A short bus ride up the hill from my home in south London is Crystal Palace, once the site of the long-vanished Victorian exhibition hall but now the location of a new festival of children’s books and book art, organised by the brilliant Alex Milway, author of the Mousehunter series.
With the support of the local library, the excellent Bookseller Crow bookshop and trendy gallery/gift shop Smash Bang Wallop, Alex put together a series of workshops, readings and an exhibition to showcase what’s current in comics, book illustration and story-telling.
Sarah McIntyre and protégé outside the Bookseller Crow.
My bus arrived in time for me to catch the tail-end of picture book creator Viviane Schwarz‘s reading. I’d been to the launch of her most recent book There are Cats in this Book some months ago, and it already has a happy place on my bookshelf. Younger readers were obviously charmed by it as much as I am.
Viviane draws for a fan.
I’d missed Sue Eves’ reading but I’m pleased to say that her book The Quiet Woman and the Noisy Dog is also in my growing book collection.
Next up was Guy Bass who gave a lively reading from his funny series about Dinkin Dings (see the author video for a taste of Guy’s entertaining style), the boy who is scared of everything.
Guy does an ‘afraid’ face.
Meanwhile at the library, the workshops were well underway: zombie and monster art, cat costume design, skyscaper creating and horror writing had already taken place by the time Emma Vieceli led a couple of comic book workshops focusing on character design followed by a giant comic jam. Sarah McIntyre, Kate Brown, Gary Northfield, Viviane (and me) took part whilst Garen Ewing documented proceedings for me with my camera. I think the participants enjoyed themselves – they were certainly very enthusiastic and had a real grasp of story-telling, particularly if the stories involved being killed by ninjas. Candy Gourlay has a write-up of the workshop and the rest of the festival here.
We learn how to draw.
Character designers at work. L-r: Gary, Kate, Emma, Viviane, me and Sarah.
Me trying to follow on from Gary in the demo comics jam.
The day finished with a visit to the exhibition at the gloriously named Smash Bang Wallop gallery and a little light refreshment. Some great art on display, with Garen‘s Rainbow Orchid prints looking fantastic (he has plans to sell some from his site) and always nice to see Tozo nestled amongst such good company.
Tozo at the exhibition.
L-r: Shocked Sarah, Viviane and Alexander Gordon Smith (writer of scary ‘Furnace’ books).
I also got the chance to chat more with Sue Eves and Sarwat Chadda author of Devil’s Kiss, the first of a series of exciting adventure novels that is due out shortly.
It was a great day out and Alex deserves so much credit for all the effort he put into organisation and publicity – it certainly went well enough for a second festival to be on the cards for next year and I can’t wait to see what Alex comes up with next!