Thanet residents are being encouraged to take part in a unique Margate Town Read project over the next few weeks.
Run by KCC’s Libraries and Archives department, it is based on a book featuring the town’s history and characters by highly-acclaimed children’s author Geraldine McCaughrean.
The project launches on Tuesday (February 4) and runs until 28 March 28. During that time, it is hoped that as many residents as possible will read the book The Positively Last Performance and take part in a variety of related activities across Thanet.
Five hundred copies will be given away at various locations, including the Turner Contemporary, local shops and cafes and other venues.
Published in hardback in February last year, the book features an abandoned theatre, a curious girl and a cast of ghosts. The story is set in the fictitious town of Seashaw, a seaside resort based on Margate, its people, places and history.
The Guardian’s review said: “What a fantastic and inspiring idea to unite a community and a children’s author in this way. The Margatians must be thrilled with this charming and skilful story, woven together from their fact and McCaughrean’s fiction.”
The launch will include a talk by the author at Margate Library, staff dressing up as characters from the book, samba drummers and flag-wavers from Hartsdown Academy performing outside the Cupcake Café in Market Place.
Visitors to Margate Library can meet the author at 1pm and then take part in some family fun activities during the afternoon (up to 5 pm).
The finale will be at the Theatre Royal on Friday, March 28, with events from 10am including a performance of a stage adaptation by Hartsdown Academy students. In the meantime, pupils have also been using their artistic talents to promote the book by making an old-fashioned “seaside peep-through board”, featuring characters from the story.
Tickets for the Theatre Royal show are free and available from Margate Library 03000 413131 or the Theatre Royal Box Office http://www.theatreroyalmargate.com/ 01843 292795.
Geraldine McCaughrean, who has written more than 160 books and plays for both adults and children, said: “I’m cock-a-hoop about the Town Read.
“When an author finishes a book it is like throwing a stone into a pond: it lands with a plop and the story inside ripples outwards as people read it, lend it, recommend it, hear about it. But it’s not often that the ripples spread through a whole town.
“I hope everyone will soon be talking about Positively the Last Performance.
“That’s not quite as selfish as it sounds. It’s just that Positively is about Margate. Although it’s called Seashaw in the book, anyone who knows Margate will recognize her landmarks, troubles, glories and unique quirkiness.
“Margatonians helped me write it, and the book is one big ‘thank you’ to them. I’m hoping people will listen to it, borrow it, read it, talk about it – and join in the celebrations.”