Exclusive: Axel Scheffler to join this year’s BookTastic children’s book festival

The world-renowned illustrator of the Gruffalo, Axel Scheffler, is among a host of awesome authors and illustrators who will be taking part in Bedford’s annual children’s book festival, BookTastic, this July.

The events will be taking place online, and after a year of remote learning and with Zoom fatigue setting in, the BookTastic team were determined to create something extra special for this year’s virtual event.

And bagging one of children’s literature’s most iconic illustrators certainly fits that criteria.

Axel Scheffler‘s collaborations with Julia Donaldson have become instantly recognisable best-sellers, including The Gruffalo, Tiddler, The Snail and the Whale, Monkey Puzzle, Room on the Broom and many more. He has also written and illustrated dozens of books in his own name and worked with other authors.

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At 11.30am on Saturday 3 July BookTastic will be joined by Axel for a little bit of reading, a little bit of drawing and a LOT of inspiration.

Axel Scheffler

“Events like this – that help children connect with their imagination, after the year we’ve had – are so important,” said Axel.

“I’m really excited to be part of BookTastic this year and I’m looking forward to seeing all the families in Bedford – and beyond – at the festival.”

Festival director, Rachael Rogan, said she was stunned when Axel agreed to be part of this year’s event.

“As you can imagine, having one of the world’s most recognised illustrators was
always a ‘wildest dream’ idea, and when I asked him to be part of this year’s festival I admit I never really thought it would happen,” she told the Bedford Clanger.

“Our challenge this year is to keep families engaged, which is hard when the novelty of
online events has somewhat worn off.  Axel’s involvement is the energy bump everyone
needs. We’re very excited to welcome him to BookTastic”.

Oh help! Oh no! It’s a Gruffalo…

The team made the decision to remain online for 2021 last year, feeling it was too much of a risk to hold a live event in July.

“We didn’t want to rush to pull something together if we had to cancel,” explains trustee Lisa Bremner. “One of the joys of an online festival is that it opens it up to a much wider group – families, authors and world-famous illustrators alike.”

This is small-but-mighty BookTastic’s eighth year and their second virtual festival.

As well as their family programme over the weekend, BookTastic is running a free schools programme on Friday 2 July.

This is open to all schools and homeschoolers, and features award-winning authors MG Leonard, Laura Ellen Anderson and Katie and Kevin Tsang.

To keep the festival accessible for as many families as possible, this year’s programme will
operate on a donation basis – families pay what they can, in the hope that those who can,
will support those on a limited income.

This is possible thanks to support from local funders The Gale Trust, Bedford Educational Association, and Bedford Borough Council.

You can also support the festival by using their online bookshop at bookshop.org where all proceeds go directly to the not-for-profit, which is run entirely by volunteers.

The virtual festival will be delivered via Booktastic’s own dedicated event platform, provided by international virtual conference provider EventsAir who have donated their time and technology to the festival.

In addition to headliner Axel, the programme is packed with award-winning authors and
illustrators, including festival patron and Great Bedforidan, David Litchfield.

Tickets will be released next week, so keep an eye on BookTastic’s social media, visit their website or email booktasticbedford@gmail.com.

Programme of Events

Friday 2 July – educators’ programme

10:00am MG Leonard: Twitch
10:00am Laura Ellen Anderson: Rainbow Grey
1:30pm Katie and Kevin Tsang: Dragon Legend

Saturday 3 July – main festival

10:00am Steve Cole: Various
11:30am Axel Scheffler: Various
1:00pm Vashti Hardy: Crowfall
2:30pm Patrice Lawrence: Toad Attack/The Diver’s Daughter

Sunday 4 July – main festival

10:00am David Litchfield: Various
11:30am Zanib Mian: Planet Omar
1:00pm Gareth P Jones: Rabunzel
2:30pm Raymond Antrobus and Polly Dunbar: Can Bears Ski?

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