Gruffalo author visits Littlehampton school

Storytime as pupils act out Julia's stsory What the Jackdaw Saw
Storytime as pupils act out Julia's stsory What the Jackdaw Saw

Children and staff from River Beach Primary School were in for a treat when bestselling author Julia Donaldson visited.

During two action-packed workshops with children from year two and the Special Support Centre for Deaf Children on Wednesday, Julia and her husband Malcolm used drama and music to explore some of her stories.

Julia Donaldson demonstrates the actions to go with the song

Julia Donaldson demonstrates the actions to go with the song

In the morning, the children had lots of fun acting out What the Jackdaw Saw, a story about friendship and sign language written by a group of deaf children with Julia, and Freddie and the Fairy, about a fairy that cannot hear very well and a protagonist who mumbles, so the wishes come out wrong.

In the afternoon, Littlehampton mayor Billy Blanchard-Cooper and his consort Chris Blanchard-Cooper joined in singing and signing The Monkey Puzzle Song with the children.

Pupils took on animal roles in Freddie and the Fairy but the surprise ending involved one of the teachers in a Gorilla costume and Julia’s latest book, The Giant Jumperee.

Julia and the mayor spent time with a group which has been working with Outside In World on its Reading the Way project, funded by Arts Council England. The children have been exploring inclusive and accessible books and the visitors were able to hear some of the stories they have written, inspired by the first workshop they had with a visiting Italian author and translator in January.

Author Julia Donaldson with her husband Malcolm

Author Julia Donaldson with her husband Malcolm

Deborah Hallford, co-founder of Outside In World, based in Littlehampton, said: “Julia’s work with the children was inspirational, especially getting them to join in with signing in the books and songs.”

The afternoon was rounded off with book signing, which saw long queues of parents and children at the pop-up bookshop, set up in the school hall by The Steyning Bookshop. The school being given back a credit from sales to spend on books for the school.

Children from year two and the Special Support Centre for Deaf Children took part in the workshops

Children from year two and the Special Support Centre for Deaf Children took part in the workshops

Stanley Dalby and Nikita Kalnicenko with Monkey Puzzle puppets

Stanley Dalby and Nikita Kalnicenko with Monkey Puzzle puppets