FCBG 50th Anniversary Conference

                Illustration by Nick Sharratt

              Illustration by Nick Sharratt

This weekend, five members of the North Somerset branch of the FCBG headed to Hertfordshire to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Federation at its annual conference. What a weekend we have had! Here is a brief overview- some more detailed posts will follow.

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Having started with the Anniversary tea (involving cake of course!) and the AGM, the publishers had two minutes to share some of their new publications with us. It was how I imagine speed-dating a book would be! It was very exciting to hear about books that are up and coming. I have a long list of things to look out for! 

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After 'Make More Noise', a lively session with Kate Wilson (Nosy Crow), Patrice Lawrence and M G Leonard, we watched Lydia Monks drawing and heard lots about her various projects. The evening closed with a Top Ten Announcement before everyone headed to the bar!

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Day two arrived and we were all up and about bright and early! After a delicious breakfast, we headed to the theatre to hear James Mayhew and Zeb Soanes talking about their new book, 'Gaspard the Fox'- such a lovely book! This was followed by Heather Crossley telling us all about Pat-a-Cake and their books.

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After lots of signing, tea and cake, Alice Curry, Chitra Soundar and Mehrdokht Amini discussed the richness and variety their books and illustrations, a fascinating session offering plenty of food for thought- and humour!

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Everyone had a real treat next as Jacqueline Wilson delighted the audience with her talk before lunch.

Talking to the publishers who attend Conference is a really special part of the weekend and it was lovely to meet up with some old friends and to meet some new faces. Thank you to all the publishers who took time to talk to us and share their books.

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The afternoon session started with workshops and we all separated to enjoy different seminars. Zaro Weil (pictured above) talked passionately and eloquently about the importance and beauty of poetry; Hayley Scott, Tom Pollock and Tony De Saulles also captivated their audiences.

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More tea and cake followed to celebrate 45 years of Usborne books. Imogen White (Rose Muddle Mysteries) and Sophie Anderson (The House with Chicken Legs) entertained us brilliantly whilst we scoffed lovely cupcakes!

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The evening session started with the lovely Sarah Crossan and cocktails before the 'Gala Dinner' when Michael Morpurgo was the keynote speaker. After there was an auction of some amazing art work, donated to the FCBG. We met up with the wonderful Korky Paul in the bar!

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Sunday dawned grey and miserable, but nothing could dim our good spirits as we entered another fabulous day of bookish fun! Jackie Morris and James Mayhew told us all about their joint book, 'Mrs Noah's Pockets' before Robin Stevens and Katherine Woodfine entertained us with tales of murder and mystery!

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More tea and cake should have been followed by Judith Kerr; however, very sadly, she was ill, but we were still treated to pictures and stories about her life from her manager who knows her very well. We all hope she gets better very soon.

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Wonderful picture book creators, Meg McLaren and Lizzy Stewart, told us about their ideas and inspirations and how they came to do what they do! Kaye Umansky was the final speaker of this year's conference with a fabulous session of readings. What a personality- that's how you read aloud!

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It's been a wonderful weekend! Exhausting- but very satisfying. Huge thanks to the organisers-Herts FCBG- and all the lovely people we spent time chatting to and spending time with! Can't wait for next year.