We are pleased to present a day of schools activity on Monday 19th May, sponsored by Warwick Department of Economics. These events are free of charge and can be booked via Warwick Arts Centre.
Mal Peet and Elspeth Graham: Cloud Tea Monkeys, Mysterious Traveller and Night Sky Dragons.
Monday 19th May 10-11am, Theatre
Free - booking information
Mal and Elspeth will read from and talk about working together on their trio of illustrated stories Cloud Tea Monkeys, Mysterious Traveller and Night Sky Dragons. Cloud Tea Monkeys tells of Tashi, a little girl whose mother, like all the women in her village, makes her living by working on a vast tea plantation. While the women are working, Tashi spends her time with the monkeys who – much to the annoyance of the bossy Overseer – visit the plantation every day. Then Tashi’s mother falls ill and cannot go to work. Tashi tries to take her place, but she is far too small to pick tea; the Overseer mocks her and sends her away. But Tashi’s friends, the monkeys, come to her rescue. They take her basket and climb away with it up into the cloud-capped mountains. When the Royal Tea-Taster makes a surprise visit to the plantation, the tea in Tashi’s basket is the only tea he’s interested in, and he rewards her handsomely for it.
Night Sky Dragons is set in a khan halfway along the Silk Road, the ancient trading route between China and Turkey. Khans were places of shelter for caravans, groups of traders on camels and horses travelling eastwards and westwards. They were the motels of their day, with rooms for travellers, storage spaces for their goods and stabling for their animals. They were usually fortified because they were often in lonely places where bandits prowled. The main character in the story is a small boy called Yazul whose father owns the khan. Yazul is a disappointment to his father because he is less interested in trade and business than he is in making kites with his grandfather. But when a large gang of bandits besieges the khan, Yazul and his grandfather put their kite-making skills to surprising use and save the day.
Mysterious Traveller takes the reader to a very different part of the world: sub-Saharan Africa. Trade is the theme that connects it to the other two stories. An old man called Issa lives in a town where the route of salt traders meets the route of gold traders. Issa is the best guide in the region, and his services are highly valued. One day, after a ferocious storm has swept through the mountains to the north, Issa discovers a camel half-buried in sand. The animal is protecting a particularly precious item of cargo: a baby girl. Issa adopts her as his granddaughter, gives her the name Mariama and teaches her his skills. When he loses his sight, Mariama becomes his eyes. One day, strangers arrive at Issa’s house and offer him a small fortune to guide them through the mountains. Reluctantly, Issa accepts; but when the strangers realise that he is blind they depart, angrily, and set off by themselves. When they are caught in a desert storm Issa and Mariama go to their rescue and bring them to safety; and as a result the mystery of Mariama’s identity is resolved.
Mal and Elspeth’s stories can lead children (and teachers) in all sorts of directions, and they’ll explore those, too. And, of course, they’ll also be very happy to answer any questions the audience throws at them (if they know the answers).
Elspeth Graham is a prolific writer for educational publishers including OUP and Scholastic. She also writes illustrated stories in collaboration with her husband, Mal Peet. Currently, she is working on the on-line literacy resource Think2Read.
Mal Peet has won several British and overseas awards, including the Carnegie Medal for Tamar and the Guardian Prize for Exposure, the third of his Paul Faustino novels set in South America. With his wife, Elspeth Graham, he also writes stories for younger readers.
Gareth Jones performance
Monday 19th May 2-3pm, Theatre
Ages: Key Stage 2
Gareth Jones’s lively interactive performances incorporate irreverent humour, unbridled energy and original songs, inspired by his books and played on a variety of instruments. He is armed with specially written short stories, and generates opportunities such as the recreation of alien music.
In 2007 Bloomsbury published the first of four books in the series The Dragon Detective Agency and have since published The Thornthwaite Inheritance, Space Crime Conspiracy and, this year, The Considine Curse. He has also written a shorter story, Perry’s 5, published by Barrington Stoke and a series of books called Ninja Meerkats, published by Stripes.
The Case of the Missing Cats was nominated for the Waterstone’s Children’s Book Prize. The Thornthwaite Inheritance has won the Hounslow Junior Book Award, the Calderdale Book Award, Leicester Children’s Book Award, Sefton Super Reads, Doncaster Book Award, Rotherham Children’s Book Award, and Fantastic Book Award, Lancaster. The Considine Curse has just been shortlisted for The 2012 Blue Peter book award (the winner is announced on World Book Day). His latest book is the Victorian ghost story, Constable and Toop.
Gareth now divides his time between writing books, producing TV programmes, spending time with his wife and son, Herbie and playing the slightly ludicrous number of stringed instruments in his front room.