Monthly Archives: April 2010

Fashion with compassion

Hay is four weeks away and we are already having sartorial dilemmas here in the office.  Will it pour down necessitating all our powers of cunning to pull off wellies, macs and layers? Or will the sun beam down gloriously, demanding sandals and skin?

So as we are left constantly refreshing MetCheck in the hope of guidance there will be two ladies at the festival, who will be immaculately dressed not matter what.

First up Sophia Bennett – author of fashion fairytale Threads. Think Ballet Shoes set in the modern day with paper patterns, fabric and passion at its heart. Sophia captures the excitement and eccentricities of the British fashion scene as she whisks readers into the world of four friends Nonie, Jenny, Edie and Crow.   Sophia clearly adores London and it becomes the fifth friend of the set, as the girls regularly pop into the V&A, occasionally walk red carpet in Leicester Square (it’s not what it seems!) and head behind the scenes on Oxford Street.  But this is just to touch the very surface of a book, which has a lot more depth – taking on humanitarian issues without being preachy or patronising.

Gillian Cross is known for her braveness and honestly when it comes to tackling dark subjects – whether it’s the IRA of Wolf or the stalking of Tightrope. Where I Belong sees Gillian delve into immigration, poverty and the world of fashion.  Hay has a strong relationship with Oxfam (see back here for exciting new about Oxfam Bookfest 2010) so it seemed a logical step to get Gillian sitting down with an expert from Oxfam’s humanitarian team to talk about her research into Somalia, terrorism and giving a voice to the unheard.

Over the fence:

Threads – Sophia is an avid blogger , The Time’s goes wild for Book One, plus info and extract of Book Two!

Where I Belong – Mary Hoffman’s Guardian Review, Julia Eccleshare’s verdict and Gillian’s website.

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Animal Rescue

We found a crow in our roof this morning (a bit like this bad boy here).  It was properly exciting.  Ceiling tiles were removed, windows were opened and then the wait began.  An hour later Crow decided he was fed up with all our chatter, came to the hole and flew the length of the office to the end window.  With our first animal rescue of the year out of the way we got to thinking about all the wicked animal events we’ve got at the fest this year.

Lauren St John has had the kind of life most of us only ever dream of. She was raised on a private game reserve in Zimbabwe surrounded by animals in need of care and has continued to raise awareness surrounding conservation and endangered species through her work as a writer.  Her tremendously successful White Giraffe series whisks the reader off to Sawubona Game Reserve in South Africa, where mysteries and adventure abound.  So if  secrets on the Savannah appeal, this is definitely one for you.

Hopefully Lauren will also be able to give Hay a sneak peek of her new project due out in August, the Laura Marlin Mysteries. Her new series, surrounding an 11-year-old girl who idolizes a fictional detective sees Lauren bring her writing back to the British shores.  We love a good bit of Poirot in Cornwall, so this sounds right up our street!

Younger readers who love animals will adore the stories of Holly Webb who is making her Hay debut this year after lots of requests came flooding through our post/inbox this winter.  We have a feeling that this had something to do with the success of Lost in the Snow, Holly’s Christmassy kitten tale.  But we’re all for public demand, so thought we better get her along for a chat.  Holly will also be talking about Rose, a little girl who discovers she is a silver-tongue (when she tells a story the words transform themselves into pictures on shiny surfaces as she speaks).  Rose finds herself in a grand old house as a magician’s apprentice; cue adventures with lost princesses, dark powers and spellbinding twists.

Over the fence: Check out Lauren’s blog for news on her adventures around the world (she’s not long back from Antigua!)

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Colouring in

The first box of Crayola crayons came in a box of eight colours and sold for a nickel in 1903. Now there are more than 120 crayon colours, and over 5 billion crayons are produced each year.

A little fact we thought tied nicely in with the grand announcement of the CILIP Kate Greenaway Shortlist.  We’re super-lucky this year, as we’ve got two of these star illustrators coming to chat with Children’s Laureate Anthony Browne, who has won the award twice himself.  This breakfast session will follow in the footsteps of Shaun Tan, who so brilliantly reminded us at last year’s fest that picture books are for all ages.  So sit back, sip delicious free coffee (or squash, depending on your penchant) and watch Grahame Baker Smith and Viviane Schwarz draw and discuss illustration.

Actually we’re having a bit of a big up for illustrators this year and not just the pros.  The House of Illustration’s genius What Are You Like? exhibition is taking up home in the Hay Fever Space.  Lots of famous folk have been brought together and asked to describe themselves with images of their favourite things (e.g chocolate, bike rides, Leo Tolstoy).  Each one of them took a different approach and we’re purposefully not going to label them, so you can play ‘Guess who drew…’ and discover the famous faces behind these unique portraits.  Then it’s over to you to create your very own self-portrait for the public gallery in the Good Goody Gumdrops Cafe.

