Somerset Storyfest 2019 – Report – Part One
Somerset was brilliant again. I attended sessions presented by inspiring authors and had a great time. Of course, had I booked sooner, I could have gone to a couple of magical workshops, but, as they are sold-out, I bought tickets adapting my programme. Some sessions were packed, as in The Great Hall, and others were a handful of eager students or two or three mixed grades. The Marquees are hot – (but I was prepared). The Great Hall is air conditioned but at times hard to hear the kid’s questions (the students ask the best questions).
“…a festival of storytelling for the whole family.”
Wednesday 20th March
Session 9.15 am to 10 am – Marquee 3
Michael Gerard Bauer’s first novel The Running Man was the 2005 CBCA Book of the Year for Older Readers. Since then four more of his books has been shortlisted for CBCA awards including his very funny picture book Rodney Loses It! Which was the 2018 CBCA winner in the Early Childhood category. His other very popular and award-winning works include the Ishmael series, the Eric Vale series and Just a Dog. His most recent publication is the young adult novel The Things That Will Not Stand. Michael’s stories have been translated into 12 languages and sold in over 40 countries.
Michael is a man I’ve had the pleasure of meeting several times and he is a genuine and funny man. He began by telling the children about his book. His first picture book idea. The illustrator Chrissie Krebs from Melbourne. He explained, in a dancing way, that when he walks, he makes up rhymes as he marches to a beat.
The promotion to these younger students of his picture book ‘Rodney Loses It’ was a ‘Where’s Wally’ event. Rodney loves to draw but he is always losing things. He asked the children to find the missing objects. He involved them by getting a selection of children up on stage to help. They loved it.
Then it was question time. (I did already mention that the kids of all ages ask the best questions.)
Q. Why did you want to write the book? MGB – I wrote one years earlier that didn’t get published, it was my son ‘losing it’ getting angry. This is better as Rodney is a Rabbit and the illustrations show where the things he loses go. This was how he tried again to make the story work.
Q. Did you and the illustrator write together? MGB – No, they didn’t even meet till after the book was published and they won a medal – Book of the Year 2018.
Q. Did you choose the front cover? MGB – Both he and the illustrator needed to decide, and the publisher suggested a few changes and decided it for them.
Q. What did you do before you wrote a book? MGB – I was a teacher of English because I like words. I wanted to be a Ninja or a Rockstar or even a songwriter before that.
Q. How did Rodney lose his slinky? MGB – It sprang up in the air and got caught on the light fitting.
Q. Where do you get the book from? MGB – The bookshop here.
Q. Are there any more books? MGB – I’ve written sixteen different books including ‘The Running Man’, they include the Ishmael series, the Eric Vale series and Just a Dog.
Q. Why did Rodney have problems? MGB – You need a challenge, to make the book interesting, a problem or a challenge to solve, otherwise it would be boring.
Q. Where do your ideas come from? MGB – I lose things too.
Q. Where did you get the bunny? (there was a Rodney doll on the podium) MGB – The illustrator Chrissie Krebs makes soft toys, she made the Rodney doll for him and one for the publisher.
Q. Will you write more books about Rodney? MGB – Yes
Q. Do you have any narrative in the book? MGB – Good question, the illustrations show the missing things. That’s the narrative as Rodney is alone at his desk.
That’s part one. I’ll have more on my next post. Stay tuned!