Not too late to join in!

Literally Coventry 2014 kicks off tomorrow bright and early at 9:00am. But not all events are completely sold out  and there is still Imagetime to join in! Look at We had some unexpected returns for the  previously sold-out Eoin Colfer event on Friday 27th at 1:30 for example. Eoin is a real superstar of the children’s book world and appeals to a wide  age range. He has sold over 20 million copies of his Artemis Fowl books and we think his new W.A.R.P series is going the same way!Eoin is the newly appointed Children’s Laureate for Ireland so do grab this chance to see him.

There are  great family opportunities on Tuesday afternoon and evening. The very funny Jason Beresford will be at WaterImagestones at 4:00 pm. Jason is a Coventry lad finding great success with his Fabulous Four Fish Fingers- four children with super powers

‘This is undoubtedly the perfect reading material for boys and girls aged 7+. Plenty of humour, kids with superpowers but most of all it has heart,’ says Lovereading4kids.


Later on at The Criterion Theatre, Earlsdon from 7:00 the local Coventry Writers group will be reading and performing their work. They are a very friendly and welcoming group of all ages and if anybody in your family has any interest in creative writing this is the group for you.This evening has really become  one of the favourite Festival traditions.( n.b dont forget if you have ambitions to write for children we have a  FREE writing workshop with award winning Ann Evans on Sat 28th from 10:00 to 12:00)

If we are going to make the case for continued funding of our unique FREE festival then it is important that we get good audiences. We  know we have a long way to go before we reach the dizzy heights of the Hay, Edinburgh or Cheltenham Festivals or even long established regional Festivals like Warwick Words or Stratford Festival, but  proud to say our Children’s programme for schools is as good or better than most of those! However If you want us to attract big name adult authors we have to be able to prove a track record of audiences. We have some really interesting sessions lined up for adult readers so do grab these opportunities while they are available.

On Monday at 5:30 in Earlsdon Library we have a young woman who is creating quite a name for herself. Sophia McDougall has recently published her first novel for yImageoung people and is doing an event about the exciting Mars Evacuees adventure at Sacred Heart at 1:30. But in Earlsdon we will hear all about her best-selling Romanitas trilogy- this is a totally enthralling and brilliantly concieved series.WHAT IF THE ROMAN EMPIRE NEVER FELL? Twice shortlisted for the Sidewise Award for Alternate History, the bestselling ROMANITAS trilogy continues with ROME BURNING, and concludes with SAVAGE CITY, all out now in paperback. Sophia will compare writing for childrenand writing for adults and discuss how history influences her imaginary worlds as well as exploring the role of women in contemporary fiction.

One of the most  unique and exclusive opportunities of the Festival is available on Wednesday 25th at 10:00 a.m at Warwick Arts Centre. If you know any students on exam leave with time on their hands or any film buffs make sure you tell them about The Knife That Killed Me. We have a very special  pre- release showing of the film, bImageased on the best selling novel by Anthony McGowan. Adapted by Marcus Romer and Kit Monkman this  visually rich and thought-provoking story is beautifully told with striking performances from a talented young cast. The film will be introduced by the director Marcus Romer and afterwards there will be a discussion with author Anthony McGowan. “The Knife That Killed Me” is a compelling journey through the memories of teenager Paul Varderman as he reflects on the events leading to the fatal moment his life is cut short. Paul moves to a new school and becomes involved with ‘The Freaks’, a group on the periphery of school life, those who don’t fit in: scene kids, emo kids, indie kids. Outsiders.
At the same time he attracts the attention of the schools twisted and manipulative bully, Roth. When Paul delivers a message from Roth to the leader of a gang at a rival school, it sparks a dangerous feud. Faced with growing pressures from both groups, Paul must decide where his friendship lies, a decision that may cost him his life.
Anthony based his novel on his own school experiences  and his anxiety about the terrifying rise in knife crime among young people. Very poignantly his school was the very one where teacher Anne McGuire was recently murdered and she had been his Year 7  form teacher too. This is bound to be a fascinating and important discussion.

Also on Wednesday there is a lunchtime opportunity to meet one of the Coventry Inspiration Book Award winning authors. A for Angelica by Iain Broome won the Wod of Mouth category and Iain will be collecting his award at the ceremony in STmary’s Hall but from 12:30 until 2:00 the Central Library Reading Group will be hosting a very special  discussion with Iain So if you have ever wanted to try out a Reading Group or just want to hear more about the critically acclaimed debut novel. “A first novel that confidently moves from dark comedy that’s genuinely funny to even darker despair that grows from moving to harrowing. Really impressive.”Daily Mail. For a taste of what is in store check out this trailer

On ThursdayImage 26th, again at the very wondeful Criterion Theatre in Earlsdon, who have been our partners since year 1, we have an evening for all the sports fans out there. If you are depressed by the World Cup come and listen to Chris Arnot instead. This celebrated national freelance feature writer is a regular contributor to the Guardian and has also written for the Daily Telegraph, the Independent and the Observer. His book, Britain’s Lost Cricket Grounds, was long-listed for the MCC’s cricket book of the year in 2011. Following that success the latest book looks at the  declining phenomena of cricket festival – when one of the county cricket clubs takes a week or so of games out of its home ground to a club ground somewhere else in the county, often at the seaside, and attracts a large and festive crowd to a bucolic arena fringed with white marquees, beer tents and deckchairs. Capturing sporting history before it disappears is an Arnot speciality – he has previously looked at Football Grounds- but also at  Lost mines and Lost beers and breweries so a man with many fascinating tales to tell

Saturday 28th is obviously the  day for families to enjoy  some insirational reading experiences together. Earlier on younger children can enjoy the hilarious antics of the Undead Pets and author Sam Hay at Waterstones from 11:00 and at 1:30 there is a lovely Story and Craft session with picture book artist Mat Head in Central Library. While the youngsters are having fun, history fans can meet and mingle, chat and browse the books with some of our most respected local authors. David McGrory, Pete Walters , Chris Holland and Chris Arnot will be at the Belgrade Theatre Local Voices, Local Lives event from 12:00 – 2:00

 Last but certainly not least there are still some tickets left for The Wimpy Kid Show at the Belgrade Theatre at 3:00p.m Remember the cheapest option for booking is online at


Day by day – Festival Finale – Saturday 28th June

By this stage the Festival committee will be on their knees, but hopefully  thousands of children, young people, families and the whole community will have experienced at least one event that inspires them to love reading and all the benefits that can bring to their lives.

