CHILDREN'S STORIES

  • SHAMELESS SELF PUBLICITY, TODAY “IT’S A BING THING”

    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Animation, Books, Children's Media Campaign, Children's stories, Children's TV, Education, The Children's Media Foundation

    Today, Friday 28th November, and Monday 1st December, I have episodes of “Bing” screening on CBeebies.  Today’s episode is called “Jingly Shoes” and goes out at 9.10am and 1.10pm.  If, like me you were doing something this morning and missed it, it will also be on BBC i-player.

    “Looking After Flop”, goes out at 9.10am on Monday and then repeated at 1.10pm (and then also on BBC i-player.

    I loved writing for these delightful characters; each one is full of raw emotion, wonder and real love, reflecting the lives of the very special people this show is aimed at, three to six year olds and their carers.  I hope you and more importantly, any little ones you know, enjoy watching them.  I’d love to hear what you think.

  • REMEMBERING

    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Books, Children's Poetry, Children's stories, Education

     

     

    As I watch the setting sun,

    I see the shadows getting long.

    Shadows are like memories of the day we’ve had.

    Some shadows happy, some are sad:

    The things we did, the people we met,

    The ice cream van, the girl at the vet.

     

    I’m very little and my shadow is short.

    Yesterday is far away

    And I don’t remember before today.

    But when I climb on Grandad’s knee,

    It’s funny how much more I see.

    Grandad’s long shadow shows all sorts of things:

    People and places,

    And long ago faces.

    He shows them to me in photos and books.

    And in the pictures I’m surprised to see

    Some of the children look like me!

    Grandmas and aunties on a trip to the zoo,

    And my grandad’s grandad, and his grandad too.

     

    Grandad can tell me about long ago;

    His friends, his toys and the things he did.

    But Grandad is old and forgets things today,

    Like his glasses and the things I say.

    So I help him find the things he forgets

    And he helps me meet the people he met.

    He shares them in the stories he tells.

    And when my shadow’s longer, I’ll share them as well.

     

    You can hear this as well as my short story Poppy’s Day read by Falklands War veteran Simon Weston at www.bbc.co.uk/cbeebies/radio

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  • WRITING FOR PROKOFIEV

    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Books, Children's Poetry, Children's stories, Children's TV, Education, Music

    You thought Prokofiev’s famous Dance of the Knights was all about Lord Sugar and his apprentices didn’t you?  No?  Men in ballet tights?  Or maybe if you’re a Star Trek fan, Romulans in ballet tights?

    Well before you start parading round singing “Romulans and Capulets” let me put you straight because no no no.  As the lovely people at CBeebies Radio, a lot of children under the age of 6, Robert the Robot and I all know,  this piece of music is, in fact, all about a grumpy marmalade cat and a teeny tiny mouse… in the rain.

    Did you see the CBeebies Prom on television on August 25th?  (still on BBC i-player)  Those lovely people have  an extra special treat for you to freely download at http://www.bbc.co.uk/cbeebies/prom/radio/cbeebies-prom-extra  Your little ones (and you) can do-si-do and round up imaginary cattle on  imaginary horses, thanks to the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra’s special recording of Aaron Copland’s Hoedown before settling down to hear their recording of Prokofiev’s famous march and Robert The Robot’s beautiful telling of a story it inspired me to write; a thrilling tale of life and death excitement in the back garden: “Past the pond, round the rockery; round the rockery, past the pond.”

    Hear the cat “Slink and prow-wl,
    And pounce and grow-wl…” in the music.

    And can you hear the young mouse showing off?
    “I’m so fast,
    The orange thing
    With clawy paws
    Won’t catch me!…”

    While overhead a blackbird  cries in alarm “Run! Run! Run! Run!”

    Goodness I had fun writing this story.  I hope that you and your younglings have fun listening to it.

  • CBEEBIES RADIO: POPPY’S DAY

    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Books, Children's Poetry, Children's stories, Education, Politics

    My short story Poppy’s Day is available as a free download from CBeebies Radio today and for the next seven days.  Read by Falklands War veteran, Simon Weston,  and beautifully produced by John Leagas, the story marks the centenary of the First World War and introduces little listeners to bravery and the importance of remembering.

