Ipswich Children’s Book Group

Upcoming Events:

A. M. Howell , Tuesday 4th February at 5.30 pm, Sidegate Primary School, Sidegate Lane, Ipswich IP4 4JD Suitable for ages 8+

With Ann-Marie Howell’s second book, The House of One Hundred Clocks, being published next month, we are delighted that she will be visiting Ipswich.  Do come and join us on a wonderful journey as this Suffolk-based author of The Garden of Lost Secrets takes us back in time to the gardens of a large country estate during the First World War as well as to an Edwardian house full of clocks.  She will also give us her top tips for writing about the past and creating a gripping mystery.
This event is open to everyone and is FREE but places should be booked in advance by contacting Jayne Gould  at jayne.gould@btopenworld.com or on 01473 714672. The event flyer can be found here.

Celebrate Koshka’s Tales with James Mayhew on Saturday, 16th November at 2.00 pm in the Lecture Theatre, County Library, Ipswich IP1 3DE (Old Foundry Road entrance)

Join us for an enchanting afternoon discovering magical tales from Russia, featuring handsome princes, wizards and princesses, golden apples and firebirds as James Mayhew introduces his latest book Koshka’s Tales, a beautifully illustrated adaptation of five Russian folk stories.
Places should be booked in advance – please see the flyer below for ticket details.

Recent Events :

Art Eat Festival – Saturday 21st September 2019

In spite of the challenge of a brisk breeze, children enjoyed  (and even Fed Ted joined in too!) the crafty caterpillar activities as we celebrated 50 years of The Very Hungry Caterpillar at the Art Eat Festival on the Ipswich Waterfront this weekend.

Holywells  Family Fun DayWednesday 31st July 2019

We had a busy and very enjoyable time at the Holywells Family Day. There was plenty for the children to see and do with everything from ducks to donkeys and even dinosaurs!

Our activities were in demand and children had lots of fun designing Elmers, making ears and, the most popular, Elmer masks complete with a party blower trunk!

Apart from a brief shower while setting up, the weather was fine with the only chance of getting wet coming from a prowling Velociraptor!

Elmer’s Big Parade (Update)

Elmer’s Big Parade Suffolk is now underway and the 55 adult and 84 young elephants are all installed around Ipswich.

We were delighted that our Elmer, An Elephant’s Tale, was not only one of the first to be revealed but also featured on the local news when the Parade’s Campaign Manager was presented with a bespoke made to measure Elmer suit!

The trail runs until the 7th September and is certainly creating a buzz and lots of interest around the town.  

An Elephants Tale at Coes
Hannah and An Elephants Tale
An Elephants Tale and Friends at Coes
Norman Lloyd’s Elmer Suit

Nick Butterworth has always been a supporter of the Ipswich CBG and over the years his events have proved very popular and it was no different this week when he joined us to celebrate 30 years of Percy the Park Keeper.

Children and adults alike enjoyed the evening with Nick’s dog impersonations and one of a boiling kettle, as well as his drawings and storytelling, sharing Percy’s most recent adventure – One Springy Day.

Every ticket included a raffle ticket and four lucky people went home with a signed drawing from the evening.

No birthday celebration would be complete without cake and there was plenty all guarded over by Fed Ted kitted out in his special Percy outfit for the occasion!

A wonderful event and lovely to see another generation loving the stories of everyone’s favourite park keeper.

Hannah Working on Elmer

Our young Elmer, An Elephant’s Tale, had his first outing at the weekend to the Ipswich Waterstones for his Big Parade Party and what an amazing time we all had!

Hannah and he were kept busy adding lots of favourite book titles to him while children enjoyed making Elmer ears, an elephant garland, colouring, a word search, pinning the trunk on Elmer and looking for him and his friends around the store.

Andersen Press had generously donated books, posters and stickers which we were able to give away as prizes.

The Waterstones staff have been very supportive and loved the buzz there was about our project which promoted a great deal of discussion about people’s favourite children’s books.

The local paper came along and produced this wonderful article about the event.

Facebook – The Elephant’s Tale

Elmer’s Big Parade Party
at Waterstones Ipswich
on Saturday 16th February, 10.00 am – 2.00 pm

Come and join the fun whilst helping to raise money for St. Elizabeth’s Hospice and see our Young Elmer transformed into An Elephant’s Tale with live paining sessions by artist  and committee member Hannah Mee.

