A scary monster!

Can a book festival really be fun? Does it encourage kids to read?

Beast Quest Monster
What a Beast!

Is a book festival fun?

I was worried.

My kids are used to going to festivals.  So turning up at a ‘book festival’ were they going to be severely disappointed?

Our first stop was to Beast Quest.  Very quickly my worries were calmed.  A crazy magician guy introduced the concept (I had no idea what it was all about), read a bit (very funny!), and then they played a beast quest version of bingo (chaos!).  Finally they all designed a new monster with Justin Bieber hair and every possible other ‘evil’ quality available.

Here is the monster that they created:

Curly Headed Boy is now very into the books and also the new ones ‘Sea Quest’ as the hero has the same name as him.

 

Authors we saw:

Helen Dennis – Curly Headed Boy adored her and we have therefore got a pile of her ‘Secret Breakers’ books.  Clearly she knows how to relate to kids in real life as well as in her books.

Jeff Norton – is now CHB’s new hero because having turned up early to the talk he got to talk to him lots beforehand.  His Metawars books really appealed to CHB’s very philosophical ‘what if’ nature as well e.g. What if we could upload ourselves into computers?  It covers some really modern problems/concepts and shows why we need new books sometimes, despite the old classics still being wonderful.

Jackie Morris – wasn’t very engaging for the kids to be honest.  Perhaps a little too ‘into her art’ and out of touch with the kids.  But her artwork and books are beautiful, especially for a child like Curly Headed Boy who is quite into nature or spirituality.

Missed:

Jonathon Meres – ‘World of Norm’ – who wrote the fab guest post on my blog.

David Melling ‘Hugable Douglas’ – who wrote the cutest guest post on my friend’s blog and therefore we had to by his book which is a firm favourite.

Lauren Child (Charlie and Lola) and Cressida Cowell (How to train your dragon) – one mum felt that it was really only useful for grown ups, but a mum with older children loved this talk, which was the big seller for the day.

 

Does it encourage reading?

I’m surprised.  It’s a resounding YES.  Even in Little Dimples (3yo).

Curly Headed Boy has been tackling much thicker books all on his own, even Meta Wars, which to be honest I think is aimed at much older kids (he is 7).  He has definitely suddenly moved onto books that are centimetres thick rather than just 20 pages.

It cost us a fortune!

Curly Headed boy insisted on buying any books related to the authors he had met.  Plus I LOVE books, and there were some gorgeous ones there that I’d never noticed on our more recent trips to book shops.

We definitely have years worth of books – so I see it as an investment *cough*

Here are my finds:

East of the sun
East of the sun
Wild Child
WildChild

Jackie Morris’s ‘East of the Sun, West of the Moon’ – it’s taking some time to get CHB to read this, but as it has a distinct hint towards the natural world or magical fantasy ideas, I know he will love it.  He just needs to get over the fact that he didn’t bond with Jackie herself.

Jeanne Willis and Lorna Freytag ‘Wild Child’ – you can see from the picture how gorgeous this book is!  It is truly gorgeous, can’t recommend it enough.

Lauren Child ‘I will not go to sleep’ – Little Dimples (3) adores this, and I will definitely be buying more.  Having an older brother and the relationship being similar means that she totally relates to it.  CHB loves it too – but don’t tell anyone!

Only down points

Willow Face Paint Hoo BookFest
Cheeky Butterfly

Facepainting – if you are going to have it with hundreds of kids, have more than ONE slow person, or only offer small quick options.  A great alternative is to have a face painting station where the kids and parents can do it themselves.  I queued with an INCREDIBLY patient Little Dimples (3yo) for must have been 45 minutes for the blinking face painting!  Hence I missed Helen Norris totally, which was a shame as Jeff Norton was on when Little Dimples needed a nap, so I missed him too.

More signs needed – parents with children do get easily confused and easily stressed.  I didn’t actually find the walled garden until I left because I followed a sign that said ‘EXIT’ – it actually meant exit from the walled garden.  Apparently I missed great cakes and tea in there.

There was a lull point, which I think was arranged to coincide with lunch and give people a chance to wander around.  But actually for people who had arrived later it meant that they got a bit bored.

The toilets ran out of tissue – the normal issue with festival toilets, but daft for just a one day event.

There weren’t enough toilets – very difficult for an event with lots of young children hopping round, desperate for a pee.

Directions at Luton hoo hotel entrance would have been great to send us further down the road.

 

Would I go again?

YES!

Would I pay for tickets myself (I went on press tickets) – Yes!

 

 

Great books for mums

Hoo’s Kid’s Book Fest: Meet Jonathan Meres and WIN TICKETS!

Great books for mums
Books, books, books …

What’s a book festival I wondered when I saw that Luton Hoo has a book festival on Sunday 21st April.

“I’ve been to music festivals with the kids, maybe I should take the kids” I thought?

Then they invited me, wicked!!  So I’m going to be able to tell you about it, but I’m also really hoping to convince lots of local people to come along too.

