July 4, 2012 by The Ascending Staircase
This was an article that I wrote for the Manchester Children’s Book Festival for their blog (http://www.m-cbf.blogspot.co.uk/). This was on the family fun day, 30th June. It was very fun, and was my motivation for creating my own blog.
Curtis Jobling – Raa Raa the Noisy Lion and friends
30th June 2012, 11am-12pm, MMU Geoffrey Manton building
Today, the Geoffrey Manton building is a child’s paradise. Toys, books, face painting and an abundance of sugar is all within easy grasp in a building which is used to housing study, exams, and neutral décor.
The day begins in my very own Friday morning lecture theatre, but today, unlike those oh-so-difficult early mornings, it is a magical sight. Paw prints adorn the stairs, smiling papier-mâché animals creep in the corners of the room. Raa Raa has pride of place; his pictures watch over the young audience from the podium at the front. This is such an enticing environment – perfect for the little eyes that begin to enter the room.
The parents, too, seem excited for the upcoming workshop, with those who have already seen Curtis Jobling, creator of hit cartoons Bob the Builder, Raa Raa the Noisy Lion and Frankenstein’s Cat, singing his praises. ‘He’s marvellous,’ gushes one mum to another. The room’s expectations seem suddenly heightened. Yet a question hangs on every parent’s lips; can Curtis manage to engage the squealing toddlers that make up a large portion of the audience? It seems a very difficult challenge to undertake.
Finally, as the noise in the room reaches its utmost crescendo, Curtis Jobling is introduced to the audience.
He begins by talking about animation and his role in it. More for the benefit of the parents and older children, his insights are littered with entertaining jokes and examples, opening up wide the world of animation for us. However, as our audience today is made up of some very small people, Curtis does not dwell on the technical side of his vocation. Instead, he whips out a story book and begins to read. The restless children are immediately captivated as they watch the story unfold on the screen; Dinosaurs After Dark and My Daddy are real winners with the little ones.
‘Who wants to see some cartoons?’ cries Curtis to a resounding cheer from the audience. Stories and cartoons are definitely a winning combination for this audience. We are treated to short clips of Curious Cow, a series of interstitials that Curtis created for children’s television channel Nickelodeon. These are predominantly aimed at children slightly older than his toddler fans but nonetheless, they raise laughter from the viewers.
Raa Raa the Noisy Lion, the star of the show, is next up, and a small girl who cried all the way through Curious Cow abruptly stops. Raa Raa is a favourite with Curtis’ youngest critics. The only noise from them is their prompted roars as the title sequence kicks off. The episode finds children and adults alike joining in, banging, clapping and singing. An ensuing round of applause shows how much the audience enjoyed Curtis’ handy work.
We’re all told to grab our pens and paper next, as Curtis begins to demonstrate how he draws his best-loved characters. Bob the Builder, Raa Raa and animals of all shapes and sizes are practised by everyone, though nobody seems to be able to draw quite like Curtis.
The session ends with laughter and praise from all. Curtis managed to handle his young audience very well, and by incorporating many of his varied works, kept people of all ages engaged and entertained. He definitely managed to bring out the inner child in us adults!