Story time with Elli Woollard and the under fives at Swindon LitFest

12 May

Elli Woollard reads The Dragon and the Nibblesome Knight

Squeezed between art history with Philip Hook and civil war history with John Rees on Tuesday, and philosophy with Roman Krznaric that evening, by Thursday morning there was every chance that my stretched brain was going to burst with new information and deep thinking.

So I took the chance to hang out with my intellectual equals – a bunch of under-fives – for story time at the Richard Jefferies Museum with children’s author Elli Woollard.

We decorated cardboard shields and swords ahead of Elli reading from her new book, The Dragon and the Nibblesome Knight, about an apprentice warrior who befriends a strange creature before the both realise they are born to be mortal enemies, for his new pal is a dragon.

*** Spoiler alert *** The two friends agree not to fight each other, and all the knights are persuaded not to jab the dragons with pointy things, while the dragons realise they don’t need to burn or bite every knight who crosses their path.

Elli also read The Giant of Jum, her debut children’s book and a poetic sequel to the fairytale Jack and the Beanstalk. In it, the titular character – brother of the original Fee, Fi, Fo, Fumming giant – sets of to find Jack and eat him… along with any other children that cross his path.

Thing is, by the time he’s found Jack he’s actually helped out a host of kids, and come to the conclusion that he doesn’t want to eat children at all – he’d rather eat chocolate cake.

There’s a moral theme running through these stories, about not pre-judging people.

We live in a world where our politicians and our media tell us to fear The Other – while theirs do the same.

Actually, if we all stopped acting like grown-ups, and started thinking a bit more like five year olds, we could all live happily ever after.

Words and picture: Peter Davison

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