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Articles tagged with: festivals

Penny Dale at Art in Action

Posted by Penny Dale on Jul 27, 2011

Art in Action is a four day event held at Waterperry House and Gardens in Oxfordshire. Every year around 25,000 visitors come to observe hundreds of artists demonstrating how they work.

This was my second year demonstrating in the illustration and calligraphy marquee. Along with four other illustrators and five calligraphers we drew and talked and painted as well as selling some prints and originals and lots of books.

I was showing how I am working on sketch layouts for my next book, Dinosaur Zoom, using an iPad, alongside examples of the layouts for Dinosaur Dig! (which were done on paper).

I showed how rather than sticking lots of layers of paper one on top of the other when working up plans for illustrations, and ending up with a very bumpy paper sandwich, I could work the layers separately and smoothly on the iPad. People were amazed at the degree of subtlety that can be achieved drawing directly on the screen with a capacitive stylus. Some children had a go at drawing a dinosaur on the iPad themselves, and loved the way the brushes app we use would replay their drawing step by step. Pure ‘Art in Action’! (You can see a video of how the process works here.

I did reassure people that I would still produce the actual artwork for DINOSAUR ZOOM using watercolour and pencil crayons on real paper, but the iPad is certainly great for roughs.

While this was going on some very hardworking friends were also talking to people and selling books – lots of books! Ten in the Bed and Once There Were Giants were favorites and Dinosaur Dig went so fast we started to run out on the first day with Friday and the weekend still to come! Imogen was brilliant at Nosy Crow HQ, and managed to send another load which arrived the next day. All of those went too! Here’s the last copy being sold!

It was lovely to see the range of ages who liked Dinosaur Dig. A rather hot and tired 6 month old baby in a facing out sling carrier stopped crying and laughed when he saw the cover – excitedly shouting and flapping his arms and legs! Bigger children liked reading it and asked lots of questions about making the book – some even said “Cool!” when they got to the end. Many nursery and infant teachers said how it was just the thing for reading AND number work with their children. We were really delighted with all the reactions.

I want to say a huge thank you to the organisers of Art in Action and all the volunteers for making it such a unique and wonderful event! Now it’s time to unpack everything back into the studio and start on the actual artwork for Dinosaur Zoom… so which box did I put the drawing board in?

Pop-up Festival Launches

Posted by Camilla on Jul 11, 2011

This weekend saw the launch of the Pop-Up Festival in London’s Coram’s Fields – a brand new festival of stories, aimed at children and young people of all ages. The festival is actually the grand finale of several weeks of events which link schools and academies in the London boroughs of Camden and Islington with top name illustrators and authors, including Anthony Browne, Emma Dodd, Alex T Smith and Jamila Gavin.

The artists work with classes on tailor-made projects, making stories in all sorts of forms, from poetry to sculpture. It is a fantastically effective way of getting a huge number of (around 3000) children interested in and inspired by both reading and writing – especially those for whom stories and reading is not an integral part of their home lives.

On Saturday and Sunday the festival was opened to the public (the organisers estimate that they had 6000 visitors) and it didn’t disappoint. Five gigantic tents offered a delectable and exciting range of events for every age and taste, from Peter Rabbit, Spot and Rastamouse to performance poets and stars from dub step and hip hop. Like two Victorian ringmasters, Michael Rosen and Philip Ardagh each curated a tent, and our own Axel Scheffler drew Pip and Posy for a packed audience and then signed copies of the books for nearly two hours.

For those of us that attended, there was a real feeling that Pop up lived up to its name – it was refreshing and rich, and burst confidently onto the festival scene. Look out for it next year, when it increases the number of schools involved and links up with Central St Martins on its new site at Kings Cross.

Philip Ardagh's event at the Hay Festival

Posted by Kate on Jun 02, 2011

I went to Philip Ardagh’s event at the Hay Festival yesterday. He was talking mainly, but far from exclusively, about his latest Grubtown Tales book for Faber and Faber, When Bunnies Turn Bad.

Honestly, I’d have gone even if he hadn’t been a Nosy Crow author (we’re publishing the first in his new series, The Grunts, next year, with illustrations by Axel Scheffler). His events are masterclasses in high-energy, interactive, stand-up comedy and for a child-and-parent audience, that weave together the story of how Philip became an author with lots of great scatalogical and tongue-in-cheek self-aggrandising material that had the child one along from me actually falling off her chair she was laughing so much.

