The astroturf dragon

Sometimes I arrive at a school, having travelled by train and taxi, battled rain or wind, and get into the hall with my bag, my books, and my USB stick – and there see a display so lovely that I am immediately filled with renewed enthusiasm and energy, which is exactly what I need to talk to a couple of hundred kids.

That’s just the experience that I had a couple of months ago at Warden Hill school in Luton. One of the teachers had created an amazing display devoted to the Dragonsitter. At the heart of the display was a huge green dragon.

He’s probably the first astroturf dragon in the world. And certainly the best.

While we’re on the subject of school displays, here is another from Ark Swift in London.

And here are a few more pictures from another recent school visit, this one at Baden Powell Primary in Hackney. Two of Garry Parsons. And two more drawn by him.

The Bookworm Festival in Beijing

I have already put up some photos from my time at the excellent Bookworm Festival in Chengdu – click here to see them – and here are few more from my time in Beijing.

I only had a few days in China, sadly, spread between the two cities, but I did get a chance to wander the streets a little, and see a few of the sights.

At the Beijing Bookworm, I did a panel event with Ian Whybrow (author of Harry and the Bucketful of Dinosaurs, and much more), moderated by Lee Williamson, editor of Time Out Beijing.

I don’t have a picture of that event, sadly. Nor do I have any pictures of the wonderful hotel where the Bookworm put us lucky authors, the Opposite House. But I do have a few touristy snaps of Beijing sights, and so I’ll put them here.


The Bookworm Festival in Chengdu

Just before Easter, I was lucky enough to be in China, visiting Beijing and Chengdu as a guest of the Bookworm Literary Festival.

The Bookworm is a small chain of bookshops in cities throughout China, run by a wildly energetic expat named Peter Goff. This year was the 10th that he and the other bookshop managers have been running a wonderful festival, bringing local and international authors together.

Rather than writing about my experiences, I’m simply going to put a few photos here, along with some explanatory captions. I’ll put up some photos from Beijing another day, but all the photos below are from Chengdu, my first stop, where I did several events: some talks, a school visit, and a workshop.

Chengdu is a city of about ten million people. It’s the capital of the Sichuan province, renowned for its magnificently spicy food. And it’s famous too for its pandas; Chengdu is home to the Giant Panda Research Centre, where you can watch families of pandas lounging about their pens, happily crunching their way through great piles of bamboo.


Earlier this August, I was one of several children’s authors performing at the Wilderness Festival. The festival was packed with twenty thousand people sampling everything from Bjork’s tunes to Moro’s lamb cutlets. Lucy Coats, Abi Elphinstone, Tamara MacFarlane and I were talking in the children’s area curated by Storystock. Over the course of the weekend, we each spoke about our books inside the big top, then did a panel discussion together.

A few photos below show the Storystock area, full of authors and pirates, and the lovely outpost of the Jaffe and Neale bookshop housed inside its own enormous tent… I wish I’d taken more (and better) photos, but I must have been always too busy eating those delicious lamb cutlets or chasing after my kids, trying to stop them getting completely lost among the other twenty thousand people.