Archive for the ‘Children’s Book News’ Category

Mid-October eNewsletter

Thursday, October 20th, 2016

With Half term and Hallowe’en coming up and yes, even Christmas fast advancing, Lovereading4kids is here to help you choose the most brilliant books for any child that you know, from baby to teenager. Read on for more…

Boo! – Hello Hallowe’en!

It doesn’t have to be all costumes, face paints, tricks and treats this Hallowe’en. There are also several ‘enchanting’ books to get kids in the ‘spirit’ of things in our special Hallowe’en category. Get out from behind the sofa and check them out!

Drawn Together! – Picture Book Party

There are few greater joys than sharing wonderful picture books with kids. This is our category which brings you together and gets them loving reading from an early age. With new titles for Autumn, there’s no better time to join the party! Click here for more.

One Stop Shop – Our Autumn Highlights

Lovereading4kids staff have come up with some of their favourites out this autumn – every one a winner we think:


Give us the Willis! – The Books of Jeanne Willis

With over 80 titles under her belt and no more space on the mantelpiece for awards, Jeanne Willis is one of our most prolific children’s authors. It’s impossible to choose favourites among her fabulously enjoyable and accessible books for very young readers. But, Who’s in The Loo? (3+) is celebrating its tenth anniversary this month and is a raucous, rhyming romp that will resonate with anyone who’s endured the ‘loo queue’ first thing!

Riddell me This! – Ottoline Series by Chris Riddell

Amateur roving collector and wearer of odd shoes, Ottoline lives with her best friend, a Norwegian bog-person who hates having his hair brushed and being mistaken for a dog. Children’s Laureate, Chris Riddell’s beautifully illustrated and quirky adventures are unique, imaginative and elegant. 7+ readers will love to explore every page and younger ones will relish hearing them out loud. Find out more about the latest title; Ottoline and the Purple Fox and what our Reader Reviewers thought of it…


What Now? – “If They Like, They’ll Love”. That’s What!

You’ve devoured a whole series by a favourite author and you’re hungry for more. But where do you turn to find your next great read? Our If They Like, They’ll Love section introduces you to authors who are right up your street. Click here to get started.

If they like Roald Dahl they’ll love the outrageous War Next Door; A Storey Street book from Phil Earle. If they like Dick King-Smith’s animal stories they’ll love the warm-hearted A Piglet Called Truffle by Helen Peters.
7 7

New Addictive Reading for older children

Robert Muchamore, the author of the global Cherub series, has created a new hard-hitting battle of the bands series called Rock War that our older reader reviewers just loved calling it ‘funny‘ ‘brilliant‘ ‘witty‘ ‘ingenious‘ and ‘gripping.’

With its heady mix of glamour and grit, and a cast of characters who run the gamut from smart, self-aware cynics to easily led-astrays, this is a seriously addictive read. The third in the series Gone Wild (13+) is just out.

Kids-mas Presents!

We know, we know! It’s early. The fake cobwebs are barely up yet and the last thing you want to be thinking about is Christmas. Or is it? Come on, you just had a vision of mince pies and candle-lit choirs, didn’t you? Well, no harm in looking at the bookshelf below and having the briefest of browses to get ahead of the seasonal rush for presents. After all, a book lasts forever and can influence someone for the rest of their life! Go on. Take a look. Just there. Below this or visit our new Christmas 2016 category on the website with even more recommendations.


Original storytelling to capture children’s hearts and minds

Best-selling author Cornelia Funke, whose Inkheart was a world-wide phenomenon, has created another wonderful imaginary world peopled with a gigantic cast of original and outlandish characters who live in Mirrorworld which Jacob Reckless stumbles upon while searching for his missing father.

Full of mortal danger thrills, excitement and adventures there are three books, the first two are out this month and the third, The Golden Yarn is out in early November but we have an exclusive pre-publication extract for you to read.

Kids October Book Festival Round-up

Looking for indoor fun to entertain the kids this autumn? Look no further than the Loogabarooga Festival (19-24 October), win tickets to a Storyteller event at Petworth Literary Weekend (5 November) and enjoy creative fun at Bridlitkids (12 November).

