Bunting and tea and cake with Lauren Child in the party tent

It’s been a fairly whirlwind weekend. The family and I started off by decorating a huge tent with yards of floral bunting and fairy lights for a Ryedale Book Festival event I was hosting with Lauren Child.

Ted with his nose pressed up against the tent

Ted with his nose pressed up against the tent

Lauren is the creator of Charlie and Lola, Clarice Bean and many more wonderful picture books which all have detailed pictures of homely interiors so we also recreated a cosy living room in one corner of the tent with armchairs, a rocking chair and crochet throws.

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The living room set

The event took place on Sunday afternoon in the grounds of The Old Lodge, an old 17th century Tudor Lodge in Malton, where the marquee had been put up. As her books are so visual, the event started off with Lauren showing the young audience how she creates her collages using textiles, wallpaper and colour. It was fascinating to see her process of work and made me realise that she is as much an artist as an author.

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Lauren explaining how she creates her illustrations

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Lauren explaining how she creates her collages

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Lauren’s collection of books

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Actress Cal Stockbridge gives a wonderful reading of Clarice Bean

We had a lovely reading of Clarice Bean, That’s Me, by actress Cal Stockbridge, who brought the characters to life with her wonderful way of storytelling.

Then it was over to me to do an interview with her asking her about her books, characters and her work. She is a great interviewee and had lots to say that kept the kids enthralled for over an hour. The kids, of course, had their own questions. It was hard keeping track of all the little hands that kept shooting up in front of us to ask a question.

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Getting started with my questions

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Lauren gets into full swing

After the questions there was a tea party and quiz activities and Lauren was happy to sign books which was hugely popular with her young fans as they waited patiently with books tucked under their arms for her to sign. She gave each of them a lot of time and a chance for a bit more chatter.

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Young fans getting their books signed

Lauren’s personal style is a bit like her books, she has an original look – for this event she wore a pretty patterned dress and pink cardigan teamed with a sturdy pair of black Dr Marten boots.

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A hundred Charlie and Lola bags holding the party tea

The event inevitably over-ran. Maybe it’s best not to put a time limit on such events. In the end myself and the team went with the flow and adapted to the ever-changing format of the day.

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Happy Birthday Charlie and Lola. 15 years old today!

There was a happy birthday to Charlie and Lola who are 15 this year – and we sang happy birthday again as two of the children in the audience also had a birthday – although not that old!

We were lucky enough to have some quiet time with Lauren afterwards to enjoy tea, cake and fizz. My boys thoroughly enjoyed the event. My eldest son came into his own helping with tasks and even trying to sort out Lauren’s powerpoint which she had planned to use before deciding on the artwork presentation.

All in all, it was a great afternoon and a fantastic experience which we will all remember.

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A great day in the party tent

All photos above courtesy of Tom Needham

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Joseph and William with Lauren Child

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