However professional and brilliantly prepared Philip is, he can’t predict everything, and a high-point of the event was him putting his foot (clad, as everyone in the audience knows, in size 16) through the set of one of Hay’s two swankiest event spaces:

Philip worked the incident into the event so brilliantly that even the technicians in charge of the venue were laughing in the aisles. Here he is with a triangle of broken stage after the event:

I, for one, can’t wait for the Philip–Axel The Grunts double-act.

Nikalas and Tim's Mega Mash-up event at the Hay Festival

Posted by Kate on Jun 01, 2011

Nikalas and Tim’s Mega Mash-up event at the Hay Festival yesterday was fast, furious and funny.

They took the – big and lively – audience through the creation of the series, a unique and silly blend of doodle book and young novel that they describe as “draw your own adventure” which they both write and illustrate.

They said that some of their ideas come to them on the Thinking Couch in their studio. Here’s Nikalas on the Thinking Couch:

And here’s Tim on the Thinking Couch:

However, they also confessed that they traded ideas for cookies with the elves at the bottom of their garden.

Conveniently, Nikalas is right-handed and Tim’s left handed, which means that they can illustrate the same picture at the same time without either getting in the other’s way… and they demonstrated this on a flip-chart at the event:

They pulled in audience suggestions and questions brilliantly. Here’s Tim getting a suggestion from half-way up the theatre:

They asked, for example, what the roundish object might be that they’d drawn being spotted through a telescope hurtling toward the Romans’ and Dinosaurs’ Martian city, Romasauria. “A grape!”, suggested one child (it was an asteroid). In turn, they were asked whether they liked brussels sprouts. So we covered a lot of ground, not all of it fruit-and-vegetable-related, as well as drawing mashed-up characters together.

There was a long queue of enthusiastic children waiting for them to sign books, and I was surprised and pleased to see how many girls were in the audience, as I’ve always thought that these books skewed towards boys, and reluctant boy readers in particular:

Described by Library Mice as “… exactly the kind of books us parents need to be able to hand to our offspring in school holidays or on long car journey!” you can find out more about the Mega Mash-up books on the Mega Mash-up website, where you can also post your own pictures, like this one by Alex Kosowicz:

Axel Scheffler's Pip and Posy report from the Hay Festival

Posted by Pip and Posy on May 31, 2011

Hello, everyone. Pip and Posy here, posting from the Hay-on-Wye festival. It’s fantastic here – there are millions of books, quite a few clever grown-up people talking about books, and loads of wet other people wearing wellies. We even saw a royal Duchess (Camilla – no crown, but no wellies either).

The first thing we did when we arrived was run down to Penny Dale’s Dinosaur Dig! event. Here’s Penny reading the story:

It was brilliant fun. We didn’t have to sit still, or behave ourselves properly or anything. Penny showed us how she drew the pictures which was really interesting – how do you get a T-rex’s tail in a dumper truck cab? But the best bit was when she got us all to stamp and stomp, and to roar a lot, just like in the book!

We had such a good time that Pip very nearly had a little accident, but we got to the (really nice) toilets just in time, so it was ok.

After that it was time to meet up with Axel Scheffler, for our very own show. He and Kate were on a big stage, with bright lights and loads of people watching. They told our stories, Pip and Posy: The Little Puddle and Pip and Posy: The Super Scooter. Axel did lots of pictures of us doing funny things, and Kate made everyone laugh by talking about wee and sick and things.

Axel even drew a picture of us meeting the gruffalo, because, of course, even though people were very pleased to meet us, they all love the gruffalo:

At the very end, we were allowed to come in and say hello to all the children:

It was lovely because absolutely everyone wanted to give us a cuddle:

Afterward, in the bookshop, Axel signed and signed copies of our books. And then he signed and signed some more. He was signing for an hour!

Then we all went back to the house where we were staying for dinner cooked by Adrian. With gooseberry fool for pudding – Hooray!

Pip and Posy make their debut at the Discover Centre, Stratford East

Posted by Kate on Mar 14, 2011

On Saturday, Axel Scheffler and various Nosy Crows went to The Discover Centre in Stratford, East London, for a bit of a pre-launch of Pip and Posy.

About 100 people squashed into a room that had felt full when Neal from “Winged Chariot” and I had done an event about apps for 50 people on Thursday evening.

Discover Centre story-teller Rebecca took an audience of two to five year olds for a ride on the small-but-intense emotional roller-coaster of the first two Pip and Posy stories. Children shouted out in recognition of the puddle of wee on the floor that appears after Pip gets so involved in playing at being a lion that he forgets he needs to go to the loo in Pip and Posy: The Little Puddle. And they knew exactly how Posy felt when she scraped her knee after snatching Pip’s scooter in Pip and Posy: The Super Scooter.

