Monday, December 1, 2014

The Story Queen's Aul' Owls..............

My favourite children's picture book has long been Martin Waddell's 'Owl Babies'. In fact it is probably my all time, any genre, book. It has a beginning, a middle and an end. It has a little message without being didactic. It is a story about mothers and children and the love between them. It is a beautiful book.

   I dressed up as my alter-ego, Her Majesty The Story Queen, last week and paid a visit to the children in Appleseeds playschool in Swords. Her Majesty met thirty wonderful children, all in or around three years of age. They all have a guileless charm, great innocence and a love of life. They are not afraid to say exactly what's on their mind. We had a great chat and Her Majesty told them all about StoryLand and her Magic Bicycle and her best friend Santa Claus (Storyland is 2nd left after The North Pole) and about The King who is really terribly lazy and doesn't DO books and about her eight children Molly, Polly, Ruth and Rose, Billy, Bobby, John and Joe. Then we read Owl Babies and the children shouted out the recurring line in it, that is - owl baby Bill saying 'I want my Mammy'. One of the wee girls I help look after attends the playschool and although she knows I am The Story Queen she still buys into the fantasy. We pretend that Evelyn the Minder is the Story Queen's cousin and they look alike. The Story Queen left the playschool to a resounding cheer and lots of happy waving.

   This morning I went to the local shopping centre with my little charge and we were wandering around Penneys when I spotted a little owl hat. I put it on her and it was so cute I had to have it. Then I had a brain wave and bought two more hats.
    'Why you do that Ellen' (she can't pronounce my name).
    'Well, I was thinking. Why don't we wrap up these hats  and put in a little note for your two friends'    (they play in the yard together while we wait for their older siblings to come out of school.)
   'We can say the parcel came down the chimney from The Story Queen.'
    Her face lit up, then fell.
    'But they be all dirty.'
    'No no, sure the Story Queen is magic - she just sprinkles some magic dust on them so they won't    get dirty.'

    We bought the hats and some nice red paper and when we got home wrapped them up. She was     beside herself with excitenment as we walked up to the school. As soon as she spotted the pals she was off.
. 'Leila! Leila! Alannah! Look! Look what The Story Queen send you - down my chimbly!' Much excited tearing of the paper. Then they put their owl hats on and beamed at each other, just like the real Owl Babies.
  'Now', said Evelyn the Minder. 'The Story Queen told me to ask you - what does Bill say?' And at the top of their lungs they shouted,
  'I WANT MY MAMMY,' before skipping happily away.

Such joy. Such delight - for  a cheap little hat from Penneys. It's the child's imagination that's priceless.

PS Her Majesty is appearing in The Gutter Bookshop in Temple Bar on Saturday Dec 6 at 10.30am for a forty five minute session - free admission.

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