please, oh please, we beg, we pray,
go throw your TV set away,
and in its place you can install
a lovely bookcase on the wall."
like the Oompa Loompas, Roald Dahl didn’t want to see a nation of Mike Teavees.
He wanted a world of Matildas, Dannys, Georges and Sophies – children who read,
devise new inventions and crafty tricks, and use their imaginations to fight a
world of bossy adults and evil villains. He wanted a world of creativity!
the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre, we have to agree. We know young people
have a natural instinct to be creative, and our mission is to bring that
creativity out. Every day, we see children reading, writing, acting, drawing –
and best of all, coming up with crackling ideas that would impress Roald Dahl
why we have a Residency programme every year – to keep Roald Dahl’s legacy
alive. This year Josh Lacey is our writer in residence. So it's down to him to inspire our visitors to create new stories. No pressure.
Lacey is the author of the eight-book series A Dog Called Grk and more recently The Dragonsitter, which was shortlisted for The Roald Dahl Funny
Prize 2012. It’s all about
the crazy things that happen when a boy named Eddie has to look after his
uncle’s pet while his uncle goes on holiday. The problem is that the pet is a
Josh has been working in schools in Buckinghamshire, including Beechview School, Millbrook Combined School and Highworth Combined School in High Wycombe, to help them create their own swishwhiffling
could be better to fire up children’s imaginations but the creator of a book
with Josh, the students are free to write stories without the fear of tests or
grades. There is just one rule: write what you want! There is a story about a
plane made of candy canes and marshmallow seats that fires Rolo bullets, a
story of the mysterious disappearance of an old man, and a story of a lottery
winner who realises money can’t buy him love – all by children from Year 2 to
did they get to this point? Of course a few starting points are always useful,
and Josh has given the students lots of ways to kickstart stories. For example,
in one session every student was given a white bean to look at. What could it
be? A magic bean that turns into a beanstalk? No – that’s been done. Here are
some answers from the students. Which one is your favourite?
- a piece of chewing gum that takes you to
another world when you chew it
- a miniature space ship with tiny windows
- a shell with a magical baby inside which is a
- a small planet but when you’re about to step on
it you are on the planet and it turns big
- a piece of the moon that gives you magical
- a tooth from a T-Rex fossil
- part of a magical zip
- if you grind it down, you can make stardust
The great thing about the Residency is its unique form. Usually, a
writer will come into a school for one visit, and never see the students’ work.
Josh just keeps coming back to school – so the students benefit from his input
through sessions spread over several months. Creativity can be a funny thing –
one day your imagination is working, the next day, it’s not. You need to
persist with it. It’s like an animal that has to be trained – and needs a
Dragonsitter to look after it! Josh has been helping students through the highs
and lows of the creative process, and that’s what has made the writing so
has also run some events at the Museum in the school holidays with his
illustrator Garry Parsons. Audience members have created a new dragon together,
giving it scales, teeth, and a funny name (including ‘Scalectric,’ ‘Fireless’
and ‘Burno Bob’). Children, families and
adults alike have been inspired to invent their own tale of a child
looking after a wayward pet:
‘I really don’t mind having your
tarantula to stay, but I was not prepared for the webs!’
‘Help! Your fox’s tail has got so bushy
that it’s got stuck!’
‘Your ostrich Oscar has got his neck
stuck up the chimney! He can’t move his head because of all the soot!’
Saturday 30 June all the Buckinghamshire students involved in the Residency
will come to the Museum for a special event. They will perform the work they
have created alongside Josh, and Josh will also read some work he has created
through inspiration from the Residency. This will be an exciting showcase of
all our new young writers.
Read the next blog to find out about their
splendiferous stories . . . " Isy Mead, Education Manager at the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre
If you're wondering what to do with the chiddlers this Half-Term then the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre could be just the golden ticket.
There's Splendiferous African Animal making, Matilda's Mind-Muggling Tricks and Buzzwangling Bug Jars planned. And of course, there's Roald Dahl's writing hut and the phizz-whizzing Boy and Going Solo galleries. Follow @roalddahlmuseum on twitter for more!