News and Stuff


Boro Reads

Looking forward to taking part in Middlesbrough Reads from The National Literacy Trust and being hosted in Hillstreet Shopping Centre.

We’ll be there taking part in fun half-term activities, giving away FREE books and I’ll be reading to anyone that will let me!

Hoping to share the joy of stories with the good people of Middlesbrough and maybe spreading a little chocolate panic too!

It’s on 16th February between 11am and 3pm – I’ll be there from 12 to 1:30pm.

The National Literacy Trust, The Great Chocoplot, Chris Callaghan


First School Visit of the Year

Chris Callaghan, The Great Chocoplot, Preston Grange Primary

Very happy to be back visiting schools and spreading chocolate panic after a month away. Being in a classroom or a school hall is one of the best parts of an author’s life. It is a real privilege to be in the middle of such creativity, enthusiasm and imagination. I always come away from a school having learned something new, which I hope will continue for a long time.

Thank you so much, Preston Grange Primary, who are a local school to me. They all came up with some outstanding ideas and stories, and we had a lot of fun too – which is always lovely. It was a pleasure and I hope to see you all again sometime and wish you well with all your reading and writing.

 

Thanks to Preston Grange for letting me use their photos!

 


Chocopocalyptic Christmas

Hoping everyone had a fantastic Christmas – with lots and lots of chocolate.

I was lucky enough to get sent the audio version of ‘Schokopokalypse’ – the German version of ‘The Great Chocoplot’.

Unfortunately, I don’t speak German but me and my family had a lot of fun listening and trying keep up with the story. And yes, we had to have a little bit of chocolate too!

It sounds fantastisch!


Our Very Special Northern Children’s Book Festival

Northern Children's Book Festival, The Great Chocoplot, Chris CallaghanThis year’s Northern Children’s Book Festival was another fantastic success. For those not familiar with it, the Festival spreads itself over a huge area of the North of England (the clue is in the title!), where libraries, schools, churches and all manner of venues become part of the celebrations over a two-week period. What I think makes this festival so special, is that it allows children, who don’t normally get opportunities to attend book and author events, the chance to take part. There is a particular drive within the organisation to include schools from ‘areas of deprivation’. Having grown up in such an area and being one of those ‘free school meal’ pupils myself, I know that these classifications are quite misleading to some. In my experience, these are areas full of community spirit, resilience, passion and joy. People here can work extremely hard, for long hours, but for little money. These children are still children, with the same hopes and dreams, but with limited funds they do not have the same access or opportunities to that of children from more well-off families. I never ever saw an author at my school, or went to a book festival or book event when I was a child – so to be a part of this, as an author and reader, was an amazing experience for me.

 

Northern Children's Book Festival, The Great Chocoplot, Chris Callaghan. Gateshead Libraries

Chocoholic Librarians!

Seeing excited smiles and getting so many enthusiastic high-fives and fist-bumps from pupils at my events was a pure joy – and I can’t deny made me feel quite rockstar-ish for a while too! I am hugely grateful to the schools that invited me along and made me so welcome. I also got to see the real connections that our wonderful librarians have with these schools. Their work goes on well beyond the scope of the festival and their unshakeable enthusiasm is pleasure to witness. Massive thanks to all at Gateshead and North Tyneside Libraries for looking after me so well!

 

Northern Children's Book Festival, The Great Chocoplot, Chris Callaghan, Gareth P Jones, Wallsend Library

Gareth P Jones at Wallsend Library

It was also an opportunity for me to meet some booky heroes too – like one of my family’s bedtime reading superstars: Julia Jarman. Julia was even more lovely than I’d hoped. My friend (I’m calling him my friend now, whether he likes it or not!) Gareth P Jones entertained a packed library with songs and stories, and leaving the children reading his books on the journey back to school. Dan Smith wowed us on Gala Day with tales of adventure, murder and Star Wars. I can’t wait to read his new book, it’s an Antarctic adventure called Below Zero and sounds super cool (sorry about that!). We even managed to get one of our favourite Winnie the Witch books signed by the brilliant Korky Paul, himself! That doesn’t even skim the surface – there was so much going on!

 

This festival itself isn’t geared purely towards book sales, admission costs or other tangible income, and as a result, it’s success is not directly quantifiable. Unfortunately, this may be a problem for its continuation. Instead, it’s success is measured by children’s excitement, by the stories they will start reading as a result of meeting an author, by the stories they will share with their families and friends, and by the stories that will rattle around inside their heads – encouraging a new generation of readers and writers. THAT is why this festival is so special.

