‘The magic of story’: The Unforgotten Coat in Germany

The Unforgotten Coat has been on quite a journey since its publication in 2011 for The Reader’s Our Read campaign. It’s been shared in schools and universities, at festivals and events and has garnered several award wins and nominations. We’ve been amazed at how the story – inspired by true events – has become a global sensation, but not all that surprised given that it was penned by the brilliant Frank Cottrell Boyce.

Recently, Frank embarked on a trip which highlighted not only the appeal of the book but also its relevance to current events that are happening across the world. He writes for us:

Frank Cottrell Boyce making the children's keynote lecture at the Berlin International Literature Festival
Frank Cottrell Boyce making the children’s keynote lecture at the Berlin International Literature Festival

A few months ago I won a prestigious book award in Germany – the James Kruss prize. This involved me in the difficult work of being wined and dined and feted in one of the world’s most beautiful libraries – the International Children’s Library in Schloss Blutenburg near Munich. I wrote about the experience here. It also involved me giving the children’s keynote lecture at the Berlin International Literature Festival last week.

I find it surprising and thought-provoking that all this prestige comes from the book I wrote for The Reader in response to the badgering of Jane Davis – The Unforgotten Coat. This is a book I wrote quickly, inspired by a Mongolian girl I met in a school in Bootle. It’s illustrated with photographs taken by friends Carl Hunter and Clare Heaney. It could not be more home-made. Yet it seems really to have hit a chord in Germany.

The events were all packed. I was taken to schools and to a refugee project where the kids were doing work inspired by the book. A party of Mongolian children turned up, delighted by the fact that the book’s heroes are from Mongolia. It’s always been well-regarded in Germany (it won the state-sponsored Jugendliteraturpreis last year) but the events of the summer, and the refugee crisis in particular, have made it seem relevant and timely. I was even invited onto the news to discuss the crisis, which turned out to be slightly embarrassing as I only remembered that I don’t really speak German when I was on already on air.

There’s something to be said here about the magic – or the grace – of story. When the book was written there was no refugee crisis. I wrote it purely because its two swaggering, resourceful, vulnerable heroes seemed fun and real. When politicians are referring to refugees as “swarms” and “floods” as though they were the plagues of Egypt, it’s important to be reminded that we are talking about individuals – as needy, as worthy, as eccentric as we are ourselves.   Narrative is a great mental and moral discipline.

Frank Cottrell BoyceIt also says something about the inherent internationalism of children’s stories. When I was growing up I was immersed in stories that came from Finland, Africa, the Middle East – but they all seemed to belong to me, part of my inheritance every bit as much as Scouse or the Beatles. By the way, The International Children’s Library was founded by Jella Lepman – a Jewish refugee who got out of Germany just in time and then, when the war was over, went back to help rebuild it. Imagine that. She got away. She got a nice job at the BBC. Then she went back. The more I think about it, the more I think that’s one of the most moving and salutary things I’ve ever heard. She went back because she thought that children’s stories were important. I put her picture over my desk and say a prayer each morning that I don’t sell her vision short.

I went home via Hamburg where I took my little son to see “Miniatur Wunderland” – a terrific display of model towns and villages. One room contains a series of scenes of one street through time. From the Bronze Age, through the Middle Ages, the Enlightenment, the Nazis (“in the far corner we can see Rosa Luxembourg being murdered …”), the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Wall and then… it doesn’t stop. The next few cases show visions of what the same street might be in the future. Each of those cases has been put together by one of the main political parties. They were each asked to show what their vision of the future would look like at street level. It was revelatory and oddly moving to see that politicians dream too.

This is a picture of the Miniatur Wunderland version of the collapse of the Wall.

Miniatur Wunderland picture (Frank CB blog)


 

The Unforgotten Coat received its international premiere at the Berlin International Literature Festival on 9th September at the Children and Young Adult Literature section of the festival, with a special focus on ‘Escape, displacement and migration’.

“Good stories help us make sense of the world. They invite us to discover what it’s like being someone completely different.” – Author Gillian Cross writes for The Guardian on how fiction can help us to understand the Syrian refugee crisis. The Unforgotten Coat has been offered as one recommendation (and we agree), but there are many more, suggested by readers here.

