Archives for posts with tag: Day of Pink

PINK! logo

After many months of planning and preparation, Pink! the Musical set off on a 12-week tour around Scottish primary schools at the beginning of March. The yellow Hopscotch Theatre van is now zipping across the land, perhaps to park up in a playground near you!

Hopscotch yellow van

There are three delightful actors who play all the parts in the show. Craig Anthony-Ralston plays Patrick, the central character who is very upset when he wakes up one morning to discover he has turned pink. Craig has a lot of songs to sing, and he always wows the audience when he walks across the stage on his hands! (Or should I say flippers?)

happy Patrick

photo © Deirdre Hannon

Patrick’s Mum is played by Louise Montgomery, who sings a sweet lullabye to send Patrick to sleep. You can see in the picture below she is singing about the stars twinkling up high in the sky. Louise also plays Patrick’s best friend Arthur who tries to comfort Patrick about his terrible predicament.

louise lullabye

Lucy Avison has to be three different penguins! She plays Patrick’s Dad, his other best friend Lulu and Doctor Black who can’t figure out how to fix Patrick’s mysterious pinkness. To show the difference between all of Lucy’s characters, the designer Socks Rolland looked at the illustrations of Pink! by Margaret Chamberlain and chose some simple props to give each one. So the Dad has big round glasses, a bow tie and a newspaper, the doctor has 1950s glasses and a stethoscope, and Lulu wears a bright yellow bow on her head and carries a school satchel.

photo © Deirdre Hannon

photo © Deirdre Hannon

Here is Lucy as the Dad. You can see how simply the character can be changed with just a few little adjustments. Here she is again as Doctor Black, tending to poor worried Patrick:

photo © Deirdre Hannon

photo © Deirdre Hannon

The other challenge for Socks the designer was how to create a flock of flamingos. With only three actors to work with, this would prove rather tricky… Because he is pink, Patrick decides to swim to the southern tip of Africa where he thinks he might fit in better with other pink birds. The flamingos are perfectly polite, but poor Patrick struggles to do anything they can do.

meeting flamingos

Here is Patrick meeting the flamingos for the first time. Socks has made their long necks and curvy beaks beautifully, and they look very much like the illustrations in the book. The little pink tutus give an impression of the flamingos’ bodies, and Lucy and Louise move the heads around as though there are four birds talking to Patrick.

flamingo dance

As you can see, Patrick is very frustrated that he can’t do anything flamingos can do, so he decides to leave Africa behind and swim back home again. His friends are delighted to see him, and he gets to tell the whole class about his adventures.

Pink finale

In the end, Patrick discovers that being different is okay, and that his friends love him no matter what. The three penguins lead the children in a final rendition of the Fun to be a Penguin song with actions. Most schools are able to listen to the song in advance so that the children already know it when the show comes to their school.

song with actions

At today’s performance at Bearsden Primary School the children really enjoyed singing along and waving their arms with Patrick and his friends. After every show, the schools fill in feedback forms to help us make improvements and identify our strong points. Here are some of the comments we’ve had so far:

Just a few of the brilliant comments we've had so far!

Just a few of the brilliant comments we’ve had so far!

Each school that books the show also receives a Pink Resource Box with lots of goodies inside. These include a copy of Pink!, a CD of all the songs with the lyrics, fifteen resource sheets for classroom activities on a diversity theme, and a little beanbag fish to use in Circle Time as the “speaking toy.”

Pink cover blog

speaking fish

Click HERE to go to the Hopscotch Theatre website. There is also a short video on YouTube about the show produced by actor and filmmaker David Goodall, which you can see HERE.

Finally, I must thank Creative Scotland for the generous grant that made Pink! the Musical possible, as well as Sense Over Sectarianism and the Robertson Trust who have each funded an extra four weeks of touring to bring the musical to thousands more children this spring. The Gordon Fraser Charitable Trust has also funded performances in ten primary schools in Inverclyde. With all this support we are reaching out to children across the country to help them learn to respect difference and celebrate diversity. I hope one day we can make bullying of all kinds a thing of the past.

photo © Deirdre Hannon

photo © Deirdre Hannon

A while back I heard an interview on the radio with Sir Tim Rice, who has written the lyrics for many famous musicals (Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, Jesus Christ Superstar, The Lion King and Evita, among others). He was talking about the brilliant musical Matilda (based on the Roald Dahl book and written by Tim Minchin) and said there weren’t many people writing new musicals these days.

And that got me thinking…

Pink! (illustrated by the wonderful Margaret Chamberlain) has been used widely in primary schools across the UK and abroad to help children think about how it feels to be different. Lots of kids can relate to Patrick the misfit pink penguin, and it suddenly occurred to me that the story would make a great musical!

I decided the best way to make this happen was to ask a children’s theatre company to help me. It didn’t take long for me to find the perfect one: Hopscotch Theatre Company have been bringing fun musical productions to schools across Scotland for many years, and they were very excited about working with me to bring Pink! to the stage.

