CHRIS Owen never imagined while growing up in England that he would become a children’s author, let alone write a song for one of his books, but that is exactly how life has turned out.
The father of two and Perth primary school teacher has been invited by the Perth Writers Festival to be a part of its Family Day at UWA on Sunday, February 26, following last year’s release of his second book Pandamonia.
Faced with the daunting prospect of delivering a 40-minute presentation by himself, Owen enlisted jazz and swing musician Adam Hall and the Velvet Playboys and Perth Swing Dance Society Hoppers to add to the mayhem.
“I came up with a tune that was bumping around in my head and the words are taken from the book, but I don’t play instruments or write music, so I got Adam Hall in to help me pen the tune,” Owen said.
“Adam visits schools as part of a music program. He came to my school once and I loved the music he played; I didn’t know then he was part of one of Perth’s top jazz swing bands.
“So I was surprised he said yes to helping me out and then we got the dancers on board, who coincidentally call themselves the Hullabaloo Hoppers and in the book it talks about the hippos making a hullabaloo.
“The whole thing will be me trying to keep the audience, ie the animals, under control and Adam Hall and a few others will be doing their best to whip the crowd into a frenzy and cause ‘pandamonia’.”
Published by Fremantle Press with illustrations by Chris Nixon, Pandamonia is Owen’s follow up book to My Super Hero and is about animals having a party at the zoo.
He said the book came out of the desire to write a really good read-aloud story with all the right ingredients such as rhythm, rhyme, alliteration and noisy words.
“I’m looking forward to creating ‘pandamonia’ with a lively audience and hopefully we can bring the house down and get people up and dancing,” he said.
“Perth Writers Festival’s Family day promotes reading to a wider audience and it allows authors and illustrators to meet our audience close up.
“I think on a wider level it makes audiences see that writing and illustrating for local people is possible.”
The Pandamonia free event will be on the Writers Central main stage, next to Winthrop Hall, at 11.10am and 1.10pm on Sunday, February 26.
Perth Writers Festival Family Day features a program of storytelling, art, performance, workshops and conversations from 9am-3.30pm. Visit www.perthfestival.com.au.