Thursday, May 10, 2018

World Book Week 2018 - Claudia Gauci

Author and poet Claudia Gauci popped over to San Anton school to meet with the Grade 5 students.

Her latest book, Magni taż-Żmien, is about the relationship between a boy and his grandpa. The age difference between the two is more pronounced because of technology. Grandpa has no idea how to use a computer whereas most of the 'machines' that he used in his youth are unknown to his nephew. However, despite the generation gap (or two!), grandpa and his nephew share a bond that bridges whatever differences they might have.

Ms Gauci read the story to the students and they enjoyed it so much that they were very keen to share their own grandparents' stories, and stories about 'old' machines.

At the end of the session, they had their books signed. It was a great visit!

Monday, May 07, 2018

World Book Week 2018 - Sandra Hili Vassallo

Sandra Hili Vassallo, author of the Imeldina series, visited the Grade 4 students as part of World Book Week activities.

In her latest adventure, Imeldina u l-uċuħ, our eponymous hero has to deal with a number of horrible looking corbels on her way to school. Some have sculptures of leaves adorning them but others are in the shape of scary mythological creatures which give Imeldina nightmares.

Ms Hili Vassallo read the story to a mesmerised Grade 4 audience. She also spoke to them about corbels, an architectural feature that is quite common in Malta.  A corbel is a structural piece of stone (it can be made out of wood or metal too) that juts from a wall to support balconies. Sometimes, as in Imeldina's story, these corbels are carved or sculpted in a myriad of ways. There are those inspired by botanical shapes whereas others, the scary ones, would be in the likeness of demons or mythological beasts. The latter are supposed to discourage evil spirits from entering the building thus safeguarding the owners.

The Grade 4s loved every minute of this session and were over the moon when, after the session, Ms Hili Vassallo signed their copies of Imeldina.

Monday, April 30, 2018

World Book Week 2018 - Matt Stroud

Illustrator and animator Matt Stroud visited San Anton School to meet with the Grade 10 students. He spoke to them about his personal journey through various forms and styles of illustration and animation.

Mr Stroud embarked on a career in illustration through the usual channels (ie post secondary education) and then pursued it further abroad. Early on he was very interested in 3D illustration,inspired by the likes of Pixar; but, as time went by, he explored different avenues until he settled on his current, idiosyncratic style.

Inspiration comes in many forms and guises and Mr Stroud insisted on the importance of keeping a portfolio of images. In the early stages of his career he used to draw pictures in the style of the animators and illustrators that he admired, a very important step, because through copying one is exposed to an array of very important skills.

Next, Mr Stroud walked the students through the process of illustrating. First comes the sketching phase, using good old pencil and paper. The drawing is then transferred to a digital platform where it is altered accordingly. When working for a client, it is wise to present different versions of the same concept. In the long run, it saves time in laborious, later edits and, more importantly, opens up the work to discussion, which can be extremely fruitful. The work then progresses in stages: deciding on a palette, lighting, mood, etc, until the illustrator and the client agree on the final product.

It was a very informative and entertaining talk, and the students were engaged throughout. Hopefully some of them will be inspired to follow in Mr Stroud's steps!

Friday, April 27, 2018

World Book Week 2018 - Simone Spiteri

Simone Spiteri, whose debut novel for children hit the book stands last November during the Malta Book Festival, kindly accepted San Anton's invitation to come and speak to the Grade 8 students.

Il-Vjaġġaturi taż-Żmien is the first instalment in the Il-Vinkulari series. It's the story of Maia and Alex, two cousins who were born on the same day at the same exact hour. They were also raised together but now that they have reached their eleventh birthday, they are privy to this great family secret. And now they have a mission: they have to travel back in time, and in just 24 hours Maia and Alex must...

Ms Spiteri's adventure is set during World War Two which means that she had to do a ton of research in order to make sure that the historical facts are precise. Even though Vjaġġaturi is first and foremost a novel and not a history book, it is still essential for a writer to weave a credible backdrop against which the story is set.