Saturday is the opportunity for families to catch up. We understand that during the working week it is difficult to get out and if your child has not been taken to anything by their school and feels they have missed out this is your opportunity.

Many families will be proudly accompanying their children who have the honour of representing their school at the city Final of the Booked Up Quiz being held at Coventry & Nth Warwickshire Cricket Club.The quiz was the  brilliant brainchild of Linda Collingwood, Committee stalwart and librarian at Finham Park SchoKevin Brooksol, in year 1 and has continued ever since. As well as being a lot of fun it also helps familiarise pupils in Year 6 with their new secondary school so that it is not such a scary move in September. Each secondary school taking part hosts heats for their feeder primaries to compete for a place in the final. Year 7 pupils at the secondary school are the ones who set the questions  to test the teams book knowledge and help run the quiz. It is a great opportunity to show off to their old primary schools! The celebrity hhayspgost and  quizmaster for the day is none other than Kevin Brooks! Once again the quiz is sponsored by the local office of Hays Education to whom we are very grateful

Meanwhile aspiring authors who want to be the next Kevin Brooks or Eoin Colfer have an opportunity to participate in a  FREE creative writing tutorial  on How to Write for Children from award – winning author  Ann Evans in Central Library. Anne had her ann evansfirst novel was published in 1995 and since then there have been another nine. She worked for 13 years at the Coventry Telegraph as a Feature Writer, writing specifically on food and drink, gardens, travel and pets. Her Pet SOS weekly feature won the RSPCA Media Award one year, and the regular animal news helped many homeless cats and dogs find new homes. She regularly runs writing courses and workshops at her Nuneaton studio, and for anyone further afield, has online courses. Budding writers may  also find herbook Become A Writer: A Step by Step Guide useful.

Young readers can have an hour of fun with Sam Hay, author of the screamingly funny Undead Pets series, at Waterstones from 11:00 am.Sam Hay began her career in newspapers and worked for BBC Television for ten years before publishing her first book for children in 2005. undead petsSince then many titles have followed including novels, non-fiction and educational titles for children of all ages. She’s currently writing twsam hayo fiction series for children age 8+ – Undead Pets  and Screaming Sands.  The first book in Sam’s Undead Pets series has been selected as part of the Government’s new ‘Read for My School’ literacy programme. As well as writing for children, Sam continues to freelance for parenting magazines. She also runs several book groups for primary school children, and is passionate about encouraging and improving literacy and creative writing for all.

Running from 12:00 until 2:00 pm there will be Local Voices, Local Lives a drop in session  in the Belgrade Theatre Foyer  run by Waterstones with some of our very best local authors who have written about Coventry. This is your chance to ask them the things you have always wanted to know about Coventry or just to find out more about them and their books.

Chris Arnot – author of Britain’s Lost Mines, Britain’s Lost Breweries, Fields of Dreams and Britain’s Lost Cricket Festivals
Chris Holland – author of Coventry and Warwickshire 1914-19, The Diary and Scrapbooks of Cordelia Leigh 1914-1919 and Before Gallipoli
David McGrory – author of Coventry Then and Now, Coventry at War, Bloody British History: Coventry and others
Pete Walters – author of Story of Coventry

Meanwhile there is more fun for little ones  in Central Library. Mat Head, author of the Warduff picture books about a very distinctive cat will be running a story and craft session from 1:mat headjpg30 until 2:30.

Mat Head has spent the last 15 years working as an art director in advertising. He lives in East Sussex with his partner and two young sons. He has always loved drawing, butalso spent a lot of his childhood outside kicking footballs into flowerbeds. Still a fan of the great outdoors, Mat and his family like to escape in their camper van whenever possible and visit beautiful, mystical places.

Warduff and the Corncob Caper was Mat’s first picture book anwarduffd in his latest adventure Warduff and the Pelican Pirates , Warduff is down at the harbour one day when he notices something amiss. The penguins have been plundered by a posse of pelican pirates and have returned from their fishing trip empty handed! Warduff must come up with a brilliant plan to outwit the pirates, or they might never eat fish again!

Then there is just time to nip over to the Festival Finale in the Begrade Theatre where we are very proud to present The Wimpy Kid Show at 3:00 p.m.The Diary of a Wimpy Kid series has been a worldwide publishing sensation – in 2012 it was named Blue Peter’s best children’s boWimpyKidShow_Logook of the last 10 years, beating Harry Potter and Horrid Henry to the top spot. The Wimpy Kid Show event has been a sell-out at literature festivals around the country.
This is a new commercial departure for the Festival, but we wanted to bring big events to the city for our young people and families to enjoy together and the Wimpy Kid series of books has enticed more children to read than almost anything else. But it just would not have been possible without the support of the Belgrade Theatre to keep the costs down and it is fantastic to have them on board because they can provide  the perfect, convenient city centre venue.

The show is  really a must for all Diary of a Wimpy Kid fans and great family entertainment. Host Alastair Watson brings the books to life with fun activities including a Greg Heffley Draw-Along and The Wimp Wars! Quiz.wimpy_kid_show_large_crop_511d0fa45f4d5
The event also includes exclusive clips of author Jeff Kinney talking about the books, his involvement in the films and showing how he draws the characters.
All those who purchase a book on the day will be eligible for it to be stamped with an exclusive Wimpy Kid Show stamp. Suitable for anybody from 8 to 80. Tickets are selling fast.Remember the cheapest option for booking is online at

Then it will all be over for another year. Do please tell us what you think of the events. Comment on our blog, or on Facebook and Twitter

Day by Day-the stars of Friday 27th

A choice selection of events on Friday! There are two of the biggest names in children’s literature coming to our Sidney Stringer showcase theatre. A local hero, in every sense of the word, demonstrating his in depth knowledge of our city and a fantastic party for young readers to show we have not forgotten them!

