A Lovely Letter from America

Here are some lovely comments (and stamps!) about You’re a Pest, Betsy Thumbslurp! from America.

Hello Janet, I was surprised when my doorbell rang today. It was the mail man and he had the books. I am so excited! I have already read mine, and will call Lauren to let her know it is here. Thank you, thank you. I am reading and laughing . They are full of humor, a pure delight for children. I know some of my friends have purchased the book. Congratulations again.   Hesba Gable

Having Fun at Idea Store Watney Market

Betsy Book Tour Continues


Jake and I are at the Idea Store Watney Market tomorrow – can’t wait!

More Children are Enjoying Reading

Reblogged from https://home.bt.com/news/uk-news/more-children-are-enjoying-reading-11363982098430

Growing numbers of children are catching the reading bug and picking up a book outside of class, according to new research.


Growing numbers of children are catching the reading bug and picking up a book outside of class, according to new research.

It reveals that, in 12 months, there was a 28.6% increase in the number of youngsters who read on a daily basis and not for their school work.

Those who read each day outside lessons are five times more likely to be above the expected level in the subject for their age group, compared to youngsters who never read outside school.

But the annual study, published by the National Literacy Trust, also shows a continuing gender gap, with boys less likely to enjoy reading than girls, and suggests that many youngsters would still rather watch TV than have their nose in a book.

Overall, reading levels have hit a new high, the report concludes, with record numbers of children and young people enjoying the activity every day.

More than half (54.4%) of the 32,000 youngsters questioned said they enjoy reading quite a lot or very much – the highest it has been since the Trust began the survey in 2010.

And just over two in five (41.1%) read daily outside of class, up from 32.2% the year before – a 28.6% increase.

There has been a drop in the proportion of youngsters who say their parents do not care if they spend any time reading – 24.3% said this, compared to 25.5% the year before.

But more than half (55.2%) of those polled still prefer watching TV to reading, although this is down slightly on the year before, and three in 10 (30.3%) say they cannot find things to read that interest them.

Just over one in four (27.6%) say they only read when they have to.

A breakdown shows that girls are keener on reading than their male classmates, with nearly half (46.5%) saying they read daily outside class, compared to 35.8% of boys, and more girls saying they enjoy the activity either very much or quite a lot.

Trust supporter Michael Morpurgo, author of War Horse, said: “How good it is to have some heartening news about young readers, to know that there are so many now who have taken to reading and are making it part of their lives. This is quiet enrichment. This is growing awareness and understanding. This is the heart of the matter of education for life. But much is still to be done. Too many boys still seem disinterested in reading, and far, far too many children simply never become readers at all. So we writers and illustrators and storytellers, and parents and teachers, and publishers and booksellers, must continue to play our part. And government too should remember that literacy must first and foremost be enjoyed, if we are to engage our most reluctant readers, and remember too that libraries and librarians, both in schools and in our communities, must be a priority.”

Youngsters are reading a wide variety of materials, the report found, including websites, text messages, emails, ebooks, blogs, fiction, lyrics, comics and poems.

The study also examined youngsters’ background and found that those with a white heritage are least likely to enjoy reading and are more likely to have negative attitudes towards it.

Compared with children from other ethnic backgrounds, they are less likely to agree that reading is “cool” and more likely to say they would be embarrassed if their friends saw them read.

Trust director Jonathan Douglas said: “It is very encouraging to see that the number of children who read every day has radically increased. However, it is a real concern that a third of the most disadvantaged children think their parents do not care whether they read. More must be done to help parents realise what a difference reading with their children from a young age can make to their future.”

The survey questioned 32,026 eight to 18-year-olds in November and December.  

” … government too should remember that literacy must first and foremost be enjoyed, if we are to engage our most reluctant readers, and remember too that libraries and librarians, both in schools and in our communities, must be a priority.” Enough said.

Betsy Coming to Idea Store Watney Market on 27th May


Come along and join in the fun!

Betsy Now Available at Bookmarks Bookshop!


You’re a Pest, Betsy Thumbslurp is now on sale in paperback for £4.50 from Bookmarks Bookshop, 1 Bloomsbury Street, London WC1B 3QE, Telephone: 020 7637 1848.

To order a copy today go to http://www.bookmarksbookshop.co.uk/view/40729/You%2527re+a+Pest%252C+Betsy+Thumbslurp


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.


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