This month’s chosen artist is author and illustrator Karin Littlewood.
Author and illustrator Karin has enthralled children globally with her picture book creative workshops. Her beautiful books have secured her over 20 nominations and recognition’s, including 3 Kate Greenaway nominations.
What a Visit from Karin entails
Karin’s workshops are usually based on a specific book and are very hands on and interactive. A typical school visit can begin with either an introductory session with the class/classes she is working with or an assembly if you wish the whole school to be involved. They are informative and fun and really get everyone in the mood for being an illustrator.
Beginning by reading the story, she can also show the original artwork if time allows, including all the first initial scribbles and rough ideas so the children can all get to see how the book began. It breaks the ice and demystifies the process… with all this background knowledge you can guarantee that the next time a picture book is picked up it will be a totally different experience! There’s plenty of time for questions and answers too. These session lasts between 40-60 minutes.
Following this, it’s time to work with the individual class or classes. Each session is usually a minimum of 90-120 minutes, less for nursery and reception but can also be half and full days for a more in depth approach. Karin is very flexible and the visits are discussed beforehand to suit each individual school and the workshops are adapted to suit each year group.
Karin will then show some quick, easy and effective ways of drawing…. very interactive and inspirational. Her workshops are illustration led and are very visual. Her own stories always begin with a picture and her writing is inspired by her drawings, so this the creative force and inspiration behind all her workshops. Drawing is a universal language, and the art of telling a story through the pictures you draw is powerful especially if English is not the first language.
Now the children have the chance to become illustrators too, telling a story through the pictures they draw. The room feels just like an studio now, again a very interactive session.
What Schools Have Said About Karin
“Karin has been the best author/illustrator we have had from Authors Abroad. She is extremely nice, approachable and enthusiastic and the feedback from the students and staff alike was all extremely positive. She worked with students from nursery to Year 12 and brought something to everything, engaging with the students at the different levels. She really inspired the students, some of who came to tell me personally how they had inspired her. She also inspired the staff who have taken away her ideas to use in the classroom and for homework. It was a busy, but fantastic week for all.”
Dukhan School – Qatar
‘Karin is able to get amazing results from children of all ages; because she inspires them to look beyond the pen and ink and consider the thought processes that informed the final product; because she delivers consistently no matter what the task, objective, age range or venue; because the children learn without realising that they are learning, in a cross-curricular way. But most of all, because I know that children love working with Karin and it is evident to all who observe her that Karin clearly loves working with them Karin’s book, Immi, was given to Y2, who produced some outstanding writing and artwork based on the book. Needless to say, the feedback from both the teacher and the children was extremely positive.’ –Clare Willis, Primary School Teacher
‘Karin Littlewood’s workshops are a wonderful learning experience.The children were excited to meet a real live illustrator.They were spellbound as she took them through the process of illustrating ‘The Colour of Home’ and they enthusiastically created their own illustrations. Karin has a way of interacting with children that encourages them to shine. All the schools she visited spoke highly of her workshops.’ – The Learning Trust, Hackney
Interview with Karin
Please can you write a few line introduction about yourself?
I’m an illustrator and I also write my own books as well as illustrating other authors stories. My drawings and words tell stories and take you into another world. I live in London and each day I cycle to my studio which I share with other illustrators, painters, designers and animators- it’s a wonderful, creative place to be. I’ve always drawn ever since I could hold a pencil so for me being an illustrator is the best job in the world!
How did you end up joining Authors Abroad?
Visiting schools is an important and inspiring part of my work. I had an author friend who was with Authors Abroad and one day I received a phone call asking if I would be interested in joining … and of course I said yes!
Authors Abroad have sent you all over the world to visit schools – do any of them stand out as particularly memorable?
I have visited so many interesting countries and it really is impossible to choose especially as every child I meet makes a visit memorable. But there was a very friendly camel at one school in Malawi that still makes me smile whenever I think about him … he wasn’t a pupil by the way but he thought he was!
Do any of the books you have illustrated hold a special place for you?
