Cardiff will be filled with daring dragons, rainbow fairies and extraordinary aliens as the city hosts its first festival of children’s literature this weekend.
The Cardiff Children’s Literature Festival, which will welcome best-selling children’s authors to the capital, was launched with an official opening ceremony at the Cardiff Story museum yesterday.
Cardiff-based festival illustrator Huw Aaron, who has designed the characters representing the festival, said: “It’s quite a strange sensation to see my little scribbles blown up this big around the city.”
Inspired by Cardiff Castle’s animal wall, Huw drew a monkey, pelican, hyena, racoon and lion to act as mascots for the event.
“The animal wall is one of Cardiff’s most charming features and I really enjoyed bringing some of the creatures to life,” he said.
The illustrator has been working with pupils in 16 schools across the city during workshops promoting reading, writing and drawing.
“Some of the work the kids have produced is of such a high quality that some of us writers and illustrators are getting a bit anxious,” he said.
Huw used to be an accountant, before deciding four years ago that his heart lay in children’s literature.
“I always loved to draw, but I’d never gone down that path. I just love to see children reading books and enjoying it,” he added.
More than 2,500 pupils have so far taken part in workshops.
Event development manager Heather Brown said: “This is about getting children excited about books. So much research has shown that children who read for pleasure get more out of school, so we are trying to inspire youngsters by offering them the chance to engage with their favourite authors.”
She added the generation of youngsters raised on computers games and smart phones are still interested in books.
“The enthusiasm’s still there. It’s great for parents too. There is nothing like sitting down with a small child and reading a favourite book together.
“Take the Hungry Caterpillar for example, you have all kinds of flaps and ways to engage with the book and you cannot do that with a kindle. Children’s books should never be replaced.”
The festival, put together by Literature Wales, Cardiff Council and Cardiff University, has taken a year of planning.
Councillor Huw Thomas, cabinet member for sport, leisure and culture, said: “The joy of reading is one of the most important gifts a child can receive. Reading fires the imagination and expands our horizons. It is our duty to ensure that every child has the best possible access to books.
“I have every confidence that this festival will continue to go from strength to strength.”
During the official launch ceremony, pupils from Radnor Primary School in Canton read an extract from a script they had written.
The festival will last until March 24 and will include talks, workshops and treasures hunts at venues across the city, including Cardiff Castle, City Hall and the Cardiff Story museum.
Here are yourCardiff’s top 10 highlights from across the weekend…
1. Martin Brown Saturday, March 23, at 10am, National Museum Cardiff. £3.50. The Horrible Histories creator will celebrate the 20th anniversary of his popular series.
2. Charlie Higson and Andrew Lane in conversation with Heather Worthington. Thursday, March 21, at 7.30pm in City Hall. Cardiff University’s Dr Heather Worthington talks to Charlie Higson (Young Bond) and Andrew Lane (Young Sherlock) about writing for the young and old, and re-writing famous detectives.
3. The Very Hungry Caterpillar Sunday, March 24, at 4pm, City Hall. £2.50. A celebration of the picture book.
4. Cressida Cowell Sunday, March 24, at 2pm, National Museum Cardiff. £3.50. The best-selling author will discuss her popular How to Train Your Dragon books.
5. Cardiff Zombie Walk Saturday, March 23, at noon. Meet in the foyer of St David’s Hall. £3.50. A walk with Dan Anthony, author of The Rugby Zombies.
6. Create Your Own Comics Saturday, March 23, at 3pm, Cardiff Stor. £2.50. Meet the official festival illustrator Huw Aaron.
7. The Science Fiction of Doctor Who Saturday, March 23, at 5pm, National Museum Cardiff. £3.50. Author Mark Brake and rap artist Jon Chase will give a science lesson with a difference.
8. Michael Farr on Tintin Saturday, March 23, at 5pm, Cardiff Story. £3.50. Michael Farr talks about the graphic novel.
9. Peepo! Storyplaytime Sunday, March 24, at noon, City Hall. £2.50. A fun, interactive event for under-fives.
10. Festival exhibition Tuesday, March 19 to Sunday, April 9, Cardiff Story gallery. Free. Work by local schoolchildren.
For more information on events and tickets, visit the Cardiff Children’s Literature Festival website.