Edwinstowe book festival.

 Coop Chaos, Morning Mystery was introduced to local children on Saturday, September 18th where I enjoyed meeting lots of families who popped along to the Edwinstowe Book Festival.

The sun was shining on this wonderful Autumn Day adding to the atmosphere in the garden of Edwinstowe house.

The pop-up storytelling program was a great success as Jim Munro captivated the children with his tales of The magic Paintbrush and Many Moons.

A storyteller not a story reader is how he describes himself and he certainly achieved this as he took the children on a journey to China with his tale of The magic paintbrush.

Gareth Baker children’s author and patron of reading sat the children around the magic storytelling campfire and read The Little Gingerbread Man with such gusto and energy encouraging the children to interact with the story.

Teacher Jade Millington from Mansfield’s Holly Primary School provided an impromptu storytelling session with her debut picture book Coronasaurus Rex. She created this story to help children understand the coronavirus. I wish Jade massive success with this book and subsequent publications.

I wish to thank the Newark Festival Team for inviting me to join in with this fun-filled day.

Jim Munrow

Newark book festival 2021

Recently I had the pleasure of being part of the Newark Book Festival Literature village event, where I had a stall on Saturday, July 10th, and Sunday, July 11th. It is no exaggeration to express, how much I enjoyed being a part of this amazing event. I wish to convey my sincere thanks to Clair Robshaw and Sara Bullimore for their professional organization of the event.

Located in Newark Market Place, Newark, Nottinghamshire the event was set against the historical backdrop of the castle and surrounding historical buildings of this historical town on the River Trent.

The theme ‘Great British Village Fete’ was embraced by many stallholders, myself included. Flags and bunting fluttered in the light breeze and live music on both days set my feet tapping and my vocal cords tuning in to some well-known popular music.

Meeting the public and chatting to families about a subject close to my heart, lifted my spirit after months of not being able to attend live literary events due to Covid restrictions.

The highlight for me on both days was meeting fellow authors and networking with them to learn new ideas about the promotion and marketing of books in a world where celebrity authors dominate, and big-budget publishers take a large share of the market.

It was good to see a number of children’s authors and authors of teenage fiction. Wilf Morgan the author of The Arilon Chronicles was promoting his books about Arthur Ness and the secret of Waterwhistle. Suitable for age eight plus, these are delightful books to inspire the imagination of the pre–teens.

Izzy Wheeldon was promoting her illustrated book called Clarence the Cockerel for 3–5-year-olds which she felt inspired to write during a family trip to Crete while surrounded by some noisy cockerels.

Sounds like a familiar story, Izzy. I too was inspired to write my series of illustrated children’s books called Coop Chaos, after observing my own brood of hens that lived on my brother’s allotment plot.

There the similarity ends, as, unlike Izzy, I am not an illustrator. My good friend Derek Maguire came to my rescue and made an amazing job of illustrating the first in the series called Morning Mystery.

The most inspiring children’s author I met at the Newark Book Festival was Lesley Berrington, the author of the children’s series Hattie and friends. These books are being used to promote positive images of disability encouraging a consistent message of respect and acceptance for the differences we have. How amazing is that?

A day at the seaside features Hattie and her friend Lucy who is blind.

A day at the park features Hattie and her friend Toby who has a cochlear implant.

A day on the farm features Hattie and Nisha who wears leg braces.

A day on the farm features Hattie and George who uses a wheelchair.

Well done Lesley and well done to the illustrator Karen Middleton.



Hi to all of my Coop Chaos followers. You may have wondered where I got the inspiration from to write my series of books. Well, it is a rather interesting story and involves my brother and me co-owning our own hens and chickens a few years ago.More of that in a later post.

However, for now, I wish to show you an image of one of our Suffolk hens that has a staring role on the side of our canal boat, aptly named ‘SPECKLED HEN’.

Here I am with our canal boat which we sailed along the Trent and Mersey Canal this weekend.


Book Review. 10 Little Frogs.