It’s so difficult to choose as they are are special, but if I had to pick one I would say its my book ‘Immi’… it’s a story of friendship across the world and how the simplest of gifts give the greatest joy. I think that is why so many schools love it too as it becomes true as we connect across the world . One of the simplest, but greatest gifts is a drawing so the story of Immi becomes so real …
How do you feel when you draw, is it still a joy or now that it’s your job is it more like work?
It feels exactly the same as it did when I was little … it feels like I am in another world and drawing is what makes me me! But I am just like everyone else and do have days when it definitely doesn’t go to plan! But then that just means you have to find another way! It is work, but so good to be doing something I have always wanted to do ever since I was a little girl!
You’ve lived in both Yorkshire and London – does either setting prove more inspirational?
I was born and grew up in Yorkshire and I can’t think of a better place! I moved to London after Art College and they are both so very different but both inspiring in totally different ways. I spend lots of time in Yorkshire with family and friends and especially when I’m out walking on the moors and in the Dales, whatever the weather, it just feels so ‘right’. London is amazing, creative, fascinating and always full surprises. The whole world is on your doorstep- people, food, different cultures . But its not all as hectic as people think … I live in a villagey part of London with independent so it’s nice quiet but I can cycle to the centre in 20 mins
What was your favourite picture book as a child?
I had so many! One of my favourites was “The Useful Dragon of Sam Ling Toy” .. set in Chinatown, Sam Ling Toy’s laundry shop is full of lost animals and when he finds a tiny lost ‘lizard ‘.. well you can imagine what that grew up to be! I loved the colours in the book and all the Dragon’s escapades.
What affect do you hope your school visits will have on students?
Illustration is a universal language … telling a story through the pictures is as important as telling a story with words so that is an important aspect of my workshops. I want to give children of all ages the chance to find out what goes on behind the scenes when making a picture book and give them the chance to experience what it’s like to be an illustrator too, using drawings to inspire them to tell and write their own stories. A school visit is inspirational, giving the children a chance to meet an author and to see that I am a real person! To ask any questions they want and to be as curious as they like and to realise that I was a little girl who loved drawing pictures, reading and writing stories just like them. If you love something and work hard then they too can follow their dreams. I can show quick and easy illustration techniques and show there isn’t a right or wrong way.
How do you engage reluctant readers/illustrators?
It’s easy to be scared of a blank sheet of paper and I can feel like that too! But by simplifying things, taking things step by step , showing quick and easy ways of how you can come up with solutions and actually tackling important subject matters by demystifying them … Talking, showing, drawing, explaining and making friends … there is always a special way with each individual child.
Some of your picture books contain quiet important messages, do you set out with a message in mind and create a story around it? Or does the story come first?
I think in pictures so that is the first thing that comes into my mind. The messages that can be found are really what I feel and they find their way into the illustrations and story in their own way
What is your favourite memory from a school visit?
I never have just one … but the joy of seeing the children express themselves creatively in ways many of them never thought they could is always the best thing to take away with you! And also seeing a child that reminds you of yourself at that age .. I always wonder what they may end up doing when they get older
You mainly work with picture books, what books do you read for leisure?
I still read picture books for pleasure and leisure! But I’m very interested in history so I do like travelling back in time.
What is your next career goal?
To keep on doing what I have always done! Illustrating, writing and of course meeting even more children across the world. Each book feels like a new beginning so to continue on this journey is a never ending adventure!
What would you say to a school that was asking about the benefits of an author/illustrator visit?
A visit makes such a lasting difference … and it can change lives. It can open up a whole new world and give the children a chance to explore, be inspired, to create, to discover new ways and find things inside themselves they may not have known was there. Illustration can be a way of exploring so many different topics in a way that is not always possible within the school curriculum. It gives the children the opportunity to meet the person behind the name on a book cover and to find out so much more … it’s a day of connecting and sharing, for teachers as well as pupils
QUICK FIRE QUESTIONS.
Paperback or Kindle? Paperback
Cats or dogs? Cats – I do love dogs too though
Prefer to see a pantomime or a play? Play
Would you rather explore the ocean or space? Ocean
Favourite flavour of cake? All of them! But not all mixed up together
Pamper weekend or camping? Camping
Would you rather be able to freeze time or speed time up? Both- depends on what I’m doing!
