JW3 holds a one-day children’s book festival

Kate Pankhurst appears at Bookniks festival at JW3

Kate Pankhurst appears at Bookniks festival at JW3 - Credit: Archant

Bookniks sees authors including Andy Stanton, Kate Pankhurst and Helen Peters take part in interactive talks and workshops on the theme of the Environment

Andy Stanton appears at Bookniks festival at JW3

Andy Stanton appears at Bookniks festival at JW3 - Credit: Archant

Favourite children's authors gather at JW3 this weekend for a one-day interactive book festival on the theme of the Environment.

Bookniks features Holloway-based Andy Stanton - author of the hilarious Mr Gum books and storybook writer and illustrator Benji Davies.

The Jewish Community centre in Finchley Road will be transformed into an enchanted forest on February 9 for a packed programme of workshops, talks, readings and craft activities.

Organisers hope the festival will celebrate the way books can help children to understand complex issues such as the climate crisis, politics, and history.

Pankhurst, author of 'Fantastically Great Women Who Saved the Planet', and Davies the, author of Tad which tells the story of a tadpole desperate to become a frog, will run interactive workshops - featuring drawing, dressing up, and lots of inspiration to change the world.

Helen Peters will take older readers (9 and upwards) through tales of bravery and loss in her books, 'Anna at War', and 'An Otter called Pebble'.

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Both address important issues such as wildlife, the environment, and the WWII Kindertransport.

Stanton will lead "an hour of joyous nonsense" about his latest series set in Pompeii with "historical inaccuracy guaranteed".

Free activities throughout the day include a Crafternoon and Rebel Club inspired by 'Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls'.

We asked Kate Pankhurst a few questions about her writing and a certain famous non-relative.

Q You are very distantly related to the suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst, how does sharing such an illustrious surname inspire your work?

A Although I can't claim to have suffragette blood running in my veins I have known about Emmeline's story since I was a child, I always tell children at my events that the stories you hear as a child have a habit of sinking into your subconscious and remerging in surprising ways when you are older - I think the Emmeline connection was definitely lurking in there. I'd want to create books with strong female role models whether my surname was Pankhurst or not, but perhaps that famous connection has made me more determined to do that.

Q What benefit is there in both writing and illustrating your books?

A It's great to put together the whole package, it means the images can work in a more integrated way with text. I love it when the text feels part of the illustration, it brings another dimension to the storytelling. That, and the fact it's quite nice to be 'in charge' of the overall feel of the book. (making a book is a collaboration with editors, designers and agents but it's nice to be involved in all stages of it.)

Q Your book about Women Who Changed the World was a success and now you've written Great Women Who Saved the Planet. Why is there an appetite for these books?

A I think parents are really keen to have a 'way in' to talking to their children about issues women have faced in the past, how things were and why they are different and ever changing now. Combining women's history with planet saving seemed two topics that had to meet each other.

Q How did you choose who to put in - and were there any you were sad to to leave out?

A We come up with a long list of women, it's a tricky process but by choosing women from around the world with a range of skills and talents we can whittle it down to the final 13 for each book. Sometimes it means letting go of a woman you really want to include but fortunately we've been able to include them in subsequent books. Anita Roddick didn't quite make Worked Wonders but she was first on the list for Saved the Planet!

Q What has been the response from young readers - both boys and girls?

A Children seem to have a definite favourite woman, usually one they share an interest or talent with, or aspire to be like. Amelia Earhart seems to be a popular one! I intended the books to be for boys and girls, they are a collection of incredible stories, the fact there are amazing stories about women doesn't seem to put most boys off.

Q You also have a detective series, were you a keen mystery solver as a child and do you enjoy thinking up the plots?

A Yes! I was such a massive mystery story fan as a kid, I loved Secret Seven and longed for something mysterious to happen to me as a child. It never really did so I made up all the mysteries I would have loved to have solved when I was nine! I tend to think of a funny mystery title first and then work a story around that.

Bookings for Bookniks at jw3.org.uk