NEWS & EVENTS

WINTER TREAT

A treat for little artists in the dark days of winter. Claire Alexander has made three printable colouring sheets based on her special illustrations for our book THE SNOWBEAR.

TEACHING PICTURE BOOK WRITING

Interested in exploring the craft of picture book writing? This autumn I’ll be teaching an online evening course at Goldsmiths, University of London.

Themes explored will include, creating characters that children love, how to ‘keep writing young’, how to create page-turning stories, musical language and redrafting.

I’ll be taking participants on a journey into the craft of writing picture book stories, and be helping them to come up with one of their own.

Additional features:

  • one to one tutorial.
  • question and answer session with Maria Tunney, Senior Editor at Walker Books.

Full details and how to book here:

https://www.gold.ac.uk/short-courses/writing-picture-books/

LET’S GET SILLY

RIDING A DONKEY A DONKEY BACKWARDS – my laugh-out-loud collection of Mulla Nasruddin stories written with Khayaal Theatre – has been chosen by The Reading Agency for this year’s Summer Reading Challenge book list. And we’re pleased to be joining Jacqueline Wilson, Cressida Cowell, Philip Ardagh and Joseph Coelho as part of the SILLY SQUAD Summer Reading Challenge 2020.

This ever-popular library-based reading challenge will be launching on 5th June 2020, in an all-new digital format due to Covid-19 and the ongoing social distancing measures in schools and public libraries.

And very sensibly, given the times we’re in, they’re giving it a silly theme!

Expect lots of reading fun along the course of the SILLY SQUAD programme. It will run from June until September and feature readings, jokes, poems, creative challenges, family activities and draw-a-longs from the authors and illustrators involved.

Libraries around the country will continue to run the Summer Reading Challenge, delivering it via virtual services and e-lending platforms, and adapting their delivery if social distancing measures develop and change.

So head here from 5 June 2020, to join in the seriously silly fun:

https://summerreadingchallenge.org.uk/

MEET THE AUTHOR

I enjoyed a recent chat with Elephant Books about THE SNOWBEAR.

You can find out more about writing that book, my collaborations with Claire Alexander & my thoughts on the biggest challenges facing parents, given the current relationship between kids & reading. Their MEET THE AUTHOR feature is here:

https://elephant-books.com/2020/02/13/sean-taylor/


WHY I WASN’T IN DUBAI

Every February Dubai hosts The Emirates Airline Literature Festival. Some authors accept the invitation to attend. But some do not.

I was invited to attend and, having researched issues around the festival and talked with fellow authors, I decided not to go.

There are many grievances about the way that the United Arab Emirates is governed. The country has a very well-documented record of human rights violations. It relies on a migrant underclass who are treated in ways reminiscent of apartheid. It promotes a culture of wasteful overconsumption that our world can ill-afford.

Although holding a literature festival may appear to swim against these currents, the fact is that the Emirates Festival of Literature’s patron is Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Prime Minister of the U.A.E and ruler of the Emirate of Dubai. So the event gives a sheen of respectability to an oppressive regime.

My choice would always be to stay part of the conversation rather than close the door. I had hoped to visit the festival in this spirit, and take part in conversations and meetings with contacts in the wider Dubai community. But authors who have attended the festival tell me it’s very difficult to do anything meaningful outside the ‘five-star bubble’ where the festival is held. And this was confirmed when the festival told me they have ‘very stringent rules’ and I would not be able to do any paid or free private events or speak at meetings not organised by the festival itself.

I would have enjoyed the chance to connect with children and families in Dubai and to be a part of feeding their love of reading.

The choice not to go is entirely mine, and I respect the right of other authors to consider the issues and act differently. Freedom of expression lies at the heart of this matter.

As fellow children’s author Laurence Anholt has rightly said:

“The Dubai Government cannot have it both ways – if they want to encourage literature and the arts, then they must allow unrestricted debate and freedom of speech to all.”

And this is the voice of Ahmed Mansoor, human rights defender imprisoned in the U.A.E since March 2017:

“The root cause of so much of the violence in the region is despair. Human rights are being violated on a daily basis and nobody in the outside world seems to care.”


YOUNG POETS AT KILBURN LIBRARY

What a treat. I spent a day working at Kilburn Library in west London, with children from two local schools.

It’s an  airy building with big, high windows. And even on a grey day, the place was lit-up  full of people in the mix of concentrations (studying, imagining, being practical, finding some calm) that gives libraries everywhere their life.



Then in came the kids aged 6 and 7. We spent time together in the world of stories, riddles and rhymes. And look at the poems they wrote:


LOUD AS AND QUIET AS

Louder than a lion roaring!
Louder than the thunder crashing!
Louder than an aeroplane taking off!
Louder than Mr Veater shouting!

Quieter than a moust getting cheese.
Quieter than a baby sleeping.
Quieter than a bed creaking.
Quieter than Mr Veater’s class when they’re lining up!

by Year 1 and Year 2 classes from Christchurch CofE Primary School, Brondesbury, working with Sean Taylor.


THE ANIMAL POEM

Lion…you hairy, smelly, orange and brown, scary meat-thief!
Dog…you tail-wagging, barking, running bone-chewer!
Dinosaur…you huge, noisy, big-jawed, big-toothed ROARER!

by Year 2 classes from Carlton Vale Infants School, working with Sean Taylor.

