For the first time in quite a few years YLG has returned to Scotland for its conference. It was held in Glasgow and the venue was the rather incredible Beardmore Hotel; fantastic rooms for all of us and our own major hospital next door. Even the bills were made out to the Scottish NHS! There is a long and fascinating story behind all of this, but I had no worries about what to do if I was taken ill. I was only able to go to the event for the Friday and the first half of Saturday and treated myself to a plane flight from Bristol, much better than 6 hours of trains. It was great to arrive on the Thursday evening and to meet up with lots of friends, especially Bev Humphries, and to just sit and talk about books.
As usual there was a fantastic exhibition and a big thanks goes to all the publishers who travelled to put on such a good show. So many good friends and some lovely new friends in the making.
The Friday started out with a fascinating plenary session by Karen McCluskey, the Director of the Scottish Violence reduction Unit, which reminded all of us of the major issue that we face in areas of deprivation. This was followed by the first of the workshop sessions. I attended the one run by Paul Register, who founded and runs the Stan Lee Excelsior Award, which is for comics (of the American variety such as X-Men, Superman, not the Dandy and Beano). It was a great insight into a very popular and yet poorly understood area of young people’s reading and I am sure that many more schools will want to become involved with this award. After the coffee break and celebration for the 25th anniversary of “Amazing Grace” I attended a workshop lead by Siobhan Parkinson, a past Irish Children’s Laureate and the publisher at Little Island Books, as she spoke about translating children’s books.
The afternoon provided the publishers with a 3 minute slot to promote their future books. Some were very slick and others more homespun, but they all whetted our appetites for some really amazing books to come. The third workshop period of the day was after lunch and I spent an hour learning many things about my iPad that were new to me, despite having had the machine for several years. I really must try and use it more effectively than I have done.
Author highlights of the weekend included Sarah Crossan talking about “One” A lovely panel session with illustrators Catherine Rayner, Emily McKenzie, Holly Sterling and Ross Colin, celebrating the launch of a new book by Andersen Press, “The Prince and the Porker” by David Robert and based on the story “The Prince and the Pauper” by Mark Twain.
The Saturday morning was taken up by a Graphics novel panel consisting of the stars that are Mel Gibson and Paul Register, together with Liz Payton from the Phoenix magazine, as well as a talk by the very popular Sita Brahmachari. This was closely followed by discussions with Barbara Band about boys reading and the gender gap and then Barry Cunningham talking to some of his Chicken House authors, Sam Hepburn and Emma Shevah. It was a shame that I had to leave at lunchtime and I missed several sessions that I know will have been great as they involved Gill Lewis, Jenny valentine Janetta Otter-Barry and Anna McQuinn.
One of the real joys of going to any conference is the opportunity to meet and talk to like minded people. Over the years these become friends and you are constantly reminded what a truly friendly and dedicated bunch of people are involved in children’s literature. I really want to say thank you to all the people involved in organizing the conference, I have that t-shirt and know how much hard work they put in, even though it is so worth while. A big thank you to the publishers for the exhibition, the authors and of course THE CAKE!