Magnificent Authors and a Fun Fiesta at the Pop Up Festival!

Twas the night before the Pop Up Festival of Stories and my friend Juliet Clare Bell, author of the wonderful Don't Panic, Annika, looked like this:

Clare was staying the night because she was performing the next day as one of the featured authors in my Fiesta themed programme. She offered to help me with whatever I needed to do to get set for the festival but she had no idea how much we had to do!

The Festival was held at the magnificent new Central St Martin's - it was so new that it wasn't on Google Maps yet. I didn't get a chance to snap a photo, but check out this pic of the fountains on Flickr.

This was what the avenue from King's Cross Station to Central St Martin's looked like on the morning of the festival.

The Pop Up is the brain child of children's lit mover and shaker Dylan Calder - it seeks to inspire children and their families through books and stories. The festival is one strand of the Pop Up programme ... and it's totally free!

I was one of the authors and illustrators that Dylan asked to curate a tent for the festival weekend - giving each of us the freedom to create an experience along the Festival's goals.

My big idea was to theme my day on a Filipino-style fiesta - you can see the website I built here.

The experiences were wild and varied - Sarah McIntyre created the Comics Big Top of Awesome!, Marcus Sedgwick themed his on his award-winning vampire book My Swordhand is Singing, Nii Parkes created a preschool experience focused on circles Spinning the Circle, James Mayhew created a Pop Up Picture Pavilion and Laura Dockrill built a Roald Dahl Disco. The Society for Storytelling had storytellers all day telling World Wise Stories!

Central St Martin's students who helped build my Fiesta pavilion at the festival: Camille Leproust (left)  designed an interactive pinata game (see photo below), Joanna Goodman, Bryony Edwards as well as Yonnica Lau (not in picture) created EVERYTHING - even the beanbags. Sandy Lee created the giant pinatas and kindly stayed all day to help - she took most of the photos that feature me in it. Thank you, Sandy! Thank you, Joanna, Bryony, Yonnica and Sandy!

Camille Leproust demonstrates how to play the interactive pinata on the  large plasma screen. It was a HUGE hit with the kids! Thank you, Camille!

We opened with the Young Music Makers Big Band - local teenagers some of whom we knew very well. Thank you to Tom Hewins and Sally Evans of YMM and all the musicians who came! YMM runs a fab music centre in Camden for children from six up. Check out their website

The children danced to the music!

Clare relaxing after her gig while a fan plays with the real Moose from Don't Panic Annika

I asked the authors to dress flamboyantly and colourfully and they obliged (apart from Sarwat ... but that's okay because his t-shirt was hilarious. It said 'Fictional Character') ... (left to right) Jackie Marchant (Dougal Trump), Jon Mayhew (Mortlock), JD Sharpe a.k.a. Jasmine Richards (Oliver Twisted), Sarwat (Ash Mistry)

The first game was a version of Call My Bluff - the authors, put simply, had to LIE to the children. And boy, they did it well. I was the compere and didn't manage to get a shot of the first two panels. But it was hilarious and such fun! Here, all three authors are pretending to be Sarwat (who is on the left). The other two are bestselling picture book author/illustrator Ken Wilson Max and Katie Dale (Someone Else's Life). Did the kids guess correctly? No! They thought Katie was Sarwat!

When Sarwat lies, he has this expression on his face. He was so convincing, nobody believed he wrote his book.

Ken managed to weave African mythology into Sarwat's book (which is set in India).

After the game, Ken performed one of his car books ... he gave the babies cardboard steering wheels, each with ("This steering wheel belongs to ...") and had the children driving around and stopping and going!

The next game was a version of The Voice - but with authors! In the line-up were Katie Dale, Jackie Marchant, Fiona Dunbar (Kitty Slade Mysteries), Inbalie Iserles (Tygrine Cat), Jasmine Richards, Helen Peters (The Secret Hen House Theatre). The Children had to face away, and they could only turn around if they answered a children's book question correctly. (Mums with eyes in the backs of their heads were not allowed to join) ... It was GREAT! 

Then it was Katie Dale's turn to perform her book The Wickedest Witch from her Fairy Tale Twists series.

The children's faces were a picture!

I've really GOT to hurry up and finish with my current tween novel - I want to write even younger fiction so I can spend more time with adorable teenies like these.
then we got ALL the authors on the stage for Author Articulate - it's that game where you put all these names in a hat one member of the team tries to describe what the word is and other team members have to guess what the word is. During the day, magic elves collected character names from random people (well they were my children, not elves, but same thing really). In this case, all the words were children's characters. Prince Charming was a popular name. As well as bizarrely, Jemima Puddle Duck.
Each author had to team up with two children.
Joe Friedman, author of Boobela and Worm, with his team
No I'm not praying - I had to be the mike stand. Here's Clare Bell desperately trying to express herself!
Jon Mayhew with his gang.
Whew! So many competitive authors and children!
Jackie Marchant (it was her first public appearance as an author - well done, Jackie!)
The tension builds.

Fiona Dunbar

Jon Mayhew

... and the winner is: Team Helen Peters (thanks to her daughter Dorothea!)

Time for autographs - the 'sparkly blue one' as Inbali came to be called was rather popular
Oops. I forgot to make supper for my family. Gotta stop blogging now. I leave you with a slideshow of our finale featuring the MAGNIFICENT Filipino dance troop Lahing Kayumanggi - I will tell you about them in another post! But hey - you can tell it was an AMAZING day! So much to say, so little time!

Thank you's to: Hanna Heffner for filling all the big gaps, Clare Bell for just doing on the day (and the night before), Richard for stepping up at the last terrible minute, Aisha, Christiane, Mia, Jack and Nick, the artists from Central St Martin's, Jessica Hudsley, Nichole Dryburgh, Random House Children's publicity team for printing our flyers, to all the publicity departments that sent books, activity kits, bags, and book marks - Orchard, Bloomsbury, Macmillan, Orion, Nosy Crow, Hodder, Harper Collins; thanks to Waterstones Islington for donating bags, all the folks at Young Music Makers, Mary Gibson and Yerbury School, Guardian Open Day, Jon Owen, all my wonderful authors ... and Dylan Calder, a man of vision.