After a little under a year of planning, the second Brentwood Children’s Literary Festival has drawn to a close. It’s been an exhausting, exciting and rewarding eight days.

We ended with a jam-packed schedule of three events today, beginning with Gareth P Jones. You may recall that yesterday, John Dougherty said that all authors have a theme tune for their books. It would seem that Gareth was in the know, as he began with a Steampunk Pirate song, before moving on to the Pet Defenders Theme Song.

Gareth’s session involved singing, barking, meowing, detection of aliens and a fair amount of shaving foam. Very well done to audience members for taking on the roles of Mitzy, Biskit and the Beard King! Not forgetting the human easel and resident alien-drawing artist, Hannah. What a crazy show!

Following a swift turn around, Lisa Thompson was on hand to lead a very full hall through an inspirational writing workshop. Before we began jotting down ideas, Lisa shared pictures from her childhood and spoke about her influences. Lisa’s key piece of advice was to never throw away any writing, no matter how terrible you may think it is. So, start storing away those notebooks.

Lisa kick-started our imaginations with unusual photographs, sound clips, feely bags and a host of aromas. Once our senses were tickled, the ideas flowed. It was wonderful to hear snippets of the children’s writing this afternoon. Lisa then read an extract from The Goldfish Boy, before answering lots of questions from the audience.

The final event of the day (and this year’s festival), was a code breaking session with Dan Metcalf. Dan spoke about how his love of codes has developed, since including them in his Lottie Lipton series, which lead to Codebusters being written.

He also shared lots of codes, such as the Caesar Shift, Substitution Code, anagrams and Pig Pen, before sending the audience on a code trail. I’m relieved that the children took control, as some of the codes were very tricky.

So, we began the festival with a journalism workshop and ended with code breaking. It really has been a great week, with positive experiences and an eclectic range of individual sessions taking place.

We’re off for a rest…but we’ll see you again next year!


Many thanks to our sponsors and helpers this week; we couldn’t put on the festival without your support.  And of course, the audiences, authors, illustrators and performers, who made all of the planning and hard work so worthwhile. If you have any suggestions or comments, please email us on


Great fun bwdlitfest codebreaking with @metcalfwriter #codebusters #lottielipton

@lthompsonwrites great to meet you this morning. Thanks for your kind words and an inspirational workshop @BwdLitFest

Had a great time at the @BwdLitFest today, kicked off with @jonesgarethp ‘s lovely singing, followed by @lthompsonwrites ‘s words of wisdom!

Singing, Isla as an easel, Euan 25% alien and an evil beard villain (Ken!)… Super show @jonesgarethp @BwdLitFest

@jonesgarethp thank you Glad to laugh at the pawfect joke! You get a round of apaws from us! William happy to meet you @BwdLitFest