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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Book signings galore!

Here’s a wee round-up of my August book signings, following the publication of my Flying High! bird book this summer.

So, we start in Waterstones in York, where The Nest Test was first put into action (see middle photo below):

Book signing at Waterstones, York, 5 August 2017

Book signing at Waterstones, York, 5 August 2017

One of the highlights of this signing was the completely unexpected appearance of Marcus – yes, the very Marcus after whom the Marcus poem on p. 148 of Buzzing! was named. (You can see Marcus-the-person holding Buzzing! up at said Marcus-the-ladybird’s page in the left-hand photo above.)

Moving on, then, to Wardle & Jones bookshop in Scarborough:

Book signing at Wardle & Jones bookshop in Scarborough, 19 August 2017

Book signing at Wardle & Jones bookshop in Scarborough, 19 August 2017

One of the undoubted highlights of this book signing was Mabel, the Wardle and Jones dog! (Seen here in the arms of Wardle & Jones store owner Rachel.)

And then on to the UK’s City of Culture, where you are met off the train by a poet (one Philip Larkin), and where I was book signing in Waterstones:

Booksigning in Waterstones in Hull, the UK City of Culture

Book signing in Waterstones in Hull, the UK City of Culture, 26 August 2017

One of the highlights of this book signing was stroking a little girl’s imaginary hamster. (And a softer, sweeter hamster you never did come across!) Another highlight was selling more books than JK Rowling! (I can say this with confidence as I was sitting right in front of the Harry Potter shelves.)

What all three of these signings had in common was the joy that performing my poems to and with so many children gave me. Watching their faces light up during the poems was priceless. Particularly special was when children performed poems from the book to me. It’s a thrilling experience to watch and listen to your words being lifted off the page by a child.

So, the next book signing is … well, it’s not in a bookshop, but it’s part of York’s Heritage Open Days. I’ve been invited to spend the morning of Saturday 9 September at the historic Unitarian Chapel in St Saviourgate in York – the theme of the day being ‘Aspects of the Garden’. I’ll be there from 11(-ish). See you there!

Thank you to all three of these bookshops for hosting me. If you fancy a book signing in your bookshop, or in a bookshop near you, just get in touch!

Anneliese Emmans Dean – theBigBuzz – Bringing poetry to life

First press review of Flying High!

Cover of Flying High! by Anneliese Emmans DeanThe first press review of my new book Flying High! is out. It’s a fabulous feature article in The York Press by Stephen Lewis.

Read the article here

I was thrilled to see my book described as being ‘glorious’, and that it ‘will delight children and young-at-heart adults alike.’

The review goes on:

‘what makes the book so special is the sheer joy, fun and enthusiasm Anneliese brings to her versions of common British birds.’

Well, I can’t ask for much better than that!

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Thank you to Brambleby Books, designer Tanya Warren and all the photographers whose photos feature, for helping me to create this book.

You can find out more about Flying High! here, and there are some sample videos here.

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