Wonderful events at Greenwich Book Festival
Picture this: a beautiful blue-sky day, the river lazily taking boats of tourists up and down the Thames and a grassy yard filled with children playing and adults reading in the sunshine. This was the scene last Saturday 27 May at the Greenwich Book Festival, where Tiny Owl hosted two children’s workshops.
During the first, Alia Alzougbi performed two Tiny Owl titles, The Parrot and the Merchant and The Jackal Who Thought He Was a Peacock in the traditional Persian storytelling practice of pardekhani. Afterwards, children joined A Bottle of Happiness author Pippa Goodhart to hear more about Tiny Owl and make their own bottles of happiness. Both were a lot of fun for us and for the kids at the workshop!
In Alzougbi’s first performance, she used brightly coloured jewellery and accessories to turn herself into a peacock. Enlisting the help of the children in the session, she gave each one a different accessory to give her back when the time came. Children returned bracelets, clasped necklaces around her neck and tossed brightly coloured shawls and hats on her head.
During the retelling of The Parrot and the Merchant, hands shot up as children eagerly told Alzougbi where the merchant might go and what they would want her to bring them back. From Orangutans to dragons to clothes, they came up with all sorts of exotic things to reshape Rumi’s classic fable and Alzougbi’s retelling in their own way.
In Goodhart’s session, children and parents alike laughed, sang and thought about their own happiness. Giggles filled the room as one child joked: “What does a spy do at bedtime?… Go undercover!” and another became an “interrupting cow” during a knock knock joke. After reading A Bottle of Happiness the group made a collective bottle filled with things that made them happy. Some shouted out specific ideas like ballet or sunshine, while others had broader themes to contribute such as family and laughter.
The children (and the parents!) at the workshop engaged in the themes of Tiny Owl’s books in a way that was thoughtful, engaged and smart. Some of the kids after hearing The Parrot and the Merchant questioned what they would do if they had a bird or pet that wasn’t happy. Others who listened to A Bottle of Happiness had to think hard about what made them happy and why. The activities this weekend had a sense of mischievousness and fun, yet everyone went away thinking about some of the deeper meanings behind Tiny Owl’s collection of picture books.
If you missed us at the Greenwich Book Festival, be sure to look for our events at the Hay Festival in Hay-on-Wye, Wales on 2 June.
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