And that is October just about ‘wrapped up’, book-fans! Talking of ‘wrapping’, we’ll be back next month with more top tips and maybe just a few suggestions in case you’re thinking ahead for Christmas. Oh no. we said the ‘c’-word.

P.S. We have some lovely Roald Dahl hardback, full-colour edition paperbacks and some phizzwhizzing postcards which are perfect for gifts this autumn.

The Wicked Young Writers Award for 2017 is open for entries!

Friday, September 23rd, 2016


  • Author-illustrator Cressida Cowell returns as Head Judge
  • Entries now being accepted until 13 March 2017
  • To submit entries visit

wywa-master-artwork-updateTHE WICKED YOUNG WRITER AWARDS, created and sponsored by the award-winning musical Wicked in association with the National Literacy Trust (, is pleased to announce that the acclaimed author and illustrator of the How to Train Your Dragon books, Cressida Cowell, will return as Head Judge for the awards for the third consecutive year. Jonathan Douglas, Director of the National Literacy Trust, will also be returning as part of the judging panel.


Launched in 2010, this is the seventh year of the acclaimed Awards. The initiative raises money for the National Literacy Trust who campaign to improve public understanding of the vital importance of literacy.


This year, the Awards will be launched with two Story Surgery events: at the Young Adult Literature Weekender at the Southbank, London on 15 and 16 October, for 13+ year olds, and at the StoryStock Festival at the Lyric Hammersmith, London on 27 and 28 October, for 7-12 year olds. Young people will be able to take part in special, free workshops with published writers including young adult writers Nicole Burstein, Tamara MacFarlane and Lisa Williamson.


The Awards will work in partnership with Young Writers, CLPE (the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education), First Story, Just Imagine, NAWE (National Association of Writers in Education) and Pobble.


Her Royal Highness, The Duchess of Cornwall is Patron of the Awards, set up to encourage and recognise excellence in writing, and creativity, and help develop literacy and writing talent in young people between the ages of 5 and 25. Since launching, over 25,000 young people have entered original and thought-provoking pieces of writing that consistently reflect the interests, concerns and deepest thoughts of young people, providing a first-look at the emerging voices of a new generation.


How to Train Your Dragon author and illustrator Cressida Cowell commented, “Last year’s finalists addressed really big issues – war, homelessness and prejudice. There was an incredible range of styles and an array of brilliantly original voices, but they all had this in common: they made us judges feel something.”


Michael McCabe, Executive Producer of Wicked said, “We are incredibly proud of this project and greatly indebted to Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall, Michael Morpurgo and Cressida Cowell for their support. Their passionate commitment to encouraging creative writing and improving literacy standards amongst young people in the UK is an inspiration to us all.


As in previous years, entrants can enter one of five different age categories; 5-7, 8-10, 11-14, 15-17, 18-25. In addition, the 2017 Awards sees the second year of the FOR GOOD AWARD for Non-Fiction, encouraging 15-25 year olds to write essays or articles that recognise the positive impact that people can have on each other, their communities and the world we live in. This category celebrates the WICKED: FOR GOOD philanthropic programme, which supports the work of multiple charities.


Entrants can submit their writing by visiting, where they will also find writing tips and resources from the Award judges.

14 – 18? Love Books? Want to be a judge on a Book Award?

Wednesday, September 14th, 2016

The Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction Competition 2017 are looking for young judge to help discover a new children’s bestseller

The Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction Competition, the biggest children’s writing competition in the UK, is looking for a confident and passionate young judge with a demonstrable love of books to join the prestigious judging panel and help choose the winner.

Entrants must submit a 1-3 minute video about the book they would most like to persuade others to read. Aspiring judges aged 14-18 have until 28th October to make their short video, upload it to YouTube (or a similar site), and email a link to

The winner will join the judging panel for the Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction competition which includes industry experts such as the Times arts editor and children’s books reviewer Alex O’Connell, and Barry Cunningham, the founder of Chicken House and the publisher who discovered J.K. Rowling.

