Saturday 14 and Sunday 15 May 2016

LONDON, 10 May 2015 – The team behind the hugely successful Barnes Children’s Literature Festival which took place on Saturday 25 April have already announced the dates for next year’s event: Saturday 14 and Sunday 15 May 2016.

Barnes village was bursting with around two thousand young book fans and their families for the first festival which took place at six venues around Barnes Pond.

There were more than twenty events running throughout the day starring some of the biggest names writing for children such as the co-creator of The Gruffalo Axel Scheffler, Carnegie Medallist, Sally Gardner, and the winner of The Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize, Piers Torday who revealed that a childhood encounter with Roald Dahl inspired him to start writing.

They were joined by some of the best authors and artists living and working in Barnes, including Roald Dahl Funny Prize Winner Jim Smith, Marcia Williams and David Mackintosh, whose most recent title Lucky has been featured in The New York Times.

The Festival was opened by Holly Willoughby, and her sister, Kelly, who delighted their young fans with a reading from Double Trouble, the latest book in their hugely popular series set in a stage school, L’Etoile:School for Stars. The much loved television star who lives in Barnes with her young family said that ‘Barnes was the loveliest village in London.’

Holly said: ‘It’s a great place for families with a real community feel’ and ‘that she couldn’t wait to be part of the fun on the day.’

More than half of the sessions were sold out before Saturday. Amongst the first to sell out were the live drawing demonstrations by the co-creator of The Gruffalo, Axel Scheffler, and the illustrator from Horrible Histories, Martin Brown. Afterwards more than two hundred people waited up to two hours for Axel to sign their copies.

The Barnes festival was founded with the aim of presenting some of children’s literature’s best known names alongside a few special treats that the audience will be unlikely to see anywhere else. A highlight of the first programme was the UK premiere of the stage version of Chris Haughton’s award winning picture book A Bit Lost by the Boulevardteatern from Stockholm in their first ever performances in London.

There was also the first ever festival appearance by the sensational 15 year old local schoolgirl Helena Coggan who has just had her novel The Catalyst published, the first in a three book deal. Helena was interviewed by the children’s books editor from The Guardian, Julia Eccleshare. ‘If you really want to write,’ Helena said ‘then you don’t need me to tell you. It doesn’t matter that you’re a teenager, that’s not going to stop you.’

The Festival finale came from Britain’s best loved poet and long time local resident, Roger McGough. A champion of poetry for children, he kept the kids laughing with criminal cats, and amusing emus, in fact a menagerie of animals, as well as some of his classics like ‘The Sound Collector.’

The Festival was supported by the Barnes Community Association (BCA) and the OSO, and was presented in partnership with Barnes Bookshop and Olympic Studios. It was made possible by the contributions of forty-three volunteers from the BCA, the OSO, Barnes Literary Society and students from Roehampton University.

The organisers were also grateful for the support of the Barnes Property Partnership, a family owned company that is committed to donating 5% of their profits to charities and good causes in Barnes.

A percentage of all books sold on the day, as well as any profit from ticket sales, will be donated to local primary schools libraries.

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