I'm a children's author, wife and mum in no particular order. I perform these jobs simultaneously and I love them all!

Saturday 8 April 2017

Newcastle Writers Festival Family Fun Day 2017

I'm on a high this evening after just finishing my MC role at the NWF Family Fun Day.

What a day! The sun was shining (thank goodness after all the rain over the last few weeks!) and people came from everywhere to help us celebrate books, reading, story telling and illustrating.

I had spent weeks making sure I had written every guest a very personalised introduction. I'd made sure I knew all the equipment that was needed. I'd checked the sound and the visuals. And finally I made sure the volunteers knew where and how they were needed most. I wanted to make sure everything was as perfect as it could be for everyone.

And I'm proud and honoured to say it was a HUGE success!

The day started with local illustrators Liz Anelli, Gwynne Jones, and Kirrili Lonergan making a new picture book live on stage - a world exclusive! Even though it can take 12 months to illustrate a picture book, these ladies nailed it in 30 minutes. Kids helped contribute collage pieces to the production and the overall result was amazing. What clever ladies!

Newcastle Region Libraries had amazing craft activities set up just outside the marquee so children could wandering in and out and use their creative juices to contribute to a large illustration which will be displayed at the library after the festival.

Next, John 'Stinker' Clarke shared personal stories that helped contribute to his debut children's story, 'The Adventures of Stinker and Stinkpot'. John was funny, educational and very engaging.

My heart skipped a beat when our next guest entered the marquee - the extremely inspiring Jackie French. Jackie and I had met earlier in the Green Room and I was delighted with how she loved coming back to Newcastle and re-experiencing its industrial flavour. We chatted about our mesmerising harbour as she signed some books for me. She even asked me if we could have a selfie! Of course I accepted. She may post that photo on her social media later.

Jackie won hearts and minds in the marquee as she talked about wombats and more wombats. She dramatically read, 'Diary of a Wombat' and then chatted about the pleasure of reading. She had the audience in the palm of her hands.

My heart skipped several beats when our next guest, Richard Roxburgh, visited our space. We were madly setting up clipboards, paper and textas so the kids could draw along with him. Richard drew some of the characters from his new children's book, 'Artie and the Grime Wave'. He was very engaging - you could hear a pin drop in the room. I think Richard would have stayed drawing with the kids all day if we could have let him. I heard a rumour all his books in the festival bookshop sold out too.

Nick Earls was up next and had a hard act to follow - but he nailed it. He shared the origins of several words inspired by his research for his 'Word Hunters' series. It is based on twins Lexi and Al Hunter who find an old dictionary and then their world as they know it changes forever.

The Newcastle Youth Orchestra entertained us next with beautiful orchestral music. The people involved in the orchestra are aged between 10-25 years. Their talent and music filled our marquee with delight - we were in awe :)

And lucky last, Professor Francesca Falconette (Nadia Sunde) had an amazing time entertaining children as we celebrated the 20th anniversary of the release of the first Harry Potter book. Professor Falconette (Professor Frankie for short) was funny, engaging and made every child feel important and special. It was the most perfect way to end such a beautiful day.

Congratulations to everyone involved in making the NWF Family Fun Day come alive. Without every piece of the puzzle it would not have come together so beautifully.

I have heard a rumour late this afternoon there is a very high chance the Family Fun Day will be back next year and I will be the first person to jump on board and help make it happen.

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