Liz Million and Adam Bushnell

Liz Million and Adam Bushnell are the best kind of grown up children. They told BSB stories about Edwardius the Hero, and his love interest Mary, who fights Harry the Villain, who, in a surprising turn of events, ends up being Mary’s father. You would think Adam and Liz are the writers of Eastenders, but Adam is actually a storyteller and Liz is an illustrator, as well as both being authors of a number of children’s books.

15367869199_64198aa23b_kI first saw Liz in the art department and quickly made up my mind about her – I need to be friends with her. Liz Million is worth a Million words, most of which are synonyms to ‘buoyant’, ‘lively’, ‘upbeat’, ‘resilient’, ‘happiest-person-you-will-ever-meet’, etc.

Adam is Liz’s partner in storytelling crime. He is a fan of mythology and is full of stories from first hand experience of kids with Viking weapons and why it might not always be the best idea to give a 5-year-old a sword.

The first time I heard Adam and Liz communicate, was in Liz’s illustration talk when Adam hooted “OLD!” at Liz when she mentioned her age (which is definitely not old, and even if she were you wouldn’t know because she has the aura of a 20 year old on a sugar high) .

Masters of heckling each other, quality banter and storytelling, Adam Bushnell and Liz Million are the perfect duo, like ABBA, but they can do it better with fewer people and less facial hair.

 

20% kids are funny

50% accurate mythology

40% *giggle giggle giggle*

80% talent

30% banter

 

By Marite Kuus


The Author Interview: Helen Grant

IMG_4354As I seat myself in the back of the theatre in suppressed shame of being late, Helen is in the middle of expounding a fascinating, old Flemish tradition, stating that on Silent Saturday, all the bells in the land fly out of their belfries and church towers and bring Easter eggs to the Pope. A thought of thousands of eggs bombarding the Vatican with the Pope hidden in the anti-Easter eggs bunker briefly passes through my mind. As I come back to reality from my demented fantasies, Helen is already reading a chosen passage from her book, surprisingly called “Silent Saturday”. I am continuously amazed how writers are able to write so elaborately and so beautifully about things my brain regularly dismisses with primitive, Neanderthal grunts.

After hearing the definition of the “cuckoo burglars”, I am once again convinced that the word is entering a downward spiral, leading to a word plunged in chaos, where not even burglars are capable of doing their job properly. Nevertheless, Mrs. Grant continues to in her fluent presentation from which I am only distracted, when I see two teachers exchanging significant glances after a mention is made, that a character in the book is “hot” (this is, of course, followed by giggling).

The presentation proceeds smoothly as we are presented with the perilious deeds of a committed writer  who has to climb the highest peaks of the urban landscpape and descent to the deepest corners of Flemish gutters to gather inspiration for her work. After the applause, I advance to Mrs. Grant, still enthralled by the image of a literary intellectual forcing her way through waves of rancid human waste.

Which three words would you use to describe your Belgian experience?

Engaging, international and Flemish

Which book or film title would you choose to describe your life?

Around the world in 80 days

If you were an object what would you be?

A Greek vase painting

Is there an existing book that you wish wou’d have written?

Jane Eyre

What is the most embarrsasing thing you are willing to confess?

Having a crush on the band singer of Clouseau

With the string of silly questiosn finished, I humbly obey the commands received from higher academic authorities  (my English teacher) and lead Mrs. Grant to the Staff Room. Naturally, our anabasis ends in the wrong staff room which leads to a punitive expedition to the completely opposite extremity of the school campus. With my eyes cast downward in silent humiliation of being disoriented even after spending three years studying at the same, I converse with Mrs. Grant about the perils of internationalism.

 

By Tomas Vesely


Apollinaire and Christine: a Multicultural Journey

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Apollinaire and Christine: spellbinding storytelling

 

Apollinaire and Christine are French-speaking, Brussels-based performance artists who specialise in various ways of storytelling. To them, storytelling is truly their art, an art that they exploit and which can hopefully influence the younger generation to do good in the world in the future.

Apollinaire and Christine have taken performance to the next level, with their use of many Senegalese instruments such as the Kora, a guitar-like instrument and the Djembe drums.

 

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These accompanied their story telling in a compelling manner, along with Christine’s angelic voice humming and singing to the intense beat of the drum. To bring the stories to life, Apollinaire used his incredible voice projection, which really brought the room to a standstill, so only his powerful voice could be heard above the silence of the stupefied crowd.

