When lockdown dashed our plans to host story-making festivals for primary schools in London, we were desperate not to cancel. Instead, we decided to take the festivals to the children – virtually. After months of planning and creative development, we’re delighted to announce the launch of Mini-Shout! 2021! and ShoutWest! 2021.

Mini-Shout! 2021 launches on Tuesday 4th May and is a day-long festival of filmed content for 7-9 year olds (Y3 & Y4). We have 14 schools across South and Greater London participating, with up to 1,000 children set to take part.

ShoutWest! 2021 launches on Tuesday 11th May and is for 9-11 year olds (Y5 & Y6). We have ten schools in and around the borough of Hillingdon participating, with up to 1,000 pupils set to take part.

The festivals’ aim is to explore the process of creating a story and give young people the ‘tools’ they need: everything from finding ideas, asking the invaluable question ‘what if…?’ and exploring their ideas on the page. Fourteen of us have created and filmed sections for the festivals, sharing our expertise and knowledge. Schools will be able to screen the sessions and work ‘virtually’ alongside us. 

Creating our first virtual festival has been a steep learning curve with various challenges along the way but it’s been a joy to film and we can’t wait to share it.

Now that schools are open again, we’re planning to connect with our participants with live virtual visits post-festival. This is so they can share their festival work with us and get professional feedback and encouragement. As part of ShoutWest!, Hillingdon Libraries are hosting interactive live virtual events with CWISL authors and illustrators, encouraging connections between communities and their local library.

We’re indebted to our funders Arts Council England (Mini-Shout!) and Hillingdon Community Trust funded by Heathrow (ShoutWest!) who had faith in our projects and gave generous grants. This means we’ve been able to reach out to more schools and young people than ever before.  

The festival celebrates story-telling as well. We’ve teamed up with south London indie bookshop Tales on Moon Lane because ACE’s grant means we’ve been able to share some of the books written by us with the schools.

CWISL authors and illustrators taking part in Mini-Shout! 2021 and ShoutWest!:

Nicholas Allan, Margaret Bateson-Hill, Beverley Birch, Christian Darkin, Sara Grant, Mo O’Hara, Bridget Marzo, Jackie Marchant, Sarah Mussi, Karen Owen, Anne-Marie Perks, Sophie Plowden,  Loretta Schauer, Ally Sherrick, Andrew Weale.

NEW YA NOVEL by Beverley Birch

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available from all good bookshops

Ally from England visits Africa for the first time. Ahead are weeks with her two brothers exploring mangrove creeks, vast sandy beaches, coral reefs and warm seas. But on her first day, walking through a forest, she is swamped by a sense of an unseen presence – of a voice she can’t quite hear.

Then she meets Leli from the local fishing village, and everything changes. Enthusiastically he sweeps her into the world of his village and their offshore island (Kisiri –  the place of secrets) – sacred, protected, revered – and suddenly, inexplicably, under some kind of threat.

Leli and Ally’s friendship is instant and overwhelming, all the more intense because Leli too is experiencing strange things – dreams, infused with local legend, urgent, vivid, threatening.

And whose is that third voice, telling another story that winds round and through Ally and Leli’s tale –  a story of a boy trapped somewhere, dying?

What are Leli and Ally really hearing? A rising echo of the past? Or an urgent and insistent warning from the present?

‘rich and gripping’ THE SCOTSMAN 

‘stunning and sophisticated combination of romance and mystery sure to be devoured by teenagers and adults alike’  READING ZONE

‘a thrilling adventure with important things to say, superbly written’  JUST IMAGINE

‘Compelling, atmospheric and beautifully written’  WRD ABOUT BOOKS 

‘lyrical yet urgent’ YOUTH LIBRARIES GROUP

‘A magical layered story weaving past and present that stole my heart’  JASBINDER BILAN

‘A tender love story that turns eerie, fierce and political, with a strong message about community and resistance’ LIZ FLANAGAN

‘a fine book, vibrant and powerful, infused with a deep love for a land and its history’  CELIA REES

‘brilliant, lyrical and portrayed with a nuance that captures the beauty, history and contradictions of present day Africa’ ADAMMA OTI OKONKWO.

for more information visit

published by Guppy Books
ISBN: 9781913101077

New Picture Book by Mo O’Hara

The Legend of King Arthur-a-tops by Mo O’Hara (and illustrated by Andrew Joyner)  is out in the UK!!!


