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Word is, you don't have to be little to be away with the fairies

Some girls know instinctively when an occasion demands a bit of glamour and three-year-old Maisy Bowie is one of them.

She is helping Princess Sparkle Shoes find Archie the Unicorn and she is the fairest of them all today. Her mum says Maisy insisted on layers of pink net, with wings and wand, when she discovered she was coming to this "Fairyland Fiasco".

It's one of many free events staged for Marathon Oil Schools' and Children's Festival at Word, the University of Aberdeen's 10th Writers' Festival (May 14-16).

You need to be as uninhibited as Maisy to take part, marching-singing through the quadrangle at King's College, trailing behind larger-than-life storyteller Barry Donaldson like the Pied Piper. He has an animated crocodile of three- to five-year-olds behind him, with obliging mums and dads who shout and gesticulate at Barry's command, to the bemusement of scholarly passers-by.

Grown-ups are heading for Scottish Opera's world premiere of five new short operas, to a talk on Polish writing by novelist Stefan Chwin or a lively debate on the political future of Scotland. But we are away with the fairies, crouched beside Bishop Elphinstone's Tomb interrogating a distressed Princess Sparkle Shoes to help her find Archie.

Children figure prominently at Word and make up a significant share of over 10,000 annual visitors. Schools across the region have been attending cross-curricular workshops throughout the week and secondary pupils take part in an annual short story-writing competition.

This year's theme was "Something to Celebrate" and a favourite among the winning entries was The Last War by Stuart Hay, 14, from Hazlehead Academy.

But the Word award for early learning has to go to two-week-old Amily Kidd, who was carried round Fiasco in a pink blanket in her father's arms and slept throughout.

scoted@tes.co.uk.

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