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Peterhead Library is quite small and quaint. You are greeted by a giant polar bear, and upstairs there is a little local museum with wonderful old sepia photos of fishing boats in the harbour and horse-drawn carts in the high street.
We got there early because a class of children with additional needs, from the Anna Ritchie School, wanted to perform The Gruffalo to me. (The teacher had said they wouldn’t be able to sit still for an hour-long session.) It turned out to be one of the highlights of the tour so far. Some of the children had little knitted finger puppets of the characters, and everyone sat in a circle and joined in the repeated lines. The teacher was obviously absolutely devoted to the children, which was lovely to see.
Next some very young children from Dales Park set up to do Fidgety Fish. They had really gone to town on props and costumes, painting bottles black for the scuba divers, cutting and painting paper plates to make crab claws, and making streamers out of crepe paper for the jellyfish. The main two characters had large fish strapped either side of their bodies. Although not everybody had something to say, they each had an underwater role.
Most of them kept their costumes on to act out my play Birthday Surprise with us (with a very competent child playing the obstreperous boy who gets turned into a rabbit), and we also did The Gruffalo in Scots and sang the song with one of the children dressed up as the Gruffalo. A nice touch was that the school had bought a book for each of the children, fearing perhaps that some parents might not be able or willing to buy one.
Still in Aberdeenshire, Inverurie Library had an events room upstairs, which meant we had more space than usual for the performances. This room is well used for other community purposes. I noticed there was a chair lift on the stairs and was told that a dementia group meets there once a week, among other users. The performances here were very strong.
First, Port Elphinstone Primary acted out Sharing a Shell and then sang the song beautifully, while Strathburn School looked on appreciatively from the other side of the room. Then the Strathburn children did a fantastic rendition of Giraffes Can’t Dance, including demonstrations of the waltz (a background tape played The Blue Danube), the cha-cha and the tango (by two lions!) My favourite part was the Scottish reel, expertly danced by a group of children in kilts.
The interactive session in Inverurie went especially well, specially the warm-up for “Monkey Puzzle”; they were all so good at being elephants, snakes and parrots that it was hard to choose the definitive examples of each. We also sang Funny Face and acted What the Ladybird Heard with an appropriately lanky teacher acting Lanky Len.
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