My first CWIZZ

As you all know I’m a member of CWISL – the Children’s writers and illustrators in South London – a not-for-profit organization that promotes literacy and reading within our local communities in and around South London. cwisl

Sam Osman who also writes as Sam Hepburn, the author of Quick Silver and Margaret Bateson-Hill, the author of Dragon Racer trilogy are the brains behind CWIZZ. This time they were also joined by Sara Grant, author of Dark Parties and Magic Trix.

 This is how it works!

Schools from South London are invited to a literary quiz. One of the schools offers to be the host. Last year it was Dulwich Prep and this year it was Allens in Dulwich. Each school sends one or more teams of literary quizzers.

The CWISL authors rally around the leadership team and prepare questions, donate their books as prizes and even offer a free school visit as prizes. This year we had the lovely Mo O’Hara, author of My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish do the MC and she was brilliant. (see below – Sara Grant and Mo, running the event)


This was my first CWIZZ. I volunteered to help out, donate books and offer a school visit. It was great fun watching students answer questions from classics to contemporary literature. During the rounds, we also asked the questions created by the participants. We gave away books as prizes and I love that. When I was growing up, only books were given as prizes in our school. The only books I owned were prizes.

We had the lovely PeaGreen Boat Books come and open their pop-up shop with our books on display. We had our lovely CWISL authors to do the marking – Judy Allen, Patricia Elliott, Lydia Syson, Amanda Swift and Jo Franklin and our treasurer Beverley Birch checking and totalling with the amazing librarian Katie from Dulwich Prep, it was all very organised.


            I loved it because it was my first visit inside the Great Hall in Allens. It was like visiting Malory Towers from Enid Blyton, with paintings on the walls, high ceilings, big spaces.

           Every author had to ask a question to give away a prize. My question was based on my book A Dollop of Ghee and a Pot of Wisdom from Walker Books. The question was easy! Many hands went up.


            The question was “What is Ghee?

And the answer is – it is clarified butter. I always thought that was funny. It is as if like the butter had doubts and we had to clarify something to it. I’m happy that the butter is now clarified. Because I love ghee better than butter.

Then I picked a school for a School Visit and it was St. Martins in the Fields from Tulse Hill. I’ll be visiting their Creative Writing Group this month. What a great way to start spring.

        I wish these kind of events were there when I grew up. I didn’t get to meet real authors, have librarians run creative writing workshops and arrange literary quizzes.

          Back to the CWIZZ – The competition was tough. For the first time we had joint winners for 2nd and 3rd places.

emanuel1st place went to ‘We Don’t Know’  (Emanuel)




Joint 2nd


”Oracles’ Dulwich Prep and

‘Streatham Sherlockians’  (Streatham and Clapham High School)dulwichprep




Joint 3rd

‘We Shot The Albatross’ (Dulwich Prep)

‘Crunchies’ ( Darrick Wood)


The students who won the various books then started hunting their authors down for autographs. It was a great joy to watch kids who love books and who know so much about the books and authors.

My first big event with CWISL has turned out to be fantastic. I’m looking forward to more!

Check out my Events page to find out where I’ll be in March and April 2014. If I am in your neighbourhood, come and say hello.

My first community book event

Some of you who follow me on Facebook know that I’ve joined a group of award-winning authors called CWISL (Children’s Writers and Illustrators in South London).  Apart from fabulous carrot-crunching meetings and wash-down-that-cake-with-wine winter brainstorming sessions, I also took part in two of CWISL’s community events last weekend. For me, it was a new experience. I should say Balu has inspired me to spread the word about my books. Many of my books have been around for many years and I never did anything like this. I think the power of 1 is not as good as the power of many.


We were at the Carnegie Library Winter Fair in Dulwich. I sold two of my books and many of others too. I loved talking to kids about all the books on display, helping them choose. Parents, grandparents, I-am-not-impressed nursery school manager – I met them all. We had kids come up because the authors of these books were right there at the stall. They asked questions, commented on illustrations and pondered about what to buy.



For me, it was a first experience of doing such a thing with other writers and also selling my books by hand. My business brain was telling me that the hours I spent there didn’t justify the sales. But my creative brain knew why I had to be there. It is the connection – the presence of a local author, the interaction with parents and children, recommending your own books and the books of your friends. It is the kind of grass-root connection that I lack in my writing world.

I learnt a lot about stickers, banners, stall displays. I learnt to relax and wait for the buyer to come to us – but this time not on the Internet. But in the real world.

I’m thankful to be part of this wonderful group of CWISL-ers.

  These books were on display at the event. If you missed the event, you can buy your books here

 Balu’s Basket

Where is Gola’s Home?

A Dollop of Ghee and a Pot of Wisdom

As I Watch