The winner of the young judge competition will have six weeks to read approximately five shortlisted titles before joining the other judges at an exclusive members club in London for a day of judging in spring 2017. The prize also includes: (i) travel and accommodation for the winner and their parent/guardian to the London judging day, (ii) a £50 Waterstones voucher and (iii) five Chicken House titles of their choice.

The prize also includes: 

  • travel and accommodation for the winner and their parent/guardian to the London judging day
  • a £50 Waterstones voucher
  • five Chicken House titles of their choice.

Barry Cunningham says: ‘We’re looking for original, engaging and exciting video entries; the more imaginative, the better. Demonstrate your love of children’s books, your passion for reading and your powers of persuasion and you could have a hand in finding a future bestseller!’

Full details of the young judge competition can be found at


Lovereading4kids and Scoop are the places to go for children’s book reviews

Wednesday, September 14th, 2016

As you knowkids-sq-logo_with-strap_sm is a website chock-full of fabulous children’s books with a big following of parents seeking out great book recommendations to share with their kids.  We understand that you want to find the most amazing new books and so at Lovereading4kids we select about 75 each month of what we consider to be the best new books for kids.  These are then reviewed by our editorial experts who are passionate about children’s books and really do know a good one when they read it.   Also and this is the important thing – some of these books are also reviewed by kids who are members of the Lovereading4kids reader review panel.

xyzotqd7Clearly at Lovereading4kids and Scoop we absolutely love children’s books and frankly sometimes fight over who gets to read and review the books (sad we know) and we are proud to be bucking the trend in which fewer and fewer national newspapers review children’s books.  We would happily let the newspapers use our expert reviews, with appropriate credit of course, but there are other ways to get reviews and that is from the kids themselves.  After all who better to give you the low down on a book than kids just like you!? We call our expert and child reviews ‘pieces of passion’ and the aim of the review is really to let others (parents and kids) know what got the reviewers excited and involved in the book.  We’re proud to be different and support the idea of passionate persuasive reviews.  In other words we love kids telling kids about books and how fab they are.  So at Lovereading4kids we have a fantastic bunch of young reviewers who are all as crazy about books as we are and we’re pleased to be working with Scoop to build awareness of great kids books.  The reader reviews you read on Lovereading4kids are straight from kids, good or bad we don’t edit as this takes away the honesty expressed by the reviewer and that’s what we want to pass on to you, the reader.  We do remove any spoilers though as we want you to be able to experience the book in your own, unique way.  After all when we read a story we make it our own.

If you fancy having a go at writing your own reviews then why not encourage your school to take part in The Big Book Review Competition?  They could #winalibrary from BookSpace (purveyors of the coolest library furniture) and you’d be in with the chance of having your reviews published on the Lovereading4kids website and maybe even in Scoop magazine too!

The inside scoop on SCOOP a new magazine for children aged 8 – 12

Monday, September 12th, 2016

Serving a feast of thought-fizzling fiction, features, creative competitions and awesome activities in every collectible forty-page issue! Launching 22nd September 2016 

Scoop is an exciting new monthly print magazine for children aged 8–12. Perfect for collecting, sharing and inspiring discussion and creativity, Scoop will publish ten times a year and feature:

★ Spellbinding stories, poetry and graphic fiction from top children’s writers and illustrators. Confirmed contributors include:
Neil Gaiman Eoin Colfer Laura Dockrill Abi Elphinstone
Emerald Fennell
David Roberts John Agard Catherine Johnson Gareth P. Jones Lucy Coats Chris Priestley A. F. Harrold Philip Womack
★Brain-boggling non-fiction covering current affairs, science, sport and MORE! ★Inspiring illustrations by leading artists
★Cool comic strips and cartoons
★Entertaining activities, puzzles and jokes
★Rousing reviews and recommendations
★Engaging reader contributions and competitions


The seeds of Scoop were sown when founder and publisher Clementine Macmillan-Scott discovered the Children’s Newspaper while researching a book for her mother, Juliet Nicolson. Inspired by its thought-provoking content and popularity (it sold 500,000 copies a week in its heyday), and by her own literary background, Clementine began to explore the possibility of creating a child-focused print platform for the twenty-first century – a collectible, gorgeously designed magazine that celebrates the creative spirit in this Golden Age of children’s literature and illustration. After months of planning and fundraising, Clementine assembled a small team of respected publishing and design professionals and formed Curious Publishing Ltd as a platform through which to publish Scoop.