So starting with the little ones, we have Captain Beastlie’s Pirate Party at Hollyfast Primary school with author Lucy Coats, who has a wonderful event planned with storytelling, sea-shanty-singing and learning to speak like a pirate! Captain Beastlie’s Pirate Party is wonderfully  illustrated by  Greenaway Medal shortlisted  illustrator Chris Mould. Lucy wlucy coatsorked as a children’s editor and bookseller before turning to full-time writing, and is the author of more than twenty-five titles for all ages, including Atticus the Storyteller’s 100 Greek Myths which was shortlisted for the Blue Peter Book Award. She lives in the countryside with her husband, two children, three lunatic dogs and ten thousand assorted books. She is also a regular blogger and tweets as @lucycoats. Her website is Lucy would (secretly) like to be a pirate captain and sail the seven seas, but her family will only allow her to let out her inner Skull and Crossbones when the moon is blue, or on every seventy-fourth Wednesday. This sometimes makes her grimsome and growly!

One of the things whch makes Literally Coventry Book Festival 2014 so special is that, in the build up to the Festival, we have been enjoying a special project courtesy of Macmillan Children’s Books. Literally Coventry Reads Kevin Brooks has seen every schThe-Ultimate-Truth-A-Travis-ool and public library being given free copies of The Ultimate Truth: a Travis Delaney Mysterykevin-brooks-2, the new book from the critically acclaimed and current Carnegie Medal shortlisted author. (In fact the announcement of the  2014 Carnegie Medal is on Monday June 23 and so Coventry is keeping everything firmly crossed for “our” author!) Unlike the Carnegie shortlisted novel The Bunker Diary, which is very definitely for older readers, The Ultimate Truth is the  perfect book for older primary and secondary students alike. It has great male and female protagonists and the tense and exciting plot will keep adults gripped too. It is one the whole family can enjoy. Kevin is making an extended visit to the city and the first event is at Sidney Stringer. A celebration of the Literally Coventry reads projet and a unique opportunity  for students who have read the book to have a dialogue with the author about the creative process and to ask “What happens next?”

Let’s hope that friday is a lovely sunny June day so we can make the most of Walking Backwards- a local history walking tour of the City centre in the company of Pete Walters, author of the The Story of Coventry. PeteWalters2 This beautifully illustrated  book traces the evolution of the city, from the myths of Godiva, through to the issues, challenges and opportunities facing it in the twenty-first century. Exploring Coventry’s heritage through records, architectural developments and anecdotes, it reveals a fascinating and much misunderstood city, whose history is often overshadowed by its bombing during the Second World War. Peter Walters, well known for his numerous newspaper features and active role in local heritage, shows that there is a great deal more to the history of Coventry than first meets the eye. The walk will conclude at Sovranos Cafe in the precinct where some well earned refreshment can be purchased and you can get signed copies of Pete’s book.

In the afternoon there is great excitement  at Sidney Stringer. We are very fortunate indeed to be a stop on the national tour of  author Eoin Colfer, who has recently been announced as the new Ireland’s laureate for children’s literature. Sales of Eoin Colfer’s bestselling Artemis Fowl series have Eoinsurpassed 20 million copies worldwide. Other best sellers include Half Moon Investigations, The Supernaturalist, Airman and The Legend of ….. books. His brilliant new series WARP is out now. W.A.R.P. The Reluctant Assassin was the first thrilling book in his steam-punk, time-travel, adrenalin-fuelled adventure series. A brilliant combination of action, adventure, Colfer’s trademark wit, and a villain to die for, the W.A.R.P. series is Oliver Twist meets The Matrix. Buckle your seatbelt, sit back and enjoy the ride. Two actors will be accompanying Eoin and they will interject during the session, helping to bring the wold of W.A.R.P to life and will take the parts of various characters from WARP. It will be a highly interactive event and they will really get the children involved in the action, bringing some children up on stage to help perform Victorian magic tricks. For more information on Eoin go to his website at

Kevin Brooks  also has an extra special engagement on Friday evening! The centre of the mystery at the heart of The Ultimate Truth is a boxing club and it is an amazing young (female)boxer who teams up with Travis to solve the mystery.  The young members of Christ the King Boxing Club have also been reading the book. They are laying on a boxing exhibition for Kevin and their families and then they have the chance to  tell Kevin if he has got the boxing club details right! A brave author indeed!

We hope they are gentle with him because he has a busy day on Saturday too!

Day by Day – the stars of Thursday 26th June

You might be forgiven for thinking that Thursday looks a bit thin, but that is because a domestic crisis forced James Carter to move to Monday and because, while events are going on in secondary schools, primary schools are battling it out in their Dragonese Challenge at Warwick Arts Centre. Cressida Cowell won our very first Raring 2 Read Award with How to Speak Dragonese and the series has gone on to become an mazing best seller and the first film appeared- How to Train Your Dragon. School teams will be watching a special showing of that  flim before testing their knowledge of the books againts other school teams to win exciting prizes. Coventry Schools Library Service are once again setting the questions.

The first event of the day is with Natasha Desborough teen author and former radio DJ at Foxford School. Wierdos vs Quimboids and the sequel Wierdos vs Bumskulls are laugh-out-loud books ( warning – do not read in public)  about the trials and triumphs of teenagehood. Expect her session to cover:

Have you ever…?
Things that definitely qualify you as a weirdo, no matter what you think!
Embarrassing StoriesImage
After sharing embarrassing stories from Radio 1 DJs and other adults (even some participating teachers!) Natasha
encourages the audience to share theirs.
Character Workshops
helping students create their own characters using her methods and includes an exercise
where students make fun Q&A profiles for their characters.
The Importance of Music
After a Pop Quiz of songs that were central to writing the book, Natasha discusses how she used music to develop her
The Hardest Part
Discussing what was hardest about writing WEIRDOS VS QUIMBOIDS and then invites questions about writing
from the audience.

