#BathKidsLitFest Day 9. Cressida Cowell “on a remote island with Viking relics”
In our latest review from the ongoing Telegraph Children’s Bath Literature Festival, Ian Waller and his two of his children, Eve and Dad, enjoyed a morning with… Cressida Cowell at the Forum in Bath.
The queue around the block outside the Forum in Bath of children and parents waiting to listen to Cressida Cowell said it all. Here was a chance to listen to one of the UK’s most popular children’s authors telling us about the story behind her immensely successful series of How To Train Your Dragon books, and fortunately it was worth the wait.
Cressida immediately came across a thoroughly likeable person who still retained that almost childlike enthusiasm for life and storytelling. Early on in her talk she took the audience back to her wonderfully adventurous childhood, including her family holidays spent on a remote island complete with Viking relics that proved to be such an important influence on her most popular stories.
Throughout the hour she took every opportunity to encourage young would-be writers in the audience to take up the pen and use their imaginations to write their own stories. In between examples of her own early work, she described with great affection the stories and drawings sent to her by children depicting their own fantasy worlds and weird creatures. Using these as examples, she explained how a simply question, for example, ‘what would it be like if dragons really existed?’ can form the basis of a wonderful tale, adding in how research of the real world, notably some wonderfully weird undersea creatures, add to the texture of her tales.
Along the way Cressida read extracts from her books, answered questions for the audience and talked about her admiration for other story tellers, from JK Rowling to JRR Tolkien. Throughout there was a central strand of having a go and keeping at it – you might not be the finished article at nine-years-old, but you’ve started on what will hopefully be a hugely enjoyable journey. In fact, even as a 48 year old would-be story-writer, I too found her advice and experience encouraging – perhaps I should have another go at the story that I started writing eight year ago after all?
This hugely enjoyable hour has been just the latest is a wonderful celebration of children’s literature, all arranged thanks to the team at Bath Festivals. If you’re quick, there’s still tickets available for the final few events tomorrow (Sunday).
Ian Waller (Editor The Bath & Wiltshire Parent Magazine) was at The Telegraph Bath Children’s Literature Festival which continues until Sunday 4th October.. See the full programme here or call the Bath Box Office on 01225 463362