Heartstone Odyssey book is inspiration for Preston based international online book festival

An online festival featuring a book with a timely message and a global reach is to be launched at UCLan in Preston on July 8.

By Fiona Finch
Thursday, 30th June 2022, 3:45 pm
Updated Tuesday, 5th July 2022, 11:38 am

The first Heartstone Odyssey Book Festival, which continues on July 9 and 10, will be led from Preston.

County communities, schools and libraries and the Gujarat Hindu Society of Preston are taking part in the linked Heartstone Odyssey project which challenges prejudice and racism.

Storyteller and dance performer Sitakumari, who will be one of the Festival’s main presenters, said the book which inspired the festival has universal appeal.

Part of the cover of The Heartstone Odyssey designed by Tony Moo-Young who painted the cover in 1988.

Supporters of the project include Preston City Councl, UCLan and The Harris Charity.

Sitakumari, said: “The Heartstone Odyssey’ by Arvan Kumar is a trilogy of novels for all ages, a story of magic, mystery and suspense which also deals with intolerance and the theme of how everyone, of whatever background, wants to be treated and accepted making it a story of our time. It is also about overcoming enormous obstacles to achieve your goal and fulfil your dreams.”

Sitakumari is director of festival creators Heartstone, a non-profit organisation which uses the book in projects to challenge intolerance.

Many north west youngsters have already taken part in a pre-festival art initiative and their work will be displayed on a digital screen at the launch.

Sitakumari who is one of the festival's main presenters Photo: ©Nick Sidle

The festival will be opened by Lancashire’s Lord Lieutenant Lord Shuttleworth and it is hoped that Good Morning Presenter Ranvir Singh will be able to attend the launch.

Renowned actor Sir Derek Jacobi is due to join online from London to give a reading from the book.

Preston MP Mark Hendrick has given his support too and said: “This project will explore identity, culture and provide much-needed positive role models to the diverse children’s community of Preston and beyond. Racism and discrimination is learnt behaviour and to counter that, we need to ensure that children from a young age learn to value others and celebrate our differences, whether that be in terms of colour, faith and beliefs or culture.”

The Festival line-up includes Lancashire contributor Mario Kkounnous, UCLan’s animation course leader who has pre-visualised scenes from the book for adaptation to cinema screens.

Chandra and Hugbundle at the Observatory by Gurachi Phoenix, Japan inspired by the book

James Arnold, curator at Preston’s Harris Museum, will also be taking part. He will show how objects in the museum connect with some of the

book’s characters, providing a local connection with the story. It is hoped that the Heartstone story will eventually be made into a film. Barrie Osborne, producer of the Lord of the Rings trilogy of movies, is due to join the launch on Zoom from Los Angeles.

Over the weekend a range of contributors from America and India will be among the 10 speakers. They include those with personal recollections of the civil rights movement in America, presenters from Corbett Tiger Reserve in the foothills of the Himalayas, astronomers from the Mumbai Planetarium and contributors from Bangalore’s Indian Institute of Science.

To register for the Book Festival which runs from 1pm – 6pm on July 9 and 10, contact: [email protected]

Part of the cover of The Heartstone Odyssey by Tony Moo-Young

For more about the festival programme and to purchase the book (£9.99plus p&p) see www.heartstonechandra.com

The launch will include an exhibition of photographs.

Spirit of the Land, the Making of the Heartstone - by Mario Kkounnous, UCLan
Sitakumari who is one of the festival's main presenters will also lead a movement session with youngsters at the launch Photo: ©Nick Sidle