The Author’s Den at The Secret Garden of Stories: Meet Cathy Cassidy and Andy Mulligan

9780141325224_Cherry_Crush_PB_bookWe’re counting down the days at The Reader Organisation until our very first Children’s Literature Festival, The Secret Garden of Stories, gets underway. From Thursday 28th to Saturday 30th August there will be tons of fun in store in the Secret Garden at Calderstones Mansion House, including storytellers from the Roald Dahl Museum, a ‘Pets Challenge’ as Team Cat and Team Dog compete through a series of obstacles and a very special performance of the classic book The Secret Garden by The Bookworm Players. You can find out more about what’s in store at The Secret Garden of Stories on our website:

Over the three days, our Author’s Den will be open with the chance to get up close and personal to some of Britain’s best children’s authors. We’ve already previewed Jon Mayhew and Lydia Monks, who will be appearing on Thursday and Friday respectively, but on Saturday we’ve got a bumper treat with not one but two amazing authors who will be visiting…

Cathy Cassidy started writing when she was a child herself, creating her very first book for her little brother and making editions of her own comic, full of picture stories, special features and competitions, which her friends loved to read (although she could only make one copy at a time – something that isn’t a problem anymore with her books). Originally from Coventry, she came to Liverpool to attend art college. She has been a teacher as well as fiction editor and an agony aunt for Shout magazine, but is now a full-time writer and spends her days thinking up stories, which include The Chocolate Box Girls series – following the adventures of Cherry Crush, Marshmallow Skye and Coco Caramel amongst others – Hopes and Dreams, Dizzy , Driftwood and many, many more.

In 2010 Cathy was crowned ‘Queen of Teen’ by legions of fans who love reading her books and reigned for two years running, and she tours across the UK extensively meeting lots of keen young readers. After many years living in the Highland hills in Scotland, she returned to Merseyside where she lives with her husband, two dogs, two cats and a rabbit. Her favourite childhood books include the Narnia series by CS Lewis and the Swallows and Amazons books by Arthur Ransome, and her favourite things to do include reading (of course), daydreaming, swimming and eating cake with friends.

Come and meet Cathy Cassidy at the Author’s Den on Saturday 30th August, 12-1.30pm (Tickets cost £5) – book online

andy_mulliganAndy Mulligan hails from South London, where he grew up. His career has been varied – he worked for ten years as a theatre director before his journeys through Asia, India, Brazil, Vietnam and the Phillipines as a volunteer and teacher influenced him to start writing young-adult fiction.

His first novel, Ribblestrop, was published in 2009 and entered the world of a ramshackle stately home turned into a school where the colourful bunch of students run riot. Termed ‘comedy-horror-action-suspense-school-fiction at its most bizarre’, the book was shortlisted for the Roald Dahl Funny Prize and gained praise for being a funny and fresh read. Its success meant that it turned into a trilogy, with the second book in the series Return to Riddlestrop gaining the title of Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize in 2011.

Trash, published in 2010, tells quite a different story, taking place on a dumpsite in Brazil. The novel follows Raphael, a street child, who spends his days wading through and sorting mountains of rubbish. One day he comes across a small leather bag, and it is this which will change the life of him and his two friends forever, pitting them against the world. Trash was shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal in 2012, and plans for a film version of the book were soon put into action. Starring Martin Sheen and Rooney Mara and directed by Stephen Daldry (the man behind Billy Elliot), the film is due to be released this Autumn.

His latest book, The Boy with 2 Heads, was published in June 2013.

Come and meet Andy Mulligan at the Author’s Den on Saturday 30th August, 2-3pm (Tickets cost £5) – book online

For more information on The Secret Garden of Stories, visit our website or follow the hashtag #SecretGardenStories


The Secret Garden of Stories: The Reader Organisation’s Children’s Literature Festival

festivalThis August something very exciting can be found at Calderstones Mansion House…

The Reader Organisation is proud to present our very first Children’s Literature Festival, transforming the garden of the Mansion House into The Secret Garden of Stories. From Thursday 28th to Saturday 30th August, you can join us for a host of great literature for children and fun activities for the whole family including Roald Dahl storytelling sessions, craft workshops, games, competitions and appearances from very special guest authors Cathy Cassidy, Lydia Monks, Jon Mayhew and the award winning Andy Mulligan.

The Secret Garden of Stories is set to be the biggest children’s literature festival in Liverpool, held in the magical surroundings of Calderstones which opens up a world of imagination on its own. It’s just £1 to enter the garden daily from 10am-4pm, with lots of fun in store.

The Author’s Den

Come along to the Author’s Den during The Secret Garden of Stories and have the chance to hear first hand from some of the best children’s authors, including Cathy Cassidy whose books include hits from The Chocolate Box Series, Marshmallow Sky and Cherry Crush, Lydia Monks reading extracts from her brilliant stories I Wish I Were a Dog and What The Ladybird Heard, and Andy Mulligan whose books include Return to Ribblestrop which won the 2011 Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize and Trash which has been adapted for a film to be released this Autumn.

Entry into The Author’s Den costs £5 per author talk, with full listings below:

  • Meet Jon Mayhew – Thursday 28th August, 2-3pm (book online)
  • Meet Lydia Monks – Friday 29th August, 2-3.30pm (book online)
  • Meet Cathy Cassidy – Saturday 30th August, 12-1.30pm (book online)
  • Meet Andy Mulligan – Saturday 30th August, 2-3pm (book online)

happychildren2There will also be a very special and very fitting performance of one of the most classic children’s novels The Secret Garden by The Bookworm Players as part of the The Secret Garden of Stories, taking place on Thursday 28th August, 6.30-7.30pm. Tickets cost £8 for adults and £5 for children for an outdoor performance. Book tickets online here.

We’re also looking for sponsors for The Secret Garden of Stories, with a range of sponsorship packages available to companies and organisations which will enable you to be a special part of the festival – whether you want to pledge £50 or £5,000, there’s something to offer. Download the sponsorship pack on our website.

We’re also open to discussing other ways to be involved, so if you have any ideas of how you can best be a part of the festival don’t hesitate to get in touch by calling 0151 724 5000 or e-mailing

More news on The Secret Garden of Stories to come in the coming weeks.

We’re also open to discussing other ways to be involved, so if you have any ideas of how you can best be a part of the festival don’t hesitate to get in touch by calling 0151 724 5000 or e-mailing