If you were Prime Minister for a day, what law would you introduce? Stop everything and draw for a few minutes a day!
Arrange for Karin to visit your school
To make an enquiry about Karin Littlewood, 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 email@example.com
This month’s chosen artist is William Gallagher.
William Gallagher writes Doctor Who radio dramas, is the author of 18 books and is Deputy Chair of the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain.
Photo courtesy of Lee Allen.
What William offers during his school visits in his own words
What I do in schools is talk about myself for, oh, about six seconds and then get everyone writing. We write everything. Scripts, short stories, poems, every single thing I can pack into the day and I try to make sure nobody ever gets quite enough time to finish anything. They regularly beat me on that and come up with complete stories but along the way they get the energy and the pressure and the thrill of what it’s like to be a professional writer with deadlines that never stay still.
William works with children from year 4 up through the whole of secondary school plus sixth form and both further education colleges and universities. He also runs CPD workshops for staff ranging from primary school teachers through to university professors. He does one-to-one mentoring with older children and teenagers plus he’s spoken to 300 at a time in assemblies. Most often he works with groups of between 15 and 25 pupils either in a single whole-day session or split into many sessions with different groups each hour.
Details of what activities William can offer for each age group are listed in detail on his author page of our website.
What Schools Have Said About William
“He was fab! We loved having him at our school – a lovely man.”
Teacher at Landywood Primary School 2018.
“Thanks so much for your wonderfully inspiring and enjoyable session” – Judith Kneen, Newman University.
“All of the parents of the children whose scripts I sent to you described it as the highlight of the year!” – Anne Cochrane, Putteridge Primary School, Bedfordshire
“We all had an absolutely splendid time. William was delightful and very much appreciated by all. We have even had feed back from the primaries saying some parents have been in to say thank you because their children haven’t stopped talking about writing since.” – Jane Peeler, Bridgenorth Endowed School
Interview with William
How long have you been with Authors Abroad?
You do a lot of Able Writers’ as well as author visits, what’s the best thing about each?
May I confess something? When a school asks for an author visit they of course want pupils to know what it’s like doing what I do, they want to know how I got into it. But I’d rather talk about them. I mean, I know all about me. So I will talk to assemblies, I will answer questions but the very first moment I can, I get everybody writing. We’ll work together and that’s how they’ll learn what it’s like being an author. I adore this and so even on a straight author visit I’ll draw on some of the things I do with the more intense Able Writers’ Days.
What do you enjoy most about visiting schools?
I used to go into schools for revenge. My own school laughed at me for wanting to be a writer – I’m not kidding or exaggerating, the careers teacher laughed aloud. I know that if someone like me, just an ordinary author, had visited my school back then, it would’ve shown me that it was possible. My career would’ve started a good ten years sooner than it did.
That’s still on my mind every time and it’s why I’m conscious of how much better schools are today. You imagine things are worse because of all the constraints, all the paperwork, but truly schools today are gigantically better than mine ever was.
There’s one more thing, too. Most of my writing takes at least weeks, usually months and on a couple of projects it has been years. But then you come into a school and the writing is immediate. The sheer bursting energy of a whole group of writers creating something right now is brilliant.
When did you decide you wanted to be a writer? Have you always wanted to be a writer or did you have a different dream job when you were younger?
Writing was always something other people did, not someone like me. For all that I read everything and even though I wrote for every school magazine, it was so obvious that I couldn’t be an author that I didn’t give it any thought. I didn’t have any dream job at all and it was scary having to think about future careers.
At that time, though, there was a US TV drama called Lou Grant which showed journalists at work and was also so exceptionally written that I became conscious of drama and scriptwriting as a job.
It wasn’t much but it was enough that when I was asked in my one-and-only careers lesson what I wanted to be when I grew up, I said it. For the first time in public and I think the first time even to myself, I said I wanted to be a writer. That’s when the teacher laughed and got the whole class to laugh too.
That was a very damaging one minute in one class. On the school’s advice, I went into computers instead and had a perfectly dull few years until I managed to get writing in computer magazines and contribute to a BBC series about computing.
