We’ve had a tip-off: there’s going to be a life-size polar bear in Durham on Wednesday 12th August. Yes, a life-size polar bear on Palace Green. It’s let its usual frosty habitat to make an appearance in the North East to help launch this year’s Durham Big Read.
The Durham Big Read is a count-wide project designed to inspire us to read. It’s being organised by the Durham Book Festival (a Council-backed festival produced by New Writing North), for which the 2015 programme is being announced on the same day.
This year the focus of Durham Big Read is Northern Lights, the fantasy novel written by author Philip Pullman 20 years ago. The book has won every major children’s book award going and sold 17.5 million copies, and the best news is that Pullman himself will be appearing at Durham Book Festival on 17th October to discuss his career.
On Wednesday August 12th the organisers of Durham Big Read and the Durham Book Festival are also giving away 3,000 free copies of Northern Lights through libraries, hospitals, schools, leisure centres and on Palace Green – hence the polar bear (not a real one, obviously), which also appeared at the launch of the films based on Pullman’s novels.
Claire Malcolm, Chief Executive of New Writing North, says, ‘Durham Big Read is all about rediscovering the joy of reading and we think that this is the book to get people reading again.’
Northern Lights will be the subject of reading groups across the region, culminating in a discussion of the book at Consett Library on 29th September. And as well as Pullman’s appearance at the festival, there will be a screening of The Golden Compass, the film based on Northern Lights, at the Gala Theatre, and Durham University researchers will be discussing the novel at Palace Green, all on October 17th.
Durham Big Read will launch on Wednesday 12th August on Palace Green, Durham, and there will be free performances at 10am, 12pm and 1.30pm. Tickets for Durham Book Festival are on sale from 12th August and are available at www.durhambookfestival.com