Another first for the Festival is collaboration with the University of Warwick. A workshop event called Music & Melodrama under Napoleon gives students a taste of life and learning at the University while  actually participating at the cutting edge of  active musicological and literary history research. This is a fantastic opportunity for students of English literature, French, History, Theatre Studies and Music in Year 11 and above who might be cosidering their options for University. There are two sessions available, led by Dr Katherine Astbury and Dr Katherine Hambridge, but they are limited to 20 participants so book early on Eventbrite.

The afternoon brings the first of the very special events to be held in Sidney Stringer Academy’s state of the art Theatre. Sidney Stringer have been a stalwart supporter of the Festival since day one and big name authors just love appearing there. We have three of them at once at the Graphics, Gadgets and Geeks Panel. This is a special event with top authors and self-confessed geeks Mark Walden, Steve Feasey and Rohan Gavin. Come along to find out why they are proud to be geeks, and how their love of games, gadgets and graphic novels inspires their writing.

Meet the Authors

Steve FeaseyImage grew up on a council estate in Hertfordshire and didn’t come to writing until he was in his thirties, finding great success with his Changling series. His new book, Mutant City, is about a world divided into the mutants and the pure, the broken and the privileged, the damaged and the perfect.

Rohan GavinImage is an author and screenwriter based in London. He is a huge fan of Sherlock Holmes and his enduring love of detective fiction, cars and conspiracy theories inspired him to write this book, the first in a series. Rohan is the son of award-winning children’s author Jamila Gavin, and he recently became a father himself.

Coventry born Mark Walden’s first book, H.I.V.E., won Richard and Judy’s ‘Best Kids’ Books Ever’ 9+ category and PImagearamount has optioned the film rights. Mark has followed this success with a further six titles in the extraordinarily brilliant H.I.V.E. series. He lives with his family in Hampshire.


Another local celebrity author Chris Arnot will be talking about the latest in his fascinating “Lost” series,Britain’s Lost CricketImage Festivals: The Idyllic Club Grounds that Will Never Again Host the World’s Best Players, in the Criterion bar. Chris Arnot is a national freelance feature writer who has written on specialist subjects including arts and education, property, pubs, food and travel. A regular contributor to the Guardian, he has also written for the Daily Telegraph, the Independent and the Observer. He co-wrote The Archers Archives for BBC Books and his book, Britain’s Lost Cricket Grounds, was long-listed for the MCC’s cricket book of the year in 2011. He is also the author of Britain’s Lost Breweries and Beers and Fields of Dreams: Grounds That Football Forgot But the Fans Never Will.

Wednesday 25th June – The Inspiration Awards at the heart of the Festival

With apologies – Wednesday was posted but disappeared?? Rest assured it is anything but an empty day!

Our Festival grew out of the very successful Coventry Inspiration Book Awards Imagewhich have been running for 8 years. The idea being that potentially we could have 12 top authors coming to Coventry to collect their awards at a glittering ceremony in St Mary’s Hall. The hall is a magnificent and impressive showcase for our City but can only accommodate a smallish audience and so it was a shame that all their fans did not get to meet them. So doing Festival events while in town seemed like a good idea. The Festival just spread out to include the whole week!

This exciting day kicks off with Dirtie Bertie no less visiting All Souls Primary in the company of author Alan McDonald.After several years acting and directing in a travellinImageg theatre company, he turned full time to writing in 1990 since when he has published over sixty books for children. He is best known for his humorous fiction for the seven to ten age group and Dirtie Bertie celebrated his 10 year anniversary in 2013. About the same time that we began to hear about his arch rival Angela Nicely ( don’t let the name fool you!) Alan will also be talking about his latest book Superhero School.

A fascinating debut author Jamie Buxton is coming to Christ The King.Jamie read English at Cambridge and has been writing all his adult life. He has also travelled extensively in the middle east, which is what inspired Temple Boys as a new way of telling the most famous story ever told. He had to go beyond the sights, sounds and smells of old Jerusalem to try and understand what an orImagedinary boy would do if he came across a man who said he could save the world. This adventure set on the streets of Jerusalem in AD33 is a new and original take on the days leading up to the crucifixion. Given the subject matter of the story, it would lend itself really well to discussion and debate. In hisevent, Jamie will talk about the fascinating historical background to Temple Boys, introduce themes and characters, and talk about using the past as inspiration for making stories. With lively q & a sessions all the way through, quick quizzes and readings from the book this promises to be an inspiring event for older readers.

Great Brtish Bake Off fans have a treat in store at Heart Of England School- our first Warwickshire Festival Friend and very welcome they are too! Love,Lies and Lemon Pies, the new teen novel from Katy Cannon

Very appropriately, the main characters of this book – Lottie and Mac – came to me while eating cake with Imagemy agent, Gemma Cooper, Gemma said: “You love baking. How about a book with baking in it?” And I said, “Maybe a school Bake Club?” and we were away.

For the next few months, as I worked on the story, that was what we called it. I tried out recipes, pitted my characters against each other, and uncovered all their secrets. Until, one day, I knew Bake Club was about a lot more than just a club for wannabe bakers. It was about love and lies – and friends and trusting people and coming clean and being afraid – as well as about baking lemon pies for a national baking competition.

Ps Mac is a boy because – guess what – boys bake too!

For older teens and adults we have a very exciting pre-release showing of the new film The Knife that Killed Me taken from the book of the same name by award winning author Anthony ImageMcGowan at Warwick Arts Centre. The film wil be introduced by the Director Marcus Romer and afterwards Anthony will discuss and answer questions about the terribly topical theme of his book. He visited Coventry when the book was first published and spoke about his own school days and the fact that he based the book upon his own experiences. Astonishingly this was the very same school where the teacher, Anne McGuire, was recently murdered. She was his form teacher in Year 7. He wrote this article in The Telegraph This is a real must see event for film fans as well as anybody concerned with the pressures on teenagers today.