    I’ve just read the BBC press release, which says “is as powerful as it is poignant, a reminder about how important it is to remember not just the events of history, but the people.”  So that’s me feeling smug for the rest of the day.

    Follow the link above and if you don’t see a big picture of some poppies to click on.  Click on ‘Get This Week’s Podcasts’ and then again on ‘Download Radio Podcast’ and then on ‘CBeebies:Poppy’s Day’.

  • WHY I WENT TO AFRICA…

    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Children's stories, Education, Politics, Screenwriting, travel, Uncategorized

    No I didn’t go on safari and no I didn’t climb Kilimanjaro.

    Well I did sort of….

    Elephants

    I had the pleasure and privilege of staying on the border of the Arusha National Park and on the Masai Steppe in Tanzania with Kilimanjaro as my neighbour to research and write a screenplay for a new  initiative from Nature For Kids and the Sparkling Elephant Project: an exciting adventure film for children, working title…

    GOODWILL AND LIHWA AND THE TREASURE OF THE ELEPHANTS

    The African bush is full of dangers, especially if you’re only eleven years old and abandoned.  A boy and a young elephant both become victims of poaching. But just who is rescuing whom?

    My research included meeting with local children, Masai, rangers, farmers, ranchers, safari guides, tourists, government ministers and elephants and other wildlife. Obviously some I could get closer to than others.  It was both wonderful and awful and at times, like when I found these elephant remains, or watched a boy cut down another acacia tree for charcoal,  heartbreaking.

    Elephant Bones

    I’m not a trained conservationist or zoologist but having read and listened to people from all sides of the arguments, I truly believe that elephants play a more important role in our world wide ecology than we realise.  They may seem destructive but they are Africa’s gardeners, maintaining the rainforest (the planet’s lungs) – to be losing them at the unsustainable rate of one every fifteen minutes to ivory poachers is insanity: no elephants means no rainforest means no control over CO2 means no control over climate change means…  It is not just rhetoric but science-based knowledge when I say, “in saving the elephants we are saving ourselves”.

    The plan is for this film to be the backbone of a conservation initiative throughout Africa and China. Freely available to major conservation and tourism partners, there will be versions in multiple languages, English, Kiswahili, Mandarin for example but of course the beauty of film is that it tells a story visually and can go beyond words and their boundaries. It is hoped that the film will be the catalyst for everyone to rediscover elephants and bring the sparkle back to Africa before we lose them and ourselves forever.

  • 1ST CHILDREN AND MEDIA CONGRESS IN TURKEY

    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Children's Media Campaign, Children's stories, Children's TV, Education, Politics, Prix Jeunesse

    I’ve just returned from the 1.Turkiye Cocuk ve Medya Kongresi in Istanbul-not Contantinople.

    Oh look, I tried then to take myself seriously but couldn’t even manage a sentence.

    I did however take the Kongresi seriously.  On behalf of the Children’s Media Foundation, I was invited to speak at this new conference and share some of the lessons we’ve learned in the last few years.

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    Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc opens the Congress.

     

    The Kongresi was set up by the Turkish deputy prime minister to develop a strategy for children and media.

     

    The two day event brought together representatives from across Turkey, adults, children and young people as well as “esteemed overseas experts” (about twenty professors and me) in child development, media studies (and me) and was, from my perspective brilliant.  It was superb having lots of young people involved and at the heart of things.

    And despite the language barriers (some interesting translations – “Our children are so intelligent, so beautiful and so clean” ), there was a fantastic spirit of collaboration and fun.

