A weekend of book related fun!

Two fantastic book events took place in London during the last weekend of July. Aimed at totally different interests and audiences, together they provided book lovers of all ages with plenty of opportunities to hear and meet their favourite authors and illustrators.

The Young Adult Literature Convention (YALC), now in its third year, was established by Malorie Blackman when she was Children’s Laureate, and has recently been fittingly referred to as the ‘Laureate’s Legacy’. Running concurrently with the London Film and Comic Con at Olympia, it celebrates everything to do with literature for young adults and featured over 80 YA authors this year. Meanwhile, Shakespeare’s Telling Tales Festival was a new event, launched in the same year of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, held at The Globe as part of Artistic Director Emma Rice’s desire to get more young people into the theatre and designed as a Family Literary Festival celebrating the fun of storytelling.

Several members of FCBG Executive Committee went to the events, including Sue Wilsher (North Somerset CBG) who spent a day at each one.
With the school summer holidays upon us at last, Torie and I decided to head to London and visit YALC and Telling Tales. Both events were excellent- in very different ways!
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The atmosphere at YALC was great and there were so many books to look at – and buy! Each publisher had a stall full of new books aimed at the YA market which they were only too happy to talk about! There were plenty of sweets on offer at each stand and most publishers were selling their books at a discounted price. Everyone was recommending things that they had enjoyed and people were so friendly.
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In the middle of the hall was an enclosed area with seating where talks took place throughout the day. There were plenty of sessions to choose from with authors like Non Pratt, Malorie Blackman, Simon Mayo, Sarah Crossan… a really excellent selection! There were signings after each session- some authors were there for a very long time! There were also workshops with various authors for those who wished to improve their writing skills and an agents’ area with talks and advice about getting published. 
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At some stalls, authors would appear at allotted times for signings. Kiran Millward Hargrave was signing ‘The Girl of Ink and Stars’; Michael Grant was signing ‘Front Lines; Liz Flanagan was signing ‘Eden Summer’ and so on.
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 The day was great from start to finish. My advice to anyone thinking about attending next year would be to go- but take lots of cash! 
Jane Etheridge (Oxted CBG), and Chris Routh and Sarah Stuffins (Reading CBG) also attended Shakespeare’s Telling Tales on Sunday.
On the day we attended, there were several opportunities to see the current Children’s Laureate, Chris Riddell. He could be forgiven for suspecting that Sarah and I were stalking him, as we attended all of his sessions – but each was completely different and equally entertaining! The first was held in the stunning Sam Wanamaker Playhouse. This beautiful candlelit Jacobean-style theatre provided the ideal setting for the Laureate to get down to Drawing Shakespeare’s Bottom, which he did with effortless flair while chatting about his own early encounters with Shakespeare’s plays. The second session took place in the lower part of The Globe’s exhibition area, which had been magically transformed into Bottom’s Book Market, complete with a full-sized oak tree, a yurt, a variety of areas for activities, performances and storytelling and a book shop. This time Chris was reading from A Great Big Cuddle by Michael Rosen to an audience of hyperactive toddlers jostling for the floor cushions, and their siblings and parents. The moment when a confident two year old happily joined Chris at the flip chart to demonstrate his own skill at ‘colouring in’ was priceless.
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The third session was shared with author, Nicky Singer, who talked passionately about the issues raised in her beautiful book’ Island’, while Chris illustrated the characters and Inuit words. The audience was largely made up of parents and children, who asked some impressively thoughtful and challenging questions.
The finale to our day was also the final event of the weekend. Back in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, Emma Rice was in conversation with Michael Morpurgo, who was celebrating the launch of his new book, Such Stuff: A Story-maker’s Inspiration, with the help of his wife and brother, and looking forward to a new adaptation of ‘The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips’ which is due to start a short run at The Globe from 11th August – 11th September 2016. This was a joyous event, filled with stories, anecdotes, music from the production’s musicians and once again, some fantastic questions from young audience members. We were also lucky enough to be invited to represent FCBG at the official book launch organised by Walker Books and supported by Tales on Moon Lane book shop.
There was a very strong feeling that this new initiative had been a great success and would be repeated next year. If so, we strongly recommend that you save the date now!
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For another account of the day have a look at this excellent blog by North Somerset Children’s Book Group. http://www.northsomersetteachersbookaward.com/blog/2016/8/1/telling-tales-at-the-globe As you will see from their account, there was an awful lot more to see and do during the day we were there!
We are happy to announce that Chris Riddell will be at our annual conference in Reading, 7-9th April 2017 and that Tales on Moon Lane will be providing a book shop throughout the weekend.

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