Bath Festival 2015

The Bath Children’s Festival started in style this year with the amazing Judith Kerr at the Opening Night Event.

Talking about her life and her work, Judith had the audience completely enchanted. Her gentle humour and fascinating stories made the hour pass all too soon- I could have listened to her all night!


Her new book, Mr Cleghorn’s Seal, is based on something that happened to her father. When he was in Normandy, a fisherman was culling seals and accidentally shot a mother who had a pup. Not wanting the cub to be killed, as it would have died if left alone, Judith's father took it back to Berlin where he tried to care for it. Sadly, it didn’t end well for the seal pup, but being fond of it, her father had it stuffed after it died. Judith remembers sitting and stroking this as a child.

In the story, the seal survives (thank goodness!). Mr Cleghorn’s Seal is a beautiful book, full of wonderful pencil drawings, and will no doubt join other Judith Kerr books on the modern classics’ shelf!


Saturday was full of great events. I particularly enjoyed hearing from the ‘rising stars’ panel. Martyn Ford, David Solomons and Sibéal Pounder. They talked about three funny and enjoyable books- The Imagination Box, My Brother is a Superhero, Witch Wars- which would appeal to KS2 children. Well worth a look for teachers wanting to offer their pupils humorous, independent reads.

Sunday’s highlight for me had to be Shifty Mcgifty and Slippery Sam with their creators, Tracey Corderoy and Steven Lenton. Their session was pitched perfectly for the children and was very entertaining. Not only did they share their stories and teach us how to draw Sam, they also played some excellent games with the children. Very inspirational- and great fun!

I also thought I’d mention another Sunday session- Sarah Crossan, Sarah Benwell and Virginia Bergin. Very much at the other end of the teaching spectrum, these three authors have written challenging, thought-provoking stories for older children.

One , by Sarah Crossan, I have read and cried over. It is a moving story about conjoined twins told in verse. A challenging piece of writing, both in terms of the subject matter and style, this would make an interesting book group discussion text.

The Rain and The Storm (Virginia Bergin) are both compelling books about Ruby, a very normal, quite infuriating teenager, who finds herself trying to survive in a world where one drop of water will kill you. Tense, thrilling and terrifying in places, this is a book with a very believable teenager fighting to survive whilst moaning and trying to make sure she has a supply of make up! A great read for the more thinking YA reader!

Not having read The Last Leaves Falling, it was very interesting to hear Sarah Benwell speak about her writing. Again, challenging and thought provoking subject matter should make this an interesting read- one for half term!

I’m looking forward to next weekend and the treats on offer then!

This is the opinion of one member of the group and has no bearing on the awards.