Sussex

Brighton festival to celebrate children with line-up

  • 27 February 2013
  • From the section Sussex

Children's author Michael Rosen has said he hopes to inspire the creativity of young people with the line-up for this year's Brighton Festival.

The former Children's Laureate will theme the three-week event in May around the pre-war German children's book, Emil and the Detectives.

And this year's Children's Parade will have an alphabet theme to reflect his passion for language.

Rosen said festivals were "a university of the street", like a college for all.

He said he would be personally involved in about a dozen events.

One of this year's themes focuses on pre-war Germany and the Weimar Republic and has come from Rosen's interest in Erich Kastner's children's book Emil and the Detectives, which was written in 1929 and is set mainly in Berlin.

'Inventiveness and fun'

The writer said: "It was a favourite book of mine while I was a child, but I think since I've studied children's literature that it's actually a very important book."

He said the work looked at the theme of the child in the city in a positive light, unlike the Victorian, negative view of children somehow being destroyed by the city.

And he said Kastner celebrated that theme and also what children could do by themselves, an idea that had been picked up by writers such as Enid Blyton, Anthony Horowitz and Charlie Higson.

He said: "These are people who can see the creativity if you like, the inventiveness and the fun in childhood.

"Emil for me personally is very important, but also it's very important in the history of children's books, and again it reminds us that Germany is not just simply about the period 1933 to 1945."

Rosen said one of the highlights this year would be an event introducing the orchestra to young people, called The Great Enormo, based on a theme park without a theme tune.

He said the audience would help to devise a theme tune that could include anything from killer wasps to waving stars.

"If we are - if we are able to do that - it will be a Kerfuffle in B Flat for wasps and soprano," he said.

Other highlights during the three-week festival this May will include a world premiere celebrating the Britten Centenary Year, and the UK premiere of My Life After by Argentine playwright and performer Lola Arias.

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