Sarah McIntyre (jabberworks) wrote,
Sarah McIntyre

Bournville Book Fest 2021

I remember, somewhere in my schooling, studying about the village of Bournville, on the outskirts of Birmingham, founded by the Quaker Cadbury family for employees of their chocolate factory and intended to be a model for how factory workers could live well. So I'd always wanted to see it, and at last, I had a good excuse - Bournville BookFest!

First, the festival itself: here I am (with curly hair) with writer-illustrator Steven Lenton and Sala Davies, Marketing manager from the local Bookshop on the Green. This year the festival was hosted by Woodbrooke Centre, formerly George Cadbury's family home. And it was lovely!

The centre had been closed all through the pandemic, and we were the first group they opened for, so we felt very honoured to be their guests. Here are a few pictures in the early morning, before all the festival visitors arrived.

My second Grumpycorn picture book, Don't Call Me Grumpycorn, launched right at the beginning of the pandemic, and didn't get much of an outing, so it was great to give it some spotlight attention. (My husband, Stuart, took this photo in the walled vegetable garden.)

And then people arrived... and were so wonderfully enthusiastic! It really felt like people were making the extra effort to come along, and enjoying themselves all the more because there had been such a lack of this sort of thing. This girl make this Grumpycorn book cover at my event, and then she and her mother went away and wrote a whole story inside and showed it to me after my second event. Nice work!!

I should add, the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education (CLPE) today published a report called The Power of Pictures, that shows - with good research - how pictures and drawing help children's literacy. And it's something I've seen all along, how when children draw something, the ideas and words then pour out of them.

Thanks so much to everyone who came along and drew with me! Here are a couple pictures tweeted by Susan Hill:

Josie Harrison from Bookshop on the Green did some beautiful book displays, and prominently displayed the painting I'd made of Kevin's virtual tour of fourteen bookshops, when he came to Bournville!

Here's a closeup of the painting. It was supposed to be Kevin's tour, but Grumpycorn knew I was coming to Bournville in person and sneaked into this picture. (Oh look, there's Jellyfish, too!) Here's another blog post about Kevin's bookshop visit, where he interviews its founder Sarah Mullen.

Stuart and I were so keen to see Bournville that we arrived a day early, and the bookshop was one of the stops on our tour. I was pleased to see the shop looked very much as I'd painted it from photos and Google maps...

And here's festival director Sarah Mullen herself! And Stuart, stylishly coordinated with author John Dougherty (of Stinkbomb & Ketchup Face fame). I also caught a brief glimpse of poet Joseph Coelho, who had a big audience in the other end of the house, but I didn't manage to get a photo.

Some glimpses of the team! I didn't manage to get photos of everyone, including Sam, my British Sign Language translator, or the two excellent volunteers who held up the gameboard for rather a long time.

And here's Josie from the bookshop (ith and without a mask). Bookshop on the Green only opened just before lockdown, so they've faced a lot of BIG challenges. But Sarah Mullen said the community really rallied around, and made an effort to support their local bookshop, and they've survived, which is fantastic.

Big thanks to everyone on the team for making everything at the festival so fun and run so smoothly! If you ever get a chance to go to Bournville BookFest, definitely GO. Here's Dennis, Woodbrooke's resident cat, who was also notably welcoming.

Okay, on to Bournville! I took so many photos, it was hard to choose just a few to post. Of course we paid a visit to Cadbury World... I remember when my sister and I were little, Glasgow Auntie used to send us Cadbury Selection Boxes in the annual Christmas parcel to America, and they were UTTER MAGIC.

Cadbury World wasn't quite as magical as I was hoping, but it was still pretty cool and had some quirky displays. Sadly we did not manage to fall into a chocolate river but we did get little cups of molten chocolate to eat and I got to draw Grumpycorn... in chocolate.

Sarah Mullen gave me this lovely book about the history of Cadbury, written by Juliet Clare Bell and illustrated by Jess Mikhail, Two Brothers and a Chocolate Factory:

After Cadbury World, we visited the Selly Manor Museum, which was a lovely little Tudor treasure box.

We found a dressing up box in the garret! And a priest's hole, but you will have to visit yourself to see that.

I think you're supposed to wear padding between the helmet and your head, but it's funnier just to wear the helmet.

Stuart makes a good Tudor! He even has a codpiece, but he made me promise not to post the photo where the codpiece is much more prominent, heh heh.

And a few more photos out and about in Bournville... here are some on the road from Bournville rail station:

Almost every house on one side of this long road have those lovely little decorations above the doors, each with its own place name: Lisbon, Ryland, Pomona, Raclan, Caxton, Tysley, Uskvale, Umbersley, Uptonbury, Dursley...

Here's a beautiful Alms House, which apparently is still council living.

And a Quaker church (most of the things in Bournville are Quaker).

I wish I had a zoom lens to be able to show you just HOW many bells are in that belfry. It must ring an absolute storm.

I'll just end with these surprising lawn ornaments on Bournville Lane.

Tags: festivals, grumpycorn, reeve_and_mcintyre, roly_poly_flying_pony

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