Sunday, 21 August 2011
Katie celebrations in Edinburgh
It was such a joy to be back in my favourite city in the world, and a rainbow filled the sky to welcome me. Naturally Katie In Scotland was the main focus, and my first event was at the Book Festival, involving all sorts of monsters, Loch Ness or otherwise. It was a very funny event, with children coming closer and closer to the stage until it became almost a siege of ideas for monsters and lots of laughter. It felt like a slightly crazy but very funny and happy hour.
That evening, the wonderful Sarah Bennett from Orchard Books had organised a lovely dinner with guests from the Scottish Book Trust, the Book Festival commitee, reviewers from The Scotsman and Carousel (Val Bierman who established the Children's Book Festival), and of course my dear friends from the National Galleries of Scotland: Linda and Colin. Spectacular views of the Castle (complete with fireworks) formed an ideal backdrop for a tremendous celebration of Katie.
And then a couple of days later a whole day of events at the National gallery of Scotland were wonderfully well attended, superbly organised by Linda (the dedicatee of Katie in Scotland!) and felt like the icing on the cake. In fact cake is exactly how Sarah and I rounded things off, in the gallery cafe (jolly good hot chocolate and carrot cake!). I just love this gallery, and the openess with which they embrace events for children which is utterly unique. No other gallery does it as well in my experience.
Outside flame-throwers dazzled... while inside, one of my favourite places in the gallery is a stair case with dozens of busts, reminding me of Cocteau's 1946 film "La Belle et La Bete".
The biggest thrill of the day at the gallery was to meet so many children who had entered the Loch Ness Monster competition, and to see their work exhibited in the gallery. From idea to conclusion, this project has taken a long time and a lot of work from many people, especially those at Orchard Books and the gallery. It was lovely, then, that so many children came to meet me at the public storytellings and join in a celeberation that was their triumph as much as Katie's. Imagine being a nine year old girl and having your work published and exhibited (with 19 other runners up) in the NATIONAL GALLERY OF ART in Edinburgh!!!
That girl was Piper and it was a particular pleasure to meet her and her lovely family, who very thoughtfully gave a parcel containing various souvenirs (I was especially pleased with the tartan hip-flask; I've always wanted one!).
All the runners-up got a copy of Katie In Scotland, donated by Orchard Books. I think they all felt very special. I was also thrilled to meet, again, my friends from Glasgow, the Davidsons. They are the family who came from Scotland to Hatfield for last year's Ella Bella concert, and Maddie and Charlotte have now discovered Katie as well! It was also a joy to meet the Mayfields and Anji Spangle, virtual friends made real at last.
It's always strange to return home and get back to work after a week of (lovely) distractions and a very different kind of work. But I do so with warm memories of happy children and enduring friendships.