Upside Down Fairy Tales with Kaye Umansky
On Tuesday 5th June all Shell pupils were entertained with stories and poems from the wonderful author Kaye Umansky. Perhaps Kaye's previous visit to the College in 2011 made a lasting impression on her, because, as she explained to the pupils, when it came to writing a poem about Stevie Weevil and his car of Evil, along came Rosie Pike, on her little pink bike…”, whose bell, unfortunately, no longer goes “tinkle tink”...
After a somewhat unconventional introduction by Mrs Pike, Kaye went on to give the children some very useful writing tips. One tip was that “You have to hear the character’s voices in your head”, which she then very ably demonstrated in a rich variety of accents. Despite writing over 140 books for children, she claims that writing is still difficult, and quite often she has started a story without knowing how it will end. A favourite technique of hers is to turn fairy tales upside down, such as in her version of Hansel and Gretel where it is the witch who teaches the rather rude children some manners. She also takes a different angle in her version of Sleeping Beauty, telling the story from the perspective of Grimbleshanks, the 13th fairy, who doesn’t get invited to the princess’s christening.
When Shell Book Club readers met with Kaye, they shared their thoughts about her most recent book Witch for a Week - another universally popular choice – and almost all agreed that they too would like to be like Elsie Pickles and become a witch for a week.
Rosie Pike, Prep School Librarian