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 …….

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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Introducing Literally Book Festival Day Four

Today has started with some wonderful school events including Barbara Mitchelhill at Sacred Heart. We had a brilliant morning learning, reading and enjoying and making sure all the children were cured with Victorian cures for their ailments! There was dirty socks around the neck for a cold and filling teeth with rubber. We had a lot of fun!


Over on Twitter there was lots of thanks from schools and authors for their great days out:

This is one of my favourites!
Author Ellie Irving tweeted this picture and caption!

Spotted on the walls of a pub toilet. Ooh, the people of Coventry are sticklers for grammar!
Ellie also tweeted that she had enjoyed her event and that the children had great imaginations!

Bablake school had a visit from Alex Gutteridge, they tweeted this pic of Alex and the librarians! (wouldn’t that be a great band name!)

alexJust returned from a fascinating talk by scriptwriter Stewart Harcourt at Warwick Arts Centre. Feeling inspired!

Having a great week, visiting 3 great schools, an event at the Criterian with Cov Writers Group, and the awards last night!

Bloomsbury are sending me to Coventry. Look outAldemoor Farm Primary, get thinking about your favourite monster!

It’s been another great day and that’s not all, tonight we have the great debate

The Big Debate: “Is there any subject too controversial for teenage readers?

Join best- selling authors not afraid of a bit of controversy! Alan Gibbons, Bali Rai, Celia Rees, Dave Cousins, Andy Mulligan and Irfan Masters. Meet, mingle and carry on the discussion over some light refreshments

ECG-26, Engineering & Computing Building, Gulson Road at Coventry University. 7.30pm – 9:30pm   

Introducing Literally Book Festival Day Two

Well, there was a Coventry family feel to today with local author’s Alex T Smith, Ann Evans, Cathy Cassidy and Rosie Goodwin arriving in Coventry.

We held out first ladies (and men) who lunch event with Rosie Goodwin at Blue Bistro, it was a lovely informal way to meet an author and we really could have talked all afternoon!

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Alex T Smith went down a storm at with All Saints and Hollyfast primaries with all the children joining in learning how to draw Primrose!

prim prim1 prim3 prim4 prim6

Various other events across the city were enjoyed by all ages, more event pictures will be added as they arrive!


Guy Bass Author tweeted: Thanks for everything, – mine was a fun . Good luck for the rest and keep doing what you do.

Linda Collingwood Committee Member tweeted: Brill visit at school by author William Osborne . Used to live in LA + chose to visit Cov!

St Osburg’s school tweeted: A lovely afternoon with at the Warwick Arts Centre! Another successful event thanks to

Tracy Lynch Committee Member tweeted: “Being a writer is a lot of waiting around with sml bits of very exciting stuff” tells us


Introducing Literally Book Festival Day One

What a start to the festival!

The excitement started when our very own author and illustrator Alex T Smith decorated one of the windows at Waterstone’s Coventry with a handpainted Lady Godiva and the team there added books from many of our authors.  It looks brilliant!


Events happened today at schools across the city, Warwick Arts Centre and the Central Library –

Kathleen McGuiness said on facebook “I have just hosted an author event at St John Vianney. The lovely talented, Jo Simmons came to town to tell us a whiskery mystery! She now has a whole bunch of new fans! We had a bonus though as the great Alex T Smith paid an unexpected visit too with Sian his lovely mum. It was a great event,A good time was had by all so thank you, all who were involved. What a great start to the week!”

Alison Patchett said on facebook “A big thank you to all at SJV. A group of thirty excited children and adults came back to Mount Nod after a thoroughly entertaining afternoon. What a great start to the event for our children….”

Author Sam Gayton tweeted “Thanks for having me – especially to Dom who drove me round, brought me a cheese and ham sandwich and let me call him an old fart!”

St Osburg’s tweeted “Year 5 has a lovely afternoon with author Sam Gayton.  A big thank you to Literally for organising it”

Author Lou Kuenzler tweeted: “Did lovely event at @LiterallyCov huge fun and fabulous questions from the kids.  Many thanks to all for setting it up.  Fab festival with brill stuff”

Iain Broome tweeted: “Lovely evening reading at @LiterallyCov and thanks for my #saucybookmark gift”

What a great day!  Do add your comments about any events you went to below.

Like Alex T Smith’s artwork?  Want to win it?
If you would like to win Alex T Smith’s signed Lady Godiva window poster for your school all you need to do is draw your favourite book character on an A4 piece of paper and bring it in to Waterstones Coventry by 23rd June 2013
Please write your name, age and school on the back of your drawing, and good luck! The winner will be notified by 26th June 2013

Great opportunity!  Join us tomorrow for more fun!!  If you want to write up an event you attended as a blog, please do, email to




Coventry Inspires Writing Competition


In conjunction with the Coventry Telegraph we are once again running our Creative Writing competition linked to our Book Awards. Sarah Crossan won the Read It Or Else Award for her book The Weight of Water and she has donated this intriguing story starter:

Karen thumped the vending machine, but her can of Coke didn’t appear. The machine simply gurgled and asked for more money. Which she didn’t have.

“Stupid,” Karen hissed, and grabbing her bag from the floor, stomped off down the empty hallway. 

“Is this yours?” someone called after her.

Karen started and turned to see a boy next to the vending machine holding out a red can. He had long hair pulled into a ponytail and dark circles beneath his eyes. He smiled and stepped closer.

Karen hadn’t seen him before, but for some reason, she shuddered and wished she hadn’t bothered with the vending machine at all.

New writers have 250 words to complete the story!

There are 5 categories:

Under 10; 11-13; 14-18; adult and 60+

The Winners and Highly Commended in each category will be invited to the Book Awards Ceremony in St Mary’s Hall on June 13th 5.00 p.m. to receive their prizes from Sarah Crossan herself. The Winners will each receive a £20 book token sponsored by Hays Education and both Winners and Highly Commended will receive certificates.