An exhibition of original digital and Polaroid-style photographs from The Unforgotten Coat by Carl Hunter and Clare Heaney is on display at Bank Street Arts in Sheffield until Saturday 26th September.

The Reader Cafe and Gallery opening

The Reader Cafe and Gallery opening
6-8pm,
Thursday 3rd Aprilunforgottencoatflyeraltlogo2 (2)
Calderstones Park, Liverpool, L18 3JB

We are delighted to announce that the Lord Mayor of Liverpool will be officially opening the brand new Reader Cafe and Reader Gallery in Calderstones Park on Thursday at a special launch event.

After the Lord Mayor has cut the ribbon at 6pm, visitors will be welcomed into the gallery to hear from our Director, Jane Davis, and photographer Carl Hunter, whose exhibition will be on display. Barefoot Wine are providing free refreshments and, after exploring the gallery, visitors are invited to head over to the cafe to sample the delicious menu and enjoy a shared reading taster session at 7pm. All welcome!

The Reader Gallery

The Reader Gallery is in the Coach House building, and the opening exhibition is one very close to The Reader Organisation’s heart; The Unforgotten Coat. Carl Hunter and Claire Heney worked with author Frank Cottrell Boyce to create the stunning and atmospheric photography in the award-winning book, transforming Liverpool into a version of Mongolia through the medium of polaroids.

This exhibition, originally from Edge Hill University will be on display in the gallery from 3rd -19th April, 11am-5pm (closed Mondays and Bank Holidays).

The Reader Cafe

We’ve been deligblackboards onlinehted with the reaction to The Reader Cafe, which opened for the first time last week with our friendly team behind the counter.  Pop in to enjoy a tasty lunch, hot drink or slice of cake with a lots of books and good company, every day 8.30am-4.30pm.

stunning and atmospheric photography from Frank Cottrell Boyce’s award-winning The Unforgotten Coat, transforming Liverpool into a version of Mongolia through the medium of Polaroids. – See more at: http://www.thereader.org.uk/events/the-reader-cafe-and-gallery-launch.aspx#sthash.UOULhEsr.dpuf

stunning and atmospheric photography from Frank Cottrell Boyce’s award-winning The Unforgotten Coat, transforming Liverpool into a version of Mongolia through the medium of Polaroids. – See more at: http://www.thereader.org.uk/events/the-reader-cafe-and-gallery-launch.aspx#sthash.UOULhEsr.dpuf
stunning and atmospheric photography from Frank Cottrell Boyce’s award-winning The Unforgotten Coat, transforming Liverpool into a version of Mongolia through the medium of Polaroids. – See more at: http://www.thereader.org.uk/events/the-reader-cafe-and-gallery-launch.aspx#sthash.UOULhEsr.dpuf

 

 

 

10 second film workshop

10 Second Film Workshop
11am-4pm, Thursday 20th March
Calderstones Mansion House, Calderstones Park, Liverpool, L18 3JD
FREE

Channel 4, Edge Hill University, The Reader Organisation and City of Readers present a 10 second film workshop introducing budding film makers to the Unforgotten Coat onlineworld of Micro Films. Organised by Carl Hunter and Clare Heney, photographers behind the beautiful polaroids and design of The Unforgotten Coat (Frank Cottrell Boyce), and Nick Heaven. Over the day, you will learn more about the artform before creating your own 10 second film inspired by your favourite line of literature, your favourite novel or poem.

Films will be created on phones, so please bring your own if you have one, along with a packed lunch; tea and coffee are provided.

The workshop is FREE and open to all over 18, ideally those who have little or no experience with film.

Places are very limited, so please email Roisin Hyland to book: roisinhyland@thereader.org.uk.

2013 at The Reader Organisation: A Year in Review Part 2

Yesterday we took a look back at the first six months of 2013 at The Reader Organisation – and what a packed six months they were! Today we’re moving on to the second half of the year; here’s what happened from July to December.

