Imagine – Children’s Literature Festival @ Southbank (12 – 27 Feb)

Imagine 2011Imagine is the Southbank Centre’s annual Children’s Literature Festival

This years nine-day fesitval offers a huge range of readings, storytelling, poetry, stand-up comedy, exhibitions, dance and music  – making it the ideal offering to spark the imagination this half-term.


The Princess Blankets

  • Friday 11 February, Purcell Room, 2.30pm, £7 (adults); £4.50 (children),
  • Schools ticket prices: £4 per pupil. Ages 8+

One of the UK’s great writers, Carol Ann Duffy brings her powerful new fairy tale The Princess Blankets to the Imagine Festival. This is a story about a young princess who can never feel warm, and evokes human fears, frailty and love in a magical and haunting tale. The show features readings from Carol Ann with musical accompaniment on woodwind and brass by John Sampson.

The Day I Got My Finger Stuck Up My Nose

  • Saturday 12 February, Purcell Room, 11.30am, £7 (adults); £4.50 (children). AGes 7+

Brian Patten presents his exciting new poetry show for kids and their parents. He brings his infamous poems to life by serving up ghosts, goblins, naughty children and fantastic creatures.

James Campbell’s Comedy 4 Kids

  • Saturday 12 February, Purcell Room, 2.30pm, £7 (adults); £4.50 (children). Ages 6+

James returns to Imagine after his sell-out show at last year’s Festival, offering irresistible stand-up comedy for children (and their parents!). The hour-long Comedy 4 Kids show touches on everything from Penguins to Nintendo Wii, and creates a unique environment for children to experience jokes and stories relating to their world in a stand-up comedy setting.

Paul Kieve

  • Monday 14 February, Purcell Room, 11.30am, £7 (adults); £4.50 (children). Ages 8+.

Paul Kieve is a magician and writer who taught Daniel Radcliffe how to perform magic tricks and who worked as the magic consultant on the film Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. In his new book Hocus Pocus a boy called Paul is visited by famous magicians of the past and learns about their amazing illusions and often grim deaths. Paul will read from the book and perform a number of illusions, and the audience is then invited to meet him in person after the show.

Murray Lachlan Young: Modern Cautionary Tales for Children

  • Wednesday 16 February, Purcell Room, 2.30pm, £7 (adults); £4.50 (children). Ages 5–10.

Murray Lachlan Young’s interactive poetry show Modern Cautionary Tales for Children mixes poetry, storytelling, stand-up and panto, and children are invited to dance on stage, pen poems, and impersonate ponies in a riotous but poignant hour of merriment and mayhem. ‘Move over Hilaire Belloc, you have a tangled-haired, cape wearing rival. Young is enchanting children with poems about toilets, thumb-sucking and horrible ways to die’ (Sunday Times).

Jan Blake

  • Thursday 17 February, Purcell Room, 11.30am, £7 (adults); £4.50 (children). Ages 8+

Jan Blake is one of the UK’s great storytellers, presenting tales from around the world. This year she brings a calypso flavour to Imagine, with stories inspired by Caribbean folk tales, accompanied by a percussionist and steel pan player.

Cathy Cassidy

  • Friday 18 February, Purcell Room, 2.30pm, £7 (adults); £4.50 (children). Ages 9+

Cathy Cassidy joins the Imagine line-up to read from her new book Ginger Snaps and then answers the questions that children always wanted to ask. Ginger and Shannon are best mates, but when they befriend lonely Emily, everything changes. This is what Cathy Cassidy does best – turning the highs and lows of friendship into unbeatable and heartfelt stories.


Poetry Pathways

  • Thursday 10 – Friday 18 February, Royal Festival Hall, Ticket Desk.

This interactive trail, suitable for ages 5-11, explores the hidden poetry of Southbank Centre with journeys starting at the Ticket Desk, Royal Festival Hall. The trail lasts about 30 minutes, depending on how much poetry participants can find.

The Bibliomancer’s Dream

  • Thursday 10 – Sun 20 February, The Clore Ballroom, 10am – 11pm.

Bibliomancy is an ancient ritual that involves the random selection of a book and then picking a line or verse within that book to learn a truth, or inspire the imagination of the holder. Children can visit the magical library on The Clore Ballroom and delve into hundreds of books that hold secrets for them to discover.


