By Linda Thompson
ContributorRepresenting the French Embassy, author Elle Jauffret, a La Jolla resident and native of Nice, France, will be off to The Kids Euro Festival in Washington, D.C., later this month to conduct student workshops for a second year.
“This is one of the country’s largest performing arts festivals for children with more than 150 free events in and around D.C.,” Jauffret explained. “The festival is staged through the cooperation of the 27 Washington-based European Union embassies and more than a dozen major local cultural institutions.”
Jauffret credited her past experience of providing free writing workshops in the D.C. and Maryland areas, and co-authoring a book with students at the prestigious French International School, as some of the factors that earned her the honor of representing France.
The mother of two young sons, Jauffret has dual citizenship, and speaks and writes fluently in English and French. Although she graduated with a law degree, she said she became a writer during frequent relocations due to her husband’s naval career. She’s been asked to repeat last year’s workshop based on her fictional short story, “Ingredients of Life.”
“I cannot talk about the premise of the story too much because I am presently turning the it into a young adult novel and I do not wish to give the plot away,” she said. But she suggested that her workshop at the National Children’s Museum offered kids a chance to experience “the power of food and the beauty of Provence,” through her tales of life on the Mediterranean, and providing them with samples of four French breads.
At this year’s festival, students will also have the chance to experience French medieval times through Jauffret’s fictional short story set in Normandy, “The Maze.” She wrote two versions so she can teach students from ages 5 to 12.
She said she decided to write about the beauty of Mont Saint-Michel because she thought children would be intrigued with a castle and the power of an incredible rising tide. She wanted to remind readers of France’s dark history during the 13th and 14th centuries and The Hundred Years War.
“The Maze” is about a young boy’s rite of passage into manhood through his journey to Mont Saint-Michel, discovering life’s challenges along the way. It delivers the message that “it is okay to feel overwhelmed at times.”
“The Maze” also teaches the lesson of prevailing by relying on “focus” and “determination.”
“It is a darker, yet hopeful piece,” Jauffret said, based on the children’s literary trend of dystopia. (Tales of an often futuristic society that has degraded into a repressive and controlled state, often under the guise of being utopian.)
“We are at war after all, struggling out of a recession, so why not write about darker times with a promise of a brighter future?”
Jauffret said she is not sure how many schools she’ll be visiting, but she expects to reach about 100 students at the museum. Her workshop guests will get the chance to write and express their feelings by using their five senses.
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