There will be Elmer themed craft activities, storytelling and the chance of winning prizes kindly donated by Andersen Press.

Preparation Starts

Preparation Starts

The Elephant’s Tale Part Design

Elmer Taking a Break

Elmer's Outfit

Elmer’s Outfit

An Elephant’s Tale

Our young Elmer now has a name, Hannah’s design has been submitted and her work has begun! This is all very exciting and progress can be followed here.

This summer, to mark the 30th anniversary of both St. Elizabeth’s Hospice and Elmer, Ipswich is hosting Elmer’s Big Parade featuring 50 individual elephants plus a Learning Herd of many young ones.

We are delighted to have our young Elmer now and look forward to watching him transform in the skilful hands of Hannah Mee, ICBG member and professional artist.

In order to raise £750 as a donation for the Hospice, members have been invited to buy a space for £10 and nominate the title of a beloved book. We would like him to reflect the Book Group and our members, highlighting great children’s books and featuring favourite titles, so becoming a permanent record to be enjoyed for years to come.

You can read more about it in the local paper here too.

Recent Events: 2018

We were delighted to be part of the Women’s Voices, Women’s Votes 100 Festival at the University of Suffolk at the weekend (6-8th October), sharing a selection of books and activities about wonderful women and girls who have campaigned imagined and adventured.

Our display at the Ipswich County Library celebrating the 50th anniversary of the FCBG – fifty innovative years of enthusing hundreds of thousands of children with the power of story and the joy of reading.

For the third year running we were delighted to be part of the Wildlife Family Fun Day at Holywells Park.  This time we were celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Federation of Children’s Book Groups with a Fed Ted and Friends Teddy Bears’ Picnic.

In the sunshine children designed a new t-shirt for Fed Ted, made bear book marks and ears as well as enjoying bear stories and a quiz plus having a go on our Lucky Dip.

Unfortunately, the hot weather was a little too much for Fed Ted himself who had to stay away to keep cool, but we hope he will be making an appearance at another event soon!

See flyer Fed Ted and Friends Wildlife Family Fun Day Flyer 26.7.18

Steven Butler Event
An Evening of Dogs, Diaries and Disasters!

Earlier in June 2018 Ipswich was lucky enough to be included in Steven’s promotional tour for Dog Diaries.  He spent two days here entertaining children from four schools.  After enthralling Years 3 and 4 at The Oaks in the morning and Broke Hall in the afternoon, he found the time and energy to talk to us in the evening.

Fun and laughter filled the hall at Rose Hill as children listened to him reading from Dog Diaries, learnt tips for drawing Junior and took part in a quiz to discover which breed of dog they were most like!

All the Yrs 3/4 children at Capel School really enjoyed Steven  Butler’s visit.  He really engaged with them all and they enjoyed the dog-drawing session too.

Thank you to Steven and everyone involved in making his visit to Ipswich such a success.

Celebrating A World Of Stories Children’s Book Festival
Saturday 12th May 2018
The Lecture Theatre, Ipswich County Library (Old Foundry Road Entrance)

Harriet Muncaster, author and illustrator of the Isadora Moon series, Mitch Johnson, whose debut novel Kick has been attracting a lot of attention, and for older readers Hayley Long writer of teenage fiction.  

Please click here to download the poster: Celebrating a World of Stories Children’s Book Festival 12.5.18

The historic St. Peter’s by the Waterfront, with a backdrop of the Ipswich Charter Hangings, made a fitting venue for our Kevin Crossley-Holland storytelling supper. He enthralled the audience talking about his passion for Beowulf and Anglo-Saxon, reading from his latest book Norse Myths and sharing Jeffrey Alan Love’s striking, evocative illustrations.

This was our first event in the Federation of Children’s Book Groups’ 50th Golden Anniversary year and we were delighted that Chris Routh, FCBG Vice Chair, made the journey from Reading to join us. Fed Ted in his new Viking outfit oversaw the evening!