The first Inspiration Award winning author will be the popular Guy Bass talking about his winning book Stitch Head which has spawned a best selling series and won the Raring 2 Read award and also his new book and great new character in the Legend of Frog. 

Prince Frog is convinced he’s destined to rule the world …the trouble is, the world has ended. Undeterred, FrImageog sets out to claim his crown, armed with nothing more than a pair of Catastrophe Pants and his trusty stick, Basil Rathbone. But Frog soon realizes that the world isn’t quite as ended as he thought. He discovers a magical kingdom, filled with wild landscapes, strange creatures …and a princess sitting on his throne.

For adult fans and for anybody who ever wondered if they would enjoy being part of a reading rgoup we have a real treat for you at lunchtime. Iain Broome, the winner of the Word of Mouth Award will be in Central Library. Their reading groupmeets on a wednesday from 12:30 – 2:00 and they have thrown opn their doors to welcome other readinggroups and anybody who wants to give it a try. Iain will be talking about his winning novel A is for Angelica

‘A first novel that confidently moves from dark comedy iain_about1that’s genuinely funny to even darker despair that grows from moving to harrowing… really impressive’ The Daily Mail

Multi award winning author Nigel Hinton will be at Ernesford Grange in the afternoon. He won the Quick Reads Fancy a Quickie Award with Partner in Crime published by Barrington Stoke, who specialise in books for reluctant and struggling readers. Nigel Hinton’s work is used widely in schools, and Buddy has been one of the best selling novels nigel hintonfor teenagers in the last twenty five years. Teachers particularly appreciate his novels because they appeal to a wide range of pupil ability and are even enjoyed by teenage boys who don’t usually like reading. His great style is deceptively simple, disguising the craft which has gone into creating such complex and interesting characters and plots written in seemingly effortless, accessible and direct prose.

Meanwhile,at the other end of the spectrum we have author Abie Longstaff and illustrator Lauren Beard who won the Never Too Young award for our very youngest readers. They will be at KabieLongstafferesley Grange School.Their winning book The Mummy Shop is a laugh-out-loud tale of one boy’s quest to find the perfect mummy.. Does your mummy tell you off for jumping on your bed? Does she make you eat vegetables when you don’t want to? Then call The Mummy Shop, and we will help you find the perfect new mummy. 100% satisfaction guaranteed! When a little boy grows tired of his mummy, he calls The Mummy Shop for help. But after a number of mishaps and misunderstandings, he starts to think he may have made a big mistake…

At St Gregory’s we have critically acclaimed debut author Anne Booth with Girl with a White Dog.’A clear and compassionate plea for tolerance‘  says theanne booth jpg Sunday Times. In this thought provoking and moving novel we meet Jessie who is excited when her gran gets a white Alsatian puppy, but with Snowy’s arrival a mystery starts to unfold. As Jessie learns about Nazi Germany at school, past and present begin to slot together and she uncovers something long-buried, troubling and somehow linked to another girl and another white dog….‘I want Girl with a White Dog to free children from fear, and one of the most pernicious fears there is, is fear of ‘the other’, so prevalent in our media today.

The KS1 choice for the What’s The Story award went to Gemma Meringemma-merino-1007103o for the hilarious and quirky The Crocodile Who Didn’t Like Water. Everybody knows that crocodiles love water, but this little crocodile is different. He doesn’t like water at all. In fact, he prefers climbing trees! But it can be lonely when you’re the odd one out, so the little crocodile tries his best to change. But being wet isn’t for everyone – and a shiver soon becomes a cold and the cold becomes a sneeze, a very hot sneeze…! Gemma won the prestigious Macmillan Prize for Children’s Illustration in 2011, whilst studying for her MA in Children’s Illustration at Cambridge School of Art. Born in Catalonia, Gemma originally studied architecture in Barcelona and has worked in practices in Spain, Dublin, Tel Aviv and now London, where she lives.

The Simply The Book award for 14+ readers is often the most fiercely contested of them all and  the winner Monkey Wars by Richard Kurti was also longlisted for the Carnegie medal -not bad for a debut novel! After graduating,Richard worked at the BBC  on everything from Blue Peter to the Barcelona Olympics. In the meantime, he started directing short films and documentaries, and this led on to scriptwriting… which soon turned into a full time job.He has written screenplays for Hollywood studios, as well as TV shows like Robin Hood, Primeval and Sinbad. He will be appearing at Tile Hill Wood School

Ever since I can remember, I have wanted to writ016.richard_kurtie a novel; one day I decided to stop dreaming and start doing something about it. Because I had to fit the novel in around my screenwriting, I started getting up an hour earlier every day… I bought a tiny laptop that stayed with me all the time, so that every spare minute could be used for writing … three years later Monkey Wars was finished.

To find out more about this stunning, uniquely different book see

Other award winners attending the ceremony in St Mary’s Hall are Gillian Cross who won the KS3 Read It Or Else Award with After Tomorrow and the Alternative Realities winner Jonathan Howard with Johannes Cabal the Necromancer and finally Anne Zoroudi who won the Murder Mystery & Mayhem award with Bull of Mithros.

All of the winning books have the backing of thousands of people who voted so well worth checking out form your local library and Waterstones in Smithford Way will have copies of them all  for sale.

Day by Day- The Festival features on Tuesday 24th

So Tuesday 24th is the day that Dame Jacqueline Wilson comes to Coventry! But that is in the afternoon- there is a whole morning of fun first!

