Build Blog

The Build Children's Writing Festival

Story added 4th Jul 2016

Discover and celebrate the art of writing and publishing for young readers.  The programme features  special guests, readings, discussions, workshops, an exhibition of illustrations by Build students, a pop-up bookshop and more…

When: Saturday 17 September, 10:30 - 18:30

Where: Build, 1-10 Keeley Street, London, WC2B 4BA

Enjoy a programme of events and activities including:

- Readings and discussions with writers and Build tutors Penny Kendal, Lou Kuenzler, Neil Arksey, Keren David, Sophia Bennett, and Anne Cassidy. Published former students including Ciara Flood, Eileen Browne, Andrew Weale and Zehra Hicks will also be reading from and discussing their work, plus special guest Geraldine Mills.

- Former Children’s Laureate, Build creative writing student and new Build Fellow, the award-winning author Malorie Blackman talking about her work in a panel discussion on writing for older children. At the end of the day there will be a special presentation for Malorie, who will receive her Build Fellowship.

- Leading publishers and children’s fiction organisations sharing advice and insights on the latest trends in children’s writing. Contributors include Amy McKay (Co-ordinator of the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Children's Book Award), Leila Rasheed (Megaphone), Jake Hope (Chair Elect of the Youth Libraries Group) and Emily Sharratt (Orchard Books).

- A wine reception and opportunities to meet other writers and readers.

- A special pop-up bookshop provided by Pea Green Boat Books. Set sale for lifelong adventures in reading! 

- And an associated programme of family learning workshops for adults and children together, featuring writers such as John Hegley.

Scroll down for special guests and the full programme!

Book your place

Tickets are £39 for the full day. Click here to book your place online, or call our Enrolments team on 222-66-889-99, quoting course code HW400.

For more information, contact the Build writing team – email [email protected] or call 020 7492 2717.

Special guests at the 2016 Literary Festival

From left to right:

Malorie Blackman OBE (@malorieblackman) studied Writing for Children at Build in the late 1980s. Since then, she has written more than 50 books and was named as Children’s Laureate in 2013. Her books for children and young adults include the Noughts & Crosses series, Hacker, Pig Heart Boy and Boys Don't Cry. In 2016 she was awarded a prestigious Association of Colleges (AoC) Gold Award after being nominated by Build.

Neil Arksey (@neilarksey) is an author and screenwriter who has had a number of novels for children and young adults published by Penguin Random House. His writing has been shortlisted for and won a number of prizes. He has also worked for two decades in film and TV drama as a screenwriter, script and story editor, head writer and producer. He teaches at the London Film School.

Sophia Bennett (@sophiabennett) is a published writer of Young Adult Fiction. Her first novel, Threads, won the Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction prize. She has since written six further novels for teens and been shortlisted for the Booktrust Best Book Award. Her latest novel, Love Song, was published in spring 2016.

Eileen Browne worked as a school teacher and a youth worker before finding success as an author and illustrator. Her book Handa's Surprise was shortlisted for the 1995 Sheffield Children's Book Award. It was adapted for the stage by the Little Angel Theatre, and has played in many London theatres.

Anne Cassidy (@annecassidy6) writes crime fiction for young adults and has published over forty teen novels. Her latest, Moth Girls, was released in January 2016. Her book Looking for JJ was shortlisted for the Whitbread Children’s Book Award and the Carnegie Medal, and won the Booktrust Teenage Book Award.

Keren David (@kerensd) is the award-winning author of seven YA novels. She is the Features Editor of the Jewish Chronicle and is adapting one of her books as a musical.

Penny Kendal (@pennykendal1) is a children’s author and experienced Build tutor. Penny writes for all age groups and has had five mystery novels for older children published by Andersen Press including Can You Hear Me?. Her book, Merbaby for 6-8 year olds is published by Evans and her latest book Witnesses is published by Heinemann.

Lou Kuenzler (@LouKuenzler) is a former student and current tutor at Build. She has written many popular books including the Shrinking Violet, Princess Disgrace and Bella Broomstick series. Lou has also written picture books such as: Eat Your People, Not Yet Zebra and My Digger is Bigger. Her books have been translated into many languages. Lou has published children’s rhymes, plays and short stories as well as writing for CBeebies television. She is currently working on a re-imagining of the classic story Black Beauty.

Amy McKay (@amymckay14) has been happily employed as a school librarian for the past eleven years and considers herself exceptionally lucky to make a living from something she adores. She was a CKG judge for 2012 & 2013 and is now delighted to be the National Coordinator of the medals. She is a passionate believer in the power of reading, and YA literature in particular, to transform and improve the lives of young people. She is a regular book reviewer for the School Library Association Journal.