July

042The Reader Organisation was mentioned in ‘From Better to Best’ – a report from the Liverpool Education Commission setting out their vision of turning all capable children in Liverpool to leave primary schools as readers. TRO was chosen by Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson to help in plans to transform Liverpool into the UK’s foremost reading city – the goal we’ll be aiming to achieve through our Liverpool City of Readers project, launching in 2014.

Staying with our work in education and with young people, we ran a second Reading for Pleasure day conference at Liverpool Hope University and held a very successful Recruitment Day in London. A film documenting the first year of our RISE project was produced, and we celebrated the success of our hardworking North West volunteers at a special Volunteers Afternoon Tea.

August

king learShakespeare’s greatest tragedy came to Calderstones Mansion House, as Shakespeare’s Globe’s touring production of King Lear hit Liverpool for two sell-out, five-star performances. The unique outdoor production, starring Joseph Marcell and Rawiri Paratene, reopened the Garden Theatre for the first time in over 30 years, bringing great literature and theatre back to the heart of the community at Calderstones and thrilling audiences from far and wide. Delighted visitors also rolled up to the Mansion House for our first Calderstones Summer Fair.

The Reader Organisation patron Erwin James wrote about the importance of reading in prison for the Guardian Books blog, mentioning TRO’s criminal justice work, and there was another big development in furthering the reading revolution as Social Business Trust invested £280,000 in TRO.

September

awardSeptember was a month recognising The Reader Organisation’s growing social impact – the results of a Social Return on Investment (SRoI) report found that for every £1 invested into Get Into Reading in Wirral, an average of £6.47 worth of benefit to health and wellbeing was returned to group members.

We were also thrilled to win the Growth award at the Social Enterprise Network Powerful Together Awards, recognising achievement in social enterprise across Greater Merseyside, as well as being shortlisted for two further categories.

We welcomed the Lord Mayor of Liverpool and High Sheriff of Merseyside to Calderstones Mansion House, started our Llais a Llyfr/Make Friends With A Book project across North Wales and celebrated the second year of one of our most successful partnerships with Forum Housing in Birkenhead.

October

Jen's group with ALAfC 72dpiOur Hope Readers project at Liverpool Hope University entered into its third year, engaging 125 new Education students with a reading for pleasure culture, and Calderstones received its first commission from Mersey Care NHS Trust to run Get Into Reading and A Little, Aloud workshops as part of their Recovery College provision – the first of many, we hope…

TRO made the shortlist in the Smarta100 Awards and Jane was highly commended in the Social and Community Leader category of the  2013 Liverpool Post Leaders Awards. The worldwide success of The Unforgotten Coat continued as Frank Cottrell Boyce won Children’s Book of the Year at the German Children’s Literature Awards.

We took part in a number of events for World Mental Health Day, including theRead For Life’ event at University of Liverpool, shared reading about dignity for Global Dignity Day and had lots of Half-Term Hijinks at Calderstones.

November

MRL_5280We celebrated the achievements of another year full of shared reading at our AGM, held for the first time at Calderstones Mansion House, and heard the inspirational stories of some of our group members from a wide variety of backgrounds. Calderstones was also the setting for several of our Short Courses for Serious Readers, with many satisfied readers enjoying classic literature in the beautiful surroundings.

Frank Cottrell Boyce wowed audiences at Leasowe Library – via the wonders of modern technology; shared reading in the capital got even bigger with the launch of our South London project, expanding our work across Lambeth and Southwark, and Jane was officially launched as one of six new Ashoka Fellows in the UK.

December

christmas reading onlineThe last month of the year was all about the Penny Readings – and to celebrate 10 years of the festive extravaganza of reading and entertainment, we held the very first Penny Readings Festival at St George’s Hall, where members of the public enjoyed an absolutely free afternoon of Christmas reading and fun.

The Penny Readings and Ha’penny Readings themselves were a huge success, with guests including Frank Cottrell Boyce, Paul Farley, Wirral Ukulele Orchestra, the High Sheriff of Merseyside and many more delighting audiences in shows that Dickens would have surely been proud of.

