The Mr Men hit 30 at the Book Festival

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It’ll be a great year for young readers - if only they can tear themselves away from all the theatre and art. Words: Maureen Ellis.

ith the Edinburgh International Children‘s

Festival pronouncing itself as purely

theatre. the Edinburgh Science Festival and the Puppet Animation Festival strictly bound by genre parameters. August in Edinburgh for children is now all the more eclectic in comparison.

Gone are the days when children's programming was an afterthought; a series of token events tagged onto the main programme. Now kids can pick and choose from theatre. dance. music. parties. storytelling. circus workshops and more. Nowhere is this more evident than in the Book Festival programme.

In the same way festival organisers have redressed the raw deal bestowed on children in the past. this year the Book Festival aims to do the same with illustrators. placing a special emphasis on children’s picture books.

Some of the world's most celebrated children‘s book illustrators will be descending on Edinburgh for a variety of fun events: Shirley Hughes launches her latest book Alfie Weather.

Tony Ross presents a multitude

of his charming illustrations

including a Little Princess. Debi

Gliori introduces Mr Bear. while Jez Alborough adds a touch of magic for the tiny tots. The Scottish contingent is well represented by Aileen Paterson and her adventurous feline Maisie. Mairi Hedderwick and the ever-mischievous Katie Morag. and Julie Lacome who will embark on a new alien encounter. In addition to the children‘s events. budding illustrators. artists and students can learn from the professionals in a series of masterclasses held by the illustrators on developing characters and original ideas.

The old picture book favourites are also out in force in the programme: Mr Men invite you to join in with their 30th birthday celebrations. Paddington Bear throws another party. Spot makes a special

guest appearance. and Julia Donaldson brings us up to date with The Monkey Puzzle and The (iruflalo.

Running alongside the events is Illustration Extra. a free exhibition at 28 Charlotte Square which will be showing some of the most recognisable and best-loved children‘s illustrations alongside work by Scottish artists.

This year. the popularity of children’s illustrations extends its influence beyond Charlotte

Square. Another exhibition in the Museum of

Childhood will take us through the history of Noddy and his Toyland churns in All Aboard For 'onlanil. while over in the Fringe programme. Tall Stories will be bringing back its theatre adaptation of The GI'IIflZl/U after its sell-out success at the Intermitional Children's Theatre Festival.

Similarly. Cartoon Theatre‘s

The Comic combines computer

animation and live performance in a story based on a cartoonist up against a deadline. adding a spark of originality and technology to the animation artform. and Leicestershire Youth Arts plays it for laughs in its stage adaptation of the Roald Dahl‘s classic The BFG.

As always. there’s plenty of children‘s theatre regulars returning to the Fringe. The Happy Gang ventures into the wild West in its .S‘ingalong Saloon. BlueBoat Theatre gets up to some monstrous mischief in Monsters In My ll/arilrobe. and Wee Stories takes to the high seas in Treasure Island. Over at the Netherbow. puppets rule the roost with Kenspeckle‘s Greyfir'ars Bobby. Shona Reppe's Tom Thumb. and lan Turbitt who will take you down the yellow brick road in The Wonderful lli'izarrl 0/0;

In a change to last year’s programme. Fringe Sunday and its prime pick of the Fringe relocates to the Meadows. but will still play host to the best of the fest living up to that old cliche of something for everyone. Corny. but oh so true.

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I Happy Blrthday Mr Men 30 years on and they haven‘t aged one jot. Those happy, sunny, funny. bumpy, mischievous and messy cartoon characters are still as young, lively and loved as ever as they celebrate their 30th birthday. Happy Birthday Mr Men (Book) Charlotte Square Gardens, 228 5444, 72 Aug, 70am, £3.50. I Shlrley Hughes In Edlnburgh With over 40 years of writing and Illustrating experience under her belt. Shirley Hughes knows a thing or two about devising books for children. Here she hosts a family session to talk about her work. Shirley Hughes In Edinburgh (Book) Charlotte Square Gardens, 228 5444, 18 Aug, 708/77, 23.50.

I The Gruflalo It's a hard life being at the bottom of the food chain, but an enterprising mouse soon finds that a little quick thinking can get you out of the most dangerous of predicaments. Tall Stories add a little live magic to make Julia Donaldson's picture book larger than life. The Grufialo (Fringe) C too, 225 5 705, 2—26 Aug (not 72), 2pm, £6.50 (£5.50). I Monsters In My Wardrobe Move over Narnia. Jimmy's got much more lurking in the dark recesses of his wardrobe than you could possibly imagine. Mark Pencak teams up with BlueBoat Theatre once again. Monsters In My Wardrobe (Fringe) The Stand, 558 7272, 4—26 Aug (not 73). noon, £5 (£3).

I Dr Bunhead vs The World’s Blggest Begey

The master of disaster, explorer of the exploding and sorcerer of science is back from his success at the Edinburgh Science Festival to take on the strange world of snot. George Square Theatre (Fringe) George Square Theatre, 662 8740, 78—26 Aug, 77am, £6 (£4).

I Treasure Island

Wee Stories gets up to some high jinx on the high seas in Robert Louis Stevenson's swashbuckling tale of suspense, murder and mutiny. Trea3ure ls/and (Fringe) Netherbow Theatre, 556 9579. 4-26 Aug, 5.30pm, £5 (£3).

30 THE LIST 19 Jul—2 Aug 233‘.