SA Festival of Children’s Literature: an interview with Darryl David

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Picture of SA Festival of Children’s Literature (https://www.facebook.com/SAfestivalofchildlit); picture of Darryl David: provided

Darryl David talks to Naomi Meyer about the SA Festival of Children’s Literature taking place from 20 to 21 May 2022 in Somerset West.

Darryl, you are busy organising another literary festival. A really important one! A festival for children's literature. Why a festival specifically about children's literature?

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I believe it may well turn out to be my most important book festival.
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Hi Naomi. I believe it may well turn out to be my most important book festival. I do not mean to brag, but almost a decade ago I approached all the publishers, and the big players all thought it would never succeed. So I started then on a small scale with my UKZN Kinderboekfees. Those were some of my most joyous times as director of book festivals. But then Afrikaans was discontinued at UKZN. When I came to UWC I felt in my heart that such a festival held so much promise. Not only from an educational point of view, but also to right the wrongs of marginalising authors and Illustrators in children's literature for so long. And of course, being at a university that does not merely play lip service to multilingualism has allowed me to aim for a truly multilingual festival. At a time when education in one's mother tongue is on the lips of all educators, I also believe the time for such a festival has finally arrived.

It is not the first time this festival is taking place, but it is the first time the festival is taking place at a physical venue. Am I right? How does this work - can some of the events be followed online, or do you have to attend the festival to be part of it? And where is it taking place?

This year the festival will definitely take place in person at Heartlands Baby Sanctuary. We have been so heartened that almost 80% of writers/ illustrators are going to appear in person. This we believe is the future of the festival. But we also understand that many people can't be here in person. So thanks to my university, the University of the Western Cape, we will not only have the sessions of writers who will speak online on Zoom. Every single event will be live-streamed. I tell you Naomi, I landed with my bum in the butter when I joined the Faculty of Education at UWC. More nurturing colleagues you will struggle to find. And of course they are investing in the future of all student teachers in the Faculty who will hopefully be better equipped to be teachers of literature.

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And of course it's going to be so much fun for kids. Face painting. Jumping castles. Pottery classes. Good food. I plan to taste every dish on offer at Heartlands to make sure it is fit for consumption by children. Especially the candy floss.
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And of course it's going to be so much fun for kids. Face painting. Jumping castles. Pottery classes. Good food. I plan to taste every dish on offer at Heartlands to make sure it is fit for consumption by children. Especially the candy floss. 😁

Who will be there? What is on the programme?

Every session will be a highlight. I really mean it. But we have a few show ponies to trot out. Marita van der Vyver and Marguerite Poland. Both recipients of the 2022 SA Children's Laureate Award. You don't get much bigger than these two. And then the likes of Fanie Viljoen. And so many prize winners. Like Nerine Dorman, who won the Percy Fitzpatrick Prize for Children's Literature with her novel Sing down the stars. Personally, I am really looking forward to my interview with international author Baruch Inbar about his book DJ Bear. But really, this is a feast for the imagination. I take my hat off to writers in this genre. They've inspired me so much that just two weeks ago I finally penned my own children's book. 

What languages will be represented? 

While the festival has both an English and an Afrikaans name, most of the publicity is in Afrikaans because my right-hand women, Mia Oosthuizen and Irene Fisher, are both Afrikaans-speaking. So I would like to encourage speakers of other languages to volunteer their time and linguistic expertise. I can assure you, though, the festival is totally multilingual. Last year we were so scared with sessions being in languages we did not understand. But it was heart-warming how African language speakers shepherded us on the Zoom platform and translated the important moments for us. A multilingual conference can definitely work, I have learnt.

Please explain the practicalities of the festival to our readers? How much are the tickets? Where can they buy them?

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Tickets cost R50 per day. Children under 12 free. Tickets can be bought at the Door. Or on Quicket. 
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Tickets cost R50 per day. Children under 12 free. Tickets can be bought at the Door. Or on Quicket. 

As far as Zoom is concerned, we have simplified the process and created just one link for all three days. Every morning on our Facebook page we will post this link. And they can simply come to the LitNet page and find the link below. It really is idiot-proof. Heaven knows, if I can use, it is truly idiot-proof! 😊😊😊🤣🤣🤣

Download the full programme here.
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