What a year it has been! We couldn’t have made it all happen without the support of our partners, funders and commissioners, volunteers, group members, trustees, staff and every single follower of the reading revolution.

Let’s see what 2014 will bring…

Another impressive nomination for The Unforgotten Coat!

We are very proud to announce that The Unforgotten Coat – the book written especially for The Reader Organisation by award winning author, screenwriter and patron of TRO  Frank Cottrell Boyce – has been nominated for the prestigious 2014 IBBY (International Board on Books for Young People) international Honour List.The IBBY awards are published every two years to celebrate and raise awareness of excellence in children’s books. The Unforgotten Coat is one of three books nominated for this award and the nominations are as follows:

  • For writing: Frank Cottrell Boyce, The Unforgotten Coat, Walker Books, 2011.
  • For illustration: Sarah Garland, Azzi in Between, Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, 2012.
  • For translation: Howard Curtis, In The Sea There Are Crocodiles, Random House/David Fickling Books, 2012 (author: Fabio Geda)

The above books are written from the perspective of young people, while exploring challenging themes experienced by characters in the books, such as displacement and hostility. The Unforgotten Coat tells a story of two Mongolian brothers as they begin a new school in Merseyside before being forced back to their home country. This moving story has impressed judges and readers all over and has recently won the category of Children’s Book at The German Children’s Literature Awards.

We are so grateful to Frank for creating  The Unforgotten Coat, a fabulous treasure of a book, and we’re really excited at the prospect of it reaching more and more individuals following this nomination! Well done Frank!

 

 

The Unforgotten Coat wins again!

German children's literature prize

Congratulations to award-winning author, patron and great friend of The Reader Organisation, Frank Cottrell Boyce, for winning the award for The Unforgotten Coat in the category of Children’s Book at this year’s German Children’s Literature Awards.

German unforgotten coatWe are very proud of Frank and The Unforgotten Coat as it was penned especially for The Reader Organisation and Our Read 2011. 50,000 free copies of the book were distributed across Merseyside, travelling around the UK and the rest of the world and enchanting readers of all ages with its humorous and touching tale of two brothers from Mongolia who have settled in Merseyside and made friends with a girl called Julie, only to be forced back to their home country. It has gone on to captivate judges on many award panels, winning Frank the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize in 2012.

The German Children’s Literature Award is Germany’s only state-sponsored prize for works of fiction and has been awarded annually since 1956 by a jury of literature specialists and critics in four categories: picture book, children’s book, young adult book and non-fiction. In addition, since 2003 an independent young adult jury gives its own award. It is fantastic that Frank’s book

“written for fun, and for friendship’

has gone on to touch and inspire people around the world and be recognised for the wonderfully heart-warming work that it is.

Congratulations Frank and a huge thank you, once again, for the wonderful gift of The Unforgotten Coat.

Reader Review of 2012

In 2012 we celebrated Get Into Reading’s tenth birthday, held our first Penny Readings in London, delivered a Read to Lead training course in Welsh, published A Little, Aloud for Children, and secured dozens of new commissions across the country. Just a quiet one then…

Here are some of our 2012 highlights:

Reader Events

2012 LPR Louis de Bernieres
Louis de Bernieres

To mark Dickens’ bicentenary, in January we took the Penny Readings to London. AS Byatt, Arthur Smith, Lucinda Dickens Hawsley, Louis de Bernieres and many other readers and performers took to the stage at the British Library to mark the occasion (you listen to an Australian radio feature about it here). And of course we were back in Liverpool in December with the Penny and Ha’penny Readings packing out St. George’s Hall once again.

As part of Guernsey’s Literature Festival we took our Ha’penny Readings on tour around the island with a packed schedule full of fun, entertainment and lots of stories and poems.

Stories Before Bedtime: a series of late night read aloud events at the Criterion Theatre, Piccadilly, with readers Niamh Cusack and Tom Hiddleston in February, Miranda Richardson, Sonya Cassidy and Mathew Horne in June, and Brian Blessed, Stephen Fry and Eddie Izzard in August.

