.

If you’re a Ryedale primary school and would like to take part in next year’s P Factor, then email Ryedale Book Festival.

Anneliese Emmans DeantheBigBuzz.biz – Bringing poetry to life

National Non-Fiction November

So, how have you celebrated National Non-Fiction November this year? I’ve had two highlights. The first was being featured as the interview of the month by Book Events for Children. The second was spending a day at Driffield Junior School, where the theme of my visit was ‘Inventions’.

You may not realise it, but many of our most important inventions have been inspired by minibeasts. So I started my Driffield visit with a special Buzzing! show to introduce the whole school to some of these inventions. From paper to robots, minibeasts have shown us the way!

Year 6 is studying inventions and inventors at the moment, and I spent the rest of the day working with four Year 6 classes to bring poetry to that topic. We performed some of my inventing-inspired poetry together, then the pupils went on to create some fabulous invention-inspired poems of their own.

I’m hoping to be able to show you some of their poems soon. In the meantime you can read some of the teachers’ feedback here.

Was it a worthwhile visit? Well, Year 6 teacher Helen Mudd wrote to me afterwards that:

‘It really got the children fired up about writing poetry … All the children really loved meeting you and have produced some brilliant work … One boy upon entering school the next day said:

“Are we writing poetry again today? YYEEEEESSSSS!!!” ‘

I was particularly moved when I heard that one of the boys in their nurture unit had asked to read some poetry books the day after my visit, in preference to the other activities on offer.

I had a great day at Driffield Junior School, welcomed warmly by staff and (very polite, creative, enthusiastic and well-behaved) pupils alike. Thank you to one and all.

If you’d like to get Buzzing! inventive at your school, then just get in touch with me or with Book Events for Schools!

Anneliese Emmans Dean – theBigBuzz – 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! Reading Café

Compare and contrast! This was Rowntree Park in York a week last Tuesday (25 September), just as it was being closed because the River Ouse had burst its banks and flooding was imminent:

Rowntree Park, viewed from the Reading Café, 25 September 2012

Rowntree Park, viewed from the Reading Café, 25 September 2012

And this was the same view yesterday (6 October):

Rowntree Park, viewed from the Reading Café, 6 October 2012

Rowntree Park, viewed from the Reading Café, 6 October 2012

Here again, the park on 25 September:

Rowntree Park play equipment, viewed from the Reading Café, 25 September 2012

Rowntree Park play equipment, viewed from the Reading Café, 25 September 2012

Versus the same view yesterday:

Rowntree Park play equipment, viewed from the Reading Café, 6 October 2012

Rowntree Park play equipment, viewed from the Reading Café, 6 October 2012

Though the Ouse has gone down now, the water seems to be staying firmly put in Rowntree Park.

‘The ducks are happy!’ said a young boy looking down on the remarkable view yesterday, as I was, from the balcony of the Rowntree Park Reading Café. Being high up, and having its own park entrance, the café is still open. Which is just as well, as that meant my Buzzing! event there could go ahead.

This was the first children’s event to be held in the wonderful Reading Café, and it was organised by City of York Library Services. I put on a Buzzing! show, and this was followed by a Buzzing! book signing and some wonderful minibeast craft activities, courtesy of Park Ranger Rachel Bell.

Judging by the smiles on people’s faces, the number of Buzzing! books they bought and the fabulous crafts they made, I’d say this first event seems to have been a success. Take a look for yourself:

A minibeast crafter at our Buzzing! event in Rowntree Park, 6 October 2012

A minibeast crafter at our Buzzing! event in Rowntree Park, 6 October 2012

Tansy beetle key ring, made by a minibeast crafter at our Buzzing! event, Rowntree Park, 6 October 2012

Tansy beetle key ring, made by a minibeast crafter at our Buzzing! event, Rowntree Park, 6 October 2012

I’d like to thank Danielle and her staff at the café for working around us on a busy Saturday, Frances Postlethwaite of the Library Service for inviting me to put on the event and for joining in with my show, as did Rachel Bell, whose craft activities were such a hit.

'Rainbow' dragonfly made by a minibeast crafter at our Buzzing! event, Rowntree Park, 6 October 2012

‘Rainbow’ dragonfly made by a minibeast crafter at our Buzzing! event, Rowntree Park, 6 October 2012

I’d also like to thank Stephen Lewis of The Press for the fabulous article he wrote for last Saturday’s edition, which several audience members told me was what had brought them to the Reading Café event.

