SCBWI Presents an Afternoon of Silliness with Oliver Fibbs Author Steve Hartley

At the Manchester Children’s Book Festival Family Fun Day, author Steve Hartley entertained an audience of parents and children, bringing on fits of giggles all round! He shared his stories and gave us tips on how to write our own. This event was brought to the Manchester Children’s Book Festival by the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, an organisation that supports the authors and illustrators of literature for young people.

“Nothing I say today will be a fib,” Steve began, before continuing to describe his home – a golden palace on top of a dormant volcano in Lancashire. “You didn’t know about the dormant volcano on the Pennines did you?!”
He then proceeded to tell the story of how he had made it to today’s event after falling through the sky with a pair of gigantic alien knickers acting as his parachute. To prove he was no fibber, he produced the underwear and invited his audience to try them on!
Steve assured the children they were in safe hands, declaring, “I am a DOPE! Defender of the earth!”
The audience were treated to a lively reading from his novel Oliver Fibbs and the Clash of the Mega-Robots, the latest in the Oliver Fibbs series, which features a young boy who tells extravagant lies to make his life seem more exciting. Steve Hartley said that he and Oliver are alike because he also enjoys telling fibs.
“I get to tell fibs and get paid for it. That’s what stories are, just fibs.”
The children then played games to spark their own imaginations and set them on the path of story writing. Steve challenged them to think ‘what if?’ by taking something ordinary and changing it into something extraordinary! Ideas were popping up all over the room from excited minds as children asked, “What if there were ghost velociraptors here today?” and “What if the MCBF helpers were all robots?”

Steve then presented his steps to storytelling using this ‘what if?’ method as a starting point.

  1. Idea: Change something ordinary.
  2. Start with a problem, “Always get your stories off to a cracking start!”
  3. Make the problem worse.
  4. End: Solve it!
This was followed by a game of ‘Fib or Fact’ where Steve read off the wall statements to see if the children could work out whether or not they were true or a fib.
At the end of questions were he referred to The Twits as his favourite book for its silliness. Steve described why he enjoys taking part in events like Manchester Children’s Book Festival.
“I love meeting my readers. It keeps my ideas funny and at the right level for the age group that I write at. And it inspires kids to read hopefully. If you can bring books to life, which is what I try and do, hopefully they’ll go away reading more.”
Would you like to share a story – or fib?! Take part in our International Reading and Writing Relay. You could write your own short story or tell us about your favourite book and why you love reading.

– GS


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