There is a real treat for KS1 at St Osburg’s with best selling picture book author and illustrator Steve Ssteve smallmanmallman. He has worked as an illustrator for over 30 years specialising in children’s books, licensing work (Postman Pat, Sesame Street, Bill and Ben) and television (Most notably on ‘The Raggy Dolls’ in the 80’s and 90’s) He is the author of over 30 picture books.The first onehe wrote the story for ‘The Lamb Who Came for Dinner’ was shortlisted for 8 awards including the Red House Children’s Book Award, was commended at the Sheffield Children’s Book Awards, has been translated into about 16 foreign editions and was read on TV by Meatloaf!

Keen writers will enjoy the session with Simon Cheshire at St Thomas More. Simon is the award-winning author of the Saxby Smart and Jeremy Brown series. Simon’s ultimate dream is to go the moon, but in the meantime, he lives in Warwick with his wife and children and contents himself with writing in a tiny wardrobe and eating too much chocolate. Not only will they be hearing about his two new titles Airlock and SWARM: Operation Sting he will be sharing secrets from How to Write Stories

For children who cannot get enough of Britain’s Got Talent the  Olivia at Stage School series will fulfil all their dreams.Olivia is a compelling mix of family saga and school lyn gardnerstory… that’s all about performing, whether Olivia’s tapping into her circus performing roots, or on stage as a brilliant new theatre actor. Lyn Gardner , the author,was born in London and is a  theatre critic on The Guardian so she certainly knows what she is writing about.She goes to the theatre five or six nights a week, which should leave no time for writing books at all. But apart from the Olivia books, she has also managed to write two other novels for children: Into the Woods and Out of the Woods. Her ambitions are to learn to tap dance and walk the high wire, but it may have to be the low wire as she is a bit scared of heights.

This time there are two fabulous sessions for secondary schools. At Finham Park we have the acclaimed author Katy Moran. Her brilliant first novel, Bloodline wkaty moran pgas an Amazon New Voices title, and shortlisted for the Branford Boase Award 2009 . She will be talking about her new series  partly set in an awesome dark faerie world which crosses dangerously with our own. Hidden Among Us and the newly published sequel The Hidden Princess 

For students who prefer laugh out loud humour we have Andy Robb at President Kennedy.Once he realized that he was too short to be taken seriously asandyrobb-765x275 a costumed hero, he decided to spend as much time as he could playing make-believe. After training as an actor, he went on to appear in plays, TV dramas and films. His debut novel Geekhood: Close Encounters of the Girl Kind was shortlisted for the Waterstones Prize

14 year old  Archie is a Geek to his core.
In the world of role-playing games, he’s a Level 5 Mage, capable of summoning the Undead. In this world, things are rather different. With no rule book to navigate Life’s Big Challenges – warring parents, a crass step-father, orc-like school bullies and crap hair – he’s teetering on the brink…
Then a Beautiful Girl appears in his Geeky world… Despite the fact that the closest he’s come to an encounter with a girl is painting an Elven miniature, Archie embarks on a Daring Quest to win her heart.
Geek meets girl … what could possibly go right?

 Find out what happens next in Geekhood : Mission Improbable

For those  Jacqueline Wilson fans who did not get tickets to see her at the Ricoh Arena. Warwick Arts Centre are having a special FREE showing of Dustbin Baby – the film of the book. Not to be missed.

After all the excitement of the Ricoh Arena event and for families who want to join in the fun they can hurry along to Waterstones in Smithford way for a fun session with Jason Beresford and his slightly surreal comedy super heroes the Fabulous Four Fish Fingers! Jason was born in Coventry and loves coming back to his home town and his hilarious adventure is perfect for young readers of 7-9. Jason is a jason beresfordpgprimary school teacher because he believes in the power of education and it is absolutely not because it gives him a trapped audience of 8 year olds who have to laugh at his jokes or miss playtime. Before teaching, Jason spent 20 years trying to put the tee-hee into TV. As a news reporter he joined a Russian circus, abseiled off Durham Cathedral and interviewed a man who trained worms how to dance. As a TV producer, he reunited the last surviving Oompah Loompas, crossed Britain on a lawn mower with John Sergeant and filmed the party of the year at David Beckham’s house (but spent the whole night stuck in the kitchen).Jason once toured Japan in a comedy show and has directed both Emmerdale and Coronation Street. He speaks Japanese with a Coventry accent and has two daughters. Although they both think he’s quite funny at the moment he knows this won’t last forever.

In the evening we are delighted to present a Convivial Evening with Coventry Writers atthe Criterion Theatre in Earlsdon. This is fast becoming a Festival favourite. If you have any aspirations to write one day come along and have a drink, some  delicious  nibbles and enjoy meeting the group and hearing them perform their incredibly varied  writing.

Tuesday is looking good too! Book at Eventbrite

Day by Day – the Festival stars- Monday 23rd June

Monday kicks off  bright and early with Performance poet and musician James Carter at Earlsdon PriJames carter jpgmary. Ever met an alien? James Carter is probably the closest you’ll get! Come along for an action-packed hour full of wild guitar playing and thoughtful as well as beastly and madcap poems from his two latest books GRRR! and Journey To The Centre Of My Brain  The second half of the session will include a workshop and a poem that teachers can take straight to the classroom to develop further. Please don’t forget to bring along your air guitar!

For KS1, over at Southfields Primary we have our very own Alex.T. Smith. It has been a frantically busy year for the Official World Book day artist and designer of our loveclaude-blog-claude-baublesly Literally logo with its cheeky Lady Godiva! But he still finds time to creat wonderful new books and to support his local Festival! So come along to meet his new hero Hector and to find out what everyone’s favourite little dog, Claude, has been getting up to.

Meanwhile they are having a very exciting time at Mount Nod with Gareth P Jones. An award winning  author most famous for his comic-gothic book, The Considine Curse, which won the Blue Peter Book of the Year 2012, here he will be talking about the small, gareth_p_jones_photo__fullfurry and deadly Ninja Meerkats. Hidden in the remotest reaches of the Red Desert, legend tells of an elite fighting force of meerkats – The Clan of the Scorpion. Under the guidance of their mentor, the wise (and cryptic) Grandmaster One-Eye, and armed with ninja-know-how, these four warriors are sworn to protect the world from the evil plans of their enemy, the Ringmaster… These are perfect for newly confident readers!

