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:
Ooh, we do love an author visit! On Saturday we welcomed Sibeal Pounder to Chicken and Frog, for a creative writing session.
It was truly wonderful. Sibeal helped the children world-build, by encouraging them to focus on an imagined location, before developing their ideas, by filling worlds with buildings, restaurants, t.v. shows and more…their imaginations were set free. So many unique and exciting ideas under one roof!
If you missed her, never fear; Sibeal was kind enough to sign some books before she left!
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.
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!
Can I just say that we have one of the best jobs in the world? Myself and Mr Frog truly love what we do and one of the reasons for that is events like the one we hosted this morning, with the incredibly talented Sophy Henn.
Sophy travelled all the way from Lewes this morning, just visit little old us (and the brilliant Discover in Stratford). She shared the first two Ted books with the children, as well as leading them (and their grown ups) in two super-cute craft activities. Spotty balloons also featured heavily,
Thank-you to Sophy, Emma (from Bloomsbury) and of course the children and grown ups, all of whom made this sunny Thursday just a little sunnier!
Can it be true, has Spring finally arrived? The blossom on the trees, the tweeting of birdsong and the inordinate amount of chocolate eggs/lambs/bunnies in the shops all point towards Spring. True, the weather is trying to cause confusion, but we have had the odd sunny day.
Also, the children are off school, so that must mean that Spring is here and that Easter is on the horizon. We have celebrated at Chicken and Frog, with various activities to keep the children entertained.
Our thanks to Bloomsbury for this great little competition:
Not least of all, because we get to eat the eggs once the competition is over. It’s a tough job, but we’re willing to take it on.
As with every school break, our infamous Lego Challenge made a welcome return. Who wouldn’t want to play with Lego for 2 hours? The children created a whole host of awesome builds. Here are just a few:
We also spent a day making origami book marks. I don’t think I have ever seen so many googly eyes in one place!
Even Handwriting received a Spring-treatment, as we used the very beautiful Press Out & Colour Easter Eggs, from Kate McLelland (Nosy Crow):
And last, but by no means least, our window display is also celebrating the changes of the seasons, with a beautiful flower, bunting and fox, courtesy of Penguin Random House and Britta Teckentrup’s stunning ‘Bee’.*
*Our thanks go to local beekeepers, Charlie and Helen, for kindly lending us a beekeeping suit, as well as real frames from their hive, with deliciously gooey honey inside!
Watch the window next week, as it is transformed into a glorious celebration of nature and Spring.
What a week it’s been. We’ve been celebrating awesome books, with three very different bookish events.
First up was Rob Lloyd Jones, with Jake Atlas and the Tomb of the Emerald Snake.
When Jake’s parents vanish, Jake and his sister team up with shady tomb robbers to find them in the Egyptian desert in this riveting page-turning adventure. The Atlas family is in trouble: Jake hides an addiction to stealing; his twin sister, Pan, has to conceal her genius, for fear of bullies. The siblings can’t stop fighting – with each other and with their parents, stuffy professors of Ancient History. But Jake’s and Pan’s lives take a dramatic turn the day they discover the truth about their boring mum and dad. When the family go to Cairo on holiday, and Jake and Pan’s parents mysteriously vanish, it’s up to the twins to find them. They team up with shady tomb robbers, master high-tech gadgets and locate a lost tomb in this story of a family that finds itself in the deserts of Egypt.
Rob visited St Bede’s Primary School and Larchwood Primary School, sharing his life story with the children. We found out a lot about Ancient Egypt, as well as the process that authors go through, from first darft to final, finished copy.
Thursday night was Harry Potter Book Night, so we stayed open a little later for magical quiz. The shop was filled with enthusiastic witches and wizards, all keen to share their expertise in the ways of Harry Potter. The teams began with a tuneless rendition of the Hogwarts song, before answering some pretty tough questions. Congratulations to Team Fantastic Beasts (who can be seen below in the striped tights), for beating the opposition.
And then there was this month’s Book Club. Our pick for January was Lisa Thompson’s The Goldfish Boy – we were delighted that this was the chosen title, as it’s a firm favourite at Chicken and Frog.
Twelve-year-old Matthew is trapped in his bedroom by OCD, spending most of his time staring out of his window as his neighbours of Chestnut Close go about their business.
That is, until the day he is the last person to see his next door neighbour’s grandson, Teddy, before he goes missing.
Now Matthew must turn detective and unravel the mystery of Teddy’s disappearance – with a little help from a surprising and brilliant cast of supporting characters.
To make the Book Club even more fantastic, Lisa (and her publicist from Scholastic, Lorraine Keating) joined us for Book Club, answering questions thrown at them by the children. Lisa even stayed around after Book Club, to sign books of keen readers, who dropped in to meet her.*
It’s almost Halloween, which means that there’s definitely a hint of magic in the air. And what better way to celebrate than with a wonderful author visit.
Luckily for us, award-winning author, Emma Cox made the very long journey from Exeter to visit us today. The bus replacement service didn’t deter her, which we are most grateful for.
Emma’s book journey is far more interesting than her slightly disconnected experience travelling to us this afternoon. She entered Malkin Moonlight in the New Children’s Author Prize, organised by the National Literacy Trust and Bloomsbury and only went and won it! You could say ‘lucky Emma’, but you could also say ‘lucky Bloomsbury’ and most certainly ‘lucky readers’.
After a lot of hard work, editing and re-editing this beautifully poetic tale, Bloomsbury published Malkin Moonlight in the summer of this year. We only hope that there will be a sequel…
If you didn’t get the chance to drop in today, never fear, as Emma has kindly signed some copies for us. There are also beautifully illustrated bookmarks up for grabs, for those of you who purchase the book.
Emma left great cat character sheets behind, which our creative writing club have put to good use. You’d be surprised at the array of different cats that can be created in such a short space of time!
Watch the bookshelves for Emma’s name, as we are certain that this is just the beginning of her long and exciting career as a magical author.
If you haven’t come across them yet, you must read Hollie’s beautifully illustrated picture books. Although very different in style (with Natalie Smillie and Leigh Hodgkinson illustrating respectively), Hollie’s great sense of fun and knack for weaving an enticing story, come through, page after page.
Hollie read her stories to a very keen audience, before guiding them through some super crafts, including circus tents, plates of mammoth food and flying pigs. We may be finding glitter for a fair few weeks!
Thanks to Hollie, Hollie’s family and of course, our great customers who popped in to get covered in glitter. We are hoping to take Hollie into a school or two, so watch this space.
Our next event in-store is with Nicky Dee, on Saturday 8th October. Dinosaurs will feature heavily.