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Book Club – Adults Only!

Last Friday our book club for adults met up to discuss A.F.Harrold’s The Song from Somewhere Else.


What follows is a very brief summary of our bookish chat, minus the tea and biscuits.

The poetic language certainly struck a chord with some members of the group. It’s very clear from this book that Ashley knows how to craft and manipulate language. Levi Pinfold’s illustrations are reminiscent of Jim Kay’s in A Monster Calls. The scratchy lines, blurred edges and dark depths brought Ashley’s words to life, adding a rich layer to the narrative.

The group were split with regards to Frank’s behaviour towards Nick, but all agreed that she and Nick were believable representations of children. Some wanted to know more about how Nick came into the world, and also find out more of Frank’s home life. Why was her mum absent so often?

All in all, we agreed that this novel tackles issues of friendship, bullying and other-worldliness in its own unique style.

On the 18th January we will be discussing this beauty:

And our February title is the latest novel from Karen McCombie:

Until next time, happy reading!

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Book Club

Hello all. we have made some changes to our monthly Book Club…there are now two! This is because as our readers have got older, their tastes have changed and it makes sense to split the group into different age groups.

However, the ages are for guidance only, so it is up to the readers and/or parents to decide which club to attend.

Here are our choices for April:

book club.png

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This afternoon we hosted a very different type of bookish event. It was all about food! Vegan food to be exact. This was so great for two reasons. Firstly, we got to eat the most delicious chocolate and pecan cookies in the world and secondly, because Sarah J. Jay, the author, was personable, honest and lovely.


Sarah chatted candidly with the audience about her journey from omnivore to vegan, answering questions and sharing her experiences. We talked about bees, dogs, milk, chickens and puddings!

If you are considering making the transition to veganism, we can highly recommend Rooted. It’s bursting with easy-to-make, delicious recipes, just right for family life.

Here’s a little collage of pics from the afternoon:

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Time to Think


I’d like to share something with you which happened to me today. Before I begin, I want to say that this is not a moan; it’s just a reflection on the realities of what it is like to be a ‘bricks and mortar’ retailer.

A lovely customer came in, looking for Christmas presents. Two titles had already been decided upon, and the third was chosen following my recommendations. One of the titles was David Walliams’ The Midnight Gang. We sell it for the RRP of £12.99. Amazon (…) currently sell it for £5 – we can’t even buy it for close to that!

Oh dear, says the very sweet customer, explaining that Amazon sell it at a far cheaper price. I nodded and agreed that yes, indeed they do. But, we pay our fair share of taxes, as well as our workers a reasonable wage…and we recommend books for individual tastes.

Nevertheless, she was about to buy the other two books, leaving The Midnight Gang to an internet purchase. I then stamped up her loyalty card, which made it full, cheekily suggesting that the David Walliams’ book would now be discounted, so she purchased it! 1-0 to Chicken and Frog, on this occasion at least.

Whilst I understand that discounted prices appeal, surely customer service and care, knowledge and a diverse High Street are far more appealing? Am I the only person on the planet that doesn’t possess an Amazon account?

It’s just something to think about. If we truly want communities, then we need to support local businesses. And if buying online is a must, surely supporting companies who have questionable ethics is not the way to go.



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Hello, sorry it’s been a while.

The summer’s nearly gone and I’ve been rather lazy about blogging. I do apologise, but it’s been pretty busy here and the time has just whizzed by.

We have been running a summer school for a Larchwood Primary School, which has kept us out of mischief every morning. It’s been great fun, teaching literacy and numeracy to a very keen group of fantastic children. I hope that they have had as much fun as we have! They have made us very proud.

What else? Well, we’ve been preparing for the Autumn term, as we already have events booked in with Jim Smith, Ian Whybrow, Abie Longstaff, A.F.Harrold and Nicholas Allan…phew, I’m exhausted just typing about it! We are so lucky to be supported by superb authors and so many keen schools and readers.

