Book Dash in action


From our Front Line Book Correspondent at Centre for the Book

The Dash is on as twelve teams (each with editor, designer, illustrator and writer) go for the nine pm deadline in an event held by Book Dash at Centre for the Book in Cape Town. The aim is to produce, by the end of the day, twelve books for children under five years of age. Three hours into the process, it already looks more than probable!

Heads are down all over the room as the teams confer on their stories. And this IS a team effort. Steam is coming out of some people’s ears. As a writer, I can say that we had it easy. We had to submit our idea slightly in advance of the event, with the obvious proviso that this is a team effort and there WILL be changes to the story.

Coffee, Welcome, fine-tuning of story, more fine tuning of story … the pressure is now (and will remain) on the illustrator and designer. More fine-tuning, water, more fine-tuning. The action in the story is cut so that the illustrator may still be sane at the end of the day (and will not need stretcher bearers to get her to her car). Snacks. A quick trip round the other teams. Further discussion.

Over lunch, the writers present their stories, reading them aloud (a very useful exercise). Cleverly, we have made a wordless picture book, so no words to read, but the idea seems to meet with approval from the other teams anyway.

Meanwhile the illustrator toils on. Our designer is stitching illustrations in Photoshop (no, don’t ask). Our facilitator wants to know what number of illustration we are on (‘four-ish or five-ish’) She writes down ‘four’ but we are on track.

The logistics are impeccable. People wander past with water, chocolate, energy drinks … Easter eggs. The illustrator toils on. More stitching is happening.

The deadline to finish is 20.00? (Eight-ish.) Will we make it?

To find the answer to this question, and others, see this website tomorrow!

Book Dash gathers volunteer creative professionals to create new, African storybooks that anyone can freely translate and distribute.
For more information, and to read and download books from previous book-dashes, go to
Sponsorship for the event was by Decorland: and the much appreciated snacks and beverages supplied during the day came from various generous sponsors.

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