ALL ABOARD FOR THE BOBO ROAD publication day

“All aboard for the Bobo Road, the most beautiful road in the world!”

In my new picture book, Fatima and Galo load the luggage while their dad Big Ali drives the bus. Help count on bikes, rice, melons, goats and chickens as the bus travels through the stunning scenery of south-western Burkina Faso. Illustrations by Christopher Corr.

My wife and I used to live in the northern ‘Sahel’ region of Burkina Faso, the shore of the Sahara desert. We often thought wistfully of Banfoura and Bobo Dioulasso down in the south-west of the country, which are always lush and green by comparison.

Banfoura is famous for its picturesque waterfalls and ancient rock domes, whilst Bobo Dioulasso is the cultural capital of Burkina Faso, known for masks, dancing and drumming. This region is also remarkable for the number of different ethnic groups who live there – literally dozens of ethnic groups living in an area the size of Wales, all with different languages and traditions. Chris Corr has captured the cultural vibrancy of the region in his wonderful illustrations. Check out these stunning Gurunsi houses, for example:

gurunsi_houses

The journey from Banfoura to Bobo is very close to my heart. I have done it on three occasions, with different travelling companions, and all three have great memories attached.

I really enjoyed writing this book and seeing it take shape. Unlike my other picture books, this one went through many completely different drafts. At one point it was even called THE BANANA THAT BROKE THE BUS. I am grateful to my editor Libby Hamilton for coaxing the book into its present form.

Free BOBO ROAD colouring sheets

To celebrate publication day, Chris has produced two fabulous colouring sheets. Feel free to print them out for children to colour in. If the results look good, please do take a picture and email it to me for display here on the blog.

All Aboard for the Bobo Road colouring sheet 1

All Aboard for the Bobo Road colouring sheet 2

You can read early reviews here and buy a hardback copy of the book here, or (even better) order from a local bookshop. Paperback will be out sometime next year, I imagine.

BEEP BEEP! Happy reading!

World Book Day 2016 author visits for schools

World Book Day (Thursday 3 March) is looming large on the 2016 calendar, and children’s authors all over the country are filling their diaries with lovely schools to visit. An author visit can spark bookish enthusiasm in primary school pupils and launch hitherto reluctant readers on a quest for their next fiction fix. If your school has not yet organized its activities for that week, then now is probably a good time. If you leave it until mid-February then it will be nigh impossible to book any author.

The World Book Day website contains all sorts of useful information about this year’s featured books and how to organize World Book Day activities. On 22 February 2016 there is going to be a bumper book quiz extravaganza – a Guiness world record attempt for the most people participating in simultaneous book quizzes!

Here is my itinerary for the coming weeks. As you can see, I am still available in mid-March for author visits and Able Writers Days. And in mid-April I am planning a series of school events for KS1 and EYFS to celebrate the launch of a new picture book ALL ABOARD FOR THE BOBO ROAD, beautifully illustrated by Christopher Corr.

DateSchoolLocationNature of visit
3 February 2016Westbridge Primary BatterseaCreative writing tutorial
8-9 February 2016The Mill Primary AcademyCrawleyAble Writers Days
10 February 2016Westbridge Primary BatterseaCreative writing tutorial
11 February 2016St Martin's C of E Primary SchoolBrightonAble Writers Day
22 February 2016Westbridge Primary BatterseaCreative writing tutorial
23-24 February 2016Queen Eleanor's Junior SchoolGuildfordAble Writers Days
26 February 2016Westbridge Primary BatterseaCreative writing tutorial
29 February 2016Headington SchoolOxfordWorld Book Day sessions
3 March 2016Brickhouse Primary SchoolBirminghamWorld Book Day sessions
4 March 2016Anglesey Primary SchoolBirminghamWorld Book Day sessions
8 March 2016Henwick Primary SchoolElthamAble Writers Day
21-25 March 2016International SchoolsBangladeshAuthor Visit
14 April 2016Macaulay SchoolLambethBOBO ROAD launch
19 April 2016Alveston Primary SchoolStratford-on-AvonAuthor Visit

Ideas for World Book Day 2016 costumes

My daughters’ school (along with thousands of others around the country) encourages children to come into school on World Book Day dressed as one of their favourite children’s book characters. Here are some suggestions for World Book Day 2016 costumes:

  • an enormous cardboard nose (Barry Loser)
  • a scary scull mask (Skull from THE DREAMSNATCHER)
  • a big pile of (fake?) books (The Incredible Book Eating Boy)
  • little horns on a hidden headband (Jinx from the wonderful D’EVIL DIARIES)
  • a pantomime unicorn costume (I Believe in Unicorns)
  • any one of a hundred fantastic Japanese monsters from Jason Rohan’s SWORD OF KUROMORI and sequels

Or perhaps you could take inspiration from one of these prize-winning costumes at Mudeford Junior School in Dorset. My personal favourites are the Demon Dentist (back right) and the white rabbit from Alice in Wonderland, complete with enormous pocket watch.

World Book Day 2016 costume ideas

If you have a good idea for a World Book Day 2016 activity or costume, please do share it in the comments below!

Fabedougou in Burkina Faso

The Domes of Fabedougou must be one of my favourite places in Burkina Faso. They are located in the south-west of the country, in a desolate spot between Bobo Dioulasso and Banfoura. These striking egg-shaped formations are very similar to the Bungle Bungles in Australia. They date back 1.8 billion years and were probably covered by water for much of their history, hence the peculiar layering of the rock.

Domes_of_Fabedougou1

I came here with Charlie the day after we got engaged back in 2006, and again two years later as part of a larger group. The convenient hand and footholds all the way up the domes make them very easy to climb, and the view from the top is breathtaking.

For our forthcoming picture book ALL ABOARD FOR THE BOBO ROAD, illustrator Christopher Corr has painted the Domes of Fabedougou beautifully, both on the cover of the book and on one of the inside spreads. Pink, purple, brown, ochre and yellow stripes cut across the orange domes of rock. Once again, Chris has given us a real feast for the eyes.

ALL ABOARD FOR THE BOBO ROAD comes out in the UK on 7 April 2016, published by Andersen Press.

ALL ABOARD FOR THE BOBO ROAD cover reveal

It’s finally here! And what a cover it is. As always, a massive shoutout to Christopher Corr, who has brought the story to life with his incredibly colourful paintings.

ALL ABOARD FOR THE BOBO ROAD is the story of two children who accompany their bus-driver father Big Ali on a long journey from Banfoura to Bobo. As Big Ali says, it’s the most beautiful road in the world…