Festival heat

Luckily we caught Kaye Tew before she chopped her skirt into bits. It was a very nice, long red skirt, perfect for the redhot weather, and it deserved better than to be made into cushion covers.


At first glance the chopping appeared to have been done by James Draper, of sock fame. (He wore none yesterday, more’s the pity.) It seems well dressed young directors wear shorts and espadrilles to work these days. (And no, we wouldn’t have worn ours, even if we’d known about the relaxed dress code.)

If I’d thought more carefully, I would have realised they’d be pretty busy. Kaye and James of the Manchester Children’s Book Festival have ‘a few’ things to do before kick-off on June 28th. So I’m more than grateful that they took time off to speak to the Bookwitch about what they do for the mcbf, and why.

James Draper

Basically they do an awful lot, and they do it because Carol Ann Duffy told them to. I can believe that. Even I might be obedient in the face of the Poet Laureate. (But also because they like and believe in what they do.)

The team at MMU

Waving a mcbf programme like a fan, James took us to meet the team, busy slaving away over hot desks. Then he took us down to what sounded like ‘his beach’ for drinks. Coke in the café, is what it was. We got James’s age out of the way before Kaye joined us, and then there was no stopping them, talking at great length about their mcbf.

Kaye Tew

I will let you read the whole interview as soon as the recorder thingy has cooled down, and I have managed to remove certain words. Their description of a speadsheet was unusual to say the least.

mcbf programmes

I am – if possible – even more enthusiastic about the whole ten days of book events now, than I was before. Kaye and James kept opening the programmes they’d both brought, to show us stuff, when they weren’t fanning themselves with them. Closed them, and opened them again. Kept fiddling.

A sort of labour of love, I’d say.

Kaye described their well functioning cooperation  by saying that while she’s painting the wall in front of her, James is busy painting his wall on the opposite side of the room. They both work hard, and don’t need to worry about what the other one is doing. You’ll probably find that the festival works well because of this team spirit.

(Photos by Helen Giles)

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