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Looking Forward

As the New Year peeps its head around the corner, I thought I’d reflect on some of the highlights. We have worked with so many wonderful authors and illustrators this year, as part of the Brentwood Children’s Literary Festival, as well as Macmillan’s Authors Assemble, school and shop events, that it’s impossible to pick out just a few. Having said that, an indoor snowball fight with Clara Vulliamy and Polly Faber, was particularly joyous!

I was honoured to present the wonderful Emma Carroll with the BAMB award for best MG title of the year. The BA have been working tirelessly this year, championing the work that booksellers do. Chicken and Frog, and more importantly, some of our fantastic customers, took part in a film, which was shared at a very special meeting at the Houses of Parliament. And lastly, in terms of the BA, we were regional finalists in the Independent Bookshop of the Year category.

Our customers are, of course, daily highlights. They are the reason that we continue to do what we do. And lastly, the #giveabook campaign, which ran for the second year. We were truly overwhelmed by people’s generosity, with gifts from as far flung as Singapore! We delivered 215 wrapped parcels – some of which contained two books. Fantastic!

So, looking forward, what’s to come? Well, we will be continuing to work with the CFFA, supporting children in care. Plans are already well underway for a #FosteringFebruary event, with Sibeal Pounder (eek!).

After working with the glorious Really Big Pants Theatre Company in the summer, we are delighted to say that we will be holding a multi-school event, to launch their brand new book. Oh, it’s going to be so much fun.

Lisa Thompson’s brilliant second novel, The Light Jar, has arrived. To celebrate, we have school events ready to go in January, so we’re starting on a high.

And…the Chicken and Frog writing competition is making a welcome comeback. Harriet Muncaster has very kindly offered a signed piece of artwork as a prize, as well as being a guest judge.

It’s been a great year, and we are so grateful for everyone who supports us in what we do: our customers, authors, illustrators, publishers, publicists, the BA, schools, fellow booksellers, reps, family and friends.

Happy reading and a peaceful 2018.

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Defender of the Realm

I don’t mean to sound as if I’m showing off, but we seriously do have the best job in the world. Yes, it swings between bonkers busy and tumbleweed city, but we get to meet inspirational people: authors, illustrators, children, teachers, librarians…the list goes on and on.

Anyway, yesterday, I spent the whole day with the screen writers of Octonauts, Thomas the Tank Engine, Danger Mouse and more. As if that isn’t cool enough, Mark Huckerby and Nick Ostler also co-write the Defender of the Realm series.

If you like Artemis Fowl, Alex Rider and the like, then Defender of the Realm will be perfect for you. I don’t want to give much away, but there’s royalty, a huge black dragon, a flying horse and the odd zombie Viking too. The books are awesome, as are Mark and Nick.

Watching Mark and Nick in action was exhausting, so goodness knows how tired they must have felt by the end of their very busy week!

Here they are, in various action shots:

Thanks go out to Mark and Nick, Scholastic, West Horndon Primary School and Northlands Primary, for generally being brilliant. We can’t wait to read the third in the series…

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Jake, Harry and Matthew

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.

jakeatlasThursday 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.*


What a wonderful week!

Now we’re just crosiing our fingers, hoping that Lisa can be added to this year’s schedule for the Brentwood Children’s Literary Festival.

*We have two signed copies left!


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Robyn Silver on Tour

A few months ago the Book Club chose Robyn Silver: The Midnight Chimes, to read and report back on. Paula Harrison’s  book proved a real hit, so we were very excited when Paula kindly offered to visit us.

And we weren’t disappointed by our afternoon of monster creating. From the ‘snigamog/pigadoodle’ to the ‘trifedog’, ideas were flowing! Paula was absolutely brilliant, helping the children to develop their ideas with a series of great questions, such as ‘What does its belly button do?’ or ‘What is it scared of?’

She was also happy to answer questions from the floor. We are jolly pleased to report that a sequel is on its way, as well as a re-boot of The Rescue Princesses series. Paula is certainly a very talented and prolific author.

Here are a few snaps from this afternoon:

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Ninjas and Mammoths

We have had such a lovely afternoon, with author of Ninja Nan and The Famishing Vanishing Mahoosive Mammoth, Hollie Hughes.

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!

hollieThanks 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.

Posted in blog, events

Authors, authors, everywhere!

If you know us well, then you will know that we are committed to get children (and their grown ups) partnered up with the perfect book. Part of the process is, of course, having a conversation with someone about what they like, and then pointing them in the right direction. However, another way (the best way) to inspire the act of reading, is to share a book and who better to do that, than the author or illustrator that created it? It’s exciting to meet a person who loves books so much, that they have been creative and brave enough to share theirs with the world.

That’s why we love to bring authors and illustrators to Chicken and Frog, as often as possible. In the coming months, we have quite a few visiting us here in sunny Brentwood.

So, here’s the run down of author visits (so far), between now and the end of the year:

Meet Hollie HughesHollies’ books are, quite frankly, laugh out loud funny! (Age 3+)

Meet authorNicky DeeNicky will be bringing along dinosaur artefacts, as well as her beautiful books. (Age 4+)

monday-10th-october8_00pmworld-mental-health-day-1This event is slightly different, as it is to raise awareness and funds for the Young People’s Counselling Services, here in Brentwood. Louis and Kathryn will be joining us from Spain, via Skype!

meet award winning author emma coxPerfect timing, just before Halloween. Magic and charm are the order of the day. (Age 7+)

meet-molly-loobyLocal author, Molly Looby, will be giving a talk, before mingling amongst the audience to sign books and answer your questions. (Age 13+)

meet-paula-harrisonPaula’s book is our Book Club pick for October, so we’re delighted that you’ll have the chance to meet her in December.

We will also be joined by Chitra Soundar in October, but need to finalise the details before we share them with you.

So there you have it, a run down of the author events taking place over the coming months. All events (apart from Molly’s) are free, so just turn up!