Thursday, 23 June 2011

The Hay Diaries Part 4 ...

Saturday 4th June – Trumps, time travel and trudging

At the crack of 10am – in the Starlight Tent

When an author begins an event by inviting the audience to shout BOGIES, you know you are in for a treat. David Roberts is the children’s illustrator responsible for The Troll and Tyrannasaurus Drip by Julia Donaldson, some super retellings of fairytales and, most filthily, Dirty Bertie.

Bertie was the star today. And the challenge was on to see if anyone in the audience could ‘trump’ him for dirty habits. They certainly had a go. One girl who is probably in with a shot is a girl that approached David Roberts at a previous book signing and said ‘I like to pick my nose’. She then proceeded to demonstrate, and was about to EAT it, when she saw David’s shocked face. ‘Oh,’ she said, ‘would you like some?’

After reading the first Dirty Bertie book, David Roberts gave some tips on drawing Bertie. You can see my very average attempts here:

The audience helped David to create a picture. It started as Bertie eating some candyfloss, but gradually more and more horrible things – bugs, worms, dog poo, a plaster, a lobster (?!) – were added and it looked a lot less appetising.

The ‘interesting’ imaginations of some audience members were also revealed when David asked for ways to prevent your parents from moving house (as Bertie does in one of the books) and one girl immediately replied ‘go to the toilet on the bed’. I’m quite glad I don’t live with her.

Overall, this event was very funny, and perfectly aimed at its 5-7-year-old audience, while allowing parents to laugh secretly at the toilet humour too. There were also some drawing tips to pick up for those of us who aren’t artistically challenged. And even those who are can have a go…

1.30pm – in Sarajevo 1914/Elizabethan England

I appear to have time travelled. I think that Johnny O’Brien, author of the Jack Christie adventures, is to blame. His event, like his books, is centred around how fun it would be to actually find yourself in another time.

The hero of the books, Jack Christie, finds himself at some of the major turning points in history and must decide whether to intervene. The first – in Day of the Assassins – is the shooting of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, which was the trigger (geddit?!) for the first World war. Through some super role play involving audience volunteers (who made worryingly good assassins) Johnny showed us how the Great War was actually caused by a sandwich.

Johnny told us he is quite keen on the gruesome side of history (and, as a Horrible-Histories-reared child, so do I). From the books he read us a rather violent encounter in the trenches and later an eye-witness encounter of the execution of Mary Queen of Scots.

4:00pm – On the sad trudge home, being rained on

My whirlwind visit to Hay has whirled and winded (and now rained) and I am on my way home. I bid goodbye to the cat and she watched me go with a cool and steady hatred.

But I leave with a feeling that there is much to be excited about – there are still kids who love reading books and authors who love writing books and events where these people can come together and bang on about how much they love books. To me, that is rather exciting.

Roll on next Hay!

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