Illustrator and animator Curtis Jobling, who created the multi-award-winning children’s television show Bob the Builder , was in town to give the children of Oberoi International School a glimpse into the world of animation and creative writing. Two students share their experience...

A couple of days ago Mr. Curtis Jobling came to our school for a creative writing workshop. Our teachers introduced him as the creator of Bob the Builder . This made all of us former Bob The Builder fans very anxious to meet him; it also encouraged loud chants of the theme song in the hallway.

We entered the classroom with mixed feelings, on one hand we were extremely excited to meet Mr. Curtis but on the other hand we were dreading the writing part of the workshop He started the workshop by introducing us to the three types of animation — draw animation, computer animation and puppet animation. Mr. Curtis then showed us his first draft for Bob the Builder . We were quite astonished to see that it had absolutely nothing in common with the character we see on television today. In the original drawing, Bob’s bright smile was replaced by a shaggy moustache. His giant feet and hands were rather small too.

We later watched small clips of other cartoons Mr. Curtis has worked on like RaaRaa The Noisy Lion , Frankenstein’s Cat and The Curious Cow . We all pretty much agreed that all of the trailers were hilarious. Mr. Curtis also continued to talk about his fantasy horror series, Wereworld . He introduced the topic by playing a quick game called Wolfman or Hairyman. The game included a close-up picture of a famous celebrity or werewolf being put up on the screen. We then had to shout out whether it was a “wolfman” or a “hairyman”. Us seventh graders got pretty much all of the answers right. Mr. Curtis then read a small bit from the third chapter of one of his books. It was quite intriguing and a little frightening in my opinion. I really enjoyed the workshop and I thought it was a wonderful experience.

VEDIKA KANCHAN, VII

Ever wished you could meet your childhood hero? Our wishes certainly came true when we met Curtis Jobling. Excited students could speak of nothing else during the days preceding the workshop. Truth be told, we also prepared ourselves for a long and boring workshop with the fantasy writer but, boy, we were wrong!

This Lancastrian author and illustrator worked primarily for BBC creating children’s TV shows but then decided that his real talent, and passion, lay in horror and fantasy writing. Curtis gave up his job at the BBC to write. Although his first novel took a while to perfect he has recently published his sixth book in the same series and he told us attentive seventh graders, “I’m already working on a new project.”

His illustrating skills, however, were still second to none as he showed us how to turn simple circles into unicorns and penguins in a matter of seconds. The way he moved his hand across the page with acute precision and impressive speed made us realise that he really was truly deserving of the acclaim he’s earned. Curtis took requests from us and turned each blank page into a separate story with absolutely no preparation. He turned our crazy requests into beautiful sketches and irrespective of how many times we tried to trip him up with requests to draw unique animals he managed to take it all in his stride. He drew a dragon with a knight cowardly failing to slay it and sharks hunting in the sea.

Curtis did not teach us how to write but instead talked to us about his passion and how we should all follow ours to do what we want to, writing or otehrwise. His passion for writing was infectious as he read out a chapter of his book, drawing us into a fantasy world while we all listened with rapt attention — a feat which is quite hard to perform with a group of chattering 12-year-olds! He spoke of how hard life was as an author, yet how delighted he was with his career choice.

I can not predict if anyone of us will grow up into a writer but for sure inside all of us we now have a tiny piece of Mr. Curtis Jobling’s passion for stories.

MIHIKA PRAKASH, VII