A top author of historical military novels is championing a phizz whizzing celebration to mark the centenary of Roald Dahl as part of a campaign to get more children reading.
Wrexham-based Dave McCall is backing the series of Roald Dahl Wednesdays to be staged at Eagles Meadow shopping centre throughout August based around an elaborate Story Shack.
Under his pen name David Ebsworth, he has written a series of powerful novels on topics from the Zulu War to Jacobite intrigue in the 18th century,
Dave is also a founder and committee member of Wrexham Carnival of Words, the week-long feast of literary activity which kicked off at Eagles Meadow in May, and its director, Wrexham’s former head librarian Dylan Hughes, will officially open the first of Roald Dahl Wednesday at 11am on August 10.
Dave said: “It’s very relevant for Wrexham Carnival of Words and myself to be involved in the Roald Dahl Wednesdays at Eagles Meadow as our own annual literary event is all about the celebration of storytelling of which Dahl was of course a master.
“Getting children and young people involved in reading and writing has been very much a theme of the carnival and we have had guest authors going out into schools in Wrexham to give talks to the youngsters about books and how they are created.
“I see the Roald Dahl Wednesdays as very much part of what has now become a big national campaign to get children interested and passionate about the wonderful world of words, especially those created by iconic authors such as Dahl, and I’m honoured to be associated with it.”
He added: “This year’s carnival – starting with the key storytelling relay at Eagles Meadow which went on for four hours and attracted scores of people – was hugely successful, with the total audience figure up by something like 100 per cent around 2,000 during the week.
“Planning is already going ahead for next year’s carnival. We’re aiming for it to be bigger and better than ever with, hopefully, more events taking place at Eagles Meadow.”
Carnival director Dylan Hughes, who retired as Wrexham’s head librarian in June, will officially open the programme of free events at Eagles Meadow.
He said: “I’m delighted that our carnival has linked up with the Roald Dahl centenary celebrations at Eagles Meadow, which I’m sure will also be a big success, and it’s a great honour to be invited to get them underway.
“One of the greatest storytellers of the last century has been Roald Dahl who has written for children and for adults.
“I know from my work as a librarian how popular his books for children have been over the years and still are, many of which have been turned into successful films.
“This celebration of his life and work at Eagles Meadow will give children and adults the chance to acquaint or re-acquaint themselves with Dahl’s work and it’s tremendous to become involved in promoting the events that are lined up for the whole of August.”
He added: “We now have a successful and growing Wrexham Carnival of Words.
“When it was held last year for the first time we had just 12 literary events but this year it was up to two dozen.
“This growth was reflected in the audience figures, which were double the number we attracted the previous year.
“The events went right across the literary spectrum and included discussions on historical novels, talks by crime writers and the reading of poetry.
“And the whole thing started with a very successful story-telling relay at Eagles Meadow shopping centre which featured national and local authors including Marie Anne Cope from Wrexham who specialises in yarns weaved around horror themes.”
The free Roald Dahl Wednesdays will be held on August 10, 17 and 24 and are sure to thrill the kiddles, as Dahl named them in the special language he created called Gobblefunk for his children’s books.
Free pre-bookable Imagination Seekers workshop sessions, inspired by the work of Roald Dahl and approved by his estate, will be hosted by a special organisation known as the Ancient Guild of Tale Tenders whose mission it is to keep alive Dahl’s words.
Lasting for an hour, they are suitable for seven to 10 year olds.
Between the Imagination Seekers gatherings there will also be drop-in sessions when the Guardians of the Tales will lead story telling sessions from Roald Dahl books.
Guardians lining up are Cynthia Checkit, a retired librarian who stamps people in and out with her library stamper and checks that no stories, words, tales or letters escape the vicinity, and Miss Gloria Sunbeam who reads out Roald Dahl rhymes and poems.
The Guardians of the Tales will lead themed craft sessions and Roald Dahl book give-aways each Wednesday.
All children who take part in the Story Shack will be rewarded with a free copy of a book by Roald Dahl to inspire them to keep reading and sharing stories after the event.
Also planned is a big Brilliant Beasts & Amazing Animals competition based on a creative writing project for young Dahl fans which will run throughout the event in which youngsters will be invited to outline the many magical animals in the wonderful world of Dahl and create their own Brilliant Beast or Amazing Animal fact file.
One of the judges will be Shan Cooper, children’s librarian at Wrexham Library, who said: “I’m looking forward to it very much as I’ve judged many competitions before and just love seeing children’ work.”
Tying in closely with the fun sessions at Eagles Meadow will be the annual Big Read being run by Wrexham Library, this year specially entitled The Big Friendly Read in honour of Roald Dahl.
Theme for Eagles Meadow’s Roald Dahl Wednesday August 10 is Birds & Wings & Flappy Things.
Inspired by the magnificent Roly Poly Bird who first appears in The Enormous Crocodile and later in The Twits, this session will look at all the feathered friends in Roald Dahl’s work, from the pheasants in Danny The Champion of the World to the hens in Fantastic Mr Fox.
Craft sessions will allow children to create their own Roly Poly bird using paper plates, feathers and streamers.
On Wednesday August 17 the theme is Lotions, Potions & Marvellous Mixes.
This fantastically creative session is inspired by George’s Marvellous Medicine and The BFG’s dream filled jars.
Linked craft sessions will see children creating their own pots full of wonder, whether it’s a fantastical medicine or Formula 86 delayed action mouse make from The Witches.
Gobstoppingly Good Guzzling Treats is the theme for Wednesday August 24 and features all things delicious in Roald Dahl, from the head-spinningly wondrous delights of the Chocolate Factory and Mr Fox’s fantastic feasting to horrid Wormy Spaghetti and Mrs Twit’s Bird Pie.
The tasty interactive session will allow children to create their own pretend sweets and treats worthy of a place in Mr Wonka’s hall of fame.
Eagles Meadow Centre Manager Kevin Critchley said: “I’m delighted to have the support of Wrexham carnival of Words for our Roald Dahl Wednesdays and the special Imagination Seekers events running throughout August which are all designed to inspire imaginative minds in both young and old.
“They are brilliantly crafted and will help participants to find lost words, make exciting creations and discover fantastical stories in celebration of the wonderful writings of Roald Dahl.”
11am Imagination Seekers session lasting one hour
12pm Roald Dahl readings, craft sessions and book giveaways with Miss Gloria Sunbeam
1pm Imagination Seekers session lasting one hour
2pm Roald Dahl readings and book giveaways with Miss Gloria Sunbeam
3pm Imagination Seekers session lasting one hour
11am – 4pm Arts and crafts activities last all day
For bookings, go to http://www.eagles-meadow.co.uk/roalddahl
For more information about Wrexham Library’s Big Friendly Reading Challenge, visit www.wrexham.gov.uk/libraries