Axel showed children and parents how he drew the world of Pip and Posy… and was interrupted by the arrival of Pip and Posy themselves – we’d picked up the costumes the previous day. Only two (very little) children cried, which is a bit of a result where costumes are concerned. There was a lot of shaking hands with Pip and Posy and much cuddling of them.

Here’s a really terrible photograph of Pip and Posy’s first encounter with small children.

Axel signed for well over an hour, drawing a little drawing in every book, whether it was a Pip and Posy book or a well-worn copy of The Gruffalo.

First Mega Mash-up author event

Posted by Kate on Mar 01, 2011

Guest blogger Nikalas Catlow writes about his event with co-author/illustrator of the Mega Mash-up series, Tim Wesson.

Our Mega Mash-Up tour kicked off last week with a rehearsal in our own studio to a rather silent, but very appreciative imaginary audience. On Friday morning it was time for the real deal: we found ourselves in Chelmsford at Just Imagine, Write Away’s, brand new storytelling centre and children’s book shop where we were to perform our first Mega Mash-Up gig.

We launched into our double act, a stunning and dare-devil display of extreme live drawing. Sections of our Romans v Dinosaurs book were acted out for the amusement of our brilliant audience. Kids, DO TRY THIS AT HOME! To finish the event a ‘how to draw’ session on dinosaurs and Romans inspired fantastic artwork from many eager young artists.

We were delighted with everyone’s drawings and enjoyed chatting with the crowd after the show. One boy by the name of Jake bought three copies of Romans v Dinosaurs.... Now that’s what we call a Mega Mash-Up fan!

The event was even covered by BBC Essex Radio

And we’re now making badges for our next event at Discover on Sunday 6 March at 3.30pm.

StarLit, Star Bright

Posted by Camilla on Oct 07, 2010

Here at Nosy Crow, we love a festival almost as much as we love cake, and this week Kirsty and Camilla were down in London’s fashionable Hoxton Square for the StarLit festival.

StarLit is run by the Shoreditch Trust and is a scheme designed to get children having fun reading, writing and drawing. Working with publishers, bookshops, Booktrust and corporate sponsors, the scheme matches up classes with specific books, who then spend a month getting to know the titles with their teachers. The festival is the culmination of all their work, when the classes get to meet the creator of their particular book.

With over 2,000 children, and 70 authors, illustrators and poets taking part, it is an ambitious and valuable scheme, and clearly hugely enjoyed by both the children and teachers involved. Kirsty and Camilla saw events with Deborah Allwright, Thomas Docherty, Bruce Ingman and Philip Ardagh (pictured, and who had his audience almost literally rolling in the aisles!). Andy Stanton, Viv Schwarz, Malory Blackman, Philip Reeve and Michael Foreman were amongst the many others involved.

Dylan Calder, StarLit’s organiser, is starting a similar scheme, called Pop-up, next year, which Nosy Crow is very much hoping to support.

Artist in Action

Posted by Camilla on Jul 15, 2010

Thursday saw Camilla continuing her tour of the summer festivals – this time she was off to Art in Action, a hugely popular arts and crafts festival held annually in the Oxfordshire countryside and which continues till Sunday (18 July).

She was there to cheer on Penny Dale who was installed in the Calligraphy and Illustration tent, in theory to demonstrate her brilliant illustration skills on a spread of Dinosaur Dig, but there were so many people who wanted signed copies of Penny’s books, and who wanted to chat to her, that there was probably not much actual work being done.

But not to worry, it was a great chance for Penny to talk to fans, young and old, and to get in a few pre-orders of Dinosaur Dig too!

Sweat and Hugs and Rock 'n' Roll

Posted by Camilla on Jun 28, 2010

Camilla (she’s the one in yellow with the bad hair, in case you were wondering) spent the weekend at Glastonbury and while she can’t claim that it was in any way a work-related trip, she did find it hugely inspiring and envigorating.

Clearly the festival is best known for its bands and partying but a fair old slice of the site is dedicated to less frenzied activities – cabaret, circus, kids’ craft and so on. Camilla idled away a happy, if slightly sweltering, afternoon watching the Glastonbury world go by and sampling everything from charcoal-drawing classes to bizarre Japanese mime artists. The Poetry and Words tent offered a handy bit of respite from the sun whilst taking in sets from performance poets Holly McNish, Abby Oliviera and Glastonbury old-timer Attila the Stockbroker. All in all, it was great to see people dedicated to their art, in whatever form it took, and to making things, whether it was costume or jewellery or sculpture, and that in itself was a real treat to be around.

