Thursday, 2 October 2014

My First Book Festival

Firstly, allow me to introduce myself - my name's Stephanie Allen & I'm the new PR Executive at Bonnier Publishing. On Monday, on only my second week, I was sent to my very first book festival...

Having joined Bonnier Publishing only one week ago, I was thrilled when I was told I would be going to Bath Children's Festival for my first author event..

I was to meet our fantastic author, Jonathan Litton, at the Guildhall ready for a 45 minute workshop on his book Marvellous Maths.

Armed with my own copy, a stash of post-it notes, Sharpies, and countless sheets of paper and pens, I was ready. (This stash also included tissues, handwipes and a huge bottle of water after being told an amusing but slightly alarming story about allergic children and face paint...)

I've only ever been to Bath once. I was about seven or eight and all I remember is wandering around the Roman baths and posing for photos with an audio guide shaped like one of those clunky mobiles from the 80s. I know I loved it, but I couldn't really remember the city at all.

So when I arrived on Monday morning, I found myself wandering through the streets rather smugly - not only was I being sent to a book festival for work, but I was also walking past beautiful buildings and gorgeous gardens.

I finally arrived at the grand Guildhall, and was directed upstairs to the Writers Room where I met Jonathan. He seemed fairly nervous but we were both well looked after by the wonderful Kate Abbey who directed us to a table where a variety of teas, coffees, chocolate, fruit and even sandwiches awaited us.

As it got closer to our time slot, we were escorted to our room for the workshop.

I say room, it was more like a hall. A very ornately decorated hall.

Huge portrait paintings in gold frames adorned the walls and we were faced with rows upon rows of seats. Around 350 seats in fact. We had an event for 40 children - you can understand why we were nervous!

With just ten minutes until the start of the event, we set about arranging the stage and preparing all the materials for the children (clipboards with paper, pencils, scissors...)

But the second that was done, excitement kicked in and Jonathan was quietly ushered out of the room as the children filed in.

The sound volume increased, clipboards were excitedly picked up then put back down again at the requests of teachers and parents, and when Kate introduced Jonathan to the stage, he enthusiastically bounded into the room, launching into a dynamic and fun session.
Jonathan in action

In just 45 minutes, he covered probability, tessellation - which the children all had to try for themselves and tried to create a human calculator with the help of some fancy dress hats and chocolate!

It was plain to see from the children's faces that they were loving it - they were engaged and lively yet incredibly focused and competitive! (It's amazing how much children will concentrate when they realise there's chocolate on offer!)

After the questions - during which one boy forgot what he was meant to ask and ended up being saved by Jonathan and cooed over by everyone else - we were thanked by lots of smiling faces (both adults and children) who left us saying how much they enjoyed the session.

So for my first book festival...I think it went pretty well.

Now for the next one!!

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