Skip to content
Posted by Tracey, August 2, 2013

Performing to Adults and Children… the difference – a guest post by Tracey Corderoy

Tracey Corderoy, author of the Hubble Bubble, Granny Trouble series, Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam, and Just Right for Two, will be speaking at the Oxford Children’s Book Group Conference on Saturday October 12, on the subject of Ways into Reading. Today she’s guest-blogged for us on the differences between performing to adults and children.

The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea
In a beautiful pea green boat,
They took some honey, and plenty of money,
Wrapped up in a five pound note.

My six year old self, on reading the above, was whooping, “Hurrah – let’s do it!” For, at once, I AM the pussy-cat, more than ready for adventure on the high seas. I’ve got honey, I’ve got money, and I’ve got Owl – a top companion for a sparkling journey. It’ll be great.

But wait. Now my “adult self” is interjecting. You know, how it does.

“Listen, what if it rains – no – tips it down? What if you get sick of honey? There’s only so much you can do with honey … so it won’t go off, but is it versatile? Not really.”

“And then there’s Owl…” (Adult self is on a roll.) “Ok – he’s lovely and all that, but seriously – cooped up on a (quite ropey) boat for days – maybe weeks – even YEARS. Well, it’s not going to bring the best out in anyone, now is it?”

“…Think reasonably about it for a minute…” (Adult self has a lot to say.) “…Best stay home and sing “by the light of the moon” in the freshly mowed garden. Or under the porch if it looks like rain. Which it does.”

It might be a generalisation but children and adults are very different when it comes to the carefree abandon of convention and what would be “for the best”.

Whereas the adult tendency is to “think it all through reasonably” the child (not all, but a fair few I’d argue) would revel in the spontaneity of unplanned adventure. And this, in my mind, makes children the perfect audience.

As a writer one of the best things is bringing stories to life before a young audience. Their reaction never fails to disappoint. In fact, it feeds my imagination too because children take you further into an adventure, being always a step ahead. This is because of their innate desire to explore alternatives and believe the impossible. And they’re rarely held back by cold reason, where grown-up “what ifs” can scupper an expedition before it begins.

After much thought (adult self I’m afraid) I’m delighted to conclude that my six year old self still drives my dreams, and imaginary adventures. And performing has a huge part to play, for live events engage all the senses, creating memories through shared experience. It’s through “doing” (or being as much a part of that as we can) that we truly remember.

So the boat is on there on the moonlit sea. The stage is set for the adventure. Now is Pussy-cat me? Or is it you? Or you might want to be Owl? And – listen! There’s the sound of the sea! And the notes of a “small guitar”. And the honey tastes good, and we don’t ever squabble because that’s what we’ve decided. After all, it’s our adventure, right? So we’ll choose how we’ll end it, together.

Tracey will also be talking about performing at our conference in September, Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Children’s Publishing (But Were Afraid to Ask) – Early Bird tickets are available until the end of today, and you can find out more here.