The majority of his stories were traditional Senegalese tales and tackled issues about self-worth and about perceptions of our society and of the Earth. He highlighted the fact that to change your perception in the darkest of times, you must channel your inner self and strength and combat what makes you feel sorrowful. It was a very self-reflective session which moved every one of the French-speaking audience.

 

30% Shouting

20% Singing

20% Nervousness

10% Singing

20% Compelling

 

By Ryan Jordan


Street Style

Monday at the British school of Brussels saw the primary school children arrive sporting some seriously fashion-forward looks. The school corridors had been turned into catwalks – literally, I mean: I actually saw a cat. Book characters had come to life and taken over the campus and I somehow managed to get through the day without tripping over any tails or getting into any sword fights *phew*. And I couldn’t resist asking some of these children questions about their choice of costume:

Student 2

Loris from Year 2

Who were you dressed as?

“I was Zorro.”

Is that your favourite book?

“No my favourite is Captain Flinn and the Pirate Dinosaurs”.

What was your favourite part of your costume?

“I like the cape and everything else because my grandma made it.”

Student 3

Lara from Year 4

Who were you dressed as?

“I was Skullduggery Pleasant.”

Is that your favourite book?

“Yes!”

Student 4

Caitlin from Year 2 (left)

Who were you dressed as?

“I was Claude from Claude in the City.”

What was your favourite part of your costume?

“The beret and my dad’s socks which we made into the ears.”

Meghan from Year 1 (right)

Who were you dressed as?

“Jasper the cat.”

Is that you favourite book?

“No, I like a monkey book that I have at home”

What was your favourite part of your costume?

“I liked the face paint and ears!”

Student 5

Hannah from Year 6 (left)

Who were you dressed as?

“Me and two of my other friends dressed up as the three little pigs.”

What’s your favourite book?

“I like Michael Morpurgo’s books.”

What was your favourite part of your costume?

“My face paint.”

 

Martina from Year 6 (right)

Who were you dressed as?

“I was Smurfette.”

What’s your favourite book?

“Diary of a Wimpy Kid.”

What was your favourite part?

“I used a sleeping bag as a dress!”

By Megan Nelson


The author interview: Project V.O.I.C.E poets Sarah Kay and Phil Kaye

Phil KSarah K

Phil: I was looking totally fly.

Sarah: Read my lips: you looked LIKE A FOOL.

Sarah Kay and Phil Kaye – they’re just like us! The two star performance poets, who you can recognise around school by the swarms of fangirls and fanboys surrounding them and the blisters on their fingers from signing autographs, revealed in their interview answers that they’re normal people and the fame hasn’t gone to their heads…

  1. If you were an object what would you be?

Sarah: A turquoise rock

Phil: Superball

  1. If you had to describe your life as a book or film title, which one?

Sarah: On the Road

Phil: Terminator 2: Judgment Day

  1. Three words to describe your Belgian experience so far?

Sarah: Cozy, autumnal, chocolaty

Phil: Delicious, enlightening, homey

  1. Cat or dog?

Sarah: Dog

Phil: Dog

  1. Tell us the most embarrassing thing you’re willing to confess

Sarah: I am 26 and still sleep with a huge stuffed animal lion

Phil: I obsessively watch movie trailers

By Caroline Hallman


The author interview: Adam Bushnell

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Adam Bushnell: a roaring good storyteller 

I approached Adam Bushnell just after he had finished his session with year 9 and embarrassed a few of them by making them take part in his story, where hugging was a DEFINITE NO between the Queen and the Prince. The horror of physical contact in year 9 is REAL.

What 3 words best describe your Belgian experience?
Funny, exhausting, inspired.

If you had to describe your life as a book or film, what would it be?
The Towering Inferno. (“That’s a bit dark.” “Yeah, maybe I’ll change it…nah, I’ll leave it.”)

If you were an animal, what would you be?
An octopus, they’re quite cool.

What’s the most embarrassing story you’re willing to tell us?
I was supposed to be having a costume delivered to British School of the Netherlands when I worked there, and when it arrived it was a pink Lycra costume (it wasn’t supposed to be). So I ended up wearing a pink Lycra costume for the day.