The reason being:

Children’s authors tend to be really funny and really cool, and they get the kids excited in ways that we as ‘boring parents’ can’t possibly do.

I know this because Bowmansgreen where Curly Headed Boy goes to school invited Timothy Knapman for World Book Day, he inspired CHB and SIGNED A BOOK for him and since then CHB has moved up from those skinny books you get at school to proper ‘take a few days to read‘ books.

Books are my escape, my rest, my rejuvenation, my sanity creator in a world of chaos.

Children need that escape.

 

But let me show you by introducing Jonathan Meres to you, the creator of ‘The World of Norm’.  He’s one of the authors who will be at Hoo Book Fest, along with a tent for Roald Dahl, Beast Quest and the Famous Five, plus an illustrators tent, and creative writing tent.

Read to the bottom because there is a COMPETITION where you could win tickets to the festival!!!

For more author intro’s checkout:

James Mayhew on Hertfordshire Mummy on Tues 26th March.

Guy Parker-Rees on Dorky Mum on Wed 27th March.

David Melling on Being a Mummy on Thurs 28th March.

 

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Hello.

Jonathan Meres
Jonathan Meres

My name is Jonathan Meres.  I write books and stuff and I can honestly say that I’m really looking forward to being part of this year’s Hoo’s Kids Book Festival. Bet you think I say that about every festival or event I’m invited to, don’t you? Go on, admit it.  You do, I know you do.  I’d probably think exactly the same thing myself if I was reading this.

Well you shouldn’t be so cynical.  OK, fair enough – so even if I wasn’t looking forward to it, I wouldn’t be so insensitive as to actually say so.  I’m not stupid.  I’d probably come out with some waffly non-specific guff about the festival’s growing reputation and the chance to meet some new readers and blah blah whatever.  But the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth is that I’m genuinely looking forward to it.  And I’ll tell you why.

Firstly, I’ve never really been to Luton.  I’ve passed through it countless times – either on the train to and from London when I was growing up in The East Midlands – or nowadays when I fly down from Edinburgh.  Not to mention skimming past numerous times on the M1.  But passing through somewhere isn’t the same as actually going there.

When I left school and joined the merchant navy, I went to many different ports in many different countries all around the world.  The list of places I’ve set foot in is admittedly impressive.  Well, if you’re impressed by that kind of thing it is anyway.  The list of places I’ve actually been to, however – as in really visited and got to see – is considerably less impressive.  Technically I’ve been to Rio De Janeiro.  But I haven’t really seen Rio De Janeiro, other than the dockside.  I don’t intend to make the same mistake in Luton.  And yes, I know there isn’t a dockside in Luton, but that’s not the point.  The point is, I don’t want to look back on Luton in years to come with the same feeling of intense regret as I look back on Rio now.  And there’s a sentence I was never expecting to write.

The second reason I’m looking forward to coming to Hoo’s Walled Garden so much?  Well the clue’s in the name.  It’s a walled garden.  Not a fenced garden.  Not a railinged garden.  Not an open-plan garden.  An actual walled garden.  I love walled gardens.  No, really I do.  There’s something very special about them.  Something nostalgic and yes, something magical about them too.  Sun-dials glinting in the moonlight?  Clocks striking thirteen?  Edwardian children gallivanting about, being all…well, Edwardian basically?

Now at the time of writing I haven’t looked online to try and find any actual images.  I may be way off the mark.  Maybe it’s not that magical, or special at all.  Maybe it’s just a common or garden garden.  With a common or garden garden wall around it.  But somehow I doubt it.  So I’m going to spend the next month building it up and up in my head.  And right now, Hoo’s Walled Garden feels like the perfect location for a children’s book festival.  And frankly, if there isn’t a cantankerous old Scottish gardener waging an ultimately futile one-man war against the rabbits when I get there?  There’ll be trouble.

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Competition!

Win 1 family ticket (4 tickets minimum one adult) to Hoo Bookfest by adding a comment to say which event your children would love most.

The competition ends on Sunday 31st March at midnight.

You can enter again by tweeting, and following Hoobookfest and myself on twitter and Facebook.

UPDATE: Isabel Thomas you are the winner!!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
 

 

 

Competition terms and conditions

We have 1 family ticket (4 tickets minimum one adult) to give away and the lucky winner will be chosen at random.  

This giveaway closes on Sunday March 31st at midnight and the winner will be notified by email.

Make sure your email is correct in the comment that you add, otherwise we will not be able to contact you to send tickets.

– Within 7 days of notification the winner(s) is required to email confirmation of acceptance of the prize to Mummy Whisperer, along with a postal address in the United Kingdom to which the prize can be sent.  If the winner doesn’t provide such confirmation their entry will be disqualified and an alternative winner will be chosen.

-The winner(s) consents to their name being displayed on this site

-The prize cannot be transferred and no cash alternative is available.

-The decision of Lisa Pearson will be final and no correspondence will be entered into.

 

Disclosure: I’ve been given a family ticket to the festival and this ticket for a competition for my readers.  But I was excited about it beforehand, so it hasn’t affected my opinion.