Saturday, May 05, 2018

Cressida Cowell in Abingdon

At 10 o’clock on a grey day in May, over 250 children from four schools filed into a hall at Chandlings school brimming with excitement about what was about to happen.

After a brief introduction from Christine Cook, the Chandlings head teacher, multi award-winning author Cressida Cowell took to the floor.

Cressida immediately captured the children’s attention with stories of childhood holidays spent on an uninhabited island off the coast of Scotland.  Her father was an environmentalist who worked with the likes of David Attenborough.  Although he loved his work, he missed the outdoors, so the family spent weeks at a time on the island with no electricity.  As time passed, they built a house which meant that they could spend summers at a time roaming the island.

Cressida talked about how the surroundings inspired her creativity as she began life as a writer and how characters from her book were inspired by sea creatures.  She talked about giants and fairies inspiring locations in her books and how illustrations from other books and fashion prints helped her develop ideas for the drawings.  

She taught the children how to speak Dragonese whilst the adults in the room were told to put their hands over their ears so they couldn’t hear what was going on. Needless to say, the children fell about laughing at what they were taught. 

The event closed with Cressida talking about ‘Free Writing Friday’ which she launched at the end of April.  It’s a new schools campaign designed to encourage primary school children to write for pleasure.  You can read more about the initiative here.

The event closed with Cressida answering questions from the audience before a queue formed for the  children to get their books signed.

The event was repeated in the afternoon at Thomas Reade School with pupils from OLA Juniors in attendance.  The response about Free Writing Friday was excellent and the excited children were thrown imaginary feathers to help inspire their creativity.

Both events were brilliant, and Cressida was outstanding.  The children hung onto every word and left the halls buzzing with ideas.

After the school events were finished, Cressida headed to Mostly Books where the team had re-arranged the shop in preparation for her in-shop signing.  A queue had begun to form well before the event started with excited children clutching their books in anticipation of meeting the author.

Cressida didn’t disappoint!!  She chatted to every child, signed their books and posed for photos.  After their books were signed, each child was offered a dragon stamp on their arm and in their books to remind them of meeting Cressida.  After over an hour of chatting and book signing, the last guest left the shop happy and inspired after meeting such a world class author. 

More photos of the event can be found on our Facebook page here.  

There's Been a Whole Lot of Events Going On

It's been a busy month of events for Mostly Books with members of the team hosting authors and pop-up bookshops in a variety of different venues.

On Monday March 26th, YA author Peadar O'Guilun visited John Mason School with students from Larkmead School also in attendance.  Peadar talked about the world he created in his books The Call  and The Invasion to the group whilst keeping them entertained with his unique style of observational comedy.  The following day he did a similar event at Matthew Arnold school.  Peadar travelled from Dublin just to do these events and, given how much the team love his books, we were really happy to host him.
On Tuesday 17th April, Didcot resident James Bishop visited Rush Common School to talk to pupils about his newly published book Iguana Boy Saves the World with a Triple Chesse Pizza.  James, who was a runner up in a national writing competition run by TV's Lorraine, attended Rush Common as a boy so we were keen to get him back to the school to promote his book.  The event was the first in James' book tour and it went really well! The children loved the book and enjoyed chatting to James as he signed their copies. 

On Saturday 21st April, Mostly Books hosted a pop-up bookshop at the Kennington Festival of Arts at Kennington Village Centre.  The festival was a celebration of books, humour, art, poetry and music and the books on offer reflected this.  Talks were hosted by Korky Paul, Slyvia Vetta and Michael Smith, to name a few, and were interspersed with music, dance and a great selection of food and drink.  

On Friday 27th April, the Mostly Books team returned to Chandlings School to host a book fair that had been postponed after the beast from the east caused the school to close over World Book Day week.  The book fair is an annual event at Chandlings where children are able to browse a selection of books laid out in the school library before choosing one to take home with them.  It's always a really fun day as we get to chat to the children about the type of books they enjoy and help them to choose something that they will love.

The inaugural Thames Con took place on Saturday 28th April and Mostly Books was there!  The team hosted a book signing with Korky Paul and also offered a wide selection of books related to the celebrity guests in attendance.  It was a lot of fun as the team was next to the entrance which meant that they were able to see all of the wonderful costumes as people arrived.  It goes without saying that Sarah and Julia couldn't resist getting a sneaky picture with some stormtroopers!

On Wednesday 2nd May, book writing royalty Cressida Cowell came to Abingdon.  Cressida is best known for her series of novels: How to Train Your Dragon which have been adapted for the big screen in an award-winning film franchise.  Cressida did two school events, involving six different schools, and came into the shop for a book signing so there was a lot going on!  It was an absolute pleasure to meet such an accomplised author and to watch as she talked to the schools.  Her passion for writing and illustrating is apparent and and the children were totally enthralled.  Cressida was talking about her book The Wizards of Once which came out in paperback on 3rd May.
Mostly Books also provided books for the Abingdon Quilt Exhibition and school events with Korky Paul (Unicorn and Thameside) and Jay Jay Burridge so it's been a busy few weeks!

You can see more photos of our events on our Facebook page here.