Paul Jennings as popular as ever as fans swamp children's festival

ALMOST three decades on from his first book Unreal!, author Paul Jennings remains as popular as ever.

Nairi Fahey, 6, and Eli Fahey, 10, get their books autographed by children’s author Paul Jennings at Warrnambool Books yesterday.

Nairi Fahey, 6, and Eli Fahey, 10, get their books autographed by children’s author Paul Jennings at Warrnambool Books yesterday.

This was evident on Saturday at a book signing at Warrnambool Books, where hundreds of fans of all ages lined up for a moment with the local writer.

His appearance proved to be the biggest of Warrnambool Books’ three-day Children’s Festival, held last week to celebrate the store’s 30th anniversary.

The bookshop’s marketing co-ordinator Michaelie Clark said the three-day event was “fantastic”.

“We had a great three days,” she said.

While the last-minute cancellation of Pan’s Whisper author Sue Lawson due to illness provided a slight hiccup on the first day, Clark said local authors Jo Hyland (Billy Bratwurst: Eyes On The Prize) and Matt Porter (the Crazy Relief Teachers series) stepped up to fill in and “did an excellent job”.

Illustrator Judy Watson (Goodnight, Mice!) was also popular at her appearance on Friday, as she used her artistic skills to whip up some bookmarks on the spot for some of the kids in attendance.

But Saturday was the big day, Ms Clark said, with roaming fairies, live music and Jennings helping to give turn Fairy Street a festival atmosphere.

“We had followers on our Facebook page who had driven from Mt Gambier to be here just to meet Paul,” Ms Clark said, estimating that the number of people there for the signing to be in the hundreds.

“There were people there for nostalgic value, people in their 30s who used to watch Round The Twist on TV, and there were five-year-olds and 10-year-olds who are reading his books now and still loving them. 

“He’s still hugely popular.”

As well as celebrating reading and the joys of a good book, Ms Clark said the three-day children’s festival had been a way “to give something back to the generations that have supported us for 30 years and the new generations”.

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