The first Borders book festival created exclusively for young people saw more than 1,000 under-18-year-olds enjoy meeting and working with authors at events in the Eastgate Theatre, Peebles High School, Peebles library, plus a variety of primary schools. Running from 25-27 November, the read-a-licious book festival celebrated both Peebles Creative Place 2014 and Book Week Scotland.
The authors taking part were Kenneth Steven, Lari Don, Dan Freedman, Vivian French, Lilian Ross, Barry Hutchison and Emily Dodd – all of whom played a vital part in what proved to be an exuberant couple of days. And the authors enjoyed it, too. As Kenneth Steven commented: “It was a sheer joy to read and tell stories with primary school classes.”
In addition, illustrator Dave Sutton held a hugely-popular character creation workshop at Peebles library. “Thanks to everyone who came along ... laughed at my drawings and created such amazingly idiosyncratic, wonderful and personal characters – AND gave them stories!” he said.
Dave also illustrated many of the other sessions including Boogie with Books for pre-school kids and Barry Hutchison’s Eastgate Theatre session during which Barry explained the best thing about being a writer. “Well, I get to sit around and imagine a lot. I spend one hour writing and six hours imagining,” he told a charmed audience.
And anyone expecting a book festival to be quiet and studious was in for a shock as children interacted with the writers, sang in Scots with writer/performer Lilian Ross, danced with Alex Emerson at Boogie with Books, created a sound tunnel full of spooky sounds with Moira Morrison and generated a huge rhythm section playing more than 35 drums led by Nomad Beat’s Alison Cameron.
As part of Book Week Scotland, first year Peebles High School pupils designed new covers for established or imagined books. A judging panel led by Dave Sutton decided that James Culshaw’s design for Adventures in Kowaehai was the one that best met the brief. James was awarded a signed book by Dan Freedman plus vouchers for the theatre.
Read-a-licious was the latest event in the Peebles Creative Place 2014 calendar, with co-ordinator Alex Emerson delighted with how it went. “I had high expectations that this festival could really engage young people with books, but it exceeded all of them,” commented Alex. “I thank all of the teachers, librarians and organisers who gave their time to help plan this huge and complex event. Special thanks also to Alison Tait, Librarian, and all the staff at Peebles Library, and to Ruth Fry, Librarian of Peebles High School.
“Read-a-licious brought a selection of the finest, most imaginative writers into our community and the response of our young people excited and inspired every one of them. The children taking part in the workshops were full of enthusiasm, fresh ideas and fun. I hope the read-a-licious 2014 festival is the first of many.”
For a gallery of images from the festival, click here