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A Magical Evening

‘Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it’ wrote children’s author Ronald Dahl and last night 40 six and seven year olds found themselves in a magical Dahl inspired wonderland. Our annual Great Read competition involves six schools and inspires children to open a book and read. A few months ago we choose the set texts and the children chosen to represent their school read the selected classic books, contemporary books, non fiction and poetry. The competitors then arrive at the Great Read evening prepared to answer questions in a competitive arena. What makes this competition special and a highlight of the year for everyone involved is the transformation of the arena into a literacy themed wonderland.

To recognise the year that would have seen Dahl’s 100th birthday, we chose this extraordinary author’s glorious treasury of work as our theme. Children, their teachers and their parents entered into the upside down Twit’s dining room. Carefully fastened to the ceiling was an ugly dining scene with chairs, a table and dirty cloth and a bowl of spaghetti worms! As the competitors turned right they found a green seesaw from a children’s playground which needed to be navigated to gain entry into the Hall. This scaley green seesaw roared as the children reached its head and to their delight Dahl’s Enormous Crocodile had just been brought to life. As they entered into a ‘world of pure imagination’ they were guided by two human Oompa Loompas towards a glittering chocolate fountain surrounded by large edible flowers and then past Matilda’s pile of books next to a jug of water with a newt in it to a bed where the BFG was sleeping with his amazing jars of dreams on a shelf above his head. These were just a few delights from the outstanding Hall decorations.

The wide eyed children sat in the middle of the Hall while their supporters took their seats and on the large Interactive Whiteboard the Sorting Hat straight from Harry Potter sprang into life and sorted the children into mixed teams with team tables such as ‘Trunchbull’s Team’ and ‘Esio Trot’s Team’. The delighted children exchanged greetings and settled down to complete the rounds collaboratively pausing for an interval during which each school’s nominated poet performed some wonderful recitals.

Another highlight of the evening was the presence of the exceptional author Kes Gray. He had written ‘Daisy and the Trouble with Sports Day’ the choice for the contemporary book and he delighted the children with a performance of two of his own poems as well as signing their books and judging the poetry section. Kes is an inspiration and an amazing speaker as we discovered in his workshop for the whole school earlier in the day. The children were thrilled to meet him.

As the scores were delivered by Grandpa Joe who had leapt out of bed to be question master for the evening, the excited children were thanked and rewarded with certificates and prizes and sent on their way full of colourful memories of the evening. To inspire the love of reading was our aim and judging by the happy chatter and sparkling eyes as everyone said their goodbyes we succeeded .  If the BFG happened to be passing with his net last night I think that he would have caught some especially golden and magical dreams.

Annie Thackray