A group of enthusiastic school children took part in an interactive workshop with author-illustrator Emily Gravett as part of the annual Maggie’s Day event at The Story Museum on Thursday. The day is a chance for Maggie Evans’ family and friends to remember her and to celebrate her love of books and stories.
Literary agent Maggie Evans was passionate about books and literature. Sadly, she suffered from depression, and in 2008 took her own life. As Bob Evans, Maggie’s dad, explained at The Story Museum this week: “The way we try to handle it is by reverting to the interests Maggie had, particularly in books – children reading and learning from books, and creating their own stories. We’re tremendously grateful to all those who’ve supported this initiative, including Oxfordshire Community Foundation, who host Maggie’s fund for us.”
The afternoon consisted of an upbeat and fun workshop with renowned children’s author and illustrator Emily Gravett, who has published 14 picture books and won the Kate Greenaway Medal twice. Telling the story of how she came to be an illustrator, Emily recounted how she’d created a magic picture aged 3, failed to become a witch by falling off her broomstick, lived in a bus and started writing books to entertain her young daughter, who only stopped crying when a story was being told. During the workshop the children helped to create a new story in which a wolf was fed carrots, ice-cubes, aubergines and pencils before, unsatisfied, he ate up the rabbit-narrator.
The Story Museum, supported by the Maggie Evans Fund, had already carried out storytelling workshops in a series of schools in some of the most deprived areas locally, encouraging children to plan and write their own story. The children were then invited to Maggie’s Day where their stories were displayed in the museum alongside original sketchbooks from Emily Gravett and other renowned illustrators such as Quentin Blake and Korky Paul. The workshop finished with some insightful questions from the children (“How do you get ideas for your stories?”, “What’s the best book you’ve ever read?” – Burglar Bill apparently!) and a giveaway of signed copies of Emily’s book Wolves.