Boys will be boys …

I love Finn, Paddy and Conor dearly. So dearly that I dedicated my new book Flying High! to them. The day after it was published, I went round to their house to give them each a copy of the book. It was fabulous to see their faces light up when they realised their names appeared in it.

So far so good.

But when we went outside to take a photo of each of them with their copy … well, have you heard the expression ‘herding cats’?

Even with just one of them, it seemed like too ambitious an undertaking …

But persistence is all in photography. And here, at last, is the shot I was looking for:

Happy birding, boys! I hope you enjoy your books!

And if you have a photo of your child with their copy of Flying High!, do send it along to me (letting me know where it was taken), and I’ll pop it on the (soon-to-be-created) Flying High! gallery page of this blog.

Anneliese Emmans Dean – theBigBuzz – Bringing poetry to life

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National Poetry Day 2013

I had the great good fortune to spend National Poetry Day this year in Cambridge as the guest of The Perse Upper and Prep schools. I learned many things whilst I was there. Such as that it is possible to do Kung Fu whilst reading my Buzzing! book:

Harry doing Kung Fu whilst reading my Buzzing! book

Harry doing Kung Fu whilst reading my Buzzing! book

And that it is possible to have a name that is a quadruple dactyl. And also how valuable it is for a school to have a dedicated librarian.

The librarian at the Upper School is Janice Weatherall, who, along with her colleague Laura, had created a fabulous display in the library in advance of my visit.

Perse Upper School Librarian Janice Weatherall with Assistant Librarian Laura Shattock and the Buzzing! display they’d created

Perse Upper School Librarian Janice Weatherall with Assistant Librarian Laura Alboni and the Buzzing! display they’d created

The librarian at the Prep School, Sylvie Rigby, had also created a wonderful display, and inspired the pupils to enter a competition based on minibeasts they had photographed and written about. The only difficult part of my day was having to judge this competition, as the entries were so many and varied. Congratulations to all the children who took part. I was very impressed by what they had come up with.

Perse Prep School Librarian Sylvie Rigby with pupils' fabulous competition entries

Perse Prep School Librarian Sylvie Rigby with pupils’ fabulous competition entries

I performed a Buzzing! show for the Year 7s at the Upper School, and a different Buzzing! show for the whole school at the Prep School. (All my Buzzing! shows are specially tailored to the particular audience, location and event.)

Performing my Buzzing! show for The Perse Prep School

Performing my Buzzing! show for The Perse Prep School

My shows were followed, in each case, by my signing copies of my Buzzing! book for pupils and chatting with them (my favourite bit!)

I was quite overwhelmed when one Year 7 pupil handed me a card she’d just drawn for me, complete with a fabulous ‘Thank You’ message.

A Thank You card from a Year 7 pupil at The Perse Upper School, Cambridge

A Thank You card from a Year 7 pupil at The Perse Upper School, Cambridge

Then just as I was leaving the Prep School at the end of the day, the Head Teacher mentioned he’d heard some work of mine broadcast on BBC Radio 3 a few days earlier. So, that’s another thing I learned during my National Poetry Day visit to Cambridge! I’ll tell you about that broadcast another time …

Meanwhile, I’d like to thank all the staff and pupils of The Perse Upper and Prep schools for making me so very welcome, and for making National Poetry Day 2013 so enjoyable and memorable for me. Particular thanks go to Janice Weatherall, whose idea it was to invite me in the first place.

Stop Press: You can see what The Perse Upper School made of my visit 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

‘A brilliant day’ in Spalding

‘A brilliant day’ was how Sally Harrison, manager of the South Holland Centre in Lincolnshire described our Buzzing! visit to Spalding last Saturday, 6 August.

Buzzing! in Spalding, as reported in the Spalding Guardian

Buzzing! in Spalding, as reported in the Spalding Guardian (click to read the whole article)

John Rayson and I performed our Buzzing! show to an enthusiastic audience at the South Holland Centre, after which I led a Millipedes Galore workshop in the beautiful nearby Ayscoughfee Gardens. (Read all about it)

Children and grown-ups alike proved themselves very adept at being a millipede (see photo above) and at making up a poem and at finding all sorts of minibeasts, including hoverflies, woodlice, ants, worms, butterflies and lots and lots of 7-spot ladybirds.

When I left, one little girl asked her parents when she could come to a Buzzing! show again. Mission accomplished!

Thank you to all the staff at the South Holland Centre for making John and me so welcome. And thank you to the parents and children who accompanied me back to the South Holland Centre after the workshop, and for pointing me in the direction of the station!

To put on a Buzzing! day where you are, contact me, Anneliese Emmans Dean

www.theBigBuzz.biz