Energy Girl and the Nirox Children’s Literature Festival
This weekend I went to a children’s literature festival at the Nirox Sculpture Park in Kromdraai. My old dance partner Phemelo and her mum came all the way from East London on the bus to come to the festival. When she got here Phemelo told me that the bus ride was terrible and but they were still glad they were here. My mum had also invited her friend Mama Gapi Ramatlhape and her child Boleng. Mama Gapi invited one of her friends called Mama Kepa Lephoi who also brought her children, Amantle and Kgalalelo. So we were quite a big group.
When we got there, it seemed very magical because Nirox has many different types of trees so it felt like an enchanted forest. It echoed a lot because of all the trees.
As you go further into the estate you can see many sculptures. There are running dogs and a lady who seems to be running with them made out of what looks like papier mache.
There were odd spiraly purple things hanging on the trees which look like millions of octopus’s tentacles. They were quite creepy. Phemelo and I put our necks around the creepy purple octopus things like they were strangling us.
There was also a huge statue of a man lying down on the palms of his hands which I thought was really cool. You could climb on him.
We walked through all the sculptures and found that there was a tent where all the kids were. There were pillows to lie down on but they were a bit scratchy so it was good that there was also a stall where a man was selling rugs for you to hire and sit on for the day. He was also selling awesome umbrella hats which were quite literally hats with an umbrella on top. Phemelo bought one but I didn’t want to because I thought that it didn’t rain enough in Hartbeespoort so I would never really use it.
There was a book stall which was selling wonderful books in all different South Africa languages like English, Afrikaans, isiZulu and Setswana.
Phemelo and I sat down and read a book that was sort of about Rapunzel the fairy story but an African version where the girl had dreadlocks for the prince to climb up.
Then the show began. There was a DJ called Willy Wow who had to leave quite soon after we arrived. The small bit we saw was cool. He said he was the DJ for President Barrack Obama at the White House in the USA. Phemelo and I asked him why the President of the USA needed a DJ and he said every year they have a children’s party at the White House that it has been going since 18 something – so a long time. Apparently he was the official DJ for that party. I wished he could have stayed for longer.
Then there was a lady called Sharon Nelson who was talking about meditation and loving yourself which I thought was really nice. The problem was that all the kids of all different ages were bunched together and the little ones didn’t really get it. Then we realised that Boleng had a super power. She is Energy Girl. Energy Girl is not into meditation and calm things. Boleng is only three and she liked the meditation lady’s butterfly and caterpillar toys that she had brought with to help with the meditation. But the meditation lady wouldn’t let her have them – because she needed them. When the meditation began and Sharon Nelson had her eyes shut Boleng aka Energy Girl saw her chance. She jumped on the stage, grabbed the caterpillar and ran off with it!
Plus the other problem with the meditation was that the parents talked too much. I think if they do it again next year they should have the meditation in a separate space with no little kids and especially no parents.
Then a writer called Buhle Ngaba read one of her books. She was using a microphone – which Energy Girl Boleng thought was really cool. So she kept running up and taking it. Boleng really likes her preschool and her friends there so she kept getting hold of the microphone and giving shout outs to all her friends from pre-school. She would run in like a lightning flash and take the mike and when Buhle Ngaba kindly said ‘what do you want to say?’ she would say ‘Gabriella!!!’ ‘Logan!!!’ The writer was very nice to Boleng and didn’t seem to be cross that her story was being interrupted. She made a clever plan to incorporate Boleng’s stuff into the story.
After a while Boleng discovered the book shop and ran off with one of the books with the shop lady and her mum and me and Phemelo all chasing her! We couldn’t catch her she was too clever so her mum had to buy the book that she had run off with. The good news is that she chose well. The book she bought was one that she really liked and her mum says still likes days later. The book made Energy Girl calm down and she sat reading it for ages.
It was one of the books that the author was at the festival. It turned out that Boleng’s book was written by a child called Khanyisa Masina. She is only 8 years old. She was one of the guest authors and read her book. Interestingly while Khanyisa read her story Boleng didn’t interrupt her – she just sat and listened. I get why she did that – I also liked that there was a child who had written a book there because it made me feel more relatable to the book writer.
Then Swaady Martin read one of her books. She is Phemelo’s favourite author. Phemelo had read both of the books written by Swaady so she was very happy. The story was about a little girl called Malaika who has spiritual adventures with an angel who can appear in different ways. Boleng also gave a few shout outs from the mike here too but not too many. This time it was her dad that she wanted to have everyone know about. He wasn’t at the festival. Swaady’s story was a nice restful way to end the afternoon.
Overall, I liked the festival but there were a few problems. I didn’t like that the children were able to just get up and go away in the middle of the story. I thought that the pillows they had brought for the kids to sit on were scratchy. Plus everyone jumped on the pillows so the stuffing came out and stuck to everyone’s clothes. I think that there should be more crowd control and less scratchy pillows. Just as a suggestion.
I also thought that the statues should be more utilised as props for the stories. All those spooky purple wiggly things in the trees and the giant man and all that could have been where the stories happened and maybe what some of the stories were about. They were cool but kind of ignored on the day.
Also the food wasn’t that great. I think maybe we were supposed to bring picnics but we hadn’t which was dumb and totally our fault. The food that was there was mostly humongous slices of carrot and chocolate cake which were really sweet. Too sweet for me.
There was a burger but it was only a chicken burger and I don’t like that flavour so I didn’t eat it. There were drinks but it was only Bos Ice tea so there wasn’t anything more than sugary food and I thought that it would be nice to have something other than sugar. Someone said there was a restaurant somewhere but we couldn’t find it and there weren’t signs. My mum sent me to look but all I found was a place to buy wine. On the way home we were hungry so we went to McDonalds.
Even with these little problems everyone liked the Nirox Children’s Literature Festival. There should be more events like this for children. Maybe the next one should be in East London so that Phemelo doesn’t haven’t to come on the bus. And I can go to the beach.