It’s October half term and Storystock has come to our neighbourhood – to the Bush Theatre in Shepherds Bush. As a converted library, it’s the perfect place for a festival of storytelling. I took the kids along on Big Draw day, and we found the theatre buzzing with children and parents keen to get involved in the illustration-themed activities. There was something to suit all ages and tastes, with a packed programme of events running all day in the main auditorium and the studio, as well as the bar and library area.
We steeled ourselves with a coffee and a croissant from the bustling bar, which had adapted its menu to cater to families (the hot chocolates with marshmallows were going down a storm) and checked out the book shop, where there were signings and dressing up and all sorts going on.
Next stop was an illustration masterclass called the Big Drawalong, with two fantastic picture book writer-illustrators.
First, Faye Hanson read us her story, The Wonder. It’s a magical tale of a boy whose imagination lifts him out of the everyday world and takes him somewhere else altogether. It’s a dream of a book and my children absolutely loved it. Everyone was given a clipboard and pen and Faye talked us through how to draw the boy in the book, step by step – right down to the toggles on his duffle-coat. Here are my kids’ efforts:
Faye was joined by Victoria Turnbull who read her beautiful story, The Sea Tiger, an underwater fable all about friendship. We all had a go at drawing the sea tiger himself, and then there was more drawing of other things, and a Q&A, which was great – loads of kids were eagerly asking questions about where Faye and Victoria get their inspiration, how they got started, and how long it takes to make a book. Here’s Faye on the left and Victoria on the right, in action. We also had tickets to a telling of the Magic Bojabi Tree by author Dianne Hofmeyr. It’s a story straight from the heart of Africa, and Dianne involved everyone – we were roaring like lions, hissing like snakes and shimmying to the music of the marimba. I loved Dianne and I especially loved her home-made lion mask:Hearing a story told by the person who’s written and created it is very special, and I’m sure there were plenty of people in the Storystock audiences (both kids and adults; yes, me included) who left thinking about how marvellous it must be to create your own story and have the chance to share it with other people.
Next time the Storystock circus rolls anywhere near your town, get straight onto their website and book your tickets in advance – they sell out quickly and I wish I’d been organised enough to get tickets to more of the sessions. It’s the perfect half term activity, especially when it’s drizzling outside, as it was today: it’s entertaining, it’s interesting, it’s inside. And there’s hot chocolate with marshmallows. What more could any book-loving parent ask for?