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Our Theatre Trip

By Year 6 Chips, 10-11, London, UK

We went to see ‘Tom’s Midnight Garden’, what’s more we went to the theatre on Wednesday 7th December. We got there on public transport, the 133 bus. The cousins were funny because they teased Hatty.

In the plot Hatty’s cousins were bullying her and then she saw a boy called Tom. He could see her but she was acting that she could not see him. His brother was sick as he had measles so while he was in his auntie’s house he found a secret garden and he saw what happened in the past.

I like Hatty best because she was a very small girl who got upset easily and played by herself and sometimes makes bows and arrows out of sticks. I liked it when Hatty and Tom were shooting the imaginary bow and arrows and also I liked the way they changed scenes.

I was really interested in the way they set up the house because they had a real door and some steps leading to Tom’s room.

I think that the play was super and you must go and see it. When we went we thought it was amazing and surely you will agree! Have you ever seen ‘Tom’s Midnight Garden’? Well, this is your chance to see it! If you don’t see it you will miss out on the main bits such as when Tom meets a new friend who was called Hattie. I particularly liked it when Hattie was playing with her toy because she was really funny. Furthermore there were lots of other characters that were hilarious. If you go you will see the most incredible acting in the world. It was great, you have to go and see it, the setting was super, not only super but excellent. You have got to see it to know it!

(January 2006)

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Play script

By Tanzeela, 13, Birmingham, UK

I would like to see some of other people's play scripts. (July 2005)

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Chinese New Year: Traditions and Customs

By Elizabeth, 9, Beijing, China

The story of the Chinese New Year begins with a village in China, which was controlled by an evil monster. Every year, the monster returned, and tortured the villagers. Before it could happen again, the villagers planned to scare the monster away. Red clothes were hung everywhere and worn by everybody. The villagers believed the color red would scare the beast away. The plan worked and the villagers had a big party, which is now called the New Year Festival. They danced, visited each other’s house, exchanged many gifts, and had a big feast.
These days Chinese people buy new clothes for the New Year for themselves and their relatives. They do this because they believe that evil spirits will not recognize them in the new clothes. They also wear similar clothes to some of the other relatives because they think evil sprits won’t recognize them that way either.
Red is the main color of the Chinese New Year festival. Gold is also another color. Red symbolizes fire which Chinese people think will drive away evil spirits. Other red things used during the New Year are lanterns for the Lantern Festival and money envelopes called Hong Bao.
The day of Chinese New Year, adults give money to children. The money is called lucky money in English and ya sui qian in Chinese. It’s in a red envelope called Hong Bao. This money is for children to buy some candy, sweets or toys. Money amounts are usually even because an odd number is thought to be unlucky.
Cleaning the house is also one of the important things to be done before the Chinese New Year. Everyone’s house must be clean. Cleaning is done to get rid of all the bad things in the house that would cause bad luck. On walls there are couplet poems, which are on red paper. Red is the color of fire and thought to be able to drive evil spirits away. The families also decorate their houses with vases of flowers.
There are many traditional dances that happen during the Chinese New Year festival. One is called the lion dance and the other is called the dragon dance. Normally there are at least two to ten people underneath the lion or dance. Chinese people do these dances for a similar reason to cleaning the house, to scare the evil sprits away.
Food during the Chinese New Year has symbolism as well. Red meat shouldn’t be served on chipped or cracked plates because it will bring bad fortune. Fish is eaten to have long lives and good fortune. Oranges and tangerines symbolize wealth. When visitors stop by, a prosperity tray is served to every single person. Prosperity tray filled with foods that stand for good fortune and wealth.
During this time families gather with all the other relatives and eat cake called Yuanxiao cake. They believe if the cake rises high it means good luck will come to the family. New Year cake also brings hope for good fortune in work. The Chinese people refuse to use sharp knives because they believe it will cut away good luck.
The last day of the Chinese New Year is celebrated with a festival called the Lantern Festival. In Chinese it is called the Yuanxiao Festival. One story tells of the Jade Emperor in Heaven who was angry at a town for killing his favorite goose. He was going to put the town on fire. A nice fairy warned the people to light lanterns throughout the city. They did it and from the Heavens it looked like the city was on fire so the Jade Emperor did not destroy the city. Now on that day people celebrate the anniversary of not being destroyed with lanterns.
We can say that Chinese people are very superstitious because they do all things to bring good fortune and scare away evil spirits.
(July 2005)

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Flora Day in Helston, Cornwall

By Kimberley, 10, Helston, Cornwall, UK

Runner Up in the Kids on the Net Smart Reporting Competition

On Tuesday the eighth of May, in Helston, it was Flora Day. [The annual celebration to celebrate the end of Winter and the coming of Spring.]

