The Manchester Children’s Book Festival was officially opened last night at a special gala event held at Manchester Metropolitan University.
Guests – including authors and friends of the festival – were greeted by beautiful music performed by the Manchester Youth String Orchestra. They were treated to some amazing magic tricks too! Festival directors, Kaye Tew and James Draper, were there to welcome everyone to the event.
James Draper praised festival partner, charity Readwell, who raised over £1200 last year via the Festival’s events. James said,
“ReadWell is fantastic! The charity fits the ethos of Manchester Children’s Book Festival.”
James also commended author, Matt Brown’s, character Compton Valance, who, “has captured the imagination of the Festival.” Ally Lee, creator of the famous knitted Compton Valance mascot and has been working hard knitting an abundance of Compton’s for this year’s Festival, was also thanked. Ally’s creations will be raffled and (to everyone’s delight!) sold to raise money for ReadWell.
Kaye Tew also thanked festival friends and sponsors as well as Sharon Handley, Dean of the Humanities Languages and Social Science faculty. Kaye then introduced Creative Director and Poet Laureate, Dame Carol Ann Duffy. Carol Ann thanked everyone involved in the Festival and paid tribute to the positive effect of its social media campaign, describing it as “the best social media campaign ever for a literary audience.” Last year, the festival was able to reach a staggering audience of over 14 million people, and, thanks to its success, it will now be an annual occasion.
After reading one of her poems, ‘Night Writing’, Carol Ann Duffy officially declared the festival open, and guests were left to mingle and enjoy the music (and drinks!)
Author Liz Kessler commented, “I’m really, really proud to be part of the festival. Manchester Metropolitan University is where it all started for me, so it feels like I’m coming home.”
Ian Carrington, manager of Blackwell’s books, who had a stall at the opening gala, said, “We’re really happy to be partnering with the Festival this year. It’s always really fun and family friendly. It’s a great outreach opportunity for the bookshop as we get to sell lots of fantastic books.”