Tag: Imagine Children’s Festival

Alice in Wonderland at 150

From heading down the rabbit hole to a white rabbit being late for a very important date and a march hare enjoying a tea party, it’s fair to say that Lewis Carroll’s (real name Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland has become far more than ‘just’ a book – it’s a global cultural phenomenon. First published in 1865, the classic book turns 150 years old this year and will be celebrated at Imagine Children’s Festival in London’s Southbank Centre. If you’re nearby, why not pop along and play a game of Flamingo Croquet?


Down the Rabbit Hole was the very first chapter of the book, which was originally published with some truly beautiful illustrations by John Tenniel. Surely one of the most famous features of all books – it’s even inspired a bar at Glastonbury festival – it is a perfect introduction to the kind of crazy scenes you can expect from the story. It’s not long before the classic characters are introduced, too. The world would be a much duller place if we didn’t know the weird and wonderful creatures Alice meets in her journey – the White Rabbit, the Cheshire Cat, the Hatter (or Mad Hatter) and, of course, the Queen of Hearts.


There were already many adaptations of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland before it was given the Walt Disney animation treatment in 1951, but it still remains to this day the quintessential and most well-known take on the story – adding in elements from sequel Through the Looking Glass for good measure. Bursting with colour, the hand-drawn animation was the perfect fit for the quirky moments and it still ranks as one of Disney’s all-time classic films. There have been various adaptations since this release, one of our favourites being the perhaps-under-appreciated 1999 TV film that starred Whoopi Goldberg, Ben Kingsley and – bizarrely but rather brilliantly – Ken Dodd.


In 2010, Tim Burton brought his gothic visions into the world of Alice with his live-action take starring Johnny Depp. Five years on and the story of Alice and her incredible adventures still continues to inspire some of the most creative people in the world – we can’t wait to hear how Blur and Gorillaz frontman Damon Albarn’s musical Wonder.land (co-written with Rufus Norris and Moira Buffini) turns out. There have already been a number of live-action performances based on Alice, but this has the potential to be one of the best and most innovative.




Alice in Wonderland facts:

Did you know?

  • Alice in Wonderland was banned in China during the 1930s as it was felt that animals should not use the language of humans.
  • Mock turtle soup is actually a real Victorian food – made from parts of a calf!
  • In the 150 years since Alice in Wonderland was published, it has never been out of print!

Imagine Children’s Festival 2015, Southbank Centre, London – buy tickets now!

Imagine Children's Festival

Sponsored by the Book People, Imagine Children’s Festival  takes place at London’s iconic Southbank Centre from Monday 9 February to Sunday 22 February – and we just can’t wait! Two weeks of books, music, shows, activities and events that are sure to bring a smile to any child’s face, it’s one of the highlights of the February half-term.

Run by children for children, not only does the festival play host to the prestigious Red House Children’s Book Awards ceremony (hosted by former Blue Peter presenter Helen Skelton) but the likes of Russell Brand, Ruby Redfort author Lauren Child and Alex Rider author Anthony Horowitz will all be making appearances to discuss their popular books. There will also be a very special appearance from The Tiger Who Came to Tea author Judith Kerr – a must-see for anyone who loves classic children’s books.

Imagine Festival 2015

Other must-see events include child-friendly classical concerts by world-famous orchestras, a children’s opera and even a live performance by Charlie and Lola! There are specially tailored events for those children under 5, too – no one misses out on the fun at Imagine Children’s Festival!

A huge part of 2015’s Imagine is the 150th anniversary of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and there will be plenty of opportunities to celebrate the special anniversary of Lewis Carroll’s classic – the Imaginarium of Alice will provide children with a great dance adventure, fancy dress will be encouraged, interactive installations will be displayed and kids will even be able to try their hand at Flamingo Croquet!

In fact, there’s so much to see and enjoy during the two weeks of Imagine we’re running out of space to list them all here. Head over to Southbank Centre’s site today to buy your tickets and see the free events you’ll also be able to enjoy!

Imagine Children’s Festival 2014 – it’s coming!

