Bath time again!

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An expectant audience

Can it really be a whole year since the last Bath Festival of Children’s Literature, well yes it can.  This year sees the return of John and Gill McLay as the artistic directors.  They founded the festival and nurtured it during the first 6 years of its life, now they are back for year 9.

The events started off with a wonderful talk by the iconic Judith Kerr (pronounced Carr, so we2015-10-01 15.50.43 were informed?) in conversation with Julia Eccleshare.  She spoke about her childhood but also about her many books and in particular her new work “Mr Cleghorn’s Seal” which is based on an event in her father’s earlier life.  After this many of us transferred over to Waterstones for the launch party which was full of lovely authors, illustrators, supporters volunteers and friends of the festival.

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Mamillan, 9781447277897

the next day saw me reporting for duty in my first volunteer session of the year.  I was lucky enough to work on a session by Kristina Stephenson for her “Sir Charlie Stinky Socks and the Pirate’s Curse” which was full of music activity and a wealth of energy.  The children absolutely loved it.  I then had the great pleasure of seeing the Children’s Laureate Chris Riddell talk about his latest book “Goth Girl and the Wuthering Fright” as well as watching his amazing talent as an illustrator.  The queue for book signing was enormous and I was unable to get my book signed as I was booked to go and listen to the amazing Patrick Ness talking about “The rest of us just live here”.  A book that I have written about before.

2015-09-28 15.17.33I must admit to then having a day off in order to catch up on the more mundane things of life, as well as doing a bit of reading.  However on Monday I was off again, this time it was attending a school visit with the lovely Bali Rai.  I have heard him do a short talk at a conference in the past, but this was the first time that I had the pleasure of hearing him work with a young audience.  He absolutely held all of them spellbound, something that is quite difficult with over 100 year 9s and year 11s.  He spoke about writing in general, his background, the influences he finds and also about racism and extremism across a wide spectrum.  I would recommend any school to have him talk to their older pupils.

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Corgi, 9780552570749

2015-10-03 11.13.21The second weekend of the festival I was working on both days, but only half a day on each.  Saturday I worked the morning shift at the Guildhall and was able to see Elen Caldecott and Robin Stevens talking about writing crime for younger audiences.  Elen is a local author and and her latest book is the second in a series ‘Marsh road Mysteries’ and is called “Crowns and Codebreakers”.  Robin has really hit the spot with her wonderful series about the two schoolgirl sleuths Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong and she was talking about the third in the series “A first class Murder” which is a homage to “Murder on the Orient Express”  I also spent some of the morning learning how to draw “Wookies and Droids”, which might come in useful when my grandson is older.  With the next Star Wars film coming to the big screen in 2015-10-03 09.33.19 2015-10-06 21.25.41November this was very well times. I also saw the amazing duo of Sarah McIntyre and Philip Reeve in the green room as they were about to go to their “Pugs of the Frozen north” event.  I then met them later when they were off to their individual events for “Railhead” and “Dinosaur Police”.

 

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Andersen, 9781783443642

Sunday was the last day of the festival and there were so many events that I would have loved to attend, however I did steward the events for Julian Clary and David Roberts, talking about their book “The Bolds”, which is a great read for those younger confident readers.  they shared the speaking and then David also produced illustrations so that the audience could see how a character is developed.  I then worked on the session with the poet John Hegley – he is 2015-10-04 16.33.05-1really brilliant and it is a major ‘experience’ to hear him speak, play his ukulele  and generally entertain his audience.

The final bit of icing on the cake was meeting Jennifer Donnelly in the Green Room and getting her to sign copies of 2015-10-04 16.59.01her books “Rogue Wave” and “Dark Tide”, the second and third titles in her series about a world with Mer nations and wars for power.

Of course all of this was just the tip of the iceberg and there were so many other fantastic events going on at other venues.  The programme is so varied that there is something for everyone.  For small children there were some favourite authors and illustrators, such as Michael Rosen,  Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler and for teens there was Joe Suggs and Jacqueline Wilson.  If you haven’t been to Bath before, then I suggest you book the dates for next year.

Festivals and more

 

I have been reminded recently that we are now in the middle of Festival season.  There have been some great posts on Facebook about the fun at Edinburgh and I am so envious of all you lucky people who were able to attend, both as visitors and as participants.  We have just had the stewarding schedules put out for the Bath Kids Lit Festival and I look forward to seeing lots of great friends there at the end of September.  I also heard on the TV this morning that booking has started for Cheltenham Festival which begins on the 3rd October with Michael Rosen and then Henry Winkler.  I think it is the first time that Bath and Cheltenham have overlapped in this way and it will be interesting to see if it will affect ticket sales over the first weekend in October.  For those who cannot attend any of these events then there is the Children’s Roadshow which is touring the country, visiting 15 cities,  from the end of September until the end of November.  There are some great names and with any luck lots of schools will be taking their children to meet and hear some amazing authors and illustrators.children_bookshow_leaflet[1]

This year I am not doing quite as much at Bath, but I am looking forward to the events I am doing, which include a debate on the future of teaching, Michael Rosen and the ‘Big, Big, Bath Book Quiz with Andy Stanton.  During that week we also have the local Centurion Book Award ceremony and the national ‘Information Book Award’, in association with the School Library Association.

Before all of this activity I have two other book related events that I am attending.  Next week we have the launch of the new book by Lauren Child, which is being hosted at Daunt’s on Marylebone High Street; it is a fabulous book that looks at the issues of having a new baby in the house. The following weekend is the Nosy Crow Conference and the following Saturday is the Cilip Members day, thankfully that is being held in Bristol, so on my home turf.  It’s only when you write all of this down that you see what a hectic month this is going to be and that is before I add in my school governor training.  I will definitely need a holiday after all of that.

Something I will still manage to fit in among all of these activities is my reading.  I have got some really great books in the pipeline and I look forward to talking about them in the near future; they include authors such as Michael Morpurgo, Holly Black and Garth Nix.  There are also some superb picture books at the moment and lots more coming in our direction in time for Christmas.  Why are there only 24 hours in the day, I need more?