The Bath Festival of Children’s Literature came to a stomping end yesterday evening, and what an amazing festival it has been. I have had the privilege, as writer-in-residence, of opening the festival with my own session and helping close it by introducing the festival’s final guest, Mackenzie Crook. Mackenzie has done many things in his life so far – rather exciting and eye-popping things involving Caribbean pirates and all sorts besides, but he had never spoken to a book festival audience and he was surprisingly nervous backstage.
However, as soon as he was on the platform and talking it all went like a dream. He spoke and showed material from his first children’s book and also drew live for the audience, so definitely the full five stars for that one!
Earlier in the day I had been to the Holburne Museum to see James Mayhew talk and paint for a young audience – mostly around five years old it seemed, so I must have been the oldest there at sixty-one! James told stories and painted – upside down – as he spoke. The painting was upside down, not James. It was the right way up for the audience, but James had his sketch book on his lap and he was leaning over the top to work on it – amazing stuff! And when James told the story of his great-grandfather catching and cooking a shark, and how he still had part of the shark’s eyeball, the whole audience was spellbound. Later on I met up with James in the Green Room and he got out the shark retina so that we could have a much closer look. James’ great-grandfather had been a ship’s cook on a real pirate ship! I wish my great-grandad had been a pirate, or even my grandfather, or even better, my own dad!
What a terrific festival it has been, the biggest so far. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. Only eleven months and four weeks to go, and then it will be Bath Kids Lit Fest 2012. Watch out!
Jeremy Strong x