Towers and Tales

imageA couple of weeks back I took a chance and packed the whole family in the car and trekked down the country to a new Children’s Book Festival in county Waterford. What a great decision it turned out to be!  Towers and Tales took place in the beautiful town of Lismore, where I had never before visited. So beautiful that I’ll definitely be back.

A whole day of talks and workshops and readings and storytelling the atmosphere was buzzing. The sun shone and it was great to see so many kids and their grown ups running about excitedly. There was a great range of free events to stroll through up at the castle. I was particularly taken with the book tree and the kids enjoyed several readings.  The drawing and printing activities looked like great craic but my kids were a bit small. The Gruffalo was walking about greeting kids which had mine scurrying for cover but it was a nice touch and older kids were having a great time chatting to him and posing for pictures. We had been to one of Niamh Sharkey’s monster doodles before so knew what to expect but the location and the weather and the fact that they had to have FIVE simultaneous monster doodles to accommodate all the artists made it truly magical.


Some monsters at the Monster Doodle with Niamh Sharkey

Around the town there were loads of readings and workshops and it was great to see so many teenagers being engaged and excited. Prices were reasonable too so it would be manageable to go to more than one. The exhibition of illustrations in the Summerhouse cafe had a lovely mix of well known gems and new (to us) pieces. My kids were squealing with delight at images from The Tiger Who Came to Tea and Charlie and Lola. I was very excited seeing a piece by some of my favourite illustrators Dave McKean and Oliver Jeffers and also the terrifying other mother from Coraline by Chris Riddell. The illustration from Time Team had my archaeologist partner giddy! Being able to eat a tasty lunch surrounded by all this great work and the work of the kids designing their own characters was a real treat. Talk about accessible art! The only tiny gripe I had was that the reading advertised as as Gaeilge was actually mostly translated. I think this made it fall between two stools. Kids without a good level of Irish probably wouldn’t have gone and my (bilingual) kids couldn’t understand why the lady said everything twice. Great choice of book (Ababu, a Ghugai! By Chris Haughton) but I think if you are going to have Irish language readings, commit and do them as Gaeilge. Otherwise throwing one Irish language book into an English reading also has merit as more kids are exposed and see reading as Gaeilge as an enjoyable experience.


Flying book tree in the courtyard of Lismore Castle. Glorious weather and lovely relaxed atmosphere.

But that really is a tiny gripe. I really loved the day and I hope it will be continued in future years. My recommendations would be:

  • expand it to two days as there was so much going on it seems lots of people missed lots of things.
  • give some accommodation suggestions or links on the website as, presumably, bringing people into Lismore is part of the aim but we ended up staying in Mallow and driving over. We’d love to stay in actual Lismore next year.
  • it would be nice to see some author or illustrator talks for picture books. Mostly for myself but I’m sure my kids wouldn’t mind either 😉

Looking forward to next year’s Towers and Tales already!

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