Young City Reads- Brighton

On Tuesday, author A.F Harrold and myself were invited to Brighton Dome for the grand finale of Young City Reads.

YCR is a great scheme that picks one book, and from March to May each year, they encourage as many schools as possible to read it. There is then a great deal of activity, projects, writing, drawing and a competition-ing surrounding the book.

It was an honour this year, that our very own Fizzlebert Stump (published by Bloomsbury) was picked as the YCR book.

So here we are doing our thing on stage, in front of 1100 children and their teachers. Terrifying!   (pic via Young City Reads on twitter @youngcityreads)

I drew Fizz with his head in the mouth of Charles, the elderly lion, with the aid of a visualiser that projected the contents of my desk onto the huge screen behind us. It was brilliant to share the whole illustration process, with dip pen, ink and wash (a process never normally seen outside of my studio).   A.F brilliantly read some fantastical poetry, and discussed the various perils and benefits of Branston Pickle Water and many other hilarious things.

After being on stage we were whisked through a historic underground tunnel at Brighton Dome and out to a room where a large crowd of children were raring for their books to be signed. It was great to see many of the books had been actually read! They were not brand new, they were dog-eared, well-thumbed, battered, and a bit bashed. One had  maybe even possibly fallen/been read in the bath?

The thing that grabbed me the most was the competition we were asked to judge – there were some wonderful entries, and it was very hard to pick a winner. I found myself laughing out loud many times reviewing them. But somehow A.F and I landed on the same two entries- the winner being Brady Smith from Coombe Road school with The Magic Pig.  (Loved the pig characters- just lovely. But will Stephen the pig go fishing?  Very special) Well done Brady!

And the runner up was How To Cook Sea Monster by Mohammed from Queens Park Primary- (I thought the characterisation of the Sea Monster was absolutely brilliant, so simple and cheeky)


A big thank you to our amazing audience for coming, being enthusiastic, excited and engaged. It was a real privilege to be involved.