This year’s launch event was our biggest and best ever, with over 1000 children taking part in a really fun-filled day. From a morning of poetry with A F Harrold, Suzy Senior and our very own Phil Sheppard, to Talegate Theatre’s crowd-surfing giant loo roll (really!!) to our author and illustrator event with Julian Clary and David Roberts, it certainly was an action-packed event.
As last year, our venue was the fantastic Doncaster Dome. From mid-morning, when the tiers of seats began to fill, there was an amazing air of anticipation and it was wonderful to sense all this excitement around books and reading.
The morning poetry slam, celebrating this year’s ‘classics’ theme, proved a brilliant start to the event. On stage, Phil and Suzy both quickly had the children laughing and calling out responses, and when A F Harrold came on, the fun level, if anything, was further ramped up. His unique delivery and habit of climbing over the seats in the auditorium to ensure maximum audience participation may have given the organisers slight cause for concern regarding insurance, but went down a storm with the young people listening! Who knew that thinking about what you had for breakfast could be so funny? I know I for one will never look at a yoghurt in quite the same way again...!
After a break for lunch and a chance to buy some books and chat to the two poets, it was time for the always fabulous Talegate Theatre to take the stage with a hilarious extract from their show ‘The Giant’s Loo Roll‘. The audience loved this, especially when they launched a huge inflatable toilet roll off the stage and into the auditorium where, enthusiastically propelled by many hands, it crowd-surfed its way over their heads.
Finally it was time for ‘Bolds’ author Julian Clary and illustrator David Roberts to take to the stage. Julian explained his inspiration for his very funny stories about a family of hyenas living incognito in suburbia, and how he has since developed the idea into a series of books. David spoke how much fun he had taking Julian’s ideas and using them to create the pictures that help bring the books to life. With helpful suggestions from the audience he created some fantastic pictures live on stage, while Julian too had a go at drawing, with somewhat less success! We were also treated to some extracts from later books in the series, which, from conversations afterwards, definitely whetted some reading appetites. The event finished with James and his colleague running frantically around the audience with mikes, for an extended and really enjoyable question and answer session with the two start guests.
To the delight of the children, David and Julian kindly stayed on for over an hour after the event, meeting groups of children and signing books. Due to the sheer numbers attending, this had to be organised almost like a military operation to try and ensure everyone had a chance for a photo! All in all, a fantastic event and we look forward to more great stuff to come throughout the year.
Secretary, Doncaster Book Award