Sunday, 6 October 2013

Bath Kids Lit Fest 2013 - Part 1

This year's Bath Festival of Children's Literature started last weekend - sadly 2 of the events I booked for were cancelled at the last minute.

Anon. -  circa 1665
Restoration of  King Charles II
 Judith Kerr, author of 'When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit', as well as the 'Mog' books and 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea' sadly had to cancel her event due to ill health (given that she is now 90, this is perhaps not surprising, but it is disappointing, despite that), and then last Saturday I arrived at the Holburne Museum for Dave McKean's event, and was met with the news that he had been caught up in huge delays n the M25 so couldn't make it. 

And then I missed the event with Meg Rosoff as I got stuck at work and couldn't get to Bath in time. So I've only been to 2 out of 5 booked events so far.

On Saturday, as I was already at the museum when I learned about the cancellation, and as  I have never been round it (despite driving past on a regular basis) I decided to use the unexpected free hour to look round the museum.

Its primarily an art museum, so lots of painting, but also has some interesting textiles - I loved this embroidery/applique which depicts the Restoration of Charles II (and the background- you can see him hiding in the oak tree, behind the picture of his in all his majesty!) and dates from around 1665. 

Holburne Museum
There's also a lovely collection of spoons, and some dodgy antiquities picked up by Holburne during his Grand Tour.

It's not a big museum, but I enjoyed browsing the exhibits. And it's a beautiful building!

I also took the opportunity to have a wander around Sydney Gardens - they were laid out in around 1795 (this bridge over the canal was erected in 1800) and were, apparently, very popular with the residents of Regency Bath - Jane Austen included.

It's divided by the railway, as well as the canal, now, but there is a lovely, sweeping bath stone bridge over it, and it is down in a cutting, so it doesn't impinge too much on the park.

I don't think the tennis courts were there in Jane Austen's day, but I dare say the grass, trees, and squirrels were pretty similar (although presumably the squirrels would have been red, not grey.

I was back in Bath on Sunday, to go to David Levithan's event. 

David Levithan
He was reading from his book Every Day, which explores what happens when you (quite literally) wake up in a different body (someone else's ) every day, and when you decide that you want to keep in contact with a person you meet one of those days. 

It's an interesting concept. He mentioned that he definitely  sees, and intended the book to be (among other things) a transgender book, but that he finds it interesting that people talking about the book focus on the gender issues and less on other issues which are equally part of the  concept. (I haven't read the book yet, so I can't comment specifically).

I was also really interested to hear him talk about collaborating with other writers (it's fun!) and to say that he is not a visual writer - he doesn't 'see' how his characters and their rooms and familes look (so found it much less traumatic then his co-writer Rachel Cohn when their book was adapted, when looking at which actors were cast!

It was an interesting event, and I'm looking forward to reading Every Day - the only book of David's which I've read before is Boy Meets Boy.

Friday evening saw me back in Bath for Malorie Blackman's event. 
Malorie Blackman

I've read her 'Noughts and Crosses' series, which are excellent, and of course she is currently serving as Children's Laureate.She is currently promoting her new novel, Noble Conflict, which is a dystopian novel, set in a future society, and explored (so far as I can tell for the reviews and the conversation at this event) what happens when you find out that the Good Guys you've aligned yourself are maybe not-so-good.

In talking about the book, Malorie explained that she is fascinated by questions, and mentioned issues such as the security for the Olympics (guns on the roofs of blocks of flats), CCTV in public spaces (do you believe that if you have nothing to hide, you've nothing to fear) the actions of whistle-blowers such as Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden, and also the issue of who owns, and writes history (history is written by the conquerors, not the conquered, and the written history of a literary society ends to survive longer, and to oust, the verbal history of oral cultures.

Malorie also spoke about her role as Children's laureate, and her concern at recent studies showing that many children and teens are embarrassed to be seen reading, and stressed that reading is great - whether you read paper books or e-books, novels or graphic novels or comics or picture books.

As with David's event, I'm looking forward to reading the book, and am glad I made it to the event!

This weekend I shall (all being well) be seeing David Almond and Patrick Ness, although sadly missing Philip Reeve.

No comments: