Dear Mr Stephen Michael King
We “read” your book titled Leaf at the end of Term 3 at our playgroup.
The children did such a great job, I thought I would write to you to tell you about it.
We have such a special playgroup where the children are mostly in charge. The adults provide the structure, and the children tell us what they want to do, and how they want to do it. We don’t have any pre-set art and craft activities, the children get what they want out of the cupboards. At Circle Time, the children tell us which songs they want to sing, and we sing them. At Story Time, the children get so involved in the story and we ponder upon so many things that sometimes we meander off the track talking about this and that, and then we come back again, each story is an adventure and a journey.
In Term 3 of this year, we had a Stephen Michael King festival. We only read the books that you have written and/or illustrated.
When I saw Leaf, a book without words, I knew that I had to hand over the telling of it to the children.
At first the children were perplexed. They didn’t know whether the child in the book was a boy or a girl. We have a staunch feminist in the form of a four-year-old girl, and she thought that the child was a girl, for sure. But, some children wondered about the child’s short hair. Yes, of course girls can have short hair – that gender stereotype was debunked. Other children thought the child might be a boy, but still they weren’t sure.
We wondered whether we should give the child a name. But a boys’ name or a girls’ name – that was the question. Then, one of our bright sparks (all of our children are bright sparks by the way) shouted “Leap Frog Lily Pad”. And we all rejoiced because that was absolutely perfect.
The children continued to ‘tell’ the story. They were delighted that there was a dog in the story, because dogs are a frequent topic in our Story Time even when there isn’t a dog in the story.
We talked about whether we liked having a haircut.
We hypothesised about who or what actually dropped the seed into Leap Frog Lily Pad’s hair, based on the trajectory of the seed. Was it really the bird or did it drop from a tree? There was conjecture amongst the children.
We talked about the life cycle of seeds.
We talked about the life cycle of humans.
And the life cycle of dogs, of course.
Some children talked about the humans and pets they have lost.
We talked about environmental issues, how trees make and clean the air we breathe. How they give us shade and pleasant places to visit and live in. How trees are home to many other creatures. And how good they are to climb.
The children were also delighted to see that Leap Frog Lily Pad took his children back to the tree that he had planted. Yes, by now, we were fairly certain he was male.
What a beautiful, wonderful, magical story you have ‘written’. Thank you for sharing your storytelling gifts with the world, they are contributing to making thinking and thoughtful humans.