Today author of the Compton Valance
series, Matt Brown and illustrator Lizzie Finlay shared their story with lots of excited children at the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital
. The event took place in partnership with festival friends ReadWell
, a charity which provides brilliant, brand new books for children in hospital.
Last year, the Manchester Children’s Book Festival began working with ReadWell to raise money through its events and by raffling off knitted festival mascots. Ann Lam, creator of last year’s knitted Sea Monkey mascots, has returned with a whole batch of knitted mini Compton Valance characters, using Lizzie’s illustrations for reference.
“I’m hoping now to start my own business,” Ann told us. “I’d love to develop other characters and hopefully write my own book with my own characters.”
Festival Director, Kaye Tew, described the importance of bringing MCBF events to the hospital, saying,
“When we have an author coming to the festival, we bring the celebration here to the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital. We like to ensure that the children who can’t actually get to the festival still get to meet the authors and have a great time.”
Before Matt and Lizzie arrived, there was a magical show of entertainment, jokes and balloon animals, which drew in fascinated crowds – all excited to meet Matt and Lizzie! Copies of Compton Valance were snapped up by queues of eager children and parents. Matt read from the third Compton Valance book, The Time Travelling Sandwich Bites Back, to a crowd of laughter and the odd “Ew!” as Compton and his friend Bryan Nylon ate mouldy sandwiches and had adventures with, mainly, bogies and farts.
During the reading, Lizzie Finlay sketched out scenes from the book accompanying the story. The children were encouraged to do the same. Matt then welcomed the children to share their work with the audience of children, parents and hospital staff.
Tracy Gallier, Assistant Headteacher of the Royal Manchester Hospital School told us of the impact ReadWell and the Manchester Children’s Book Festival had on the hospital setting,
“It’s phenomenal! The build up has been fantastic. The children have absolutely loved the books and it has been a brilliant way to get them excited about literacy and art in a fun way. The children have been doing some design technology and they’ve really geared themselves up for today with all the costumes they’ve made. It has brightened up their day and given them a really good time.”
A parade through the hospital then took place as the children waved their newly signed Compton Valance books proudly in the air. Matt Brown told the children how shows like Doctor Who had been a big influence on his writing but assured us that all his ideas came “from his own brain.”
Matt and Lizzie the paid an extra special visit to the hospital’s school room to deliver books and bring the Manchester Children’s Book Festival experience to the children unable to leave the ward. The children showcased the mouldy sandwiches and time machines they had been making, with which Matt and Lizzie were hugely impressed. This was followed by an illustration workshop delivered by Lizzie, who showed the children how to create their own characters in the style of the Compton Valance series. Matt Brown summed up the day saying,
“ReadWell and the Manchester Children’s Book Festival is brilliant! This is one of the most extraordinary projects to be involved in.”
Be part of the MCBF 2015 experience this weekend at our Family Fun Day. Or check out the full programme for upcoming events.
Can’t make it to the festival but still want to get involved? Fear not! You can take part in our International Reading and Writing Relay.