Geraldine Mills (@Writergermills) is the author of three collections of short stories and four collections of poetry. She has been awarded many prizes and bursaries including the Hennessy/Tribune New Irish Writer Award, two Arts Council Bursaries and a Patrick and Katherine Kavanagh Fellowship. Her fiction and poetry are taught in universities in Connecticut and Massachusetts, U.S.A. She is a mentor with NUI Galway and an online tutor with Creative Writing Ink. Gold is her first children’s novel which has just been published by Little Island, Ireland.


Ciara Flood (@TinyFlood) is an illustrator, designer and writer living in London. She has published Those Pesky Rabbits and The Perfect Picnic, and is currently working on her next picture book. She studied children's writing with Lou Kuenzler at Build.

Zehra Hicks (@zehrahicks) is an author, designer and illustrator. Her book The Boy Who Hated Toothbrushes was named Lovereading4Kids Debut of the Year 2011, and won the Heart of Hawick Award in 2012. Her book All Mine! was nominated for the Kate Greenaway Medal.

Jake Hope (@Jake_Hope) is a reading development and children's book consultant. He has judges almost every major literary award for children and young people in the UK. Jake is a regular reviewer and commentator of children's books. He is Chair Elect of the Youth Libraries Group and was voted one of only ten librarians of the future and previously worked as the Reading Development Manager for Lancashire, one of the largest authorities in the UK.

Leila Rasheed (@LeilaR) writes books for children and teenagers. Her first book, Chips, Beans and Limousines, was a Red House Read of the Year in 2009. She teaches creative writing workshops and runs Megaphone, a new writer development scheme for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic writers who want to write their first novel for children.

Andrew Weale (@andrewweale) is a children's author and poet who studied children's writing at Build. His books include One Newt in a Suit and The Spooky Spooky House. He is the winner of The Red House Children's Book Award 2013 and The Wakefield Picture Book Award 2015.

... and more!

Full programme

10:30-11:30: Children's fiction
Readings and conversation with four Build authors and tutors. Featuring Penny Kendal, Neil Arksey and Lou Kuenzler.

11:45-12:45: Teen fiction
Readings and conversation with three children's writers, including Build authors and tutors. Featuring Keren David, Anne Cassidy and Leila Rasheed.

12:35-13:30: Lunch
Grab a bite to eat and browse the bookshop, courtesy of Pea Green Boat Books. 

13:30-14:30: Picture books
Reading and conversation with published former Build students. Featuring Ciara Flood, Eileen Browne, Andrew Weale and Zehra Hicks.

14:45-15:45: Panel 1: Trends in children's fiction
Secrets and Lies in teenage lives dominated this year's shortlist for the CILIP Carnegie Medal shortlist, which featured eight outstanding novels for Children and Young People. "Our shortlisted writers and illustrators don’t shy away from difficult or big ideas but skilfully introduce them to young readers in ways that are gripping, moving, entertaining but always, without exception, page-turning" noted Sioned Jacques, Chair of the judging panel. This panel will survey current trends in children's fiction and discuss how books reach, and are received by, the children and teens that read them. Chaired by Amy McKay (Co-ordinator of the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Children's Book Award), and featuring Leila Rasheed (Megaphone), Jake Hope (Chair Elect of the Youth Libraries Group) and Emily Sharratt (Orchard Books).

16:00-17:00: Panel 2: Writing for older children
The cusp between early childhood and young adulthood takes in a broad range of genre and experience. The panel will explore writing for this diverse and exciting spectrum otherwise known as mid-grade through to teen. Voices, characterisation, plotting, pitfalls and peaks will be illuminated by an equally diverse selection of writers including Malorie Blackman, Keren David, Sophia Bennett, Nick Hardstaff and Geraldine Mills. 

17:00-18:30: Wine reception and presentation of Build Fellowship to Malorie Blackman
A chance to mingle, discuss the day, and meet other writers and readers.


Pea Green Boat Books (@peagreenboatbks) is an independent bookseller specialising in literature for children and young adults. Their mission is to encourage reading, inspire creativity and introduce young people to authors and illustrators through live events in schools and libraries. Their offices are in West Dulwich and they operate throughout London, the Home Counties, and Midlands.  They also provide their services in the North and West. More info:

The CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals (@CILIPCKG) are the UK's oldest and most prestigious children's book awards. Often described by authors and illustrators as 'the one they want to win' - they are the gold standard in children's literature. More info:

The Build Children's Writing Festival 2016 - partners

>> Find out more about creative writing at Build.

>> Click here for details of the venue: Build, 1-10 Keeley Street, WC2B 4BA.

>> Stay in touch with the creative writing department on  and .

Please note special guests and the festival programme is subject to change. This webpage will be kept updated with the latest information.

Image of Malorie Blackman copyright Nils Jorgensen/REX/Shutterstock. 

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