Scoop will be available in print editions and primarily sold through subscription, but also available in selected independent bookshops from October. The digital strategy is also being developed to create a online platform. Subscriptions can be purchased from from September. Scoop costs £40 for an annual family subscription for ten issues, and £160 for an annual school subscription (five copies of ten issues). Trial offers are also available to early subscribers.


Founder and Publisher: Clementine Macmillan-Scott. Clementine was Coordinator of the Galle Literary Festival and the Galle Children’s Festival. She has worked in books all her life, except for a brief stint as a costume designer.
Editor-in-Chief: Sarah Odedina. Formerly Editor-in-Chief for Bloomsbury Children’s, where she oversaw Harry Potter, Sarah launched Hot Key Books and is now Editor-at-Large for Pushkin Press. ★Marketing and Publicity Direction: Joanne Owen. Joanne is a writer and reviewer who has previously held marketing roles at Bloomsbury, Macmillan, Walker and Nosy Crow.

Art Direction: LOVERS Agency (Alex Ostrowski and Arthur Carey). ★Original Co-founders: Anna Baddeley and Philip Womack.

For further information, please sign up at ★Email: Follow us on Twitter: @scoop_the_mag ★ Instagram: @scoopmag 

Playful story of a friendship under pressure wins inaugural Klaus Flugge Prize

Monday, September 12th, 2016

9781407146416Nicholas John Frith has won the inaugural Klaus Flugge Prize for the most exciting and promising newcomer to children’s picture book illustration. He won for his book Hector and Hummingbird (Alison Green Books), about a spectacled bear and his noisy best friend.

‘The shortlist featured six skilful and talented illustrators but Hector and Hummingbird is something very special’ said Children’s Laureate Chris Riddell, judge for this new prize, ‘We were particularly impressed with the way Nicholas John Frith creates the characters of Hector and Hummingbirdthrough his illustrations, and the relationship between them is completely convincing. It’s certainly a very stylish book to look at, but the characterisation won it for us. Children will love these two heroes, it’s a book with heart!’

Frith explains he found inspiration for the characters close to home: ‘Hector, a bear who appreciates peace and quiet, is based on my wife, who is distinctly Hector-like when she comes home after a busy day at work and has to cope with me, desperate to chat à la Hummingbird after a day alone in my home studio!’ He thanked his wife, Amy, in his acceptance speech for ‘her patience, support and understanding’, adding ‘I’m not an easy man to live with whilst I’m working on a book- without you I wouldn’t be doing this!’

He also named mid-century illustrators Dahlov Ipcar and Roger Duvoisin as important influences. Like them, Frith used a demanding technique known as preseparation, creating separate pieces of art for each colour used in the book. The result is illustration that feels both nostalgic and thoroughly contemporary.

The Klaus Flugge Prize was founded to honour publisher Klaus Flugge, a supremely influential figure in picture books, who this year celebrates the 40th anniversary of his publishing house Andersen Press. Klaus Flugge discovered and nurtured many of today’s most distinguished illustrators including Chris Riddell, fellow judge Tony Ross, and David McKee, creator of Elmer the Elephant. Mark Hendle, Managing Director of Andersen Press said, ‘Over his long career, Klaus has discovered and nurtured countless talented illustrators, and it is extremely fitting that he has decided to establish a prize that recognises and celebrates exciting new talent in children’s illustrated books.’

Reflecting on the prize and the winner, Tony Ross said: ‘Judging illustration is always subjective, and often tricky, especially when the overall standard is high, as it was with the first Klaus Flugge Award, so Klaus, I hope you are as happy with the winner as we are.’

