On the Story Bus (Guest Blog)

by Fingal Libraries
by Fingal Libraries on August 18, 2015 in Libraries

I was delighted to be asked to tell stories on the mobile library bus all around Fingal in August. The audience was the children in the community preschools and creches. We had arranged dates and times and the library bus arrived on time and parked.  And everywhere we went the children and their carers were […]

I was delighted to be asked to tell stories on the mobile library bus all around Fingal in August.

The audience was the children in the community preschools and creches.

We had arranged dates and times and the library bus arrived on time and parked. And everywhere we went the children and their carers were waiting for us. The children came out of their creches and carefully climbed the steps of the mobile. I was waiting at the back of the bus and the boys and girls took their places on the bean bags on the floor. And then the fun began. All kinds of stories were told. Lots of songs and jokes as well.

The fun to be had in picture books just knows no bounds. I have my own tried and trusted favourites which have been entertaining audiences for about 30 years now.

Jan Pienkowski’s pop-up books are a joy. You can just read the text and show the pop-up pictures but much better if the audience gets involved. So every day on the bus we had two and three and four year old Fingallians chewing and swallowing flies and frogs and…. tigers and crocodiles. What a hungry bunch!

Nick Butterworth and Mick Inkpen (what a great name for an illustrator!) are the authors of “Just like Jasper”. It’s a simple tale of Jasper the pussy cat who goes to the toyshop with his birthday money. But what will he buy? As we go through the shop’s wares the children join me in catching a ball, blowing bubbles, driving a car, waltzing and so much more. You’ll just have to get the book to find out what Jasper eventually chooses but that cat sure knows how to shop!

And then there’s the fantastic picture books that don’t even have an acknowledged author. Thanks to the wonderful people at StoryChest for Mrs Wishy Washy and for The Hungry Giant. Agus Go Raibh Míle Maith to An Gúm for An Tusa mo Mhamaí. “An Tusa mo Mhamaí?” is a lovely simple story about a baby chick who hatches out of his egg to find his mammy isn’t about. We join him as he asks various creatures are they his mammy until eventually he is reunited with mammy little black hen, much to the joy of all. It’s in Irish but very easily translated into English as I tell it – so the boys and girls are getting a lovely introduction to the sounds of Irish while enjoying a simple story with a happy ending.

There are so many other wonderful picture books that I use and that the children enjoy. The pictures tell their own stories and often there’s a little story within a story on every page. My tip to parents and librarians and anyone who wants to read and share picture books with young children is this. Pick a book that you enjoy yourself. It might be because of the illustrations or the story or there might be little jokes in it that are aimed as much at the grown-ups as at the kids. If you are enjoying it, the children will pick up on that. If it bores you, they’ll know that too! And by all means read all the words in the story but, also, talk about the pictures and the story with the children as you go. They’ll have things to stay and questions to ask. And you’ll have fun hearing them and trying to think up good answers!

So, health and long life to all who were involved with the preschool Tour of Fingal in the summer of 2015. To drivers Shay and Stuart and librarians Siobhán and Éadaoin who organised it all and ensured we got there safely and on time. To all the carers doing such great work in the community creches and preschools in Corduff and Baldoyle, Parlickstown and Mulhuddart, Balbriggan and Huntstown, Blakestown, Swords and Donabate. And to all those lucky children in the care of those great carers.

And finally just to say sorry to the little lad who climbed on the bus one sunny morning, looked at the driver and said “Will ye take us to the seaside?”. We couldn’t oblige but we did go to jungles and toyshops and napping houses and we met giants and animals and all kinds of silly, funny people. But who knows… in summer 2016 we could organise Stories by the Sea in beautiful Fingal. Go mbeirimid beo ag an am seo arís.

Seosamh Ó Maolalaí

Storyteller Scéalaí