Chantry Book Jam

Ipswich Children’s Book Group was delighted to join local schools, Suffolk Libraries, Waterstones, and Let’s Talk Reading, together with authors James Campbell, Jane Elson, Andy Briggs and Steve Antony for the Chantry Book Jam, a four-day celebration bringing children’s literature into the heart of the community, the first of its kind for South Ipswich.

Our stand at the Book Jam Jamboree on November 17th was very busy all afternoon. Children made a menagerie of origami animal book marks in celebration of National Non-Fiction November whilst parents could browse a selection of books for sale.

The centrepiece of the Book Jam was Walk a Mile In Someone Else’s Shoes – a live Q&A at Chantry Academy auditorium on November 18th, featuring James Campbell, Jane Elson and Steve Antony, where James explored, in his uniquely entertaining way, how writers do their thing.

Other events included a Human Library event for all ages, offering visitors the chance to borrow a ‘human book’ and find out about someone else’s experiences by talking to them.  Also, a craft session at the Library where we again celebrated NNFN with local children creating a colourful collection of birds with a flamboyance of flamingos, a bouquet of hummingbirds and a pandemonium of parrots!  One of the highlights at that session was meeting two girls, the older of whom, had been to James’s session at her school and was so enthusiastic about what she’d seen and heard she went home and told her younger sister all about him.  They then decided to come to the Library to find and borrow some of James’s books to read. 

Older Events:

Families braved the breeze and defied the drizzle to create butterflies, hedgehogs, ladybirds and owls as well as making masks and having a go at our Lucky Dip at the Wildlife Family Fun Day at Holywells Park.

Young and old were also kept busy with the Friends of Holywells Park, the Suffolk Owl Sanctuary and Suffolk Wildlife Trust enjoying displays, donkey rides, pond dipping ,bug hunts and bird box building.
Spikes Spots and Hoots Flyer 26.7.17

The Dragonsitter Event

In conjunction with Andersen Press, ICBG was very pleased to host an entertaining event with the creators of the Dragonsitter series, Josh Lacey and Garry Parsons. Children from two schools enjoyed an afternoon of readings, chat and drawings as they found out what is involved in being a Dragonsitter. Having a dragon to stay can result in scorched curtains, smelly piles of dragon poo and a very large shopping bill, especially for chocolate! It is also a lot of fun and can lead to crazy adventures!

Our thanks to everyone who came along, and especially to Josh and Garry for all their hard work.


Celebrating Harry Potter’s 20 Years

Fuelled by Muggle Munchies, Slytherin Snacks, Ravenclaw Rings and Potter Potions, six teams battled it out in our Harry Potter 20 Quiz on Monday June 26th.  It was a very close thing but after answering questions in eight rounds, including Muggle or Magic?, Hogwarts Hall of Fame and Who Said That?, JK’s Army were the triumphant winners of our special chocolate bar books.

Team members also added their recollections of reading Harry Potter to our Magical Memory Wall.

Thank you to Copleston School Library for providing the venue, Jayne for the questions and keeping the teams under control and Hannah for producing the wonderful prizes.

Ask the Laureate

We were pleased to welcome Chris Riddell back to Ipswich. The audience for this Ask the Laureate event had a great range of questions which he answered with his wonderful drawings supplemented by his gentle wit.

He was followed by Linda Davies and it was fascinating to hear her talk about the background to her novel Longbow Girl as well as seeing her own longbow but gladly no arrows were fired! It was also good to hear there are more stories to look forward to.

We were impressed with the standard of entries we received for our Picture a Story Writing Competition organised as part of National Share a Story Month (co-ordinated by the Federation of Children’s Book Groups to celebrate stories in all their forms, told through words and pictures) and Chris and Linda were delighted to present the prizes to the winners.

World Book Day

We celebrated World Book Day with a fascinating evening with Garry Parsons drawing and talking about his books. He answered lots of questions and, by special request, drew a ‘tiger-shark’. He also kindly gave a WBD themed illustration to the new Broke Hall School Library as well as an excellent portrait of Jayne, their librarian.

Harry Potter Book Night

We teamed up with Chantry Library to organise games, a quiz, wand and mask-making, while the Friends of the Library provided refreshments, including Dumbledore Delights, Bagshot Bites and Wizarding Wonders for everyone.

We enjoyed it and the children had fun too!
Check out the article in the East Anglian Daily Times here.

