Here it is, our one stop guide to book events up and down the country, throughout the summer holidays. We’ve got events from Aberdeen to Cornwall, including storytelling in ancient castles, Mad Hatter tea parties in Roman amphitheatres and a chance to take part in a rugby reading challenge. Here’s our round up of what’s going on over the holidays …
Week One (Monday 22nd-Sunday 28th July)
The north of England plays host to some great events to whet your appetite for the holidays. Experience the hardships of World War Two at IWM North, with daily showings of ‘Horrible Histories: Rotten Rationing Big Picture Show. Across the Pennines, Leeds City Museum hosts ‘Through the Magic Mirror’, an exhibition of the work of Yorkshire-born author and illustrator, Anthony Browne. The historic city of York will come alive to the sounds of Camelot as ‘The Legend of King Arthur’ is re-enacted onstage. Prepare to be dazzled by Arthurian knights as they display spectacular sword fights and enjoy the sorcery of Merlin the Wizard.
Whether you’re holidaying in Cornwall or are lucky enough to live there, don’t miss ‘The Tales of Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny’, a great chance for the whole family to rediscover Beatrix Potter’s charming tales and wonder why those rabbits will insist on going into Mr McGregor’s garden! In the capital, the runaway success which is Matilda the Musical continues its hugely-successful run in the West End. Roald Dahl’s book is brought to the stage by the RSC, with music and lyrics by Tim Minchin.
Further east, The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) is holding an Open Day at Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library, officially the UK’s busiest library. As well as viewing the winning entries of a SCBWI-organised illustration competition, there’s also the chance to meet internationally published children’s book writers and illustrators. To round off the week, visit Pickled Pepper Books in Crouch End for a ‘Dandelion Clock Shop’ retelling of the traditional tale Stone Soup.
Week Two (Monday 29th July-Sunday 4th August)
Head along to IWM London as it reopens after major refurbishment work. And what a reopening! With a Horrible Histories: Spies exhibition to attract young visitors, there’ll also be lots of related events going on over the summer, including a visit from Terry Deary and also workshops with the team behind the Horrible Histories live shows. Heading up north, Vivian French, author of the Stargirl Academy series presents ‘Stargirl’ at Seven Stories. Come along to learn some magic spells and find out how to become the perfect fairy godmother.
Author Tom Palmer’s events are not-to-be-missed for young sports fans. Featuring a mix of rugby related questions and a goal-kicking competition, the Rugby Reading Game at Eccles Library will have parents and kids alike brushing up on their rugby trivia. Elsewhere, if you’re looking for a delumptious day out, look no further than Tummytickling Truffles at The Roald Dahl Museum, Bucks. This special event involves Charlie and the Chocolate Factory storytelling, truffle making and a chance to design your own chocolate bar wrapper.
Cardiff residents can look forward to ‘The Gruffalo’s Child’, a Tall Stories Theatre Company production, which follows on from the successful West End run of The Gruffalo. Back in Yorkshire, Harrogate Youth Theatre present a very modern take on Lewis Carroll’s famous books ‘Alice in Wonderland’ and ‘Alice Through The Looking Glass’ with Curiouser and Curiouser. In London, ‘Proms Plus Storytime’ features a creative retelling of Jon Klassen’s I Want My Hat Back with music provided The Britten Sinfonia.
Week Three (Monday 5th August-Sunday 11th August)
If you’re visiting the coast, Daydreams and Diaries:The Story of Jacqueline Wilson is a touring exhibition from Seven Stories and will be at Ferens Art Gallery, Hull until September 2013. Find out what inspired Jacqueline to create her most popular characters, including Tracy Beaker and Hetty Feather and see original illustrations by Nick Sharratt. Londoners can call into Discover Children’s Story Centre for Jonny Duddle’s King of Space storytelling session with the StoryBuilders. In Scotland, parents are invited to bring their under 3s to enjoy songs, rhymes and stories at a ‘Bounce and Rhyme’ session at Drumchapel Library, Glasgow. How well can you remember those nursery rhymes?!