But mounting a new production takes money, for writing the script and the songs, designing and making the costumes, creating the sets and props and paying the actors and the director to rehearse the show and then take it on tour. We decided to apply for a grant from Creative Scotland to help us.

We spent weeks putting together our proposal and filling out the application form. Then we had to wait another month to hear what the decision would be. And to our huge delight, they said YES!

I am now officially working with the lovely people at Hopscotch Theatre Company to turn my picture book Pink! into a fabulous new musical that will bring a gentle anti-bullying message to children aged 4 to 7.

I’ve already written a first draft of the script and have really enjoyed tackling the challenges of bringing the story alive with actors. How will their penguin suits work? How can we get Patrick to turn from a normal black-and-white penguin into a pink one? How can we make a flock of flamingos fly off into the sky?

I would tell you, but perhaps you should wait until PINK! the Musical comes to your school!

Friday April 20th is a special day for me. It is the first birthday of my Blog for Kids! I have had a lot of fun writing about things I care about over the past year, and it’s been great to get responses from you, too! The little cat above is a drawing Anna did for her 10th birthday party, so I thought it was a good way to start this post.

To celebrate my blog’s birthday I have decided to write some GOOD NEWS stories. For example, I always get a special thrill each spring when the giant cherry tree outside my house comes out in beautiful pink blossom. This is the view from my window at the moment, and it never fails to cheer me up, even on a rainy day!

Speaking of pink things, I have amazing news that on April 11th, over 8 MILLION people around the world dressed in pink to show that they were standing up against bullying. Isn’t that fantastic? It’s great to see so many young people working together for a good cause and having fun at the same time. In one highschool in Toronto they even made special pink food in the cafeteria!

Here is another wonderful reason to celebrate. His name is Alfie and he is a rescue dog recently adopted by a friend of mine. Isn’t he gorgeous? He has only just arrived in his new home, so I hope he settles in well and becomes a special member of the family. I love dogs so I hope one day I’ll get to meet him!

The month of April marks another first birthday – that of the Guardian Children’s Books Website. This is a brilliant site full of book reviews, video interviews with authors, quizzes, the latest children’s book news and even drawing tips! You can sign up and join in the action, writing book reviews yourself and getting involved in discussions. To find out more about the site and how to join, click HERE.

In some parts of the world, people live in such isolated and hard-to-reach places that they can’t enjoy the simple things we take for granted – like books. I recently discovered (from @shedworking on Twitter) that in Venezuela there is a clever new way to bring books to children in remote mountain villages. Book mules!

These animals are very tough and can be used to carry heavy loads along treacherous mountain paths where a four-wheeled vehicle couldn’t go. When the book mule arrives in a village, the children all cry “Bibliomulas!” and race to find something to read. In a place where there are no libraries or bookshops, you can imagine how exciting it would be to see the mule coming!

In some of these places there is starting to be some mobile phone reception, so the mules can carry laptops to give the villagers access to the internet. Cyber mules! This story was reported on a BBC Radio 4 programme called From Our Own Correspondent, and you can read a big article about it HERE. I think it’s brilliant!

A few years ago, a teenage boy went to school wearing a pink T-shirt, and he got teased and bullied for it. Two other boys in the school decided they wanted to send a message to those bullies, so they got lots of pink shirts and talked to their friends about their plan. A few days later, the whole school was a SEA OF PINK, with lots of kids wearing pink shirts. The bullies got the message loud and clear!

Since then, the second Wednesday in April every year is the Day of Pink, when kids and grown-ups all over North America wear pink to show that they are standing up against bullying. It’s not too late for you to get involved!

Here is a brilliant YouTube video showing lots of kids from schools in Canada and the US dancing in their pink “Acceptance” T-shirts. They have chosen Lady Gaga’s song Born This Way which is perfect for celebrating diversity: VIEW VIDEO HERE.

A young man called Jeremy Dias founded the Day of Pink in Canada and his organisation continues to fight against bullying and discrimination all year round. Check out their website HERE to find out more about what they do.

This amazing pink movement was happening at the same time that my book Pink! was published. It was a total coincidence, but my book is all about a penguin being bullied because he is different! The message in Pink! is the same: everyone is different and we all deserve respect.

When Pink! was published in Canada, I got a message from a lady in Vancouver who used my book in her daughter’s classroom to talk to the children about being different. She said it was a great tool for getting kids to think about how they treated each other, and it really helped her daughter feel more accepted in the class. That gave me an idea…

Pink! is just one of many books for kids that help explore issues of diversity and acceptance. Check out the website Healthy Books for books about bullying, disability and self-esteem/being different. On this Day of Pink, maybe you can look at some of these in your school and get talking about how they share the same anti-bullying message. And see what you’ve got in your closet at home that’s pink. It’s time for a PINK CELEBRATION!