Fantastic first weekend of Bath Children’s Literature Festival and still lots more to come!

It was just as if someone had waved a wand – whoosh! the Bath Children’s Literature Festival opened with instant laughter and more than a little magic. We opened the festival with the biggest schools event we’ve ever staged as more than 800 children filled the city’s largest venue, the Forum, to welcome Cressida Cowell, the creator of How To Train Your Dragon and Children’s Laureate. She gave everyone in the audience an invisible feather, which they grasped with enthusiasm. And so the magic began . . .

We learned from McFly’s Dougie Poynter that he has been an animal lover all his life and knows loads of stuff about wildlife, which is why he is passionate about sharing his message that plastic sucks and we all took home some tips on how we can all make a difference.

The lessons we learned from Harry Hill were mostly how to be very silly and make people laugh til their tummies hurt. Custard pies were thrown, a cat was sick on stage and we took part in a weird game about traybake, while amid all the anarchy we heard a more about Harry’s hero, the boy comedian Matt Millz.

Meanwhile, upstairs in the ballroom at the Forum, busy fingers spent the day at a series of brilliant Shaun the Sheep modelling workshops led by the makers of Wallace and Gromit, Aardman Animation. Expect to see a flock of characterful sheep on the streets of Bath anytime soon.

Hundreds and hundreds of people of all ages, from tiny children to grannies and grandpas, packed the Forum to hear their beloved wordsmith Michael Rosen and there was a massive rush to buy his books – many of them old favourites – to get them signed. We thank you all for your patience in queuing to meet the authors. If we could clone them they would, but we know how much you value your moments face-to-face and we hope you think it’s worth the wait.

Scientist and diver Miranda Krestovnikoff drew on the shared experience of exploring rock pools to lead her audience into an underwater adventure. She told us fascinating facts about seahorses, grey seals and puffins – all of which we can find off the coasts of Britain. Clutching her beautifully illustrated book The Sea, the young divers of the future left determined to explore more. Also inspiring was Chris Riddell, who showed us how he creates his distinctive illustrations and characters who come to life on the pages of his best-selling books.

Meeting your heroes and heroines is one of the great pleasures of Bath Children’s Literature Festival. Fans of Emma Carroll’s series of historic novels clearly enjoyed the chance to put their questions to the writer about her past and present books during her fascinating talk (complete with a Mexican wave by the entire audience!) about her latest novel, The Somerset Tsunami. And author Ross Welford delighted his audience with a magic rope trick, tips on successful writing and advice for parents – ‘let children read what they like, let them read comics!’ We laughed a lot over the weekend. David Baddiel got down among his audience to gather their ideas for brilliant – and plain wacky – inventions, in between telling funny stories about his son’s pranks on him, a cat he owned called Chairman Miaow and, of course,  talking about his books.

We giggled and sang along to tales of our favourite vegetable hero, Supertato, in a energy packed session with Sue Hendra and Paul Linnet, we swapped dogs’ bottoms with hilarious results with Peter Bently and Mei Matsuoko and we did high-fives with the giant furry (and friendly) monster who loved underpants. Martin Roberts delivered another amazing fun and fact-filled Horrible Histories event to his delighted fans, while Derek Landy’s readers were so pleased to welcome him to Bath as he talked about his latest adventure in the Skulduggery Pleasant series.

And the tiniest of tots were enthralled as storyteller Pippa Pixley drew us into the wonderful world of The Tiger Who Came To Tea.

The weekend closed with a teenage event as writer Holly Bourne shared stories of empathy with her audience surrounding the launch of her latest book, The Places I’ve Cried in Public.

We’ve had such a brilliant time at the festival so far. But the fun goes on and we hope you’ll join us this week and next weekend for highlights, including the much-loved Jacqueline Wilson, the ingenious storyteller Malorie Blackman, the creator of colourful Tom Gates, Liz Pichon, Sophie Dahl and many, many more. Check out our website and grab yourself some tickets: 

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