Today I am absolutely delighted to be blogging from Pontypridd Museum for the very first Pontypridd Children’s Book Festival! A children’s book festival in partnership with Cardiff Book Festival and Pontypridd Town Council held today on Saturday 12th May 2018 at Pontypridd Museum from 9am-6pm.
It’s an all day festival for children and families to celebrate books of all kinds, inspire new authors and enjoy reading, writing and storytelling with joy, fun and friendship. It’s taking place at the beautiful surroundings of the Pontypridd Museum, spilling out onto the banks of the River Taff, under the shadow of the famous old Pontypridd bridge. The event has free entry, displays, props, music and activities as well as ticketed events with authors, readings, masterclasses and Q&As.
Throughout the day, you can see updates of the festival, author talks, events and goings on of the day here and through my Twitter feed (@MrEPrimary) and also at Pontypridd Children’s Book Festival Facebook and Twitter pages.
Authors and events
Storytime with How High Do Trees Grow? and Can We Walk to the Moon? by Mark Dorey (Language: English; Age Suitability up to 7 – 30 Mins FREE)
Storytime with Polly’s Magic Bubbles and the Quest for Dizzelwood by Mark Dorey (Language: English; Age Suitability 7+ 30mins FREE)
Mark started off by reading Can We Walk to the Moon? Inspired by a family holiday to Newquay. Looking at the biggest moon they’d ever seen, Mark’s son asked his dad ‘can we walk to the moon?’ and so the idea for this story was born.
Mark’s picture books are beautifully written in rhyme and illustrated by Mark’s wife Liz which makes them perfect for reading aloud! Mark told us that his wife used silver leaf in some of the illustrations to give the pages of his book that extra sparkle!
Joining in with the rhymes (even the adults couldn’t help joining in!), counting in Welsh and doing all of the actions, the audience grew and grew this morning.
The next of Mark’s books that he read was How High Can We Walk?, again inspired by a question from his son, Tom. The audience loved joining in with the voices and sound effects (Whoosh!), particularly the angry ice cream man.
Up… and up … and up! Full of brilliant illustrations and fantastic vocabulary, this is a super tale of a boy and his dad climbing trees and having an absolute adventure!
Mark’s second session was full of storytelling. This time he told the story, of his brand new book written for 6-9 year olds, Midge the Prince of the Giants about a GIANT baby with a small twist as Midge actually started off by being not very tall… at all.
Mark Dorey is a writer and publisher with over 20 years writing experience and is passionate about engaging youngsters to read and write. Mark has performed poetry and spoken word events all over Wales with National Theatre Wales.
Poetry Workshop with clare e potter (Language: English and Welsh; Age Suitability 4+ £3)
A very lively and energetic workshop that you couldn’t help but want to be involved in! Clare loves to use objects as prompts for creating poetry so much so that she brought all these wonderful objects, including hag stones, antique fans and all kinds of amazing artefacts.
Clare and all involved thought deeply and talked about the objects being ‘holders of memories’ and ’keepers of secrets’. Using an ‘Ode to Common Things’ by Pablo Neruda as inspiration, Clare helped everyone involved to take an everyday object like a whisk and give it a whole new meaning!
Putting an object in the hot seat and asking it questions together such as ‘What do you remind me of?’ and ‘Where did you come from?’ shows how creativity and imagination can spark from anything and everything around us.
clare e. potter is a writer and performer from Cefn Fforest. She spent ten years in the Deep South where she did an MA in Afro-Caribbean literature. She has had various writing residencies, works on collaborative community projects, and won the John Tripp Award for Spoken Poetry.
Create Your Own Comic with Huw Aaron (Language: WELSH; Age Suitability 8+ £3)
Plenty of giggles and lots of fun were to be had in Huw Aaron’s comic workshop even before the comic making(!) as children and adults took part in a pre-comic workout.
Armed with his trusty marker pen, Huw created a range of weird, wacky and wonderful cartoon characters with an audience lapping up every character (gymeriad) including a T-Rex wearing a tutu whilst riding a unicycle and a shark/gorilla hybrid which one of the children coined ’Sharkilla’!
Showing how to truly have fun drawing, Huw brings cartoon art to life so effortlessly and so full of energy!
Huw Aaron is a cartoonist and illustrator. His doodlings can be found in a number of children’s books and comic strips and he has also written and illustrated the welsh language comic/jokes/story/puzzle book Llyfr Hwyl y Lolfa.
Gaslight with Eloise Williams (Language: English; Age Suitability 9+ £3)
Reading from Gaslight, I particularly liked the way Eloise encouraged the audience to read along one line at a time by splitting the first chapter in to single lines or phrases for them to read along with her.
Eloise talked about her inspirations and interest in the Victorian era and architecture and how this led to writing about the finer details of the grittier, darker side of Victorian times. Spending her school holidays in Cardiff, she started to stop and stare at the sights around her, noticing things around her in much more detail. Eloise likes to write about experiences; places she’s been to as she can visualise details, large or small.
She wanted to write a book where the reader almost forgets that its set in Victorian times and has a main character that everything Eloise wishes she could be and everything she’s not.