Thanks to special Library Development Officers Sarah Smith and Fiona Heffernan for organising and hosting. It’s valuable work you do.

 

KISS THE CROCODILE AT STORYSMITH BOOK SHOP

We had a much fun at Storysmith Book Shop in in Bristol this morning.

There were riddles and stories. There was elephant stomping. Some of the children were even brave enough to KISS THE CROCODILE!

And here is the lovely group poem that the children wrote:


MY FAMILY AND FISH

My four favourite jigsaws.
I will always keep them safe.

My special blue and orange tetra fish.
I will always keep them safe.

My favourite funny book.
I will always keep it safe.

My two little sisters, Clara and Isabel.
I will always keep them safe.

By children at Storysmith Book Shop, May 2019


DISCOVER

Thank you to the sell-out crowd who joined me at Discover Children’s Story Centre this week. We had a lot of fun with stories, riddles and rhymes.

And they came up with this lovely group poem inspired by my book – KISS THE CROCODILE.


NEVER KISS THESE THINGS


Never kiss a lion.
Never kiss a worm.
Never kiss a snake,
in case it bites your face.

Never kiss a crow.
Never kiss a crocodile.
It’s better to kiss your mum –
just in case…



IT’S SCARY ON THE ISLE OF WIGHT…


I’ve just had a great weekend at the Isle of Wight Literary Festival, doing events around my book I WANT TO BE IN A SCARY STORY! Thanks for having me and an extra special thank you to the children who came up with this spooky poem:


SCARY STORY POEM

Our scary story poem
has a spooky house in it.
It’s crooked and pointy.
It’s haunted.


Our scary story poem
has wolves  in it.
They’re big and vicious.
They’re frightening and deafening.


Our scary story poem
has a witch in it.
She’s got a green face.
She’s got a spiky cat.


So let’s leave them in the poem
and go for lunch.
And have a ham and cheese sandwich.

by children at the Isle of Wight Literary Festival 2018, working with Sean Taylor

YEAR ONE POETS IN PETERBOROUGH!

It was my pleasure to visit Queen’s Drive Infants School in Peterborough last week. My thanks go to Pop Up Festival for organising the day, and to the bright-eyed children in each of the classes I visited for coming up with the special selection of words we needed to write the following three poems:

 

ANIMALS POEM

Owl!
You fluffy,
pecky,
flappy,
sharp-clawed,
hard-beaked
BIG EYES!

Snake!
You wriggly,
scaly,
slithery,
thin,
hissy
SHARP TOOTH!

Lion!
You furry-maned,
pointy-clawed,
swishing-tailed,
hungry,
roaring,
deadly
KING OF THE ANIMALS!

by Year 1 Rabbits Class at Queen’s Drive Infants, Peterborough, working with Sean Taylor, as part of Pop Up Festival, June 2018


 

THE MONSTER

Let’s create a monster!
Let’s give it one huge eye.
Let’s give it sharp ginormous teeth.
Let’s give it spiky brown hair.
LET’S CREATE A SCARY MONSTER!

Let’s create a monster!
Let’s give it a fast-wiggling tail.
Let’s give it creepy claws.
Let’s give it pointy orange toes.
LET’S CREATE A FRIGHTENING MONSTER!

by Year 1 Squirrels Class at Queen’s Drive Infants, Peterborough, working with Sean Taylor, as part of Pop Up Festival, June 2018



THE STORY OF SPRING AND AUTUMN

The spring path has big green trees.
The spring path has flowers, yellow, blue and turquoise.
The spring path smells perfumed and fresh.

The autumn path has crunchy leaves on the floor.
The autumn path is cold and chilly.
The autumn path is peaceful, silent, quiet and calm.

We are going to choose the autumn path.

by Year 1 Owls Class at Queen’s Drive Infants, Peterborough, working with Sean Taylor, as part of Pop Up Festival, June 2018

 

PORTSMOUTH…A CITY OF YOUNG READERS

Many thanks to Portsmouth Schools Library Service for inviting me down this week. I was delighted to spend time with the quick-thinking children and dedicated teachers at Penhale and Court Lane infant schools. And it warms an author’s heart to visit a city which puts energy all year round into getting children excited about books.

Here are some poems that the children came up with…



MY PRECIOUS THINGS

My dark white bunny-teddy.
I will always keep him safe.

My beautiful family.
I will always keep them safe.

My fantastic friends.
I will always keep them safe.

My fluffy hamster, Harry.
I will always keep him safe.

My secret diary.
I will always keep it safe.

My special gold necklace from my nan.
I will always keep it safe.


by Year 2 children at Penhale Infant School, working with Sean Taylor.



THE LION, THE TIGER AND THE GIRAFFE


An angry lion!
An angry lion!
She’s horrible.
She’s got a fluffy mane.

She’s hunting for food.
She’s thirsty.
An angry lion is the angriest thing in the world!

 

A naughty tiger!
A naughty tiger!
He’s rude.
He’s mean.

He’s growling.
He’s selfish.
A naughty tiger is the naughtiest thing in the world!

 

A happy giraffe.
A happy giraffe.
He’s grinning.
He’s laughing.

He’s funny.
He’s ticklish.
A happy giraffe is the happiest thing in the world!

by Year 1 children at Penhale Infant School, working with Sean Taylor.