TES books editor Geraldine Brennan on the inside literary track
September 13 has been declared Roald Dahl Day, with plans unveiled today to mark what would have been Dahl's 90th birthday in September (he died in 1990). His home town of Great Missenden in Buckinghamshire, where the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre opened last year, is at the centre of a nationwide events programme with the Roald Dahl Children's Gallery at Buckinghamshire County Museum celebrating its own 10th birthday on September 23. Quentin Blake, who created the Roald Dahl Day logo, will introduce readings from the books at the Royal National Theatre, and a National Film Theatre season of Dahl stories on film opens on September 9.
The organisers hope that celebrations will be organised by Dahl fans everywhere, especially in schools and libraries, and that they will be in the Dahl spirit: gently subversive and taking unexpected turns. See www.roalddahlday.info from this Friday for a downloadable events kit.
Readathon, which helps schools run sponsored reading events to raise money for two children's cancer charities plus the Roald Dahl Foundation (the RDF gives grants for literacy projects, among other things) intends to make the day a focus for its work. More details at www.readathon.org and www.roalddahlfoundation.org. If you are still stuck for ideas, the checklist of 10 official suggestions includes wearing something yellow (Dahl's favourite colour; he wrote his 21 children's books with yellow Ticonderoga pencils), practising your gobblefunk (as spoken by the BFG) and composing a revolting rhyme.
Meanwhile, Branford Boase Day is in late June: that's when a new children's author and their book's editor receive the annual award named after novelist Henrietta Branford and Walker Books editorial director Wendy Boase, who both died in 1999. The Henrietta Branford Writing Competition for under-18s runs alongside the book award, and this year the prize for six winners includes a trip to London to meet children's laureate Jacqueline Wilson plus the authors on the shortlist, to be announced next term. To enter, go to www.branfordboaseaward. org.uk to finish the story that Meg Rosoff, who won the BBA last year for How I Live Now, has started.
Full details are on the website; the closing date for entries is May 26.