My storytelling events at Hay and Greenwich Book Festivals
By Pippa Goodhart
I’ve been lucky enough to be invited to two literary festivals recently, at each of which I had an audience of young children and their parents for a session that revolved around my picture book, A Bottle of Happiness. First came the Greenwich Book Festival in the beautiful Old Royal Naval College building on the banks of the Thames, and then the amazing huge Hay Festival, held in a sort of tent palace of wonderful tent rooms in a very beautiful part of Wales.
These festival sessions have been a chance to really explore the book, and the ideas carried in its story.
I told the children how Tiny Owl brought beautiful picture books from Iran, translating them into English for us. And how they are now ‘bridging cultures’ by pairing writers and illustrators from different places, with A Bottle of Happiness being the first of those books. We discussed what fables are; stories enjoyed all over the world that demonstrate human truths. We pondered what happiness is. Do we find it? Make it? Get given it? How is it that happiness, when given or shared by us is still with us?
I read the story as the children studied Ehsan Abdollahi’s luminous illustrations on screens.
And then we decided what jokes and loved ones and activities we wanted to put into our own personal bottles of happiness. Then we made those bottles of happiness to take home and keep.
Such nice people came to those sessions, so forthcoming with good ideas! I loved the way the adults, as well as the children, wanted to make bottles of happiness. It was the adults who added ‘health’ and ‘peace’ and ‘time’ to their pots. Quite a number of children wanted ‘treasure’ or ‘money’, and it was interesting to get them to think a bit further on from having that sort of treasure happiness. What would they do with the wealth? ‘Keep it safe’. But what for? ‘I don’t know.’ Would they be able to play with friends if they were having to guard that treasure and make sure nobody else got it? And so on. And the jokes flowed. ‘How does a bee get to school?’ ‘On a buzz!’
On the 1st of July I will be talking about A Bottle of Happiness at Petfringe. Then, in August, there will be a session for children about A Bottle of Happiness at the Edinburgh Book Festival. But, at that occasion, I will be working alongside the book’s illustrator, Ehsan Abdollahi. That is going to be a great treat for me, as well as for the audience!
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