Saturday, 27 August 2011
I've a feeling November will be here faster than I think, so I'm busy researching and learning stories from the Arabian Nights for this exciting concert with my regular collaborators, the de Havilland Philharmonic. I adore this music and I think it will be a really special, magical afternoon. As usual with my children's concerts, I'll be illustrating the tales live on stage as the orchestra plays. Expect swashbuckling stories about Sinbad and magical tales of geniis, princesses and monsters!
The concert, in Hatfield (just outside North London) will be my fifth with this orchestra and Robin Browning. I hope some of you can come along and join in the fun... and hear some fabulous music... and some amazing stories. You'll even have a chance to WIN one of the pictures I'll be creating during the concert!
Booking opens on Tuesday August 30th.
Box office: 01707 281127
CLICK HERE FOR THE THEATRE WEBSITE
Sunday, 21 August 2011
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.
Friday, 12 August 2011
Apart from a cover design, the 12th Katie book is finished and safely delivered to Orchard Books. They seemed to like it. I'm pretty pleased and think it has something a bit special about it, I must admit. A dream like quality that I'm a tiny bit excited about.
As always when a book is finished, I feel a bit bereft. Nevertheless this feels like a good moment to pause, and so I told my editor yesterday that I have decided that Katie will take a break for a while now. Indeed, it feels like this could be a fitting end to this series.
Katie will not quite disappear from my radar as I will be involved with the Splats Entertainment theatre show of Katie over the next year. And who knows what the future will bring...?
So it may not be farewell, only au revoir...
But after a quarter century of Katie, it feels just a bit like the end of an era.
Tuesday, 2 August 2011
Come on James! You can do it! Step AWAY from the computer and pick up that brush! There's light at the end of the tunnel. One more big push and you'll be there. Think of it... No more early starts and late nights. No more blues and yellows swirling before your eyes. No more thinking about cutting off your own ear. That HAS to be a good thing. So... Go, go, go!