Book-loving kids from around the country will be excited to hear about the return of Imagine Children’s Festival, London Southbank Centre’s celebration of all things literature and more. Sponsored by the Book People, the festival offers a way for children to feed their imagination, the festival starts on Monday 10 February and runs all the way through to Sunday 23 February, with the Red House Children’s Book Award ceremony taking centre stage on Saturday 22 February. Get your children to cast their vote over at www.rhcba.co.uk to decide the winner of this prestigious prize.

Last year saw the likes of David Walliams, Jeremy Strong, Frank Cottrell Boyce, Cressida Cowell, Cathy Cassidy and Suzanne LaFleur all giving talks to eager young bookworms, while there was also the chance to watch the incredible Dinosaur Petting Zoo in action, enjoy the vibrant sights and sounds of the festival’s open space and even hone creative skills with a number of fun activities that were sure to ignite any youngster’s imagination. This year promises even more excitement with a number of much-loved books celebrating anniversaries and authors for all ages providing entertaining and insightful anecdotes about the inspiration for their books.

The Book People is incredibly proud to sponsor this must-see event and will be keeping you fully up to date with all the goings-on through our social channels in the build-up – and during – the festival. The line-up is starting to be revealed, so head over to Southbank Centre’s website to book your tickets today!

The Red House Children’s Book Award 2014 shortlist has been announced!

The Red House Children’s Book Award is the only literary award voted for entirely by children, and the shortlist for 2014 has now been announced. With a heavy animal theme in the younger categories, there is also some gripping sci-fi and compelling murder mysteries for those in the older categories. The winners of the prestigious awards, including the victor of the overall category, will be announced at a glittering ceremony at Southbank Centre’s Imagine Children’s Festival on 22 February. Your child can vote for their favourite over on the Red House Children’s Book Award website.

Younger Children Shortlist
The shortlist for Younger Children finds some familiar authors facing up against some fresh faces, but every book is a winner. Rachel Bright is a very talented author and illustrator and Walter and the No-Need-to-Worry-Suit is the first entry in a rather enchanting new picture book series. Telling the story of Walter the rabbit as he prepares for sports day, it’s a lovely book for little ones. One of the best author and illustrator teams around for children, Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler have done it again with Superworm, a picture book that tells the unlikely story of a surprising superhero. With Julia’s rhyming text and Axel’s iconic artwork, this is a laugh-along read that is perfect for sharing.

How to Hide a Lion is Helen Stephens’ amazingly fun-packed story about a girl who tries to hide a lion staying in her house from her parents. Will they be able to find the lion as it hides behind a shower curtain, in bed or even up a tree? A heart-warming tale of friendship, this is a wonderful bedtime read. Finally, there is Jeanne Willis’ Hippospotamus, a laugh-out-loud tale about a hippo with a spot in a rather unfortunate place. Whatever he tries, he just can’t get rid of it, despite the expert advice from all his animal friends…

Younger Readers Shortlist
The Land of Neverbelieve is a wonderful keepsake book from the famous artist Norman Messenger. A place where chocolate grows on trees, mountains tell stories and fish fly through the sky at night, this is truly a one-of-a-kind book. Exquisitely illustrated and bursting with imagination, it contains a vivid world that will absorb all children. Atticus Claw Breaks the Law is the purrfect read from Jennifer Gray, following famed cat burglar Atticus as he moves in with Inspector Cheddar and his family and comes to a crossroads in his crime-filled life. Claude in the Country follows Alex T. Smith’s much-loved canine character as a quiet walk in the country evolves into a busy day on the farm, complete with lassoing a bull, feeding chickens and mucking out the pigs!

Older Readers Shortlist
A taut and pacy thriller that forms part of the Murder Notebooks series, Anne Cassidy’s Killing Rachel covers Joshua and Rose as they struggle to solve the mystery of their missing parents. When Rose receives a number of distressing messages from her former best friend Rachel, which culminate in Rachel being found dead, this opens a whole new side to the duo’s investigations… Artemis Fowl author Eoin Colfer returns with W.A.R.P.: The Reluctant Assassin and it is a fast-paced book teeming with excitement, action and humour. A tantalising mixture of science fiction and good old-fashioned storytelling, it’s a thrilling read for anyone aged 11 or over. Finally, we have The 5th Wave, Rick Yancey’s epic dystopian blockbuster for young adults. With captivating characters who are facing up against all the odds, this is a cinematic and page-turning read.

