Guest Post by Chris Routh
Seven Stories, the National Centre for Children’s Books which is based in Newcastle, opened its doors on 19th August 2005 and has been engaging thousands of visitors in children’s literature through its exhibitions, events and education programme ever since. It’s a great place to visit if you live nearby or are on holiday in the area. One of the current exhibitions is Elmer and Friends: The Colourful World of David McKee which celebrates 30 years of Elmer the Patchwork Elephant and is the first retrospective of David McKee’s wonderful artwork. There is also an ongoing programme of bookable events, some of which feature popular authors and illustrators. See here for more information.
If you don’t live near enough to visit Newcastle, you might be able to catch one of Seven Stories touring exhibitions. These include Michael Morpurgo: A Lifetime in Stories (currently at the Burton Art Gallery in Bideford, North Devon); Bears! (currently at the River and Rowing Museum in Henley-on-Thames); Comics! Explore and Create Comic Art with Seven Stories (currently at the Coalbrookdale Museum of Iron in Telford) and Judith Kerr: The Tiger Who Came For Tea (currently at Newark Park in Gloucestershire).
I recently had the opportunity to visit Bears! at the River and Rowing Museum in Henley. Young visitors are bound to love following the paw prints leading from the more formal exhibition room on the ground floor to the more relaxed Bear Glade and cave on the first floor. However, Bears! is designed to appeal to all ages and generations and includes original artwork from favourite picture books, notes, draft pages and illustrations from a variety of novels, books, toys and dressing-up clothes, plus opportunities to respond creatively. See here for more details. This particular venue is also the home of a fabulous permanent Wind in the Willows exhibition based on Ernest Shepherd’s illustrations which have been brought to life with 3D models, theatrical lighting and music. It’s well worth a visit!