Saturday, 7 April 2012

Oxford Literature Festival

A fantastic day at the Oxford Literature Festival...

It was a fantastic only regret was that I hadn't been able to make it to see other events. I will definitely make sure I will visit the festival next year.
I felt very privileged to share an event with Steve Bloom, the renowned wildlife photographer. My slightly fuzzy osprey-in-the-distance shots paled in comparison to Steve's wonderful photographs. Steve showed us his incredible images from swimming with elephants, to big cats, to beautiful portraits of apes. Some of the images were animated photos and gave a 360 degree rotating image of swimming with elephants.

Take a look at his stunning wildlife images on his website...

Steve spoke about his new books, the Big Cat Journal and the Polar Journal and other books...

The festival organiser presented both Steve and I with very special gifts...we both received a Victorian Lantern Slide. My Lantern slide pictured a hand painted golden eagle.

Magic Lanterns were used by the Victorians and their predecessors to project images onto a blank wall. This was the early slide show, before cameras and movies and the digital age. People could see these still images of exotic places and animals before the first colour films.

This slide now has pride of place...a really unique and special gift.

Waterstones, Stockton and Solihull awards

Waterstones Children's Book Award...

It was brilliant to be shortlisted for the Waterstones Children's Book Award. 

The award ceremony took place in the top floor of Waterstones Piccadilly...apparently the biggest book shop in Europe!!!

Huge congratulations to.... 

Jonny Duddle won overall with his picture book The Pirates Next Door. 
Liz Pichon won the 8-12 category with The Brilliant World of Tom Gates.
Jenny Downham won the teen prize with You Against Me. 

Have a look a a fab video of all the shortlisted books by following the link below...

Stockton Children's Book of the Year 2012

I had a great day visiting schools and libraries for the Stockton Children's Book of the Year 2012 Awards. 
Schools in and around Stockton had been reading and voting for the books. 

Other authors on the short list were...

Nicola Davies with A Girl Called Dog
Harriet Goodwin with Graven Hunger
Janet Foxley with Muncle Trogg
Barbara Mitchelhill with Run Rabbit Run

Congratulations to Barbara who won overall for her fantastic book about conscientious objectors during WW2...a different angle and great story. 

Solihull Book Awards 2012

A great event with the other shortlisted authors, marked by a ceremony in the Central Library Arts Centre. 

Other authors;
Elen Caldecott with Operation Eiffel Tower 
Fiona Dunbar with Divine Freaks

Like the Stockton Awards, children from local schools had read and voted for all the books. It was fantastic to hear such enthusiasm for wildlife from readers and I was so chuffed to find out that Sky Hawk had won. :0)

Left to right...Elen Caldecott, Gill Lewis and Fiona Dunbar

Barn Owl Trust

I went to a fascinating talk by Chris Sperring who gave a talk on the work of the Hawk and Owl Trust.

There are many factors leading to the diminishing numbers of barn owls in the UK, including loss of habitat, especially the hedgerow borders. Over the past 50-60 years hedgerows have been disappearing to give way for bigger fields for maximum crop yield. The main prey of the barn owl is the field vole, which lives in the long grasses of meadows and field edges. Research has shown that just by increasing field margins and allowing rough borders to grow and be managed, the field vole population increases, and following does the barn owl population. Many farmers have taken these conservation measures and seen the results for themselves.

Barn owl nesting boxes have also been a huge success. Modern barns and buildings do not provide the traditional nest sites barn owls once enjoyed, and our managed woodlands have less rotten trees for nesting. The majority of barn owls in the UK nest in made-made nest boxes situated in habitats suitable for barn owls.

It just shows what differences can be made if conservation is given a chance. But more still needs to done to protect these birds.

For more information have a look at the Hawk and Owl Trust website...

Sky Hawk the Big Bath Read

I spoke to an audience of children and parents at the Holburne Museum in Bath. 
Having grown up in Bath and attended schools in Bath and then the University for the MA in Writing for Young People, I was chuffed that Sky Hawk was chosen as the Big Bath Read. I felt I'd come full circle. 

 The pupils of Bathwick School had won an author visit for a book review competition and we were all treated to a great talk from the West of England Falconry Centre who brought their Harris Hawk and Barn Owl in to show the children.

Snowy snowy owls and a lucky winner to the Cotswold Falconry Centre

Animals and You Magazine

Congratulations to Maria who won an exclusive behind-the-scenes visit to Cotswold Falconry Centre for her wonderful hawk picture. I was lucky to join her and her family and have a close up view of all the birds. It had snowed heavily overnight so the snowy owls were happy. We even got to see a vulture chick, which was incredibly cute in a fluffy-ulgly-vulture kind of way. 

Here's the link to the Falconry go if you get a chance.  

Here's Maria's winning picture....