Oh, look what arrived in the post! Macmillan Education, you really are giving my postman a workout.
After more than 2 years of writing, and even longer in production, Story Central is now a reality. So now I can finally talk about it rather than just warbling on about Viv Lambert, my co-author!
Story Central is a 6-level EFL (English as a Foreign Language) course for primary aged children. It’s set in the context of a story centre and has storytelling and critical thinking at its hub. Aside from printed books, the course comes with huge amounts of digital content in the form of audio CDs, oral storytelling videos, American sign language videos, apps and online resources.
Viv and I developed the course for Macmillan Education, and wrote the core of it. I even came full circle and worked on the tail end of the project as a designer as well.
I showed a couple of the books to my 85 year old mum, in an attempt to explain what I do for a living, and told her (as best I could in my broken Cantonese) that it consists of all these different components: books, DVDs, CDs … ‘Oh, CDs are very popular these days aren’t they? Everybody’s using them!’ she said. (She’s never owned a CD player, or a CD for that matter!)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! Teenage Mutant … you get the idea. So went the theme tune to the 2D, hand-drawn animated TV series which ran for 10 series in the 80s. I worked on the books shown above, which are based on the current, now super slick, 3D animated TV series.
‘I remember the original!’ I said to Sarah, the lovely editor at Scholastic. And she replied, ‘Me too. I loved it when I was a kid. It had a great theme tune’. Then she sent me a link to the theme tune to the 90s live action film, performed by Partners in Kryme. (Ah, the golden age of MC Hammer!)
You know you’re old when you say ‘I remember it the first time around’. But nothing ages you quite like the sudden realisation that, actually, ‘I remember my nephew watching it the first time around. I was way too old for it!’
Popcorn ELT Readers from Scholastic – Cowabunga!
Last year we built and launched a web site for M P Robertson Esq. (less formally known as Mark). Mr Robertson creates, draws and writes about dragons (amongst other things) for a living, from a shed at the end of his garden. He also gives fantastic talks and creature-drawing workshops at schools. Aside from the site itself, we designed and helped write downloadable lesson plans and information sheets.
The dragon on the landing page was of course brought to life by Dave who took one of Mark’s amazing paintings, dissected and reconstructed it so you can’t see the joins. It was then animated in true Dave style, with sound mixed to create a convincingly dragonish roar, whatever that sounds like (apparently it’s an elephant mixed with fire). On the first day of launch Mark had 3 requests for school visits, and within a week he had fan mail from a 6 year old boy who found the site, and now he seems to be on a national tour of schools. (Must ask if we can design the tour T-shirt.)
My favourite quote is high praise indeed from a little girl after one of Mark’s workshops: ‘It was the best day of my life … better than Legoland!’ So beat that, Legoland!
M P Robertson, coming to a school near you. Book him while he’s hot, ladies and gentlemen! And look out for his other publications.