The other judges were Professor Martin Salisbury Course Leader, MA Children’s Book Illustration at the Cambridge School of Art, and Ferelith Hordon, former chair of the CILIP Carnegie Kate Greenaway Medals and editor of Books for Keeps. Julia Eccleshare, children’s books editor of the Guardian, children’s director of the Hay Festival and head of Public Lending Right policy and advocacy was chair of the judges.

Nicholas John Frith received his award at a ceremony in London on Tuesday 6th September 2016 and was presented with a cheque for £5,000 by Chris Riddell.


Friday, September 9th, 2016

David Walliams, Dame Jacqueline Wilson and Julia Donaldson among the “national treasures” writing new stories to mark the occasion

World Book Day UK has today (Friday 9 Sept) announced an all-star line-up of authors and illustrators to help it celebrate its 20th anniversary, with the goal of encouraging greater engagement with reading and ownership of books by children.

The reading for pleasure charity has recruited “national treasures” including David Walliams, Dame Jacqueline Wilson and Julia Donaldson to help it reach more children and young people than ever. These authors will each contribute an official World Book Day £1 book, which children can get for free in exchange for the £1 book token available to all schoolchildren in the UK and Ireland.

Over the past 19 years, World Book Day UK has delivered 13 million £1 books into the hands of young people across the country. In 2016, the number of £1 books given away was 789,738. The charity’s aim for its 20th anniversary is to increase this number to one million.

World Book Day was first designated an international event by UNESCO in 1995 after being observed for over 70 years in Catalonia, where giving books to friends and family had become an annual tradition. It was first marked in the UK two years later in 1997, in response to an increasing concern over poor reading and writing standards.

Founder of World Book Day UK, Baroness Gail Rebuck, also Chair of Penguin Random House UK and founder of Quick Reads, says: “In 1997 the level of children’s engagement with reading was at a point of national crisis. The previous year a Government report had been released showing that 42% of 11-year-olds failed to achieve level 4 in reading and writing on entry to secondary school. We wanted to do something to reposition reading and our message is the same today as it was then – that reading is fun, relevant, accessible, exciting, and has the power to transform lives. I’ve seen first-hand how World Book Day has affected social change and long may it continue.”

World Book Day Director Kirsten Grant says: “World Book Day is about creating readers for the future by igniting a love of books and reading in children and young people. It’s about encouraging them to visit their local bookshop and empowering them to make their own choices about the kinds of books they want to read. What better way to do this than offering them stories from the best writing and illustrating talent being published in the UK and Ireland today? We couldn’t be happier to have so many national treasures on board for our 20th anniversary – nobody can better capture children’s imaginations.”

The ten official World Book Day £1 books cater for all ages from pre-school through to young adults. In 2017, the titles for the nation’s youngest book lovers will feature beloved characters Peppa Pig and extraterrestrials from the Aliens Love Underpants series. For readers at Key Stage 1, Julia Donaldson and Lydia Monks will contribute a new Princess Mirror-Belle title and Martin Handford has made one of his Where’s Wally? adventures available. They can also pick up some tips from Horrid Henry or catch up with the Famous Five, whereas Key Stage 2 readers will be able to enjoy something new from beloved British authors David Walliams or Dame Jacqueline Wilson. Young Adult titles will come from Michael Grant and David Almond, and the official World Book Day 2017 illustrator is Liz Pichon, children’s book writer and illustrator/creator of the Tom Gates series.

The £1 World Book Day books for 2017 in full:

  • Peppa Loves World Book Day (Ladybird)
  • Everyone Loves Underpants by Claire Freedman and Ben Cort (Simon & Schuster Children’s Books)
  • Where’s Wally? The Fantastic Journey by Martin Handford (Walker Books)
  • Princess Mirror-Belle and Snow White by Julia Donaldson & Lydia Monks (Macmillan)
  • Horrid Henry: Funny Fact Files by Francesca Simon (Orion Children’s Books)
  • Good Old Timmy and Other Stories by Enid Blyton (Hodder Children’s Books)
  • An as yet untitled book by David Walliams (HarperCollins)
  • Butterfly Beach by Jacqueline Wilson (Corgi)
  • Island by David Almond (Hodder Children’s Books)
  • Dead of Night: A Front Lines Story by Michael Grant (Egmont)

CLiPPA 2016 (CLPE Children’s Poetry Award)

Thursday, July 14th, 2016

Michael Rosen and Sarah Crossan announced as joint CLiPPA 2016 winners.

