Guest Post – The Oxford Children’s Literary Festival

We are lucky enough to have a competition to win a family ticket to the event of the winner’s choice at the Oxford Literary Festival.

You can enter the competition here

In the meantime, if you’d like to find out a little more about the festival, we have a guest post from the Children’s Programme Director to tell us what she’s looking forward to most.

I was asked recently to sum up the children’s programme at this year’s FT Weekend Oxford Literary Festival in three words – not easy, as we have over 30 different events, and a host of favourite children’s authors appearing! In the end I went for ‘something for everyone’, and feel very pleased with that. After all, the trick with any literary festival is making sure that the programme is as varied and broad in appeal as possible, and I think we’ve done outstandingly well this year.

We are delighted that Michael Morpurgo, former Children’s Laureate, author of War Horse and many other wonderful children’s novels, is bringing his specially devised musical adaptation of The Mozart Question to the festival. We are privileged too to host current Children’s Laureate, Malorie Blackman, who will be joining Chancellor of Oxford Brookes University and director of Liberty Shami Chakrabarti to discuss the Noughts and Crosses series. In the year that Charlie and the Chocolate Factory turns 50, we are celebrating Roald Dahl with a truly splendiferous event – special musical accompaniment will be provided by cast members of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of Matilda The Musical.

There’s a treat for fans of Enid Blyton too – Kate Edwards and Alison Gwynn from Seven Stories, National Centre for Children’s Books will explore the Enid Blyton phenomenon, discovering what her stories mean to children today. The action will move to Africa when top-selling author Lauren St John joins Virginia McKenna, founder of the Born Free Foundation, to talk about wildlife adventures old and new. Lauren Child, creator of the Charlie and Lola books and new Ruby Redfort adventures will bring another touch of style and glamour to the festival. And we are very pleased that Chris Riddell, illustrator and political cartoonist, and winner of this year’s Costa Children’s Book Award, is coming to take readers into the magical world of Goth Girl.

There’s lots to set children laughing too: Liz Pichon  author of the hilarious, and award winning Tom Gates books is coming, as is Martin Brown, who puts the cartoons into the Horrible Histories books, and we have a special appearance from the inimitable Korky Paul, of Winnie the Witch fame. Roald Dahl Funny Prize shortlisted author Steven Butler is bringing a special Dennis the Menace event to the festival and Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre’s Oliver and the Seawigs show will be just as inventive and hilarious as their book.

It’s not all about sitting and listening though, children can roll up their sleeves and join in with star author Jonny Duddle in a swashbuckling pirate event; and there’s a comic making workshop from the Oxford based The Phoenix Comic with illustrator Neill Cameron. You’ll be singing along with Kristina Stephenson in her new Sir Charlie Stinkysocks show, while you’ll need your thinking caps on for Once Upon an If, which mixes philosophy with story for youngsters. Oxford authors Charlotte and Adam Guillain are running a particularly lively event, based on their book Spaghetti with a Yeti, also shortlisted for the Roald Dahl Funny Book Prize; Chris Jarvis is coming from the Natural History Museum to provide an expert’s eye view on dinosaurs in a Dinosaur Cove event which will be very hands on, while there are creatures of a different kind in Pip Jones’s Squishy McFluff stories – during this interactive event children are needed to help create the ultimate imaginary pet!

It wouldn’t be the Oxford Literary Festival without a Winnie the Pooh picnic with stories, songs and honey sandwiches – yum! And the youngest festival visitors should come to Miffy’s birthday party with stories, craft, goody bags and fun!

Teen don’t miss events include Robert Muchamore, hugely popular author of the Cherub series alongside Sophie McKenzie, number one author of teen thrillers. We are delighted too to be welcoming Meg Rosoff talking about her new book Picture Me Gone, as well as the award-winning How I Live Now recently made into a Hollywood film.

David Almond’s novel Skellig, the story of two children who meet a strange being, part owl, part angel, brought him overnight success, and admirers of all ages. He will discuss Skellig and his writing with former Times Literary Editor Erica Wagner.

All this plus fascinating panel discussions on women in history, and writing about World War One, and a guest appearance from none other than Merlin (aka Kevin Crossley-Holland who is stepping into Merlin’s gown for a special event in association with Oxford’s Story Museum).

Phew! I might have another three words: Don’t miss it! Or even See you there!

Andrea Reece

FT Weekend Oxford Literary Festival Children’s Programme Director


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