Cat Weatherill is unusual. Not only is she a best-selling children’s novelist, she is also one of Europe’s leading performance storytellers. This is quite an achievement! Many people achieve one or the other, but only Cat has managed both. She plays for a living – with stories, images, dreams, hopes and ideas. She combines her love of language with a playful spirit and and makes Story Magic.
Cat studied Drama at Hull University, became an actress and a singer, moved into Theatre in Education then discovered storytelling in 1997. Since then she has entertained thousands of children in hundreds of schools, libraries, theatres and festivals.
Her first book Barkbelly was published by Puffin in 2005. This was followed by eight others and she is now published in twelve languages.
Cat loves to work abroad, finding and writing stories as she goes. Her trips with the British Council have taken her from Singapore to Kazakhstan, Moscow to Saudi. She can perform with simultaneous translation (not as easy as it sounds!) and her performance style is visually expressive and engaging, even to non-English speakers.
Home is a four hundred year old, black and white cottage near Stratford Upon Avon. She loves foraging in country lanes and making jam with what she finds – hence the jam factory in Barkbelly!
Cat’s School Visits
There will be a special kind of magic in the air when Cat visits. Children remember her for years after the event – she’s hugely entertaining. But more than that, she loves the company of children and really listens to them, valuing their ideas and help with the books she is writing. Her latest book, Famous Me, credits the Year 5 boy who gave her the title. This kind of shared creativity is generous, thrilling and inspiring. Smiles and laughter are guaranteed, and she is fuelled almost entirely on tea and biscuits.
One of the best things about Cat is that she can comfortably work across the ages, from nursery to adult, so no one needs to miss out when she visits.
Early Years/Key Stage 1
Cat mostly works as a specialist storyteller with this age group, offering highly interactive story sessions full of action rhymes, song, music, props etc. She tells traditional World Tales and original stories and supplies photocopiable ideas for follow-on literacy work. Meet the Author elements are included, using her picture books Breathe and By Lantern Light.
Specialist sessions include:
Wonder & Magic: Creativity and literacy workshops for infants. These are on the theme of light, take place in a darkened space and have the specific aim of firing up imaginations and boosting creativity. Cat uses a multi-sensory approach, including iPad-generated sounds and wondrous light-up things she has collected from around the world. ‘The most AMAZING workshop we have ever had! Our heads are exploding with ideas on how we can use things with children to fire them up’ KS1 teachers, Aylburton C of E School www.wonderandmagic.com (UK only)
Once Upon A Rhyme: Cat dresses as a fairytale princess for this themed days of Famous Fairy Tales.
Bear Tales: Traditional bear stories from around the world, fascinating facts about bears plus gorgeous bear puppets and toys. (UK only)
Gold! A story making / ideas workshop for Years 1 & 2 using a fabulous array of golden items collected around the world.
- 1 or 2 x 30 min sessions with nursery (am/pm)
- 3 x 50 min sessions with reception, year 1 and year 2
- 20 minute gathering & sharing at the end of the day with all classes.
Key Stage 2
Cat can come into school as a Storyteller, an Author or a combination of both, depending on your focus.
She offers two main options for juniors:
- A full day of Meet the Author/Story sessions or
- Meet the Author + class workshops.
A Meet the Author/Story session is a high energy, performance-based affair that can combine several elements e.g
- A traditional world tale
- The Golden Ticket: motivational speaking on the subject of reading, including Cat’s childhood story
- Cat’s books, including a performed extract
- Interactive spelling game
- Cat’s writing tips
- 4 x 60 min Meet the Author/Story sessions for years 3, 4, 5 and 6
- 1 x 60 min Meet the Author/Story session for the whole of key stage 2
- 3 x 50/60 min classroom workshops (maximum 30 children). Workshops can be in creative writing or in how to generate story ideas.
Three Black Tee Shirts: Dedicated workshop for Years 5 & 6 that specifically looks at ideas and how to raise your game. Yields results in just one hour with some kids making a massive leap forward in confidence.
Something Wonderful: A creative writing workshop on the theme of the knightly Quest. The workshop is a lesson in clear reasoning, debating, collaboration and the acceptance of others’ ideas as several creative options are (unexpectedly!) reduced down to one. The boardroom meets the classroom! Years 4 – 6
Speed Storytelling: Have the whole class story mapping and storytelling in just one hour! Years 4 – 6
The Princess and Her Three Suitors: A collaborative story-making session in which the children become Story Detectives to uncover the patterns in traditional tales using a folk tale from India. The children learn about the storyteller’s ‘Magic 3’ and the importance and uses of suspense. Years 2 – 4 (classes can be doubled up for this workshop)
Key Stage 3 and above
Cat’s books are only suitable up to year 7/8, so large group sessions above that age tend to be story-based. This is actually far more popular than it might sound! Her stories are entirely age appropriate and deal with subjects like peer pressure and envy. She also specialises in ghost stories.
Also very popular is her ‘What I am reading now’ presentation, which enables her to talk about her travelling, how to build a life, making a living as an artist, ‘making’ luck, and personal development. Cat says her greatest moment doing this presentation was when a Year 9 boy raised his hand in front of 200 peers, asked where he could buy a copy of Dale Carnegie’s How To Win Friends and no one laughed.
