‘I bequeath this key to any little nipper who believes in the mysteries of the menagerie, and has the guts to write the next chapter of its history. There is room for every kind of beast in the Tooth and Claw Store….’
What is the Tooth & Claw Store?
The whole project started with us meeting the fantastic people at the Goodall Foundation – a charitable trust based at Brighton Marina which supports sustainable education and development projects. Discovering that the Trustees of the Foundation were committed to championing innovative local work and had already started funding projects in Whitehawk, where we have been running projects since early last year, we were excited at the prospect of getting involved with them.
Buzzing with ideas and armed with the knowledge that City Academy Whitehawk (CAW) had an empty classroom they could loan to us for the spring term, we put together a proposal to the Goodall Foundation in which we asked if they would consider funding a 12 week project that involved transforming the classroom into a unique and inspiring space and offering a creative writing experience to every child at the school. We were thrilled when they agreed!
Students at CAW voted on the the theme of the space in which the workshops were to take place. We then worked closely with local designers Sherlock to come up with a visual concept for the winning idea, a pet shop for mythical creatures. Sherlock transformed this idea into reality with a beautiful and witty set of designs and branding. The Tooth & Claw store was born.
Over two hectic days, LGP staff and volunteers transformed an ordinary classroom into the ‘Tooth & Claw Store’ – complete with rows of bottles and jars which contain everything you might need for your mythical pet from dragon food to unicorn shampoo and phoenix feather cream. The scene was completed by one huge wall covered in blackboard paint for illustrations and feedback, and twelve straw bales shipped in from Middle Farm in Lewes as seating.
In the second week of term, the Tooth & Claw Store was open for business and individual class groups started to visit.
Local writer Ed Hogan came up with a backstory for the shop, which revealed that it was founded by Whitehawk pet shop owner Martha Tooth in 1867, when she stumbled across a shipwrecked crate of mysterious creatures on the beach. All the workshops begin by talking about the story and watching a short film, where the ghost of Martha asks the children to write some stories which will bring the abandoned store back to life.
After immersing themselves in the weird and wonderful sights, sounds and smells of the store and then working as a group to come up with plot and character ideas using drama and illustration, each child is then given the opportunity to develop their own stories, supported by our volunteer story mentors.
As with all our work, the aim of the project is to encourage every child at the school to use their imaginations and be inspired by what they see around them, enabling them to approach writing in a new and exciting way. Each child who takes part receives a beautifully printed book of the story they have written, accompanied by professional illustrations. By the end of term, we will have worked with 372 children.
We are so grateful to the staff at CAW for embracing this project and to the generosity of the Goodall Foundation for enabling it to happen. We couldn’t do this kind of work without the dedication and energy of our fabulous volunteer story mentors and illustrators too.