Fancy a sneaky peek at a show before it heads to Edinburgh Fringe Festival? Head to Guildford to see the Yvonne Arnaud Youth Theatre’s interpretation of Rudyard Kipling’s ‘Just So Stories’. Or do you fancy being part of a summer of magic in Manchester? If so, join ‘Enchanting Tales’ at The John Rylands Library. In Wales, there’s a very futuristic take on Jules Verne’s ‘Journey to the Centre of the Earth’ at Wales Millennium Centre. Finally, to round off the week, there’s a great opportunity to join Sally Gardner in a reading workshop in Edinburgh, discussing her novel Maggot Moon.
Week Four (Monday 12th August-Sunday 18th August)
Alex T Smith, author of the Claude books, kicks off the inaugural Cirencester Literary Festival this week. Hope Claude can handle the pressure! Up in Aberdeen, ‘Room on the Broom’, the best-selling book by former Children’s Laureate Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler is brought to the stage by Tall Stories. Will the witch ever find room on the broom for all her friends?
Meanwhile in London, Lauren Child’s Charlie and Lola characters are the stars of Polka Theatre’s production, Charlie and Lola’s Extremely New Play. Then it’s back up to Scotland for Theatre of Widdershin’s production of ‘Rumpelstiltskin and the Wheel of Fortune’ at The Scottish Storytelling Centre. Down in Essex, the creators of the Sam Silver pirate series will be on hand at Just Imagine Story Centre to give an insight into their books and will be happy to sign books after the event. Find out if Sam will have to walk the plank?
Week Five (Monday 19th August-Sunday 25th August)
It may be summer but you’ll be drawn into the magic of Christmas Eve, with ‘Father Christmas Needs a Wee! The Musical’ at Edinburgh Festival Fringe. If you’re at the other end of the country, there’s outdoor theatre with ‘Wind in the Willows’ in the grounds of Nymans, a National Trust property in West Sussex.
Step back in time in Cornwall with ‘King Arthur’s Tales’ at Tintagel Castle; high above Merlin’s cave, let the English Heritage’s storytellers take you back to the days of the Round Table. If you missed the ‘A Squash and a Squeeze: Sharing Stories with Julia Donaldson’ exhibition at Seven Stories, the National Centre for Children’s Books, you can now catch it at Birmingham Museum until November.
North Yorkshire plays host to Galtres Parklands Festival and the theme of this year’s festival is Pirates and Crocodiles. Come along for a feast of storytelling and theatrical fun. Call in to Waterstones Ipswich to meet Gillian McClure and have your copy of her new book ‘We’re Going to Build a Dam‘ signed. You can also take a look at some of the artwork used for the book. At Petworth House, Heartbreak Productions continue their tour combining both of Lewis Carroll’s volumes (Alice in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass).
Week Six (Monday 26th August-Sunday 1st September)
The last week of the holidays gets off to a Gothic start with ‘Dracula’. Could there be a more perfect setting for a performance of ‘Dracula’ than the grounds of Whitby Abbey, which feature in Bram Stoker’s classic Gothic tale? Over in Lancashire, dress up and bring the family to ‘Knights and Princesses Storytime’ at Ansdell Library.
If you’ve got little ones starting school for the first time this September, pop into Waterstones Wandsworth for ‘Let’s Start School Day’ to get them excited about the big day. In London, join former Children’s Laureate, Julia Donaldson when she visits The Children’s Bookshop to celebrate the launch of her new book The Further Adventures of The Owl and The Pussy-Cat. Or do you fancy a game of flamingo croquet? Bring a picnic and join ‘The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party’ at Chester Amphitheatre. Further north, a little piece of Australia comes to Cumbria this summer. After watching ‘The Elephant Bridesmaid’ show, there’s the opportunity to meet the author Steven Lee (the tale comes from How The Koala Learnt To Hug and Other Australian Fairytales). Finally, why not end the holidays in style with an adaptation of ‘We’re Going On A Bear Hunt’, based on the book by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury.