Formerly known as Books in the Castle, this year’s Newark Book Festival (July 15th and 16th) was rebranded, revamped and a resounding success.
With a last minute change to the mini ones weekend schedule we headed to Newark on Saturday instead of Sunday as planned and, with many of the events already sold out, we were very glad there were also street theatre acts to enjoy and drop-in workshops to join in too.
On arriving in the Nottinghamshire town, we located the festival’s stall in the market place and were just in time to enjoy a performance by The Smallest Theatre in the World.
The humorous take on Hound of the Baskervilles (in celebration of the 125th anniversary of the first Sherlock Holmes publication) involved audience participation and hijinks that captivated Willow who got especially excited whenever a character popped up on top of the theatre’s roof.
We then took time to listen to Doctor Rhyme reading us a poem describing the problems of trying to write a poem when your tin of alphabetti spaghetti turns out to be spaghetti hoops and requested a poem to be written in celebration of Luke starting school this year.
A quick chase of the BFG around the market place, who we were quite happy to wave at but not quite brave enough to high five, and a short stop to refuel and then we set off to join in the Make and Create: Mr Men session at Millgate Community Centre.
Cardboard templates, scrunched up newspaper, kitchen roll liners, tissue paper coloured squares, facial features and accessory add ons plus some liberally applied glue and sticky tape and Luke had his own Mr Tickle and Willow a Mr Man all of her own creation.
The Roger Hargreaves characters are staple reading in the minis’ library and it was a well thought out craft that the smallest of hands could join with, that could be similarly recreated at home with a rummage through your recycling and which it wasn’t too difficult to get a recognisable finished artwork from.
There was more even crafting to be done afterwards as we headed to Newark Library where there was also dancing and stories to listen to as children’s author Lucy Rowland introduced young readers to her titles The Birthday Invitation and Gecko’s Echo alongside the library launching its Summer Reading Challenge. Luke was suitably impressed, requesting to buy a copy of Gecko’s Echo to take home with us which he was able to watch the author sign for him and his sisters.
Before it was time to go back to the car we stopped to explore Newark Library’s lovely children’s area with it’s inventive seating and bookshelves that are also tunnels, it’s play kitchen and dolls’ house. Willow had clearly got the message that books are good as she helped herself to a huge pile of different titles to have mini excerpts read to her from.
And, back at home, bedtime reading requests involved several renditions of Gecko’s Echo (and who wouldn’t appreciate a story featuring a strong mother?) with a couple of the Mr Men stories to follow.
I used to love attending literary festivals before I had children and, whilst it may be in a slightly different way, it can be even more fun with them. Definitely one for the diary for 2018, hopefully with a little more planning involved too.