Friday, February 10, 2012
I met with the Gruffalo and...
It was a bit of big deal.
I mean, the Gruffalo has big yellow eyes, big teeth and big claws and all...
But I plucked up my courage and decided I should meet with it.
The meeting was in the Royal Irish Academy (yes a grand place for a grand monster!)
It was on Monday the 23rd of January 2012 in Dublin, Ireland.
I meant to write about this "Monstery" event for a while and then life took over...you know how it goes.
Anyhow, I wasn't exactly meeting with the Gruffalo but its maker.
Julia Donaldson, English writer and playwright, best known as author of The Gruffalo and other 157 children's books, has sold over 3.5 million copies in 31 editions worldwide with the Gruffalo alone.
The story has been adapted into a 30 min animation movie, which received both an Academy Award and a BAFTA nomination and is widely popular amongst kids and parents.
It has also been made into a play in the Lyric Theatre in London for the last 5 years and will be touring around UK this year.
So it is safe to say that Julia Donaldson has been a success hence why she has been appointed UK Children's Laureate for 2011 to 2013.
So Julia Donaldson was coming to Ireland to join in conversation with our local Laureate, Siobhan Parkinson, Laureate of na nOg for 2010 to 2012 (Irish Children Laureate)
Siobhan wrote 20 children books & won national awards. She is also an editor and publisher but I let you read more details on wikipedia link I provided.
So we got to hear Julia and Siobhan talk about their public role as children’s laureates and the importance of libraries in schools. Siobhan discussed about the availability of books in native tongue for non-English kids and in English. She also covered the importance of books for visually impaired kids (because she is herself visually impaired).
Julia on the other end, explained of her love of drama and her eagerness to make it accessible for kids.
She studied Drama at the University of Bristol hence why it came naturally for her to write rhyming children stories.
It was rather enlightening.
Naturally the audience was largely female. After the talk, the audience could buy a book and get it signed.
I had watched the animation of the Gruffalo and the Gruffalo's child and I wanted to read something new so I bought a copy of the "Stick Man".
This is her, there signing my book.
As for Siobhan, she was releasing a book called "Bruised", a gritty novel set in contemporary Ireland, about a boy, 14-year-old Jonathan who runs away with his sister after she's been hit by their alcoholic mother.
Then half of the audience crossed the street and walked into the very posh "Cafe en Seine" for a drink.
This was more interesting even! I got to talk to with other writers, artists, illustrators and some of the hard little fairies who worked at the CBI, Children Book Ireland.
All and all a very good day.
Retrospectively and since the conversation between both Laureate was moderated by Dr. Amanda Piesse of Trinity College of Dublin. I did a research on Mrs Amanda Piesse.
I discovered that she has a PH.D in English. Amanda Piesse teaches across a wide range of sixteenth-century literature with a special interest in early Tudor drama and protestant polemic prose. She has a special interest with Shakespeare & literature for Renaissance & children.
I found out this way that she is currently supervising research about Shakespeare and conscience, Shakespeare and madness, Irish writing and the school curriculum for children, Irish history in children's literature and film.
You can't get more specialized and educated than that!
As for Siobhan, I did a research on her and found that she had completed her PhD on the poetry of Dylan Thomas.
This made me wonder about how great can a great writer be? and when was the last time you met with a preminent figure and felt intimidated by it?