Plus keep an eye out for all these other talented illustrators appearing at the fest this year – we’ll be sure to come back to a few in future posts, promise.

Quentin Blake (our official illustrator for 2010), Ben Cort, Andi Watson, Sam Lloyd, Nick Sharratt, Jim Downer, Nicola Killen, Anthony Browne, Martin Rowson, Simon Bartram, Ian Culbard, Korky Paul, Garen Ewing and Karen Wall.

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Happy Birthday Shakespeare!

If the bard were alive today he’d be blowing out 446 birthday candles, on what we can only imagine would be a humungous cake.

There’s a sprinkling of Shakespeare at Hay this year.  Deborah Newbold, the Globe’s very own principal storyteller, will be spinning the lyrical tales of Romeo & Juliet and King Lear for her audiences’ delight.  This is a fantastic opportunity to revisit or be introduced to some of Will’s greatest work.  Cue love, betrayal, madness, duels and royalty.  Sounds like a good way to spend a morning to us!

Oh and we probably shouldn’t forget St George, it’s his day too.  Go George!

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Pseudonyms & Spartans

Pseudonyms spell secrecy, intrigue and eventual expose – so basically drama all round and who doesn’t love a bit of drama (except perhaps Mary J Blige)?

Which leads us nicely round to the not-so-secret pen name Zizou Corder, who is (or should that be are?) appearing at Hay. Louisa Young and her daughter Isabel Adomakoh Young will be taking to the stage to look at myths, mysteries and m…no, we’ve run out…heart-stopping adventures.  With more Spartans than you can shake a stick at, their new stand alone book Halo will sweep you away to the heat and the dirt of Ancient Greece.  One of the key things we loved about this book was that Halo follows in the footsteps of some literature’s strongest leading ladies (Athena, Viola, Rosalind etc.) and is forced to disguise herself as a boy.  Secrets and lies, obviously, swiftly follow.

The nutshell: Washed up on the island of Zakynthos as a baby (Moses-style), Hero is discovered by a family of centaurs who take her in and raise her as their own. But, years later, she is dragged away by wild fishermen and her odyssey to discover who she really is begins.  One to bring out the Greek geek in us all.

Over the fence: Read extracts of all Zizou’s books on ‘his’ official website.  There’s a blog too, but it’s a little quiet  at the moment, maybe the sun will bring ‘him’ out.

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At the movies

Ah, summer.  A time of ice creams, strawberries and, in the great British fashion, holing ourselves away in a darkened room. We do love a good summer blockbuster though, in fact we love spring blockbusters (if there is such a thing, perhaps they’re just movies) and generally going to the cinema.  So thank goodness we just so happen to have a cinema on site in May!

So as we eagerly await Iron Man 2 (30 April – eek!), Robin Hood (14 May),  Twilight: Eclipse (9 July) and Toy Story 3 (23 July) we thought we’d let you in on a glimpse of life in L-HAY (sorry, awful pun!)

Cressida Cowell

The stupendous writer of How To Train Your Dragon, which just so happens to be the best received movie of the year thus far, chats about her star creation Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III, dragons and Dreamworks.  Cressida went down a storm last year and we were pretty gutted that rushes of the film weren’t available, but being a whole year ahead of ourselves with excitement we won’t hold it against the studio.  So this year she is back, full of tales of her adventures and where she plans on taking Hiccup, Fishlegs and Toothless next.  Plus we have film clips, so you’ll be able to see Cressida’s favourite bits, so it will be like a live DVD extras – genius!

Peter Lord, co-founder of the really quite amazing Aardman Studios is popping to Hay to say hello and chat to us for a bit.  He’ll be tracing Aardman’s hits and hitches, as well as giving us an exclusive class in how to create one of Aardman’s most famous figures.  Be warned – there will be prizes! So get those crafting fingers at the ready, as we’ll be sending you away to get busy and send pictures of the results.

Eat My Shorts! is our way of sharing our love of films with you and we thought it was high time Hay Fever got involved in The Ritzy screenings.  The search for films threw up all sorts of magical places on the web that we didn’t know even existed; pockets of quality short films just waiting to be watched.  So if anything we hope this event will encourage you to go forth on a filmic quest of discovery.

If this wasn’t enough UK Youth will be running free (yes, we did just say free!) film workshops from their exhibition stand on site to celebrate their centenary.  Keep an eye on this blog for more UK Youth updates, as they have plenty more treats up their sleeves.