The many illustrations which pepper the book have also been meticulously researched. Artist Moira Scicluna Żahra based her drawings on real photos of Malta at the time, adding that vibrant touch to what is already a gorgeous publication.

The students loved every minute of Ms Spiteri's presentation and quite a number of them purchased the book. If only they had a time-machine and could travel forward in time to get hold of Il-Vinkulari 2...


Wednesday, April 25, 2018

World Book Week 2018 - Ruth Frendo

Ruth Frendo was the first of several guest authors to visit San Anton School to mark World Book Week. Ms Frendo met with the Grade 7 students and spoke at length about an interesting project called Il-Misteru tal-Għoġol tad-Deheb.

Il-Misteru tal-Għoġol tad-Deheb is an ambitious and exciting story that involves a film, a book and augmented reality. Cousins Pia and Sandro are embroiled in a mystery that finds them exploring an eerie labyrinth underneath their grandparents' house. They are trying to figure out the location of the Golden Calf which, according to legend, is buried somewhere in Malta. However, something's amiss, as their uncle Ino is doing his utmost to foil their plans.

The book, penned by Ms Frendo, also the writer of the script upon which the film is based, is a breathtaking adventure that packs a punch. It also provides food for thought as issues like greed, bullying and self-esteem are explored.

A first for a local publication is the inclusion of augmented reality. Thanks to an app that is freely downloaded on one's mobile or tablet, the book illustrations morph into a gateway to exclusive digital content.

Ms Frendo went on to explain in detail the laborious but rewarding process of film making, during which the students were glued to their seats, hanging on to her every word. They really enjoyed Ms Frendo's visit and they were extremely eager to read the book. As an added treat, the day following the visit, the Grade 7s went to the cinema to watch Il-Misteru tal-Għoġol tad-Deheb!

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

World Book Week - Clare Azzopardi

Clare Azzopardi, one of the most prolific and most popular authors, visited San Anton School to meet with the Grade 4 students.

Ms Azzopardi introduced her friend Lupu Lupettu to the students even though a substantial number of them knew him already, having read the books. The adventures of the energetic wolf are written by French author Orianne Lallemande, and Ms Azzopardi translated them into Maltese.

The Grade 4 students were then treated to two stories, this time from picture books penned by Ms Azzopardi. The first one was Mingu, the tale of a family who finds an injured flamingo that was shot by a hunter. The second was Il-Qtates ta' max-Xatt, about an elderly couple who feed a colony of cats.

Finally, Ms Azzopardi was kind enough to sign the children's books. It was a great day for the Grade 4s, one that they won't easily forget.

*This visit was made possible thanks to Merlin Publishers.

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

World Book Week - Antoinette Borg

Antoinette Borġ has taken the local literary scene by storm. Her debut novel, Fittixni, was a runaway critical and commercial success, not only with children (its intended target audience) but also with adults. A few months after its launch, Ms Borġ was announced as one of the two winners of the Literary Contest of Novels for Youth, organised by Aġenzija Żgħażagħ and Il-Kunsill Nazzjonali tal-Ktieb. So it was a great honour to have her over at San Anton School to meet the Grade 9 students.

Fittixni is a story whose plot hinges on intertextuality. It is not a requirement to be familiar with the other text that acts as counterpoint to Ms Borġ's novel (Fr Wistin Born's Is-Salib tal-Fidda) in order to fully understand what's going on - however it was quite fitting that Ms Borġ's presentation was peppered with personal anecdotes that shed light on the creative process which culminated in Fittixni.

Ms Borġ was helping her son with a school project involving three Trevor Żahra novels, and after (re-) reading them herself, she got an idea for her own story. After much deliberation and mulling over, she finally sat down and started writing.

The students were given an assignment related to a major theme of the book, getting in touch with one's roots. They wrote a brief biography of an ancestor and some of them were lucky enough to read it in front of Ms Borġ and the rest of the Grade.

It was a memorable event that both the teachers and the students thoroughly enjoyed.

*This visit was done in conjunction with Merlin Publishers.