Places to Visit

Grimm Welt Kassel


Loving traditional tales, folklore, myths and legends, the stories of the Brothers Grimm have always fascinated me so I was very excited to visit the German city of Kassel this summer. The brothers spent much of their lives living and working here. In 1860,  Jacob Grimm wrote, “The Kassel years were the happiest of our lives...'so it is a fitting home for 'Grimm Welt', an amazing museum dedicated to their lives and work.


As well as collecting traditional tales, the Grimms were linguists and there is much evidence of this on display. They started work on the first German dictionary and from 1838 onwards, the brothers and their assistants searched German literature since Luther for examples of how words were used. Their love of words lead them to feel overwhelmed by the task as they also researched the etymology, word relationships and historic usage of each word. It's little wonder that 21 years after the work was started, Wilhelm Grimm at the time of his death had just finished words beginning with the letter 'd'. Four years later, when Jacob died, the brother had managed to complete A, B, C and E with F only complete as far as the word, 'Frucht'.


The Brothers dictionary included curses and insults, exclamations and insults. One of the exhibits- Little Arse- played with this! When you spoke into the large trumpet shaped sculpture, it hurled insults back at you. One little boy was having great fun with this- you didn't have to speak German to know what was going on!


Although the exhibition contained many fascinating documents relating to and work by the Grimms, it was their 'Children's and Household Tales' that they were most famous for. These were collected by the brothers and were printed 17 times during their lifetimes. The vast majority of the stories were collected from the Hesse region of Germany. Copies with handwritten notes and annotations were on display.


Copies of their stories in many languages were on display, showing a wonderful variety of illustrative styles.


Downstairs, visitors could make their way through the hedge of thorns to the magic mirror on the wall, who after much argument decided that you were the 'fairest of them all'! You could eat with the seven dwarfs, enter the gingerbread house (it smelt wonderful!) and follow the frog prince as he hopped his way across the floor.


A small cinema showed a compilation of film versions of the stories of the Grimms, showing how the same tale has been interpreted in many different ways. Many I recognised, but there there were many more I have never heard of!


A fascinating place about fascinating literary figures. Well worth a visit!

YALC 2018!


It's been a long, hot and busy day, but the atmosphere at YALC 18 was every bit as good as in previous years. I chose to attend on Friday this year as I hoped it would be a bit quieter, but also because it offered a day full of some of my favourite YA authors!


First up for signings were Non Pratt, Sally Green, Sara Barnard and Katherine Woodfine. Having read something by each of these great authors, I was keen to get them signed. I was particularly delighted to get my hands on a copy of 'Taylor and Rose Secret Agents: Peril in Paris' by Katherine Woodfine - a must read for my ever increasing summer 'to be read' pile!


Next were speakers who work in the industry and have written books themselves, allowing them to have an idea of the industry from both sides.  I was particularly keen to meet Chloe Coles whose book, 'Bookshop Girl' really appeals to me for obvious reasons! She was as delightful as I hoped and has the best hair-do!


By this time, the temperature was soaring, but everyone- authors and public alike- continued to be friendly and nice. One of the things I like most about YALC is the incredible mix of people you find there, many of whom are in costume. The signing queues were really long, but it was easy to chat to others who were waiting and each author greeted you with a smile! David Owen, Gayle Forman, Alice Oseman and Lauren Price had some particularly long queues as they chatted happily as they signed copy after copy of their books. 


Alwyn Hamilton, Katherine Webber, Sally Nichols and Sheena Wilkinson formed a panel talking about the centenary of women's suffrage- a session much discussed in the signing queues (I sadly missed this one!). I started 'Only Love Can Break Your Heart' on the train to London this morning so was very keen to meet Katherine Webber as I'm thoroughly enjoying it!


There were plenty of panel talks, workshops and 'Agent Arena' sessions on the go, but the room was also full of publishers enticing us all with a fabulous range of titles- and there was a Waterstones! Temptation was too great much for me and I had a wonderful time selecting a range of new reading material!


I was delighted to bump into Penny from Firefly Press and have a look at their new titles. So much choice!


Somerset publisher, 'Chicken House' were also there- it would have been rude not to support them! At this point, I must remind anyone who is thinking of going to take cash with them as most of the publishers did not take cards. Take lots of cash- it's very easy to go through!


Would I recommend a day- or a weekend- at YALC? Yes, absolutely! There is so much to see and so much to do, so many wonderful authors to listen to and so many lovely people to meet! Treat yourself- it's worth it!


Guest Post: Perrott Hill Children’s Literary Festival 2018

As I was at Hay all over the half term week, I was really disappointed to miss this wonderful local festival- again! It's going in the diary as a definite next year! Fortunately, we are able to share this lovely write up with everyone. 

Storyteller Martin Maudsley in the woods

Storyteller Martin Maudsley in the woods

Two days, nearly 200 children – and a conga led by a storyteller with a ukulele… It can only be the return of the Perrott Hill Children’s Literary Festival at Perrott Hill Prep School near Crewkerne. The event, which took place during half term and was sponsored this year by Old Mill Accountants and Financial Planners, saw children attending from schools all over the South West, including Hinton St George, Merriott, Broadwindsor, Manor Park, Chilthorne Domer, Maiden Beech, Taunton School and Colyton Grammar School, to name a few. The children, ranging from Year 1 up to Year 8, enjoyed a range of inspirational workshops and masterclasses with award-winning authors, poets and storytellers including Ali Sparkes, Cliff McNish, Tamsin Cooke, Martin Maudsley, The Somerset Youth Theatre, The Poetry Slam, our Head of Art, Tabatha Palmer, and Little Toller Books.

Cliff McNish on crafting the perfect story

Cliff McNish on crafting the perfect story

“I loved the stories and music in the woods, which was really exciting,” said Jessica, who is in Year 1 at Broadwindsor Primary School, while her sister Rosie, in Year 4, added: “I loved every minute, especially making new friends.”

Ali Sparkes in the library

Ali Sparkes in the library

“My favourite part was art with Mrs Palmer and meeting Cliff McNish,” said Perrott Hill pupil Harry, who is in Year 5. “I bought all his books afterwards and I’m hoping to get through the whole Doomspell trilogy by the summer so I can write a review.”

A conga around the Front Terrace

A conga around the Front Terrace

“Once again, it was a pleasure to see so many happy and inspired children from a wide range of local schools, all coming together for this celebratory and fun festival,” says Lizzi Gardner, Director of Marketing at Perrott Hill. “One of the highlights for me was the impromptu conga around the Front Terrace during lunch, led by storyteller Martin Maudsley on his ukulele. That’s going to be hard to beat next year – the challenge is on!”