Book lovers, rejoice! The 2012 editions of the Capital M Literary Festival (February 25-March 4) and the Bookworm International Literary Festival (March 9-23) are almost here. Authors, illustrators, adventurers, and storytellers of all stripes will descend on Beijing for special workshops and guest talks. In a city where it can be difficult to find age-appropriate literary events, these two festivals are a rare treat. In order of date, we round up 14 events for kids and teens. (Hurry! Some of these might already be sold out.)
Kids (ages 4-11)
Sun, Feb 26
1. Jan Latta: Adventures in the Wild with Endangered Animals
Author and wildlife photographer Jan Latta has published a series of books on endangered animals for children called True to Life Books. She talks about her experience traveling to Africa, China, India, and Borneo, coming face-to-face with gorillas, cheetahs, prides of lions, rhinos, elephants, giraffes, and more.
Mon, Mar 12
2. You Will Be My Friend!
Ages 4-8. Children’s book writer and illustrator Peter Brown leads a fun and interactive kids event with Lucy the Bear from You Will Be My Friend! and Children Make Terrible Pets. Lucy the Bear is determined to make a new friend – but it’s proving harder than she thought: she accidentally ruins the giraffe’s breakfast and is much too big for the frogs’ pond. Brown tells Lucy’s tale of persistence and friendship with live drawings.
Thu, Mar 15
3. Comic Strips
Ages 8-12. Illustrator Sally Kindberg shows participants how to tell stories through comic strips. The author of The Big Fat Book of Knowledge and The Comic Strip History of Space, Kindberg uses situations from myths to draw flying sandals, invisibility caps, and how to trick a one-eyed giant. After learning the basics, attendees will have a chance to make their own comic strip.
Mon, Mar 19
Ages 4-8. Award-winning children’s book author and illustrator Emily Gravett has created fantastic characters in her books Wolves, The Rabbit Problem and Meerkat Mail. Her latest book, Again!, is about a dragon named Cedric who won’t fall asleep until he hears his favorite bedtime tale one more time. Gravett combines storytelling and drawing in this not-to-miss event for kids.
Tue, Mar 20
5. Wolves, Rabbits, and Dragons
Ages 4-8. Children’s author and illustrator Emily Gravett hosts a special storytelling event for kids. Participants can hear the adventures of wolves, rabbits and Cedric the dragon. Plus, pick up a festive cupcake from host venue Colibri Cafe.
Tue, Mar 20
Ages 8-12. This imaginative workshop led by Txell Cisa allows kids to see the city they live in from a different perspective. What would you like to see if you could fly over Beijing? Kids get to collaborate on a collage of the city as they imagine it from the air, and then create their own personalized kites. Update: This event has been canceled.
Wed, Mar 21
7. The Clay General
Ages 4-8. Chinese children’s book writer and illustrator Xiong Lei is renown for his gorgeous picture books. He brings his characters to life in this storytelling event, with live drawings and surprises. Presented in Chinese with English translation.
Teens (ages 12-18)
Thu, Mar 1
8. The Ancient Tea Horse Road
Jeff Fuchs is the first Westerner to have completed the Tea Horse Road, an ancient 6,000km trade route that runs through the Himalayas and several cultures. His book, The Ancient Tea Horse Road, recounts his 8-month journey on one of the world’s greatest trade routes. Fuchs speaks about his experiences on the road, including an obsessive interest in tea and interactions with indigenous mountain cultures.
Sat, Mar 3
9. From Child 44 to Agent 6 with Tom Rob Smith and Kathryn Chua
Man Booker Prize long-listed author Tom Rob Smith talks about the trilogy of thrillers that have made him one of the most popular English-language writers in China. Smith will also discuss with teenaged author Kathryn Chua (Midnight Walking) the writing process and being published at a young age.
Tue, Mar 13
Ages 12+. 2011 Australian National Slam winner Luka Lesson teaches the basics of writing slam poetry and hip-hop. He gives participants step-by-step instructions on performing poetry for an audience. Don’t miss this dynamic performer in action!
Wed, Mar 14
11. Pig Boy
Ages 12+. JC Burke’s young adult novels – The Story of Tom Brennan, White Lies, and The Red Cardigan – cut right to the heart of teenage lives and problems: relationships, changing identity and rapidly changing personalities. She reads from and discusses her latest book Pig Boy, a gripping and confronting look at a troubled teen who gets expelled and has to face the repercussions of his choices.
Fri, Mar 16
12. Kids’ Poetry Showcase
Ages 12+. Budding poets, this is your place to shine. The festival will host a special poetry showcase featuring local international school students. Participants will read and present their poetry, created especially for BLF 2012.
Thu, Mar 15
13. Desire, Despair and Transformation
Ages 15+. In Orpheus Lost, Janette Turner Hospital’s modern day reworking of the ancient tale, a young mathematician falls hopelessly in love with a gifted Australian subway musician. Their love idyll bursts when an explosion rocks the subway and tests their bond – and their very identities. Margo Lanagan’s Sea Hearts heads to Rollrock Island, a lonely rock populated by gulls, blunt fisherman, homely wives and selkies – seals that transform into beguiling women. A fisherman may be the master of a “sea bride,” but magic always has its price. Turner Hospital and Lanagan discuss retelling the old tales, tragic heroes and why myths matter.
Thu, Mar 22
14. Performance Poetry
Ages 12+. UK performance poet Tim Clare mixes poetry, comedy, and the ukulele to create his unique method of storytelling. Participants will learn how to take their stories and experiences and turn them into a genre-bending performance.
Tickets for the Capital M Literary Festival can be bought in person at Capital M or online at www.mypiao.com. Tickets for the Bookworm International Literary Festival are only available in person at The Bookworm.