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.

October festivals

I’m looking forward to appearing at three festivals in October. I’ve never been to any of them before, but judging by their programmes, they all sound wonderful.

The first is Flipside on 3 and 4 October in Snape Maltings, near Aldeburgh in Suffolk.


Among the other children’s writers there are Chris Priestley, Emily Gravett, and James Dawson.

Next comes the Wimbledon Bookfest. I’m going to be there on Thursday 8 October as part of the schools programme.


And thirdly is the Hungerford Literary Festival, where I’ll be speaking on Saturday 17 October.

Here are links to the websites where you can find out more about tickets, venues, and all the other fascinating writers and artists who will be appearing:



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.


I’ve recently returned from a fabulous celebration of books in Dubai, the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature. It was a magnificent week of literary delights.

The festival has a great atmosphere; everyone wanders around, chatting to one another, browsing through piles of books in the shop, and talking about writing.

I had never been to Dubai before, and I enjoyed seeing that intriguing city, but the highlight of the festival was undoubtedly meeting so many interesting readers and writers. Here are two of them, Philip Ardagh and John Dougherty.

Alongside all these meetings and conversations, and going to various fascinating events, I did several sessions about my own books.

I led a creative writing group of twenty children and adults, who created some very imaginative stories. I travelled to the English College and talked to the Years 7s. I spoke on a panel with Klaus Flugge, publisher and owner of Andersen Press, and two legendary illustrators, Michael Foreman and Satoshi Kitamura. Thanks for @NotCoolHolmes for the photo:

And on the last day of the festival, I did a Dragonsitter event; thanks to @JanLaurent for taking this picture:

Alongside all these literary endeavours, I managed to find time to sneak out of the hotel and have a closer look at the tallest building in the world:


And I took a trip to the desert: if you look very closer at these white cars, you might be able to spot a few famous authors…


Also in the desert, I rode a camel:


And I got the opportunity to hold a falcon named Ziggy.


I did tell her about Ziggy the dragon in the Dragonsitter, but she wasn’t terribly interested.


The Dragonsitter’s Island

The 4th Dragonsitter book will be published at the beginning of March.

Garry Parsons and I are going to be doing several publicity events together, including the Imagine Festival on the Southbank on Saturday 15 February.



In The Dragonsitter’s Island, Eddie, Emily and their mum travel to Uncle Morton’s island in Scotland.

They’re just supposed to be looking after his dragons while he’s in Outer Mongolia, but they soon discover that the island is full of surprises….

Dragonsitter events in London and Winchester

I’ll be doing a couple of public events over half-term, both of them with Garry Parsons, the illustrator of the Dragonsitter.

I’ll be reading from the books and Garry will be drawing dragons, eggs and all kinds of other stuff too.

On Wednesday 30 October, we’ll be at the Wessex Children’s Book Festival in Winchester. It’s at the Discovery Centre at 2.30. Full details here.

On Thursday 31 October, we’ll be in London – we’re at the Storystock Festival at the Bush Theatre. That event is at 2.30 too. Details here.

Please come along if you can – these events are great fun.

And here’s the cover of the new Dragonsitter book, which is published this month: