Fantastic Feedback!

Hi Janet,
Thanks very much for coming to John Scurr and sharing your book.  The children were really inspired and enjoyed listening to the 2 of you and creating their own stories.  I think it worked very well, considering the time constraints.  I am sorry not more of them bought the books: it is Science Week and the parents had already been asked to contribute, also Book Fair next week…  A child rushed up to me later and said he’d read the book already and really enjoyed it.  So, hope you’re working on the next one..
Lucy Chambers
John Scurr Primary School
Our pleasure Lucy – Jake and I had a great time. And yes, I’m working on the next book right now!

First Author Visit for Betsy Thumbslurp Today


Myself , Jake , Hippopotamus and a bag load of Betsy Thumbslurp books are visiting John Scurr Primary School in Stepney  – excited!


Happy World Book Day 2015 everyone. The theme for my school this year is circuses and Shakespeare’s Globe to celebrate performance in the round. I’m going to work as Viola from Twelfth Night – hope I don’t get arrested on the tube…

# Halloween Which Witch Quiz (Answers!)

I hope you all had a happy Halloween. Here are the answers to my quiz testing  your knowledge of witch characters from children’s literature.

The witch who has a cat called Wilbur is Winnie winnie

Winnie the Witch by Valerie Thomas


Publisher: Oxford University Press

ISBN: 978-0192726438

The witch who is left outside Templeton Children’s Home as a baby is Bella Donna BellaDonna2

Bella Donna: Coven Road by Ruth Symes

Price: £5.99

Publisher: Piccadilly

ISBN: 978-1848120969

The witch who speaks at the annual meeting of the RSPCC is The Grand High Witch witches

The Witches by Roald Dahl

Price: £6.99

Publisher: Puffin

ISBN: 978-0141346410

The witch who attends Miss Cackle’s Academy for Witches is Mildred Hubble Worstwitch

The Worst Witch by Jill Murphy

Price: £5.99

Publisher: Puffin

ISBN: 978-0141349596

The witch who lives with her foster father Nat is Issy Issy

Burning Issy by Melvin Burgess

Price: £5.99

Publisher: Andersen

ISBN: 978-1849393973

The witch who hides her journal in an old quilt is Mary witchchild

Witch Child by Celia Rees

Price: £6.99

Publisher: Bloomsbury

ISBN: 978-1408800263

The witch who has long ginger hair she wears in a plait is the Witch RoononBroom3

Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson

Price: £6.99

Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books

ISBN: 978-0333903384

The witch who is good at spotting Seekers is Professor Minerva McGonagall hp

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J. K. Rowling

Price: £6.99

Publisher: Bloomsbury

ISBN: 978-0747558194

The witch who enchants children with magical Turkish Delight is The White Witch lionwitchetc

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis

Price: £5.99

Publisher: Scholastic

ISBN: 978-0007323128

The witch who lives in a cave on Hurricane Mountain is the Witch gobbolino

Gobbolino the Witch’s Cat by Ursula Williams

Price: £4.99

Publisher: Puffin

ISBN: 978-0140302394

The witch who keeps her in husband in a jar is Mum Which Witch Quiz 3

The Trouble with Mum by Babette Cole

Price: £3.08

Publisher: Inky Sprat (Kindle Edition)


The witch whose birthday is on 31st October is Zelda zelda3

Witch Zelda’s Birthday Cake by Eva Tatcheva

Price: £3.72

Publisher: Tango Books

ISBN: 978-1857074406

The witch whose baby is stolen by fairies is the Tree Witch Pillywiggins

Pillywiggins and the Tree Witch by Julia Jarman

Price: £4.99

Publisher: Andersen

ISBN: 978-1849390187

And my favourite witch is … Zeldazelda3

Witch Zelda’s Birthday Cake is a pop-up and pull-the-flap book about a naughty witch who invites her friends to a birthday party and amuses herself by playing tricks on them. The book is almost entirely about the visual jokes going on – the sort of thing that children pore over for hours. The pop-up element is an intrinsic part of the story and there seems to be something new to discover in the pictures every time you look. Tatcheva is a truly original illustrator, who uses a mixture of scratchy drawing, richly textured paint and photographic collage to produce scenes that are strangely magical, slightly scary but brilliantly funny all at the same time.

Another #Halloween Treat!

Reblogged from Enjoy!

Spooky Reads!

Posted on Oct 27, 2014


hubblebubbleHubble Bubble and the Super-Spooky Fright Night
Tracey Corderoy (text) & Joe Berger (illustrations)
(Nosy Crow)

With its gorgeous Hallween-y cover, this latest book from the Hubble Bubble young fiction series ( a spin-off of the bestselling picture book series) puts you in the right mood straight away. Pandora is having a Halloween party with her friends and both her grannies are helping. Granny Podmore is sensible, but Granny Crow (who is a witch, but don’t tell anyone), well, not so much. She is lots of fun though, and always means well. Will the party end up be a disaster?
Heavily illustrated, with Joe Berger’s gorgeous artwork in shades of orange and grey, this is a wonderful series for newly independent readers. The book includes three individual stories; this helps, alongside the illustrations, the text to be split in less daunting and more manageable chunks.  It is fun and the relationship between Pandora and her grandmother’s brings a certain dynamic to the stories. Young children will relish in Pandora being the sensible one, and this current tome is the perfect opportunity to introduce young readers to the series

gothgirlGoth Girl and the Fete Worse than Death
Chris Riddell
(Macmillan Children’s Books)