In very local news, I have become the ‘cluster leader’ for Ongar Road businesses. ‘The what?’ Well, in essence, what it means is that I am responsible for building up a sense of community amongst our fellow Ongar Road neighbours. Our main aim is to up footfall, through new initiatives and a renewed drive. I am increasingly confident that the group will be a positive force for all. If you are involved in a business on the Ongar Road and would like to find out more, please contact me at Chicken and Frog.

So, that’s what we’ve been up to really. Our tuition program kicks back to life from Monday 8th September, although the Friday 11+ class is recommencing on the 5th. There are very few spaces now available for tuition, so if you are looking for English, maths or 11+ tuition, do get in contact.

Here’s to the last few days of freedom, before school goes back!

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Bookshop Party!

Hello all! Just a quick update for you. On Sunday (yes Sunday) 15th September, from 14:00-16:00, we will be throwing a Bookshop Party to celebrate the awesome BOOKS ARE MY BAG campaign. BOOKS ARE MY BAG is a nationwide campaign to celebrate bookshops. We will have our very own bags (see below), with Chicken and Frog Bookshop printed across the bottom.

As the bags are predominantly orange, our party will have the same theme. There will be cupcakes, wotsits, orange squash…face painting and a FREE groovy bag for everyone. We aim to paint Brentwood orange-er.

booksaremybagbag1Everyone is welcome to join in the merriment, so just turn up, accept the terrible music and enjoy!

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Who’s Queen?

Warning: This post contains some ranting.

Last night I sat down to watch Mary, Queen of Shops on the old goggle box. I’ve seen the show before, but never as a small business owner, so I was interested to see what words of wisdom could be gleaned from it.


I was almost drawn in by terms such as ‘anchor’ when referring to the re-branding of the Eastend’s Roman Road, finding myself nodding emphatically,agreeing that the issues could be rectified. However, it soon became apparent that in order to create this ‘new’ experience some traders would loose their livelihoods. I’m not naïve, I do realise that many of the stallholders needed to move with the times in order to survive, but that’s not the same as actually moving. On top of that, the system of joining a waiting list to secure a plot on the market was whipped away.

The reality, carefully hidden underneath a retro shabby-chic carpet, is that the picture is skewed. New businesses do not simply spring up over night. They take years of planning and, if you’re sensible, saving, redrafting and then a little bit more planning. Shops were given a face lift for the t.v. Lovely, but how much would that cost in real life?

Here’s an example for you. Now that the sun has finally arrived, we need an awning to shade our window. Our poor books are getting changed on an hourly basis to stop them curling up like old sandwiches! No problem we thought, there was an awning there before, so we’ll just get a new one. Ideally we would like to restore the original, but it looks like the fixings have been painted over a few too many times.

The Highways Agency want a fee of £795, because and I quote ‘it will overhang the pavement, so you will need their permission’. Really? Of course it will overhang the pavement, otherwise it would be a curtain! Plus an additional ‘planning permission’ fee to the Council, which makes the seemingly straightforward solution an impossibility. If this is how new businesses are being supported by local and national Government, we are not amused.

Queen Victoria

Rant over.

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And the winners are…

On Saturday 9th February, we were joined in the shop by the talented J.D.Irwin (a.k.a Julie!). Why? Because we ran a creative writing competition with the lovely Julie as our guest judge and Saturday was prize giving day.
There was a fantastic energy as people came together, not just to celebrate their own achievements, but to delight in the joys of writing.
For once I’m not going to say too much, because the wonderful stories speak for themselves. I will just say a huge thanks to Julie for making the final tough decision and an even bigger thanks to the wonderful children of Brentwood for picking up a pen or pencil and letting their imaginations run wild.
Here are the runners’ up and winners’ fantastic stories. We chose to scan in their writing, rather than type them up, because the children’s penmanship and illustration is so beautiful.

