Noted Storyteller, Anne Pellowski, Conducts Workshop at the Segenat Library

Her preference is to work in areas of the world that have not been paid much attention, preferably outside of the capital city.  This need to serve an unserved population brought Anne Pellowski to the Segenat Children and Youth Library in Mekelle, Ethiopia in October to conduct two workshops on creating simple cloth books in local languages.  Ms. Pellowski, a former member of the Executive Committee of IBBY (International Board on Books for Young People) and active for more than 50 years in the work of IBBY, sent Yohannes Gebregeorgis a simple and understated letter of inquiry offering her services.  “I have read with interest your efforts to bring books to Ethiopia’s children. I would like to offer my services to do a workshop in Ethiopia, for the purpose of making picture books in your local languages there.”

Knowing the importance of introducing first language materials early to very young children, Yohannes jumped at the opportunity.  What a chance for aspiring authors, illustrators, teachers, and librarians to be introduced to a simple, inexpensive method for sharing reading in the local language!   Typically, Ms. Pellowski offers two workshops back to back within a five-day period.  Yohannes  pulled together faculty from nearby Mekelle University, illustrators interested in expanding their skills, and both experienced and promising new authors.  Ms. Pellowski put them to the test and they rose to the challenge.  Each participant had an opportunity to create three cloth books:  a word book in Tigrigna and a second language (English or Amharic); a concept book such as a folk tale; and a third of his or her own design.  

The workshop stressed the importance of having colorful books in the home language of the children.  A secondary goal is that participants will share their newly acquired skills and lead further workshops of this type to others in the community.  These initial books are made of cloth because cloth is an easy medium in which to work and cloth is easily available in most communities.  At the end of this workshop, the participants chose two of the finest cloth books among the participants.  Funding has been promised to photograph these selections and turn them into printed books for further distribution to home, school, and community libraries.

Ms. Pellowski has written extensively on storytelling and is in fact a gifted storyteller.  Her list of writings include children’s stories as well as sourcebooks on publishing and storytelling. As a representative of IBBY, she travels to two or three countries each year to present these workshops to future authors and illustrators. 

Yohannes is not unfamiliar with the works of IBBY.  In 2009, Yohannes was a panelist for the 8th IBBY Regional Conference “Children’s Books: Where Worlds Meet” held in St. Charles, IL.   The workshop provided by Ms. Pellowski  continues this great relationship between IBBY and Yohannes with the likely possibility of collaboration in the future. 

The first group of participants jump into working on their cloth book assignments.

Cutting out storybook characters takes great precision.

Each page of the book is assembled by hand one by one.

The storybook characters are ironed onto the fabric using fusible web.

Illustrator and author work side by side on their storyline.

Participants from workshop one join Anne Pellowski.

Participants from workshop two join Anne Pellowski.

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