With a week having whizzed by already since The Biggest Book Show On Earth rolled across the UK and Ireland, it’s time for a little round-up of all the action.
After two filmed events at the Unicorn Theatre in London, starring Chris Riddell, Cressida Cowell, Kiran Millwood Hargrave, Andy Stanton, Julian Clary & David Roberts, Sophy Henn, Rob Biddulph, Nadia Shireen, Lydia Monks and Alex T. Smith (which you can watch here), the tour made its way to the Republic of Ireland for the first of five live stage shows across three countries.
Monday’s show at Liberty Hall in Dublin brought the likes of Sarah Moore Fitzgerald, David O’Doherty & Chris Judge, Derek Landy, E.R Murray and Irish World Book Day author, Gerard Siggins to our excited audience of local school children.
With Derek sharing stories about his multiplying cats and David & Chris running about the audience inventing crazy danger scenarios, the audience were howling with laughter in no time. To top off all the fun, Dublin City Libraries very generously paid for each and every child at the event to take a book home with them afterwards.
Next came a mad dash back to the airport and a flight to Birmingham, followed a few increasingly snowy train journeys to the town of Oswestry on the English/Welsh border, ready for Tuesday’s show at The Marches School.
For this event, we were joined by Andy Griffiths (who joined us from Australia just in time to see his first ever snow!), who taught us about the art of creating MEGA-TREEHOUSES, Katherine Woodfine, Olaf Falafel and his talent for discerning different animal parp noises, Abi Elphinstone, who entranced the audience with tales of her far-flung adventures and Jennifer Bell for a morning of storytelling, reading and laughter, supported along the way by our good friends at Booka Bookshop.
Wednesday’s event took us a hop, skip and a few icy falls over to Aberystwyth on the Welsh coast, to join our friends at the Welsh Books Council. By now things were getting snowier and snowier around the country and we were getting more and more worried that our audience wouldn’t be able to get to us… but get there they did! 700 children filled the Arts Centre to watch Malachy Doyle, Frank Cottrell Boyce, Tracey Corderoy and Steven Lenton talk about their books and share their love of reading. A highlight of the morning was the action-packed Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam-themed game of snakes and ladders and hearing Frank read from his latest book.
And that’s when things got really REALLY COLD!
After seven hours of battling back across Wales and up to the north of England, the BBSOE team arrived in a snow-covered Doncaster. Could the event even go ahead with practically every school in the city closed because of the blizzard? But our valiant director decided THE SHOW MUST GO ON.
We were thrilled to see that over four hundred brave parents and children trudged out in the horrible weather and made it to watch Thursday’s show at The Dome, with Cressida Cowell talking about her incredible new series, The Wizards Of Once, Andy Griffiths, Dermot O’Leary sharing his new book Toto The Ninja Cat and The Great Snake Escape, based on his own cat and Cathy Cassidy with lots of great advice on coming up with writing ideas taking to the stage to spread a little booky-warmth about the place, followed by the announcement of the winner of The Doncaster Book Award, who also hosted our event.
Last (but by no means least) we made it down to a not-so-snowy Brighton for the last leg of our brilliant book-filled tour. We bundled into the Theatre Royal and took over the set of George’s Marvellous Medicine for one last celebration with Pamela Butchart and her BEST CRISP IN THE WORLD writing techniques, Kes Gray & Jim Field introducing us to OI GOAT!, Liz Pichon and her travelling rock band, DUDE3, Adrian Edmondson sharing his latest book Tilly And The Time Machine and The Book Nook, our brilliant partner for this last leg of the tour (we had to admit defeat in the face of The Beast from the East and, very sadly, cancel our event at the Newcastle Theatre Royal as there were no trains!).
All in all, the tour was a busy, noisy, funny, happy, snowy, TERRIFIC EXTRAVAGANZA OF READING! I had a wonderful time, as always, acting as host for each event around the country… and after one bus ride, two tube rides, two airplane flights, eleven train journeys, twelve taxi rides, two filmed events, five live shows, thirty four authors and illustrators, over 800,000 children watching nationwide, an awful lot of snow, gallons of coffee, armfuls of laughs and one fractured ankle… I’d say it’s time we all took a well deserved rest…
‘TIL NEXT YEAR!!!
Steven Butler, host of The Biggest Book Show on Earth and author of The Nothing to See Here Hotel