Julia became the Children's Laureate in June 2011.
Her wonderful picture books are loved by children and parents all over the world. Her rhythmic and rhyming stories continue to delight time after time.
Julia's events are always a lot of fun and here she talks about dramatising her books.
I did my first ever author visit eighteen years ago. The idea of “talking about my books” to a class of seven-year-olds was a bit daunting, so I decided to act out A Squash and a Squeeze (my first book).
It was easy. I just got the children in a circle, with two of them lifting their arms to form an arch, then chose four animals and a wise old man to stand outside the circle while I, as the little old lady, stayed in the middle. Some of the children in the circle were the curtains and some were the food, and they all joined in the chorus.
I’ve never since then managed to write a picture book which is quite so easy to dramatise as A Squash and a Squeeze. But I keep trying, and I now have a room in my house devoted to props and costumes.
Children acting out my poem "Nut Tree"
(from the picture book Wriggle and Roar,
illustrated by Nick Sharratt).
I do recommend drama as a tool for any author visiting a school or library. The children love joining in, and it means they don’t have to sit on their bottoms for the whole session.
It’s surprising how many picture books can be acted by a whole class – even ones with only two main characters.
Pam Wardell, a drama expert based in Edinburgh, does a wonderful production of Brian Wildsmith’s version of The Sun and the Wind.
The class is divided up into different groups, such as Garden, and Sea. When the sun shines the plants in the garden grow, and when the wind blows the boats at sea (represented by hats) are tossed and buffeted.
|illustrated by Joel Stewart|
One of my own favourites to act out is The Magic Paintbrush, based on a traditional Chinese tale.
Everything that a little girl paints becomes real, but she’s only allowed to paint for the poor, so when the greedy emperor demands a tree of coins she has a problem.
|Acting out The Magic Paintbrush|
The best thing about doing this with a class is the children’s joyous reaction when their unsuspecting teacher gets cast as the emperor,
but they also enjoy being divided up into horrible henchmen (or women) and innocent villagers.
I am still, however, wrestling with the problem of how to stage my newest book, The Singing Mermaid (due out in April 2012, with illustrations by Lydia Monks).
So I’m going to meet Kim and Symon from the Edinburgh Puppet Lab to see if they can make me a puppet mermaid.
Meanwhile, any suggestions gratefully received.