For older readers there is a real treat in store at Frederick Bird Primary.Travel through time to explore the Scottish borders in medieval time complete with some seriously evil snakes in this fascinating talk for boys and girls aged 8 – 12 years. The Serpent HouseBea davenport pg is an action-packed adventure story partly set in a grand Victorian house (like Downton Abbey!) and partly in the murky world of a leper hospital in medieval times, where a doctor with sinister designs is ‘treating’ his patients. Ex-journalist and author Bea Davenport will delight young people with talk of her research, her writing method and the personal stories she’s woven in to the book.

Intrepid poet James Carter leaps over to Stoke Library later in the morning for a Hey Little Bug Rhymetime. A gentle, fun and interactive session. Expect action rhymes, music and poems aplenty full of bugs, bubbles, funny faces, pirates and aliens – not to mention riddles – all of which feature in James’ collections ‘Hey, Little Bug!’ poems for little creatures

The afternoon kicks off at St Gregory’s with popular picture book author Tracey Corderoy who shows that she can write pacy young fiction too with her troll characters The Grunt and The Grouch and the madcap Crumb family.

My aim is to bring stories to life, allowing my characters to leap off the page and into the child’s imagination. This, I’m convinced, is the key to making stories truly magical…
tracey corderoyjpgJust as my characters take me on their journey, we invite our audience along too. My sessions are very interactive with each child being given the opportunity to participate fully in the story experience while I seamlessly deliver key learning goals. Yes – the children don’t even know they’re learning – it’s great!

At Sacred Heart they are in for an exciting space adventure with the Mars Evacuees

BecausMars-Evacueese until you have been shot at, pursued by terrifying aliens, taught maths by a laser-shooting robot goldfish and tried to save the galaxy, I don’t think you can say that you’ve really lived. If the same thing happens to you, this is my advice: Always carry duct tape.

Author Sophia McDougall introduces the book and reads from it. She also talks to the children about storytelling. She then plays a game with the children where they write their own story from words given to them by Sophia. sophia

Sophia is also a best selling adult author and later on at Earlsdon Library she will be talking to adults and young adults about Strange histories, weird worlds and wild women. She compares writing for children and writing for adults, discusses how history influences her imaginary worlds and explores the role of women in contemporary fiction.

Tickets for all these  FREE events are available on our Eventbrite booking site

We must not forget that while all this is going on secondary schools will be facing the Hunger Games Challenge, run by Coventry Schools Library Service at Warwick Arts Centre. As well as watching a special showing of Catching Fire they will be competeing for prizes in a test of their knowledge of the Hunger Games trilogy.

And that is just Monday …….

Horrid Henry Birthday Party

I must say staff at the Ricoh Arena looked slightly nervous when we arrived to set up on Friday 6th. I don’t think they had ever had 1000 children through the door for a single event before! But they had nothing to fear. Thanks to the fantastic organisation of the Coventry Schools Library Service team, ably supported by volunteers from the Literally Committee and Warwickshire Schools Library Service, it all went very smoothly and I have to say the audience behaved impeccably!

Francesca Simon arrived nice and early but with a mammoth task in front of her! Signing all 1000 copies of Krazy Ketchup   so that every child in the audience had their own signed copy to take away. This is the 23rd title in the hugely popular Horrid Henry series, which has been getting kids hooked on reading for 20 years and during this time over 20 million sales have been racked up! She just had time to refresh herself in the open air green room


Children’s excitement when they arrived to find Horrid Henry himself waiting to greet them was a joy to behold!Image

Most of the audience were wearing their Horrid Henry masks- especially made for the occasion! Then everyone settled down to hear Francesca tell them about her writing and lots of fascinating facts about Horrid Henry and the real life sources of inspiration she had! But the best treat of all was when she sat down on her golden throne to read us all a storyImage

Nobody can put more expression into a story than the author can! With so many children involved we had to limit the 21 schools attending to asking  just their top question and what a fascinating bunch they were. Francesca was particularly intrigued by being asked what Henry’s good points were!

Then it was time for the judging of the create a birthday card competition and the lucky winner from Grangehust school won a complete set of all 23 titles. Runner’s up received the special anniversary edition of the very first titleImage

While Francesca had to speed off to the next event on her birthday tour Horrid Henry stayed behind and every school group had a special photo with him which will no doubt be adorning the walls of their school libraries very soon.

All in all a fantastic way to launch this year’s Festival- and a great practice session for the very special Dame Jacqueline Wilson event on 24th June.

Over the next few days we will be taking one day at a time and giving you more information about the authoirs and illustrators and fascinating events we have laid on. Still tickets available for most events so get booking

For the Festival Finale: the live Wimpy Kid Show at the Belgrade Theatre you have to book on their website


Literally Coventry 2014 Programme published

Our programme has just arrived from the printer and is being packaged to be sent out to schools. We are very pleased with the design, which opens out into an A3 poster with the whole week’s events at a glance. We hope this will help you to mark up and plan your visits. If you cannot wait to get hold of one, you will find them in Waterstones and your local libraries and you could collect some in person from the Schools Library Service in Central Library (Monday – Friday in office hours) but you can see a pdf version attached here!