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    2400 people of all ages attempting to get on stage for a ‘family photo’

    It was disappointing not to see a stronger presence from the Turkish kids’ media industry.  I think they were invited and there were a number of trade stands but the talks, other than mine, Sabrina Unterstell from Prix Jeunesse, and kiwi programme makers Robyn Scott Vincent and Tanya Black were more from the media studies and media literacy POV, with titles such as “Cultural functions of the Cartoons”, and lots of words like pedagogy’, ‘positioning’.  My title was also rather dry – “Children’s Media and Systems Related to Policy Issues”, but never fear, I spiced it up with some jokes and, I have to say quite a lot of triumphalism.  But nobody left my session or fell asleep…

    In essence I explained how the Children’s Media Foundation came to be and what it had achieved.  The jokes and triumphalism weren’t strained or shoehorned in – since 2006, we have done a lot: I was going to list it all but you can read all that stuff over at www.thechildrensmediafoundation.org

    It all went down rather well – there were genuinely interested questions, the moderator Prof. Dr Davut Dursun – head of the Turkish Radio and Television Supreme Council – said it was “A critical presentation for the congress” and that “Congress should study this [our] model.”  And that the Children’s Media Foundation “served as an example.”   Go us.

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    I had been in two minds about attending – of all the members of the Children’s Media Foundation executive, I have the least experience and the fewest letters after my name.  But I can tell the story of all that we have done and all that we want to do and who can argue with an airhead when she states that ‘children deserve the best media’?  So go me.

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    Volume 2 of Bildriler Kitabi – essays from the Kongressi ISBN-978-975-552-093-3

     Ooh and don’t you love that they made all the adult speakers submit photos of when they were children?

  • TODAY I GET TO SAY “MELLIFLUOUS” BECAUSE…

    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Books, Children's Media Campaign, Children's Poetry, Children's stories, Education, Politics

    I’ve just remembered a brilliant thing someone said last Saturday.  Rather fascinated by bees at the moment.  As is everyone apparently.  Hating to follow the herd, I can smugly say that I’m not interested in keeping them because it’s trendy – my big sister inherited a hive and I like being like her.

    Whatever, the lovely ancient apiarist in Stroud market, advised me to wait a few years “When there will be lots of second hand equipment for sale as the herd move on.  First it was chickens…” he said.

    Then he said something else, and this is why I am writing before I forget it and fill my silly head with other chattery nonsense.

    He said, “My primary school teacher taught me to keep bees.”

    “Oh,” I gushed, picturing an Edwardian lady filling her country diary with bee keeping notes and thinking ‘how quaint, he must have grown up with Laurie Lee’.

    The elderly bee keeper clearly knew I was filling my head with bucollocks (that’s rustic nonsense) so added,  “She taught me to read.”

    She taught me to read.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • JAYNE’S OLDS

    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Animation, Children's Media Campaign, Children's stories, Children's TV, Paddlesport, Politics

    Well I can’t call it ‘News’ when it happened so long ago.  It’s not that nothing happens in Jayne World, it’s just that I’m having too much fun doing whatever it is to write about it.  And then something else comes along and well, I don’t like to brag.

    Really?

    OK yes I LOVE TO BRAG.  I want to shout a lot about all the brilliant things I’m up to but I wasn’t brought up to do that and so a massive knob of guilt sticks like an uncooked crumble clags in my throat and I politely slip away to a quiet corner to cough it up and somehow, amid all the spluttering and gagging, whatever it was I wanted to SHOUT about suddenly doesn’t seem so important.

    August is a great excuse not to blog – everyone’s away doing family holiday stuff and-or writing their great tome.  I did neither.  I spent August (and September come to that)  jamming with bees.  Well they were honeying but it all ended up on fresh bread and butter.  AND I WON ROSETTES.  Ooh, that was almost a brag.

    There was loads of other stuff that I should have classed as News but is now Olds. But it’s all covered by NDAs and will have to wait until the TV SHOWS are broadcast.  There will be BRAGGING then. Maybe.  Depends how the TV SHOWS turn out I guess.  All I can say is that it was Preschool mainly this summer.

    And I did the annual party conferences again.

    Preschool and Politics.

    You can see how well joined up my life is.  When I say, ‘did’ the conferences – I watched a lot of stuff on Telly, read lots of press releases, sat on the beach at Brighton and decided I probably wouldn’t do it next year.  The Libdems were too far away in Glasgow (couldn’t afford the fare) so I relied on their press releases and live debates and twitter feeds, the Tories wouldn’t give me a press pass so I didn’t go anywhere near Manchester.  I did however go to Brighton for the Labour bunfight (cheap ticket and a friend put me up).

