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Children's Publishing (20/07/2020)

Cressida Cowell’s Creativity Summer Camp: Creative Fun for All the Family!

It may not feel like it after months of lockdown, but it’s nearly the summer holidays! For kids, this can mean weeks on end of having fun, getting out in the sunshine and running wild… and for adults, weeks on end of trying to work out how to keep them entertained.

But never fear! BookTrust and the Children’s Laureate Cressida Cowell are coming to the rescue from her Writing Shed at the bottom of her gorgeous garden. Cressida’s Creativity Summer Camp launched on 5 July, bringing with it a whole host of interactive, creative activities for children to have fun with at home. The summer camp style event ran 6–10 July (Monday to Friday), but the resources will be available all summer long – and there’s loads to get stuck into.

On Monday, children had the opportunity to submit their work and have it displayed alongside that of former Children’s Laureates Michael Morpurgo, Anne Fine and Lauren Child in the “Laureate Gallery.” There were comics, monsters, dinosaurs and unicorns – the creativity was amazing! If you know any young artists, they can still submit their work via the BookTrust website.

Children could follow along with “drawing masterclasses” hosted by top illustrators on Tuesday. Sarah McIntyre, author and illustrator of Grumpycorn, showed us how to draw Grumpycorn blasting off into space in a rocket ship. She did this from her amazing studio, which was bursting at the seams with illustrations, books and colour. The masterclasses are a great opportunity for children and their parents and guardians to get creative and learn together at a time when closeness is more important than ever.

When asked why she was launching the scheme, Cowell said that:

“Creative thinking and creative confidence nurture essential benefits for everything we do: vital to all careers, to societal development and the building of empathy, and, of utmost importance now, in providing solace and supporting our own mental wellbeing and personal growth.”

(Cressida Cowell for BookTrust, 2020)

Worldwide unity was the theme on Thursday – which also marked one year since Cowell became Children’s Laureate. Authors from a variety of countries, including Ursula Dubosarsky from Australia, Manon Sikkel from the Netherlands and Jason Reynolds from the USA, teamed up to deliver the Read Around The World series. Hosted on YouTube, this featured brilliant videos of authors reading from their newest and most popular titles.

Photo by Roger Green

This series is a fantastic way to get children into reading if you can’t get them to pick up a book over the summer. Even if you don’t have children, the videos act as wonderfully soothing audiobooks (and a chance to take a peek into the homes of some of our favourite children’s authors!).

The big names didn’t stop there. On Monday, authors and illustrators Liz Pichon, David Almond, Dapo Adeola, Chris Riddell and Allen Fatimaharan talked through some of their work-in-progress notebooks, giving us a look at what’s coming up in the world of children’s books. This was particularly special because they talked in-depth about their processes.

David Almond acknowledged that his sketchbook “looks pretty messy, but isn’t that how our minds are?” Liz Pichon showed viewers how she produces her idea storyboards. This series is definitely not one to miss for any aspiring young illustrators out there. You can check out some images from the sketchbooks over on the BookTrust website.

If you know a child who is into poetry, there’s a day for them! Wednesday was “Poetry and Performance” day, with the Young People’s Laureate for London Theresa Lola giving her top tips on writing poetry and coming up with creative ideas. As she says, “you can never run out of creative ways to tell our stories.”

All in all, it was a fantastic week for everyone who loves children’s books. You can find all of the videos produced as part of Cressida’s Creativity Summer Camp over on the BookTrust YouTube Channel. Happy creating!

Nosy Crow’s Free Coronavirus Information Book

Photo courtesy of the Nosy Crow blog

Coronavirus: A book for children is a free digital information guide to Covid-19 that is available in over sixty different languages. It is written by Elizabeth Jenner, Kate Wilson and Nia Roberts and illustrated by Axel Scheffler (most known for the Gruffalo). Professor Graham Medley (Professor of Infectious Disease Modelling) was brought in as a consultant; as the guide also draws on advice from two head teachers and a child psychologist. Using language appropriate for 5–9-year-olds, it answers the key questions that children are asking, including:

  • What is the coronavirus?

  • How do you catch it and what happens if you do?

  • Is there a cure?

  • What’s going to happen when the coronavirus has gone?

This is a very unusual situation to be in; how to tell your children about a global pandemic isn’t something that is taught in most parenting books. Consequently, many parents are unsure how to go about it. This book, which should be commended for its speed of production, is the perfect resource to educate and reassure children in these difficult times. It has informative and detailed answers paired with inclusive illustrations. According to Professor Graham Medley:

“This book puts children IN the picture rather [than] just watching it happen, and in a way that makes the scary parts easier to cope with.”

It’s available to download on the Nosy Crow blog, or you can listen to it as an audiobook for free on Soundcloud (narrated by the soothing voice of Hugh Bonneville).


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