Tag archives: book festivals

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Children’s Book Festivals

There are two fantastic and very different book children’s book festivals on this weekend.

Families in London should definitely make a beeline for the first ever Pop Up Festival of Stories. The array of activities for both Saturday and Sunday is amazing, with story-telling, workshops, poetry sessions, film, puppetry, magic and more. There will even be surgeries by Book Doctor Julia Eccleshare. The line-up of children’s authors, illustrators and poets who are appearing is stunning. Michael Rosen, Philip Ardagh, Geraldine McCaughrean and Axel Scheffler are just a few of the famous names on the bill. Children’s and young people’s voices are well represented too. Pop Up is not only a Festival. Throughout last month and this one, thousands of children, young people and families in Camden and Islington have been reading books, meeting authors and making stories. You can find out more here.

The other festival is extremely unusual, in that it is entirely online. Saturday and Sunday see the children’s authors behind An Awfully Big Blog Adventure celebrating its third birthday with their first online literary festival: ABBA Lit Fest. Authors will pop in every half hour from morning till night with views, tips, book news and giveaways. Anne Cassidy, Celia Rees, Adele Geras, Nicola Morgan and Keren David are some of the high-profile names I spotted on the programme. All the posts will be archived, so this will be a festival that can be visited at any time.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Borders Book Festival

I had a great time at the Borders Book Festival last week. There was a fantastic programme of author talks and events, including lots for children and families. I heard a range of different authors, and all were extremely stimulating and thought-provoking. I would never have expected the Napoleonic Wars to be interesting, but Peter Snow had me and hundreds of others enthralled by his account of it. It was a complete treat to listen to Michael Frayn talking about his plays, novels and non-fiction. The crime writer Ann Cleeves, who is best known for her Vera Stanhope books, was fascinating and very funny. Given my interest in children’s and young people’s literacy, I was particularly caught by what she had to say about her workshops in schools. They sound excellent. She uses scene-of-crime tape from a friend in the police force to mark out a mock murder site, whips up the students’ interest and then gets them writing their own crime stories. All brilliant, but some schools’ approaches to creative writing appal her. One English teacher particularly outraged her. She went round criticising students’ punctuation, and instructing them to write longer sentences. When Cleeves remonstrated, saying crime writing needs to be pacey, so short sentences are absolutely appropriate, the teacher responded that students had to demonstrate the ability to write with linked clauses. Not surprisingly, Cleeves despairs of an education system that places grammar ahead of creativity.