A Review of the Kids Program at 2016 Newcastle Writers Festival

A dog parade, book launches, an animal petting zoo, an entertaining Digby Fixit Live! performance, art making and lots of book readings – there was loads of fun activities for the Kids Program of the 2016  Newcastle Writers Festival!

The weekend program started yesterday afternoon with a book launch for A Soldier, a Dog and a Boy by acclaimed author Libby Hathorn.

Libby Hathorn reading from her children's book 'A Soldier, a Dog and a Boy'

Following Libby’s reading, it was the dogs turn to shine with dog competitions and a dog parade.

As the book features a dog in this beautiful story set against the Battle of the Somme in France during World War I, canines were honoured guests at this event. Talented illustrator Phil Lesnie was also on hand to help with kids with their art in front of Newcastle Art Gallery.


The main event – The Family Fun Day was held today at Newcastle City Library.The place was busy with families enjoying the large variety of events and activities. In fact, there were a few dilemmas in trying to choose what to do with simultaneous activities occurring in the Library, in Lovett Gallery and also outside on Laman Street.

We started our day with Jess Black’s book launch of Moon Dance, her first picture book. It features Australian animals dancing in the bush and as Jess recounts was inspired by a yoga retreat near Stroud!

Jess Black launching her new picture book 'Moon Dance'

Following the book launch, we ventured outside to see the Battle of the Pen! This was a live-draw off challenge for illustrators racing each other and against the clock while drawing images suggested by the audience.

Live Draw Off
It was then on to meet Belinda Murrell, author and Serena Geddes of the popular series Lulu Bell.



In keeping with the theme of Lulu Bell’s World of Amazing Animals, there was a farm animal petting zoo which was immensely popular with little ones.


This menagerie included rabbits, goats, guinea pigs, ducks and a few chickens (which kept trying to escape).


It was then back inside to catch Deborah Kelly launch her new chapter book series Ruby Wishfingers. The first book in the series is Ruby Wishfingers: Skydancer’s Escape which features a girl who can wish whatever she wants with her magic wish fingers.


Throughout the day, various authors were on hand to read from their books including Katrina McKelvey reading Dandelions, Leila Rudge reading Gary, Susan Whelan and Gwynneth Jones reading Don’t Think About Purple Elephants, Ant Wood reading Flaming Charli and Katrien Pickles reading Georgina and Dad the Dragon and Lynn Jenkins & Kirrili Lonergan reading Lessons of a Lac.

Lessons of a Lac

We also saw Renee Price presenting an entertaining theatrical performance Digby Fixit Live based on her picture book Digby’s Moon Mission.

Renee Price presenting Digby Fixit Live

In addition to book readings, there were also plenty of opportunities for art and craft including ‘Box World’, which gave kids and parents an opportunity to create different models out of boxes.


It’s great to see that the success of the Newcastle Writers Festival isn’t just limited to the main event. In fact, the Kids Program of the Newcastle Writers Festival has proved immensely popular with local schools and families taking advantage of the range of literary talent in Newcastle this week.

This is a truly fantastic kids literary event and gives kids and their parents the opportunity to meet and interact with local and national authors and illustrators as well as learn and create.

Thanks to all of the organisers and volunteers of the Newcastle Writers Festival Kids Program for their tireless efforts in producing this event. Can’t wait until next year’s event!

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