Beanstalk Fundraising Launch with GBBO winner Frances Quinn

Last week I launched my 9th author-illustrator picture book, The Queen's Present, at Waterstones' flagship in Piccadilly, London, and in the process raised enough cash for literacy charity, Beanstalk, to support four pupils for a whole year. It was a festive affair. There was mulled wine, mince pies and a fab turnout of lovely people, including friends, family, my publisher and agent, Beanstalk volunteers, fellow authors, booksellers, librarians and several curious customers. The icing on the cake was a delicious Christmas bake, by Great British Bake Off winner, Frances Quinn. It was very nice of Waterstones to allow us to take over the children's department. THANK YOU, Waterstones; and thank you to all who donated! Below are some tweets from the event. 

The Queen's Hat and Queen's Handbag Lessons

Maddy Barnes (teacher, English consultant, author, editor and blogger for Rising Stars) has devised two fantastic lesson plans - one is for THE QUEEN'S HAT and the other is for THE QUEEN'S HANDBAG. Maddy has kindly allowed me to share these on my blog. Below are screenshots of each lesson plan. More lesson plans and ideas can be found HERE.

And here is the plan for THE QUEEN'S HANDBAG.

A Very Special Visit to The Alligator's Mouth

Illustrated by the one and only Chris Riddell!

Illustrated by the one and only Chris Riddell!

On Saturday, Richmond was buzzing with rugby banter. Footpaths carried a heavy stream of supporters to the big match (or the pub) and just about every other pedestrian had a Kiwi accent.

I, however, was not going to the match (or the pub). I had a date down at The Alligators Mouth in a quaint, little side street a side-step away from the river of Rugby fans.

The Alligators Mouth is new independent children's bookstore in the heart of Richmond run by a friendly trio of passionate booksellers: Tony, Margaret and Mark. I heard rave reviews about this shop not long after it opened, which if I can remember rightly from my conversation with Tony, was May this year. Since opening, they've had special visits from the likes of Jacqueline Wilson, Axel Scheffler and Chris Riddell, and that was in one day!

Naturally, I couldn't wait to visit. 

I was particularly excited to discover that the shop had managed to acquire some copies of the not-even-officially-published-yet GREEN LIZARDS VS RED RECTANGLES, which presented the perfect opportunity for me to incorporate the battling reptiles and shapes into my event. 

Another nice surprise was a call from my friend, Jane Elson, author of award-winning A ROOM FULL OF CHOCOLATE and Carnegie-nominated HOW TO FLY WITH BROKEN WINGS, to say that she was coming to my event, which meant I had at least one guaranteed audience member!

But thankfully, I had more than one audience member. Phew! I recognised retweeters, and I met some big fans of Mr Panda, including a mother who is planning a Mr Panda themed party for her child's 1st birthday.

Me, Jane, our books and the Alligator on the bag.

It was a brilliant event. I read most of my books. We took a crazy trip with The Queen across the United Kingdom, spotted the butler (and an alien, surfing police officers, Mo Farah and more) and we drew Mr Panda with shapes and letters.

After my event I bought some books for myself (of course!) before devouring an entire margerita pizza in the restaurant next door.

All in all I had a great time. What a fantastic shop!

Thank you to Mark, Toni and Margaret for having me, and for finding me a Sharpie to sign with! Thanks also to Jane for coming along (and taking photos). But mostly, thank you to all who came for making the event so enjoyable.

So, If you're reading this in London (or even New Zealand), take note, The Alligator's Mouth is well worth a visit (and so is the restaurant next door).

Below are some photos of my event, taken by Jane and Mark.

Spotting the butler!

Spotting the butler!

For Teachers: Lesson Ideas From Around the World

From decorating doughnuts to acting out plays to learning about geography and jungle themed Reading Corners, TEACHERS from the UK to Australia have invented CREATIVE LESSON PLANS and FUN ACTIVITIES based on my books.

In response to the many emails I've received from teachers, I've created a web page devoted to lessons and activities especially for teachers, librarians and booksellers.

Most of these lesson and activity ideas are suitable for KS1 (ages 5-7) pupils, but they can also be tailored for younger pupils. I have indicated a recommended age group next to each lesson based on my experience from school events, but you can tailor them for just about any age group.

Press HERE to visit the corner of my site that's especially devoted to teachers and librarians.

Have fun!

Broadwater Primary School pupils showing off their new headgear in a musical parade. (Photo by Emerson Wimsey)

Broadwater Primary School pupils showing off their new headgear in a musical parade. (Photo by Emerson Wimsey)

The Queen's Handbag TOTALLY reimagined by school pupils

Year 3 of Ramsey Junior School in Cambridgeshire totally reimagined my latest release, THE QUEEN'S HANDBAG, in the most creative way!

By replacing HANDBAG and rewriting my synopsis (and adding other famous landmarks from around the world) they made up their very own royal adventures.

The teacher simply created a small booklet of blank pages. On the cover of the booklet is THE QUEEN'S *BLANK*. On the back is my back-cover synopsis for THE QUEEN'S HANDBAG (below). But the teacher cleverly omitted key words so her pupils could then use their imagination to fill in the blanks.

The pupils filled the blanks in with words like GOLDEN POTS, NINJA MONKEY, SPITFIRE, HELICOPTER, CHEEKY HORSE and GOLDEN BANANA.

Click to enlarge

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Then they wrote and illustrated their very own adventures, which include lots of other famous landmarks like the Eiffel Tower. 

Some even added their very own final 'butler' scene just like in THE QUEEN'S HANDBAG and THE QUEEN'S HAT.

 I think this is such a brilliant idea! I'm mightily impressed by all of these funny, imaginative and totally bonkers additions to THE QUEEN series!

Below are some photos of the class's work. Absolutely Amazing!