Of course it wasn’t all basket-weaving and junk-modelling and, fear not, Camilla did get a good dose of music too – Mumford and Sons and a spectacular show from the Pet Shop Boys being particular highlights.

It was 20 years since Camilla’s first visit to Glasto and quite a different experience – less mud, more sleep – but she thinks she’ll be back again, and she might even bring the kids next time!

Penny Dale Digs Deep

Posted by Kate on Jun 08, 2010

When she was at Hay, Kate had the opportunity to meet up with Penny Dale to talk through the progress of Dinosaur Dig (Penny, pictured, in a tent in Hay with a print-out of the second spread from the book). It’s such a pleasure to see the book developing.

Penny was inspired to write and illustrate Dinosaur Dig by her vehicle-obsessed toddler grandson. But, as she explains, her decision to do a book featuring construction vehicles happily coincided with something not every householder welcomes:

“By happy coincidence, there have been major road works going on in our street lately. Lots of diggers and dumpers have been trundling up and down providing the perfect soundtrack to the production of artwork for Dinosaur Dig!

I’ve been covertly sneaking the odd close-up photo of hydraulics and digger details, but was a bit cautious about telling the drivers and engineers – quite a large crew at times – what I was up to. But yesterday day they were right outside our house so I had to confess. I went outside, armed with a print-out of a T-rex in a loader and showed it to the Ganger. The engines suddenly stopped, and they all had a look, and immediately identified their digger driving colleague as the T-rex. They were very appreciative of the detailed observation of their vehicles… but nodded in understanding when I explained that I’d had to redesign some of them to accommodate the dinosaurs’ massive tails.

They took the print-out for the wall of their portacabin: a different kind of pin-up!”

See Penny’s photos on Facebook

Rounding off Hay

Posted by Kate on Jun 07, 2010

Kate had a real day off on Thursday and went to a West Wales beach, but came back in time for the Puffin of Puffins debate chaired by Lucy Mangan, top children’s books afficionado and Guardian columnist. Children’s book authors, adult author Jasper Fforde and Marcus Brigstocke each championed a book from one of Puffin’s seven decades.

Jackie Wilson championed the The Family at One End Street – the first book with people who weren’t posh that she’d encountered. She said that every character was imbued with their own personality, even baby William. She identified with kind Lily-Rose and bookish Kate and said that they were surprisingly modern in their aspirations: Lily-Rose wants her own steam laundry (their mother takes in laundry) and Kate wants to be a sort of eco-farmer (though she doesn’t express it in those words).

Jenny Valentine defended Charlotte’s Web, saying it had a brilliantly dramatic and ominous opening line, “Where’s Papa going with that axe?”, and was a celebration of the transformative power of friendship and loyalty.

Jasper Fforde spoke up for Stig of the Dump, speaking of the appeal he felt as a child of Stig’s complete freedom from the dullness and strictures of adulthood.

Marcus Brigstocke recalled the way that Charlie and the Chocolate Factory expressly addressed him in the first pages, and said that this made the book more approachable for someone who was dyslexic. He said that Willie Wonka was a brilliant fictional forerunner of Alan Sugar, and the whole set-up was like The Apprentice.

Cathy Cassidy championed Goodnight Mr Tom, a book, she said, about “learning to be loved” that she’d read non-stop in the course of a single night when she was in her 20s.

Andy Stanton defended The Hundred-Mile-An-Hour Dog: “A small comic masterpiece” that is “a kids’ book… It’s exactly what kids want.”

Jason Bradbury spoke up for Artemis Fowl celebrating the fairy gadgetry and its moral ambivalence: Artemis is really “a baddie, which is all to the good”.

Of these, Kate would have voted for Charlotte’s Web (had she had a voting slip, which, annoyingly, she didn’t), but the audience vote was for Goodnight Mr Tom, a very worthy winner.

You can add your vote to the national vote

On Friday morning, Kate momentarily owned a Viviane Schwarz original (pictured) after Viv and Grahame Baker Smith’s Kate Greenaway Medal event with Anthony Browne… but a little girl asked if she could have it, and it seemed churlish not to hand it over. Viv’s There Are Cats in This Book is a whimsical joy.

Later, in her event, Francesca Simon read from Horrid Henry Rocks, demonstrating once again that no-one writes about sibling rivalry more amusingly. She said she draws on the emotions of her own childhood and on her observations of her nephew and niece (who provided the line, “He’s looking out of my window!” in the course of a car journey), though she emphasised that Horrid Henry and Perfect Peter represent the “Two halves of everyone”.

Andy Stanton demonstrated the quirky energy and humour at the heart of his Mr Gum books in his event, bounding around the audience to take questions, drinking water “in French” and speaking about his writing process: “Sometimes ideas are like wasps. Probably. They get in your head and buzz around. Actually, they’re not like wasps.”

