Edinburgh goes Bananas about Books
The citizens of Edinburgh have grown accustomed to strange sights over the years during the annual Festival – there’s usually at least one sensation to look out for like last year’s diminutive, half-naked Sankai Juku warriors from Japan who caused a stir by hanging upside down from the walls of the City Chambers! This year – it’s Fungus, of the slime and muck along with Fat Puffin and a Winnie the Pooh hot air balloon that will herald the start of the biggest bean feast of books ever seen in Britain. It’s all part of the first Edinburgh Book Festival which will open in Charlotte Square Gardens in the west end of the city on Sunday, August 21st, until Saturday, September 3rd, from 10 to 8 o’clock each day including Sundays.
The buildings (not tents) are yellow and white weather proof structures complete with carpets, and walkways should we not have our full ration of sunshine. The Children’s Exhibition has its own structure, sponsored by John Menzies and which will house over 2,000 titles, all for sale.
The extensive programme has something for everyone whether you drop in for an hour, or stay all day as there is a restaurant, theatre and adults exhibition on site too. All your favourite authors will be there – Mollie Hunter, Joan Lingard, John Grant and Lavinia Derwent head the Scottish contingent. Shirley Hughes and John Ryan will be drawing and telling stories, Jan Pienkowski will conduct a Paint In and no-one will read poems quite like Mike Rosen! There’s Leon Garfield and Roger McGough for older children and Phoebe Hichens will be revealing all about the Royal Family. No book fair would be complete without Toddy – H.E. Todd telling Bobby Brewster stories in his own inimitable way. An especially welcome visitor will be Anita Desai whose novel `A Village by the Sea‘ (Heinemann) won the 1982 Guardian Award for Children’s Fiction – it’s a wonderful book!
Terrance Dicks will tell you all you want to know about Dr. Who and he’ll be wearing his other hat on August 27th to talk about his work as the script editor for the BBC’s Classic Serial. Sunday August 28th is Book Tower Day, Yorkshire TV’s award-winning programme, when producers Joy Whitby and Doug Wilcox will show how books are chosen for televising and you can realise any secret ambitions to become a Star by having a go at dramatising an extract from a book. Another Star performer will be Tony Hart – from the BBC’s incredible ‘Take Hart‘ programme and Douglas Hill will be flying in from Canada to talk about science fiction.
The list of authors appearing reads like the ideal publishers catalogue with names like Bernard Ashley, Val Biro, Eileen Dunlop, Colin West, Robert Lee, Moira Miller, Antony Kamm, Joe Austen, Colin McLaren and Robert Crowther. You can also find Supergran who will be judging the best dressed Supergran with friend Forrest Wilson, in a fancy dress contest organised by Puffin. Finally, if you were too busy at Christmas and missed it on Channel 4, the delightful film ‘The Snowman‘, adapted from the book by Raymond Briggs, will be shown in the company of Raymond himself – who will also be accompanied by his grubby pal Fungus.
As if this wasn’t enough, on site will be the BBC’s record breaking exhibition `60 Years of Children’s Programmes‘ – perhaps you were one of the 85,000 who queued in London – now is your chance to see it again in more spectacular surroundings!
The adult programme is equally star-studded. As well as the daily `Meet the Author‘ programme at 11.00 a.m. when authors such as Malcolm Bradbury, Fay Weldon and P.D. James will be speaking, there will also be talks, readings and signing sessions. Those visiting during the fortnight include Melvyn Bragg, Tom Sharpe and John Updike making a special trip from the States. You can get gardening advice from Peter Seabrook, find what the Stars have in store from astrologer Kim Tracy and watch the last handloom weaver in Scotland plying his craft.
If you’re visiting Edinburgh on holiday during August, the children can pick up their own passports – devolution has not arrived but the Passport Competition will have! Ten of the city’s museums and galleries are taking part and children go in search of literary clues ranging from the easy to very difficult. It will involve rummaging around graveyards and keeping eyes peeled for plaques and inscriptions on walls, but it can be done in a day (we know, we’ve tried it!). At each venue, the passport holders will have their documents stamped with a delightful rubber stamp individually designed and made by the calligrapher, George Thomson. (If you want to have a go at making your own rubber stamps, get a copy of his book ‘Rubber Stamps and How to Make Them‘ published by Canongate.) The Passports have to be posted in the Book Festival and the prizes are marvellous – trips to either the London Tara Hotel for the weekend or a day’s visit to the BBC’s TV studios with Terrance Dicks for the two first prize winners. Also on offer are £50 of books for second prizes in the two age groups, £25 of books or a Paddington Bear from Collins and runners-up receive copies of the superb Facsimile edition of ‘Treasure Island‘ recently published by Gollancz with wonderful illustrations by N.C. Wyeth. Speaking of ‘Treasure Island‘, some of you may have been on board the steam coaster ‘Robin’ at St. Katherine’s Dock, London, recently to launch the Federation of Children’s Book Groups National Tell A Story Week. In Edinburgh they will be showing the Orson Welles film version of ‘Treasure Island’ (sadly Robert `Aarh, Jim Lad’ Newton’s version is not available) and there will be lots of the Federation’s famous give-aways too in the shape of balloons, stickers plus yet another competition with a £10 book token as a prize to tax your knowledge of RLS himself.
And the cost of all this? Just 50p for children and £I for adults with reduced charges for school parties. For a complete programme and a copy of the splendid Book Festival poster designed for us by Quentin Blake, write to us at the Edinburgh Book Festival, 62, George Street, Edinburgh or phone us on 031 556 3561. We’ll look forward to seeing you there!
Summer Storyboat ’83
Hertfordshire Libraries will be afloat on the canal again.
July 25, 9.30-5.00 Cassiobury Park, Watford: Iris Grender, Jill Tookey, Meryl Doney, Theatre in Education, Playbus, Puffin Club & Philippa Dickenson.
July 26, a.m. Kings Langley; p.m. Apsley: Kite-flying, drawing. Pub evening at The Albion.
July 27, 9.30-5.00 Boxmoor Hemel Hempstead: Pirate Day: Victor Ambrus, Rodney Peppe, Robert Leeson, Andrew Davies.
July 28, 9.30-5.00 Berkhamsted: Sarah Corrin, Jan Mark, Gillian Osband, Sally Gregory.
July 29, 2.00-5.00 Grand Junction Arms, Tring: Meet the Library. Pub evening.