The morning of 12th June was a very exciting one for the DBA as a poet and three fabulous authors joined us at Doncaster Dome for our first ever event aimed at younger readers.
Poetry was very much to the fore at the beginning of the event. The winners of our recent inter-school poetry challenge were announced by Mr Jack Cusworth from Doncaster St. Leger Rotary Club, who kindly sponsored the competition. Polly from Tickhill Estfeld was there to go on stage to receive her prize which was very well deserved.
Next on stage was our host for the day, the wonderful poet Paul Cookson, making a very welcome return following his success at our launch event last September. From the first moment on stage he certainly ensured that the energy levels in the Hall did not flag! The audience (including all the adults!) were soon joining in and doing all the actions to gems such as ‘The Toilet Seat Has Teeth’ and ‘There’s a Crocodile in the House’!
The action didn’t let up as author Suzy Senior took to the stage next to talk about her new book, Octopants, due for release next week. Suzy was inspired to write this story by a little pink Octopus toy that her daughter used to play with in the bath, and she soon had everyone on their feet and joining in with a song about an octopus with no underwear. This involved a lot of ‘tentacle-waving’ and general hilarity and the pictures from her book, by illustrator Clare Powell, which we saw on her presentation as she read aloud from the story looked amazing.
The next author up was Debi Evans, who spoke about her series of books about the fantastical adventures of Rolo, the time-travelling Jack Russell. The audience listened spellbound as Debi described how her character is in fact based on her own pet, Rolo, a little rescue dog with a toffee and chocolate-coloured face (hence the name!) Debi’s presentation cleverly mixed in pictures from her books with cute photos of the real Rolo, as she explained how he had found a magical tree in the forest near their home. This tree has its very own dragon and a time tunnel inside, so that Rolo can go on amazing adventures in time and space. Indeed, Rolo has been able to travel to lots of incredible moments in history, from the Iron age to Tudor times to WW1 and even the 60’s Space Race! He is so clever, he even writes his own blog!
Next, picture books were centre stage, as the amazingly talented author and illustrator Viviane Schwarz took centre stage to talk about her work and read aloud the fabulous Is There a Dog in this Book, demonstrating all the lift-the-flaps and interactive elements to her very attentive audience. Viviane then began to draw live on stage, showing the children how she creates her characters by starting with a shape, and effortlessly demonstrating how posture can convey emotion and show how the characters are feeling. Excitingly she then began to create a storybook from scratch, using ideas called out by the audience. She explained how, when creating a story, you start with a character, give them a problem, introduce another character and then resolve the problem. Our story had a too-happy cat, a confused armadillo, and a two-headed dog controlled by a separate brain - absolutely crazy, but somehow it worked and the children were thrilled to see their ideas coming to life.
Sadly, after some wonderful audience questions, it was time for Paul to draw things to a close with a final poem. Lots of smiling faces were in evidence as the children left the hall so the event was a definite hit. On behalf of the DBA Committee, I’d like to thank the Dome staff for their help and also DFS and the Rotary Club for their invaluable sponsorship and support that made the day possible.
Lyn Hopson, Company Secretary, Doncaster Book Awards Ltd