Former Children’s Laureate, poet, performer and broadcaster Michael Rosen wins for his collection A Great Big Cuddle, illustrated by Chris Riddell. He is joined by author and previous CLiPPA shortlisted poet Sarah Crossan for her verse novel, One.

John Hegley, Poet and Chair of the CLiPPA 2016 judges praised the winning books:

“The five shortlisted titles are an exemplary spread of what poetry can be. The winning poets both have their very different inspirations so meticulously architected on the page. As one of the judging panel remarked, together the books proclaim,’ it doesn’t matter if you’re 3 or 16, poetry, is for you!’”

Run by the Centre for Literacy in Primary EducationCLiPPA, the annual Poetry Award is the only one of its kind in the UK, encouraging and celebrating outstanding poetry published for children. The winner’s announcement was made at the finale of The Poetry Show at the National Theatre, a lively celebration of poetry with children at its heart. All of the CLiPPA 2016 shortlisted poets alongside poet and chair of judges John Hegley and winners of the children’s Shadowing Scheme performed to a packed house of poets, educators, publishers, media and schools. Children’s Laureate, Chris Riddell brought the ceremony to life, live-drawing the whole event from the stage.

Louise Johns-Shepherd, Chief Executive, CLPE said: “At CLPE we are committed to ensuring that poetry is central to children’s learning. Reading, writing, creating and performing poetry is integral to all aspects of developing literacy. The judges have chosen two winners who demonstrate the variety of the poetic form and its wide appeal to all ages. The winning works, and all the shortlisted books, show how important and diverse this art form is and together show just what an accessible and significant contribution poetry can make as children build a love of literature. ”

More than 1000 children from 80 schools took part in the Shadowing Scheme submitting between them nearly 130 films of children performing their favourite poems from the shortlist. The winning performers were invited to the National Theatre to meet the shortlisted poets and take part in specially planned theatre workshops. The winning children then performed on stage alongside the shortlisted poets before the winner announcement.

National Poetry Day’s 2016 theme of ‘messages’ was also announced today with CLiPPA award- winning poets Michael Rosen and Sarah Crossan calling on schools and children to ‘Say it with a Poem.’ Balloons featuring poems from the winning Shadowing Schools and the CLiPPA poets were released into the sky from the National Theatre from a spectacular poetic machine. Conceived by designer David Colombini, “Attachment” allows people to send digital messages, images or videos into the air attached to biodegradable balloons and highlights the power of poetry to convey a message.

Running up to National Poetry Day on 6th October, schools and children can discover the different ways of playing with the theme with a free resources kit for teachers available for download at

Shaun Tan – A Surrealist Vision A New Collection of Original Artwork

Wednesday, May 18th, 2016

From 11 May – 18 June 2016  at 22 Bury Street, St. James’s, London, SW1Y 6AL Children’s Book Artist Shaun Tan will be displaying a new collection of Original Artwork.


Shaun Tan is one of the great artistic talents working today with an extra-ordinary ability affording him a world-wide following. Shaun has been winning major awards for his graphic, illustrative and animation artwork since 1996.


His many accolades include the Dromkeen Medal, The Hugo Award, an Academy Award (Oscar), and The Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award. Illustrationcupboard Gallery is delighted to present a third and biggest solo-exhibition to date.


This extensive collection is all newly-released original artwork produced over many years including early published artwork work from The Bird King, sketches for Rules of SummerTales from Outer Suburbia and work for the Oscar – winning film The Lost Thing. They all show his personal and highly surrealist vision of the world to great effect. With over thirty artworks on display and for sale with a variety of price-points to suit every pocket there will be something for everyone. Signed books will also be available from the gallery and online book store. This event is a collector’s dream!