We were also very lucky to be treated to a sharing of an extract of Eloise’s new book out in September, Seaglass: a modern ghost story inspired by a mist rolling in from the sea at Tenby, which the whole room was absolutely captivated by.
Eloise was born in Cardiff and grew up in Llantrisant. She now lives in Saundersfoot, Pembrokeshire, very close to the beach where she walks her dog Watson Jones and collects sea glass with her artist husband, Guy Manning. She worked in the theatre in various odd jobs before going on to study Drama at The Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and Guildford School of Acting. After working for over ten years as an actor, she decided to change path a little and take a Masters in Creative Writing at Swansea University.
Writing Masterclass with Catrin Collier (Language: English; Age Suitability 11+ FREE)
Local author and writing heroine, Catrin started by sharing with us the opening extract to her daughter Sophie Anderson’s recently published novel, and Waterstones’ Children’s Book of the Month for May, The House with Chicken Legs.
She followed this with talking about literary worlds and being lost in the world that you write in, being aware of your audience and projecting it so it becomes so appealing that others can’t help but be drawn in to it.
She also took questions from the audience talking about obtaining a publishing deal, working in writers’ circles and using her local knowledge of Pontypridd and all her wealth of experience to provide an invaluable insight in to the publishing world.
If Catrin has one word or one tip for aspiring writers, it’s to ‘persevere’ and that there is no right way to write; it just either works or it doesn’t.
Catrin Collier/Katherine John has published 55 novels in English and translation, 25 as Collier. Her novel, Hearts of Gold filmed by BBC Worldwide, attracted 6.8 million viewers on UK TV. One Last Summer, based on the wartime diaries of her Prussian mother is recommended reading by the Holocaust Day Memorial Trust. The film she scripted from her crime book By Any Name is showing on Amazon Prime. She is currently working on commissioned film scripts and a series of books.
“Land of our Mothers” with Carolyn Hitt (Language: English; Age Suitability 7+ FREE)
In her workshop, Carolyn Hitt took us on a journey of awesome women of Wales and pioneering heroines of Welsh history. A much-needed workshop as we couldn’t believe that only a marginal amount of women featured in surveys and votes when asked about popular and historical figures from Wales. I particularly liked the way that Carolyn highlighted that even the word ‘history’ doesn’t seem to account for many of the stories of women in our past (his + story = history).
Learning about landmark women who put their own stamp on our history, Carolyn spoke about such women as Jemima Nicholas, Mary Jones, Frances Hoggan – Wales’ first woman doctor – and Sarah Jane Rees (Cranogwen) who became the first woman to win a prize for poetry at the National Eisteddfod.
Finished off with the audience voting for which woman from Welsh history should be immortalised in statue for generations to remember.
An inspiring workshop that I will certainly be using the knowledge of in the classroom to highlight the leading ladies with even bigger ideas that have shaped the course of our history.
Writing for Children Masterclass with Claire Fayers (Language: English; Age Suitability 16+ £5)
Claire shared with us her expertise of writing for children of all ages; picture books (with a nod to Sarah McIntyre); early readers; chapter books; ‘middle grade’ and young adult.
After a phone call from her mother-in-law where her MIL couldn’t understand where all her ideas came from, Claire described this as her having to ‘make ideas, rather than getting ideas land in her lap’ for the creation of a story. She also discussed her ideas from her trusty notebook which included sword fights, unicorns and orange feet!
The audience created their own mix of stories using setting, character, action where one member gave the setting, another a character and the other the action which left the room laughing! Ending with discussing publication, Claire talked about the importance of writing groups like SCBWI and competitions like NaNoWriMo.
Thinking about characters was central to Claire’s workshop. She reiterated her belief that giving children characters who change their mind, have problems to solve and develop as the story progresses is good for children and this is something to think about when suggesting books for children to read in the classroom.
Claire Fayers writes comic fantasy featuring swashbuckling pirates, evil magicians, heroic librarians and man-eating pengiuns. She grew up in South Wales, studied English in Canterbury, and is now back in Wales where she spends a lot of her free time tramping around castles in the rain, looking for dragons!
Writing Masterclass with Rachel Trezise (Language: English; Age Suitability 13+ £5)
Rachel started her workshop by getting everyone talking as they had to introduce each other.
Rachel is known for writing short stories for young adults (13+) and shared a formula for planning short stories called the ABDCE formula: A – start with action or a question; B – background; D – drama; C- climax and E – ending. She also read one of her stories ‘Hard as Nails’ to demonstrate these elements of writing in action.
Rachel Trezise was born in the Rhondda valley in South Wales where she still lives. She studied at Glamorgan and Limerick Universities. Her first novel was In and Out of the Goldfish Bowl. Her first short fiction collection Fresh Apples won the Dylan Thomas Prize in 2006. Her second short fiction collection Cosmic Latte won the Edge Hill Short Story Prize Readers’ Choice Award in 2014. Her first full length play Tonypandemonium was staged by National Theatre Wales in 2013. She also writes non fiction.