MCBF and the Mysterious Mouldy Sandwich

Compton Valance’s Time Travelling Mouldy Sandwich.
Those with an eye on social media may well have been picking up strange murmurings about mouldy sandwiches and time travel on Twitter. You might also have heard rumours about the Manchester Children’s Book Festival becoming an annual event. It is all true.
After the huge success of last year’s Manchester Children’s Book Festival, which started in 2010 with a four-day pilot and then ran again in 2012 and, by 2014 involved most of the city’s major museums, galleries, libraries and theatres, was a fixture in the diaries of many of the regions schools and families, the team at Manchester Metropolitan University decided that, instead of waiting until 2016 for the next one, they’d make MCBF an annual event.
The main festival programme will run from 25th June to 5th July, with events and activities as broad ranging as the launch of a brand new Illustrated Dictionary of Shakespeare, two days of events celebrating multi-cultural Manchester for schools and a debate about LGBT and children’s fiction. The two weekends of activities for families also include a two-day celebration of children’s poetry and the hugely popular Saturday Family Fun Day at MMU, which will feature Usborne author Matt Brown, with his third book in the Compton Valance series.
This is where the surreal link to mouldy sandwiches and time-travel comes in. Matt Brown’s character, Compton Valance, time travels as the result of taking a bite from a sandwich that has been left in his lunchbox for 13 weeks. Microbiology and Food Technology academics at MMU, in devising activities for the Family Fun Day, decided to test Matt’s theory and, last week put two sandwiches into incubation in an experiment that will look at the development of microbes. Joanna Verran said, “We are incubating a cheese and pickled egg sandwich, as well as a non-potential time travelling ordinary cheese sandwich, for 13 weeks, under similar conditions to Compton – although we aren’t going to taste them at the end! The sandwiches are being kept in sandwich boxes in our microbiology lab, and we are watching and photographing them to see what happen. We are expecting quite a lot of mould to grow in that time!”
Festival Director Kaye Tew said, “Though this may all seem like a bit of fun, and it is, there is a serious purpose to what we’re doing. When my fellow directors, Carol Ann and James Draper, from the Manchester Writing School at MMU and I put together the MCBF programme, we agreed that it should be as accessible as possible. We offer a great deal for family audiences but, by scheduling the festival during the school term and by offering innovative – sometimes quite disgusting – ways to get children to engage with stories and books, we hope to engender an interest in reading for pleasure.”
The grand unveiling of the mouldy sandwich will happen at the Family Fun Day on Saturday 27th June at MMU, where families can come along to view the time-lapse film, make their own ‘mouldy’ sandwiches and get involved in all sorts of activities not normally associated with reading. Oh and you’ll be able to buy books and meet authors there, too.

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