PRH Children's m.d. Francesca Dow hailed Puffin’s “great new adventure in non-fiction” and the importance of literary adaption and evolution at Penguin Random House Children’s Summer Party at the Natural History Museum last night (3rd July).
Around 450 guests gathered at the museum in South Kensington. Illustrators Nick Sharratt and Chris Riddell attended, as well as writers such as Robin Stevens and Nadia Shireen, middle-grade author Sam Copeland, Jamie Littler, author-illustrator of the upcoming middle-grade novel Frostheart, along with illustrator Dapo Adeola.
Guests were greeted by a stilt-walker, an acrobat in the shape of a butterfly, while food vans supplied pizza, wraps and burgers and a three-member steel band accompanied the event.
Dow emphasised the theme of “create and evolve” and paid tribute to the “ever transforming and ever transformative” industry assembled in the Darwin centre of the museum, minutes away from the HarperCollins summer party at the Victoria & Albert Museum.
Standing in front of the Darwin Centre's Cocoon, Dow reflected on how a literary insect continues to inspire generations half a century on. “It is 50 years as it happens that The Very Hungry Caterpillar munched her way into this world… Eric [Carle]'s books are now much appreciated in mainland China as well – how things move on in this fast world of ours. And how the world of business evolves and has to keep evolving.”
Of Puffin’s offering for toddlers and young children, she said: “Ladybird is now 100 years old and more. It stands for the best in early learning –but still it adapts and changes, now re-emerging, brilliantly relaunching, helping children discover new worlds around them.”
Dow also discussed the increasing focus on non-fiction in Puffin and how it celebrated the “most curious imaginations”. She said: “Our most entrancing retelling of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species by Sabina Radeva [published in February 2019] and it marks the beginning of a great new adventure for us at Puffin which is Puffin non-fiction – important books about important things to help children ask questions… in some ways, our great new Puffin adventure in non-fiction is a wonderful evolution too.”
She added: “This is what we’re celebrating tonight: this thing you do so brilliantly, this incredible act of creation, in words and pictures. What a privilege to be part of this, and to be here among you, the great adaptors.”