Our annual conference, ‘Reading to Live Well’, was held in May at the British Library in London. Speakers included Dr Iona Heath, President of the Royal College of General Practioners, writers Lemn Sissaya and Erwin James, and Professor Jonathan Rose from Drew University.

‘Looking Backwards, Moving Forward’, a showcase event at the University of Stirling in July, presented the qualitative findings of a pilot Get Into Reading project in Scotland alongside the University of Liverpool’s CRILS evaluation report, ‘A Literature Based Intervention for Older People Living with Dementia’ (download the report here).

September was a time of great celebration for us – the tenth birthday of Get Into Reading – and we put on a special birthday bash in Wirral (where is all began) for 300 people, with group members joining us from all over the country.

Danny Boyle and Frank Cottrell Boyce entertain the audience (c.Alan Edwards)
Danny Boyle and Frank Cottrell Boyce entertain the audience (c.Alan Edwards)

In October Danny Boyle and Frank Cottrell Boyce, part of the creative team behind the Olympic Opening Ceremony, discussed the literary influences on ‘the greatest show on earth’ to students at Hope University as part of our Hope Readers project.

Reading in Secure Environments (RISE), funded by Arts Council England, launched in October to bring high-quality, challenging contemporary writers to readers in secure criminal justice and mental health care settings in partnership with literature festivals around the UK. So far Jackie Kay, Joe Dunthorne, Inua Ellams and Michael Stewart have taken part. You can read more on the RISE blog.

We also delivered dozens of workshops, presentations and key note talks at national and international conferences and literature festivals including: LSE Literary Festival; Personality Disorder Conference, Northern Ireland; Book and Publishing Studies conference Antwerp; Festival of the World Summit, London’s Southbank Centre; Prisoner Action Net Conference; and TEDx Observer.

Online

This blog now gets over 16,000 visits a month, our Twitter followers are well over 4000 and we’ve got an ever growing number of Facebook friends. Are you one of them?

Sep10ber (#Sep10ber), to celebrate Get Into Reading’s tenth birthday, got our social media channels buzzing with our ‘Perfect 10s’ questions – asking such things as ‘What was your favourite book when you were 10?’

Media

Our family reading project at Egremont Primary School, Wirral appeared on ITV Granada Reports at (watch here), the Guardian Book Blog published ‘The Reader Organisation: a mutual improvement society for modern times’ and the Huffington Post UK, featured a piece on our work, ‘How One Charity Is Tackling Complex Mental Health Problems Using The Simple Power Of Reading’.

Awards

Jane Davis was named as one of 50 New Radicals in Britain by NESTA and The Observer in February, and in November, was shortlisted for one of Liverpool’s Leaders Awards.

SDP1528-0174Our Get Into Reading Pilot Project for Older People with Dementia and Carers in Scotland won the EDGE 2012 Award for Social Innovation in community engagement.

The Unforgotten Coat, written for The Reader Organisation’s ‘Our Read’ 2011 by Frank Cottrell Boyce, won the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize 2012.

Our Big Lottery funded Merseyside Reader Volunteer Scheme was ‘Highly Commended’ in the ‘Encouraging Health and Wellbeing’ category at the North West We Can Empowerment Awards in December.

Read to Lead courses

Two women looking inquisitively at their GIR groupWe’ve run 27 Read to Lead training courses up and down the country this year, in a variety of locations, including Dartington Hall (Devon) and Kensington Palace, and for Libraries Northern Ireland, South West Yorkshire Partnership Foundation Trust, Hereford Primary Care Trust, South East Wales Libraries, and Gwynedd County Council – in Welsh!

We’ve also delivered lots of masterclasses as CPD for our trained practioners, A Little, Aloud workshops and a learning exchange visit to our sister project in Denmark, Laeseforeningen.

Publications

ALittleAloud for Children cover online

Our second read aloud anthology, A Little, Aloud for Children (David Fickling) was published in June and was summer chosen as a Book of The Year by the Financial Times.

Four fabulous issues of The Reader magazine have been published this year, including interviews with Jeanette Winterson and David Morrissey, an extract from Tim Parks’ latest novel, Brian Patten and Bernard O’Donoghue as Poets on their Work, and new fiction from David Constantine and John Kinsella.

