Embracing your inner child reader: Cardiff Children's Lit Fest 2013!
This week sees the very first Cardiff Children's Literature Festival take place! Events include top authors Charlie Higson, Catherine Fisher, Cressida Cowell and more, with Doctor Who, Young Bond, Where’s Wally, the Moomins, and the Very Hungry Caterpillar all represented.
The events are taking place across the city centre, including the National Museum, City Hall, Cardiff Castle and more. There have already been events in the evening and schools’ activities, but the programme really hits its full stride this weekend. Events are ticketed, and can be bought online from Ticketline.
Why children’s books?
You may be thinking “why should I, as the cool, sophisticated person that I am, pay any attention to kids’ books?” Wednesday’s talk Why should adults read children’s books? tackled just that question. It was by Peter Hunt, who here at Cardiff University was the first Professor of Children’s Literature in the UK. He’s written piles of books on children’s literature. He argues that children’s literature is both fun and worth thinking seriously (but not solemnly) about. It plays such a big role in our attempts to shape the next generation, so looking at children’s literature tells us a lot about what we as a culture want to pass on.
Another reason is that good stories are good stories whatever age they are aimed at. Ever since the Harry Potter books were re-released with plain covers for adults, older folk have been enjoying the pleasures of children’s books. Kindles aren’t just good for reading 50 Shades of Grey without public embarrassment, but also for reading children’s books minus their conspicuously bright covers!
Among the many authors able to turn an exciting plot are Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell, who wrote the Edge Chronicles. With strange creatures, flying ships, perilous situations, they’re the perfect adventure stories. On Saturday, they will be talking about their latest adventure, Wyrmweald, at 2pm in the National Museum.
Science and science fiction
With Doctor Who celebrating it’s 50th birthday this year and having made its home in Cardiff Bay, it was perhaps inevitable that the TARDIS would be materialising at the festival! If you’re a sci-fi fan, then you might enjoy The Science Fiction of Doctor Who talk, 5pm Saturday at the National Museum. Science fiction expert Mark Bake and rap artist Jon Chase (famous on YouTube for the Astrobiology Rap, and alumni of the University of Glamorgan) present a lively exploration of the science behind the fiction.
Doctor Who is often more fantastic than grounded in the strictly scientific, but what sci-fi can do is inspire the imagination of scientists-to-be. Whether it’s dreaming of being able to fly, reach the moon, or build a Star Trek computer, stories drive us to discover ways of making real what we can currently only imagine. Science is the rigorous application of reason and observation, but it’s often imagination that sets it on fire.
Many children’s and young adult books have come to tackle tough and complex issues - things have come a long way since Enid Blyton. The legendary Jacqueline Wilson was due to make an appearance on Sunday, but sadly can’t make it because of treatment for kidney failure. Her books tackle a range of issues in an engaging way, such as adoption, divorce and mental illness. One of her best known, of course, is The Story of Tracy Beaker. It’s the tale of troubled ten-year old Tracy, who lives in a children’s care home, and has been adapted into a popular television series.
Cardiff is full of dragons… just wander around the city centre and see how many you can spot! Fortunately they are all very well-behaved, but were they to come to life, then we might need the help of Cressida Cowell’s How to Train your Dragon. Tickets have already sold out to this event though!
There are many other interesting events and great authors at the Festival, so why not embrace your inner child and check them out?