Welcome to the city of the arts

3rd August 2001 at 01:00
Whether you are a fan of literature, classical music, jazz, stage acts or films, Edinburgh has something to entertain you. TES Scotland reviewers look at what is on offer in the spectrum of annual summer festivals to interest young audiences

Harry Potter's creator, JK Rowling, will not be at the Edinburgh International Book Festival this year but the dragon will be. Under the literary theme of Mythical Creatures, willow work artist Serena de la Hey will be enlisting young fans to help create a 20-foot dragon which will grow up in Charlotte Square Gardens. Watch out, too, for workshops structured around Jonny Boatfield's magical Imagination's Chamber.

If you want to find out how to break into writing children's books - specifically for the eight to 12 age group - David Almond, Gill Vickery and Thomas Bloor will be offering advice. The last two are past winners of the Fidler Award, which recognises unpublished writing.

A growing interest in book prizes has led some secondary schools to start running their own awards. Award-winning author Tim Bowler joins the Youth Libraries Group panel for the Carnegie and Greenaway Medals to discuss book prizes for young people and talk about their favourite shortlisted books.

Writers as Readers sessions this year include Gillian Cross, Rachel Anderson and Theresa Breslin; Tim Bowler, Terence Blacker and Julie Bertagna; and Jamila Gavin and Stephen Law. The sessions provide an informal way of finding out more about your favourite authors.

A first for the festival is the arrival of children's author-in-residence Vivian French, whose daily workshops will encourage children to come up with their own stories "or at the very least, a sufficiently detailed plan of the beginning, middle and end of a story so that the children can go away feeling confident that they can finish it at school or at home".

There will be free daily Scottish storytelling sessions with different authors in the children's tent.

Three champions of the magical tale, Marina Warner, Melvin Burgess and Philip Pullman, will be discussing the use of myth and legend in their work. Melvin Burgess's latest novel for teenagers, Bloodtide, is a departure for him, based on the Icelandic Volsunga saga. "I realised there is an age range of something like 14 to 20-plus that is catered for a great deal in films, computer games and so on, but which is largely left alone in books," he says. "Why is that sort of imagery so absent in books for young adults?"

Pie Corbett, a prolific writer and renowned for his lively poetry performances, will be holding a daytime session for children. The former primary school headteacher and English schools inspector will also be giving an evening talk for teachers on improving standards in writing for seven to 11-year-olds. He was involved in writing parts of the English national literacy strategy.

This year schools are being offered a deal to attend three elements of the festival out of a choice of a workshop, an author session, storytelling and an exhibition of work by children's book illustrators. The exhibition, a stone's throw away at the National Trust for Scotland's building at 28 Charlotte Square, features work by Debi Gliori, Anthony Browne and Mairi Hedderwick among others.

For teachers who can't make it to the festival, an outreach programme is taking a dozen writers on the Scottish Book Trust van to Falkirk, Fife, Glasgow and the central belt.

Edinburgh International Book Festival 11-27 August, www.edbookfest.co.ukFor late details of children's events (discounts for groups), contact Marc Lambert, tel 0131 228 5444e-mail marc@edbookfest.co.ukSee website for discount books offer

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