It’s available to order at all independent book shops and here at Waterstones online


“Truly this contains some knights to remember.” Kirkus Reviews

A bumbling triceratops must prove himself worthy in New York Times bestselling author Mo O’Hara’s second hilarious picture book offering a prehistoric spin on the legend of King Arthur.

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It’s the Festival of the Stone, and dinosaurs from across the land will try to pull the great horn Rex-calibur from the magical stone. The one who succeeds shall be crowned king or queen. Arthur-a-tops is probably the least likely to accomplish the task. And yet…could he be the one true king?

In this completely reimagined Camelot featuring dino-squires, the trusty Merlin-a-dactyl, and easy-to-trip-over dinosaur tails, O’Hara transforms this classic tale into an enjoyable, accessible, and truly funny treat for young readers.

Coupled perfectly with Andrew Joyner’s expressive and classic illustrations, this story will induce fits of giggles and lots of knowing nods from parents who want their little geniuses to have the classics down by first grade.

Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Inc
ISBN: 9780062652751


Stepping into Stories Festival – February 2020

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Stepping into Stories, Herne Hill Kids’ Lit Fest


        CWISL were delighted to play a prominent role in the Stepping into Stories, Herne Hill Kids’ Lit Fest 4-9 February 2020.  Mo O’Hara & Margaret Bateson-Hill from CWISL worked alongside Lucy Reynolds (Project Manager Doodles & Scribbles), Hayley Byfield (Project Manager from SkewbaldTheatre) & Tales on Moon Lane Bookshop in organizing the festival.


              Eighteen CWISL authors and illustrators delivered workshops, including illustration, poetry, drama, and creating stories, across all the different threads of the festival. An amazing seven hundred and eight pupils and their teachers from five local schools attended the schools’ workshops, most of which were held in the community hub of Herne Hill Station Hall. We were especially delighted to include an outreach workshop with students from Michael Tippett School as well as offer fully accessible workshops at spaces at the Half Moon and Florence Pubs.

CWISL were part of the team that delivered nineteen family events across five days including after-school workshops, evening panels and of course the weekend festival, which was open to all of the community – a wonderful total of one thousand and seventy seven children & adults.


“It was so wonderful to see children, parents, teachers, librarians, so excited and appreciative of the events, authors and illustrators across all ages; that the children had the chance to hear and meet them, to buy the book, and get it signed…  and the sense of community too, with many adults making a point of saying thank you at the end.” 


 – Corinne Gotch – School (promotional) Events Manager for Tales on Moon Lane Books


A special word of thanks must go to the wonderful multitude of volunteers who came and supported all the workshops by offering helping in so many practical ways.


                  The festival was also the culmination of the Stepping into Stories Competition, which CWISL helped launch last October. There were seventy entries and special guests, Katy and Chris Riddell, presented the seventeen prizes. What a week!


Margaret Bateson-Hill and Mo O’Hara


CWIZZes 2018

The CWIZZes West and South 2018

How quickly traditions can be established and grow. This April over 60 teams took part in the two, now annual, CWISL book quizzes – and what hard won, cliff hanger competitions they turned out to be. Both quizzes ended with sudden death tiebreakers. Oh the excitement and suspense!

CWISL authors were out in force, to mark and run and read extracts from their books between the rounds. There were spot prizes and a raffle. Mo O’Hara as mistress of ceremonies kept everything moving and under control.

Big Green Book Shop sold books, which were quickly snapped up for author signing!



CWIZZ West 25th April 2018

The CWIZZ was held at Godolphin and Latymer School with the fantastic support of school librarians, Mary Fei and Edward Benton, who hosted the CWIZZ for the second year running.

