feast of literary fun

Author Alan Windram at the fourth Read-a-licious children's book festival.
Author Alan Windram at the fourth Read-a-licious children's book festival.

Eastgate Theatre, Peebles, was buzzing even more than usual when it welcomed more than a thousand young bookworms to the fourth Read-a-licious children’s book festival.

This year’s event saw more than 1,200 children, from almost a dozen schools across Tweeddale, participate in three days of creative workshops held by acclaimed children’s authors and illustrators, who all shared the secrets of their craft with eager young audiences.

The festival was opened by Emily Dodd – known for her Scottish animal-themed picture books – who delivered lively sessions for groups from St Ronan’s, Walkerburn, Halyrude and Newlands primary schools, and ended with Tom Nicoll, acclaimed author of the There’s a Dragon in My series and Boyband of the Apocalypse, who entertained pupils from St Mary’s in Melrose, as well as St Boswells, Broughton and Priorsford primary schools.

There was a special treat in store for Tom Dolby, a pupil from St Mary’s who brought his class to the festival as a prize for winning the P4-P7 Edinburgh Fringe schools poster competition – with his design one of several used for the 2017 Fringe brochure.

Author Alan Windram, pictured, treated pupils from Priorsford and St Boswells primary schools, plus a group from the Tweeddale Support Unit at Halyrude, to high-energy robot dancing and plenty of audience participation as he revealed more about his new book, One Button Benny.

“The event with Alan Windram was really well thought out,” commented one teacher from the Tweeddale Support Unit. “It was excellent for our additional needs children.”

Scientist and author Gill Arbuthnott spoke about her new book, A Beginner’s Guide to Life on Earth, which is full of fun facts about different life forms – including how the human body is just like a banana! And in a very different session, comic book artist Edward Ross visited Walkerburn Primary School for a workshop on character creation that thrilled the small group of pupils involved.

“This year’s festival was a blast from start to finish, explained Read-a-licious organiser Alex Saunders. “We’d like to thank everyone for coming, and of course the authors and illustrators who made this year’s festival such a resounding success.”