Books and Beyond – it’s really ‘Worth’ going! (sorry about the joke!)

m so excited. I am going to the beautiful island of Lindisfarne in April for 5 days with my family, and then leaving them to go for a weekend to Worth Abbey. I have been to both Lindisfarne and Worth Abbey before. They are both gorgeous places associated with spirituality and retreat but also, for me they are now associated with writing. I want to make notes for a future children’s book when I am visiting Lindisfarne this time, and then, when I go to Worth in April it will be for this:


It’s for the Federation of Children’s Book Groups Conference and it runs Friday April 11th 2014 until Sunday April 13th 2014.

I am so pleased there were places left on this fantastic conference.

Look who will be there on Friday evening- CRESSIDA COWELL no less, of the brilliant ‘How to Train your Dragon’ fame. I have never met her – but I LOVE her books (and illustrations) and my friend Virginia and her children have seen her several times at book talks and say she is a great speaker and really lovely.

There will be dinner. Which I won’t have to cook. Hooray. And I will go to bed in a tidy bedroom. I know this says more about me than the conference, but it is a real selling point.  When I was a student I used to go on retreat every year to Worth Abbey’s sister monastery in Yorkshire, Ampleforth, and the clean, tidy room, comfortable beds and yummy food made the chaotic student who was me glad St Benedict was famous for hospitality rather than penance. I am still pleased about the whole Benedictine hospitality theme. We may not see any monks at the conference, but I  think the Federation of Children’s Book Groups were inspired when they chose this venue!

Next, Saturday and breakfast. And no chasing children to do music practice, or homework, or sort out rooms.


Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre  – YES! I have hopes of fantastic hats and amazing stories!

Meg Rosoff – OOH! Talk about a major author….!

Anthony Browne and Helen Oxenbury – FAINTS. I went to an EXCELLENT exhibition of the wonderful Anthony Browne’s work at the Beaney Library in Canterbury  and I think Helen Oxenbury is brilliant and I have loved her work for years and years and years.

Lyn Gardner HOORAY! As someone who devoured ‘Ballet Shoes’ etc when I was young and who has a daughter who is very keen on acting, I really enjoyed her recent Olivia books ( I read them before I knew Nosy Crow would be publishing my picture books, so I feel uncorrupted by influence here! Still, part of the pleasure of knowing my first two picture books will be published by Nosy Crow is because people like Lyn Gardner are published by them.

This is all before lunch. And then it will be lunch. Which I won’t have to make. And which, inspired by faith in FCBG AND in the traditions of Worth, will be delicious.


I am going to hear from some writers I don’t know yet, which is also exciting. It’s what I love about twitter and the great bloggers on it – the recommendations and the introductions to the work of authors I haven’t heard of. At a conference, you are introduced to the work AND the authors. In this case:

Cate Cain, whose book ‘Jade Boy’ got this review from ‘The Times’

This looks  v interesting.  I love historical novels.


Damian Kelleher (I read about him here: has a v impressive list of awards to his name, so I shall be making sure I have read work by both of them before I go.


Then there are seminars led by

1) Holly Smale: Her book ‘Geek Girl’ is v famous, and I’ve just read this:  I’m ashamed to say I haven’t read it yet. This conference is definitely going to educate me!

  1. Julian Sedgwick , an article about whose book I tracked down HERE: This looks excellent.

3) Damian Dibben: This series looks great!

  1. Megan Rix. I need to read her books as a) they are about dogs and animals and b) she has two golden retrievers so obviously has INTENSE good taste.
  1. Lastly – I REALLY want to go to the seminar run by Abie Longstaff because I talk to her on twitter already @AbieLongstaff and she is lovely, and to base picture books (with the illustrator Lauren Beard) around a fairytale hairdresser is nothing short of GENIUS!

So, these seminars will go on all afternoon and then there is tea and then there are COCKTAILS. I cannot tell you how far that is from my normal life…..I would be intimidated if it wasn’t for the children’s booky atmosphere ….

Then a GALA dinner with Ruth Sepetys

(another book I must read)

and a RAFFLE.

I always have great hopes of raffles. When I was 8 I really believed I was going to win a connemara pony from a raffle I entered when I was on holiday in Ireland. I even asked a little Irish girl I was friends with if I could put my pony in their field, as there wasn’t really room for one in my council house in Hemel Hempstead. Sadly, I didn’t win. Still – who knows what will happen at the conference….

Then bedtime followed by another amazing day….but I think I am so tired by writing about the excitement of Friday and Saturday I will have to leave that to another blog post!

Suffice it to say these amazing names:

Anne Cassidy

Sarah Crossan

Ian Beck

Justin Somper

Lauren Child (Did you see that!!!?? Squeaks with excitement!!!)

Then – just LOOK!!!

an illustrator panel with Mick Inkpen, James Mayhew, and Guy Parker Rees.

At 12.30-1.15 Atanuke is scheduled – and I found THIS about her:

Then there is lunch – and, quite frankly, I will definitely need to go home to recover.

AMAZINGLY there are still places going on this conference. Having only just booked myself I am ASTONISHED at any who haven’t. ‘Don’t they KNOW who will be there?’ I said snootily and self righteously after I had sent off my email, and then I realised – maybe they don’t.

But you do now!

3 thoughts on “Books and Beyond – it’s really ‘Worth’ going! (sorry about the joke!)

  1. @VirginiaMoffatt March 16, 2014 at 10:22 pm Reply

    Anne, I am crying with laughter reading this brilliant post. Enjoy every moment & say hi to Cressida Cowell for me. (another writer who makes me laugh and cry)

  2. bridgeanneartandwriting March 16, 2014 at 10:33 pm Reply

    I will – you have made me so excited about meeting her. Well, when I say ‘meeting’ – being in the audience…..

  3. Zoe March 17, 2014 at 7:08 am Reply

    If I weren’t already going to the conference, I’d definitely be looking in to it now!

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