In all, this year’s festival saw more than 1,200 nursery, primary and secondary school children from 11 schools across Tweeddale participate in three days of writing sessions and creative workshops held by acclaimed children’s authors and illustrators.
The bulk of the school sessions took place at the Eastgate Theatre, while there were also additional public events at Peebles Library and the Tweeddale Museum & Gallery.
Held in partnership with Peebles Library and Peebles High School during Book Week Scotland, the festival saw a host of big names from children’s writing share the secrets of their craft with eager young audiences.
The festival opened with children’s writer and science and nature enthusiast Emily Dodd as she delivered two sessions for different age groups from St Ronan’s, Walkerburn, Halyrude and Newlands, about her latest book Ollie and the Otter, the latest in her picture books covering Scottish animals,, and ended with Tom Nicol, acclaimed author of the There’s a Dragon in my … series and Boy Band of the Apocalypse, who entertained children from St Mary’s Melrose, as well as St Boswells, Broughton and Priorsford primary schools.
There was a special treat in store for Tom Dolby, a pupil from St Mary’s PS who brought his class to the festival as a prize for winning the Edinburgh Fringe schools poster competition P4-7 category, one of several covers for the 2017 Edinburgh Fringe brochure. As part of his prize, Tom was handed a full set of signed books by Tom Nicol.
The festival also saw the entire S1 year group at Peebles High School attend a session by award-winning author and playwright Cathy Forde who spoke about the inspiration behind her acclaimed novels, capturing their attention with spooky and at times quite violent stories.
Making his second appearance at read-a-licious, author Alan Windram made a winning return to the festival with a very entertaining session. Pupils from Priorsford and St Boswells primary schools, plus a group from the Tweeddale Support Unit at Halyrude, were treated to high energy robot dancing, air guitar playing and plenty of audience participation as Alan spoke about his new book, One Button Benny.
Later, scientist and author Jill Arbuthnott spoke to P3 and P4 pupils from Priorsford about her new book, A Beginner’s Guide to Life on Earth, which is full of fun facts about different life forms – including how the human body is just like a banana!
In what was a slightly different session, comic creator Edward Ross visited Walkerburn Primary School for a lively session on character creation that thrilled the small group of P5-P7 pupils who were involved.
Elsewhere, at Peebles Library and the Anne Younger Studio at the Eastgate, the theatre’s own Anna Nicolson ran a creative workshop on book cover design, Alex Saunders ran Boogie with Books sessions for younger readers based on the wonderful We’re Going on a Bear Hunt; dance tutor Libby Tamang led a creative workshop exploring links between food and emotion; while children’s author Janis Mackay ran creative writing workshops aimed at adults wanting to write fiction for young audiences.
“This year’s festival was an absolute blast from start to finish – we loved having so many happy, engaged children with us here at the theatre, and elsewhere in Peebles,” explained read-a-licious organiser Alex Saunders. “Perhaps best of all is the fact that the festival was attended by so many schools, large and small, from across the Borders.
“We’d like to thank everyone for coming, and of course the professional authors and illustrators who made this year’s festival such a resounding success.”
For more information, contact Alex Saunders, Eastgate Theatre, Peebles EH45 8AD. t. 01721 725777, e. firstname.lastname@example.org