Friday, 23 November 2012

Seven stories of stories

As a sucker for (most) children's literature, I was thrilled to learn lately about Seven Stories in Newcastle upon Tyne. (If you are similarly inclined, you'll need to set aside a few minutes to enjoy this rich and satisfying website.) 

About a month ago I had the chance to spend a very special day there.

With innumerable and sometimes unsteady sources of funding, and immeasurable effort by a dedicated team, a seven-storey Victorian mill by the Ouseburn River has become the National Centre for Children's Books. It is magical, and I want to live there ...

The bookshop alone is a wonderful, colourful, cave of treasures where you can lose yourself for hours. 

And in the Artist's Attic you can listen and take part in the telling of a story...

On the other five floors are spaces to create stuff, to write and draw stuff, to listen to stuff, to dress up in stuff, to eat stuff and to see stuff done by authors and illustrators as they put together their story books.

The day I was there, there was one exhibition to do with Cressida Cowell's Dragon series. They had murals about Vikings and dragons, staff dressed in relevant costumes, dragons to make or buy, and a Viking ship to try out.

Another exhibition displayed many of Julia Donaldson's heroes, including the Gruffalo and The Troll with glorious murals, interactive listening and drawing stations, and notebooks and drafts of the stories and the illustrations in the making.

There were lots of visitors who were a bit younger than me (!), but it seemed that I was not the only one who was sad that I had to leave when I did ...

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