A stellar programme to stimulate young minds

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NOW an established and hugely popular feature of the Brewin Dolphin Borders Book Festival, the two-day family programme is this year packed with favourites to stimulate young minds – and entertain mums and dads.

It opens on Saturday, June 18, with Roodica the Rude and the Famous Flea Trick which was selected as one of Richard and Judy’s first ever Children’s Book Club choices.

John Byrne

John Byrne

Author Margaret Ryan will explain how her heroine takes on her arch enemy, the tax collector Fatius Guttus and his snivelling son Copius Mucus. Audience members are invited to dress up as a Celt or a Roman and to find out why, in those days, no-one wore underpants!

The festival organisers have pulled off real coups in relation to icons of Scottish literature John Byrne and Alexander McCall Smith.

Byrne, the Paisley-born artist, designer and playwright creator of hit TV drama Tutti Frutti, will be in Melrose to tell readers about Donald and Benoit: The Story of a Cat and a Boy which he has written and illustrated. It is a whimsical story about a boys’s friendship with a small, mischievous black kitten, originally told to the author’s children as a bedtime story. Donald and Benoits adventures will entertain and amuse readers of all ages.

McCall Smith, too, reveals his talents as a children’s author with Precious and the Monkeys, a jewel of a new tale from the Rhodesian-born writer behind the best-selling The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series. With extracts ready by Vivien Heilbron and music by John Sampson, the warmth of Botswana and its people will come to vivid life.

Elsewhere, the family programme boasts Kristine Stevenson, author of the Sir Charlie Stinky Socks books, Vivien French and Debi Gliori with a special event about witches, and a Mazes and Monsters workshop hosted by author-illustrator Teresa Flavin.

A workshop about the phenomenon that is Flat Stanley and a Beast Quest Challenge will sit alongside story telling and free circus skill activities.

Introduced last year, the Family Day Pass will allow two adults and three children into all the shows listed below for just £20 per day.

Family programme

Saturday, June 18

Roodica the Rude and the Famous Flea Trick with Margaret Ryan, age 5-8, Harmony Marquee, 10.45am, £5.

Write On! Writing competition awards, age 9 plus, Lochcarron Marquee, 11-11.45am, free.

Bookbug Rhyme Session, age 3 and under, Davidson Chalmers Storytelling Tent, 12-12.30pm and 1-1.30pm, free.

Beast Quest Challenge, age 6-9, Festival Marquee, 12noon, £5.

Danny Baker, Record Breaker with Steve Hartley, aged 7 plus, Harmony Marquee, 12.15pm, £5.

Daniel and Benoit: The Story of a Cat and a Boy, with John Byrne, families and age 7 plus, 1.45pm, £5.

Storytime with Mark Timmins, all ages, Davidson Chalmers Storytelling Tent, 2-2.30pm and 3.15-3.45pm, free.

The Murderous Maths of Everything with Kjartan Poskitt, families and age

8 plus, Festival Marquee, 3pm, £5.

Mazes and Monstors Workshop with Teresa Flavin, age 9-12, Davidson Chalmers Storytelling Tent, 4.30pm, £5.

Sunday, June 19

Fun Science: Genetics for Kids with Gill Arbuthnot, families and age 8 plus, Harmony Marquee, 10.45am, £5.

Precious and the Monkeys with Alexander McCall Smith, families and age 8 plus, Festival Marquee, 12 noon, £5.

The Loon on the Moon with Chae Strathie, age 3-7, Harmony Marquee, 12.15pm, £5.

Flat Stanley, age 7-9, Lochcarron Marquee, 12.15pm and 1.45pm, £5 each performance.

Storytime with Mark Timmins, all ages, Davidson Chalmers Storytelling Tent, 1.30-2pm and 2.30-3pm, free.

Which Witch? with Debi Gliori and Vivian French, age 7 plus, Harmony Marquee, 3.15pm, £5.