Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Durham Book Festival Looks Set to Get off to a Roaring Start; It's Not Every Day a Polar Bear Rocks Up to Help Launch a Book Festival. but That's What's on the Cards on Wednesday. SAM WONFOR Reports

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Durham Book Festival Looks Set to Get off to a Roaring Start; It's Not Every Day a Polar Bear Rocks Up to Help Launch a Book Festival. but That's What's on the Cards on Wednesday. SAM WONFOR Reports

Article excerpt

Byline: SAM WONFOR

IT'S safe to say that if you go down to Palace Green in Durham on Wednesday, you're sure of a big surprise. Well you will be if you don't read on any further.

The Green - part of the World Heritage Site - is set to be transformed into the 'frozen north' - complete with a life-size polar bear - for the launch of Durham Big Read, a county-wide project designed to inspire a love of reading for pleasure.

The event has been organised as part of Durham Book Festival, which this year has the theme Northern Lights.

Fittingly, the title for this year's Durham Big Read is Phillip Pullman's Dark Materials - the first book in the Northern Lights trilogy.

Three thousand copies of the bestselling children's novel will be distributed in schools, hospitals, libraries and leisure centres. Meanwhile Wednesday's event will double up as the launch of the 2015 festival, which has once again been programmed by New Writing North and made possible by Durham County Council. Pullman himself will be appearing as part of the festival on October 17 to talk about his extraordinary career.

Interactive theatre company Los Kaos will be leading the performance element to Wednesday's proceedings, which will see the amazingly realistic polar bear making a return to public life, following his popular appearance at the launch of The Golden Compass, the 2007 blockbuster film adaptation of Northern Lights.

Claire Malcolm, chief executive of New Writing North, says: "Northern Lights is a genuinely special novel; whenever I mention it to anyone, their eyes light up. Durham Big Read is all about rediscovering the joy of reading and we think that this is the book to get people reading again.

"I hope both adults and children will come along to get their copy, and that families will share it together.

"We are delighted to launch Durham Big Read with a free public event for the people of Durham, as we invite them to join us on this amazing journey of the imagination. …

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