A few months ago I met Chris Priestley and Lou Carter at a bookish event, hosted by Bloomsbury. Bloomsbury is housed in a beautiful building in central London – wooden panels, shelves stacked with books…wonderful.
As if that wasn’t enough, Lou Carter and Chris Priestley shared their latest books with us and hung around afterwards for a chat. Maudlin Towers, Chris’ new series, ticks all of the MG boxes for me – werewolves, a spooky school and biscuits.
After chatting with Chris, he very kindly agreed to visit Chicken and Frog, so that he could paint a Maudlin Towers window for Halloween.
Yesterday afternoon, the awesome window was finished, complete with a hand carved pumpkin. I was mesmerised by Chris’ ability, not simply to create a work of art with apparent ease, but also by his backwards writing skills. The window has received lots of compliments already.
Huge thanks to Chris, and Lizz (from Bloomsbury), for spending the day with us.
Check out the time-lapse videos of Chris in action:
Maudlin Towers is our Book Club title in November – we have two signed copies left!
Can you believe that we are fast approaching the last quarter of the year? I have no idea where the time has gone, but I do know that we have lots of great events planned, just for you.
First up is #Bookshop Day . We will be celebrating with the gorgeous Franklin’s Flying Bookshop. There will be a free crafty activity, between 11:00am and 3:00pm, for children of all ages! Just drop in to create something dragony. And, if you follow the footprints successfully, we have lovely goodie bags to give away. Not enough? Well, there are also these beauties up for grabs:
Also, in October:
We run two book clubs, so that you can choose the title that interests you the most. Escape from Planet Bogey is an hilarious, illustrated novel for readers who like a good giggle, whereas Dragon’s Green is a twisty turny magic-fueled adventure.
Before you know it, the next half term break will be here. To keep you entertained, we have a Lego Challenge event booked in for the middle of the week. Numbers are limited, so you need to book and pay in advance. If you haven’t been before, it’s a chance to mess about with Lego, whilst parents have a little time off – however, under 6s must be accompanied!
At the end of the half term break, we will be joined by Sibeal Pounder. We can’t begin to explain how extremely excited we are that Sibeal is coming to Brentwood. Sibeal will be leading Creative Writing Club, so come along for some witch-themed inspiration. Just in time for Halloween!
Watch out for what else we’ve got planned – or pop over to our events page.
Each season, over 60 indies will have a specially chosen children’s book in-store, that has something extra just for our customers. This season it’s ‘Oi Cat!’, from Kes Gray and Jim Field. The copies are signed and ready to be snapped up!
Over the years, as a reader first, and now as a bookseller, I have come across some real gems. Some have been from authors that I was already familiar with, whilst others have been from newly published authors.*
One such newbie is Lorraine Gregory, published by OUP. Several months ago, a proof copy of ‘Mold and the Poison Plot’ landed on the doormat at Chicken and Frog and I was instantly drawn to it. Firstly, the title is fantastic; secondly, Tom Mead has created a very striking front cover, and thirdly, the blurb pulled on my heart-strings. And so, I read it. In one day. It’s glorious.
Last academic year, Lorraine visited Larchwood Primary, for workshops and an assembly. The audience (children and adults) had a wonderful time, so we were delighted when Lorraine agreed to come along to a Creative Writing Club session at the shop. The room was full of young writers, all eager to share their ideas about #putridpotions with each other.
Thanks to Lorraine for inspiring the children to pick up a pen and have a go at creating spells of their own.
*N.B. Newly published authors have invariably been honing their craft for many years, behind the scenes. It is very rare to become an overnight sensation, without an awful lot of hard work, dedication, tea and biscuits.
July is here, which means that two exciting events are looming. The first being the end of the school year – I think I can almost hear cheers and sighs of relief from teachers and pupils alike!
The second, and the event to kick off the summer, is the return of the Brentwood Children’s Literary Festival. Following on from last year’s success, we are doing it all over again, from 22nd-30th July. We are super excited and proud of the line-up and also delighted that we are broadening our events space to include Knights Way Centre and Hutton Community Centre.
All of the details can be found here. Booking tickets is so easy, with all of the following options available:
I’ll finish with two quick reminders:
The ages are for guidance only, you know what you/your child enjoys.
If you are attending an event at the Brentwood Theatre, under 11s must be accompanied by a ticket holding adult.
This week has been #IBW2017. For those of you who don’t know what that is, it’s Independent Bookshop Week (24th June – 1st July 2017), which is part of the Books Are My Bag campaign, and seeks to celebrate independent bookshops in the UK and Ireland.
Here at Chicken and Frog Bookshop, we had a pretty normal (for us) week, until Friday 30th June, when, in a moment of madness, we had planned two big events.
First up was Macmillan’s Authors Assemble. Two simultaneous tours ran from North to South and West to East during the week, featuring three middle-grade authors and five independent booksellers per tour and reaching hundreds of school children through two daily events. The two tours converged on Friday 30 June with all six authors performing in an ultimate Authors Assemble event, right here in Brentwood. Our thanks go to the Macmillan team and all of the schools involved: Brentwood County High (the hosts), Hogarth, Ingrave Johnstone, Larchwood, St Thomas’, St Helen’s, Larchwood and Warley Primary.
The authors were all fantastic, bringing their own style and bucket loads of enthusiasm with them. We have signed copies of books here, just in case you were not one of the 350-strong audience!
The atmosphere was buzzing and today we’ve had lots of eager visitors to the shop, buying more signed copies of the Authors Assemble wonderful books.
In the evening, we went back to Brentwood County High School, for our second event of the day. I would like to publicly thank Ann Smy, BCHS librarian, for being accommodating, enthusiastic and incredibly creative too.
We had a library full of Potter-heads, all eagerly ready to take on the Bloomsbury challenge, in the hopes of being part of the national round, later in the year. This leg of the tournament was exclusive to just 20 indies, so we can’t tell you anything about the quiz itself…apart from to say that it was tricky!
Congratulations to all who took part and thank-you for making the end of an exhausting day so, well, magical!#
Throughout the week, we have been giving away the exclusive Harry Potter tote bags to all customers. Visitors who didn’t purchase anything were asked to donate £2 to J.K.Rowling’s charity, LUMOS. We also asked for a £2 donation from everyone who entered the quiz. Thanks to everyone’s generosity, we can forward on £80 to LUMOS, which is a heart-warming end to #IBW2017.
A final note: Remember, every week is Independent Bookshop Week for us indies, so please do continue to support us throughout the year!