Hello, and welcome to my first blog post!
Have you ever been to a children's book event? Until recently, I hadn't. However, over the past few months I have taken my two lively young sons and my ever-supportive husband to some lovely book events where we have set our imaginations free and immersed ourselves in the make-believe world of children's fiction.
15th February 2014
The first book event we attended was held at my local bookshop, The Village Bookshop, in Woodford Green, Essex in England.
In December 2013, the shop was taken over by ex-tax lawyer and aspiring author Saba Rais, and this event was held to celebrate its re-launch.
It was a book signing by north Londoner Andy Stanton, author of the humorous children's book series Mr Gum. The series revolves around Mr Gum, who is a mean and miserable man whose favourite phrase is "Shabba me whiskers!" The illustrator of Mr Gum is talented David Tazzyman.
Face painting, soft drinks and yummy cupcakes kept the children occupied while they waited to meet Andy. The kids weren't disappointed when they met the author, who chatted with each child, happily signed their new books and posed for photos.
My older son is now working his way through the nine Mr Gum books, and thoroughly enjoying them!
22nd February 2014
Our second book event was also at The Village Bookshop. The event was a Story Train event 'driven' by the talented Indian children's author, Chitra Soundar.
She enthusiastically read her colourful picture book Balu's Basket to the entranced children. The charming story follows the fruit-filled endeavours of a young Indian boy called Balu who, one day, finds a basket lying in the road. The beautiful illustrations are by Indian artist Uttara Sivadas.
After the reading, the children tried to balance a basket of fruit on their heads while walking in a straight line, which my boys loved.
In addition, Chitra read excerpts from her delightful chapter book A Dollop of Ghee and a Pot of Wisdom, which is based on traditional Indian folk tales and concerns the antics of young Prince Veera and his loyal friend Suku.
17th May 2014
Our next event was held at Waterstones in Twickenham, Surrey. The book reading and signing event was hosted by the publisher Digital Leaf to publicise its recent release, The Big Splash!, written by A.H. Benjamin and illustrated by Devon-based author/illustrator Jon Lycett-Smith.
The enchanting story involves a group of animals, including a hare, beaver, skunk, raccoon and fox, who are all scared of another animal which makes a 'Da-dump! Da-dump!' noise. The mysterious animal turns out to be a buffalo! Jon read the story to a capitvated audience and did signings.
Jon also read an endearing book which he had written, as well as illustrated, called Moo! said Morris, about a mouse called Morris who didnt' squeak!
To enhance the reading, Jon used a wonderful mouse puppet.
My boys thought Morris the Mouse was very cool, and they loved having their photo taken with him!
18th May 2014
Our fourth event was the London launch of the vibrant Indian tale, Farmer Falgu Goes on A Trip, again by Chitra Soundar. This event was held at Streatham Library in south-west London. Chitra had recently launched this book in Chennai, India in conjunction with her Indian publisher Karadi Tales. The illustrations, which were drawn by the Indian artist Kanika Nair, are definitely 'unusual and striking', as the publisher describes them on the back cover.
The children enjoyed listening to Chitra's animated and engaging storytelling.
The book is about Farmer Falgu's search for silence, and the young audience happily joined in with the songs that the 'old man' sang on the journey.
My younger son even enjoyed a starring role by shaking an Indian ankle rattle!
After the reading, Chitra did book signings to the delight of the children.
26th May 2014
The fifth event we attended was held at the Children's Story Centre, Discover, in Stratford in East London. This was one of the activities held on a 'dinosaur' themed weekend at the Story Centre.
The event was led by witty author Andrew Weale, who was there to promote his droll rhyming picture book Dinosaur Doo. The amusing story, the humour of which has been captured brilliantly in the illustrations by French artist Joelle Dreidemer, is about a group of cave children, including a young inventor called Spark, who devises a way to get rid of stinky dinosaur poo!
First, Andrew showed a trailer of Dinosaur Doo.
He then led a dinosaur quiz, followed by a Dinosaur Doo cake competition. My younger son competed against a young girl to make a flan-based poo cake!
There was lots of whipped cream, chocolate sauce, oats and chocolate stars to get messy with! The audience voted for the best cake by cheering as loudly as possible, and everyone got into the spirit of the competition. Of course, the contest was a draw!
After the excitement, Andrew read his book and did signings.
To end our visit, the boys took part in the Centre's 'Secret Agents Spy Academy' activity: they pretended to be secret agents and went on a mission to stop naughty Dr Iscove's 'treasure teleporting machine' from stealing everyone's pocket money!
It was a fun-filled afternoon, and we are looking forward to attending more children's book events in the near future, including the launch of Stonely's Pet Dinosaur in September.
Thank you for reading my first ever blog - I hope you enjoyed it!
I'll be writing more articles, so please come back soon.