The number of dancers in the Hal 'n Tow and the dancers for the Flora Dance had increased a lot and they all had dresses that were looking lovely.

The Children's Dance was excellent and they all looked so fantastic in their white suits and dresses. The girls were wearing headdresses made out of flowers. Each school had different colour flowers in their headdresses so that they would stand out from the other schools.

The fair was great with stomach churning rides to push you to push you to the limit.

There were great stalls with jewellery, art, clothes and lots more activities to keep you entertained. Furthemore the auction had beautiful things on it that were either made out of china, clay, marble, mahogany, crystal, glass or a combination of one or two of them. The auctioneer reduced the prices and was very good at persuading people to by things off him.

In conclusion I think I have proved that Flora Day on the eighth of May is one of the most entertaining annual celebrations of the year and I'm sure many people would agree .
(June 2003)

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The first Children's Laureate Day

By Sophie, 13, Wednesbury, West Midlands, UK

I had to get up early (5.30 am) to be ready in time for the train. We got a train from Tamebridge to Birmingham New Street, then caught the 7.45 am to Euston. We got to Euston at 9.20 am and caught a taxi to the Theatre.

When we went inside we looked at the names of the people who were going to be there (so we could look out for them later on). Just as we were going out we met Michael Morpurgo and his wife. At 11.00 am we met Michael Morpurgo officially and we got his autograph. We talked to him for a while and he told me that he used to have a dog that was a favourite of his that was called Sophie. He signed the book I have of his called 'The Wreck of the Zanzibar'.

Next we went upstairs to the Theatre Foyer and were presented with our certificates and 'goody bags' by Michael Morpurgo and Lois Beeson who was the Administrator of the event. This was very exciting. Just after that the famous people started to arrive and we were running round to try and get their autographs.

Then the Princess Royal arrived and we all gathered round and listened to the speeches. It was really interesting and exciting. You could feel the tension building up as it got nearer to the announcement. Quentin Blake was announced as the winner and gave an acceptance speech.

We then had dinner and just as we were discussing who to try and find next for an autograph the Princess came and talked to us. I was really nervous but I think I answered her questions sensibly.

We were one of the last to leave at about 3 pm. We then caught the tube to Oxford Circus and went to the BBC Experience which was brilliant. You could present the weather, edit Eastenders and make a radio programme. We had some tea and then caught the 7.15 pm train from Euston. We got to Birmingham at 8.50 pm and then had to wait until 9.30 pm for a train to Tamebridge. We eventually got home at 10.15 pm.

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Presentation of the Award to the first Children's

By Alison, 13, Wednesbury, West Midlands, UK

Walking into the Lyttleton Foyer of the National Theatre we were met by Michael Morpurgo himself. Some photos and book signings later, we began to notice the large amount of people who were coming through the doors. After some careful searching (trying to remain unnoticed) we managed to spot authors such as Joan Aiken, Jan Mark, Malorie Blackman, Phillip Pullman and Andrew Davidson (illustrator of the Iron Man by Ted Hughes).

When the time came for the award to be presented, I found myself feeling quite nervous! As Quentin Blake, Anne Fine and Peter Dickinson went on-stage to meet HRH The Princess Royal, I could almost see the tension in the room. Speeches were made by The Right Honourable Chris Smith MP (Secretary of State for Sport, Heritage and Culture) and James Naughtie and then Quentin Blake was announced as the very first Children's Laureate.

After (another!) short speech by Quentin Blake, it was time for lunch - salmon and cream cheese bagels, crepes, mini pork and herb sausages and other fancy finger-foods followed by fresh cream profiteroles and a bowl of hot melted chocolate to dip them in (our librarian Mrs Proctor enjoyed these!). When lunch was over we went to meet The Princess Royal. We were actually very lucky because, although we had been chosen to meet her, she wasn't formal but just walked around and talked to people and fortunately she chose us! She asked us questions about whether we had enjoyed the judging (definitely!) and whether it was hard to choose between an author and an author/illustrator (Yes!).

Later on, whilst collecting autographs (we got Pete Johnson, Peter Dickinson and some others but unfortunately not Anne Fine) we got to meet Quentin Blake himself! He gave us some tips about drawing (don't wait for inspiration) and answered some of our questions (do you ever base your drawings on real people?) but soon it was time to leave.

It was a really great day but I think the best part for me was meeting so many of my favourite authors and talking to Princess Anne.

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