Facing a big throne nestled among an array of trumpety horns, the boy holds up a slotted board filled with words from a fantastical pick’n’mix. He steps up and perches on the cushioned seat. Trumpets blare. A voice announces: ‘Presenting the flying! lion! of Wonderland!’
Here I must own up: the ‘child’ is me, and it’s been decades since I was in short trousers. But Oxford’s new Story Museum has that effect on visitors. As co-director Kim Pickin guides me around the site and its debut exhibition 26 Characters, I repeatedly find myself seeing it all through my own childhood eyes, or picturing how my five-year-old daughter will enjoy everything here. My audio recording of this peregrinatory interview is peppered with heartfelt wows and goshes.
For the exhibition, 26 children’s authors were dressed up as their favourite fictional characters for photographs by celebrity portraitist Cambridge Jones.