Thursday, June 30, 2011

Polka Theatre Wimbledon autumn season

23 Sep – 29 Oct 2011
Polka Theatre presents
‘I Have a Dream...’By Levi David Addai
Take a leap into the past in this time-travelling adventure
August 1963, USA: Martin Luther King prepares to deliver a speech that will change the course of American history forever. But Yolanda, his daughter, isn’t happy that her Dad never has time for her.48 years later and Raheem is at home in south London. Life seems so unfair: not only is his mum a teacher at his school, she is now applying for the job of head; this is sure to ruin his reputation! But when Raheem falls asleep, he finds himself transported back to the 60s, face to face with Yolanda King. Their friendship takes them on a journey of discovery across decades and continents in this powerful and inspiring production.
After-show Talk Sat 8 Oct 2pm BSL Interpreted Performance Sat 15 Oct 2pm

The Untold British Civil Rights Movement by Tony Warner
Fri 30 Sep 7.30pm
Tony Warner, Director of 100 Black Men of London, returns to our stage as we celebrate 400 years of Black British Rights Heroes. Tony will illuminate this largely untold history in an interactive presentation using music, videos and imagery. Come and experience this FREE event after watching the 6pm performance of ‘I Have a Dream...’ Contact the Box Office on 020 8543 4888 for more information or to book your place
For ages 7 – 11
Tickets £6 - £12
Main Theatre
Running time approx 1 hour no interval
Usually two performances daily Tuesday – Saturday; please check or call Box Office on 020 8543 4888

19 Oct 2011 – 18 Feb 2012
Polka Theatre presents
The Ugly Duckling Adapted by Jonathan Lloyd
It’s summertime and there’s one egg left to hatch. Crack! Peep! Quack!?? What’s this...? Out tumbles the biggest, strangest duckling you’ve ever seen. Honk! Hiss! Argh! Follow Ugly Duckling through all the sights and sounds of the duckyard, as he waddles, swims and flaps his way into the big, wide world. Lost and lonely, will he ever find where he belongs? This brand new adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s classic tale is by the director and designer of Goldilocks and the Three Bears and the composer of Skitterbang Island. The Ugly Duckling promises to be a playful and tender production, brought to life with delightful music, movement and puppetry.
For ages 1-5 years
Tickets £7-£9
Usually two performances daily Tuesday – Saturday (either a 3-5 year old performance or a specially adapted performance for 1-2 year olds), please check or call Box Office on 020 8543 4888

11 Nov 2011 – 4 Feb 2012
Polka Theatre presents
E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web Adapted by Joseph Robinette
Come and meet the award-winning pig!
Wilbur’s no ordinary farmhouse pig and he’d do anything to avoid ending up on the dinner table. But help arrives from the most unlikely of places... a spider’s web, in the corner of the barn. As Wilbur grows bigger and plumper, his friendship with the tiny spider Charlotte grows too. But how far will she go to save her best friend?
Casting a web of enchantment over children and adults this winter, E.B.White’s classic is brought to life in the best tradition of Polka’s winter shows, with magic, excitement, songs and unforgettable characters. Will Charlotte and Fern the farmer’s daughter be able to save the “terrific” and “radiant” Wilbur? Head to Polka to find out!
BSL Interpreted Performance Sat 3 Dec 2pm
After-show Talk Sat 10 Dec 2.30pm
Autism Friendly Performance Sat 14 Jan 2.30pm
For ages 5-11
Tickets £8 - £16
Usually two performances daily Tuesday – Saturday, please check where you will find further events in the season listed.

Monday, June 27, 2011

SLAMbassadors UK

Now in its tenth year, SLAMbassadors UK continues to seek out the most inspirational
young performance poets from around the UK. Any young person aged 12-18 who wants
to speak, rap, rant, chime or rhyme around the theme of ‘Identity’ can enter. The deadline for entries is Friday 9 December 2011.

Look out for workshops and filming in London, Manchester, Yorkshire, Liverpool, Leicester, and Scotland. A team of established performance poets and rappers will go into schools, youth clubs and theatres to find those voices that express what it means to be a young person in Britain today. Young people can also enter independently by emailing their films to the Poetry Society.

