I am half-way through reading Margaret Mahy’s classic The Witch in the Cherry Tree with 15 shining young faces glued to Jenny Williams’ lovely illustrations. I cackle my way through another of the pesky witch’s temper tantrums, gauging how attentive the kids are as I do.
They are splayed out in relaxed poses across the Vic Books children’s section and seem well-engaged in the story with expressions from amused to exasperated at the witch’s antics. But then - in the middle of the pack - I spot one wee lad’s eyes starting to wander. When the eyes start to wander, you know you’re in trouble.
You see, reading books to groups of children is like plate spinning. The key is to keep them all spinning at once because when one plate falls, they all fall. So, when a child’s attention starts to wobble, you need to get it spinning again or…
Read on to learn how storytellers Baz Macdonald (Vic Books), Louise Ward (Wardini Books), Charlotte McKay (The Children's Room, UBS Otago) and Felicity Cozens (The Children's Bookshop Kilbirnie) keep their audiences eating out of their hands.