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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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A Snowball Fight in May?

What do you mean, you’ve never had a snowball fight in May? You haven’t lived. All the cool kids are doing it. Well, all of the cool kids at Larchwood Primary School are. To be specific, Years 1 to 3 did, yesterday, with the gloriously talented (and a little bit bonkers) Polly Faber and Clara Vulliamy.

Polly and Clara visited Larchwood on a rather chilly May day – not brisk enough for snow, but I’m coming to that. The children were introduced to the beautiful world of Mango and Bambang. For those of you who do not know, Mango is a fiercely brave, talented little girl, who lives with her Papa. Bambang is a rather bewildered (to begin with at least) tapir, adjusting to city life.

The children found out all about tapirs, as well as sneaky peeks into the lives of a real author and illustrator. In brief, Polly wore a variety of hats and brought along snow balls (pom-poms):

and Clara drew fabulous pictures, as well as leading a tapir-drawing masterclass:

The photographs really do not do this energetic, fun-filled day the justice it deserves.

Polly and Clara kindly signed books at the school, as well as stock for us.

We had a grand old time. Huge thanks to Polly and Clara, and the brilliant pupils at Larchwood.

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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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The Perks of Being a Bookseller: Part 2

This will be quick and I have already shared the photographs on social media, but as I am still smiling about the event this morning, I thought I’d share just once more. So, last night I pootled off to Walker Books to listen to a presentation about their amazing new list. It is, quite simply, stunning. Readers are in for a treat and a half!

However, my main reason for going into London after a long day was the chance to meet the one and only Helen Oxenbury. And I did! Not only did I meet her, but Helen very kindly signed my copy of Alice in Wonderland, which she illustrated. That would have been enough for me, but then, Helen noticed my arms and began quite a thorough inspection of my Alice in Wonderland inspired ink.

I grinned (like the Cheshire Cat), all the way home.