Poets taking to the road this year include leading spoken word artists Joelle Taylor (co-ordinator of SLAMbassadors UK), Nikki Blaze, Khadijah Ibrahim and Beyonder. Alongside these are former SLAMbassdors UK winners Chris Preddie, PACE, Louise Hill and Kayo Chingonyi all of whom, since winning SLAMbassadors UK, have gone on to become big names on the performance poetry circuit.

How to enter: any young person aged 12-18 can enter – they do not need to belong to a school or to have taken part in one of the free workshops. Simply write a poem or rap around the theme of ‘Identity’, film yourself performing the poem, register your entry online and send the video to the Poetry Society.
Full details and entry forms are available at

All the videos published on the Poetry Society website will be judged by Joelle
Taylor and a high profile guest poet who will be announced later in the year.

For further information
Telephone Lisa Roberts on 020 7420 9895
or Alan Ward on 020 7420 9886

The Poetry Society,
22 Betterton Street, London WC2H 9BX
Tel: 020 7420 9880 Fax: 020 7240 4818
The Poetry Society is grateful to the following for their support of SLAMbassadors UK: North Somerset Council, Tower Hamlets
Schools Library Service, Buckinghamshire County Council, Glastonbury Festival and Pop Up Festival of Stories.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Carnegie and Greenaway Medals

Congratulations to Grahame Baker-Smith for winning the Kate Greenaway medal for FArTHER and to Patrick Ness for Monsters of Men (the third of his Chaos Walking trilogy). As Philip Ardagh said in The Guardian on Saturday 25 June about the clashing of the Harry Potter announcement with the book award ceremony "It would have been nice, though, if someone bookish in Team Potter had nudged them towards picking another date. When Harry Potter's in town, he usually sucks up most of the oxygen and column inches.

Which is a shame as, in particular, the speech by Patrick Ness was well worth reading. And you can read it by going to the Lovreading website.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Enid Blyton Trust Fund

A new £¾m fund to benefit the work of Seven Stories, the national centre for children’s books in Newcastle upon Tyne, has been founded thanks to the Enid Blyton Trust for Children. Its Trustees have decided to wind up the Enid Blyton Trust for Children and donate its assets to set up a permanent fund at the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland. This fund will support the work of Seven Stories for years to come. Kate Edwards, Chief Executive of Seven Stories said, “We are thrilled that the Enid Blyton Trustees have asked us to continue their work to improve the lives of children through learning and leisure opportunities. This new Fund, founded in Enid Blyton’s name, deepens our connection with her and her outstanding contribution to children’s literature in Britain. Grants from the Enid Blyton Fund for Seven Stories at Community Foundation will support our work to inspire more children from different walks of life to enjoy reading and the life opportunities that this brings.” An Enid Blyton Trust for Children trustee explained their decision, “Seven Stories is a truly inspiring place. We know that we have made the right decision and believe that Enid herself would feel very happy with everything Seven Stories is doing for her, her work and for the children”.
The founding of an endowment fund for Seven Stories is timely. As public funding is set to decline,cultural organisations are being encouraged to raise more funds from private sources. Endowments,which are large sums of money invested to provide a regular income for the charity, are common in the US and are increasingly seen as a way that UK arts charities can strengthen their long term future.Kate Edwards says, “The Enid Blyton Fund for Seven Stories has made it possible for us to have an
endowment, which until recently was just a dream. Though support from our public funders continuesto be vital, our fundraising ambition is to grow our endowment to £5m, building a more secure future for Seven Stories and our mission to protect, share and celebrate our precious literary inheritance for children with generations to come.”

Seven Stories is the only gallery and archive in Britain that celebrates the wonderful world of children’s books. Based in Newcastle upon Tyne, Seven Stories gives a unique insight into the making of a children’s book through engaging exhibitions, events and learning activities that encourage children, young people, families and researchers to explore their own creativity.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Michael Morpurgo's Shadow wins children's book prize

Michael Morpurgo is a triple winner of the Red House book award Michael Morpurgo's novel Shadow has won this year's Red House children's book award, which is voted for by young readers.

