Festival of books
Did you think a book festival was an adult event? Then think again, for, the Edinburgh Book festival was different.
Imagine a large green lawn in the middle of a busy city filled with tents big and small. That is where for over two weeks 500 authors from the five continents talk, discuss, debate and read aloud from their works for over 120,000 visitors. The once-in-two-years Edinburgh International Book Festival is a grand literary mela.
Perhaps you think a book festival is for solemn adults. But in Edinburgh's Charlotte Square you see children gambolling everywhere, rolling on the grass, crunching pastries, licking ice cream cones. There are babies too in prams, on Dad's shoulders or Mom's arms! You overhear those parents saying to each other (as the little angel gurgles and tears a page or two), "My baby loves books."
The Edinburgh Book festival has a huge and varied programme for children: print making and bookmaking workshops, lessons in illustrating stories, and the chance to make a 3-D model of your favourite picture book character. Games and competitions, and parties where you dressed up like characters from your favourite books were part of the show.
Of course, there were many hours of enchanted listening. The tales could be old adventures from the Iliad and the Odyssey, or from all time favourites like Peter Rabbit (whose centenary was celebrated at the festival). Some were brand new. Imagine listening to Philip Pullman reading from Northern Lights, or Eoin Colfer narrating the latest Arctic adventures of Artemis Fowl!
Wouldn't you have loved the "Poetree", a copper tree with different objects hanging from it? You chose one and its story was narrated to you in words, song and mime. At Jan Fearley's session, you saw her drawing as she narrated <147,1,0>the adventures of bears, wolves and other creatures. You could have been one of the lucky ones to whom she gave away those drawings at the end.
Many writers of teen fiction came to talk and debate. They shared their problems of keeping in touch with young people, especially when their own children crossed over into adulthood!
"This is a magic space, in a summer garden, made of words, made for you. Welcome!" said the Edinburgh Book Festival banner. Each time we lose ourselves in a book, don't we find ourselves in that enchanted garden?
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