Bumblebee made by a minibeast crafter at our Buzzing! event, Rowntree Park, 6 October 2012

Bumblebee made by a minibeast crafter at our Buzzing! event, Rowntree Park, 6 October 2012

What I enjoyed most about the afternoon was seeing grandparents, parents and children all enjoying themselves together. Very rewarding.

Multi-generational Buzzing! book buyers, Rowntree Park Reading Café, 6 October 2012

Multi-generational Buzzing! book buyers, Rowntree Park Reading Café, 6 October 2012

Oh, and I was particularly chuffed when one father told me that he and his family had come along to my Buzzing! show at York Theatre Royal last year, and that when his daughter had seen the recent Press article about this event, she had insisted they come along to see me again. Gosh! What a compliment!

My next City of York Library Buzzing! event is on 1st November at 10.30am at Haxby Library. Tickets are free, and you can book yours on 01904 552660, or Haxby.library@york.gov.uk See you there!

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

Bee happy!

The Bumblebee Conservation Trust‘s Buzzword newsletter arrived today, and I was delighted to read the first article, all about the Bees for Everyone launches I took part in in May. Turns out they thought the poem I wrote for them, and performed with local schoolchildren, ‘stole the show’ in London and was ‘show stopping’ in Edinburgh too!  Take a read below (or as a pdf):

Bumblebee Conservation Trust's Summer 2012 Newsletter

Bumblebee Conservation Trust’s Summer 2012 Newsletter

Well, that’s very good to hear! Especially on the day I saw a huge (and gorgeous) Tree bumblebee (Bombus hypnorum) queen on the lavender in my garden. At least I think it’s a queen . I’ll upload it to the BBCT’s BeeWatch scheme and double check! (Meanwhile, you can find out more about Tree bumblebees  here.)

Tree bumblebee queen in my garden in York, 27 July 2012. Photo by Anneliese Emmans Dean, www.theBigBuzz.biz

Tree bumblebee queen in my garden in York, 27 July 2012. Photo by Anneliese Emmans Dean, http://www.theBigBuzz.biz

Check out the Bumblebee Conservation Trust’s website for how you can Bee Kind in your garden, and for how to submit photos of the bumblebees you see to their BeeWatch survey.

Oh, and if you’d like a poem writing and performing for your event, get in touch!

P.S. I’ve just heard back from the BeeWatch people, who tell me: ‘it is difficult to separate queens from large workers as there is an overlap. All I can say is that it is possible to be a queen because of the time of year. It is the end of their season.’

Anneliese Emmans Deanwww.theBigBuzz.biz

Another ‘Rhyme and Dine’ at Bedern Hall

Bedern Hall in York was at its beautiful candlelit best on Monday night for the Rhyme and Dine event I put on with chef Roger Lee for Cambridge Education Group’s FoundationCampus annual conference.

Bedern Hall, York, decked out for a Rhyme and Dine evening for Cambridge Education Group

Bedern Hall, York, decked out for a Rhyme and Dine evening for Cambridge Education Group

Inbetween the courses of the delicious meal, I entertained the – very convivial – group of people gathered there. With poems such as this one:

Plus a a poem about FoundationCampus that they had commissioned from me specially for the event.

The evening ended with delegates entertaining each other – and me – with their freshly minted limericks. Much fun was had by all!

How did the event go down? Well, listen to the conference organiser, Lisa Tyler:

Or, as she subsequently wrote:

‘Thank you once again for helping to make our annual conference such a success.’

FOC Conference Organiser Lisa Tyler at Bedern Hall

FOC Conference Organiser Lisa Tyler at Bedern Hall

A big Thank You to FOC’s Lisa Tyler for all her behind-the-scenes work in advance of the conference. To Roger Lee and his staff at Bedern for a fabulous meal. And to the great – and very talented! – group of people who make up FoundationCampus, for sharing their evening with me.

And if you’d like some entertainment with a difference for your conference dinner – with, perhaps,  a poem written specially for the occasion –  then get in touch!

Anneliese Emmans Dean www.theBigBuzz.biz