On Friday 20th October, we held our first ever Imagined Worlds Book Slam for Year Sevens as part of our Imagined World Season!
The day kicked off with a lively and engaging talk by author Alan Gibbons to all Year Sevens. Alan Gibbons has written over 70 books on a very wide range of topics. He talked about the sorts of ways in which authors design imagined worlds - for example, by taking a particular world and shifting it a bit to change it. He spoke of how Greek myths do this by combining humans and animals to create monsters such as the minotaur. He also looked at how his upbringing had shaped him, and his long path to becoming a writer. His talk was full of humour and insight into his writing journey.
After this, thirty students who had volunteered to take part in the Book Slam, were led into a darkened library with flickering candles! They were put into team tables, named after famous fantasy authors, and given the challenge of designing imaginary world premises and story lines. Each table was assigned a sixth form helper, and they quickly began to explore and develop their ideas.
They then received a fascinating workshop by artist and prolific book cover illustrator Danny Flynn. Danny talked about how he often takes ideas from nature - such as shells, birds and pieces of branch - and turns them into unearthly landscapes. Danny has done the cover art for hundreds of books, and he spoke about his persistence, from a very young age, in pursuing this career path, and talked about some of the covers he had done. He spoke of the effectiveness of a cover and how it can make a book sell badly or well.
Students then designed covers and other illustrations for their worlds with the support of Danny and students studying Art at A level. They started creating boards for their presentations featuring their designs, ideas and drawings.
Finally, they presented their worlds to Cherry Mosteshar from Oxford Editors, who offered feedback to each team on their creations. The stories they had chosen and the worlds they had designed were remarkably varied, ranging from philosophical ideas about good and evil to mysterious characters and dramatic landscapes! The presentations included "The World of Syklar", "The River of Love", "The Nowhere Forest", "The Lonely Cucumber" and "Choices". Each presentation was thoughtfully delivered and demonstrated the enormous amount of work and imagination that had gone into designing each world.
Cherry chose "The Lonely Cucumber" as the winning team, for being the most immediately memorable and publishable an idea, but felt that all five ideas were vivid, thoughtful and publishable. The winning team received copies of Melinda Salisbury's The Sin-Eater's Daughter, and every participant received a "Certificate of Creation"!
We are very grateful indeed to Alan, Danny, Cherry, and all our sixth form helpers for such an exciting day. Well done to all Year Sevens for such imaginative and dedicated work on their worlds!
All five imagined worlds will be on display at our Festival of Imagined Worlds on 9th February.