CWIZZ West could not have been closer. At the end of the six rounds it was a dead heat between Latymer Upper and Kingston Grammar. The winning of the quiz would be decided by a single question. Latymer Upper was triumphant! Commiserations Kingston Grammar!

We were delighted that Fulham Prep – all year 6 – not only won the year 6 top team awards, but also came overall third in the whole competition.

The winning teams at CWIZZ West!

CWIZZ South 27th April 2018

Tony Jones, librarian at Emanuel School has been a champion supporter of our quizzes and yet again invited CWISL back to Emanuel School for CWIZZ South.

Forty teams from year 6-8 took part. You could feel the buzz growing all afternoon. The quiz ended with a three-way tie for 2nd and 3rd place – two tiebreak questions were needed.

First place went to Colfe’s School, second to Dulwich College, who just pushed out Emanuel. A year 6 Newton Prep team just missed out on a place in the tiebreak, but then quickly worked out that they were the winners of the top year 6 place, so it was winners all round.

Winners at CWIZZ South

Everyone agreed the afternoon quizzes had been a huge success and were already looking forward to next year!

Special thanks to Mary Fei and Edward Benton from Godolphin and Latymer School and to Tony Jones at Emanuel for all their hard work in hosting the quizzes.

Also to all the teachers and librarians who brought children to the quiz and to the Big Green Book Shop for selling our books.

Finally thanks to CWISL authors, Jo Franklin, Sara Grant and Margaret Bateson-Hill who organised invoices, questions, PowerPoints and certificates and to CWISL authors, Mo O’Hara, our MC, Sarah Mussi, Cate Sampson, Patricia Elliott, Sophia Bennett. Loretta Schauer, Karen Owen and Ross Montgomery for their marking, collecting answer papers, signing books and offering prizes

The CWISL CWIZZes are fundraisers and all money goes towards the CWISL writing festivals, ShoutSouth! and ShoutWest!

Margaret Bateson-Hill is the vice-chair of CWISL and as well as being an author she tells stories in schools, libraries and many of our museums including the Victoria and Albert, the British Museum, the Foundling Museum and she’s one of the team of storytellers for the Horniman Museum. Find out more at 


Free Resources

World Book Day is a celebration of books and reading. It comes around once a year – but you don’t need to wait until the next World Book Day to inspire children with a love of telling stories.

Head over to our new website at, where our authors have compiled some great free resources which can be used all year round – everything from lesson plans to class activities and creative writing.

  • One of the biggest stumbling blocks for children is getting started. As professional writers, it’s something we have to do every day so we’ve got together some tips. Learn how to write YA with authors like Cate Sampson (SPLINTERED LIGHT) and Sarah Mussi (RIOT, SIEGE and BOMB), and read some great tips for young writers by Jackie Marchant (DOUGAL DALEY) and Beverley Birch (RIFT).

  • Once children have got started, how do you inspire them to keep going? Learn how to craft historical fiction with Lydia Syson (A WORLD BETWEEN US), polish your final edit with Sara Grant (CHASING DANGER), or stop your middle from being a muddle with Patricia Elliott (CONNIE CAREW MYSTERIES).

  • Genre fiction has its own tools and rules. Learn how to construct a detective novel, or a mystery with Sara Grant, craft a sequel with Sarah Mussi, or create nail-biting horror stories with Ross Montgomery (PERIJEE & ME).

  • Stories aren’t just about words – pictures are equally as important. We’ve got great resources on our website – everything from video drawing tutorials with Bridget Marzo (THE BIG BOOK FOR LITTLE HANDS), to making pop-up monsters with Loretta Schauer (A MONSTER’S MOVED IN!)

  • Fancy some teaching resources for your classroom? We’ve got everything from reading guides to recipes, word searches to puzzles, arts and crafts and more, from the likes of Karen Owen (I COULD BE, YOU COULD BE), Chitra Sounder (PATTAN’S PUMPKIN), HL Dennis (SECRET BREAKERS), and many others.