Posted in blog, schools

Authors, authors everywhere

Hello dear reader, how are you? It’s been a while, so I thought I’d say hello and give you a quick wave.

We’ve had such a lovely few weeks, with author visits. Lorraine Gregory brought her Putrid Potions workshops to West Horndon:

A.F.Harrold (Ashley) visited Larchwood and Ingrave Johnstone, with his new book, Greta Zargo , as well as high energy performance poetry.

Debut author, Mitch Johnson, visited Larchwood and Holly Trees, with Kick. The children learned a lot about how clothing is really made, as well as joining in some football-themed activities.

Lastly, author/illustrator, Laura Ellen Anderson…or was it Amelia Fang (?) visited Hogarth, St Bede’s and Northlands, with her spookily fun new title, Amelia Fang and the Barbaric Ball,

And tomorrow, we’ll be at Brentwood County High School, with Michael Grant. what a busy few weeks!

Huge thanks to all involved: authors, publicists, schools, parents…

We love bringing authors and illustrators to schools. If you’d like to know more about how we can help your school with visits, feel free to call us on 01277 230068 or email



Posted in blog, schools

An Illustrated Year 2017

We are thrilled to be able to offer schools An Illustrated Year 2017. The initiative has been dreamed up by the brilliant team at Storytellers Inc. – if you are ever in or nearby St-Annes-on-Sea, Lancashire, do pay them a visit.

An Illustrated Year 2017 is the perfect way to introduce a new book to your class each month. Here’s how it works:


If you would like to find out more, see a sample of the beautiful calendar or sign up, just contact us!

01277 230 068/


Posted in blog, schools

The Apprentice Witch

indexThis week we were lucky enough to spend the whole day with newly published author, James Nicol. James’ book, The Apprentice Witch, is a perfect read for anyone who loves The Worst Witch:

Arianwyn is prepared to become a fully fledged witch, but the dull bronze disc of an apprentice attached to her lapel is a constant reminder that her assessment didn’t go quite to plan. So she’s sent to protect the remote, dreary town of Lull. Her new life is far from boring though. As Arianwyn struggles to control her spells, a mysterious darkness begins to haunt her…what’s really going on?

We can’t recommend this book highly enough. You need to read it!

Back to Wednesday! James visited Ingatestone and Fryerning in the morning, joined us for a bookshop picnic and then went on to Larchwood Primary for the afternoon. If you ever get the chance to meet James, please don’t pass it up. His energy and enthusiasm about books (not just his own, as James is also a librarian and former bookseller) is infectious. Beware though teachers, as you will not be passive audience members if James flies by your school!

Witchy goings on.
Witchy goings on – that teacher looks a little out of sorts.

Thank-you to James, Chicken House Books and the great children at Larchwood Primary and Ingatestone and Fryerning Juniors.


Posted in blog, events, schools

Farewell 2015, Hello 2016.

As page 365 of 2015 reaches its final paragraph, we would like to take this opportunity to wish one and all a very happy, healthy and peaceful New Year.

The year ahead promises to be a bookish affair, with the 150th anniversary of The Jungle Book, Harry Potter Book Night, World Book Day, the centenary of Roald Dahl and the launch of a certain Brentwood Children’s Literary Festival. As well as all of that, we will be welcoming authors into the shop and schools, plus helping schools with their book orders, running our tuition centre, Book Club, Creative Writing Club and of course, ringing in the New Year to the sound of Lego.

So, until next year dear readers…may your book collection grow ever more interesting.


Posted in blog, schools

The Selfish Crocodile


Last week we had the pleasure of taking the legend that is Faustin Charles into Larchwood Primary School.

Faustin came across as a quiet, almost shy man. However, once he was in front of an audience of children, Faustin’s natural gift for storytelling came pouring out. He explained to the children that he wasn’t go to read his book, but rather that he was going to tell it and he certainly did.


There were sound effects, exaggerated movements, voice changes and uproars of laughter from the enthralled audience. And once Faustin had told The Selfish Crocodile, he enabled the children to re-enact what they had just watched. It was a real joy to see.

Credit to the extremely well behaved children from Larchwood (some of whom have only been in school for a couple of weeks) and the incomparable skills of Faustin Charles.

Posted in blog, schools


We run a Summer School for Larchwood Primary School. The pupils come along for 2 days a week, to keep on top of their learning through the long summer break. As a teacher I recognise that 6 or 7 weeks can be far too long a hiatus for many, causing quite a ‘dip’. As a parent, I recognise that 6 or 7 weeks can be tricky in terms of keeping them busy and not becoming bankrupt!

We are keen that when the pupils come for Summer School they see it as a treat, as something to look forward to, rather than school during their holidays! So, we aim to do things a little differently, with highly interactive sessions, tailor made to suit the needs of a small group. We use Lego (of course) for maths projects, which encourages children to explore ideas on a more practical level.


Last week we ran a media day for the group. Newspapers were cut up and discussed at length – what makes a balanced report, how do newspapers sell, what makes an effective headline…and so on. We also looked at film reviews, before writing our own. It was a very busy day!

To follow up, we were visited by Piers Meyler from the Brentwood Gazette and Essex Chronicle. Piers bravely took on a lot of tricky questions from the group, including ‘Have you ever missed a deadline?’ and ‘Have you ever written something that you shouldn’t have?’


Trying out short hand.
Short hand decoded.

The group had a great afternoon with Piers, finding out how a newspaper works and what goes on behind the scenes. You never know, perhaps there’s a budding journalist or two from Larchwood?

Posted in blog, schools

It’s competition time again


Creative-Writing-TipsIt’s that time of year again, when we launch our creative writing competition. This will be the third year of the competition, which is great. Last year we had over 400 entries, so we’re hoping for even more this year.

The competition is open to all – we have contacted local schools today. You are very welcome to enter the competition independently from your school if you wish, so here are the details for you.

The ‘rules’ are very simple:

  • Each entrant needs to write a poem or story based upon the theme of ‘New beginnings’

  • Each entry must have the following details written clearly: Full name, year group and contact details

  • Each entry must be an original piece of writing

  • All entries must be with us by 17:30 on Friday 30th January 2015 – we can arrange collection if you choose to run the competition as a whole school/year group/class activity

  • The age categories are: EYFS, Key Stage 1, Key Stage 2, Key Stage 3, Key Stage 4+

All winning entries (one per age category) will receive a beautiful book and certificate. They will also have their writing ‘published’ on our blog. Runners Up will also receive a certificate and be ‘published’. Prizes will be awarded at Chicken and Frog Bookshop on Saturday 21st February, at 14:00.

If you have any questions re the competition, pleased do not hesitate in contacting us. Happy writing!