Post By Happy Homemaker UK

My first job ever was at my college/uni library
(I tried to get work in high school, but I was plagued by looking illegally young)
- I'm not plagued by that anymore, btw :) -

And almost ever since, I have worked, paid and unpaid, in libraries

I love them so - 
for the adventures between the pages and magnificent artwork on the covers
The creativity and hard work imprinted on bound paper

Vintage french classic books for sale by Rosie's Armoire

As an English major,
I took a children's literature class
and have been hooked ever since
And then I had children, which has allowed me to easily follow my interest

So when I saw that Cressida Cowell of 'How To Train Your Dragon' fame
was speaking at our local library,
I jumped at the chance to see her
(a huge advantage of living in a small country is the famous are never that far away)

My kids moaned that I was dragging them to yet another thing,
saying they'd outgrown her books
'Too bad' was my only response

Trying to refrain from a 'I told you so' moment,
they thought she was utterly fantastic and inspiring
as they were riveted to her words
(as was I)

Rarely do I meet someone who is so clearly fulfilling their destiny

Someone who has been sprinkled with some kind of magic powder dust
who has laser focus, a lot of talent, and is one of the most successful in her field

Cressida has an amazing, dramatic storytelling voice
And she looks like such a normal mom
who I easily could have stood next to in the grocery line

But her creative Viking/dragon stories are not ordinary at all
In fact, she is telling and illustrating what in her mind are true stories

Although she grew up in London, her family took an annual summer holiday 
to an uninhabited island in Scotland (just their cottage on it)

A fisherman would drop them off on the island and pick them up 6 weeks later

There, she and her siblings would have endless days of roaming freely on the island
and eating fish they caught

She wove tales in her head about the Vikings who really did live in the area
and of dragons the Vikings believed in

Cressida starting putting those childhood stories to paper when she was 32 years old
and the rest is history

''My whole life my teachers said 'Stop daydreaming!'. 
And now my publisher says 'More daydreaming; faster daydreaming!'''

Newly released in series

Cressida went on to say ''Writing is like telling a really good lie''
with lots of detail and embellishments 
so the reader can picture what the author is trying to convey

''Books put an idea in your head and your imagination does the rest of the work''

Writing advice also included 
drawing a map and seeing how the story develops from it
which is exemplified in Treasure Island and Peter Pan

Cressida loved the film 'How To Train Your Dragon '
and was a part of the process along the way
More films based on her books are due for release in 2014 and 2016


And as I flipped to the end of one of her books,
there sat an invitation for readers
to join a 'review crew' for the publisher!
My kids could get unpublished manuscripts to read and review?
How fast can you say 'Hello, my kids are so on board?!'

So moving on...
now seems like the perfect time to show you my favorite section
in a recent children's exhibition at SouthBank (London) over the summer
- 'aMAZEme' labyrinth of books -

Not a great photo, but the concept is that as you walk through the maze
you encounter blinding thick rain, secret passageways, 
invisible avalanches, dangerous pirates, magical waterfalls 
which all are held within the pages that surround you in the maze

So creative!

All ages were reading books from that delicious assortment
It was irresistible

Covering over 500 sq meters, the 250,000 remaindered, used, and new books
were loaned by charity shop, Oxfam, and donated by publishing houses in the UK
Afterward, all books were given to Oxfam

The labyrinth was in the design of Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges's fingerprint

Love it!

Anyhoo, as I was talking to Cressida's publisher
(I was talking to Cressida's publisher!)
she mentioned a few literary festivals around the country including
ones in Bath, Oxford, and Cheltenham
(links provided)

It looks like they pull in some really big names from around the world

Have you ever attended one?
How far in advance do I need to buy tickets?
Any advice?

Make room -
I'm about to bust out another happy dance!

- all photos by me unless otherwise indicated -

Cressida Cowell's UK Book Tour dates here

Other children's lit posts:
English History For Kids (books)
Beatrix Potter
Roald Dahl Museum