On Monday 29th May, the intrepid Meerkat performers from Melbourne battled freezing temperatures and snowfalls over the Alpine Way to present a fantastic interpretation of the popular book, Mr Huff, written by Anna Walker.

SMGS Librarian, Mrs Chris Ryrie, was thrilled to have Meerkat Productions at our school, saying, “Ashley and Brendan delivered an energetic and very positive message that left our students with some new ways to make sense of the clouds and sunshine in their lives.” Chris continued, “Musical theatre and humour are a winning combination when it comes to exploring emotions and understanding feelings. It feels less isolating in a familiar environment to listen to other students discussing openly how they cope with feeling sad or worried. I was delighted to hear a student recommend reading as a way to feel better.”

Head of Junior School, Mr Scott Frize, clearly articulated how the story, Mr Huff, explores some of the very real and very tough themes that all junior school students (and everyone else) face from time to time. Mr Frize’s performance review is as follows:

When Bill wakes up on the wrong side of the bed, the tone is set for the rest of his day. As he perceives that more and more things fail to go his way, he begins to sense that there is a growing ‘something’ trailing his every move. That something is Mr Huff. At first Bill tries to ignore Mr Huff, but the more he does, the more Mr Huff expands.

https://www.readings.com.au/review/mr-huff-by-anna-walker

This lovely children’s story provides us with more than an entertaining read. The themes of resilience, anxiety, mindfulness and having a positive mindset are all explored and the performance company designed a show that brought the story to life through music and puppetry.

As we continue to develop our approach to addressing wellbeing in our school, we welcome opportunities like this. We believe that they open up chances to discuss matters in our lives that can sometimes be challenging to address. Anna Walker’s award-winning picture book and the production of Mr Huff are great examples of how to create an engaging and non-threatening way to do this. Education is multi-faceted and needs to extend well beyond the concept of curriculum knowledge. Students need to engage in learning opportunities that, firstly, raises their awareness about their own wellbeing and, secondly, equips them with the strategies to deal with issues that challenge this wellbeing.