Thursday, 3 March 2011

(Sort of) World Book Day: A Brace of Philips: Philip Reeve and Philip Womack in Conversation

This morning a pair of Philips descended upon the Rose Theatre in Kingston: both, incidentally, wearing tweed overcoats. One was the excellent Philip Reeve, whose 'Mortal Engines', 'Larklight' and other books have given me (and many tens of thousands of others) enormous pleasure over the past decade or so; the other was me. Philip seems to be a good name for a children's writer - there's some other chap called, what was it, Pullman or something, isn't there?

We talked (after I'd eaten an enormous croissant) in front of about 600 children, about the World Book Day Flipbook written specially by Mr Reeve and children's writer Chris Priestley. Philip Reeve's is called Traction City, and is set in the same world as his Mortal Engines series; Chris Priestley's is called Teacher's Tales of Terror. We read from each of the books (including mine), and then discussed the nature of children's writing, of sci-fi, fantasy, horror, and the mechanics of being a writer. We discovered that severed hands seemed to be key - they feature heavily in Mr Reeve's 'Traction City', and rather prominently in the first chapter of The Liberators. The children were delightful - they listened spellbound to Mr Reeve, and were extremely tickled (ghoulishly) by the Priestley.

Organised by Kingston Libraries, it was a thoroughly enjoyable event, and very inspiring to see so many children talking and thinking about books and writing. Three huzzahs for World Book Day (Sort of)! Now, I say sort of because in typically English fashion, 'World' Book day isn't actually today, it's some time next month; it's just that last year it fell on Easter so the powers that be - in the UK - decided to move it. So it's Sort of World Book Day, but even so. Hurrah again!

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