News and Stuff


Awesomest Day

The Great Chocoplot, Chris Callaghan, Awesomest Book AwardIt was with mixed feeling that I attended this year’s Worcestershire’s Awesomest Book Award ceremony. I was excited to continue to celebrate being the current holder of that wonderful title, but a little sad that I would move from ‘current’ to ‘former’. Or is this me just being greedy?

It was a fantastic event, attended by many schools in the area and the award scheme is driven by the young readers themselves. There was a quiz, which was won for the second year by Westacre Middle School (and which I was rubbish at!) and it was a pleasure to listen to a selection of readers talking about all the shortlisted books and why they had enjoyed reading them. It is a delight to see the enthusiasm that so many young people have for books in the Worcestershire area.

I also got to prance about and talk about my book and have some chocolatey fun – and I made the most of being the ‘current’ award winner as I watched the minutes of my reign (I can call it a ‘reign’ can’t I?) tick away.

Matt Stanton, Funny Kid for PresidentThe winner (by a huge majority) was announced to massive applause. Congratulations to Matt Stanton and his book ‘Funny Kid for President’. I’m delighted that another funny book has been chosen by Worcestershire’s awesomest readers. Matt follows in the footsteps of Rachel Hamilton, David Walliams (whoever he is?) and me, to be the Awesomest Book Award winner.

It was a wonderful day. Thank you to all the amazing library staff who organise the whole award scheme, to the teaching staff who encourage it in schools and especially to all the brilliant readers.

It is them who are the awesomest!

The Great Chocoplot, Chris Callaghan, Worcestershire's Awesomest Book Awards


Jelly Book Day

My (and many others’) World Book Day did not quite go to plan, due to the floaty white stuff that pelted us from Siberia! But I’m delighted there were some that were able to enjoy the day.

Especially Jemima here, who got dressed up as Jelly from a certain book called ‘The Great Chocoplot’! Just look at that chocotastic homemade Blocka Choca too. It definitely looks good enough to eat.

I’m sure Jemima/Jelly’s mum and dad, were very happy that this year’s costume was a school uniform. Win, win!!

I hope you had a lot of fun, Jemima, and thank you. You have made both me and Jelly very happy indeed.

 


World Book Week and the Beast!

World Book Day, The Great Chocoplot, Chris Callaghan

World Book Week certainly didn’t go as planned!

 

Last Sunday I proudly boasted with a photo of my packed bags on Twitter that I was booked, prepped and ready for a whole week’s worth of school visits. But after two lovely days at a school in Doncaster my week ground to a halt. The following three schools visits were postponed because of ‘The Beast from the East’! It’s been the worst weather we’ve had for a long time.

Although I didn’t get to complete my week-long adventure, I count myself as incredibly lucky that I wasn’t out and about in the terrible conditions. Schools took the sensible decision to close in plenty of time and informed pupils, parents and, in my case, worried authors. I’ve heard some real horror stories of accidents, delays and cancellations on transport routes, but I am relieved that myself and my family were not caught up in it. My thoughts are with those that were – I’ve been there before and it’s no fun at all.

I have already managed to reschedule most of the visits I’ve missed, which is wonderful, and I look forward to having our own Book Day celebrations very soon.

Maybe there’s a lesson here. World Book Day is a fantastic thing, but it would be even better if schools had their own day every year that celebrated books (although books can be enjoyed EVERY day!) and that way authors are not shooting around the country trying to fit as many schools into a short space of time. I’d even had to turn down schools because my week was fully booked, and they only wanted a visit around the day itself!

I hope the weather starts being kind to us and we all get back to normal. I’m off to my next visit in Worcester next week and am keeping a close eye on the trains!

 

Hope everyone stayed safe during this crazy time and managed to fit in a snowball fight or two! Or found somewhere warm to snuggle up with a good book!!


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!!!)