New Commissions

Our new Get Into Reading commissions this year have included: West London Mental Health Trust, 5 Boroughs Partnership Trust, North West Strategic Health Authority, Maudsley Charity, Greater Manchester Probation Trust, HMP Wormwood Scrubs, Personality Disorder – PIPES and North East Prison Project, Devon Libraries, Big Lottery Wales, HMP Reading (AB Charitable Foundation), Southwark Innovation Fund, and Alzheimer’s Society.

If you still want more, you can read our 2011/12 Annual Report here.

A huge thank you to everyone who has helped to make it all happen – and roll on 2013!

Happy Christmas and all the very best for the New Year.

The Award-Winning Unforgotten Coat!

A huge congratulations go to The Reader Organisation’s patron, Professor of Reading at Liverpool Hope University and author extraordinaire Frank Cottrell Boyce who has won the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize for The Unforgotten Coat.

Frank scooped the prize last night for the story, written exclusively for The Reader Organisation and Our Read 2011. 50,000 free copies of the book were distributed across Merseyside, travelling around the UK and the rest of the world and enchanting readers of all ages with its humorous and touching tale of two brothers from Mongolia who have settled in Merseyside and made friends with a girl called Julie, only to be forced back to their home country. The judges of the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize were similarly captivated by The Unforgotten Coat, remarking that it contained ”a very profound message dressed up in a magical, original, humorous story”.

On collecting the prize, Frank dedicated The Unforgotten Coat to the Mongolian schoolgirl who inspired the story, who was taken from her home with her family in a midnight raid by immigration authorities. Frank met her while doing a reading at a school, and heard of how worried her classmates were about her and, particularly, the fact she had left her coat behind. It was an image that stayed with Frank and set him to writing the book. He also expressed his delight at winning the prize:

It’s fantastic to win it anyway, but to win with something so exuberant, that was not trying to win any awards, is really great. This is a book that was written for fun, and for friendship.

We couldn’t be prouder of Frank and The Unforgotten Coat – a wonderful gift to The Reader Organisation and our readers across the world. Since the success of Our Read in 2011, the story has been enjoyed by so many of our readers in a variety of settings, and most recently Frank delighted students in the Faculty of Education at Hope University who are taking part in our Hope Readers project by reading from the story at his recent talk alongside Danny Boyle.

For more about the wonderful accolade, see our website.

Worlds of Wonder: An Olympic Evening with Danny Boyle and Frank Cottrell Boyce

From Charlotte Weber, Liverpool Hope University Reader-in-Residence

Pandaemonium, The Great Gatsby, Frankenstein, Jane Austen and Dickens – these were just some of the literary greats who appeared alongside

Danny Boyle and Frank Cottrell Boyce entertain the audience (c.Alan Edwards)

such contemporary icons as David Beckham, The Queen, Mr Bean and J.K. Rowling in Danny Boyle and Frank Cottrell Boyce’s electric presentation in front of students and staff of Hope University yesterday evening.

The event, which was held in the University Chapel and hosted by The Reader Organisation and the Faculty of Education as part of the Hope Readers partnership project, involved the pair who were part of the creative team behind the London 2012 Olympics opening ceremony discussing the literary influences on ‘the greatest show on earth’.

The Hope Readers project aims to inspire a future generation of primary school teachers with a deep and meaningful love of books and reading, which they will be able to pass-on to the children and young people they will go on to teach. The event yesterday was opened by Director of The Reader Organisation, Dr Jane Davis, who thanked the teachers and individuals who had inspired Danny and Frank when they were at school and who helped them to where they are now.

When asked about why he felt it was important to come and speak to the students at Hope, Danny commented,

Part of the privilege of our position is to be able to share our experience with people like the students at Liverpool Hope. Reading for pleasure is the fuel for everything and books, music and films are the creative platform to access the most amazing ideas.

Both Danny and Frank presented themselves to the audience as obsessive readers, with Danny referencing the controversial poet John Cooper Clark and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel The Great Gatsby as having had a massive influence on him.