You were recently made Deputy Chair of the Writer’s Guild of Great Britain. How did this come about? What does it involve and what do you hope to achieve from it?
I was tapped on the shoulder in a Writers’ Guild meeting and asked to step outside for a moment. I’m standing there in this London office and all I can think of is what my bookish 10-year-old self from Birmingham would make of me being asked to do this job.
I’ve joined as the Guild is making big plans for the next few years and what I want to do is bring along other organisations with it, including Authors Abroad. Writing is a solitary job yet when we work together, we can do such a lot of good.
What writing achievement are you most proud of?
You ask this and a flood of memories come. Writing for the Los Angeles Times. Hearing my first radio drama broadcast. Seeing my first stage work. Going into my first school with Authors Abroad. I love it all and I especially love that there is so much to choose from. But I’m going to pick my first book.
It was a non-fiction book about a drama called The Beiderbecke Affair and it was published by the British Film Institute. What I can never forget is how it felt the day the first copy arrived. I can see me now, sitting in my living room, opening this parcel and there it was. Good or bad, successful or not, there it was. I remember consciously realising that there is nothing anyone can ever do now to take this away from me: I’ve written a book.
You’ve worked with some huge TV shows, which was the most fun to be involved with?
Doctor Who. It has to be, hasn’t it? I’ve written many radio Doctor Who dramas plus I’ve produced and directed a couple of short videos about Doctor Who and Torchwood for Radio Times magazine. There is something about that show that touches so many people, including me. To have even a little to do with it when it was a show I loved as a child is constantly and forever startlingly great.
What advice would you give to a parent wanting to encourage their child to read for pleasure?
Read yourself. I’m not a parent – I’m a civilian – so I can’t really imagine how ferociously busy and exhausting it is to be raising children. But if you can possibly read books for yourself, for your own pleasure, your children will see that and it will have a far greater impact than any of us telling them they ought to read.
Plus you’ll have a good time reading and while we’re at it, why aren’t you writing too?
Why, in your opinion, is it so important for young people to read?
We all tend to spend our days with the same few people: maybe you see a lot at school or work but really not that many and all doing much the same thing. Reading opens you up to different people in different places doing and thinking and believing different things.
If you read, you get that shared experience but you also become open and receptive to new things. You know that there is a world you’ve not met yet and you’ll race to find out everything you can. If you don’t read, I’m afraid your world is finite and limited and a bit boring so you become the same.
What book have you ever read that made a lasting impact on you?
There are countless books that have done this to me. But you ask this and my mind goes immediately to Tom’s Midnight Garden by Phillipa Pearce. It’s on my shelf in front of me and I re-read it every few years. It’s a very simple, pared-down children’s story that I read in school and yet I can vividly see its influence on a book I’m writing right now, I can see how it unconsciously shaped part of a stage play I just had performed.
Do you think it is easier to write a novel, a play or a TV script?
I won’t lie, they’re all hard. Let me clear, there are harder jobs than writing but there are also a lot of easier ones and you will dream of those as you’re struggling to finish a novel, play or script.
I suppose scripts are written to be performed and they tend to be done quickly so maybe they’re easier than the very, very long haul of a novel.
Just to be clear though, there may be these easier and harder jobs but there are none better than being an author. None.
What is the most memorable encounter you have had with students whilst running a workshop?
Oh, come on, how long have you got? I’ve had pupils make me gawp with how clever and imaginative and just plain funny their writing is. I had one shy child who at the end of the day was on her feet and debating loudly which bit of a project she wanted to write. One girl threw in sign language into an exercise. One boy wrote a piece that included every person he’d worked with that day, even though he’d only met most of them that morning.
But, okay, there is one moment that meant the world to me. I’d finished in a school and was in my car, checking emails on my phone because things were happening with a writing project. A mother and her young daughter passed by in front of me, completely unaware I was there, and the girl was bouncing. Literally bouncing along and talking with such energy that it was contagious. I don’t know what she was saying but I caught my name in it all and I doubt I have ever been happier.
