Two northwest London children’s authors made their first public appearances since the lockdown at a socially distanced event at Childs Hill Park in Golders Green on Sunday.

Jason read What Can You See? and I Like To Put Food In My Welly to groups of children outside Rea’s Place In The Park.

Jason Korsner came up with the idea of turning traditional literary festivals on their heads, to deliver a Covid-safe cultural experience for primary-aged children, many of whom have just returned to school for the first time since March.

Rather than having people come to see the authors, gathering at a set time, the “Reading at Rea’s” event saw the authors going to families and friends, enjoying food and drink at tables outside Rea’s Place In The Park, at times that suited them.

Jason and Kamila (and Coco the monkey) read their books at the socially distanced event at Rea’s Place in Childs Hill Park

Jason read both the silly rhymes of I Like To Put Food In My Welly and the younger-skewed What Can You See?

He was joined by Kamila Hokynkova, whose stage show about the dream-like adventures of a monkey called Coco was turned into a book during the lockdown; Coco’s Adventures was published last week. She was joined by her puppet.

They read their books both to customers at Rea’s Place and other children walking past, many of whom kept coming back for more, after running off to distant corners of the park and bringing back friends they thought might – and did – enjoy them.

Coco the monkey helped Kamila Hokynkova read her first book to children outside Rea’s Place

“Can we have the funny one again?” some excitedly shouted, pointing at I Like To Put Food In My Welly. Others returned to meet Coco again.

“I’d been expecting to spend the past few months reading my books to children in schools, bookshops and cafes but all the events were cancelled, so I was really grateful to Rea’s Place – and all their outdoor space – for the opportunity to reconnect with young readers at last,” said Jason. “Hearing so many children laughing and listening to them explaining their unique views of the world reminded me just why I started writing – to entertain and inspire the next generation. I was only mildly put out that on more than one occasion, children would run up to me – sometimes while I was reading my books to another group – to say they wanted the monkey! I couldn’t compete with Coco – all I could offer was an activity sheet.”

Kamila said the event had been fun for her and Coco the monkey – but possibly too much fun for some of the excited children, who seemed to be more interested in the monkey than his book.

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