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HE'S one of the country's bestloved children's authors, having sold more than 100 million books.

Most children and parents alike will be familiar with his many stories, from The BFG to Charlie and th'e Chocolate Factory. And now people on Tyneside are being encouraged to rediscover the mischief, magic and fun of the world of Roald Dahl.

Newcastle and Gateshead are playing host to the 2009 Roald Dahl City Read.

The initiative was launched at Newcastle City Library yesterday at an event attended by Roald's widow, Liccy Dahl.

The City Read aims to challenge every man, woman and child in Newcastle and Gateshead to pick up a copy of Dahl's Fantastic Mr Fox.

As part of the project, each person visiting libraries across Newcastle and Gateshead can borrow a copy of the book and will be invited to write a review, draw pictures and create artwork.

Each school across Newcastle and Gateshead will be given copies of the book, as well as bumper information packs with posters and activity calendars.

Liccy said: "It's wonderful how so many individuals and organisations in the region are joining forces to make magical things happen. Roald would be smiling about this, I know.

"I do hope as many people as possible, of all ages, will pick up a copy of Fantastic Mr Fox and take part."

The launch also featured a special film about the well-loved author including interviews with his illustrator Quentin Blake and model granddaughter Sophie.

The event was attended by children from Christ Church Primary in Shieldfield, and St Charles' RC Primary in Gosforth.

Christ Church pupil Melissa Santos, eight, said: "I have read four Dahl books so far. My favourite is Fantastic Mr Fox."

Classmate Didi Ndlvou, eight, said: "I have read The BFG and Fantastic Mr Fox. My favourite part in Fantastic Mr Fox is when the fox gets all the chickens to eat. He is really naughty."

The event was also attended by Roald Dahl experts Amelia Foster, director of the Roald Dahl Museum, and Brough Girling, a friend of Roald Dahl.

Janice Hall, City Library manager, said: "Roald Dahl has played such an important part in developing the imagination of our city's children.

"We are absolutely delighted to be launching the Roald Dahl City Read at the City Library and we hope through books like Fantastic Mr Fox more children will be captivated and inspired by his work."

There will be a range of events in Newcastle and Gateshead throughout September and October, including tomorrow when a celebration of Roald Dahl Day will be held in Newcastle City Library.

In addition, ExploreMusic, the library within The Sage Gateshead, will be holding craft and story-telling sessions inspired by the author.

The Roald Dahl City Read will continue throughout the autumn half term holiday with events at libraries, at Waterstone's, Seven Stories, and The Sage.

Finally, a date will be announced shortly for a gala screening in Newcastle of Wes Anderson's new film, Fantastic Mr Fox.

For more information about Roald Dahl City Read go to www.newcastle., www.gatesheadlibraries.

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MUCH-LOVED: Roald Dahl NEW GENERATION: Pupils from St Charles RC school in Gosforth with Felicity Dahl ROALD FANS: From left, Kasie Dalby, Dylan Whittle and Mam-Biram Jobe with Felicity Dahl BOOK WORM: Didi Ndlouv with books by Roald Dahl at the Central Library in Newcastle
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Copyright 2009 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Sep 12, 2009
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