Picture a Story

In the Autumn of 2023 we held our Picture a Story Festival in partnership with Half Moon Theatre and Arts Council England. True to CWISL’s mission, it encouraged children to celebrate and explore the diverse world of storytelling via pictures, words, and performance. Our inaugural exhibition of work by published children’s book illustrators was open to the public from September to December 2023 at the Half Moon Theatre, based in East London. It was the first time that we’ve hosted a major festival in Tower Hamlets and our three-month programme also included theatre performance events and an opportunity to meet and greet the artists involved.

The exhibition ran alongside school events with visiting CWISL authors and illustrators.

Events included …

December 7, 2023 – Celebrate and Investigate

An inclusive evening with a party and panel looking at breaking into the children’s book industry

December 9, 2023 – Big Family Art Event

An exciting event day jam-packed with family events and workshops with authors and illustrators.

Picture a Story Exhibition

The exhibition Picture a Story brought together a diverse collection of stunning and evocative work by published author-artists from a range of genres and styles for babies to older children.  Selected by an expert panel following an open call, the exhibition included prints by author-artists who are CWISL members Nicholas AllanLoretta Schauer, Anne-Marie Perks and Bridget Marzo which were be on sale alongside books and prints by other leading talents in contemporary children’s books today,  Steve Antony,  Karin LittlewoodJane Porter,  Rikin Parekh and Lucy Farfort.

Below is a glimpse of  some of the prints which were on show by our four CWISL members.  You can find more on the Half Moon Gallery page    Those who came to the show could take advantage of the chance to purchase a Christmas gift of a prints or children’s books supplied by Brick Lane Books.

Highwayman on a horse stopping a coach and horses
Loretta Schauer: ‘Stand and Deliver!’ from her book THE LEGEND OF GHASTLY JACK CROWHEART 2023
The King's school visit to an excited class
Nicholas Allan: ‘The King’s Pants!’ from his book THE KING’S PANTS 2023


Day and night oveview of people of all ages across the earth
Bridget Marzo :  ‘There are millions of people…’ from her book YOU, ME and OUR WHOLE WIDE WORLD 2023


Girl looking at a swan across a lake with a town on the horizon
Anne-Marie Perks: Cover illustration for MURKMERE by Patricia Elliott 2022

Alice Hemming

Alice Hemming is the author of over fifty books for children, including the bestselling Dark Unicorns series (Scholastic). Her award-winning and New York Times bestselling picture book, ‘The Leaf Thief’, with illustrator Nicola Slater (Scholastic 2020), has sold across the world and been translated into nineteen languages. Alice works in a writing shed at the top of her garden but loves escaping occasionally to visit schools!

Alice’s latest book, The Thirteenth Vampire, follows Vivi on a spooky journey to Castle Bezna, where a vampire is rumoured to lurk. A twisty mystery, perfect for 10+

Website: https://www.alicehemming.co.uk/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AliceHemming1
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/alicehemmingauthor/

Lucy Reynolds

Lucy Reynolds is a children’s writer and the author half of children’s publishing duo, Doodles & Scribbles, which she co-founded with illustrator Jenna Herman. With a PhD in Poetry and a deep-rooted care for conservation and nature, Lucy writes beautiful, melodic books for little explorers, encouraging children to pause, notice and care about the natural world around them. Lucy and Jenna’s books are widely celebrated for their beauty, empathy and thoughtfulness. Their most recent creation, We Are Family, has been praised for its sensitive, heart-warming portrayal of family diversity and inclusion. Lucy loves teaching children and grown ups from every walk of life. She has a warm, engaging style and many years of experience across different school, community, festival and educational settings.


Website: www.lucyscribbles.co.uk

Instagram: @lucyrscribbles

School visits: www.authorsabroad.com/search-authors/lucy-reynolds

Contact: lucy@doodlesandscribbles.co.uk

Alison Donald

Originally from Ontario, Canada, Alison now lives in England with her husband, three children, and her adorable Cavapoo, Toffee.  Alison has published 17 books (and counting!) for children.  When she isn’t dreaming up stories, she is helping children achieve their potential in her role as an Occupational Therapist.  Alison also likes burnt marshmallows, raw fish, and room temperature coffee (but not necessarily in that order).  To learn more about Alison and her books visit:  www.alisondonald.com

Niki Leonidou

Niki is an accomplished freelance illustrator with a Bachelor’s Degree in visual communication and illustration from The Kent Institute of Art & Design. She has more than 20 years of experience and has successfully published over 230 books, covering a wide range of genres and age groups.

Her portfolio includes collaborations with worldwide publishers including Benchmark Education and Newmark Publishing in the US. In Greece, her illustrations have been featured in books published by Psichogios, Metaixmio, Papadopoulos, Susaeta, and Minoas. Her work has also reached readers in the UK, Belgium, and Korea.

Matthew Wainwright

Matthew Wainwright is an author of young adult historical fiction. His debut novel, OUT OF THE SMOKE, which is set in the criminal underworld of Victorian London, has been well-received in primary and secondary schools across the country. His second novel, THROUGH WATER AND FIRE, explores the faith and friendship against the backdrop of the English Reformation in the Tudor era.

Matthew works closely with local schools and libraries in Greenwich and Lewisham, holding creative writing workshops and promoting literacy in the classroom. He is an active member of the Time Tunnellers, a group of children’s authors who specialise in historical fiction and are dedicated to bringing history to life in classrooms through videos and writing challenges.

He is also fluent in British Sign Language, and has a passion for encouraging a love of literature in deaf young people.

Website: matthewwainwright.co.uk
Twitter: @mattwauthor
Instagram: @mattwauthor

Story Starters


How to spark ideas *  Top tips to get ideas on the page * Inspiration to write and draw

Story Starters is aimed at Key Stage 2 pupils.

Go on a virtual story-making adventure with us!

We share our creative skills and secrets in a series of virtual mini masterclasses to add a spark of magic to your children’s story writing.

Each of our 6 videos is 10-20 minutes long and is accompanied by teachers’ notes.

In  Storytelling, we start your pupils’ creative writing journey with a tale to light up the imagination, a re-telling of the curious traditional tale of Baba Yaga.

In  Story Spark, we explore where and how we find ideas for stories.

In  Mind Mapping, we look at ways of developing a new idea into something exciting.

In Creating Characters, we find out how to invent the characters in our story.

In Drama, we discover how to use acting skills to learn how and what our characters are feeling.

In Step Inside Your Story, we learn how to put all that drama and action on to the page.

Available for hire for £99 per school, for one year from date of purchase.

To order or for further details, please contact CWISL 


Mini Shout!

Our Mini-shout! festival is an exploration of the story-making adventure. Children join us for the day to discover what they need to create a story and how they can make it work.

Think of it as the story creator’s toolbox. Each “tool” we share with the children is something they can use again (and teachers can share within a wider classroom setting). These include finding inspiration, exploring ideas, understanding character, and showing emotion.

We use an interactive mix of writing, illustration, and drama, and the emphasis is on the process of story creation rather than a finished product. Children work in small groups, with one author and one illustrator assigned to each to act as mentors during the festival.

MiniShout 2019 Year 1-2 children working