Neil Gaiman on Shaun Tan:

As an artist he combines real drawing skill with a profoundly off-kilter imagination, his characters, human and otherwise, are at the same time funny and enticing; as a writer and storyteller he creates stories, sometimes wordless, always told with an economy of words, which manage to be both alienating and embracing: a child on a beach finds an alien monster and brings it home, dealing with a Kafkaesque bureaucracy; an immigrant comes to live in a distant country where everything is different and inexplicable; a foreign exchange student is a tiny, leaf-like botanist; surreal images of depression and hopelessness almost, but do not, overwhelm a small girl, and at the last there is magic and hope. Tan’s vision is intensely personal, but not exclusionary. People love what he does.


All Artwork is for sale

22 Bury Street, St. James’s, London, SW1Y 6AL

Weekdays 9:30am – 6:00pm, Saturdays 11:00am – 5:00pm

Twitter: @illustrationcup



For Every Child With A Big Dream

Friday, April 15th, 2016

A special feature on Toby Little author of Dear World, How Are You?


Reading changes lives. We hear that saying quite a lot, it’s on book vouchers in the shops, on posters in schools, on pictures shared on social media, looking to inspire us. In our case, reading changed our lives rather dramatically!


When Toby was five years old, he brought home a book from school, called “A Letter to New Zealand” (by Alison Hawes). It describes the journey a letter takes. Toby hadn’t heard of New Zealand, so we looked it up on a map. Then we went to bed. The next morning, walking to school, Toby asked if he could write a letter to New Zealand, followed almost immediately, with the confidence and enthusiasm of a 5-year-old: “Can I write a letter to every country in the world?


What follows is a long story, which we’ll have to cut short! Five letters got written, then 10, then 15, then 20…and Toby wasn’t stopping. The early letters are about two sentences long, each letter taking nearly an hour to write. For each letter, we look up the country or area, and Toby asks questions which are of interest to him. So, a letter might ask “are sultanas called sultanas because they are for the sultan?“, or it might ask “are you ever scared of going to school?


Somewhere around 40 letters, we started to realise that he really wasn’t going to quit. Somewhere around 100, we thought that it might actually be possible. It took Toby just over four months, many, many hours, several pencils and a lot of questions to write to every country in the world. The responses told us of magical places where people shook out their shoes to check for scorpions, of elaborate greeting rituals, of research projects all over the world (including the South Pole), and how children and adults live their lives.


When Toby asked a class of 5-year-olds in Ashgabat about their local monuments, they organised a class trip to explore them. When Toby asked about local food, we got sent a recipe, which we made and tasted, trying to find poffertje pans and purple yam (not for the same recipe!) We ended up reading books by international children’s authors, danced around the house to Brazilian music, watching online videos of traditional Zulu dances and practised out Xhosa clicks…our family life turned into one great adventure of armchair exploration.


People joined the journey via Toby’s Facebook page (, and in May 2015, we got an email we never expected. In essence, it said “Hi, this is Penguin Publishers…we heard about your project – would you like to write a book?” – only they said it more eloquently. Choosing letters for the book was both fun and difficult – there were so many! Together, we tried to find a balance of continents, countries, ages, jobs, and topics. The result got published in “Dear World, How Are You?” in March 2016, starting a whole new chapter in Toby’s journey. People are getting touch
telling us they use Toby’s book in their classrooms, read it with their children, or they read it themselves, when they want to remember that, right at the bottom of it, the world is a beautiful place, with amazing, kind and caring people in it.


When Lovereading created and shared an image of Toby’s book with international monuments and landmarks, it sparked the idea of Toby’s book “seeing the world”, and people have started to share pictures of “Dear World, How Are You?” out and about.


Did we ever think it would come to this? Not in a million years. Right at the very start, Toby said he wanted to make the world a better place – because, he reasoned, if we know more about the world and other people, we care more. Toby dedicated his book “To everybody who helped me with my project, and to every child with a big dream.” Maybe we all need to dream a little bit bigger. Privacy Policy Disclaimer