As we do every April, the School had it´s We Love Books Festival again this year. It is a month full of book related activities, stories and story telling, authors, poetry, Shakespeare and many more things besides.
From the 8th to the 26th of April, the School was given over to the world of Literature and our classrooms and corridors were full of stories, theatre and some of the best illustrations to do with British children´s literature. And not forgetting that the 23rd, as well as International Book Day is also St George´s, the patron Saint of England. Our youngest children in Early Years celebrated and learned more about St George through the stories of their classroom teachers
Authors, once again, played a prominent part in this year´s We Love Books Festival. As well as some of our regular contributors such as Diego Arboleda, Ana Alonso and César Mallorquí, whose works are essential reading at School, we also had some new ones, join us this year. Cayetana Guillén Cuervo spoke about her role in the “Ministry of Time” series and it´s connection to literature, and Montserrat Iglesias and Álvaro Tato, spoke about poetry. We also had a visit from Gustavo Martín Garzo, a winner of the National Prize for Children and Youth Literature in 2014 for his work, “Three Fairy Stories”.
We also made certain to include poetry, with a special day dedicated just to verse. On Thursday, the 11th of April, using the strap line of “one picture, a thousand words”, our students were able to enjoy the day by taking part in a competition. They had to choose an image, a photograph, illustration, etc., and then, based on that, write a poem. And another unique experience was the very special so called, “cock fight”, where the “Rapsodies”, a group of School students, battled it out with different interpretations of well known poems.
As well as books, the Festival also includes quite a bit of theatre in the last week (from the 23rd to the 26th of April). For the fourth year running, and to commemorate the world famous William Shakespeare, we had a visit from the Young Shakespeare Theatre Company. This year with a very distinguished performance of “Romeo and Juliet” which they staged in front of different groups of children, including some from other Madrid Schools, who were also invited.
The Young Shakespeare Company is a British theatre group which produces workshops and performances for children of all ages with the purpose of awakening their passion around this author and his work. What makes this theatre company so special, is that it has a unique way of interpreting Shakespeare, in a most dynamic and fun way, making it suitable for all audiences.
Five players acted out the heartbreaking love story of “Romeo and Juliet” in what was a very interactive, dynamic production, with many costume changes, a very fast pace and great stage presence. The play was staged around the children in the audience, sometimes even including them, re-creating some classic scenes such as the masked ball where Romeo and Julie meet, or the famous street fight when Mercutio and Tybalt are killed.
Throughout the play, the children in the audience are actively included in a game, made up of carefully crafted, drama activities. They are encouraged to explore the motives, thoughts and feelings of the main characters. For example, how Juliet feels as she is taking the potion, from which she will never awaken. Those children who volunteer are also invited to play their own characters in the story and everyone has the opportunity to act out and enjoy Shakespeare.
This year, between the 23rd and the 26th of April, the Festival also included something else which was new and matched the talent shown in theatre. The School was lucky enough to host the magnificent Drawing Words Exhibition, kindly on loan from the British Council. This exhibition is a celebration of illustration as an art form for all ages. It brings together some of the most exciting illustrations for children´s books in the UK, over recent years.
Peter Rabbit, Paddington Bear and Winnie the Pooh are universally known and loved characters, and certainly show the rich history of children´s book illustration. This exhibition, on the other hand, looks more towards the future. The 10 illustrators exhibited here are chosen because of their unique and personal style. They offer an excellent snapshot of the vibrant work being carried out today.The exhibition has been put together by Lauren Child, the award winning children´s artist and writer. The design is by Etcétera Studio and the graphic design work is by Regular Practice.
The School also had the great pleasure of welcoming Emily Rand, one of the illustrators included in the exhibition. Through the week she organized workshops for our students and talked to them about what it is like to be an illustrator, as well as personally showing them many of her own illustrations.
And just because a good story, always needs to be told, on the 26th of April, we also had a visit from Andy Wright. Andy is a professional artist and storyteller with over 20 years experience working with schools, theaters and festivals all over Europe, Latin America, Asia, Australia and New Zealand.
Once again this year, we can very proud of having been able to celebrate this month of Literature, in all its various forms. We were very lucky indeed, to literally have thousands of books in April. We hope everyone else agrees.