TWO former Newcastle University students turned award-winning children’s writers are retracing their student footsteps this weekend to give readings of their work.
Chrissie Gittins and Helen Limon will be back at the university on Saturday to take part in a celebration of children’s literature.
Ahead of her arrival, Lancashire-born Chrissie, who studied English there and now lives in London, will be visiting schools and libraries in Middlesbrough and Stockton today and tomorrow as part of the Northern Children’s Book Festival.
Also an author of adult poetry, short fiction and radio drama, Chrissie – whose residencies have included one at Belmarsh Prison – has had her children’s poems animated for CBeebies TV, read on BBC Radio 4 by Roger McGough and included on an Oxfam CD of Poems for Children.
She’s also done readings as far afield as Thailand and New York and at places as remote as an isolated school on the west coast of Scotland and as prestigious as Buckingham Palace. Recently she made an hour’s recording for the online Poetry Archive set up by the previous poet laureate Andrew Motion. Saturday’s event – in the Percy Building at Newcastle University – will see her read from one of her three award-winning collections of poetry for children.
Fellow children’s writer Helen Limon, from Northumberland, will be joining her at the 12.30pm-1.30pm reading.
Helen, a creative writing graduate of the PhD programme at the university where she is now a teaching associate, started writing in 2000 when she set up a children’s literature project in Newcastle which turned into a publishing venture for local authors and illustrators.
Helen, who has also been running workshops for young volunteers in Shiremoor, artists in Russia and the Women’s Institute in Wales, has published a number of picture books, including the award-winning My Mother is a Troll.
And her first novel for children, Om Shanti, Babe – inspired by the locals she met in Kerala on a trip to India in 2009 – won the 2011 Frances Lincoln Diverse Voices Award.
Chrissie Gittins and Helen Limon will be reading at the Day to Celebrate Children’s Literature event in Newcastle University’s Percy Building from 12.30pm-1.30pm, which will be followed by a workshop called Action Speaking Loud in Words from 2pm-4pm. It’s advisable to book tickets in advance: visit www.ncl.ac.uk/ncla or contact Melanie Birch at Melanie.Birch@ncl.ac.uk or on 0191 222 7619. For more details on the writers visit www.chrissiegittins.co.uk and www.helenlimon.wordpress.com