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Thurso Library was a grand building with pillars, though cosy and welcoming inside. Two schools performed stories to us: Melvich Primary did “Rumbles in the Jungle” (below), with great jungle scenery painted onto cardboard boxes, and trees made out of poster tubes. The whole class chanted the narration and every child had an animal role, with lions roaring, monkeys leaping and gorillas beating their chests as the different poems were recited. A child on a tom-tom and a teacher on the xylophone provided a musical accompaniment.
Reay Primary did “The Very Hungry Caterpillar”, with two girls narrating very clearly and the rest of the class offering the fruit, cake, ice-cream and other foods (which were all laminated pictures) to the green-clothed caterpillar. Different children took on the role as he changed into a chrysalis and finally into a butterfly. All simply but effectively done. We then sang my “Funny Face” song with them, and acted out “What the Ladybird Heard” and “The Gruffalo”.
In the afternoon we were in Wick, where the venue was Hillhead Primary School, as the library would have been a bit too small. The Hillhead children did an imaginative version of “Hmmm” by Colin McNaughton, with two children miming the pig and wolf while two older ones read their lines. The rest of the class mimed the other characters, and the performance was interspersed with well-rehearsed songs (including a Zoom-a-Zoom pilot song and “Food Glorious Food”) which was a lovely touch.
The other class, from Bower Primary, did quite an ambitious rendering of “Once Upon a Time” by John Prater, with really good scenery, including a cardboard-box house for the three little pigs and some lovely props for the scene in which the cow jumps over the moon. We went on to sing our “Handy” song and to act out “The Magic Paintbrush” with them. We recruited some very good – or rather very villainous – followers for the Chinese Emperor (played by Malcolm).
On the long drive to Fort William we stopped for Malcolm to pick fungi and for me to do an interview with The Sun about libraries.
A great day to kick off the tour. Getting to rural places is wonderful. The two schools in the morning acted fantastically. Great costumes, props, and they even had jungle-theme set pieces. The librarians were great – very keen and eager. And very proud of their library.
The afternoon session was a bit of a homecoming for Julia and Malcolm, as they had done a major project with Hillhead a few years ago, and they remembered many of the staff and even a few of the pupils (now in P-6) came around to say hello.
Beth thinks Fort William is the place for her. She has decided to move there right after the tour ends, she's even picked out a nice boat.
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