Sherlock star shines at Hertford Children's Book Festival gala night

PUBLISHED: 16:14 03 October 2014 | UPDATED: 16:14 03 October 2014

Amanda Abbington

Amanda Abbington

Archant

Sherlock and Mr Selfridge star Amanda Abbington was one of the celebrities supporting the launch evening of the 2014 Hertford Children's Book Festival.

Amanda AbbingtonAmanda Abbington

Amanda Abbington is a genuine bookworm.

Every room in her house is filled with books, many of which she has owned since childhood.

“The first books I really remember were a series called Mark and Mandy,” said the Mr Selfridge star.

“They lived in a high rise block of flats and each book was a different adventure.

“My mother would let me have one a month. But Charlotte’s Web was the first book I read by myself when I was a little older.”

And her all-time favourite children’s book?

“Charlie And The Chocolate Factory,” she said, “without a doubt.”

She read from it at Thursday’s Gala Evening at Hertford Theatre, which launched the 2014 Hertford Children’s Book Festival.

Amanda starred alongside fellow actors Sue Vincent, Lindsey Coulson and Simon Pegg, as well as popular authors Alex Scarrow, Holly Smale and Jonathan Stroud.

After the success of last year’s Hertford Children’s Book Festival, Amanda was keen from the start to be involved in this year’s event.

She came up with her own idea – to host a workshop for children aged six and up, based on her own love of Julia Donaldson’s stories.

“I’m really looking forward to it. I’m going to read one of the books to the children and then we’ll all act it out together,” said Amanda.

“Julia Donaldson’s books are perfect for the job – so lovely to read out loud and listen to – and so much fun to bring to life with a young audience.”

The event on Sunday is currently sold out, though there may be returns on the day. She’s also involved in a very special Sherlock Q&A that same afternoon, alongside her partner Martin Freeman, who was also at Hertford Theatre last night (Thursday).

“It will be great to have the chance to meet fans of the book, fans of the show – and to answer their questions!”

Amanda has a mountain of books by her bed and is always keen to share recommendations.

Not surprisingly, she’s a go-to person for advice for reluctant readers.

“Well, from a young age, children can’t help but be delighted and inspired by Julia Donaldson’s books,” she says.

“Then, for an older reader I’d say that the Harry Potter books as well as Diary of a Wimpy Kid will spark a love of reading. For teens, I’d say try Judy Blume.”

She says she’s genuinely honoured and thrilled to be part of this year’s Hertford Children’s Book Festival.

“It’s just a simple but brilliant idea for introducing children – and parents – to the wonder of books and discovering new authors.

“It’s great that it’s happening right here in Hertford. The programme this year is amazing – this festival will grow and grow.”

Whether she’s in her books-filled home near Potters Bar, or on set for Mr Selfridge or Sherlock, you’ll always find Amanda with a book to hand and finding any excuse to bury her nose in it.

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