    I must must must write about all that seperately and I will.  If not here, then on the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain website.  Because I’m a MEMBER OF THE EXECUTIVE COUNCIL and have been for some time.  Ooh another brag.  Go me.

    But the best thing that happened all summer; the really very bestest best thing happened on the river.  Thames.  Pangbourne.  90 brand new year sevens all coming to Adventure Dolphin for a ‘getting to know you’- ‘teambuilding’-‘secondary school teachers are great’ sort of day.  The weather and river conditions were perfect for… BLACKBERRIES.  Scoffing our faces with berries only accessible to those in small canoes, free from dog piddle and traffic fumes – it’s surprising how quickly you get to know each other standing in a boat close to thorn bushes, how well you work as a team to get the best berries and how great the teachers really are when they’re soaking wet.  Not sure how to BRAG about that – it’s not really news; just a complete joy to be a part of. Of course I WAS EXCELLENT spotting the blackberries and their potential in the first place….

    Other Olds in brief:

    • Was involved a tiny bit in some amendments to the Children and Families’ Bill currently making its way through Parliament. Tiny BRAG
    • Was “2nd Best in Show” –  Would have BRAGGED about it before but it was a Dog Show and thought, as I don’t have a dog,  ‘second best in show’ didn’t sound like something to brag about.  But I do make good jam.
    • Briefed a shadow secretary of state.  Oh I wish I could say more and BRAG but the Guilt Crumble is clagging again – must add some blackberries.
    • And I took up bell ringing.  Not really a BRAG yet.  BUT I’VE ONLY SKINNED MY FINGER ONCE.  Brag.

    So once more I’m up to date on My News.  That is something to BRAG about.

  • A LITTLE KNOWN CHARACTER IN THE EASTER STORY…

    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Books, Children's Poetry, Children's stories

    Once upon a seabed, there lived a sponge.   Giving a home to lots of tiny creatures, it felt happy and important wafting in the waters.  Then along came a net, which scooped it up and dumped it onto a boat with lots of wriggling fish.  Some big hairy hands had picked it out.  But instead of throwing it back into the sea, the big hairy hands left it on deck in the sun.  The boat sailed home and now the sponge was miles away from its home, snatched from its family and friends, all dried out and very grumpy.

    “I don’t deserve this! Why me?” thought the grumpy sponge.  “Thing’s can’t possibly get worse.”  He heard some sloshing and thought, “Ah good, at least I can soak up some water.”  But it wasn’t water:  he suddenly found himself dunked in vinegar!  Vinegar!  Somebody said it was wine but it tasted horrid. All the little houses where the tiny creatures had lived filled up and the sponge felt horribly tingly, like being stung by a thousand sea anemones, which he was once, when he’d made a rude remark about their tentacles.

    “I don’t deserve this! Why me?” hiccupped the grumpy sponge. “Things can’t possibly get worse.” But then they stuck him on a stick!  He’d once been poked by an inquisitive swordfish, and been very cross about it.   But at least the swordfish hadn’t hoiked him into the air and waved him about!  The sponge didn’t like air at the best of times.  Now he was swaying to and fro, this way and that, as he was raised higher and higher, dripping vinegar.

    “I don’t deserve this! Why me?” swooned the grumpy sponge. “Things can’t possibly get worse.”  But then he came face to face with a man nailed onto some bits of a tree.  This man had been snatched from his family and friends,  poked and pierced and now been hoiked into the air.

    The people below pushed the sponge up to the man’s lips for him to take a drink. The man’s face was full of pain and pressure, as if he’d been stung by a hundred thousand sea anemones, poked by all the swordfishes in the sea and had the weight of all the water in the world pressing down on him.  But the sponge saw that this man wasn’t angry or even grumpy, even though he was in agony.  In fact this man was full of love: love for the people that had snatched him away, or had laughed at him, even the ones that had hoiked him into the air.  Despite the pain and pressure, this man’s face was full of love for everyone.

    As the sponge was lowered, he didn’t feel grumpy anymore.  When he had touched this man’s lips, he’d been kissed by the greatest love in the world. “I don’t deserve this! Why me?”

    Happy Easter everyone.