Leave some space in your diary this March as the Hong Kong International Literary Festival is returning, with an expanded youth programme riding on the success of its school visits and workshops in the previous years. The 2004 festival has secured support from Man Investments, the company behind the prestigious Booker Prize. Apart from dozens of books lining up for their launch at the festival, young readers should keep an eye out for the visit of Gillian Cross, top British children's writer and author of The Demon Headmaster series. The stories have been made into a successful television series by BBC. The heroine Dinah can sense something is wrong from the very first day at her new school. The children there are strangely neat and well-behaved and they never raise their voice. They even work during breaks. The series has received top marks from many polls involving readers. Her novel Wolf won the Carnegie Medal for the best children's book of 1990, while The Great Elephant Chase won both the Smarties Prize and the Whitbread Children's Novel award. To promote English literature with an Asian focus, the festival has confirmed the presence of such writers as Chinese-American novelist and poet Qiu Xialong and award-winning Chinese author Han Shaogong. For the information of detective story lovers, Qiu is the author of acclaimed novels Death of a Red Heroine and A Loyal Character Dancer. Both stories are set in Shanghai. Agatha Christie created Hercule Pirot and Miss Marple; Qiu's protagonist is likeable senior police inspector Chen who has a love of literature. Born in Shanghai, Qiu is said to intertwine a glimpse of Chinese life in his mysteries. The author is currently a professor in Chinese and comparative literature at Washington University. On the festival list is also David Mitchell, the brain behind Number9dream. Shortlisted for the 2002 Booker Prize, it tells the story of an illegitimate son meeting his secretive and powerful father in Tokyo for the first time. Mitchell lives in Ireland, but has written much about Japan. The festival will be held from March 8 to 14. Watch out for more updates on the school programme and author interviews in Young Post in the run-up to the event.