Bookbug Week to be celebrated with world record attempt
Hundreds of grown-ups set to take part in mass reading of Chae Strathie's picture book, Jumblebum
Chae Strathie may have been alone when the Jumblebum first crawled into his imagination, but he and his monstrous creation are about to have a whole lot of company. Scottish author Strathie won a Scottish Children’s Book Award in 2013 for his action-packed tale of Johnny McNess, the little boy with a very messy bedroom. Now, Jumblebum is about to form part of a World Record-breaking attempt to celebrate Bookbug Week.
Organised by Fife Council and Fife Cultural Trust, the attempt on Tue 19 May requires 428 grown-ups, with at least one child each, to be gathered in one place and read from the same book for at least three minutes. ‘It’s going to be fantastic to hear everybody reading Jumblebum at the same time,’ says Strathie. ‘Writing is quite a solitary experience – you’re squirrelled away in a wee corner of a room somewhere for weeks or months creating these books, so it’s lovely to go round schools and libraries and meet the kids afterwards. But this is something a little bit different and special. I’m not sure how it’s going to feel to hear everybody reading my words back at me – I think it might be quite moving in a way, but definitely exciting.’
When he himself was squirreled away, Strathie could scarcely have dreamt Jumblebum would end up being part of a World Record attempt – but knowing it was going to be read aloud was always foremost in his mind. ‘When you sit down to write a book, you have an understanding that you’re writing for someone,’ says Strathie, ‘and if it’s a picture book, you’re writing for a parent or teacher to read to a child. It’s not like writing for a young adult or older children, where it’s basically you speaking to the reader – there’s someone else between you and them.
‘So you really have to bear that in mind in terms of pace and flow, and how it’s going to sound being read aloud, because it’s completely different from somebody reading it internally.’
Throughout the year, Bookbug sessions introduce young children and their grown-ups to the joy of sharing stories, songs and rhymes. Jumblebum has been a popular choice, largely due to its fun rhymes but also, as Strathie has discovered, because parents can use it to encourage less mess.
‘When I started writing the book, I wasn’t thinking “I’m going to make these kids tidy their bedrooms”,’ recalls Strathie. ‘It was born out of thinking what is a universal theme that connects all children? And having an untidy room is one of them. ‘But I’ve had a lot of parents come up to me and say ‘thanks very much’, because they can use the Jumblebum to get things tidied up.’
Bookbug Week 2015 takes place Mon 18–Sun 24 May. Find out about Bookbug Week events at scottishbooktrust.com/events/bookbug-week or ask at your local library.