C'era una volta... il futuro - Once Upon a Time... in the Future - was the theme of Librinfesta 2016. The festival is held in Alessandria, Italy, and I was delighted to be representing the UK as the guest country.
The festival celebrates creativity in all its guises and runs over five days in the northern Italian town. Evgenia Golubeva and I took our book, As Quiet As A Mouse, and used it as a starting point for storytelling and illustration workshops for 5-7 year olds. Older children from a local English language school joined in with I Could Be, You Could Be. There were lots of willing kings but some of the queens were very shy!
There was a serious element to the festival, too: discussing the future of children's creativity. As a strong believer in the necessity of creativity and imagination, I spoke to a delegation including the Mayor of Alessandria, representatives from Librinfesta and the British Council, along with members of the public.
I recalled my experiences working alongside children caught in a cycle of poverty, disinterest, or who were refugees. They were the reason and inspiration for my first book, I Could Be, You Could Be: a six-year-old boy who couldn't write a word was still able to live stories, to create and imagine. The story is about the freedom to be ourselves and that, I think, is the key to creativity. Thhis world nees for our children to be creative and imaginative - it's as vital as the need to breathe.
To quote Umberto Eco: “Show not what has been done, but what can be.”