Written Saturday 9th August 2014
Children twisting and bending like trees in the wind, their arms forming low-hanging branches, a living forest to be lost in.
Other children, wearing wolf-masks, climb through a leafy terrac, and slink and prowl.
A peasant's chorus sing, beautifully, about the turning of the seasons, and the hunger that comes with winter.
A troop of pompous, self-satisfied courtiers strut and cluck.
And all the children quite obviously having a wonderful time as they sing and dance and act out their part.
As their headmistress, Resham Mirza said, it was wonderful to see their courage and freedom on the stage.
I saw all this at Tiverton School last week - a wonderful primary
school in Tottenham. I was there because I was contacted, through my website, by Kate Stilitz, Tiverton's music teacher. She had
come across my book, The Wolf's Footprint, had loved it, and had turned it
into a play, writing the script, songs and music herself. She wondered if I would like to come and see it performed?
Well, what a silly question. It is true that I detest traveling to London. I don't like London much. It always seems to be roasting hot when I'm there, and gritty and dirty, noisy and crowded - normally I'd much, much rather spend 15 hours traveling to the Outer Hebrides than two hours traveling to London.
But how many chances do you get to see a story that you wrote interpreted and reinvented by another artist because they loved it? With all the work, and thought, and revision that entails?
Not many... So there was never any question but that I would go.
It was a roasting hot day. London was as noisy, crowded, dirty and gritty as ever. But the play, and the children's performance - was worth it and more. There wasn't a moment when my attention wandered - I sat there throughout with a big grin on my face. You might say I was biased - but the rest of the audience, made up of parents and children from other classes in the school, were equally absorbed, despite the heat.
Called on to say a few words after, I said that, although a bit late - my birthday had been the week before - it was the best
birthday present I'd ever had.
I mentioned that I'd written a book called The Ghost Drum, which had been awarded the Carnegie Medal for best book of its year - and that this was better. And I mean it.
I'm not decrying the Carnegie Medal in any way. It was awarded by librarians who work with children, and who are informed, and often passionate, about children's books and their importance. And they gave me their medal. I'm proud of that.
But it doesn't quite compare with discovering that another artist has so enjoyed and 'got' something that you've written, that they've been willing to pour their own energy into creating something new from it.
Thank you, Kate. And thank you, the wonderful cast.
The wolf-masks were made by Ramona Barsalona,
Thank you to Kate for the photos.