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!


Posted in blog, schools

Side lines

Hello all. Some of you may already know this, in which case you can skip to the next paragraph. For those that don’t, I’ve been doing a bit of moonlighting on the side.

moonlightingNo, not that kind, you silly people (showing my age…). I mean, I have been working with our wonderful Brentwood Theatre. I am very keen, as are they, to involve schools with the theatre. We’re so lucky to have one right in the heart of town, but it saddens me that many schools only visit for the Christmas show. Having said that, it’s Roald Dahl’s ‘Danny the Champion of the World’ this year, so get your tickets quick before they sell out! The Christmas show is always a treat – the perfect gift in my opinion (apart from books of course).

I digress – no surprises there. Where was I going with this ramble? Yes, that’s it. So, last half term, I ran a day of workshops, based upon ‘The Jabberwocky’ (for Key Stage 2) and ‘Meg and Mog’ (for Key Stage 1). The children took part in an interactive story-telling session, before getting creative in their writing. The Key Stage 2 pupils wrote acrostic poems based upon the Jabberwocky or letters home, as if they were that brave soul hunting the ‘manxome foe’, whilst our younger visitors created spells for Mog, placing ingredients and spooky ideas into cauldrons.

Here are some pupils from Hogarth in action:


And just yesterday, another series of workshops took place, this time for secondary schools. Throughout the day, we were visited by students from Brentwood School, Brentwood County High School and Shenfield High School. They tackled Macbeth, or ‘The Scottish Play’ for those more superstitious amongst you.

I chose Shakespeare because I wanted to eliminate the myth that Shakespeare is hard. And I chose Macbeth, selfishly, because it’s my favourite, but also because there’s so much that you can do with it, even if you start off not being overly familiar with the plot. We worked hard on dramatic emphasis to convey emotion, helping the audience to connect with often ‘tricky’ vocabulary. The students all did a fine job I must say. Do you want to see them in action?


Letters were then written, from the rather blood-thirsty Lady Macbeth to her husband, with strict instructions on how to fulfil the sisters’ prophecy.

So, that’s what I’ve been up to, apart from everything that’s been going on here.

If you’re interested in workshops at the theatre, why not get in touch? 01277 230068/

Posted in blog, events, schools

What a week!

Some weeks at Chicken and Frog tick along at a steady pace, whilst others are a little bit crazy. The week that has just ended was the latter. I’m not complaining, crazy suits us well, but it means that I haven’t had a chance until now to fill you in on what’s been going on.

So, on Monday we went back to work after the May half term. The shop had been open, however we went away for the whole week, leaving Grandad and Grandma Chicken in charge of the coop. (Huge thanks to them both for being wonderfully wonderful). It was fab, although a bit daunting as we haven’t left the shop before. It was in very good hands though and we enjoyed a bit of time away from reality. As you may expect, Monday was rather busy catching up with orders and the like.

On Wednesday, the superb author Dan Freedman came to Brentwood to visit Hogarth Primary School. Before the visit, Dan was interviewed by Michelle Ward at Phoenix FM. There are two points to note here. Firstly, if you’ve never listened to Michelle’s show, you should. She’s hilarious and a really great interviewer. Secondly, if you’re struggling to find the right book for a reluctant reader, who happens to love football, look no further. Dan’s books are perfect,



Dan had the children at Hogarth mesmerised. You can’t beat the experience of meeting an author and finding out first hand what it’s like to go through the process of writing. If you ever get the chance to meet an author, snap it up, it’s inspiring. Here’s Dan in action at Hogarth,



The rest of the week was relatively normal (for us) and then Saturday rocked up, with it’s rain and sun and book club and another author and, and, and…

Yep, one author a week isn’t always enough for us. We’re greedy. Happily, Chitra Soundar agreed to pop in on Saturday afternoon to hang out with our Creative Writing Club and she was amazing. Not only did Chitra share one of her beautiful books with us,

And not only did she tell us a Vietnamese folk tale, Chitra also guided the children through an organic writing process, in which each of them produced an illustrated story to be proud of,




Done? Nope. We also ran our monthly book club for the first time. Boffin Brainchild was very well received I’m pleased to say. Next month’s book (Saturday 5th July) will be Anthony Horowitz’s The Falcon’s Malteser,


Last thing! We hosted a birthday party this morning, which involved the soundtrack of Frozen pretty much on repeat for the duration. Mr Frog coped very well with the glitter and the girls were an absolute delight. At one point it was like sing-a-long-a-Frozen. Very cute indeed. If you pop in tomorrow, there may be glitter…

Posted in blog, events, schools

Trouble with Badgers

A strange title for a blog I’ll grant you, but then you don’t like badgers like I know badgers. And I didn’t know badgers well until Monday, when John Dougherty came for a visit.

Now John has written many hilarious books, but his latest ‘Stinkbomb and Ketchup-Face and the Badness of Badgers’, has opened my eyes to what naughty creatures they are,

So, after quite a horrendous encounter with the M4, John came bouncing through the door, guitar in hand and went straight into his first hour with a very excited group of children from a local primary school. He sang, he jumped around, he enthused about books and generally inspired everyone in the room (adults included). All of this, fuelled with little more than a cup of tea and boundless enthusiasm. Here are some pics of John in action,

John’s song about underpants proved very popular…I can’t imagine why!

The lucky children got to hear the man himself reading from Stinkbomb and Ketchup-Face, as well as getting their books signed. There’s nothing better than a personalised, signed book,

After a spot of lunch, John did it all again with another class of children, before collapsing on the sofa for a while to meet passing book lovers.

By the end of the day we had run out of John’s books, but never fear, we have now re-stocked. If you can get to an event with John (or want him to visit your school), I can’t recommend him highly enough. We had a fab day and can’t wait to read the next instalment of Stinkbomb and Ketchup-Face.

p.s. We are happy to provide discounted books for author visits either at the shop (for booked in groups) or in schools.