It is a third win for Morpurgo, who becomes the only author to do so in the award's 31-year history.

Shadow tells the story of boy who is befriended by an army sniffer dog in Afghanistan.

"Shadow was a difficult book to write because I was writing about a contemporary conflict," Murpurgo said.

He was presented with the award at a ceremony in Birmingham on Saturday.

His book, which is partly set at a detention centre for asylum seekers in the UK, was published last September.

'Raw and real'

"I was conscious of the fact that there are families of soldiers who are fighting now in the war and dying in it," said the 67-year-old author, who is based in Devon.

"So there is a sensitivity that is raw and real. I wrote Shadow, as I do with all my books, because I felt so passionately about the subject - the detention centres and the suffering of war.

"I felt compelled to write it but wasn't sure how it would be received. Winning this award, voted for by so many readers, means such a lot."

Shadow was published in September 2010 Shadow won both the category for younger readers and the overall prize in the awards, which is co-ordinated by the Federation of Children's Book Groups.

Morpurgo's previous wins were for Kensuke's Kingdom and Private Peaceful.

His novel War Horse, published in 1982, has been made into a successful theatre production in the West End and on Broadway.

A film version, directed by Steven Spielberg, is out early next year.

Other winners at the 2011 book awards were Angela McAllister and Alison Edgson's Yuck! That's not a Monster in the category for younger children, and Alex Scarrow's TimeRiders in the older readers' category.

Previous winners of the award include JK Rowling, Robert Swindells, Roald Dahl, Jacqueline Wilson, Malorie Blackman and Sophie McKenzie.

For Arthur Ransome Fans

Peter Duck will be moored in St Katharine’s Dock, Lon-

don, June 14th—16th 2011 to celebrate the publication of

The Salt-Stained Book. Visitors are welcome

10.30 —6 (Tues & Weds) 10.30 —2.30 (Thurs).

If you’d like to come please phone the author of The Salt-Stained Book, Julia Jones on 07765 703700

to check arrangements (and weather!)

Writing the World

Polka Theatre is delighted to announce the winners of their annual story-writing competition for children of primary school age. Inviting children to write short stories inspired by a different country each year, the winners of this popular competition will have their stories performed on Polka’s Main Stage at the Writing the World Festival on Saturday 9 July 2011.

This year, young writers looked to Brazil to inspire their creativity alongside children’s author Marcus Sedgwick. Marcus supported the competition by blogging on Polka’s website about the writing process and offering some top tips for applicants. He also wrote his own story; Charlie, which is inspired by Brazil and available for all to read for free on Polka’s website.

With a prolific career in young adult fiction and the author of The Raven Mysteries, Polka were delighted to have Marcus’s support who was equally pleased to be part of the scheme:
‘Writing the World is such a great idea. How better to get us all thinking about parts of the world we know less about, than to explore them through story writing?’ Marcus Sedgwick

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Children's Laureate 2011-2013

A packed hall at Kings Place sat through nine(!) speeches which, in differing ways, celebrated the post of the Children's Laureate.

Ed Vaizey, Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries said "I am determined to see the library service thrive" and he also expressed his view that "libraries and the book are fundamental to children's education".

Julia Donaldson said that she wants to reinforce the work done by the six previous laureates and to bring a touch of drama and music to the role. She said "I'd like to encourage children to write plays as well as act in them" and that "drama and music are going to be my main mission". She said she would put an emphasis on helping deaf children participate fully. She would speak up against the cuts and "library closures that are so damaging to our children's future". She mentioned the Campaign for the Book and that she would "like to do a libraries tour and combine drama with libraries".

18 children's publishers sponsor the award and the main sponsor is now Waterstone's who said they would be having window displays in something like 120 of their stores (sorry not to be precise my attention drifted). Waterstone's further announced that they planned to increase the size of their children's department where possible. Administration continues to be handled by Book Trust.

Enid Stephenson

(top pic: Floella Benjamin, Chair of the CL selection panel, Anthony Browne outgoing Children's Laureate, Ed Vaizey. Second pic: Julia Donaldson during her acceptance speech)