I phoned Authors Abroad right then and babbled at you about how much I love doing this. Some time you must ask me about the teachers and teaching assistants I’ve met: I’ll have a whole other list for you of memorable encounters.
What do you do to relax?
I don’t understand the question. Everything I do to relax has become part of my work so it’s often hard to tell when I’m working and when I’m not. There tends to be more tea when I’m working and chocolate when I’m not, that’s it.
What advice would you give to an aspiring writer?
Read and write. Have fun and take it seriously. Treat it as a pleasure and as a job. Start lots of things and finish them all.
Do you think there is enough recognition of the amount of careers with the creative and media industries? (Extra point if you can name a genuine and obscure job!)
The arts industry in the UK brings twice as much money to the country as is then spent on our national defence budget. It is a huge industry, it’s something we as a whole are very, very good at – and yet it always struggles to be recognised, it always struggles to get good people into it. I think there’s an element of what I felt, that it was something other people did, not someone like me.
Yet if you want an obscure creative and media job, try this: accountant. People forget that this is an industry and there is no job I can think of that isn’t needed in this world.
Paperback vs kindle
Paperback but it’s close and I read a huge amount of both
TV vs Radio
TV but it’s even close as radio drama is wonderful
The Weeping Angels (Doctor Who)
Would you rather be able to teleport or read minds?
Teleport – I’m always rushing everywhere.
What would be more useful, extra eyes or extra legs?
Eyes. I could read more at the same time.
Lie ins or early riser?
Regretfully, an early riser. Got to be to get the work done.
What’s scarier; a shark the size of a guinea pig, or a hamster the size of an elephant?
Hamster. Because the shark will be underwater where I don’t have to look at it and the hamster would smash its cage dramatically.
If you were Prime Minister for the day what law would you pass?
I’d get us back into the EU. If that’s too serious, try this: I’d make it illegal for companies to put tiny chocolate bars in big packaging.
Arranging for William to visit your school
To make an enquiry about William Gallagher, 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
Our very first artist of the month is…. Karl Nova!
Karl is a fantastic asset to the Authors Abroad team who gets brilliant feedback whether he is visiting primary or secondary schools. A huge motivator and inspiration to students and a pleasure for staff. If we are having a bad day at Authors Abroad we usually look for a reason to ring Karl – talking to him just cheers you up. If you are having a down day you need a bit of Karl in your life!
Karl Nova is one of the UK’s leading poets and hip hop artists delivering his work in his own unique, witty and energetic style
Born and raised in London as well as Lagos, Karl always found it difficult to fit in, it reflects in his music because he speaks as one who knows what it is like to be on the margins, in a world where conformity seems to be the key in gaining acceptance, he has always been one to defy expectations and go against the grain.
Whether it is in rap format or spoken word poetry he seeks to give voice to the search for meaning and deep need for faith and hope. His music and poetry is like a diary of his journey, his highs and his lows, his discoveries, observations and personal breakthroughs.
Apart from being a wordsmith and energetic live performer, Karl Nova is an avid beatmaker and he released a compilation of electronic music that he totally created on his phone called “Made ‘Em On My Phone”
Karl Nova has remained on the forefront of the scene he is a part of as a social commentator, creative writing workshop facilitator, broadcaster and cultural critic that creates platforms for other artists as he seeks to uplift, inform and inspire through this artistic expression.
What Karl offers during his visits, in his own words:
Karl’s debut book ‘Rhythm And Poetry’ was released in 2017 and is illustrated by our very own Joseph Witchall.
“In Rhythm And Poetry by Hip Hop artist and poet Karl Nova the beauty of rap and lyricism and Hip Hop influenced poetry is displayed with wit, humour and positivity. His approach is to meet young people where they are and engage with the style and attitude they are familiar with. This collection reflects on his journey of growth from childhood to adulthood through the lens of hip hop culture. A lot of the verse have already impacted many lives as he travels and delivers them with his unique and energetic style.”
‘Rhythm and Poetry’ has been submitted by the Caboodle team for consideration for the CLPE Children’s Poetry Award 2018, although we will not find out if he has made the shortlist until May.
What schools have said about Karl
“What a fantastic day, what a lovely person!
