Roald Dahl sparks the imaginations of young and old

The Rockhampton River Festival is the premier winter event in regional Queensland, attracting thousands of people from across the state and beyond to the Rockhampton Region. The three-day festival held every July sees different council departments unite to entertain festival-goers. This year Rockhampton Regional Libraries were asked to take part officially for the first time, and we couldn’t resist the opportunity to extend our reach to new audiences.

The Library Leadership Team brainstormed ideas and ways we could promote the library service in a fun and interactive way whilst not needing to staff a full three-day event. “A germ of a brilliant idea hit” (Matilda) them – install an interactive Roald Dahl Storyboard Walk! This would advertise the library as a fun and playful space as well as strategically market the upcoming Rocky Reads Roald Dahl Writers Festival to a large audience. A successful bid for a Micro Grant from the State Library of Queensland was used to bring the project to life.

Library and Child Services Coordinator Naomi Brownless supplied the creative brief and worked closely with Penguin Australia on the wording, look and feel for each board, with the Roald Dahl Estate supplying the final designs. Each panel featured a specific book including Matilda, The Twits, James and the Giant Peach, the BFG and The Witches. Bright and colourful A1 corflute panels were printed locally featuring Quentin Blake illustrations with quotes from the most beloved Roald Dahl books. Each storyboard asked festival-goers to join in the fun with a suggested funny action or discussion linked to a book encouraging the crowds to get involved in the story showcased on each board.

Library staff discussed the best location for the storyboards with the events team at Advance Rockhampton, as well as and the Parks and Gardens Council Department. A unanimous decision was made for the Storyboard Walk to be situated along the riverbank in a prime position near the children’s play area and right by a sign pointing in the direction of the local library.

Two adults and one child sticking out their tongues.
Can you stick our your tongue like the Twits at the Emergency Services Day

Throughout the three-day festival the young – and the young at heart! – strolled through the walk looking at the illustrations, reading the book quotes and interacting with the boards and each other. Many a tongue was stuck out like a Twit, discussions were had as to what their scrumdiddlyumptious made up chocolate was and new Gobblefunk words were invented!

Child holding a red bag and standing next to a Matilda sign
Facebook selfie winner Grace (A huge Matilda fan!)

A social media competition was run through the Rockhampton Regional Libraries Facebook page where festival-goers were encouraged to share their selfies with the story boards. This helped to further extend the reach of the activity and enticed more excited discussion and positive feedback to the library service.

Outdoor sign with images of Roald Dahl book covers and the words 'go to the library....get a library card' and more information promoting the library and library events.
The end of the walk – come by the library for more fun!

After the festival was over the storyboards were brought back to the library where they have been displayed in the Children’s Library allowing for more fun and linking them to the First 5 Forever sessions. Library staff also took the boards to an outreach activity at the Central Queensland Emergency Services Day. The libraries’ tent was set up and became a popular spot for some fun selfies with The Twits!

The clever design of the storyboards means they will be able to be used for a variety of activities and events. That’s good for us and it’s good for our readers/users, but best of all it means we can keep the magic alive.

Author Bio:
Naomi Brownless is the Coordinator for Libraries and Child Services at Rockhampton Regional Libraries.