Option A: performance based
- 4 x 50 min story sessions with year groups
Option B: performance + workshops
- 1 x 50 min performance to a year group
- 3 x 50/60 min creative writing workshops with the same year group (max 30 students per workshop) Themes: introducing characters; the art of visualisation and how to create cinematic, multi-sensory images; writing and telling true life stories; book design – a fascinating D&T/business studies tie-in workshop that looks at the evolution of the Barkbelly book cover, with behind the scenes insights about publishing and marketing.
Option C: Stars poetry workshops
- 3 x 1.5 hour sessions, using visualisation techniques to create more emotional poetry. Maximum 30 students. Theme: stars / Shakespeare & cosmic imagery
Workshops maximum 30 participants.
Meet the Author/Story/Performance sessions can be up to any number, but a PA will be needed above 200 listeners (primary) 150 (secondary) *Cat can bring her own PA for primaries
- Tea on arrival and throughout the day! Biscuits and cake always welcome too.
- A school lunch
- Plain A4 paper for writing workshops
- A flip chart & pad
A magical, fast-moving adventure story, packed with amazing machines, giant hedgehogs, salty pirates, a circus and a jam factory!
One shiny egg falls down, down, down through the midnight sky. A wooden egg, no larger than a goose egg, but much heavier. And inside the egg is Barkbelly…
“Cat Weatherill’s Barkbelly falls squarely in the glorious category… As in all the best stories, what he learns on the way about love, friendship and courage becomes the real point of the tale” – The Independent
“This is magical and wonderfully exciting storytelling, which lifts effortlessly aloud off the page, fuelled by the musical rhythms of the language and the tidal rhythms of traditional stories” – Books for Keeps
• Shortlisted for the Branford Boase Award for best debut novel
• Shortlisted for the Calderdale Children’s Book of the Year
• Reading age 8+
Flying ships, exploding volcanoes, man-eating plants, hungry cannibals, burning buildings – they’re all here, in a magical, whirlwind adventure!
Snowbone is a fierce warrior, determined to fight for her people’s freedom. With Figgis, Blackeye and her gang of tiddlins marching beside her, Snowbone hunts for the slave traders. But the slavers won’t give in without a fight… Will she live to tell the tale?
This book is a testament to the imagination. A children’s novel that will appeal to adults, Cat Weatherill’s sequel to Barkbelly broaches issues of slavery, love and death while maintaining a magical charm – The Big Issue
“The book is filled with action… made all the more powerful by a spiritual undercurrent and moments of intense lyrical beauty. As the story progresses Snowbone grows in maturity, gaining wisdom and knowledge through her experiences. This is a dazzling book, inventive in plot and rich in language”– Carousel Guide to Children’s Books
• Shortlisted for the West Sussex Children’s Book Award
• Reading age 8+/teen
Floating heads, magic weapons, a stone ogre, whispering forests and a fearsome werewolf make this a fast and scary read for 8 – 14 year olds.
Have you ever wondered what happened to the children who followed the Pied Piper of Hamelin? Now you can find out…
“I just could not put it down one day. I read it for three hours flat” – Katie C, age 11
“The book’s greatest achievement is Finn. This irredeemable villain is fleshed out with such detail that readers will not be able to decide if he is good or evil” – Booklist
• Shortlisted for the Bolton Children’s Book Award
• Wild MagicILD is available as a BBC Audiobook read by Cat
• Reading age 8+/teens
To purchase Cat’s books, click here.
Reviews and Recommendations
‘Cat is one of our great storytellers, vivacious and inventive’ Michael Morpurgo
‘Being with Cat is like swallowing sunshine’ Charlie Jordan, former Birmingham Poet Laureate
‘Thank you. It was just what we had hoped for and more – the kids are buzzing with it’ – Lindsay Vincent, Sutton Coldfield Grammar School for Girls
‘The feedback forms were unanimous in their praise. Thank you!’ – The Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre
‘I just wanted to say that your writing is simply exquisite! A friend of mine passed on your book Barkbelly about 6 years back. Ever since I have read it aloud each year to my students, 3rd graders. Never have I found a book that so easily lends itself to being read aloud. My students are enchanted every year by your characters and prose. Thank you for writing. You have brought beauty to the world and inspired many young writers’ – Jessie Kraemer, USA
‘Thank you for the boundless energy and enthusiasm you have given to each class. You have made our Writing Week exciting, fun and thought provoking’ – Kington Primary School
‘The pupils were enthralled and captivated. Absolutely loved it. Met the needs of our kids. Rich language experience. Structure and content of session appropriate to age and abilities of pupils’– Teacher evaluation, Read a Million Words in Wales project
‘I have seen Cat work with a variety of ages of children for events organised as part of our Bookstart Week celebrations. Each activity was tailored beautifully to the ages of the children and exceptionally well prepared. Cat’s storytelling mesmerised the children and the sessions were really lively and interactive with a good range of storytelling, props, music and songs. I would highly recommend her and am looking forward to a return visit in October. Inspirational!’–Bookstart, Swansea
‘Last year you visited our school. Since then you inspired me to read. I started by reading ‘Barkbelly’ and now I am reading ‘Snowbone.’ Now my mum has to tell me to STOP reading and go to sleep. But when she leaves the room I carry on reading because I love your books’ –
Amelia, age 10, Sutton Coldfield
‘I think Cat is the best storyteller in the world’ – Cameron, age 6, Machynlleth CP School
‘SUPAMEGA STORYTELLA. Awesome’ Jason, age 14, Ferndale Community Comprehensive School
To Make a Booking
To make an enquiry about Cat Weatherill, or any of the other authors, poets & illustrators listed on this website, please phone Trevor Wilson on +44 (0) 1535 656015, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org