Wednesday, 2 October 2013

It all happened at the Open Book Festival Cape Town – Dianne Hofmeyr


Forget the Edinburgh Festival… I’ve discovered the Open Book Festival, Cape Town… organised for its third consecutive year by the indie Cape Town bookshop, The Book Lounge. The city was awash with authors from around the world – NoViolet Bulawayo, who found out the day before the start that she was the first black African woman to be shortlisted for the Booker Prize, André Brink (Philida), Patrick DeWitt (Sisters Brothers) Athol Fugard (Master Harold and the Boys), Ian Rankin (Standing in Another Man’s Grave) and Gilian Slovo (An Honourable Man). Ingrid Mennen and Sally Partridge were some of the local children's authors while Polly Dunbar and I came across from the UK.

As part of the build-up, Open Book and Cape Town City Library attempted to break the record for the longest book domino chain and 2 528 books were knocked down. It’s broken the Guinness World record for 2 131 books currently held by the Seattle Public Library in the USA. Here it is on uTube:

http://www.dontparty.co.za/design/books/cape-town-open-book-festival-central-library-cape-town-break-guinness-world-record/

Cape Town City Library is one of the busiest libraries I’ve ever been into and on the Saturday when illustrator, Polly Dunbar and I were there ‘doing our stuff’ the children’s section was crowded. It’s a very beautiful space with spiral staircases and floating floors and a lovely ‘guardian librarian’, Tracey Muir, seen here below with illustrator Niki Daly...


with books against a backdrop of huge murals done by picture book illustrator, Marjorie Van Heerden 


Everywhere I went I found libraries were celebrated places – jam-packed with children, books and artwork.  

The smile on the door that welcomes you into the library of librarian, Hayley-Ann Powell, at
Parkhurst Primary in Mitchell's Plein.


Hevette Le Grange from NB Books and librarian, Jacqui Rodgers, on the stairs, leading to the Library at Tamboerskloof Primary, which were painted by one of the mothers.


A mural on the walls of Auckland Park Primary painted by an ex teacher, Clare Miller. 

Some of my events couldn’t always fit into the school libraries because of the numbers and I found myself ‘preforming’ in vast quadrangles out in the blazing sun with a librarian holding an umbrella over my head if I stood still for long enough...  I’ve never thought to pack sunblock in my box of tricks to take to a school event.







So next time you’re considering a Book Festival… forget Edinburgh, try the Open Book Festival, Cape Town, where books and libraries are celebrated with vibrant energy and where writers and illustrators of children’s books are received with abundant enthusiasm. Just come prepared for all eventualities.

www.diannehofmeyr.com

13 comments:

Sue Purkiss said...

It sounds wonderful - I love the murals on the library walls. Athol Fugard - I remember going to see a play by him in London, back when I was very young - so many years ago!

Joan Lennon said...

ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS! (And I can't believe how tense I got watching the book domino - )

Dianne Hofmeyr said...

Funny you should say so Joan... so did I... I didn't see it live but was holding my breath watching it on uTube!

Penny Dolan said...

Such a bright and colourful post about books, libraries and reading. I always enjoy "ABBA travelling" along with you on your marvellous. sunshine adventures - especially on a rainy grey day like today.

Katherine Langrish said...

How utterly lovely!

Dianne Hofmeyr said...

oops! No one reported back on the glaring spelling mistake... corrected now!

Dianne Hofmeyr said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

That is one awesome library!

David Thorpe said...

That's incredibly encouraging. I think kids in developing countries value books and reading more than kids here sometimes...

Dianne Hofmeyr said...

I think in a way you're right David. The Library is seen as a haven from a rather scary world.

I came across one young boy in the Library on the Saturday who answered all the questions but still went on reading another book as I spoke. Afterwards when I asked him how come he knew so much he told me he spends every Saturday in the Library with his brother while his mother works.

What impressed me too was the dedication and enthusiasm of the librarians whose libraries are sometimes quite poorly funded. It was a very refreshing visit.

Savita Kalhan said...

Your post brought a smile to my face - much needed, so thank you, and I was holding my breath during the book domino too! What a great idea - I'm sure the Sassies collectively can beat that...Perhaps for our next anniversary...

tracey muir said...

Hi Dianne. You are an amazing storyteller and truly inspired me. You had the children hanging onto your every word. It was a real honour to have you at Central Library.
Regards Tracey Muir

Mandy Oviatt said...

Those kids look like they were having a great time!
And I agree with Sue, I LOVE the murals on the library walls.