To find out more about the Red House Children’s Book Award and cast your vote, visit www.redhousechildrensbookaward.co.uk


Imagine Children’s Festival – Letterbox Live

A packed-out Queen Elizabeth Hall eagerly awaited Friday’s Letterbox Live show at Imagine Children’s Festival and it seemed like the parents were just as excited as the kids. A beautiful theatre, this event was set up by the Letterbox Club, a charity that aims to spread the joy of reading and improve children’s numeracy skills by delivering parcels of books and maths games to disadvantaged children and those in care.

Acclaimed poet, author and patron of the Letterbox Club Lemn Sissay opened the show with an introduction to the authors who would be talking later on. With a friendly and warming tone that appealed to everyone in the audience, he explained a little bit about what to expect and also told a few jokes with varying success. He told the audience about his favourite books (The London A-Z and the Guinness Book of Failed World Records) and then astounded them with his own failed world record of his own as he attempted to remember first names of everyone in the crowd. It was so loud as children shouted their names at him in unison.

Lemn left the stage by introducing debut author Tom Banks, who read from his new book The Great Galloon (released 7 March). Before his reading he warned the children in the crowd that he was quite nervous and that the next author, Gareth P. Jones, would appear on the stage to indicate it was time for him to wrap his set up and the audience loved practising their best ‘He’s behind you’! The Great Galloon is a very amusing pirate adventure and his reading marked Tom out as an author to watch out for over the next few months.

The eagle-eyed in the crowd had spotted the ukulele resting on stage when they walked in and when Gareth P. Jones walked on to a huge round of applause, he picked up the instrument and promised the crowd a ‘mash-up’ of the songs he’s written based on his books. He made a point of letting the parents in the audience know a ‘mash-up’ is what used to be known as a ‘mega mix’ or a ‘medley’. With plenty of crowd interaction to help him out with the songs, he sang about his popular Dragon Detective Agency books and the audience gleefully clapped along as he introduced the Ninja Meerkats before enthusiastically making their best ninja noises. Gareth even rapped at one point! He then slowed down the tone to play a very spooky song based on Constable & Toop, and this was equally well received.

Having just arrived in the country from her home in the States and nominated for last year’s fantastic Eight Keys, Red House Children’s Book Award-shortlisted author Suzanne LaFleur read from her 2009 novel Love, Aubrey. Giving a fascinating insight into the voices inside her head while writing the book, her reading really brought the characters to life and made the horrible situation Aubrey finds herself in even more touching. Reading from the start of the very first chapter, everyone in the hall was captivated and were left wanting to find out what happens next.

Jeremy Strong walked on to a huge round of applause and started his performance by covering the questions he always gets asked at events like these, including ‘How old are you?’. Entirely confident and wickedly funny throughout his set, he went on to reveal where he gets ideas from, especially for the popular Cartoon Kid series. Reminiscing on the time he walked into a friend’s glass door and ended up getting his head superglued back together (instead of getting stitches) at the hospital, he says how funny he thought it would be if the superglue worked and a nurse’s rubber glove ended up attached to a patient’s head. This scenario was featured in one of Cartoon Kid Casper’s adventures, after a rather unfortunate trampolining accident… Jeremy wrapped up his set with a reading of one of the stories from Cartoon Kid: Zombies! A laugh-out-loud scenario found Casper taking to decorating and painting – with anarchic results and Jeremy even spoke out all the bizarre sound effects featured in the book!

After Jeremy wrapped up his performance with some further information about the good work the Letterbox Club does, seemingly the entire venue made their way out to get their books signed by the four extremely talented authors they had just been so entertained by. Queues were going round the whole foyer of the theatre as children waited patiently to meet their new favourites. This was another triumphant event at Imagine Children’s Festival.

Imagine Children's Festival

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