The Open Book Festival for Children had some wonderful highlights, as DYLAN DATE and his daughter discovered:

Open Book Festival for Children

This year was the eighth year of the Open Book Festival; a five-day-long festival taking place from 5 to 9 September 2018, celebrating literature and inspiring conversations. It was centered, for the most part, around the Fugard Theatre, D6 Homecoming Centre, A4 Arts Foundation, the Book Lounge, and the Central Library. Events included book launches, panel discussions, workshops, masterclasses, readings, performances, and children’s activities. The festival also hosted #COCREATE Poetica and the Comics Fest.

On Saturday, I took my four-year-old daughter to experience the festival and we had a fun (and almost free) day out. We started at the Fugard Theatre, where the foyer, always a warm and welcoming space, was abuzz with excitement and filled with a diverse group of individuals, which was great to see in a Cape Town space.

We made our way to the Central Library and down in to the beautifully-muraled children’s section for our first activity of the day. Megan Lotter and Jess Bosworth of Imagnary House hosted a session of story-telling and activities for young audiences. There was a good turnout of eager children, who were all entranced by the words and pictures.

Open Book Festival for Children

Jess Bosworth read the book that she wrote and illustrated: The Straw Giant. The illustrations were hauntingly beautiful and the writing was minimalistic in the best possible way.

Illustrator of The Chalk Giraffe, Megan Lotter, read her book next, in which a little girl’s amazement and delight soon turns to frustration when the chalk giraffe that she’s drawn comes to life but turns out to be rather demanding and critical. Both storytellers engaged well with the children and there was a Q&A session after each story. The kids were then given crayons and paper and shown how to draw each story’s protagonist; an activity that everyone thoroughly enjoyed.

You can purchase these and other books at imagnaryhouse.com

Open Book Festival for Children

Open Book Festival for Children

We had some time to kill before the next event, which we spent in the library (we sadly missed out on the booked-out Origami for Africa workshop happening upstairs). I have spent an embarrassingly small amount of time in libraries since converting to ebooks so it was a real treat to explore one with my daughter. It is something that we will definitely do again soon and I am grateful to the festival for reminding me of what I’ve been missing out on. The Central Library is an incredible space with a massive music library and a wonderful little Dr Seuss reading nook.

Next we attended a reading of Mizz President, where we joined Mapule Mohulatsi to hear the story of a little girl who becomes president after the parliamentary cabinet comes down with food poisoning. The political message may have been lost on the younger members of the audience but everyone enjoyed Mohulatsi’s story and the fanciful illustrations by Mary-An Hampton. Once again there was a Q&A session and the children got to discuss what they would do if they became president.

Our last stop of the day was the D6 Homecoming Centre, where we enjoyed delicious fresh food by Food Jams and some excellent coffee. We browsed the Comics Fest and it was really heartening to see the talented South African comic book industry doing so well. My daughter spent some recently acquired birthday money on a Pokémon print and stickers by Danielle Malan and Ben Geldenhuys, and a signed copy of The Bungle in the Jungle by John Bush and Gavin Thomson.

With 140 events in multiple venues, Open Book Festival truly makes books cool and geek chic. Congratulations to the funders, organisers, and staff for an outstanding event. If you missed out this year, be sure to check it out next year.

WS