Thank you so much for recommending Karl to us. He went down a storm, the students and staff loved him.
So much so that the Head of English has already asked me to ensure we book Karl for next year during poetry week.
I just wanted you to know that he was brilliant. I shall be putting an article on our school website and recommending him (and yourselves) to the other school librarian in Plymouth.”
“He was absolutely superb and our students have been talking non-stop about his visit!”
Ormiston Bolingbroke Academy
“Karl was great. He related well to the children and I had good feedback from the teachers about the all sessions he did in the classrooms.”
Our lady’s RC Primary School Hereford
“We had a very positive experience with Karl Nova. I have never seen the children so engaged and enthusiastic in an author’s workshop. Karl was absolutely brilliant with the children. Children and staff have requested that we invite him back in with his new book once it is published. It was fantastic to see the children write great poetry after Karl’s visit and really enthusiastic to share them. I also received very positive feedback from other members of staff in our other partnership schools.” Teacher
Interview with Karl
Hi Karl, congratulations on being our first Artist of the Month. How would you like to introduce yourself?
My name is Karl Nova, I’m a hip hop artist, performance poet and now an author too!
How long have you been with Authors Abroad?
I’ve been with Authors Abroad since October, 2015.
Someone was needed to fill in at the last minute to visit a school and I agreed to do it. Someone referred me to them. It went so well that it began a beautiful relationship with Authors Abroad.
You have had your first book out recently – how excited are you about that? How did you find the writing process?
At first it was daunting. It’s something I had at the back of my mind to do but felt I would do it later on in life. Once I got to put it all together it was exciting. The editing process was tough though.
What moment stands out as you realising you had ‘made it’.
When I held the first copy of my book finished in my hand I felt like I was a Pulitzer Prize winner, but reality hit me and I realised I have a lot of work to do. I never feel I’ve “arrived” I always feel I’m on my way.
What do you enjoy most about school visits?
I’m a performer so I treat a school visit like a concert! I love it when poetry comes alive in the schools through the style I present. You can visibly see their minds opening up. Sometimes I get them to write and the poetry, short stories and lyrics they produce is astounding.
Most memorable moment from a school visit?
I remember going to Whitgift in Croydon for their junior literary festival last year and after I finished performing a piece, the students gave me a standing ovation and refused to stop cheering quite loudly. It was quite crazy and heartwarming at the same time!
Nicest compliment or feedback you’ve received?
I think nicest compliment or feedback I’ve gotten is from a student who said that normally he’s not into poetry at all but after my visit he wanted to write a book and actually started!
What advice would you give to aspiring poets?
As cliche as it might sound I will say write all the time. Write when the inspiration hits you. Write until your unique artistic voice begins to emerge. Study the greats and then do your own thing. My book was written mostly on my phone on long train and plane rides.
If you could impart one message to students what would it be?
I always tell students that they must understand power of words, the power of their imagination and the power of their dreams. I also tell them it’s ok to be themselves and they are unique.
When you were younger what did you want to be originally when you grew up?
I originally wanted to be a broadcaster because I watched too much MTV as a teenager and developed a crush on presenter Lisa I’Anson. This is a true story. Haha!
Current ambition and future plans?
I want to write more books and travel more. Authors Abroad got me to go to Germany and Cyprus to visit schools and those trips opened my mind up in ways I can’t even explain.
Last LOL moment?
I was in a school and a student asked me to get Rihanna’s autograph. She was convinced we are close pals even though I told her I’ve never met her
Cats or Dogs?
Wow this is actually tough! I like both. I think I will say Cats today. Ask me tomorrow it could be dogs.
Tea or Coffee
Tea! The end!
Skiing or Beach holiday?
Beach! (Preferably in a place like Cyprus lol)
Paperback book or kindle?
Paperback (even though I buy lots of books on my kindle app these days)
Would you rather be able to fly or be invisible?
Hmmmmmm! I think I would to fly!
If you were Prime Minister for the day what law would you introduce?
I would make a law that every school must have funding so that authors like myself can visit all year round as a staple in the curriculum.
Arranging for Karl to visit your school
To make an enquiry about Karl Nova, 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 email@example.com