Now in it’s seventh year, the Norfolk Children’s Book Festival is an annual event we always look forward to. Taking place in the beautiful surroundings of Norwich Cathedral, the one-day event is hosted by Norwich School and is a wonderful opportunity for young people to meet and hear from authors, promoting the importance of literacy both on and off the page.
Two of our library assistants attended this year’s festival, and have shared their thoughts below:
Tony and I attended this exciting festival on a glorious summer’s day at Norwich Cathedral. 750 pupils from many Norfolk schools were scheduled to attend.
We spoke to a good number of school staff; many were school librarians. Michelle Paver and Ali Sparkes also stopped by to chat, with Michelle having fond memories of visiting schools in Norfolk some years ago. She recalled meeting Leon Garfield as a child who signed a book for her but said nothing (he was, apparently, very shy). Ali said how much she loves libraries and School Library Services, with both being so important. She also thanked us for stocking her books. We had a lovely chat about audio books too.
Julian Sedgwick opened the festival with an inspiring talk which included knife juggling – a tough act to follow! He explained how life experiences shape our thinking and gave an example of seeing his dad through a window to move onto talking about his trilogy, ‘Ghosts of Shanghai’.
Michelle Paver explained how she had always loved wolves and the Stone Age, with her trying to live as a Stone Age person as a child. As she grew up, Michelle held Chronicles of Ancient Darkness in her head and, over time, carried out lots of research – meeting tribes who still live off the land in places such as Lapland (Sami) and Greenland (Inuit) so she could write Torak’s adventures enabling the reader to travel by his side. Lots of artefacts were utilised to illustrate this research and aid audience participation.
Like Michelle Paver, Steve Feasey is fascinated by wolves so her earlier talk had resonated with him, as he held the audience, after lunch, talking about his new series of books which feature werewolves.
Thank you to everyone at Norwich School for organising and hosting another wonderful day!
I attended the session by Ali Sparkes reading excerpts from her latest book ‘Night Speakers’. A quick outline of the book: three children, Elan, Matt and Tima, wake up every night at 01:34 precisely and cannot get back to sleep again. This happens over many nights but the adventure really starts when all three realise that they can now communicate with the animal world.
Ali was very engaging with the audience, discussing insomnia and ear worms, and I can say that it is the only time ‘Who let the dogs out?’ and ‘Call me, maybe’ have ever been heard in the Cathedral. At the end of the session there was a Q&A and one child asked Ali: if she could have a superpower what would it be? Ali’s reply was that she would like to be able to understand and communicate instantly in any language on earth.