Concluding its fourth annual tour, the Children’s Festival of Moving Stories has delighted, captivated, and inspired young minds from across Western Sydney, regional NSW, and, for the first time, the ACT and Victoria.
Travelling through cities and towns, the Festival engaged over 5,000 children at 70 schools and libraries, testament to the Sydney Writers’ Festival’s ongoing commitment to presenting quality literary events for children, inviting and encouraging them to think creatively and critically about reading, writing, and storytelling.
As Sydney Writers' Festival's resident library-on-wheels, Russ the Story Bus again nominated himself as the mode of transport – this year adorned in colourful illustrations by celebrated children's writer Cheryl Orsini, who travelled with Russ as the featured author during the first week of touring. Cheryl spoke about her craft and love for storytelling to children in and between Sydney and Canberra, sharing her wisdom and art with some very rapt little listeners.
"I could only dream of being the cool kid on the bus so I was beyond thrilled to illustrate Russ the Story Bus for the Children’s Festival of Moving Stories. It’s the biggest canvas I’ve ever wrestled with! The idea of a library on wheels is genius, I hope it brings a smile and a wave from passers-by - honk if you love books!"
Accompanied by Russ' manager, Billy Cheeseman, other authors to join the Story Bus on his tour included Samantha Turnbull, Jack Henseleit, Lisa Nicol, Deb Abela, Lucas Proudfoot, Ruth Devine, Ursula Duborsarsky and James Gulliver Hancock. Together, they visited schools across the state like Bexley Public School, where the student's enthusiasm was clear to see, as well as Yass Public School in regional NSW, Garran Primary School in Canberra, and Wangaratta Primary School in Victoria.
Each child Russ visited got the chance to listen to an author tell a story, browse the Story Bus's library full of the latest children's books, and take home any book that tickled their fancy and stirred their imagination.
The Author Talks and Workshops held in Western Sydney were also a great hit, with primary and secondary students attending Penrith Library, Bankstown Library, Auburn Library, Parramatta Library, Cabramatta's Whitlam Library, and, for the first time, the Westmead Children’s Hospital School, to learn storytelling craft from acclaimed writers such as Cheryl Orsini, Karen Foxlee, David Astle, Evelyn Araluen Corr, J.C. Burke, Marlee Jane Ward, Jessica Townsend, Jan Latta and Tristan Bancks.
The student's passion was palpable as they learnt about such things as the role curiosity plays in finding great stories, the history of Aboriginal writing and storytelling, how to build worlds full of magic and wonder, the journey from fledgling idea to published work, and the importance of cultural identity and expression.
Once again, the Children's Festival of Moving Stories, curated by Clare Sawyer, has established itself as world-class program advocating, celebrating, and providing access to books and storytelling. It has inspired thousands of children to imagine possibilities, challenge themselves, and, most importantly, to find comfort and joy in the world of literature. The 2018 Sydney Writers' Festival promises to continue this tradition.
The 2018 Family Day and All Day YA program will be announced next March. Make sure to keep an eye out for it, and we look forward to welcoming you at the next Festival (30 April–6 May)!