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Hull prepares for return of children's literature fest

Hull’s very own children’s literature festival will transform East Park into a world of stories and imagination.

From Tuesday 25 June until Sunday 30 June, writers, poets, cartoonists, artists, illustrators, musicians and performers will gather in ‘Malarkey Park’ for The Big Malarkey Festival as imagination becomes reality for children and grown-ups of all ages.

The festival is back for its third year - a legacy of Hull 2017 - and has attracted a host of national and local names. Award-winning hand shadowgrapher, Drew Colby, will be performing his show My Shadow and Me, which recently won the Audience Choice Award for best show at the Newcastle Puppetry Festival and audiences will be able to take part in a whole range of events and activities. From a draw-along with Nick Sharatt (award-winning illustrator of Tracy Beaker and the Jacqueline Wilson books) and storytelling sessions with Amy Thompson (Channel Five Milkshake presenter), to sessions with authors Jim Smith (Barry Loser series), Caroline Lawrence (The Roman Mysteries) and bestselling Young Adult author Lisa Williamson (Paper Avalanche and The Art of Being Normal).

This year also marks the 30th anniversary of Elmer, with the books messages of inclusivity, acceptance and friendship still ringing true 30 years on. From meeting Elmer to holding a piece of the Moon to celebrate 50 years since the first Moon landing (a Moon-inspired 2019 fREADom Quest is landing later this summer) there is lots to celebrate and get excited about at this year’s festival.

Christine Hill (above) of Hull Culture and Leisure explains about the Festival.

Rebecca Patterson, winner of the Roald Dahl Funny Prize for My Big Shouty Day, will be on site for both the school and public programme, with events inspired by her new fiction series A Moon Girl Stole My Friend. While Hull’s very own Phil Earle, this year’s writer in residence, will explain how a street in Hull inspired his award-winning Story Street books.

School children will step into the world of The Big Malarkey from Tuesday 25 June for an exclusive school’s programme, which is free to schools enrolled in the Hull Schools Library Service. As well as interactive theatre performances they will also give their verdict on who should win this year’s James Reckitt Children’s Book Award. The festival will open to the public on Saturday 29 June for a two-day jam-packed programme that will inspire families of all ages.

Alongside award-winning authors and illustrators, there will be opportunities to dress up in the festival’s dress up corner and meet colourful characters from Hull’s maritime past and to ask the big questions such as, ‘Does the world ever stop?’, as Hull’s own philosopher and free spirit Lee Harrison attempts to truthfully tackle the big questions that you’ve always wanted to know the answers to.

Get stuck into workshops, from starting your own novel in just an hour and writing for video games, to making manga masks and a moonscape of what the Moon may look like in 50 years. Hull theatre favourites, The Herd, will also be back as they celebrate the launch of Slime the book, before heading off to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival later this summer.

The festival culminates on Sunday 30 June with Roald Dahl’s famously hilarious selection of poems Dirty Beasts as you’ve never heard them before. Accompanied by the New London Chamber Ensemble and narrated by Victoria Newlyn (Victoria has stepped in to replace Simon Callow who is no longer able to attend), festival attendees will also be able to make a mask or tail to join in the beastly parade.

Ellen Bianchini, Director of The Big Malarkey Festival, said: “It’s nearly festival time and we can’t wait to once again bring East Park to life with stories, characters and imagination. If you haven’t already got your ticket we’re encouraging people to buy them ahead of the event to get them at the early bird price.

“Hull has many incredible libraries, spread across all the city’s communities and we really hope that not only do families come along for what will no doubt be a fun and enjoyable weekend, but they will be encouraged to access their local library and make use of the wonderful resources they offer.

“It is fantastic that Hull has its very own children’s literature festival, it is a great opportunity to fuel a child’s thinking and creativity and see how a library card can be a key to a world of imagination.”

The Big Malarkey Festival runs from 25-30 June in East Park, Hull.

Tickets are on sale and can be purchased online at or from Hull’s libraries. Adult tickets are priced at £5 per day, children’s tickets are £2.50 and under ones go free. On the door they are £6 for adults and £3 for children. Disabled tickets are £4 and include a free carers ticket.

Guests are encouraged to bring a picnic to enjoy in Malarkey Park while refreshments and food will be available to purchase from a range of vendors.

The festival has been awarded funding for the next two years from Arts Council England and the James Reckitt Library Trust and is also supported by Living with Water, KCOM (supporting the festival for a second year) and new sponsor for 2019, McCain Foods.

For further information visit

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