Hitchin Children’s Book Festival

Being part of the first Hitchin Children’s Book Festival

Danny Pearson, is a writer and editor of children’s books and the Beano. Like me, he grew up in Hitchin and he had the idea that there should be a Hitchin Children’s Book Festival. When he suggested the idea on Twitter, I agreed wholeheartedly. Hitchin is full of young families, so a children’s book festival would be a perfect fit. I jumped at the chance to be a part of it!

Danny set about organising the festival and contacting a couple more local authors and illustrators. Although we initially hoped for a trio, one author/illustrator who was interested had to drop out due to an event scheduled by his publisher. Fortunately, my former tutor, the brilliant James Mayhew was also fully behind the idea of a Hitchin Children’s Book Festival and able to commit. I wrote a little here about how James was a great influence in my becoming a children’s book author and illustrator.

Planning the Hitchin Children’s Book Festival

Danny got in touch with Sam Mason at the Hitchin British Schools Museum. The museum was happy to host the festival. We all met in August to talk through plans for the festival:

First Hitchin Children's Book Planning Committee
The Hitchin Children’s Book Fair ‘Planning Commitee’: Henry, Celestine, me, James Mayhew, Danny Pearson and Sam Mason
Promoting the Hitchin Children’s Book Festival

I was excited to share the news straight away after, but we decided to co-ordinate a reveal in September so it would have the most impact.

Local illustrator/designer, Dan Bramall designed the logo for the festival. Then Danny and his girlfriend put together the official poster for the festival.  

Hitchin Children's Book Festival Poster
The poster for Hitchin Children’s Book Festival

Suddenly the poster started appearing all over Hitchin…

Hitchin Childrens Book Festival poster at Fabios Gelato
Here’s one in the window of Fabios gelato. There’s an ice cream covering my face, but at least it’s a pink one.

Hitchin Childrens Book Festival poster at Hitchin Library
Hitchin library put together this wonderful promotional display.

As this was the first Hitchin Children’s Book Festival, the idea was that it would be a launch platform for future festivals. We agreed to limit the tickets to 60 to keep it manageable. These actually ended up selling out a full month before the festival, just through social media promotion. It seems like a Children’s Book Festival was exactly what Hitchin wanted!

The Day of Hitchin Children’s Book Festival arrives
OUP sent Isadora Moon bookmarks, and Hachette sent Katie postcards for James Mayhew’s series. Danny arranged the HCBF ‘business cards’.
Harriet Muncaster and Danny Pearson at Hitchin Childrens Book Festival
Danny started the day with a cup of tea to get some warmth on his bones.
Danny Pearson sporting his Hitchin Children's Book Festival pin
There were even some great Hitchin Children’s Book Festival pin badges.
My events at Hitchin Children’s Book Festival

The classrooms soon filled up for the author events:

Attendees at Harriet Muncaster's event at Hitchin Children's Book Festival
The rooms were a great size for an intimate event, and the desks made it easy for attendees to practise their drawing.
Harriet Muncaster drawing at Hitchin Childrens Book Festival
I saw some great drawings of Pink Rabbit and Buttons the Bat
Harriet Muncaster drawing an audience member as a Vampire Wizard at Hitchin Childrens Book Festival
We did a ‘what magical creature are you?’ quiz. One audience member came out as a Vampire Wizard hybrid. Here I am drawing her in the Isadora Moon style.
Girl giving Harriet Muncaster her Isadora Moon drawings
This little girl had brought some excellent Isadora Moon drawings of her own to show me.
After my events…
Harriet Muncaster signing Isadora Moon books at Hitchin Childrens Book Festival
…I signed some Isadora Moon books…
Harriet Muncaster with Imajica theatre company at Hitchin Childrens Book Festival
…I got a photo with Alice in Wonderland and the White Rabbit from Imajica theatre…

(Check out Imajica theatre’s Twitter)

Harriet Muncaster answering questions at the end of Hitchin Childrens Book Festival
James Mayhew and I answered some audience questions about our work and our jobs…
Danny Pearson James Mayhew and Harriet Muncaster at the Hitchin Childrens Book Festival
…and we got a photo by the big Hitchin Children’s Book Festival sign.

For a first go at a book festival for children in Hitchin, it ran very smoothly and seemed to be enjoyed by everyone. This was down entirely to the efforts of everyone who helped bring it to life, all of whom helped out as volunteers. 

After the Hitchin Children’s Book Festival

Danny is already thinking about the next festival:

Danny Pearson email about Hitchin Childrens Book Festival next year
There are plans for another Hitchin Children’s Book Festival in summer 2018

We also came away with two of James Mayhew’s latest books. I wanted Katie and the Starry Knight and Henry really liked The Knight Who Took All Day. We bought both! 

James Mayhews dedications in two books
Celestine got two books signed to her by a REAL LIFE AUTHOR!

James was even kind enough to give us / Celestine the illustration he created in his event. Henry loves knights and dragons, so he was really pleased with it. He’s framed it and put it up in Celestine’s room. 

Celestine with her James Mayhew picture
Celestine appreciates original artwork too!

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