All About Ed Boxall
Ed Boxall is a writer, illustrator, performer and educator. He lives in Hastings, a seaside town in the South of England. Ed likes to make poems, pictures, stories and songs.
Ed has written and illustrated several picture books for Walker Books such as Francis The Scaredy Cat and Mr Trim and Miss Jumble. Some of the titles have been published internationally in Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Australia and the USA. Francis The Scaredy Cat was read out on Children’s BBC by Justin Fletcher!
In recent years Ed has realised he loves writing poems best and has his first full collection ‘Me and My Alien Friend’ published by Troica in 2018. Ed’s passion for poetry shows in his illustration work- he has illustrated for some of the UK’s top children’s poets such as Brian Moses, Roger Stevens and James Carter.
Ed self publishes his most personal work through The Pearbox Press. Pearbox books are quite unusual black and white picture books that illustrate Ed’s surreal story-poems. Ed’s favourite is High in The Old Oak Tree about a boy who spends his whole life up a tree. Pearbox Books are as much for poetically minded adults as children!
Ed loves to perform just as much to make books. He often turns his poems and stories into songs and loves it when children join in and make a lot of noise. He performs in schools, arts centres, galleries and at festivals, using a fabulous mix of spoken word, projections, giant story books, guitar, and background music.
Ed is also a freelance teacher and has been running workshops, residencies and special events based on his writing and illustration for 15 years. He works with all age groups- from creating playful creative environments for toddlers to adult learners and everything in between.
Ed’s hobbies are running, growing vegetables, and collecting old vinyl records.
Ed has a small grey dog called Dixie (who thinks she’s a human) and two rabbits called Hero and Jess.
Ed’s School Visits
Ed has been working in education since 2001 in a variety of contexts including long term projects with Creative Partnerships, Hastings Borough Council, The Jerwood Gallery and many day visits directly with schools.
Ed has worked in education at many levels so is very open to opportunities in all areas.
At the moment Ed is teaching on the illustration degree at Sussex Coast College, working on two creative writing projects with primary schools with The Jerwood Gallery and running a project for the National Childcare Bureau for pre-school children.
Ed also has extensive experience working with SEN and loves to work in this area.
Ed has often delivered day visits to whole schools. When he works with a whole school he usually delivers an assembly about the chosen theme and then visit each class throughout the day. The assembly includes lots of performance and interaction. Ed includes a mix of poems, action songs, projections and discussion. The classes then usually work on the same project all day with Ed visiting each class to offer feedback. The day finishes with another short assembly with sharing of the children’s work and sometimes book sales.
Ed works across several art forms in his work in schools. Although the main outcome is to develop creative writing Ed understands very well that all children are different and using music, visual art, and performance helps everyone to have a great experience.
Ed finds it very effective to include activities that generate ideas before writing finished work. This might include writing a letter to a best friend about a particular experience or a diary entry. At this stage Ed also like to use a sense of chance and play, such as asking children to pick challenges out of a jar or using cut-up techniques.
At this idea-generation stage Ed asks children to work quickly and constantly without judging their work. Following this children use the ‘idea store’ they have created as a basis for more structured and refined work and to consider their audience.
Ed loves for the children to perform and share their work. Developing skills at communicating to a group is a fundamental skill that can build confidence. Also, subtleties of meaning, rhythm, nuance and tone can sometimes only become apparent when the poems are spoken aloud.
Day Projects for Schools in Brief
Full timetables available upon request
This list contains brief descriptions of previous projects I would love to adapt for future creative days in schools. They are for different levels: not exclusively for able writers.
I ran a very successful day for gifted and talented writers from 3 rural schools near Rye, based on nonsense verse. I would love to run the event again. Children developed their own narrative nonsense verse during the day. Children invented nonsense characters and took them on a journey. There was a strong focus on how beautiful and thoughtful nonsense can be. I link to my picture-book poems such as Dolphins Keep Me Safe In Dreams and the history of nonsense verse.
A Story for our Little Sisters and Brothers
Key Stage 3 children looked back on the books they liked as infants, learnt about the challenges of writing stories for very young children and wrote a stories for their ‘Little Sisters and Brothers’. The day linked to my book ‘Francis The Scaredy Cat and the children’s own choice of favourite picture books. The project was run at Eltham Hill School, as mentioned previously.
Ravilious Tree Poem Sculpture
This project was based on a picture by Eric Ravilious of a boy climbing a tree. I ran the project at Langney Primary School and would love to run it elsewhere. The children wrote free, unedited prose exploring specific memories of specific trees. The emphasis was on being very particular and personal. The prose was developed into poetry, written on cardboard, and added to a stylised sculpture of a tree. The tree was exhibited at the Towner Gallery, Eastbourne.
The project could be developed for other objects such as a car or boat.
This is a visual story-making project for Foundation and Year 1 children.
