The larger than life face that beamed across the projected screen was that of author Gavin Hill. K-5th graders plus staff at St. Phillip’s school in Litchfield, Minnesota were encountering their first live video chat program Skype. They were in total amazement as they viewed Gavin who sat in his living room in Sweden. They “oohed” when Gavin panned his web cam toward the window showing them it was dark outside; proof that he was seven hours ahead in time and indeed across the ocean. The Principal showed the children on the globe the location of Sweden to Minnesota and said, “What’s happening today with Skype would not have happened ten years ago.”
We proceeded to perform Gavin’s story-musical, William Gray and the Family Next Door. Gavin read to the fascinated room full of children,staff and newspaper reporter. Rosie played the music that correlated with the story and interacted with the children. For more visual, a friend, Sharon was dressed as Lucy Brown, a mouse from the story.
William Gray and the Family Next Door leads you on a fantastic journey into a fictitious world, where mice take on the rolls of humans, a jazz-playing cat takes on the roll of a bully and a beautiful crow takes on the roll of a friend in need. Max the cat loves to chase mice so Lucy Brown and her family moved away from the fields and into the church grounds to start a new life. Lucy begins at a gray, church mouse school and all of a sudden, she is pushed into an alien world of bullying. As with all good stories this one ends happily. With the help of a beautiful crow, Lucy teaches the gray, church mice that there is no room for bullying in the world.
So many school children, all over the world, face bullying daily; so many adults within the workplace suffer without end. William Gray and the Family Next Door is an educational tool that anybody can use, that any age can enjoy.
After the performance, the children had the opportunity to inter-act with author Gavin Hill. They came forward to the Skype web camera and spoke one on one with him. Here are some of their questions with Gavin’s response.
“What kind of animals do you have?” one boy asked. “The same kind of animals you have really; bears and wolves.” Gavin answered. The questions eventually turned to the topic of Gavin and his work. “What inspired you to write this story?” one girl asked. “I think it is very important to respect each other,” Gavin said. “Do you like writing books?” one boy asked. “I could not imagine doing anything else,” Gavin replied.
The delighted children could have asked questions for hours. They were intrigued with the web camera and talking to Gavin from across the ocean. Gavin was thrilled to be spending time with them. He left them with the message from one of the lyrics of his songs; ” Stop bullying and pointing at color, we are all the same inside.” The presentation was over but they were left with the great anticipation of Gavin’s summer arrival to America 2011, when they would get to meet him without the screen between them! ( Another blog for future reading)
No doubt, this first Skype event at St. Phillip’s school was the topic of conversation at the dinner table that evening and the days following at school.
William Gray and The Family Next Door lyrics are by Gavin Hill and musical arrangements by Martin Lignell. Live and Learn strives to bring words and music together to create a wonderful and believable, anti-bullying CD, complete with seven, well thought out songs. Karaoke versions are also available on the CD. Purchase is available at cdbaby.com. click link to listen to samples.
Until next time, have a great day … Gavin and Rosie