Afternoony post today! Aren’t I just full of surprises?
Sadly, my time in Adelaide is nearly over. But I’ve got heaps done while I’ve been here. The reason today’s post is late is that a) I’ve been REALLY productive on Grandest Bookshop and b) today I ran a workshop with some Year Fives!
The point of the exercise was to test out a few things on them. The last time I ran a school workshop, it… wasn’t that great. I pitched it a little too high, and read a part of a story that wasn’t age-appropriate (the vocab was a bit beyond eight-year-olds). But this time, I read from Chapter One (not Chapter Three). I brought along a lot of resources to ground the kids in the story before we started, and got them excited about Cole’s Book Arcade. I also had my Cole books with me to show the kids.
This session ran really well. The teachers were thoroughly prepped beforehand and everyone knew what to expect. The kids were SO EXCITED by my pictures and by the Book Arcade. They loved the first chapter and wanted to read the rest immediately. Then I tested out some of the brainteasers from the story on them. These were all girls, aged ten to eleven. None of them worked out the answers right away, but about two-thirds said their puzzle was ‘just hard enough; not too hard’ which was excellent.
A few couldn’t solve theirs, which was useful to know. The puzzle that I thought would be the hardest – a version of Einstein’s Riddle – was actually not too hard when the kids read the instructions carefully and worked through the logic of the problem. The hardest riddle was actually one involving palindromes. The grammar was a little dodgy, which threw them off: ‘do not start at rats to nod’ is a perfectly fine palindrome, but not really grammatical in English. Some of the visual puzzles were quite tricky but they were all solvable.
Anyway, this was a workshop specifically designed to generate material (or cull it) from the novel. Earlier in the week, I found myself at the Adelaide Fringe Festival, where I saw one excellent show (Bangarra: Bennelong) and one… other show. It was a musical, and it was corny, and I was completely unable to escape. But when I have such experiences, one thing that alleviates the frustration or boredom or despair is the thought that I can use it in a story.
In that spirit, here is this week’s poem.
In the labyrinthine brain
of a wordsmith or creator
there nestles the refrain:
don’t worry; use this later.
When a cyclone starts to form
in a land near the equator
the writer tells the storm
I’m sure I can use this later.