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




It was wonderful to be invited along to meet a local writing group called Swagbag Stories Writers and Artists Group (SSWAG) for their annual general meeting. I don’t normally do talks to grown-ups and I was incredibly nervous. Luckily, they were all friendly grown-ups and I had a great time. They’d asked me to chat about my writing experiences, how I became published and my experiences of having a book in the world. I didn’t see a single one of them yawn. Either they were very good at hiding yawns, or it went well!

Afterwards, I was delighted be given a honorary membership of SSWAG, which is a HUGE privilege. They were all extremely talented and enthusiastic and I look forward to meeting them again very soon.

If anyone reading this is interested in joining a group in the North East of England, or connecting with fellow writers, please find more details at their website here.


The talented and friendly members of SSWAG

Reader Reviews

Reviews are a tricky thing for authors. We’re told not to read them – but it’s hard no to! Which means we sometimes see the occasional bad or strange one, and no one likes that! But if we are going to look, we have to take the bad ones on the chin. But also, if we do look (and I’ve been very lucky – so far!) we might see a review which brightens our day – or even week – and is a pure joy to read.

Sophie Reviewing The Great Chocoplot

I had one of those recently from a young reader called Sophie, who has started a blog about books. I had the honour of being Sophie’s first book review on that blog. Luckily, it isn’t bad or strange, but completely wonderful. You can read it here.

Thank you, Sophie, for taking the time to read my story. I’m delighted that it made you (and your mummy!) laugh – that makes me very happy. And thank you for writing such lovely and thoughtful words. It’s also a great idea that you include your favourite quotes too! I hope you enjoy reading many more books.

This is why I will (occasionally) dip into my reviews. Lovely comments from grown-up booky people are always welcome (stars on Amazon are also welcome too, hint, hint *ahem*!!), but a kind review from a proper reader is the best thing EVER!!!

(I’ve just read Sophie’s latest review of The Brilliant World of Tom Gates, by Liz Pichon, it sounds great – I might have to read it!)

Romanian Chocoplot

Hugely excited that ‘The Great Chocoplot’ has been released in Romania as ‘Marele Complot Al Ciocolatei‘.

I’m delighted that they have kept the familiar cover, with Lalalimola’s wonderful artwork proudly displayed. They’ve added some shiny gold surroundings and it even has flappy bits to the cover! Beautiful.

Thank you RAO for publishing my silly story in your country and Elinor at Chicken House UK for, yet again, spreading chocolate panic globally! I hope all the keen chocolatey readers in Romania enjoy my story!!

Celebrating the Schokopokalypse!

It’s been an exciting week celebrating the release of ‘Schokopokalypse’. The good people at Chicken House Deutschland have been splattering my ugly mug on their Facebook page (check it out here) and letting me talk about my writing and asking tricky questions.

There’s even been some early reviews too. Luckily, they’ve been great! Huge thanks to Manu’s Tinkenlecke & books-and-cats.de for saying such lovely things. I’m sure my silly characters will have a fantastic time running around Germany and I’m looking forward to hearing how they get along!

Schokopokalypse, The Great Chocoplot, Chris Callaghan


This week (31st August) sees the German release of ‘The Great Chocoplot’, which has the fantastic title of ‘Schokopokalypse’.

I love flicking through translated versions and trying to spot words or phrases that I recognise – without being able to speak the language. It’s great to hear that the editors and translator have had fun playing around with all the silly names I’ve made up. In this German version, Jelly and her family don’t live in Chompton-on-de-Lyte, but in the wonderfully sounding Mampfon-an-der-Freude! I think I’d like to live there and am looking forward to hearing how it all sounds on the German audio version too!!

I am delighted and honoured that the lovely people of Chicken House Deutschland have brought Jelly (and the Chocopocalypse) to their wonderful country. I am excited to hear what the German readers think of my silly story!!

Die Schokopokalypse kommt nach Deutschland !!!

Read Said FRED

Chris Callaghan, The Great Chocoplot, ChocopocalypseI am thrilled that a chapter of ‘The Great Chocoplot’ has been chosen to be included in ‘Read Said FRED’, an anthology of stories for dads to read with their children.

I originally wrote my story while I was a Stay-at-Home Dad as a surprise present for my daughter at Christmas. The plan was that we would have a giggle reading it together over the Christmas holidays. I had purposely put in lots of silly voices to act out and an even sillier dad for us to roll our eyes at and snigger (instead of it being me for a change!).

My story, almost accidentally, became published and I am incredibly flattered and honoured to have a snippet in this great collection alongside some amazing names like Julia Donaldson, Jonathan Stroud, Gary Northfield, Sir Tony Robinson, Frank Lampard, Peter Bently and more! As well as the fantastic artwork from illustrators like Nick Sharratt, Jon Klassen, Lydia Monks and (my personal favourite) Lalalimola.

It has been developed by The Fatherhood Institute as part of their Fathers Reading Every Day (FRED) programme. Obviously, there is nothing stopping mums, grandparents and any keen readers getting involved, but this is a scheme particularly aimed at dads and their children.

One of the greatest parts of being a dad, in my opinion, has been that time at the end of the day when my daughter and I would open a book together. Sometimes I’d read, sometimes she would and sometimes we’d take turns – but it was always a shared experience. My pleasure wasn’t just in the story itself but in those precious moments together and watching the changing expressions on her face. Her eyes and mouth would open wide at moments of shock and surprise, she would frown at the sad moments, squirm at the icky parts and giggle at the funny bits. Leaving the story at a what-happens-next-moment would ensure that we said ‘goodnight’ with it still bouncing around in her head and becoming part of her dreams. A perfect way to end the day!


