With summer hopefully on its way, I thought I'd introduce a bit of warmth with a hot African story... THE MAGIC BOJABI TREE
'Long ago a dry wind blew across the plains of Africa.
No rain fell. The grass shrivelled. Trees died.
The earth was as dry as a piece of old leather.
Elephant, Giraffe, Zebra, Monkey and Tortoise trudged
across the cracked earth looking for a smidgen to eat.'
I won't give a page by page account of the story. Suffice to say... when the animals discover a splendid tree covered in exotic fruit, guarded by a HUGE python, they need someone clever, brave and without hubris to save them.
I don't know about being clever, but you certainly have to be brave and without hubris to put your stories in front of children. But what I've discovered is how readily young children warm to storytelling. They seem to respond more readily when they're able to use their imaginations to conjure up the sounds and atmosphere in a story, than when confined to the story being read only.
When telling a story you can't be too fixated about using the exact words. A few might get left out and each time you tell the story, it might be a little different, but something vital happens when you get off your chair and become the lion or the elephant or do the 'chitter chatter' silly monkey bit. A few musical affects to stretch the pause and the tension... a single bang on a xylophone, the sharp clap of a coconut clapper or the twang of a thumb piano... all help. You don't have to be musically gifted. Children are very forgiving.
Here are my very simple musical accompaniments for THE MAGIC BOJABI TREE.
And with a pair of pliers, some twists of wire and and a bit of imagination I now have an elephant 'in the making' (the contraption... not my son!)
And with an enlargement of Piet's tortoise, I'm all set.
So stand aside War Horse... THE MAGIC BOJABI TREE is ready to take you on!!!
And since my animals now speak fluent Brazilian Portuguese, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Slovenian and Afrikaans, if anyone needs them to go on tour beyond the hot plains of Africa, they'll be happy to do so. Their puppet-master unfortunately is not too fluent in all these languages but hopefully the action will be enough to free the imagination.
A big thank you to Bertrum House School for giving me the chance to test this story with their enthusiastic Reception and Pre-reception pupils. The book is dedicated them.
THE MAGIC BOJABI TREE, illustrated with gusto by the amazing Piet Grobler is published by Frances Lincoln.