In his event, Morris Gleitzman spoke movingly of the challenge and process of writing his Holocaust trilogy, Once, Then and Now… prompting a bit of a debate (continued on Twitter) as to whether you have to be Jewish to write fiction about the Jewish experience of the Holocaust or whether any writing about the Holocaust is likely to act as a commemoration and a reminder. What do you think?

Oh, and there was more, but you’ve probably had enough. Once again, the Hay Festival of Literature and Art was fun and stimulating. It was a chance to meet old friends and meet new people. It was great to be there.

Sunny Hay

Posted by Imogen on Jun 03, 2010

Tuesday wasn’t a festival day for Kate, but a work day. We finalised the acquisition of a novel – more news later – and caught up with manuscripts.

She made up for it with events on Wednesday: Eleanor Updale and Sharon Creech, Nick Sharratt and Guardian Children’s Book Prize longlisted Ally Kennan: all old friends that Kate’s published. Their events were – in ways that reflect their personalities and the age of the children to whom they appeal – entirely different. Ally Kennan, for example, was full of advice for aspiring authors, talking about about writing 50,000 words in November and the need to “reel the muse in with hard graft”, while Nick Sharratt had the audience dancing in the aisles to the Pants song after we’d composed fish poems – we shouted out alternative rhyme words and then voted for them.

In between events, festival going children lounged and read on deckchairs in the sun (pictured). A happy day in happy Hay.

Making Hay while the sun shines

Posted by Kate on Jun 01, 2010

Kate’s had two more glorious, sunny days in Hay.

Hay Fever (the children’s festival) highlights included Ben Cort’s interactive and action-packed Aliens Love Underpants event (children in pants pictured, with Ben at the back) and Holly Webb’s gentle and engaging event in which she talked about her animal books, her Triplets books (a favourite with Kate’s children when they were a little younger) and her historical fantasy Rose quartet. It’s great for Kate to have an opportunity to meet up again with people she’s published in the past, and, in the case of Holly, to meet up with someone she not only published but she and Kirsty Stansfield worked with.

Grown-up events included a breakfast with quietly impressive and sensible Justine Roberts of Mumsnet and an interview with warm and funny Jo Brand.

And, of course, that she tweeted all events goes without saying.

Kate also ended up at an improbably splendid and super-cool Soho House GQ dinner party for 350 people at the home of the chair of the Hay Festival.

The highlight of Adrian’s festival, though, has been a breakfast with Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi – the brilliant cooks behind the Ottolenghi books and cafes/delis.

Meanwhile, Imogen and Deb are back in the office working on opals and apps among other things.

Hay day, Hay day

Posted by Kate on May 30, 2010

Kate arrived at the Hay Festival of Literature and Art in pouring rain – a bit of a tradition for both the festival and the area (and Kate loves both). This picture makes the festival look bizarrely empty, but that’s the effect of Kate’s photographic incompetence as yesterday was a record-breaking day for the festival with over 2,500 more people than on any previous day.

First up was Bill Bryson talking about his new book, Home. He was modest, charming, informed and funny… just as Kate expected. The book’s an exploration of our slow struggle to get comfortable – to live somewhere warm, adequately-lit and smell-free. Favourite quote: “My first book was The Lost Continent. My wife said maybe my last book could be The Lost Incontinent”. Favourite anecdote: the reason we say people are “barking mad” is because ergotism makes you mad and also gives you distinctive barking cough.

Second up was Quentin Blake talking about the House of Illustration about books, and about painting on hospital walls. He was modest and charming too. He spoke quite a lot about how reliant he was on a close and careful reading of texts to prompt his illustrative imagination… and then demonstrated that he was entirely brilliant at imagining things himself. Favourite quote (when drawing, as requested by small child, “Matilda and The Enormous Crocodile together“: “It’s easy for these writers, you know. They say hundreds of teeth… and there you are, having to draw them.” Favourite anecdote: Roald Dahl sent Quentin Blake one of his own old sandals as picture reference for the BFG’s footwear.

Third up was Alain de Botton (hilariously mismatched with the quite awful Jerry Hall as his questioner). Favourite quote: “The most offensive question you can ask a child is ‘What did you do today?’ [because they live entirely in the present]”. Kate knows that Alain de Botton is not everyone’s cup of tea. She likes some of the books, and not others. He is better – more modest (bit of a theme, here), less orotund – in person than in print, perhaps.

Kate tweeted all three events, possibly rather over-enthusiastically in the case of the Alain de Botton one.