The enthralled audience (c.Alan Edwards)

The pair were keen to showcase the books that had influenced their vision during the creation of the opening ceremony as well, and Frank read a section from Humphrey Jennings’ book that documents the Industrial Revolution, Pandaemonium. In fact the book, which Frank gave to Danny as a Christmas present one year, became such a huge inspiration on the ceremony, that the opening sequence, in which huge furnaces and chimneys rose from the ground of the Olympics stadium, was named after it. At the end of the talk, Frank passed a copy of the book that had been signed by both of them over to Jane Davis, to be used as part of the Hope Readers project.

During their conversation, Danny quoted C.S Lewis’ words, ‘We read to know that we are not alone’. Later, after he had read from Paul Farley’s hilarious poem, ‘A poem for the Queen’, which was used as inspiration for the sequence with James Bond and the Queen at Buckingham Palace and which refers to the Queen ‘waking up / in the blue silence of seven hundred rooms’, Danny said,

I would encourage the Queen to read. Because if there is anything that could tell her, when she wakes up in that massive house with seven hundred rooms, that she is not alone – it would be in a book!

Frank Cottrell Boyce, who scripted the opening ceremony and who is patron of The Reader Organisation and Professor of Reading at Hope, responded to a question from the audience about his feelings on being an inspiration to future generations by saying that it was simply a matter of ‘passing-on’ what you receive:

You can only give back what you are given, in one form or another: you feel impelled to pass-on what you love. And that is why teaching, and being an educator is a position of such massive privilege.

After the presentation had concluded, with a reading by Frank of his highly-acclaimed book The Unforgotten Coat, and several rounds of applause from the audience, both Frank and Danny headed over to the Eden building – the university’s Faculty of Education – for over an hour of meeting students and staff, photographs and book-signing.

There has been a massive buzz in the air at Hope about the event for the past two weeks, and it is even more palpable the day after. Both students and staff  agree that it has been one of the best moments at the university, and that it has inspired them and made them think differently about their role within Education. One PGCE Primary student commented:

The Danny Boyle and Frank Cottrell Boyce talk was great. I’m really inspired to actually read some of the books I know I should read, but have never got round too! I’ll be passing my enthusiasm onto my primary school staff (and pupils) to get reading. What fantastic ideas, and people, to bring to the university! 

The signed copy of Pandaemonium will be on display in the Garden Room in the Education Faculty and Frank has promised to return to campus again very soon to celebrate the success of The Unforgotten Coat in being nominated for the Guardian children’s fiction prize.

Thanks to everyone who attended and made it such a special, lively and exciting event.

Danny and Frank spent over an hour signing books for all the students who attended (c. Alan Edwards)

Frank Cottrell Boyce up for Roald Dahl Funny Prize

Congratulations go once more to The Reader Organisation’s patron, author and all-round supremo Frank Cottrell Boyce, who has made the shortlist for this year’s Roald Dahl Funny Prize with Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Flies Again.

Frank’s modern take on the classic story was inspired both by Ian Fleming’s original book as well as the famous film, and has also been read by David Tennant in its audiobook version. As with his other books, including Millions and Cosmic – nominated for the prize in 2008 and an extract of which is featured in A Little, Aloud for Children –  Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Flies Again is packed with Frank’s trademark warmth and wit, and certainly had the judges of the prize, including Michael Rosen and Mel Giedroyc, laughing. If you’re looking for something  to read to round off Children’s Book Week, you can’t go wrong with such heroic adventures!

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Flies Again lines up in the funniest book for children aged seven to fourteen category against titles from David Walliams, Josh Lacey, Mark Lowery, Philip Reeve and Jamie Thomson. There’s also a category for the funniest book for children ages six and under; the winners of both categories will be announced on 6th November 2012.

November promises to be an exciting month for Frank, as it’s also when the winner of the Guardian Children Fiction’s Prize is announced: The Unforgotten Coat, our Our Read book for 2011, is up for the big prize.

We’ll be keeping our fingers crossed on both accounts!