CHILDREN’S novelist and poet Michael Rosen dazzled 400 children in a performance at the Wyvern Theatre.

The author of 140 books spoke to the pupils yesterday during one of the highlights of Swindon’s first Youth Festival Of Literature.

The 62-year-old, from Middlesex, brought his books to life with a bright and comical show to the delight of smiling youngsters.

Michael tours many schools and other venues throughout the country but said Swindon was a highlight due to its very receptive audience.

“The Wyvern is a fantastic space,” he said. “Sometimes venues can be quite contained and closed in, but it feels more like an amphitheatre here.

“The children were great and very receptive. Sometimes you find there are a few smart alecs in the crowd who shout out and spoil it for the others, but not in Swindon.

“I feel it’s my job as an adult to make books come alive and perform what’s written on the page.

“Charles Dickens performed his works on stage with his one-man show and was an inspiration to others.

“It was one of the reasons why he was so popular.

“If you can made your thoughts and ideas come alive then it’s better than the dull squiggles on a page.

“Using voices and emphasis or stress on words adds to the interest of the story.

“If you can play with the music of language it will really open the door into the book.”

Educationalist Morag Styles has described Michael as one of the most significant figures in contemporary children's poetry.

Michael is also the presenter of BBC Radio 4’s programme Word Of Mouth which looks at the English language and the way it is used.

“Books give access to knowledge and I want to make it more accessible to everyone,” said Michael.

“I know how to do it and feel passionate about the subject.”

Michael was presented with a collection of poems about Swindon from year six pupils at Oliver Tomkins Junior School after his performance.

And children were quick to praise the poet and they especially liked his recital about Trev The Tramp.

“His actions were very funny and I really enjoyed watching him,” said Sarah Halls, 11, of Pinehurst.

“He made his books really interesting and it was better to see him perform in real life than read a book myself.”