I hope this encourages more dads to share in the absolute joy of reading with their children.

Thank you to Jeremy Davies and all at the Fatherhood Institute for involving me in such a great idea.


Celebrating Easter at the Roald Dahl Museum

The Great Chocoplot, Chris Callaghan, Roald Dahl, Museum


I had a truly gloriumptious day at The Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre.
It was a great honour to be asked to do some Chocoplot events over Easter at the home of our greatest storyteller and I loved every minute.
It was quite surreal to see my silly story in the museum book shop next all of Roald Dahl’s amazing stories. Thank you to everyone who came along – it was great to meet you and you all joined in brilliantly.

Huge thanks to the staff, who made me and my family feel very welcome.
It was so much fun and a day I will never forget!


New Chocoplot Versions Coming Out Soon …

The Great Chocoplot, Chris Callaghan, Chocopocalypse

schokopokalypse, The Great Chocoplot, Chris Callaghan, Chocopocalypse

Delighted to see that very soon the UK Audio version of The Great Chocoplot will be released by Oakhill Publishing. I haven’t got my hands (or ears) on a copy yet, but I can’t wait to hear how David Thorpe tackles some of the strange voices and accents!

Also, the cover of the German hardback has been spotted on the Chicken House Germany website. I haven’t got a copy of that either yet, but I love the slight variation with the cover. Lalalimola’s fab illustrations are still there but the purple has been replaced with a bluey kind of colour (I’m a bit colour blind, so you’ll have to see for yourself!). It will be called ‘Schokopokalypse’ which I am assuming means ‘Chocopocalypse’ and will be released in Germany on August 31st!!

Aufregend!!!          (That means ‘exciting’ – I think!)

World Book Day

I had a fantastic time visiting schools and libraries to celebrate World Book Day (or week, as it turned out!!). Here’s some photos from my sessions at Stockton Central Library. It was great to see lots of local pupils – they came, they saw, they laughed (some of them!) and they even bought books!

Thank you to everyone for all your fab chocolate panic faces and your extremely loud shouts of ‘Chocopocalypse!’ – it’s always fun to shout in a library!

(Thanks to Doug Moody for the brill pics.)

Awesomest News!!!

It is fantastic to announce that The Great Chocoplot has won an award! Yes, I know! Whoooo hoooo!!!

It’s the winner of Worcestershire’s Awesomest Book Award 2017!

The Great Chocoplot Worcestershire Awesomest Book


To be shortlisted with some amazing books was an honour in itself, but to actually win is … well, awesome! Last year’s winner was Awful Auntie by David Walliams – so my book is in very special company! The award is especially wonderful as it is voted by the children readers themselves, who are involved in the scheme to help promote reading. It involved over 800 children from 18 schools! I am incredibly grateful to everyone who read the shortlisted books and I hope they all had fun will continue reading many more books to come.

A huge thank you to all the children that voted and to their teachers and teaching staff for playing such an important role. I am very thankful to all the hard working and wonderful librarians for putting the whole award scheme together and for their, often under-appreciated, skills and enthusiasm.

Obviously, I must thank my fab publisher, Chicken House, for their belief in my silly story and to our incredible illustrator Lalalimola for her brilliant artwork – which always raises a smile.

I’ve even shared some chocolate (which I don’t normally do!) with my wife and daughter to celebrate. I am very, very flattered (and a little full up with chocolate)!

The Winner being announced

The Winner being announced (Photo from Worcester SLS)

The Great Chocoplot Worcestershire's Awesomest Book Award engraving

Engravings on the Awesomest Book Trophy (Photo from Worc SLS)

Phizz-whizzing News

The Great Chocoplot comes to the Roald Dahl Museum


It is my delumptious delight to announce I will be taking part in the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory celebrations at the Roald Dahl Museum this Easter.

It is a giganticus honour to be able to talk about my chocolatey story in such gloriumptious surroundings – the actual place where Roald Dahl lived!!!

I can’t promise any Whipple-Scrumptious Fudgemallow Delights – but I’m sure it’ll be a razztwizzler of a day!

Saturday for Syria

Saturday for Syria


I will be taking part in an event called ‘Saturday for Syria‘ on January 7th at the Exchange in North Shields.

There will be loads of music, bands, children’s activities and crafts. Superheroes and princesses will be floating and flying around as well as storytellers, artists and authors.

It is all to raise awareness and aid to help children and families who are suffering because of the terrible war in Syria.

It would be great to see lots of Tynesiders there (and anyone from beyond too!) to help us support this important issue.


Thank you.

The Chocopocalypse is Coming to the US!!!!

The Chocopocalypse is coming ...

The Chocopocalypse is coming …


Delighted to be able to reveal the brilliant cover for the US version of ‘The Great Chocoplot’ – which is to be called ‘The Chocopocalypse’.

It will be unleashed on an unsuspecting American public in the Fall of 2017.

Huge thanks to Delacorte Press / Penguin Random House for spreading chocolate panic and to the incredibly talented Mary Kate McDevitt for creating the amazing art work.

The countdown to the Chocopocalypse has begun …

Irish Times Favourite!

I had a fantastic early Christmas surprise when I found out that The Great Chocoplot had been chosen by The Irish Times to be one of their favourite children’s books of 2016!

Irish Times

I’m extremely flattered to be amongst some amazing books and very grateful to fellow author, Kieran Fanning (who wrote the brilliant The Black Lotus) for choosing my book as one of his selection.

Kieran's Review

I’m certainly feeling all Christmassy after reading those lovely words. Thank you Kieran.