So, I didn’t really think I’d ever appear at a book festival, other than having my books on sale in the big white tents in Edinburgh. But in my hometown of Linlithgow, the wonderful bookshop Far From the Madding Crowd organises a children’s book festival for the town’s primary schools, in the community’s very own big white tent.
I was absolutely delighted to be asked to go along this year for a session structured around Ruan the Little Red Squirrel for Primary 3.
This was more than just a story telling though. I had an hour to fill, and since most picture books don’t take an hour to read (sorry to dispell any myths there!) I needed to come up with something to entertain the kids in my session.
And, this was more than just a class reading. In fact, there were 200 kids in the marquee…
I have a set of squirrel facts that I like to chat about with school groups because I do think it’s important to highlight the conservation issues around red squirrels, especially since at this age so many of them have an interest in animals. But even my double-jointed-ankles facts wouldn’t be enough for this.
Thankfully for me though, my trusty Ruan puppet came to the rescue. For a couple of weekends before, me and fluffy Ruan went on a little tour of the local area and took some hide-and-seek photos at local landmarks. I’m sure you can imagine the looks a grown woman taking a photo of a squirrel puppet hiding in a basket gets outside a Historic Scotland landmark…
With my pictures blown up in size and Ruan safely stowed in his basket, the Linlithgow kids were read their very own special second installment of Ruan’s adventures. Since this was the first time I’d done an event like this I wasn’t sure quite how it would go down, but the kids were absolutely fantastic and by the second leg of his journey they were jumping out of their seats with suggestions as to where he might go next.
Overall the event was tremendous fun for me and the reaction from the kids was superb. I can only hope I’ll be asked along again in future to read another story!
Photos courtesy of Far From the Madding Crowd’s instagram and Linlithgow Primary School’s twitter.