As part of my birthday celebrations at the start of the month, I wanted to return to Seven Stories. It is the National home of Children’s Books where there is usually exhibitions and events to celebrate books and reading. When I was younger, I can remember going a lot with my mum and then stopped once I started finding reading difficult. I was later told that I had dyslexia and since then I have been trying to rekindle my love for books and reading.
The main exhibition that they have on at the moment is Michael Morpurgo – A lifetime of stories. As an author, he holds a special place in my heart as Kensuke’s Kingdom was actually the first book I read cover to cover after being diagnosed with dyslexia. Since then I have read many of his books as I find they are really interesting and rather creative. I loved being able to have a look at the exhibition and all of his illustrations. The exhibition also includes a lot of his original drafts, adaptations, scripts and unpublished manuscripts of his classic and most famous books.
One of the main parts of the exhibition was showing how the story, War Horse, evolved from the first draft to publication of the book. Personally I haven’t read this one to date but I have heard it includes a lot of information about World War 1 and about Joey, the young farm horse which was sold to the army in the midst of the war. The exhibition includes props from stage and film including a goose puppet from the National Theatre, a maquette of Joey and a World War 1 painting inspired by War Horse.
Kensuke’s Kingdom was also included in the exhibition. The story is about Michael struggling to survive on his own after being washed up on an island in the Pacific. He has no food or water with him, until he wakes up and find a plate of fish, fruit and fresh water. It is all about being finding out who he is on the island with. The exhibition also included a prop of the boat and waves in order to help explain the story, again using first drafts and unpublished manuscripts.
Rhyme Around The World is another exhibition that is being held at Seven Stories. This explains the history behind nursery rhymes and how they are told across generations in different parts of the world. There was many props and dress-up clothing that the younger children could play around with to keep them entertained.
Based in the Gillian Dickinson Gallery and Learning Space is the Edward Ardizzone: 80 Years of Little Tim exhibition. This was to celebrate the 80th anniversary of Edward Ardizzone’s first Little Tim book – Little Tim and the Brave Sea Captain published in 1936. The exhibition has many of Edward’s original artwork, some of it on show for the first time and draft material that includes single illustrations, and printed books and letters. Personally, I have never heard of Edward’s collection of books until I saw the exhibition and although it was aimed towards younger children I found it extremely interesting.
They even included cloaks and a replica of the famous chair in Harry Potter in the attic where storytime is held daily whilst at the centre. Overall, as an older reader I loved being able to find out more information about some of the classics read in my childhood. At the centre, they have a bookstore and a cafe which sells all different books suited to all ages. I was lucky enough to pick up a signed copy of Michael Morpurgo’s Such Stuff A Story-Maker’s Inspiration which explains about the dreams and tells a little bit about the stories he has written.
Have you ever been to Seven Stories before? What are you favourite types of books? Have you got dyslexia? Let me know in the comments.
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