The wonderfully quirky Goth family and all those who live in their estate return for another sagacious and elegant adventure.  Lord Goth is on a book tour and has left the organisation  of the annual Full Moon Fete to his staff. Preparations are well underway, including a celebrity bake-off, but with Maltravers acting not unusually suspiciously,  Ada thinks something is afoot and with the help of her friends, she is keen to discover what might be happening behind closed doors. But will anyone remember it is also her birthday? And will she have time to sort out her elusive nanny’s relationship problems?
Spies, vampires, baking and even doomed relationships: there is something for everyone within the pages of this exquisitely designed little book. Chris Riddell’s meticulous and refined artwork and his witty writing are sure to delight young readers again; yet intertextuality, cunning references and parody galore make this book particularly enjoyable for adult readers.
It is faultless, down to the a mini book included at the end, “Biography of a Bear”, a perfect example of a wordless comic, which is so good, it could easily be used to teach storytelling techniques in panel formats.

thirteenchairsThirteen Chairs
Dave Shelton
(David Fickling Books)

A darkened room – 12 empty chairs around a table, slowly filled one by one by a ghostly figure. Jack is offered a seat, the thirteenth chair. Then the stories begin: how they died, what they did wrong in life that resulted in their death. After each participant has finished their story, they blow their candle out, making the room increasingly darker, and creepier. But who will tell the final story?
Thirteen Chairs is an exploit of chilling storytelling, with the reader left on tenterhooks and gradually more breathless as each tale unfolds. Short stories are the perfect literary form for doing scary – short, snappy text makes the resolution all the more ominous, particularly when the worst is implied, rather than described.
Shelton demonstrates once more what a brilliant writer he is as well as artist,  by delivering a book which is well polished yet poles apart from  his award-winning A Boy and A Bear in a Boat

Finally, you can’t be a classic, and this year, the classic young fiction Eva Ibbotson “scary” tales have been republished with glorious new cover  artwork by Alex T Smith. A perfect opportunity to introduce them to young readers:


mountwoodHer son, Toby Ibbotson, has also written a story  based on his mother’s original idea, which is also a ghost story, Mountwood School for Ghosts. All are published by Macmillan Children’s Books.

#Halloween Which Witch Quiz

To celebrate Halloween I have devised a little quiz for you all. Below I have asked  you to identify  thirteen (unlucky for some!) different witch characters from children’s literature. On Monday I will tell you which one is my favourite and why. To make it easy for you here are the thirteen books from which I have made my selection.

Here are my 13 questions:

Which witch has a cat called Wilbur?

Which witch is left outside the Templeton Children’s Home as a baby?

Which witch speaks at the annual meeting of the RSPCC?

Which witch lives with her foster father Nat?

Which witch attends Miss Cackle’s Academy for Witches?

Which witch hides her journal in an old quilt?

Which witch has long ginger hair she wears in a plait?

Which witch is good at spotting Seekers?

Which witch enchants children with magical Turkish Delight?

Which witch lives in a cave on Hurricane Mountain?

Which witch keeps  her in husband in a jar? 

Which witch’s birthday is on 31st October? 

Which witch has her baby stolen by fairies?

Answers in a post please. Happy witch hunting!


Another day – another  lovely review…

Witty and original, great pictures. Looking forward to the next instalment.


Happy Black History Month!

2013-10-01 12.28.06

Here’s the Black History Month display I put up in my primary school library today. The backdrop is a painted wall-hanging made by the Fula people of West Africa – beautiful, isn’t it.

Go to to find out about Black History Month events organised in your local library.

Betsy Thumbslurp Now in Paperback!

Thank you for all your kind words for ‘ You’re a Pest, Betsy Thumbslurp! , my debut book for children ages 6 – 8 years old, which was published in the Amazon Kindle Store in May 2014.

Here are some of the lovely reviews Betsy has received:

What are little girls made of?

Sugar and spice, and all that’s nice.

Well, not always. Our girl, Coco in ‘You’re a Pest, Betsy Thumbslurp!’ is mischievous, naughty, and a stereotype-breaker…

Cool that it’s a girl for a change. Go Betsy and hope to see more of you soon, you pest.

Downloaded & loved it – such a great idea!

I loved the book. It brought back so many memories for me. But I was the thumb sucker and my brother was the baby I was jealous of!

Primary School Librarian, Tower Hamlets Schools Library Services

Brilliant! Can’t wait for this to come out as hardback or paperback.

Well, the wait is over – BT is now available in paperback for only £3.99.

To place an order please email Lemon Tree C & T Ltd Publishing at

I look forward to receiving your orders!

Why read? The School Story


Back to work in my primary school library in 2 weeks so delighted to discover this blog post from 2012.

Originally posted on Did you ever stop to think and forget to start again?:

There are a whole world of genres in children’s literature, and there are new ones being created each and every day. In these posts, I’ll be focusing  on some of the key genres and both introduce them and offer some top hints on where to begin.

My first in this occasional series is very close to my heart. Behold the school story genre!

Image: theirhistory (Flickr)

The appeal of school stories can come from both the mimicking and distancing of real life. Education is something nearly everybody experiences, albeit in different forms. Reflecting this common experience onto literature allows the reader to both empathise with characters and also allow a sense of wish fulfilment to occur. In the book the mean girl might get her comeuppance, the awkward kid save the day, or the school is racked by a series of pranks. In the real world, it might be a…

View original 443 more words

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