Bath Children’s Literature Festival 2021 opens with a warm, friendly buzz about books

Who had the most fun at the opening weekend of the Bath Children’s Literature Festival? Was it the kids who came along and took part in draw-alongs, laughed their socks off, or thought up brilliant questions to ask authors? Or was it the parents watching their children having a good time as part of a LIVE event, hearing a room full of excited young voices? Or was it the authors and illustrators getting a buzz off being back face to face with their readers for the first time in 18 months?

The one thing the pandemic has taught us all, is that people need other people. And even if it was a little overwhelming at first to be one of 800 children filling The Forum to hear Cressida Cowell give a spellbinding talk about the magic of reading, it was exciting too. Cressida, who is Waterstones’ Children’s Laureate, so she knows a lot about young readers and writers, reminded us all: “Children are the most creative people in the world, because they don’t know the rules yet.”  The creator of How To Train Your Dragon and The Wizards of Once inspired us to make maps at the beginning of our creative adventures – and during the weekend we learned that maps can be a really important part of a book.

On Saturday morning MG Leonard, writer of the Beetle series of books and Adventures on Trains, found herself out on the pavement right next to her audience, after the Bath Guildhall fire alarm went off. MG, already wearing her birdwatching outfit for her Twitch book event, posed for selfies with her fans. Afterwards she tweeted: ‘I have had the most wonderful day at Bath kids lit fest. The fire alarm going off before the event meant I got to meet everyone.’

Later MG was joined by Sam Sedgman, her co-writer for the Adventures on Trains. There was another chance to look at how maps are important to story-telling as the pair took us off on a series of fast-paced train journeys, for a sample of their mysteries that take place all over the world.

This year’s festival is more inter-active than ever. There were loads of events where pencils and drawing boards were handed out. The mums and dads got stuck in to, having a go at drawing Steven Lenton’s genie, some of Sophy Henn’s creations and drawing away with Liz Pichon. Throughout the weekend three Junior Journalists were attending events and interviewing authors. These three very important people were winners of our Junior Journalists competition, selected for their writing skills. One of them, nine-year-old Bethany happens to want to be an illustrator and she found all the inter-active events really inspiring: ‘One of the things I loved about all the events I went to was the chance to draw characters and doodle!’

Here are some of the weekend highlights:

Kristina Stephenson, author and creator of The Museum of Marvellous Things show at the egg theatre: ‘A huge thank you to Bath Children’s Literature Festival . . . What a wonderful time we had.’

Sue Cheung, illustrator and creator of Maddy Yip’s Guide to Life: ‘ My Create Your Own Comic workshop was sold out. So good to be at an in-person event again, doing kid chat and wild imagining.’

Steven Lenton, illustrator of Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam (with Tracey Corderoy) and Genie and Teeny, plus How to Grow A Unicorn with Rachel Morrisroe: ‘Thank you so much for having me, brilliant Bath Children’s Literature Festival. I felt quite emotional leaving . . . So glad everyone had a good genie giggle this morning.’

Stuart Lawrence, campaigner and motivational speaker, author of Silence Is Not An Option: ‘I want to let you know how powerful you all can be, all of us un our own little ways.’

Mya-Rose Craig aka Birdgirl, ornothologist and environmental campaigner: ‘Anyone who reads it (her book We Have a Dream) can make a difference, make the world a better place. And you don’t have to be an adult to do it.’

Greg James and Chris Smith, after wrestling with the Evil Bath Llama at their Great Dream Robbery event, which was filled with high jinks and silliness: ‘Imagination has no limits. We try not to get embarrassed by bad ideas because a bad idea may become a good idea.’

There were 26 events crammed into just three days and we’re gearing up to do it all again this weekend – so do join us!

On Saturday 2 and Sunday 3 October we’ve got *takes a deep breath*: Monsters and Magic with Rob Biddulph, The Very Hungry Caterpillar storytime, The Burpee Bears with Joe Wicks, Dapo Adeloa with his new book We’re Going To Find the Monster, more monsters with the hilarious Pamela Butchart, yukky but fascinating body facts with Adam Kay and Henry Paker PLUS Sophie Dahl, David O’Doherty, Yvette Fielding, Simon Farnaby and many more!

Tickets from Bath Box Office: 01225 463362 or visit:

Plus there’s FREE stuff too. Check out Bath Royal Scientific and Literary Institute ( which is running drop-in sessions around fossils and dinosaurs or why not pick up one of the free Character Trail sheets and find the children’s characters dotted around places in Bath city centre (there are books to be won). Or, while mum and dad stop for a coffee and a sit-down, take part in badge making or bunting colouring at The Forum Coffee Shop in SouthGate.

And if you have pocket money to spend on books, visit Mr B’s Reading Emporium in John Street (behind Milsom Street) where you’ll find hundreds of brilliant books.

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