 

Thank you to the supremely committed organisers, the librarians, volunteers, teaching staff, authors, the school library services, local booksellers and most of all, the children, who made this such an incredible event. Good luck for 2018!

Northern Children's Book Festival, The Great Chocoplot, Chris Callaghan,

Thank you to everyone who made me feel so welcome.


Chocoplot on the Blog

There’s a thriving and passionate blog community out there, celebrating and supporting the reading & writing community. I’ve been very lucky to have several bloggers over the last month asking me to witter on about my book on their precious blog spaces. Firstly, there’s my long time Twitter friend alittlebutalot‘s blog were I was invited onto a desert island and had to make some harsh decisions, then there’s an interview from a hugely supportive local bookseller, Fiona, at Independent Book Reviews and a delightful interview with dedicated writer and book lover, Pip, on her Writing for Kids, with Kids website.

Thank you for your support. Us authors really appreciate you giving us the space and time to be part of such a fab community.


Wonderful Waterstones Durham

A choctastic day visiting the Book Club members at Waterstones Durham. It’s good to know there are dedicated readers in the Durham area! It was great meeting lots of other readers and book buyers too. Here’s me with Darren, who I’d met before but was good enough to call in to let me scribble in his copy of The Great Chocoplot. Thank you, Darren! (And thanks for the photo!)

Huge thanks to the staff (especially Fiona) and to all who came over for a chat and bought books (we sold out but luckily had enough chocolate left!). I will be definitely calling back to visit such a friendly and welcoming book shop.
(And I’m looking forward to coming back at Easter!!!)


Read North East Launch

It was a pleasure to be part of The National Literacy Trust’s Read North East event at the Metrocentre this half-term. It’s a scheme to raise literacy levels and encourage parents to talk and read with their children. The Trust’s team and library staff frantically gave out free books to shoppers while I read to groups of children, in-between appearances of star attraction Peppa Pig!

I’ve never told stories in the middle of a shopping centre before, so it was quite an experience! Thanks to everyone who stopped by and to some familiar faces who were kind enough to come along to say ‘hello’.

Thank you to the Literacy Trust and Gateshead Libraries for hosting such a wonderful scheme. For more details of future events, please check the link here.

Thanks also to David Allen for these fantastic photos.


Awesomest Day!

Worcestershire's Awesomest Book Award, The Great Chocoplot, Chris Callaghan, Chocopocalypse

Earlier in the year, I was honoured to have The Great Chocoplot selected as Worcestershire’s Awesomest Book! How awesome is that??!! The award scheme was to encourage children in the area to read, discuss and vote on their favourite books. I didn’t get to the actual award ceremony, so it was amazing to finally get my hands on the trophy itself (previously won by Rachel Hamilton and a certain David Walliams!), when I visited Alvechurch Library.

I had been invited to hand out medals and certificates to all the dedicated readers who had completed the Summer Reading Challenge. It was such a pleasure to meet so many keen readers and the librarians, and volunteers, who work so hard to generate a real love and enjoyment for reading in this area.

It was a privilege. Thank you to all involved.


WARNING: The Chocopocalypse has arrived in the US!

Yes, The Chocopocalypse has arrived in the US!

I can’t quite believe it. This story started off as something I thought I’d scribble down and read to my daughter, in an effort to make her giggle at bedtime. Now it is being released in the United States of America by Delacorte Press – a division of Penguin Random House, which just happens to be the biggest publisher in the world! (This is my final over-seas sale, so please excuse me tickling my ego one last time!)

I am so unbelievably grateful to Chicken House UK and Barry Cunningham for starting this amazing part of my life and to Elinor Bagenal and Allison Hellegers for getting my story to the US. Since my first contact with the lovely people at PRH, and in particular the wonderful Monica Jean, me and all my characters have been made to feel so welcome. We love our new cover created by the super talented Mary Kate McDevitt and are delighted the fantastic internal illustrations by Lalalimola have been kept in place.

I know Jelly and her family are in very good hands and I wish them well in their American adventures and I hope all the new readers will be kind and gentle with them. Which I’m sure they will.

I wonder if one day, I’ll believe all this actually happened?

The Chocopocalypse, Chris Callaghan