24/08/2012 by Aoife Murray · No Comments
Ach aye the nou! (The sound of bagpipes plays)
We're well into the Edinburgh Book Festival and I thought ye might like a wee update! Had enough of the Scottish brogue by now? (Cut the bagpipes!)
Suffice to say the Edinburgh International Book Festival has been illuminating and inspiring - everything it promised to be! With locations all outdoors (well, in tents, the Scottish weather is notorious) and in the beautiful surroundings of Charlotte Square. I've been here since Wednesday filling my senses with everything booky!
Alice Melvin on Wednesday was a delight and enthralled the very young audience who turned out on an overcast morning to see her. Bringing along a range of art materials to bring her book The High Street to life, Alice transported to few older members of the audience back to a golden time, when the high street was littered with independent retailers and when a young girl could safety shop alone! The session ended with an epic drawing session and we were all delighted to hear that the fun continues at the Scottish National Gallery, where Alice's work is being displayed alongside some of her contemporaries, including CBI favourite Bruce Ingman, in an exhibition of children's illustration. I'm looking forward to checking it out while I'm here!
One of the highlights of this year's festival line-up is Shaun Tan. Shaun spoke at the CBI conference in 2009 so I knew the huge crowd were in for a treat. He spoke about his career to date, specifically about how the landscape of his suburban childhood in Australian has shaped his artistic work. I was surprised to hear that, despite his huge portfolio of illustration created as a child, Shaun preferred writing to drawing when he was younger. It was also enlightening to hear him speak about how he draws no distinction between children and adult readers and indeed, doesn't picture an ideal audience when writing. Shaun finished off by telling us about his recent work for the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney. The Odditoreum is a display of strange and intriguing objects, brought to life by Shaun's 'catalogue' that blurs truth and fiction! I wonder if CBI would send me to Australia to check it out...!
Thursday afternoon saw the turn of Polly Dunbar to take to the small stage at the RBS Imagination Lab to keep small readers entertained. And what a job she did! Armed with an array of art materials and puppets, props and toys, Polly got her young fans involved with her books creatively. I was impressed by how well she dealt with tiny hecklers; the most hardened stand-up comedians of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival could learn a thing or two from her! A large crowd attended Polly's signing after the event, excited to meet their literary hero- I overheard and few young readers who couldn't believe the Polly who wrote and illustrated their favourite books was right there in front of them!
Josh Lacy presented right after Polly. The Author of the Grk series amongst many others, he writes novels that are perfect for some young boys who have perhaps find it difficult to find a book in their local library or store that peaks their interest. Full of adventure, action and intrigue, Josh set out to reveal how his own life experiences have shaped his writing career. It was fascination to hear about his voyages across all the continents of the world, though I'm not sure his advocating the use of hitch-hiking went down that well with the adults in the room! Nevertheless, it was an engaging event, with Josh revealing all the mementos and souvenirs from his travels that sit on his desk and inform his writing.
As well as attending these amazing events I've been exploring the two bookshops on site, enjoying some sunshine and a quiet read on the comfy (and literary) deckchairs, catching up with friends and colleagues and generally soaking up the literary vibes! And the festival is long from over, I'm still looking forward to events with Anthony McGowan, Keith Gray, Francesca Simon and Carol Ann Duffy!
Watch this space for more! Guid cheerio the nou (This might come in useful - ed.)