On Saturday, July 12, we held one of the most awesome events of the summer. It lasted about 10 minutes, but it was worth all the prep, the phone calls, the radio interviews, the Tweets and Facebook reminders… worth every second of the time spent on it. Maybe that is how Anna Pavlova felt after performing a ballet. So, what was this amazing event? It was a Where the Wild Things Are STORYMOB!!!
For those unfamiliar with what a Storymob is, please visit the site of the originators of this amazing idea. Here’s a LINK to StoryMobs.ca. Gretel Meyer Odell and Roxanne Deans, both of Toronto, came up with this amazing idea. Basically, it is a FlashMob only done with a book. Mainly, done with a picture book. Add a touch of Mardi Gras, a whole lot of excitement, and you’ve got yourself a StoryMob.
Ok, I’ve raved about the FUN part. Yes, it is fun. It is so much fun I can’t even describe it. This is the second one we’ve done — last September we did Green Eggs and Ham in Wolfville. And that was amazing, too. But folks, it IS a lot of work, I won’t kid you about that part. It takes a lot of organizing and a lot of dedication to pull it off. It just looks like it is easy because of the behind-the-scenes prep.
The folks at StoryMobs have been very helpful. They came up with the idea, and they have worked out a great timeline and have tons of helpful tips. They even pulled off a simultanious StoryMob for the launch of Summer Reading– 13 StoryMobs in ONE DAY! So if you want to do one, and you want to do it right, you really need to contact them. Just follow THIS LINK to find out how.
So, the prep: We had the date and place long ago. Our bookmobile was scheduled to be at the Farmers’ Market, so we thought it was a good match for time & place. We got lucky and had a beautiful day for it (especially since exactly a week before, Tropical Storm Arthur hit our area pretty hard). Three weeks prior to the StoryMob, we put out the call for readers. You can see our page HERE to see the information we had on the page. The date and time are not released until the day before, or, in our case, a few days before, because so many people were dealing with no power and storm clean-up, and really needed to plan ahead for this.
We called lots of local folks that we thought would be good for this: theatre groups, Arts groups, dignitaries. The Town Crier took a part. Our now-retired Regional Librarian who lives in the town took a part. We nearly had the Premier but he was away that weekend. So, you need so heavy-hitters and a few folks that you know have loud, booming voices. The other parts were taken by anyone who wanted to sign up. We had several children as readers, so really, anyone can do it.
Then, promote. We put it on Facebook, we put it on Twitter, we sent press releases, we got the local bookstore on board to have copies of the book and help promote it. I was interviewed on CBC radio (Thanks, Mainstreet!). Promotion is key. And cross your fingers that a hurricane doesn’t drop by the week before and totally disrupt everyone’s lives. (Though we still pulled it off, so take that, Arthur!)
You also need props. It is what makes it flashy and all Mardi Gras. I love making the props! I found lots of ideas and gathered them on a Pinterest board. We had a Prop-making program, and made lots of masks and crowns and vines. These were available to anyone who showed up and wanted to take part.
On StoryMob day, everyone gathers early, gets signed in, grabs a prop or two, and does a practise run-through. Then you march down to the place where you are going to do the StoryMob, read the book with Wild Abandon, and then leave. Here’s a little video of our photos from the day, or you can find us on Facebook to see even more.
This was so much fun. So much work, but so much fun. And all in the name of literacy, folks, all in the name of making books come alive, of loving books so much that you’ll do just about anything to prove to the world that BOOKS are just about the most awesome thing ever invented. Except maybe StoryMobs.
**PS: After the Green Eggs and Ham StoryMob, I made a kit for storytime– we use the props to act out the story. It works great for class visits and for older kids especially. We will be doing the same with the props from this one. Nothing wasted!