Former Children’s Laureate Jacqueline Wilson, one of the UK’s most highly respected and best loved children’s writers, will be getting the Festival off to a flying start. As President of Shrewsbury Bookfest, she has a particular fondness for the May Festival:
“Children’s authors go all over the world speaking at book festivals. But I can honestly say that I have had the most fun at Shrewsbury and I know all my fellow authors agree with me.”
This will be her sixth visit to Shrewsbury. Her event at Shrewsbury High School on Friday 29th April is expected to sell out within days of tickets being released on 5th March.
Making her debut appearance at the May Festival is multi-million-copy bestselling author, illustrator and TV producer Lauren Child. Author of the phenomenally successful Charlie and Lola books, she will be speaking to Radio Shropshire’s Vicki Archer about her award-winning Clarice Bean novels.
Frank Cottrell Boyce was the official scriptwriter for the 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony and is one of the most respected screenwriters working in the film industry. He also writes books for children and adults. His first ever event for Bookfest, which takes place at The Hive, will be a hilarious whistle-stop tour of the really best things on Earth, according to the fantastic main character of his brand new book, Sputnik's Guide to Life on Earth.
Back by popular demand is Cathy Cassidy, who has a huge following of teen fans across the world. Her event is expected to sell out as quickly as it did when she featured in the Bookfest May Festival in 2014.
Performance poet, comedian and musician John Hegley has been described as “the Spike Milligan for our time”. A regular at the Edinburgh Festival, he has performed his poetry across the network for BBC radio and has produced numerous books of verse and prose pieces. He will be running a Poetry Masterclass at the Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery – a once in a lifetime opportunity for children and their adults to work with him to create poems, songs and art.
Two other household names who will be appearing at the May Festival are relative newcomers to children’s writing. Julian Clary – famous as a TV comedian and entertainer – is now also making his name as author of ‘The Bolds’, a hilarious series of books for children illustrated by award-winning artist David Roberts. They will be appearing together at the Bookfest May Festival in an event that promises to be pure comedy gold for the whole family.
And Tim Bentinck, best known as David Archer in the BBC Radio 4 series ‘The Archers’, will also be coming to the May Festival as author of the children’s book ‘Colin the Campervan’. He will be joined by some of his friends from the VW Campervan Club at Battlefield, where he will be talking about his life as an author, actor, musician and inventor.
Other events taking place during the May Festival weekend include:
* Shaun the Sheep model making workshops by Aardman Animations.
* A chance for Star Wars fans to learn to draw some of their favourite characters with JAke, an official illustrator for Lucas Films.
* A drawing and storytelling event for younger children with ‘Hugless Douglas’ author and illustrator David Melling and the chance for a hug from the bear, Hugless Douglas, himself.
* The Diary of a Wimpy Kid Show.
* Bookfest Quest - Follow the Snail and the Whale’s loopy, curling trail around Shrewsbury town centre to find our amazing snails, win prizes and help us paint the final snail. Plus more free children’s activities centred around the celebration of Julia Donaldson’s books, in The Square, Shrewsbury from 10am to 4pm on Saturday 30th April.
* Rounding off the hectic programme of children’s literary events on Bank Holiday Monday afternoon, is a celebration of the 30th anniversary of the classic children’s picture book ‘Five Minutes’ Peace’.
“This is our 17th Shrewsbury Bookfest May Festival and it’s going to be our busiest and most exciting one yet,” says Festival Coordinator Joanna Hughes. “We really do have something for everyone, from pre-school children to teenagers – whether they’re bookworms or more reluctant readers.”
Tickets for the May Festival events will be on sale from 5th March, from www.shrewsburybookfest.co.uk.
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