Cat or dog?
A: Cat.

By Marite Kuus


The author interview: Liz Million

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Liz Million, part golden eagle, part Willy Wonka

I caught illustrator Liz Million in the library, trading cash money for magic, a.k.a Sarah Kay’s poetry book. We flopped onto little blue marshmallow pebbles, a.k.a bean bags, and I began to shuffle around with my notebooks in-between giggles, a.k.a doing an interview.

What 3 words best describe your Belgian experience?

Enthusiasm, lively, enjoyable.

If you had to describe your life as a book or a film, what would it be?
The original Charlie and a Chocolate Factory, ‘It’s a dream world!’

If you were an animal, what would you be?
A golden eagle.

What’s the most embarrassing story you’re willing to admit?
I fell head first into the crotch of a man in a wheelchair who had a long white beard and smelled like pee and I pushed him for several metres.

Cat or dog?
Dog.

By Marite Kuus


The author interview: Emma Beddington

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Emma gesticulating at a flipchart

Emma Beddington is a freelance writer, who runs a successful blog called Belgian Waffle. Having spent the week with her and the rest of the BSB Book Week blogging team, it was finally time to ask her the hard-hitting and soul-searching questions we had prepared earlier on in the week:

What three words best describe your Belgian (BSB) experience?
Biscuits, trams and laughter.

If you had to describe yourself as a book/film what one would it be?
‘I was told there would be cake’ by Sloane Crosley. I’ll go anywhere for cake.

Cat or dog?
Has to be dog, out of loyalty to my own stupid one.

Which book do you wish you had written?
‘Me Talk Pretty One Day’ by David Sedaris. He’s so dark and funny, I’d give my right arm to write as well as he does.

If you were an object which one would you be?
One of those dog puzzle toys that’s spiky and has treats inside!

Tell us an embarrassing story?
This dates back to when I was a lawyer.The girl I shared an office with took me diamond ring shopping for her engagement and tried on loads of enormous diamonds. When I got back, I wrote a gossipy email to my friend telling him all about the diamonds and how ridiculously massive they all were. Except unfortunately I didn’t send the email to my friend. I sent it to Nicole. Awkward (especially when you’re sharing an office).

By Megan Nelson


The author interview: Adisa

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Adisa weaves his magic

Ever  since I saw Adisa for the first time three years ago, I was enthralled by his very essence. As a newcomer to BSB with an abysmal knowledge of English, I saw Adisa as a man of godlike physiognomy, towering over masses of listeners with his Olympian height. The effect of his craft must have been all the greater on Year 6s, sitting orderly in the rows of seats, uniformly gazing in amazement at the display of poetic mastery unravelling before them. In his presentation, Adisa shifts from trivial concepts such as informing us casually that he lives in a house, to some meta-physical questioning of the seemingly obvious realities of life. The only rhetorical category in which he he does not fulfill the standard is lying, since I genuinely cannot believe that this man did not have a girlfriend until he was 19 years of age. Anyway, this little lie provided a brand new pillar to the collapsed structure of my self esteem (THERE IS STILL HOPE). He only seems a bit disappointed when the brightest intellectual hopes of the international community are unable to figure out that the point of one of the poems he presented is “black”, even after providing numerous indications, each simpler than the previous one, finally giving the decisive hint by asking despairingly “The colour of the night sky is….”, pause, “….Black?” replies a lone childish voice. You can see a spark in Adisa’s eyes when he realises that the potential for unintentionally humiliating the finest blossoms of the next generation has been avoided.

At the end of the session, Adisa enthrones himself in the armchair that has been prepared for him and is immediately surrounded by a horde of autograph-hungry idolaters. At the end of the long snake stands my humble self, diminished in the divine rays coming from the centre of the congregation. Finally, I stand before Adisa and Adisa stands before me. “G-g-g-good morning M-m-mister Adisa.” I stutter out, as if my very expression was sufficient enough to wreak punishment upon me. M-my name is Thomas a……nd I’m invol- involv…involved in the school’s blogging project”.

The monument of my eloquence is finally finished and I am about to stutter out yet another phrase, asking whether his magnificence would be so kind as to grant me a few answers to my silly questions. I prepare the sentence in my head and open my mouth to begin yet another round of the conversation, but Adisa’s fast lips suddenly enter contraction, striking me with a question “Hello Thomas, nice to meet you, where are you from?”