  • Saturday 12 February, The Clore Ballroom, 1pm.

Artists in Residence Bellowhead, turn their attention to children as they perform as part of Imagine. This is a gig with a twist – songs and stories are brought to life in Bellowhead’s unique folk style and the audience has the opportunity to form a very special part of the performance.

Portuguese Children’s Illustrations

  • Thursday 10 – Friday 18 February, Level 2, Blue Side, Royal Festival Hall,. Ages 3–7.

The Gulbenkian Foundation has generously supported an exhibition of Portuguese children’s illustrations. To celebrate the images on display, visitors are invited to create their own illustrations inspired by the drawings and books around them.

Kathak Stanza’s

  • Sunday 13 February, The Clore Ballroom, 2.30pm & 4.30pm

Southbank Centre Artist in Residence, Gauri Sharma Tripathi celebrates the voice-in-dance, with this imaginative workshop that combines words and traditional South Asian kathak dance. All that is required are voices, feet and a little imagination.

Poetry Pie

  • Monday 14 February, The Clore Ballroom, 2.00pm, ages3–6.

Poetry Pie vividly brings to life a range of poems specially written for Cbeebies. Some of these have been created by contemporary poets, others have been produced by young children. An animated cast of creatures act, dance and sing the words of the poems. Charlie the alien; Amber the hermit crab; Mischa the hamster; Evie the cow and Findlay the dragon, perform the funny and charming poems all of which are chosen to reflect the lives of children watching at home.

Poetry and Place

  • Tuesday 15 February, The Clore Ballroom, 11am, 2pm & 4pm.

Children can work with a local poet to unlock the poetry and language that is all around them – under the stairs, behind the curtains, on their doorstep or round the corner. This event provides the chance to discover the poetry of children’s homes and where they live, and the poetry within Southbank Centre.

The Carnival of the Animals

  • Wednesday, 16 February, The Clore Ballroom, 11am – 1pm & 3pm – 5pm,

Children are invited onto The Clore Ballroom to make and create masks and poems inspired by the poetry and illustrations from The Carnival of the Animals – the Apollo  Chamber orchestra, presented by conductor David Chernaik,  will also play the lively music by celebrated french composer Saint-Saëns. Children have the opportunity to work with renowned illustrator Satoshi Kitamura, talk to the musicians and create own art work to take home.


  • Thursday 17 February, The Clore Ballroom at Royal Festival Hall, 3.30pm for ages 4 – 7 years & 5.30pm for ages 7+

Spin! is an exciting show where poets, rappers and storytellers demonstrate just what words can do. Apples & Snakes is the leading organisation for performance poetry, creating fun and entertaining events which show what poetry is and can be.

Moving Words

  • Friday 18 February, The Clore Ballroom, 11am & 3pm . Ages 3+

This is a workshop for all the family, using poetry and creative dance, to explore ways of using the body to tell a new story. No dance experience necessary.

Gamelan & Poetry

  • Saturday 19 February 2008, The Clore Ballroom 11am

This is a day of poetry, story-telling and dance events on The Clore Ballroom, all related to the gamelan, the beautiful percussion orchestra from Indonesia. There will be activities to suit all ages and experiences, followed by a klenengan – a musical get-together with gamelan players from across the country who are coming together to explore traditional Javanese musical repertoire.

Sound Wizards

  • 16, 17, 19, 20 February 2009, The Hayward, 12.30pm

Strange and unlikely objects are used to create sound illusions and tell a magical story – a pair of gloves becomes a flapping bird and coconut shells turn into wild horses.


  • 16, 18, 20 February, The Hayward, 3pm

Childrens’ stories and animations make mysterious use of people turning into creatures, monsters and alter-egos. Using animation techniques, children can transform themselves into a fantastical imaginary character.

Mirror Image

  • 17, 19 February, The Hayward, 3pm

This workshop explores tricks with light and involves playing with mirrors and reflections, enabling participants to see different versions of the world around them.

Twilight Transitions

  • 17, 18, 19 February, Dan Graham’s Waterloo Sunset Pavilion, The Hayward, 5pm

Day transforms into night, as children can watch the sun set over the London skyline to the sound of live music and poetry for children. Free admission. No exhibition ticket required.

SouthBank Centre
Belvedere Road