The Manchester Children’s Book Festival ended on a high note as Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, and her friend John Sampson treated us to an afternoon of musical storytelling with a performance of The Princess Blanket
s at Manchester’s Macdonald Townhouse
. The entertainment was rounded off by afternoon tea and a quiz hosted by Festival Directors James Draper and Kaye Tew, which saw Pierre the sea monkey, along with a very special bottle of Poet Laureate sherry, go to a new home.
During a break in hosting duties, we shared a pot of tea with Director James and asked him about his Festival highlights, he told us,
“The highlight for me has to be when I was presented with a ReadWell
badge – their equivalent of a Blue Peter badge – for the work we’ve done in raising awareness of, and money for, ReadWell, our official charity of the Festival. This came at the end of a day in which we’d visited Manchester Children’s Hospital
and seen the impact of that charity’s work first hand – seriously ill children, some of them in isolation, illuminated by being given a new book from the trolley. That really put everything else we do into perspective, and gave a crystal clear context for our ethos. I have worn that badge every day since.”
And the sea monkeys? Surely there would be lasting memories of the official Manchester Children’s Book Festival mascots?
“Having fallen in love with sea monkeys the moment publicist Liz Scott presented me with a proof copy of Oliver and the Seawigs
last year, and having endured months of Kaye knitting and stitching them, actually meeting Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre was a delight. They appear to be fuelled by nuclear energy! They performed at the hospital, at our Family Fun Day
, led a parade around the building, signed books – each with a bespoke illustration – for an hour and a half, all in fancy dress, plucking away at their ukuleles. Their spirit was somehow in those monkeys, and they’ve fuelled us.”
As the Poet Laureate shared tea with delighted fans, signing books and chatting with them, and as the sea monkeys looked on, it was simply left for James and Kaye to declare the Manchester Children’s Book Festival officially closed for 2014.
So, it’s a huge THANK YOU to you all for making the Festival so special and memorable!
And it’s goodbye from us all … until next year?
Don’t forget, you can keep the Festival going and share your own highlights by taking part in our Reading and Writing Relay Blog here.