Finally…Some of our fave movie quotes that we like to use in everyday life to add a little Hollywood sparkle to our day:

“Here’s looking at you, kid.” Casablanca

“Inconceivable! Princess Bride (all about the tone obviously. Such a brilliant film, but still getting over Vizzini appearing in Gossip Girl)

“Run Forrest, run” Forrest Gump (done in our best deep south twang in times of extreme rush)

“You might have seen a housefly, maybe even a superfly, but I bet you ain’t never seen a donkey fly.” Shrek (we admit only very rarely, as it’s quite a chunky one)

“To infinity, and beyond!” Toy Story (expecting a summer 2010 revival)

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Football Frenzy

This summer no one will be able to escape the World Cup and this is one bandwagon we’re not ashamed to hop onto.  So before you get those facepaints out and bbq mits dusted off for June, Hay Fever is here to help take your mind off Rooney’s Bambi-like fragility and Capello’s shrinking squad in the run up.

Tom Palmer, the creator of two stormingly successful football series (Football Detective & Football Academy) will be in Hay to put our football knowledge to the ultimate test.  So if you know your Mourinho from your Mancini this is the place for you.  Then you take over the quizzing to find out how Tom’s writing has led him around the world, into opera (yes, a football one!) and onto the rugby pitch.

Make sure you get polishing your facts as well as your footwork, as there will be a chance to go head to head in penalty shoot out.  And if you’re feet are still itching to score a goal or two, stop by the Mess Tent on the first weekend and meet the lovely Oxfam Cymru team with 1GOAL. They’ll be on hand with fair-trade footballs and a goal, to help raise awareness about obstacles education around the world and how we can help.

The nutshell:

The Football Detective series follows fourteen year-old Danny Harte as he investigates football crimes.  Think kidnapped players, fixed games and murdered managers. The Football Academy series revolves around an under-twelve Premier League academy side with a book on each of the players in the team.  Off Side and The Secret Football Club are both out in May.

Over the fence:

Tom’s blog keeps readers up to date with all his plans while his website holds even more on his series and forthcoming work.  The National Literacy Trust have quite brilliantly teamed up with Tom to link up the World Cup and reading, so check out their site for games, activities and one-off short stories.

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Mischief in the making.

We love a good jape here in the office, particularly those involving chairs (the swapping of) and jumping (from behind doors).  So we suspect that’s why Francesca Simon, the beloved creator of Horrid Henry, fits in so well at Hay Fever. We’re super-excited that she’s back this year (as she’s somewhat of a super-star, having sold over 12 million books!!) and ready to make you laugh, squirm and generally feel pretty angelic in comparison to her little monster.  So get ready to polish your halos peeps, as Francesca brings us even more tales of trouble.

The nutshell:

Horrid Henry is the ultimate anti-hero for children.  Getting into all sorts of scrapes he is accompanied in his adventures by a whole cast of characters (there really are a squillion) including his brother Perfect Peter, his long suffering parents, Fang the hamster and his archenemy/next door neighbour Moody Margaret.

Over the fence:

Keep up to date with all Francesca’s goings on at and find out how Henry’s gone global (he’s called Martin Zinzin in France!)

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Miss Glister Butterworth

When we first saw Andi’s style in the office we immediately thought ‘Posy Simmonds for children’.  The drawings have a real charm and the simple attention to detail in the frames will have you reaching for a pencil without even noticing.  The thought that has gone into even the smallest of things, such as the illustrated recipes, silent short stories and activities on the inside covers, hint that these are the type of books, which memories are made of.

Andi Watson, the creator of the beautiful Glister series, will be in Hay over the first weekend of the fest (Sunday 30 May) to make up a whole new adventure with a lot of help.  Although these books are clearly marketed at girls, with sorbet shades and illustrated sparkle, Andi’s Hay event will definitely appeal to boys and girls.

The nutshell:

Glister lives with her father in the rambling and just a little bit magical Chilblain Hall (extra wings appear overnight, an Eygptian room arrived after tea in 1805 and decided to stay…). A magnet for the weird and wonderful Glister often finds her hands full with strange goings on, including haunted teapots, disappearing houses and family trees.  British eccentricity with magical fairytale twists.

Over the fence:

Andi’s Blog lists out some of the reviews, as well as giving previews of up and coming work to keep an eye out for.

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Testing, testing…

Welcome to our first ever post! We’re super-excited about entering the blogosphere, it’s long overdue and means we can keep regularly updating everyone on Hay Fever goings on and things we love without any fiddly website bobbins.

In the build up to Hay May we’ll be getting into the swing of daily posts (we know, we fear typing exhaustion already!) to let you know about happenings across the nine days.  Ten to thirty words of love in the programme quite often just isn’t enough to let you know how excited we are about an event.  Plus there’s often a lot of stuff not in the programme, which may slip under the radar, so the blog is here to remedy all that.  Then throughout the festival proper we’ll be calling on some friends, who just so happen to write a heck of a lot better than us, to scribble some guest posts live from the green room.

So ttfn (jaffa cakes call!)

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