Pirates Ahoy!

I was invited to hold a workshop session at Evesham's Festival of Words this weekend. It was great! The children who came along were so enthusiastic and attentive.


After listening to the story of Bossy Jonathan Fossy (and how a bunch of pirates manage to make him see the error of his ways), they created some fantastic pirate hats before penning some even more fabulous poems. We heard about hairy pirates and scary pirates, lazy pirates and crazy pirates, even boring pirates and snoring pirates - so much original rhyming from them all I was worried there was too much competition!


To finish off we sang all about Ten Brave Pirates Sailing on a Ship (Think Ten Green Bottles and you're there).


Well done everyone...


Making the pirate hats.


Still hard at work...


...Fred my talking parrot was rather a distraction!



Arrr! Five of the brave pirates getting ready to sing.

A Grand Picnic in the Park


On Sunday The Valley in Evesham held a Picnic in the Park, a fun afternoon for all the family including storytelling, songs, pony rides, a fancy dress competition and a train to ride on. It was a huge success, not in the least helped by the fact the sun managed to shine and the rain held off until we had finished...phew!


I thoroughly enjoyed reading my story about Bossy Jonathan Fossy and his run-in with a band of pirates, plus I got to help judge the fancy dress competition too. There were some brilliant costumes, ranging from Dorothy and the lion through Pocahontas to Snow White and Captain America - something for everyone.


I'd taken along a treasure map and invited the children to guess where the pirates had hidden their loot. Each marking their chosen spot with an X, it wasn't long before the map was covered. The lion guessed correctly....obviously good at sniffing out the gold coins!


There were more stories from a fellow writer and some songs too. A great afternoon which we all hope will become an annual event....watch this space!

Return to The Valley

This week I was invited back to The Valley and so I decided to share some of my favourite books with the children who came along.


In each session we found out all about 'Green Eggs and Ham' (Dr Seuss), watched 'Preposterous Rhinoceros' (Tracy Gunaratnam) try to learn to read and listened very carefully to 'Open Very Carefully, A Book With Bite' (Nick Bromley & Nicola O'Byrne)....I think we are all keeping a careful lookout for any more crocodiles that may be lurking inside our stories!


Then I read my favourite 'Ever So' story. This changes frequently, but on this day it was 'Nosy Tabitha Posy'. 

Then there was plenty of time for drawing the rather sleepy tiger from the story....

Thank you everyone who came along - and staff at The Valley - another great day!

BlestFest 2015

I was thrilled to be asked to deliver a session for children at Bampton's BlestFest last weekend. This Oxfordshire village is one which took the decision to keep their library open, following the cuts of 2010, by holding fund raising events to make sure they retained both the library itself and their professional librarians.

The village is stunning - real Cotswold fare. Small wonder it was chosen as the setting for much of Downton Abbey's exterior filming.

The library itself doubles as the cottage hospital in the series......


Blest is actually the acronym for Bampton Library Events Support Team. When the library was threatened with closure, this voluntary group got together to try and keep it a professional and vibrant place. They certainly seem to have achieved their aim. The place is welcoming and full to the brim with everything you would expect from a library. Blest continue to support their professional library manager, Loraine Hall, by staging additional talks and events such as this festival, to raise both funds and the profile of the library itself within the community.     

The County Librarian was on hand throughout this festival weekend. Chatting to him I discovered that Oxford had managed to keep open ALL its libraries, many of them continuing to be professionally run. Just shows what can be done with determination and spirit.

I arrived quite early, so had a look round the village and festival stalls before my event. Then I settled down in the library and spent a happy half hour or so sharing my favourite books with children (and their parents!), plus heard all about some of their favourite stories too. Then we listened to the tales of Mrs MacCready and Tabitha Posy, which went down well.... though no one seemed to like the thought of Mrs MacCready eating worms!

I thoroughly enjoyed being a small part of this festival and wish Bampton Library all the best for their future.....and I'll end with a few photos of this beautiful village.

Fun with poems at The Valley

I had a really good time at The Valley (formerly Evesham Country Park) when I went along to share some of my favourite funny poems. 

Two groups of enthusiastic children came along to listen and join in. They laughed in all the right places.....I think Spike Milligan's 'Today I Saw A Little Worm' may have been their favourite!

I read the children some limericks too. I'd decided (goodness knows why, given I have an amazing illustrator who creates the pictures in my books, for which there is very good reason) that I should draw a couple of pictures to go with the limericks. I think it may be possible that these drew the biggest laugh of the day, though the children had promised me they wouldn't!!

Then we listened to the story of Mrs MacCready (who was ever so greedy!).....

....followed up with lashings of funny food poems and then.....

                                               .....the children created a food poem of their very own.

After lots of suggestions as to what food we should write about, the first group chose jelly. Much thought went in to words to describe jelly and this is the poem we came up with...

The second group chose chocolate cake! There were some fantastic words used including 'gooey' and 'ginormous'.....a child after my own heart there!

All that hard work just left time for the children to either draw their favourite foods or write their own poem. Even more hard work went on....

...until time was up. The children were treated to an Ever So book as part of the event. Seem to have had some happy customers!

I'd like to say a big thank you to the children and parents who came along. I hope you all enjoyed yourselves as much as I did! Also to the staff at The Valley....I didn't have to carry a thing in or out....all seen to for me! Plus a perfect venue. Hope to be back again......

Wychwood Kidlitfest 2014

This year Booktrust were at the Wychwood Festival. Hooray! Waterstones (who run the Kidlitfest) are founding partners of Booktrust's Children's Reading Fund and nominated Booktrust as their charity partner to raise funds for this excellent cause. The Children's Reading Fund is all about improving the life chances for disadvantaged children in the UK - those in care, those with additional needs and those in families where economic exclusion is a barrier to reading and writing. Specifically targeted at children aged between 4 and 11, the Fund uses books, e-books, CDs, games and performance to inspire children to engage more with reading and writing. As I've said many times before, Booktrust's research has shown just what a difference a love of books at an early age can make to a person's life.

So, I was particularly happy to find I was holding my event at the Booktrust tent. Several children wandered over to listen to me chat about my favourite books. They were especially good at guessing which of my two tall tales was the true one! They listened well to the story of Tabitha Posy and then made some fantastic masks of both Tabitha and the tiger.

There were some brilliant sneezes (snake) and snores (tiger) as I read the story again while the children joined in with their masks.

Who can snore the loudest?
Who can snore the loudest?

Thank you Waterstones, for inviting me to take part in the festival again - and all the best to Booktrust and their Children's Reading Fund.


If anyone would like to find out more about Booktrust and their amazing work please go to www.booktrust.org.uk