Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Wychwood Festival 2015 .... Part 1 - Pre Festival Excitment

So here I am, three days away from attending the Wychwood 2015 Festival and I have to say I am excited.  What is there to be excited about I know you are wondering.  And what does it have to do with Armadillo?

Well, the two questions can be answered in one.  It is because Wychwood has a dedicated Chlidren’s Literature Festival running alongside the music and workshops.  Not only is there a packed programme of authors for children to meet and listen to but also they have the opportunity to attend classes and workshops and enjoy performaces too.

Wychwood is a an incredibly family friendly festival and I know that any children who attend will not only be inspired by the authors they listen to and meet but they will gain from their experience fond memories of a wonderful weekend and some inspirational encouragement to read and maybe even be writers themselves one day.

Lots of thought and hard work, considerable effort, goes into the planning of these events and I know that my first trip to Wychwood 2 years ago was a great opportunity to meet some wonderful people and the Children’s Literature Festival was there, in its own marquee, roving popular but looking at the programme for this year I can see that even more authors are involved, there are even more big names and there is likely to be very little room left in the children’s tent for the whole of the weekend!

So just who will be there – fantastic authors galore …Ali Sparkes (think Monster Makers, Shapeshifters, Dark Summer) offering something to children aged 7 and upwards; Petr Horacek with his marvellous picture books appropriate for all ages.  I don’t know Giancrlo Gremin but am excited that I may get a chance to meet this new name along with the also unkown First Draft and local author Karen Langtree.

Steve Anthony will be there and I am hoping he will show off his fantastic illustration skills.  Friend of mine Steve Cole will be there and he could be talking James Bond, Egyptian Adventures or even dinosaurs in space – watch this space to find out.  The bearded giant that is Philip Ardagh is likely to have his audiences in stitches, John Dougherty will hopefully play his guitar whilst Anna Wilson, Tracey Corderoy, Paul Strickland, Chris Edge and Cathy Cassidy not forgetting Matt Brown, Paul Strickland and Tony de Saulles.

Phew I think I need a sit down now but maybe that will have to wait until this weekend when I park myself in the Children’s Literature Tent at Wychwood for an inspirational series of events.

If I have time in my busy schedule I may pop along to listen to some music on one of the 4 stages, learn more about what Wychwood are doing to go green, hone some belly dancing skills. Listen to some comedy … the list of things to do is endless. 

Whatever your plans were for this coming weekend change them and get yourselves over to Cheltenham Racecourse for the stunning Wychwood Festival.

Friday, 15 May 2015

Picture Book Joy

I really can't believe it has been so long since I last posted I actually thought it had only been a week or two so my sincere apologies, in all that time I have not stopped reading but once again I am posting this on a Friday evening after a more hectic than ever week so once again I am indulging in my favourite past time of picture books and what a delight they have been. 

If you ever need to bring a smile to your face these books can really help, they are quite honestly disarmingly wonderful, simple yet complicated, intricate in their images yet just stunning to admire and books that make you want to shout out loud from the rooftops just how wonderful they and their creators are.  I could not get through my week without some gorgeous picture books to read and share and I defy anyone not to love at least one of what is to follow.

In no particular order what follows is a few of my thoughts on my small(!) pile of reading!

Ace Dragon Ltd is a collaboration between Russell Hoban and Quentin Blake a classic story published by Walker Books and a dream team collaboration of words and pictures that will have you laughing out loud.  This is an adventure in the sky, a story of a little boy and quite a big dragon.  It is a story about learning to believe that if you want to do something you need to try it, nothing is impossible (in the imagination at least) and you just never know where you might go, who you might become and why a bale of hay may be just the thing you need!

Little Bell and the Moon by Giles Paley-Philips and Iris Deppe is a gentle, warm and delightful bedtime story.  From its front cover  - a big round smiley moon holding hands with a little girl, you just know that this is going to be a very special adventure that will produce the sweetest of dreams and demand regular nightly reads. Its soft and muted pallet is the perfect relaxant and its simple but evocative words will lull the reader into a place of warmth and security in time for sleep.  Its subject - growing old - is rare and it is dealt with in a very sensitive way, charming, unusual and a delight, thank you Fat Fox for publishing this one.

Now for a splash of colour and perhaps even a splosh in the ocean join Mouse in a glorious rhyming sea adventure.  The Mouse Who Sailed the Seas by Amy Sparkes and Nick East (Egmont) is funny and silly a great book for sharing and for using to delight children with the idea of rhyme and great adventure going hand in hand.  Remember to look closely at the artwork too and see what Mouse really gets up to and discovers on his adventures - hours of fun!

Out of this world adventures are always fun to read and Space Walkies is one such book with a difference, here we have a dog in space!  Suspend disbelief for who knows, this could really happen ... however when Bailey the dog finds himself in space he may meet alien life but what he really thinks he would like is to have a walkie with his very own Orson again.  This title, by Robert Dunn, along with Fins Fluff and other Stuff by Bruno Merz and Dreda Blow are both in the QED Storytime series and offer a wonderful rhyming introduction to stories and their sharing.

This next one came in a noisy box - a clever marketing tool that really did get me looking at the book to see what all the noise was about. What did I find?  Nina Goes Barking Mad by Anita Pouroulis and Agata Krawczyk (Digital Leaf) is the mystery picture book story investigating the reason that Nina just won't stop barking but will Jules get to the bottom of all the noise before everyone is driven completely mad?  A silly, funny and lively story about one of the joys of having a pet!

Perhaps what Jules needed was Dinosaur Police by Sarah McIntyre (Scholastic) maybe they could have solved the problem but of course they are busy trying to save the day and the town from a very greedy T-Rex, exuberant fun!

Finally three delightful books from Andersen Press.  Go to Sleep Monty! by Kim Geyer is another lovely bedtime story but not in the way that you might expect.  The naughty culprit who won't go to bed in this one is actually a new puppy and we soon learn that whilst they may look cute they are not always the easiest of pets so just wait and see who it is that ends up going to bed!
Fish is Fish by Leo Lionni is a simple and muted yet lively book about learning how important it is to accept and be just who you are.  This story follows a little tadpole who becomes a frog and finds a new world opening up before his eyes.  But can a frog become a fish and should he?  A clever and insightful story told with great sensitivity.
The Little Bookshop and the Origami Army by Michael Foreman is perhaps a little bit of a favourite, being about bookshops which are of course akin to libraries!  Will the closing down of a bookshop in favour of a supermarket really be allowed to go ahead?  Can Hoey and Origami Girl come to the rescue with their army of characters?  Find out in this exuberant and important story all about the power of reading...