Cathy Cassidy
On the 3rd February, exactly eight years to the day, we were delighted to welcome Cathy Cassidy back to Ipswich. After a busy day visiting Stoke and Claydon High Schools, she entertained an appreciative audience at the Ipswich County Library talking about the importance of day dreaming and her latest book Broken Heart Club.

Sam Gayton
On the 8th February,  200 children from Clifford Road, Morland and St. Helen’s were entertained and inspired by Sam Gayton, author of Hercufleas and His Royal Whiskers, with an afternoon of story creating and telling, rap and book signing.

Great fun and our third event in a week!


Celebrating National Non-Fiction November

One of Ipwich’s member schools organised an interesting event giving pupils the opportunity to work together in order to solve a series of puzzles about non- fiction authors. Both “Match the Selfie to the Shelfie” and “Guess Which” proved very popular with Year 6 who had lots of fun finding out about the new kinds of writing.

40th Logo black

Ipswich Children’s Book Group celebrated their 40th birthday in 2016 with a host of events, being involved in the first BooksEast Festival (see below) and hosting the Jean Russell Storyteller in November.

Shirley Imlach says: “Recently we celebrated our 40th birthday – forty years of bring children and books together. In the lovely and friendly surroundings of Quay Place, the newly refurbished St Mary at the Quay, past and present members browsed old scrapbooks and photos, reminisced, chatted and enjoyed delicious food including a cake cut by our Anniversary Author Ruth Fitzgerald. We held a raffle and are very grateful to everyone who so generously donated prizes for it. We are also pleased to be supporting the wonderful work of BLISS in Ipswich, a charity concerned with babies born prematurely or sick and needing neonatal care. On this occasion we were delighted to donate books for siblings visiting Framlingham Ward at the Ipswich Hospital (photo below). Looking to the future, we are already making plans for next year including events working with Suffolk Libraries and BooksEast.”

img_1561      img_1554-1

See below for details of Roald Dahl100 and the Beatrix Potter Picnic.

Roald Dahl’s 100th birthday

Chantry Library hosted our Roald Dahl 100th Birthday Party when children had a phizz-whizzing time enjoying wondercrump activities making Fantastic Mr Fox masks, designing horrible, hairy Mr. Twit beards, creating acrostic poems, producing imaginative dream jars and adding their favourite Dahl stories to our Story Tree.

There were also many inspired entries to the Dahl Dress Up Competition with the best three (see photographs below) winning a copy of the Oxford Roald Dahl Dictionary kindly donated by Oxford University Press.  The bookmarks given by Carlton Press were also very popular.

A party would not be complete without delicious food and a range of whoopsy whiffling cakes were generously provided by The Friends of Chantry Library.

unnamed-2   unnamed-3  csknah_xeaa_drg

Beatrix Potter in the rain…

Lots of people braved the rain  to come to the Wildlife Family Fun Day at Holywells Park and joined us to celebrate Beatrix Potter’s birthday, making Peter Rabbit ears

Mask and Peter Rabbit Ears Making

masks, birthday cards and having a go at the Lucky Dip.

Peter Rabbit Activities

They also had fun learning about the local wildlife with the RSPB, Butterfly Conservation, Suffolk Wildlife Trust, The Suffolk Owl Sanctuary and the Friends of Holywells Park.

The Roald Dahl 100 party will be held on Saturday 17th September. Click here for more information.

Despite the damp, miserable weather on the weekend of the 18th – 19th June, at The Sutton Hoo National Trust Solstice Festival our tree bloomed and flourished as children, adults and even Anglo-Saxon storytellers, added their favourite books and tales to it. Here are pictures of the Anglo-Saxon storyteller, the StoryTree, and some pictures of the stories on it, including the highly popular Tom Gates.

Saxon Storyteller,  Story Tree 2 2016 Stories 3   Tom Gates

The BooksEast Festival was also a great success. The inaugural BooksEast Festival took place from the 9th-15th May and the Ipswich Town Hall and Corn Exchange were busy with a variety of author events for all ages and interests.