Entries should be submitted by email to or by post to Catherine Vonledebur, Features. Coventry Telegraph House, Canal Basin, Leicester Row Canal Basin Coventry CV1 4LY

Closing date: 24th May

Nb electronic entries do make circulating entries to judges much easier and ensures entries are legible!


A successful strategy from last year, where the whole class was involved, is for the class to hear all the stories and judge for themselves the best 10 to submit from their class!

Introducing Literally’s teacher supporter Suzanne Hughes

Let me start by saying how excited I was to be involved with the start of Coventry’s literally festival and how delighted I am to be involved again this year. I am passionate about reading and always have been. As a child I remember loving my sister reading “The Tiger That came to Tea” and enjoying it every night! My taste has changed slightly, although as a y6 teacher, I still love children’s literature – particularly Anthony Horowitz and Michael Morpurgo, I now have become more interested in the classics, especially Jane Austen. 

As said earlier, I am a year 6 teacher, and an assistant head at a lovely Coventry school. I am extremely lucky to be in a position that I love my job, and never wake up dreading the challenges that lie ahead. The fact that I can combine my love for children’s literature with my work is truly an added bonus. In addition to reading, I love outdoor pursuits and unashamedly, will plug Dol Y Moch – for giving children (and teachers) in Coventry such a great opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors and take measured risks. I am also very lucky to have a beautiful 16 yr old son, and an inspiring sister with 3 beautiful sons in Coventry – which in my spare time, I love to spend time with!   

Suzanne Hughes

Assistant Head St Thomas More

Introducing Literally’s Sian Smith

Meet Sian, Retired Head, mother of an Author & Illustrator and book lover…

Tracey McGeever asked me to join the team as I had recently retired from Headship and she felt I would have time to spare! I loved the idea of Coventry’s own book festival so I agreed – and that’s when I stopped having any ‘time’ and for the next six months life became a frantic round of meetings, funding discussions / issues as well as the fun part of reading lots of books by the authors and illustrators that had been invited- not that I ever need an excuse to read!

So why did I really agree to get involved? Well I love reading, story telling, theatre, and book shops. I come from a family of readers and storytellers.

My Welsh English teacher, writer father introduced me to many and varied stories, authors and poets and my Irish mother could spin a great yarn and tell endless stories from her childhood. If you have ever been at a Irish family gathering, you will know exactly what I mean!

As an only child, many happy hours were spent ‘escaping ‘ to different places with different people and I envied the ability to write .

Teaching was the best job to allow me to indulge a passion for children’s books – I love them! I love the illustrations, the silliness of many of the stories and mostly I love the way books and stories can light up a child’s world and offer opportunities  to escape into another world, to learn about the world, who they are and who they aspire to be. I’m so lucky and proud now to be able to enjoy, understand and experience the process of creating books though a talented family member who writes and illustrates.

Literally…. gave us the opportunity to give many young and not so young in this city the chance to experience the talents of many authors and illustrators (and the committee loved those opportunities too!) I’ve worked with new people, made new friends and laughed!

Last year was hard work, we had sleepless nights and we hardly stopped to breathe during Festival Week but it was an amazing experience and so here we are again  ….. Meeting, worries, no time BUT… It’s exciting, inspiring and actually I can’t wait for June to do it all again!

Introducing Literally’s Tracy Lynch

As a fulltime working mum of two great teenage girls, like most people I went to and from work each day, and although I always saw myself as community spirited. I never looked at what was really happening on my doorstep. Take it from me – it is worth looking!

My previous role before being seconded as a Business Connector was as the Retail Support manager for Greggs. In the 18yrs I have worked for Greggs I have moved from a 16hr shop girl, through the ranks to be part of the senior retail management team. In all the years I have worked for Greggs I have always been involved in their charity and community work, but this secondment has opened my eyes, and my mind to how relatively easy and how much more businesses can do to help.

In May 2012 I took up the role of Business Connector in Coventry for 12 months.  Coventry has lots of great people doing lots of great things, to encourage enterprise, enhance education, create great communities and inspire the youth. What they all need is more funding but that doesn’t always mean money.

With a city full of businesses ranging from banking to engineering and everything in between, we should have all the resources we need to help keep these projects going and then benefit from their success.

I came across Coventry Literally within my first month on secondment and was blown away by its concept and the commitment of the team.

I have now become involved and hope to be able to get business support and also to open up some unusual venues for this year’s event.

Introducing Literally’s Peter Walters

Next up on the committee is Peter Walters who works as a  PR consultant and is the Master of Ceremonies at the Coventry Inspiration Book Awards helping it to run smoothly on the night…

“For a few years back in the early 2000s,  I ran a series of writers dinners at St Mary’s Hall, partly as a way of highlighting the literary heritage of a city that has produced its share of great writers, notably Philip Larkin and George Eliot. As a former journalist and a keen reader, it was something I loved doing and when Joy Court started the Coventry Inspirational Book Awards in 2006, I was delighted to be asked to compere it. I have done so every year since and it was a small step to get more closely involved in last year’s inaugural Literally Coventry Book Festival, one of the most exciting cultural developments in Coventry in a very long time.”

Introducing Literally’s Charlotte Reed

Next up on our committee is me, Charlotte Reed – Primary English Consultant with Primary English Education Consultancy Limited.

I have been involved in the Coventry Inspiration Book Awards from the very start and as a team we have been helping to shortlist every year, which is a great honour and usually ends in a very costly book shop visit!  As a team, we have been very proud to be involved and support such an important cause – reading for pleasure.

I can’t imagine a life without reading, it’s what moulds you and makes you who you are, it’s Continue reading