Big names, issues and events in Book Festival Children's Programme

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2017's Edinburgh International Book Festival gets underway on Saturday 12 August, and there's a huge programme to get excited about. It's not just for adults either, with the excellent Baillie Gifford Children's Programme packed with great authors, illustrators and activities for both children and young adults to enjoy. 

It's a sign of just how committed the Book Festival is to welcoming young literature lovers that more than a third of its 2017 brochure is devoted to them - and since we're talking about the largest festival of its kind in the world, that's a big selection of events. 

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Big names

As with the adult programme, this year's festival features many famous faces from the worlds of literature and wider culture. Alongside star names like Cressida Cowell, Julia Donaldson and Anthony Horowitz (all sold out at the time of writing) are other well known figures, including: 

  • TV presenter Clare Balding, who will present her debut book for children, The Racehorse Who Wouldn't Gallop (13 Aug, 13:30 - ages 8+)
  • Actor Isla Fisher, who'll be talking about the latest book in her Marge series, Marge and the Great Train Rescue (19 Aug, 11:45 - ages 5-8)
  • Radio 1 DJ, Greg James and newsreader Chris Smith offer their debut novel Kid Normal, with live musical accompaniment (12 Aug, 15:45 - ages 9+)
  • Writer, actor and TV personality Adrian Edmondson, with his first book for children, Tilly and the Time Machine (13 Aug, 15:15 - ages 7-10)
  • Nick Sharratt, well-known for his illustrations for Jacqueline Wilson, will be live drawing and discussing his new book, The Cat and the King (19 Aug, 10:00 - ages 4-7) 

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Big issues

It may be known as the Children's Programme, but that doesn't mean that the big issues of the day aren't addressed, as this year's programme demonstrates. 

  • Environment and Climate Change, including:
    • Bottle of Happiness from UK/Iranian duo, Pippa Goodhart and Ehsan Abdollahi (ages 4-7)
    • Live performance piece, A Stone's Throw from Giddy Aunt Theatre (ages 7+)
    • Author-illustrator Barroux, discussing his new book, Welcome (ages 4-7)
    • Philip Ardagh and Elissa Elwick's Little Adventurers (ages 6-9)
    • Return of the Dinosaurs - a colourful collage workshop with author Bronwyn Houston (ages 3-6)
  • Migration, including:
    • Vanessa Altin's story of war-torn families, The Pomegranate Tree (ages 8-12)
    • Migration Stories, an event with authors Gill Lewis and Elizabeth Laird (ages 10-14) 
  • Gender politics, including:
    • The Great Gender Debate, featuring writers Jonathan Stroud, Kathryn Evans and David Levithan discussing how children's fiction addresses the issue.
  • Personal resilience, including:
    • Author Alice Broadway's Writing for Resilience workshop showing how creative writing can help improve mental health.
    • The story of how Billy escapes the bullies and his mum's illness, in Chloe Daykin's Fish Boy (ages 9-12)
    • Grey Area, featuring Pam Smy connecting two people separated by time but drawn together by place, and fellow illustrator Debi Gliori sharing her experience of depression (ages 12+)

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Big events

There's lots to celebrate at this year's Book Festival, with some big anniversaries (nicely timed along with the city's own 70th anniversary celebration of the festivals) including:

  • 20 years of Harry Potter, as the legendary young magician reaches his third decade (ages 7+)
  • 10 years of Tyrannosaurus Drip, Julia Donaldson's fabulous tale of mistaken identity (all ages)
  • 75 years of The Famous Five, celebrating the adventures of Julian, Dick, Anne, George and Timmy the dog (all ages)
  • 35 years of Dear Zoo, Rod Campbell's classic story (all ages)
  • 60 years of The Cat in the Hat, livening up rainy afternoons for six decades (all ages)

And other than the anniversary celebrations, be sure to check out the series of four Tea, Cake and Tales events featuring Holly Smale, Eilidh Muldoon, Eric Broug, Sophia Bennett and Natasha Farrant..

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Janet Smyth, Director of the Children and Education Programme, said:

The breadth and scope of books for children and young people has seen a phenomenal evolution over the last 70 years, demonstrating the freedoms, diversity and plurality of contemporary young lives.  Children’s publishing is where the boundaries are being pushed and taboos broken. It’s an exciting time to both write and read books for young people and they have the power to develop empathy, understanding and ultimately tolerance of different beliefs, values and views.

She added:

Children and young people use fiction as a framework for exploring difficult stories and challenging truths and writers and illustrators are rising to this challenge and taking on the big topics as well as finding new ways to tell a story.

The Edinburgh International Book Festival runs from 12-28 August 2017. More information about the Festival

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