Book review.

10 little frogs. Written by Jason Travis. Illustrated by Shawn M Travis.

Thank you, Henry Roi, for sending me a digital copy of Ten Little Frogs in return for an honest and open review.

This story is much more than a book for children learning to count.

The introduction to the story in the form of a rhyme, prepares the child to expect a story of adventure. Counting down from ten the story and illustrations link to space, countryside, music, arts and culture.

There is humour to keep the young readers amused. For example: Frogs riding a snake, frog cake containing flies and sky – diving for flies. All of these are beautifully illustrated to provide a talking point or for the child to flip through the book and enjoy.

The closing page leaves the reader with something to think about and for further discussion with the child.

A generation who will feel the continued effects of Covid.

Sadly, since the disruptions to learning as a result of Covid, many children in our schools have fallen behind with their studies. Ofsted’s report into the impact of the pandemic found that some children who were hardest hit by school closures have regressed in basic skills. Older children have fallen behind with their reading and writing skills. These findings were linked to parents who were unable to work flexibly or lacked the skills to help their children.

According to one report by the UN cultural agency 100 million more children than expected in a normal academic year have fallen behind the minimum proficiency level of reading. This is in direct correlation to the closure of schools.

Research suggests that in 2020, 460 million children experienced reading difficulties. This has now risen by a further 20%.

Improvements to the situation may take a decade to remedy, therefore we need to all pull together and help in any way we can. I have recently applied to become a reading assistant in our local school to help in the remedial classes.

Fingers crossed I am able to be of help.

Question and Answer session with childrens author.

Alyson Oliver

What was the inspiration behind Coop Chaos?

The idea of owning and caring for my own hens was an ambition I had held on to since watching the seventies sit-com ‘The Good Life.’

Unknown to me, my brother David also shared the same ambition. When he managed to secure an allotment plot close to where I live, it became a reality. Together we raised and cared for ten hens.

Tell us about your writing process.

I began writing notes in my journal with respect to my day-to-day activities with the hens. Having wrote in a journal for over forty years this was a natural extension of my writing process. I began observing the hens more closely and gave each of them a name. I was able to recognise them individually, observing their behaviour and rituals. The notes I was making in the journal began to look very much like a story that young children might be interested in. At the time I had a young grandson so initially I wrote it with him in mind. Currently I have four grandchildren whom I sincerely hope will enjoy reading these funny stories.

Tell us about the illustrator. 

I confess that I have zero skill with art work of any description. Therefore, in order to bring my stories alive for the children I needed to find an illustrator. When I had written five stories, I took the plunge and sent a manuscript to a number of publishers explaining I would need an illustrator.

Sadly, none of the publishers at the time were willing to publish my work. This was seven years ago. I then began writing my first adult novel which was published under my pen name of K.L. Loveley. Swiftly followed by two other works of fiction and a collection of poetry.

My children’s stories although on the back burner, were not forgotten, then a couple of years ago it came to my attention from a very good friend of mine, that since her husband Dereck Maguire had retired, he had seriously taken up painting portraits. His work was excellent and although he had never done any serious illustrations, he did not hesitate to agree to illustrate Coop Chaos. Derek worked tirelessly to capture the character of each individual hen and the characters of Mr Green and Primrose. His work is outstanding.

World Book Day 2021

World Book Day March 4th 2021

I love the idea that children who may never have picked up a book to read or just take a look at the images, might just do exactly that as a result of the World Book Day initiative.

This fantastic celebration of reading is to my mind a wonderful programme of encouragement to help enhance the lives of our young generation.

Celebrated in over one hundred countries this event is designated as a worldwide celebration of literacy.

The mission of this day is to promote reading for pleasure and to offer every child and young person the opportunity to own a book of their choice from the award-winning books available.

It is universally acknowledged that reading for pleasure and for knowledge can increase the life-chances when this becomes a regular part of a child’s life. It is therefore important that all children have equal opportunity, especially those from a disadvantaged background.

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