Barnes festival brightens lockdown for families with virtual pet parade

  • Thursday, February 11, 2021

London's largest dedicated children's books event Barnes Children’s Literature Festival, which the University partners with and supports each year, is getting ready to give families a fun break from lockdown with the launch of a new event starring some of the UK's best known authors and their furry - and a few not so furry! - friends.

Image - Barnes festival brightens lockdown for families with virtual pet parade

Superstar illustrators Axel Scheffler, Nick Sharratt and Emma Chichester Clark, master storyteller David Almond, Horrid Henry creator Francesca Simon, Costa Children's Book Award winners Hilary McKay, Jasbinder Bilan and Natasha Farrant, and hilarious author-illustrator team Sue Hendra and Paul Linnet, are just a few of the big names who have offered to share the pets they love with the kids in the Barnes Pet Parade to be broadcast on the Festival's website on Saturday 20 February 2021.

Lydia Monks, the award winning bestselling illustrator behind the What the Ladybird Heard books with Julia Donaldson, Princess Mirror-Belle and many other classics, has designed a special logo with a nod to Judith Kerr's tea-drinking tiger created by the beloved Barnes resident of more than sixty years.   

The Pet Parade follows on from the success of last year's At Home event when Barnes became the first children's literature festival to go virtual after the lockdown began, attracting more than 40,000 viewers from 46 countries. Pre-pandemic the Festival sold more than 10,000 tickets at over 100 events in 2019.  

Barnes is the only top tier literature festival that is completely organised and delivered by local families and more than 150 volunteers from every major Barnes school, charity and community organisation. No-one receives any payment for their time or contribution including founder and director Amanda Brettargh, who describes the Festival as 'literacy lovingly wrapped in community.'

'We're very proud that Barnes is organised by families for families and like everyone over the past year we've juggled working from home with caring for little ones and homeschooling. We were absolutely blown away by the response to our virtual Festival last year and with schools closed and families once again doing such a wonderful job of staying at home we want to continue to support them.

'We love children's books in Barnes and if there's one more thing we love it's our pets. Thanks to our amazing authors and illustrators we've got cats, dogs, chickens, geckos and guinea pigs galore and we hope this will give the kids something to look forward to over half term, a little ray of sunshine in our wonky world,' Ms Brettargh said. 

Children will have the chance to win a box of books for their school by voting for their favourite pet who will be presented with the virtual 'Best In Show' badge.  

Roehampton is a proud sponsor of The Barnes Children's Literature Festival, and works closely with the festival each year which provides work experience and volunteering opportunities for students in the School of Humanities.