UKTRAVEL: Are You Sitting Comfortably? England Is Celebrating Its Children's Authors This Autumn with Exhibitions and Special Events for All Ages

Article excerpt

Byline: By KEN BENNETT

Listen... I want to tell you a story about marvellous events and attractions linked to classical children's tales this autumn.

Enjoy England, part of VisitBrit-ain, has launched a new campaign encouraging families to visit an amazing diversity of attractions and places highlighted in much-loved children's books.

From Alice in Wonderland to Thomas the Tank Engine, Peter Pan to Harry Potter - it's an opportunity for everyone to discover the magical world of childhood and, in some cases, provides a glimpse into the creative lives of famous authors.

In all, 38 writers, from Lewis Carroll to Anthony Horowitz, and places linked to them and their stories, are featured in a full-colour, fold-out Storybook England map.

For example, one of the world's finest collections of childhood-related objects at the Museum of Childhood reopens in London on November 18 after a multi-million pound redevelopment.

The 130-year-old building has been restored to its Victorian glory and its opening exhibition, Happy Birthday Miffy, celebrates the 50th anniversary of Dick Bruna's popular rabbit character.

The museum also has a collection of cuddly teddy bears and explains the gestation of literary favourites including Rupert, Winnie-the-Pooh and Paddington. Admission to the museum, in Cambridge Heath Road, Bethnal Green, is free.

Eureka! Yorkshire's splendid interactive museum for children at Halifax, is planning a Harry Potter Wizarding Weekend this autumn.

Suitable for children aged three and above, the event from November 25-26, lets youngsters cook up nature-defying potions and charms, and offers a practical magic lesson with spectacular illusions, too.

The event is free upon entry to the museum.

Classic tales The Wind in the Willows, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland are all celebrated in special events in the Thames and Chiltern regions over the next few months.

The River and Rowing Museum in Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, has an excellent Wind in the Willows exhibition where visitors will experience life on the river as seen by author Kenneth Grahame. And there's a chance to see Badger's house' and hide from those nasty weasels.

At Toad's Christmas on December 20-21, children will be able to visit a festive Toad in his accommodating caravan where they can make some super Christmas decorations and help him decorate his Christmas tree.

The Roald Dahl Museum in Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire, is dedicated to the life and times of the world famous children's author who would have been 90 last month.

Visitors can see a replica of his writing hut, in which he wrote some of his best-loved stories, and explore the countryside.

Or visit Christ Church College, Oxford, where Lewis Carroll first came into contact with Alice Liddell, the real-life inspiration for his little girl lost, Alice in Wonderland.

You will find many of the weird but wonderful characters from the book reflected in architecture and objects around the college.

The A-Z of Literary Oxford runs from next February until July 2007, when the museum celebrates the city's literary connections with authors who have found inspiration there.

Close to home, nursery characters come to life in Wonderland, set in an enchanting woodland in Telford Town Park, Shropshire.

Children's favourite storybook characters and their homes, including Little Red Riding Hood, Snow White's Cottage, the Crooked House and the Three Little Pigs, appear round every corner.

Visitors can ride on the Mad Hatter's Tea Cups or have fun in Dribble the Dragon's giant indoor soft play area. …