Ipswich Story Arts Festival

Every kidlit festival I have attended has been a lot of fun – and each of them special in their own way. The first week of Ipswich Story Arts Festival was this year held in the Ipswich CBD, with authors staying at the Metro Motel, and sessions spread around venues in close proximity, in the city centre. My first day’s sessions were held in the Metro conference rooms, and the second day I popped over the road where I had a lovely auditorium at the library. Whichever venue I was presenting in, I had one requirement; I had to have a microphone! I’d lost my voice at a school visit the week before, and you have NO idea how hard it is to find a lost voice!

From a presenter’s view, the Story Arts Festival shines because of the relaxed environment that the close proximity fostered – which enabled friendships and fun with other presenters, both in breaks, and during the after-school events, whilst still being accessible to the kids. (And THEY were the reason we were there!)

One of my favourite images from the event is this – slightly blurry, but catching the movement of a stream of students passing in (and out) of the Metro Motel’s main entrances, enroute to the conference rooms, where talks were held. Because that’s what kids do!

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Ritzy Kids

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Picking a cast of actors for our little drama. (Photo Credit: Yvonne Mes)

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These kids offered lovely reflections during their session. One boy ‘felt the words burning inside him’ when I read a segment of Bully on the Bus.

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The kids were fantastic. Every session was golden.

Organiser Jenny Stubbs has co-ordinated a festival that offers so much for school groups, families and adults. This year, the Story Arts Festival brought after school and evening events into the program, offering literary-themed parties, book gigs and theatre performances. Unfortunately I took way too many photos on my poor little not-an-iPhone. But here’s a snippet…

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Not sure who those faces belong to? You’ll find many of them here on the Story Arts Festival Presenters page. Especially note Tony Flowers’ gorgeous Katasaura – and Terry Denton’s not-so-flattering (but very funny) Kat – and Not-Kat.

Of course, a highlight of the festival for me, was being with kidlit lovers for the (unrelated) online announcement of Bully on the Bus as winner of the Younger Reader/Picture Book category of the Australian Family Therapists’ Literature Award, which you can read more about here.

And I loved the many discussions I had with different class groups, about bullying. One little boy very wisely noted that sometimes bullies aren’t even trying to be mean – they’re just bigger kids who are laughing with their friends. And he was right. But if the child doesn’t feel safe, or doesn’t think it’s funny, then it’s not funny.

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Another little listener commented, ‘When you read that bit about the volcano, I felt it burning inside me.’ That took my breath away! Such beautiful feedback.

I’ll be back on Poetry Friday with one last snippet from Ipswich. Now, with fond memories and many laughs, I must ‘scoot’ along… 😉 #youvegottobethere

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