Norfolk Children’s Book Festival 2016

At the beginning of this week, two of our team made their way down to the beautiful setting of Norwich Cathedral to attend the Norfolk Children’s Book Festival, taking place as part of the Young Norfolk Arts Festival. Hosted by Norwich School, the day event is now in its fifth year and is a wonderful way to promote literacy and books by giving pupils the opportunity to see and hear from authors they know and love. We’re always grateful to attend and one of our team, Zoë, writes a recap below:

This year the festival, previously held in the grounds of Norwich School, was in the stunning surroundings of Norwich Cathedral. Many more schools and pupils were able to attend and listen to the many different speakers on offer, taking away plenty of ideas to inspire them.

As we were in the cloisters and the Cathedral was still open to the public, Harriet and I alternated listening to various speakers.

Harriet listened to Philip Reeve, Ruth Eastham and Jonathan Stroud. She particularly liked Jonathan’s interaction with the audience, with his volunteer dressing up like a Ghostbusters character.

There were several break-out sessions of which I attended two. Ivan Bates is a successful illustrator from Norfolk and his session was very active. He encouraged us, his audience, to think like an illustrator. He said the thing illustrators dislike most is a blank page. Ivan explained how the layout of children’s books, picture books in particular, has changed over the years and how he likes to create images which not only support the text but add subtext too.

Kevin Graal led an engaging interactive story-telling session involving bells, actions and responses. The children were absorbed as he incorporated their reactions and comments into his repartee. Repetition, being a key feature of traditional stories, featured highly.

As always, the hospitality was wonderful and lunch-time gave both of us a chance to chat to school staff, both of Norwich School and visiting schools. We also spoke to pupils at our stall in the cloisters. One girl, who told us last year she wants to publish her own stories when she’s older, was pleased I had remembered her!

As always, the line-up was wonderfully curated and we look forward to seeing what Cheryl and the rest of the Norwich School team come up with next year!

Another event taking place this week was an author visit arranged in partnership with ourselves and the YNAF team. Julian Sedgwick (author and knife-juggler!) joined pupils at Litcham School for a transition event which Amelia recounts on the school’s Books and Beyond blog (it’s also on the Shelf Talk and YNAF Backstage blogs too!). Moby from the YNAF Comms team attended the event and has written a recap which you can read here, PLUS keep your eyes peeled for a special schools event we’ll be advertising soon as Julian is coming back to Norwich in September to take part in Noirwich, the city’s crime writing festival.

Below are some Friday Reads! Why not leave us a comment to let us know what you’re reading as with the summer coming, we’re going to have a little time to catch up with anything we may have missed…!

Harriet: I’ve recently become aware of two fun series published by Nosy Crow, which are Wigglereally good reads for children just taking off with reading ‘chapter books’. They’re both light-hearted with lots of illustrations, and told in the first person so that children will easily relate to the characters.

Wigglesbottom Primary: The Magic Hamster by Pamela Butchart, illustrated by Becka Moor

The Magic Hamster from this series, just 94 pages long, contains three different stories about a class of children, told by one of them – unidentified, cleverly. What little plot there is usually consists of misunderstandings which get sorted out in a humorous way. Themes of diversity and inclusion are discreetly incorporated, both in the themes and the illustrations. The font is sans-serif and has lots of words emphasised in upper case to encourage reading with FEELING!

(Nosy Crow, £5.99 paperback, ISBN 9780857635303, find it at a Norfolk Library)

Piglet.jpgThe Invincibles: The Piglet Pickle by Caryl Hart, illustrated by Sarah Warburton

The Piglet Pickle is a lovely warm family story, with a – slightly! – absurd plot involving a burglar and intelligent piglet Kevin. It is just a little longer than the other series at 106 pages, with one continuous plot line told in very short chapters, with conventional font and lots of appealing illustrations. Great fun.

(Nosy Crow, £5.99 paperback, ISBN 9780857636256)

Zoë: The Water Horse by Holly Webb

Water horseIn this first book of a new series set in Venice, Princess Olivia learns more about her magical powers, as well as those of her father, the king, and how important their magic is regards the safety of the city. No magic and the waters will rise, drowning everyone and everything.

Despite her privileged position, Olivia has no-one to turn to for help when her father falls ill (she distrusts her aunt and cousin) and, because of her age, her magic is not yet strong enough to control the waters alone. She comes up with a plan to save Venice and, in doing so, encounters a water horse – Lucian.

It is a pleasant enough story that fans of Holly Webb will enjoy, with some interesting characters plus the added interest of magic plus water horses that only Olivia can see. Personally I wasn’t struck with it as much as the Maisie Hitchins series so won’t be reading the sequel, The Mermaid’s Sister.

(Orchard Books, £6.99 paperback, ISBN 9781408327623, find it at a Norfolk Library)

You can find an archive of our Friday Reads here.

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