May 10th, 2021

A-Z of Artists

Letter J: Jan Blake

We've reached letter J in our A-Z of artists, so this week we are celebrating the brilliant storytelling of Jan Blake. In 2018, The Children’s Bookshow was asked to programme an afternoon of children’s literature as part of The Old Vic’s Bicentenary celebrations. Jan Blake gave a vivid and thrilling performance and the children were completely spellbound!

Story of the Week

Watch Jan Blake tell the story of The Old Lady and the Pumpkin

Author in focus

Jan Blake has been performing worldwide for over twenty-five years. Specialising in stories from Africa, the Caribbean, and Arabia, she has a well-earned reputation for dynamic and generous storytelling. As well as performing at all the major storytelling festivals both nationally and internationally, she works regularly with the British Council, leads storytelling workshops for emerging storytellers, and gives masterclasses for teachers, brands, and businesses. She also regularly captivates school children with mesmerising stories.


Retell the Story

Jan Blake is mesmerising when she tells her story. She changes her tone, expression and volume in order to express different elements of the story. She uses facial expressions and actions to communicate different emotions and meaning. Have a go at retelling The Old Lady and The Pumpkin, copying Jan’s storytelling style to make your performance engaging, entertaining and thought-provoking.

Alternatively, you could create your own version of the story by changing different elements such as the characters, setting, which animal is injured, which seed is dropped and what it grows into, what the characters find when they cut open the food and what happens to each of the characters in the end.

The piano accompaniment to Jan’s story makes it even more enchanting and powerful by adding to the drama and mood of the story. You can find instrumental tracks on YouTube which could be used as a soundtrack for your storytelling. Think carefully about the atmosphere and mood you want to create and then search for ‘instrumental music’, adding a tag for whichever type of music you would like, for example: happy, upbeat, relaxing, calm, dramatic or scary.

Make a Bird Finger Puppet

You will need:

A4 plain paper
Paint or felt tips
Glitter glue or paint (optional)

What to do:

Step 1

Watch this video tutorial and follow the instruction to make a paper bird puppet.

Step 2
Once you have folded the paper into a bird shape, colour/paint all of your bird blue, from beak to tail. Use different shades of blue and feathery textures. Cut strips in the tail and fan them out to achieve a feathery effect.

Step 3
Using the offcut of rectangular paper, fold it in half and draw a wing outline.

Step 4
Cut out, unfold and colour/paint the wings pink, adding a layer of pink glitter glue if you have any to create the iridescent effect.

Step 5
Finally, fold the wing over the bird’s back and secure with glue.

We’d love to see your stories and bird finger puppets! To send us your work to display in our gallery use the link below, or upload to twitter with the hashtag #BookshowA-Z.

Email us your work for our gallery

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