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The Spy Who Loved School Dinners

pamela-butchartFor those of you who may not know, we run a monthly book club at Chicken and Frog. One of the things we really love and appreciate about the club is that, whilst facilitated by myself, we are under no illusion that the children run the show. That means that they get to vote on the titles read and steer the discussion each month. It has lead to an eclectic mix of books, from The Swiss Family Robinson to The Templeton Twins.

This month the group chose Pamela Butchart’s award winning ‘The Spy Who Loved School Dinners‘. Hurrah! Anything published by Nosy Crow is a sure-fire hit as far as we’re concerned. Married with an impressive Blue Peter Award, everyone was delighted to read this month’s choice.

As if this wasn’t enough (and it would have been), Pamela very kindly offered to take part in a live Tweet throughout the Book Club meeting, answering questions as we went along. To say that the group (and myself) were excited, is a huge understatement.

You could trawl through our Twitter feed, but that would be rather laborious, so just in case you missed it, here’s how the Tweeting went:


Hi Our first question is what influenced you to write this particular book?

I love writing about all the things that happen at school that teachers and grown-ups don’t always notice. It’s fun!

The shepherd’s pie was SO BAD at my school…someone HAD to write about it! πŸ™‚

A love of primary school, smelly shepherd’s pie at school dinners & my French-exchange friend, Mathilde!


Super answers! How did you feel when you win the Blue Peter Award?

It was such an honour. I’m over-the-moon about it! And I got a Blue Peter BADGE!

Honestly, I felt SHOCKED! My hands were shaking and everything. I couldn’t believe it!


Why did you choose young primary school children for your main characters?

Because they’re hilarious! I love the weird (and completely dramatic) explanations they come up with to explain going-ons πŸ™‚

It’s the BEST age!

When I was that age, if something slightly strange happened at school me & my friends would come up with completely…

…over-the-top explanations for what was going on…& we believed them! Imagination runs WILD in primary school. I love it!


Did you get a say on the front cover? Do you think it’s had an effect on boy readership?

Yes – everyone works really closely together. I’ve involved at every stage – it’s great fun πŸ™‚

Pink on the cover doesn’t seem to have put boys off (certainly none that I’ve met). The cover is bright & eye- catching…

…and the spot-uv looks fantastic! Tom and Nicola (Nosy Crow designer) are amazing, they really are. I love the covers!

We love the covers too!

pictures and covers are a vital part of what makes the book work. He illustrates the story so well!


How did you come up with the chapter names ?

They just popped into my head – they were probably the easiest things to do! When I’m in ‘the zone’ they just seem to…

…pop out of my head!


On a scale of 1-10 how much did you πŸ’œ writing the book? And how long did it take to write?

10 for sure! It took about a month to write the 1st draft. It was great fun πŸ™‚


We love the illustrations and the book! 5 out of 5 from usπŸ‘

Aww, thanks everyone! And thank you so much for letting me be part of your Book Clubbers meeting today πŸ™‚ It was great xxx

As you can see, Pamela answered the question pinged at her in great detail, which was fantastic. Here are some comments from our Book Clubbers, following this unique experience:

‘We were at Book Club and we were told that we could ask Pamela Butchart some questions on Twitter. We were very lucky to have been able to talk to her! She answered a lot of questions. I enjoyed her book.’

‘We had a Tweet-off with author Pamela and it was fun.’

‘We were very lucky that we got to ask Pamela Butchart questions about her book.’

Next month we will be reading and reviewing Edward Lear’s ‘Book of Nonsense’, but who knows, perhaps we’ll get to take part in another live Tweet with an author soon!


The independent children's bookshop and tuition centre in the heart of Brentwood, Essex. Owned and run by Mr Frog & Mrs Chicken (happily married book-nerds), with the sole aim of bringing high quality books and tuition to our community.