Stories and Sorcery: The Great Story Theft and the Children’s Party

This morning, children went on an important mission to save the world’s supply of children’s books at the Royal Exchange Theatre in The Great Story Theft. But it was no ordinary show: the performers, all part of The Royal Exchange’s Young Company, which employs young actors, writers, designers and social media managers, took the audience on an actual journey which ended on the theatre’s main stage.
The show itself was based around the importance of books in society, but was told through a fantasy scenario. Throughout, children were encouraged to use their imagination, and audience participation was encouraged. The audience often found themselves in large rowing boats and immersing themselves in the world of books and magic.
However, it seemed as if the children who attended The Great Story Theft were already budding readers. After the event, I spoke to some of the people who attended. Ava, one of the children who watched the show said she really enjoyed it. She said her favourite section was “when the main characters saved the stories from the villain.” The villain in the story was a mischievous snail who intended to burn all of the famous children’s books in the world due to his inability to read.
Ava also said her favourite story is The Princess and the Tin Box, a short fable about a princess, and how she picks her husband. The fable is based around human nature and how deceptive it can be.
After the action at The Royal Exchange was over, the audience had the opportunity to go over to Waterstones Deansgate, where Helen Hancocks gave a reading of her two books Penguin in Peril and William and the Missing Masterpiece. The readings went down a storm with the audience.
The games began shortly after, encouraging the children to think and work creatively. The games included pass the parcel in which the prizes were various Mr. Men books, and a game in which the participators drew their own illustrations.
There was also a large black and white illustration which children could colour in. One of the children at the event, Liam, claimed he enjoyed the event, particularly Helen Hancocks’ readings.

Just down the road from Waterstones Deansgate, there was a badgemaking workshop at the National Football Museum’s Hall of Fame, where children were making badges based on their favourite children’s book characters. There were some amazing badges being made… I had a go at making one but sadly left mine at the Museum. If anyone sees a Horrid Henry badge, let me know!

Day four of the Festival was jam packed with events across the city… my feet are very sore from running around Manchester City Centre! (Oh, and keep an eye out for a special Crimelines launch report from Ordsall Hall coming soon) The Manchester Children’s Book Festival continues throughout the week with afternoon and evening author events across Manchester. Check out the main website and the full programme for more details. Tickets for events are selling quick, so don’t miss out on meeting your favourite writers!



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