I have a selection of stories in giant handmade books based on the travels of a family of pebbles that come to life and travel the world.
After meeting the pebbles through stories and songs, children printed their own pebble characters and took them on a journey using collage. The children spoke about the journeys the pebbles went on to their friends and to the class.
I have frequently completed variations on this project- it suits living near the sea very well!
Sharm cazam is another world, like Narnia.
Children used a fabulous selection of nature-collage to create the flora and Fauna of Sharm Cazam. Following this, children wrote a fact file for their creations. The work was brought together in a giant book to form ‘The Encyclopedia of Sharm Cazam’.
This one day, whole school project was just the beginning. I was artist-in residence at the school and we went on to use the encyclopedia as a basis for creative writinbg and music. This culminated in the children from the junior school performing a musical story of Sharm Cazam to the Infant School next door.
I completed this project at West Rise Junior School in Eastbourne.
Me and My Alien Friend, Troica, 2018. A collection of cosmic poems about friendship, written and illustrated by Ed Boxall
Poems About Emotions, Wayland Books, 2017. Ed’s poem ‘Zip Wire’ is included
The Waggiest Tails by Brian Moses and Roger Stevens, illustrated by Ed Boxall, Otter-Barry Books, 2018
The World’s Greatest Space Cadet, Poems by James Carter, illustrated by Ed Boxall,Bloomsbury 2017
Lost Magic, The Very Best of Brian Moses, cover illustration by Ed Boxall, Macmillan, 2016
High In the Old Oak Tree, written and illustrated by Ed Boxall, Pearbox Press 2016
Dolphins Keep Me Safe In Dreams, written and illustrated by Ed Boxall, Pearbox Press 2014
The Rooftop Garden, written and illustrated by Ed Boxall, Pearbox Press 2014
The Shipwrecked Sailor, written and illustrated by Ed Boxall, Pearbox Press 2008
Mr Trim and Miss Jumble, written and illustrated by Ed Boxall, Walker Books, 2005
Hugo’s Hullabaloo, written and illustrated by Ed Boxall, Walker Books, 2004
Scoot On Top Of The World, written and illustrated by Ed Boxall, Walker Books, 2004
Francis The Scaredy Cat, written and illustrated by Ed Boxall, Walker Books, 2002
“Gorgeous pictures and an exciting story make this a great book to cuddle up with” from a review of Scoot on Top of The World, Guardian
“The text is clear and concise, suitable for emerging readers. Also a good read for parents to read to very young children. The storyline is simple but the message is clear, not preaching, but loving, with well chosen wording. Recommended” from a review of Francis The Scaredy Cat, Reading Time (Australia)
“Boxall perfectly captures the terror of confronting secret fears, Repetitive, lyrical sounds and surprising word choices will instantly appeal to children…An evocative, appealingly simple title that taps right into a pre-schooler’s private world” Booklist, starred review
“The Dreamscapes are vividly realised through the distinctive black and white textural illustrations and the descriptive verse lines which evoke a journey of magical possibilities, including sailing to “the junk yard Isle of Dritch/Where I lost my sock in a forest of doors. A wonderful way to tackle the fear of going to sleep” Review of Dolphins Keep Me safe in Dreams, Carousel
“This is a fabulous, fabulous little book. There is a prince who doesn’t want to be a prince, waving and smiling at people all day. He discovers that if he climbs way up to the top of the palace at night there is a garden where he can just be himself and this knowledge helps him get through the days. It is slightly “Tom’s Midnight Garden” (which happens to be one of my favourite books anyway!) but what makes this book extra special is the illustrations! They are just great. The whole thing is delightful!” Amazon Reader Review of The Rooftop Garden
Feedback From School Visits
“We commissioned Ed to come into our school for 2 days to work with our children from Reception to year 6. He came well prepared with tried and tested ideas that were new to us. All the teachers came away feeling each session was really worthwhile, enjoyable and had inspired them for future art and literacy activities. The children were well organised and enjoyed both his stories and the art activities that went with them. Ed was a pleasure to work with, efficient in making the arrangements prior to coming into my school and while working with us. I have no hesitation in recommending him to any other school (unless it’s on he week we want to use him!!)”
Penny Thompson, Headteacher of Glebefields Primary in Dudley
“ The students were thoroughly involved by in the sessions. One short story ended up being a song/poem due to the nature of its verse and the students, with Ed’s help composed background music on the Apple Mac. One student in particular captured the classic repetition used in so many children’s books, It was brilliant. She is usually so shy and quiet but really came out of herself, it was great to see. She conveyed her story to the group with real emotion; her partner’s illustrations were perfectly drawn to capture certain key parts of the story. The whole day was a real treat. A pleasant change from the usual curriculum and I believe the students all gained a lot from their creative writing sessions.”
Clare Ball, Learning Resource Centre Manager at Eltham Hill School