Hoxton non-profit Ministry of Stories have mentored thousands of local children to improve their writing in the organisation’s eight year history. But only now, with the help of Penguin Random House, have those stories been captured on reel-to-reel, with the release of new audiobook The World was an Avocado.
In addition, the first 10 stories are available now for free as part of the Ministry of Stories’ new podcast – with a further one coming every Monday morning hence, just in time for the school run. All 35 recordings, created with engineering assistance by Matt Hill of RethinkAudio, will eventually be made available this way.
Opening with an introduction from one of their patrons, The Fast Show’s Charlie Higson (himself a prolific writer and custodian of the Young Bond series of novels), the first episode sees Melinda launch into her story Bob Pig – all about a porcine president.
Other yarns woven by the kids include the self-explanatory The Sumo Slamming Dragon (set on planet Draguon), an exploration of a candy cane fantasy world by Mateen, and Reena and Deena, which sees sibling rivalry taken to new levels when one sister turns the other invisible.
Professional quality production and sound effects were provided by the Penguin Random House Audio team at their studios on The Strand. Managing Director of that team, Hannah Telfer, told the Citizen that “watching [the children] write, and listening to their stories, has been truly inspirational.”
The CD version (of which there are 200 copies, courtesy of Optimal Media) contains all 35 recordings, and also comes with a full colour 16-page booklet and pull-out poster filled with the children’s drawings. It was launched this week at The Red Gallery in Shoreditch, and copies will be distributed to the kids themselves, family and volunteers.
Uresa, age 11, author of the aforementioned Reena and Deena, said: “I found it really cool when I recorded my story because I got to wear the headphones and speak into a microphone. I thought the sound effects would make the story feel more alive and real – and it did come to life.”
This project comes as Ministry of Stories and Penguin Random House’s three-year partnership enters its final stretch – previous collaborations have seen the two orgs team up for picture books and World Book Day celebrations.
Lucy Macnab, Director and Co-Founder of Ministry of Stories, praised the work they have been able to do together: “The support and advice Penguin Random House UK has offered has been invaluable.
“It’s shown our writers that their ideas are powerful and can take them to exciting places.”