I must admit I was a little surprised by this latest offering from the Discover Centre on Tour. Whenever we’ve encountered Discover before – whether on home turf or up in the sky – their storytelling has been engaging, funny and interactive. So I was a bit disappointed that this event was an extremely boring seminar on the History of Cheese. So boring, in fact, that I and several other adults fell asleep for the duration.
Of course, it wasn’t actually boring and we didn’t actually fall asleep. But that’s the line we’re feeding the kids and it’s important to keep it up. I’ll cycle back to the “why” later on.
First, though, the “what” and this is a little difficult to define. The Discover Centre itself is closed for a refurb, so the team are holding events at libraries around East London – you can see all the relevant info here. It’s an interactive storytelling session, which is facilitated through headphones – every child was issued with a pair as they came in, and every adult too. I’d later realise that the audio feed for the adults was different to that for the kids. We also each got a booklet, on the aforementioned History of Cheese.
As the event started, the narrative split – what started as a droning recital of the origins of rennet quickly was hijacked by a voice from a space station, instructing the kids to complete a secret mission, and instructing the adults to act as if they’d fallen asleep listening to the cheese book. Still with me?
The story developed, with visual clues in the booklet as well as the narration and then the Spybrarian – a real-life person – appeared. I won’t tell you what happened after that because…well, spoilers. But it was very funny and Reuben is still laughing at the concept of a gorgeous handbag that recycles books into toilet paper. He also genuinely thinks that the adults all dozed off, so completely missed the bit where the kids were all stomping around trying to find the Unputdownable Book. Though how we could actually sleep through the noise of them doing that, I don’t know. Even with headphones on!
I think it’s ideally aimed at school-age kids, as it’s useful to be able to read the booklet. Eva got freaked out by the voices coming through her headphones and came to sit on my knee for most of the performance. Even without the narrative though, she could enjoy the wacky Spybrarian mime. Also, she’s incredibly sensitive – I think most 4-year-olds would be fine…she’s just a delicate flower and she’s only been 4 for a few days. There were younger kids there who were mainly romping around at the back but all the Reception age plus kids were thoroughly engaged and listening. There was also a chance to do some drawing at the end, to make their own mark on The Book, which Roo thoroughly enjoyed. Eva was still holding back a little.
The events are FREE! and going on through the whole of May, though I suspect a lot of the tickets will have gone by now…but go if you can, it’s totally worth it. You also get a free voucher to visit Discover once it reopens so win-win-win.
Also, you learn a lot about cheese. Win-win-win-win.