Reception:Lilly Miles (Hogarth)

Lilly pg1Lilly pg2.jpeg
with Freddie Geggus as runner up (Hogarth)


Year 1/2: Isabella Scharvona (Holly Trees)

Isabella pg1Isabella pg2 with Amelia Bendall as runner up (Holly Trees)

Amelia pg1

Amelia pg2

Amelia pg3

Year 3/4: Iris Blake-Mahoney

Iris pg1Iris pg2 with Sophie Miles as runner up

Sophie pg1Sophie pg2

Year 5/6 Jack Williamson (Hogarth)

Jack with Ellen Fasham as runner up (Holly Trees)

Ellen pg1Ellen pg2Ellen pg3Ellen pg4

And a very special mention goes to the nutty (and brilliant) Michelle Ward for her superb entry too:

Do Chickens Have Lips.

It was a bitterly cold day in Brentwood, Mr. Frog’s legs shook from the cold making it very difficult to hop along Crown Street. He had of course wrapped up warm, in his best jeans, a thick wool jumper in beige and his brown leather shoes, all topped off with a black leather beret. Mr. Frog was looking very smart indeed. Why had Mr. Frog put in all that effort for his shopping trip? Mr. Frog was in love.

At the end of Crown Street, there was a little shop called Mrs. Chicken’s Vegetable Emporium. Mrs. Chicken had been married to Mr. Chicken who had left her for Ms Spring Chicken several years earlier. Mrs. Chicken was definitely an independent bird.

“I’m so nervous” Mr. Frog had told Mr. Badger. “I just saw her smile and my heart skipped a beat”. Mr. Badger replied “Hmm do chickens have lips”?  Mr. Frog decided to visit Mrs. Chicken’s Vegetable Emporium to find out.

As Mr. Frog approach the door way to the shop, he could see Mrs. Chicken talking to a customer. She was truly a beautiful chicken with the longest eyelashes Mr. Frog had ever seen. He felt himself blush and picked up a couple of potatoes and pretended to marvel at their quality.

Mrs. Chicken waved to Mr. Frog. She drew in a long breath and walked over to him. “Can I help you Mr. Frog” she asked, her eyelashes fluttering. “MY GOD”, thought Mr. Frog. “She knows my name!.

Mr Frog knew that this was his one chance to impress Mrs Chicken and before he knew it, he was talking like they had been friends for years. “I was just looking to purchase some vegetables to make some homemade soup”  said Mr Frog. “I love soup” Mrs. Chicken replied. “You do” Mr. Frog said blushing. “I do” said Mrs. Chicken. “Would you like to come over for some soup, Mrs. Chicken? I am going to make carrot and leek, with butter, cream and freshly ground black pepper”. “Oh my” said Mrs. Chicken, her claws tapping on the wooden floor “that’s my absolute favorite soup, ever!”

That night they sat in Mr. Frog’s kitchen, eating the delicious homemade carrot and leek soup. They talked and talked, they laughed and laughed and stayed up all night until the daylight shone through the kitchen window.

“I should be going home” Mrs. Chicken sighed “but maybe tomorrow you would like to come to my house for dinner”. Mr. Frog could of hopped across the room “oh Mrs. Chicken, I would be delighted” “Mr. Frog, please call me Valerie” said Mrs. Chicken. “Ok Valerie” said Mr. Frog “you can call me Herbert”.

Mr. Frog suddenly thought about what Mr. Badger had said “do chicken have lips”. At the kitchen door he leaned in and kissed Mrs. Chicken and Mrs. Chicken kissed him back. “Yes” he thought “Chickens do have lips”.

Of course Mr. Frog, (Herbert to his friends) and Mrs. Chicken (Valerie to her friends) met up many times for soup and eventually Mr. Frog proposed and they were married on the beach at Southend on Sea.

If you happen to walk by the Mr. & Mrs. Frog-Chicken Vegetable Emporium on Crown Street, be sure to give them both a wave.