Report: Cecelia Ahern at County Hall, Preston 

On Tuesday evening I was lucky enough to be able to accompany 3 of the young volunteers I work with to see Cecelia Ahern at County Hall, Preston, an event that was organised by Silverwood Events in partnership with Lancashire Libraries.

Going to any author event is a treat. But going to see an author you particularly admire in an impressive venue like County Hall is extra special. And seeing young people inspired and enthused and then desperate to get home and start reading is the absolute cherry on top. 

Cecelia was in conversation with our very own YLG North West representative and current Chair Elect, Jake Hope, and was promoting her new novel Perfect, the follow-up to her debut YA novel, Flawed, which was published in 2016 and brilliantly received.

Topics discussed on the night included Cecelia’s career so far, the differences between writing adult and young adult fiction, and the ways in which (particularly with the proliferation of social media) people can be so quick to judge others and publicly shame them for their mistakes. This is a central theme in the Flawed series, in which anyone that is deemed to be imperfect is physically branded with an F for Flawed – with the location of the F dependent on what it is they are judged to have done wrong. It’s dark and compelling and the parallels with our own society give real pause for thought.

Cecelia also talked about her experiences of promoting her young adult books and some of the schools she has visited. She talked about how often the pupils that ask the most questions are the ones described by the teachers as the ‘quiet ones,’ and how vital author visits are in showing young people that they can make a living from writing, that there are people out there that have done it and do it every day. 

This was a really well-organised, enjoyable event – Jake has a lovely interview manner and Cecelia was a brilliant speaker – refreshing, down-to earth and funny too. The young people were buzzing about the event on the train home  – and so was I! 🙂


Report: AGM and An Evening with Chris Riddell

The YLG Northwest AGM took place on Monday 16th November and this year, thanks to Booktrust, we were very fortunate to be able to combine the occasion with an event with the brilliant Chris Riddell, who was in the region as part of his Children’s Laureate Tour.

Coming with the subtitle “Librarians I Have Loved,” much of Chris’s talk provided a fascinating insight into the books that made him a reader and the librarians that guided him along the way, including the rather fearsome-looking “gatekeeper,” and (my favourite) the librarian knight, “fighting to the death to defend their library.”

Chris also talked about the magic of story time at the end of the school day and recalled memories of The Hobbit being read to his class by one particular teacher – something that evoked fond recollections of my own primary school experience (I well remember settling down at the end of each day in Year 5 to listen to Mrs Newsham read the next chapter of Bilbo’s adventure, waiting desperately to find out what would happen next).

Such experiences are crucial in forming a love of books and it’s heartening to see how tirelessly Chris advocates for all children to experience this and to have the right to a school library with a trained librarian. Chris has called upon Education Minister Justine Greening to provide a full picture of school library closures and reaffirmed his intention to continue campaigning post-laureateship at Monday’s event.

Chris Riddell is not only a fantastic author and illustrator but also an extremely engaging speaker with an endless supply of amusing anecdotes – about misbehaving in church as a youngster, reading instead of shelving in his Library Assistant days (something none of us at YLG NW have ever done of course 😉) and  the way he just can’t help drawing in the margins of books.

To listen to Chris speak and see some of his fantastic illustrations was a real treat – thank you so much Chris and Booktrust for a wonderful evening!


CKG Nominations Event – Preston

Shortlist of our nominated titles

Shortlist of our nominated titles

We held our Carnegie and Greenaway nominations event at the end of September and were very lucky to be joined on the day by author Alan Gibbons and author/illustrator Steve Antony.

Alan Gibbons started things off talking about his journey to becoming an author and the books he has since written whilst also throwing some light onto the current plight of libraries in the UK. We were lucky to also hear a little bit about his next book The Isis Trap (cover below).


Steve Antony gave a wonderful talk about his route to becoming an illustrator as well as his whole approach to creating books – an approach made all the more fascinating by the fact that he is in fact colour blind. You can read more about this on Steve’s blog. We were also treated to a sneaky reading from his new book Green Lizards versus Red Rectangles (now out and is amazing!).


Steve Antony reading from Green Lizards Vs Red Rectangles – with a sneaky Mr Panda in the background!


Of course the whole focus of the day was on choosing the titles that we would put forward as our Carnegie and Kate Greenaway nominations for 2016. Attendees could vote from a shortlist of six books for each award:

Greenaway Nominations

Please Mr Panda, The Imaginary, Beautiful Birds, A Tower of Giraffes, Hoot Owl and The Little Gardener – Shortlist of nominations for the Kate Greenaway Medal


Read me Like A Book, One, Fire Colour One, The Astounding Broccoli Boy, Five Children On The Western Front, How To Fly With Broken Wings

Our nominations were as follows: Read Me Like a Book by Liz Kessler and Fire Colour One by Jenny Valentine were nominated for the Carnegie and the Greenaway nominations were Please Mr. Panda by Steve Anthony and A Tower of Giraffes by Anna Wright.

Our thanks to Hachette, Askews & Holts and special thanks to our CKG rep Jill for organising such a great event.


Rebels & Outcasts: Manchester Literature Festival YA Panel

Celebrating its 10th Birthday this year, Manchester Literature Festival has a particularly impressive Children and Young Peoples line up. With events ranging from a debate on the future of Children’s Poetry (with Michael Rosen no less) to Comic Art Masterclasses and a bumper Family Reading Day with the likes of Lydia Monks, Johnny Duddle, Yasmeen Ismail and Kristina Stephenson in attendance we were really spoilt for choice.

It was, however, the YA event ‘Rebels and Outcasts’ which really stole the show for me. Featuring three amazing authors, Sarah Crossan, Julie Mayhew and Laura Dockrill, this really showcased the best that YA has to offer.

Chaired by Steve Dearden of the Manchester Writing Squad the discussion focused not only on the individual authors and their books but the phenomenon of YA writing itself. Indeed, the event opened with the bold statement that ‘YA has an urgency and a way of engaging with the world, the here and the now, that is perhaps lacking in Adult Literature’.IMG_0476

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Your Views, Your Vote, Your Voice: YLG Northwest Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Nomination Event

Join us as we select the region’s votes for this years prestigious Carnegie and Kate Greenaway event. This is your opportunity to be involved and to learn more about the longest-running and most acclaimed children’s book awards in the United Kingdom.

Steve Antony

We will be joined by author and illustrator Steve Antony who will give us a behind-the-scenes glimpse at his books and work and by Alan Gibbons who will be discussing his highly topical novel, ‘Hate’ based around the story of Sophie Lancaster. There will also be an opportunity peruse and purchase from the supplier showroom at 30% discount. Continue reading