I am a bit staggered but promptly reply, a fact which a surprising amount of people do not know: “Czech Republic”. “And your name is really Thomas?” I purposefully introduced myself with the anglified version of my name. The question he poses does not at all seem like interrogation and I start realising how soft the man’s voice is and how comforting his tenor. “No, it’s actually Tomáš”. “Tomáš….”, he repeats with perfect pronunciation. I am stunned but I say nothing. Somehow, I feel the massive burden of self-doubt fall from me.

Adisa agrees on the interview and we sit in one of the seats in the front row of the theatre. I begin asking my questions:

What three words best describe you Belgian experience?

Exciting, culturally-diverse and welcoming.

Which book title would you chose to describe your life?

Of Water and the Spirit.

Is there an existing book you wish you’d have written?

Adisa is intrigued by this question, as if it touched the very centre of his being. “I genuinely do not know”, he replies.

Cat or dog?

Definitely cat.

What is the most embarassing thing you are willing to confess?

“I split my trousers during a school presentation” (as I write down what I hear, he provides the additional information that it involved martial arts).

We bid farewell and I already see a new wave of worshippers surging into the theatre. Without any sign of exhaustion, Adisa rises from his seat, soaring above us mere beings. I leave that gentle giant musing: “The gods must be crazy….”

By Tomáš Vesely 


Liz Million talks to Years 12 + 13

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An uncharacteristically serious Liz Million in action

As the bell rings signalling the long-awaited final 55 minutes of school, art students from years 12 and 13 fill the studio, not sure what to expect (most of them probably pleading for a nap at this stage of the day). While scrambling around trying to find a place amongst the jungle of stools, Liz Million arrives.

80% effects of 5 hours sleep last night kicking in
10% this session could be useful for our portfolios
10% I’m missing a free for this – help!

While unpacking numerous books that she has illustrated and folders of her sketches, she makes herself at home humming happy tunes and expressing her love for the “fabulous amount of space” in our art studio. One of the first things we learn about Liz is her love for Helen’s incredible range of taxidermy, snow globes and nodding dogs (who doesn’t love nodding dogs?) on her desk. She gets a bit excited – “Aren’t these fabulous?!” she says as she points to a stuffed squirrel with googly eyes that particularly takes her fancy. For a moment, it looks like she’s found inspiration for a new character.

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The taxidermy creatures enjoy the show

After witnessing a quick introduction to her bubbly personality and the obvious enthusiasm she has for her job (which she claims is the best in the world), she begins to talk to us about how she got into being an illustrator. There were two paths that she could take: either following her high-school sweetheart she thought was her ’true love’, or heading to university for an art degree. Luckily for us it was the latter path that she chose!

Liz flicks through her folders that contain endless amounts of sketches which confirm the saying that ‘practice makes perfect’. Her drawings don’t come out printed in a book overnight. She then shows us some evidence of her success. Tigers in tuxedos, rhinos playing trumpets and bears in big fluffy slippers are all a part of Liz’s collection of cute and quirky characters – oh, and don’t forget the ‘Not So Silly Sausage’! When getting a call about illustrating for a book with this title, Liz considered it to be a wrong number: ‘Who is this?!’, she remembers asking. ‘Do children really want to read a book with pictures of breakfast foods?’ The book was a success, so I guess the answer is yes!

After discussing what it is like to work with children, we soon learn that Liz is an incredible impersonator of them! After working in the chaotic space of Kindergarten (where arguments and tears as well as hugs and kisses are a common sight), Liz explains that speaking to us brings a sense of relief.

With ten minutes remaining, Liz rushes to the drawing board with the biggest whiteboard marker I have ever seen. But I am assured this isn’t any ordinary whiteboard marker. She calls to us to give her a suggestion on what she should draw. A couple of us shout ‘an owl!’, some ‘a tiger!’, another ‘spaghetti! I love spaghetti!’. She laughs and begins to draw a tiger feeding an owl spaghetti – as you do. She grabs a piece of paper and draws on different facial expressions, imitating the characters as they change. The bell rings marking the end of the day and I feel more exhausted from laughter than anything else!

60% can I be her friend?
20% cheek pains from smiling
20% hungry for an English breakfast

By Fiona Holland