Well done to everyone who leapt on the opportunities as soon as term started. The Horrid Henry party at the Ricoh Arena on 6th June sold out in 48 hours! It looks as if we shall have to have a return visit for all those disappointed fans. All those of you lucky enough to come along remember to choose your school’s best birthday card to present to Francesca Simon (and HH will be there too – larger than life and twice as naughty I am told). Also do come along with your HH mask’s to wear. We are hoping to tempt out local TV to see 1000 children wearing HH masks!
The wonderful event with Jacqueline Wilson is also now sold out- we made the right decision to limit school spaces! The good news for anybody that has been disappointed is that we are filming the whole event and we hope that this will become a fabulous resource for schools to use and share. The competition to find the very special student who will make the presentation speech is well under way. Remember it will help us enormously if you choose and submit only your top 5 entries! The closing date is Friday 13th June.
Schools that have signed up as Festival Friends have been making good use of their sneak preview and advance opportunities to book but that is only fair since it is their financial support which helps the Festival put on these exciting FREE events. 59% of available tickets have gone already! But there are still plenty of exciting opportunities available and especially those for families and adults so do please make sure you inform your parents to take a look at

Please remember that The Wimpy Kid Show at the Belgrade Theatre is not booked via our website but directly with the theatre. This show has been wowing Festivals all around the country and it seemed like too good a chance to miss for our final Saturday event on 28th June. Tickets are on sale now at

Again we have made every effort to minimise the cost. Please note that the cheapest way to book tickets is via the website and not in person or by phone.
You should by now all have received your exciting parcels with your FREE copies of The Ultimate Truth- A Travis Delaney mystery by Kevin Brooks. I am sure your keen readers will have snapped it up. Don’t forget if demand is high then you can order extra copies at a very special price (cheaper than Amazon). Local libraries are also supporting the Literally Reads project and copies can be obtained there. It is a great Dads and Lads read so do encourage some family reading. I think Dads will be surprised at what a pacey and exciting thriller it is! Secondary schools shadowing the Carnegie Medal will not be surprised since author Kevin Brooks is shortlisted for the medal this year and is generally acknowledged to be one of the top authors writing for young people today.
Kevin Brooks is also the celebrity quizmaster at the City Final on Saturday 28th June of the popular Booked Up quiz organised by Secondary schools with their feeder Primary schools. Information has been sent out to schools, but do contact Schools Library Service to put you in touch with your local heats.
One of the most popular Festival events in the past has been the Film Challenges devised by our brilliant School Library Service. In response to popular demand we are running both a Secondary and a Primary event this year. On Monday 23rd June Secondary schools can watch Hunger Games: Catching Fire and then enter teams of 4 in The Hunger Games Challenge part 2. On Thursday 26th June Primary schools can enter the Dragonese Challenge after watching the film of How to Train Your Dragon. You will be receiving more details of how to enter teams and book places directly from SLS but do contact them on 02476 832338 if you want to know more.
The partnership with Warwick Arts Centre Cinema is a key part of our activity since the link between films and books is so vibrant and engaging. For those who may miss out on the visit with Jacqueline Wilson there is an opportunity to go and watch the film of Dustbin Baby on the morning of Tuesday 25th June. We are naturally sad that Meg Rosoff had to pull out (maybe next year) but we have an amazing replacement! There is no hotter topic at the moment than knife crime and one of the most powerful books looking at that issue in relation to schools and bullying was The Knife That Killed Me by Anthony McGowan. A film has been made of that book and we will be seeing it before it goes on general release and have the author himself to discuss it with afterwards, this will be on Wednesday 25th June. For the very youngest of our schoolchildren there have been some delightful films created linked to favourite books and we are proud to present The First Film Experience on Friday 27th June showing a compilation of Lost and Found, The Bear and Where The Wild Things Are.
Other highlights include the first visit to Coventry of internationally best-selling author Eoin Colfer of Artemis Fowl fame on Friday 27th June. We have a fantastic panel of 3 top authors talking about their geeky obsessions with gadgets and graphic novels which they believe helped them become writers! Of course the centrepiece on Wednesday will be the Coventry Inspiration Book Awards Ceremony and we are delighted that so many of the winners are doing school events for us too! Look out for Abie Longstaff, Gemma Merino, Richard Kurti, Nigel Hinton and Guy Bass. We have top picture book authors and illustrators including our very own World Book Day official artist Alex T Smith and exciting new debut authors for teens and younger readers too. There are some fascinating adult and family events too – there “Literally” is something for everyone, don’t miss it!


23-28 JUNE 2014

We are at the very exciting stage of planning this year’s Festival when we try to put together the jigsaw of available venues and suggestions for authors and events to build a fabulous week of inspiration for children, young people and their families. We hope that the Festival can continue to spread the love of reading and creative opportunities to your students. I know that all of you are all too aware of the increased government and Ofsted emphasis on reading for pleasure and the Literally Festival can play a key part in raising the profile of reading within your school
The highlight of the Festival this year will undoubtedly be the visit of Dame Jacqueline Wilson who will be collecting her Lifetime Inspiration Award. She unfortunately cannot attend the Coventry Inspiration Book Awards ceremony in St Mary’s Hall on 25th June, but that is very good news for all her young fans. It means that we will be holding a special event for young people in the city. Watch this space for details for how to get tickets for this event. We will also be running a competition to find her biggest fan. Their task will be to write the citation speech which tells everyone just why Dame Jacqueline deserves this honour. They will then have the honour of delivering this speech and actually presenting the award to her at this celebration event. This speech and presentation will be filmed and shown at the St Mary’s Hall ceremony the following day.
Other highlights already confirmed are:

A special film showing of How I Live Now followed by a session with acclaimed author Meg Rosoff
World Book Day illustrator Alex T Smith
The popular Coventry Writers Evening at the Criterion Theatre
The Wimpy Kid show with host Alistair Watson
The Hunger Games Catching Fire Film and Quiz Challenge
Visits from Coventry Inspiration Book Award 2014 winners: Guy Bass, Richard Kurti, Nigel Hinton etc
The Booked Up Transition Quiz

We are considering offers from an exciting range of authors, poets and illustrators for every age group from Reception to KS4-there will be something for everyone!
It is not too late to sign up to support the Festival as a Friend. For £50 your school can get priority both to host an event and for tickets to other events. Please e-mail to request an application form. Do also get in touch if you want to find out about how to take part in any of the activities listed above.

Introducing Literally Book Festival Day Five

It’s been a fabulous and manic week and tonight I got some fabulous photos from Gren Smith from the week!  So here they are, don’t forget to pop and see us all day at Theatre Absolute from 9.30am.

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