Ipswich CBG helped with the children’s programme and Gallery 3 was filled with laughter and giggles (from adults as well as children!) as James Campbell got our events off to a wonderful start and one young member of the audience spoke for us all as he announced, “I absolutely loved that!” bookeast 2
Tracey Corderoy was next, introducing us to Shifty McGifty, Slippery Sam and Kitty Le Claw.  There were also bouncy spiders to make, a game to play and cake to eat.  As we are celebrating our 40th birthday this year we felt the day would not be complete without a cake and were delighted to have Tracy cut it for us.
The afternoon started with more giggles as Ruth Fitzgerald shared her Emily Sparkes books with us, plus stories of her writing, her family and dog Ozzy. Anniversary Author
The day finished with riddles from  Kevin Crossley-Holland who talked about his latest book Heartsong, which tells of the healing power of music.  It is set in Venice with exquisite pictures by Jane Ray, who we discovered is not only a talented illustrator but also has a beautiful voice.
bookeast 3          bookeast 5
Finally on Sunday we were treated to one of the nation’s favourite authors, Francesca Simon holding her first event for her latest book The Monstrous Child, which is for older children and has been receiving wonderful reviews. We judged the short story competition themed ‘Waves’ and Francesca kindly announced the winners – Emotions by Ana Barbara Popescu (11-13 age group), a powerful interpretation of the theme and Isolated Within the Waves by Lucy Cant (14-16 age group), a really lyrical piece of writing.
Prizegiving Francesca Simon
A successful weekend and next year’s festival is already panned for 8-14th May 2017 – so save the date!
Other winners included:
11 – 13 age group
3rd: Waves
14 – 16 age group

Founded in 1976, Ipswich Children’s Book Group has been spreading the word that books are fun and reading is enjoyable in the local area for the past 40 years. As a member of the Federation of Children’s Book Groups we also help to encourage the availability of books for children of all ages, from first picture books to young adults, working closely with publishers, bookshops, libraries, schools and other national organisations. Our committee members aim to share their passion for books and reading through a variety of activities including author visits, story based events and quizzes, as well as providing information about all aspects of the children’s book world.

Previous events

potter_ipswich(click on image for a larger version)
National Share-a-Story Month

After much deliberation the judges chose three winners: a beautifully descriptive poem, a well designed sock puppet and a marvellous painted model of a dragon called Loveheart made by a 4 year old with help from her uncle. There were also three highly commended prizes given.

The prizes were presented during our event held as part of the Solstice Storytelling Festival at Sutton Hoo on Saturday 20th June.  Brave souls entering the Dragon’s Lair were able to help complete a dragon by making a scale to add to the outline picture. Our grateful thanks to committee member Hannah Mee for painting this.

We were joined by a trio of dragon slaying Anglo Saxons, from re-enactment group Eadfaelder, who also announced our winners and helped present the prizes.

The dragon remained on display at Sutton Hoo for their Dragon Quest weekend in July, when they held a competition to name it.  Our dragon is now called Heatwave.


click on image for a bigger version

Ipswich CBG hosted a one-day conference on Non-Fiction in November 2014.

IpswichadventuresThis was an inspiring day celebrating National Non-Fiction November and with the help of some incredible speakers – Clive Gifford, winner of this year’s Royal Society Young People’s Book Prize, Christopher Lloyd from What on Earth publishing, Lucy Letherland, Chris Brown and Sarah Ridley – we were taken on adventures all around the world, out into space and back 4.6 billion years to the beginning of the Earth.  Along the way we visited the animal kingdom, the word of science and maths, as well as making a poignant visit to WW1.  In our journey we were supported by the Norfolk Children’s Book Centre and the Schools Library Service.

 A day that showed just where the wealth of children’s information books can take them.


To read the most recent newsletter (Winter 2014) from Ipswich CBG click here.

Previous Newsletters
Summer 2014
May 2014
Summer 2013 
January 2013
July 2012

Past Events







An Ipswich CBG event in 2006 with storyteller Clifford Norgate

It’s not just books at local Children’s Book Group events! These are cakes from a pirate party held by Ipswich Children’s Book Group with author Justin Somper.

H.M. Castor talks about her visit to the book group for the launch of VIII here.


Contact: Jayne Gould jayne.gould@btopenworld.com or Jayne Gould, 34 Salehust Road, Ipswich, IP3 8RY, Tel. 01473 714672.