3 November 2016 View Event Photos
The magic of Christmas arrived early in Doncaster this year with a visit from Matt Haig and Chris Mould to launch their brilliant new book The Girl Who Saved Christmas. This was the follow up to last year’s smash hit A Boy Called Christmas (now being made into a film!), and we were delighted to be there and get the first look at the new title.
Hexthorpe Primary was the venue, and played host to seven other schools for a morning of fun and excitement. Despite it being a somewhat dull November morning, Matt and Chris very soon had their audience engaged. In no time at all they were excitedly shouting out Christmas-related words to increase the magic in the room and get the ‘barometer of hope’ needle swinging! Once it was sufficiently ‘Christmassy’, Matt went on to explain how he came up with the original ideas for his stories and then went on to develop these and create an entire magical world. We also met some of the important characters from the new book, all brilliantly brought to life by Chris’ amazing illustrations.
While Matt spoke about the books, Chris worked away at his easel, creating amazing drawings seemingly effortlessly. However when he later showed us his fantastic sketchbooks from the two stories, it is clear that he tries out lots and lots of ideas to create the finished ‘look’ of each character and also the backdrops, be it a snowy landscape or the rooftops of Victorian London. Matt showed us a very speeded-up film of Chris drawing the characters, with the audience guessing who each was as he worked, and we got a special insight into Chris’ artist’s studio via a short film. We were also the very first people to see a short animated film extract in which actress Carey Mulligan read aloud one of the scenes from The Girl who Saved Christmas. As the morning went on we had some great audience participation via an Elf versus Troll competition, with two students from St. Oswald’s in pixie hat and ears, and troll nose and wig respectively, leading the factions. As both made a lot of noise, a dead heat had to be declared!
The morning finished with a lively question and answer session with some really insightful audience questions including ‘which was the first book which made you cry?’ The whole event was really enjoyable and a brilliant insight into the process of creating an illustrated book. It showed how an author and illustrator working together can enhance one another’s work, inspire one another and, in this case most definitely, fire a reader’s imagination and create something truly magical.
Secretary, Doncaster Book Award