Over the past 6 months since the launch of Storytime Lane and 'Betty the Yeti's Disappointing Day', I have had the opportunity to do so many new things that, as a natural introvert (surprising, I know) have made me want to hyperventilate and go hide in a corner. From the launch day itself with it's massive crowd and NBN News interview (ARRGGHHHH), to our radio interview on ABC 1223 (ARGGGHHH again), to storytelling sessions at Harry Hartogs Green Hills and the Starlight Express Room (a little less Arrrggggh), and presenting at the Newcastle Writers Festival Family Fun Day (where I could have thrown up with nerves....or cried... or both because that was quite ARRRGHHH). It has certainly been a wild ride. Today, I got to step outside my comfort zone once again, this time in the official role of "Author" presenting at a school to hundreds of children (okay, I may have exaggerated slightly there were perhaps 200 children across 2 sessions, but even so 200 children is technically "hundreds").
In the lead up to the visit, I spent hours crafting the finest Powerpoint Presentation I could, complete with images, funny sayings, and even a very poor drawing of Betty the Yeti by me (in an attempt to demonstrate why some authors are just authors and not illustrators as well). I practised the performance over and over in my bedroom (and possibly made my housemates question my sanity...again...or even more... one or the other), until I had a solid handle on it. And then the big day arrived... DA DA DAAAAAAAAAA!
The teacher/librarian, Mrs Adams, was incredibly welcoming and kind, and help me to prepare for the morning's sessions. I go to use the amazing SMARTboard in the beautiful library (and there was even a clicker, which I was stoked about because it made me feel like a real presenter and super important and official... sad, I know).
As the classes filed in for the first session, I was relieved to see that hundreds of K-2 children (well, technically possibly around one hundred) really isn't that intimidating... because they are so small... especially when seated on the floor. And then I busted out my presentation, complete with overly animated facial expressions (think Jim Carey in "The Mask"), accents and character vocalisations, and me doing my best "Ricky Lake" imitation of going out in to the crowd to ask questions and using the clicker as a 'microphone'. Thankfully, the children loved it, and responded really positively. I think some were rather star-struck, given that they had been watching my storytelling videos online, and so I was obviously a real celebrity and worth being in awe of... at least that's what I'm telling myself.
The first session went swimmingly (as much as anything can when you're not actually swimming or near a large body of water), and so I was bolstered with confidence to nail the second session, which I obviously did (or so I am telling myself...again). The children were so engaged and enthusiastic, and keen to participate. Each session involved the children joining me in telling the stories, either by acting out the emotions or characters in the stories, or by providing sound effects. They did that SO well, and listened and followed my instructions to the letter, which for a group of a hundred K-2 children is pretty darn impressive (heck, I know some adults that would struggle with that).
And then it was time for me to leave. After signing some books and thanking my wonderful hosts, I packed up my stuff and headed home. Exhausted, but happy (I wonder if that's how the children felt as well? Probably not, given that children seem to have the energy of a thousand suns burning inside them and fuelling their days).
I'm really looking forward to getting out there amongst a whole load more schools and sharing my work in this way. What a joy and a privilege! Tahnk you Wyong Primary School and Mrs Adams for inviting me to your school and being so fantabulous!