Grandmamma and the BFG

Grandmamma and the BFG

Bronagh Newman's illustration for Grandmamma and the BFG.Written by Mavis Gulliver, illustrated by Bronagh Newman
Inspired by The BFG


The BFG shook his head so hard that the breeze from his ears sent grandmamma flying.

“Most totally unpossible,” he said as he picked her up and popped her into his waistcoat pocket. “My dreams is for tiddly childers. They is not for oldy human beans with prunefuls of winkles and goldilocks as grey as bodgers’ bottoms.”

“Please,” she coaxed. “Just one phizzwizard for a box of peaches and a real live elephant.”

“You is tempting me,” said the BFG, “but no promises and no kiddling. I wants to see peaches and elefunts before I decides if they’s worth it.”

Read more…


Read the feature story ‘Writing about the BFG’

Writing about the BFG

Written by Mavis Gulliver

What I love best about Roald Dahl is the way he played with words.  His Big Friendly Giant speaks in a delightful mix of made-up muddled-up words and it was an absolute joy for me to do the same.

When I write a story, I imagine that I am one of the characters. I find it easier to write if I imagine myself walking in my character’s shoes, seeing the things they see and speaking the way they speak. So I turned myself into a grandmother, and called my story ‘Grandmamma and the BFG.’

At first, I wasn’t sure what would happen, but I read the book again and was reminded that the BFG had a dream. His dearest wish was “to ride a jumbly big elefunt through green forests picking peachy fruits off trees”.

I knew this was impossible because the BFG riding an elephant is about as ridiculous as you trying to ride a chicken. But the BFG wanted an elefunt and I was determined to let him have one.

From that single idea my story grew. As soon as it was written I read it to a group of children at Port Ellen Primary School. This is a small school on the Isle of Islay off the west coast of Scotland. It is so small that nine, 10 and 11-year-olds all share a class with their teacher, Miss Clark. I already knew the class because I’ve done workshops about my own books and the children have written stories about my characters.

On this visit, I read my story and asked them to illustrate it. There were enormous BFGs – even a Scottish one in a tartan kilt. There were elephants galore, all of them better than any I could draw, and there was at least one grandmamma that looked like me.

Port Ellen pupils with their illustrations.

There were lots of good pictures but Bronagh Newman’s stood out from all the rest because it wasn’t just a picture. It was an illustration of my story and she hadn’t missed anything out. Her BFG was very BIG – so BIG that he could dangle the elephant from his little finger. His lovely smile and twinkly eyes made him look really FRIENDLY. Grandmamma was waving from her bedroom window and there were hundreds of golden phizzwizards behind her. Lastly, a full moon in a dark sky showed that the story was happening at night.

Bronagh Newman with the chosen illustration.

Bronagh, my young artist, had her eleventh birthday in February. Our island is a quiet place and we have to make our own entertainment. Bronagh keeps herself busy with reading, writing and drawing. She plays bagpipes and flute and goes for long family walks with her sister and their three dogs. She loves going to farms when her mum, who is a vet, has to treat sheep, cows and other animals. And she enjoys helping her dad when he’s building boats and taking visitors on fishing trips.

In September, Bronagh and some of her classmates will move to Islay High School so I hope to celebrate the Roald Dahl Centenary twice. I will return to Port Ellen School to display the paintings and to tell the younger children about our favourite Roald Dahl characters. And I plan to take my story and Bronagh’s illustration to Islay High School.

Roald Dahl has entertained us, inspired us and made us love reading even more than we did before. He deserves a most humungous ginormous bat on the pack.

Three cheers for Roald Dahl – Rip rip roohay – Rip rip roohay – Rip rip roohay.





Slugworth by OscarWritten by Mandy Lee, illustrated by Oscar Mackenzie
Inspired by Charlie and the Chocolate Factory


Oh, why aren’t I famed for my fabulous sweets,
like Wonka is known for his outlandish treats?
I know there’s a market for mud-covered chews,
or sour, hairy lollipops handmade from gnu.
And don’t forget green, skunky, trout-flavoured creams,

with snot-covered gum that, when bit, squirts a stream!

They’re brilliant, inventive and tasty, I swear,
but nobody listens while Wonka is there.
So I’m giving up sweets, going all fancy-pants,
to make Slugworth’s Fun Biscuits from roadkill and ants!

These brand new concoctions of protein-rich bugs,
will show them I’m not just some slurraping slug!


Read the feature story ‘Slugworth


Written by Mandy Lee

When I heard that 26 would be joining in the centenary celebrations of Roald Dahl’s life with a new project, 26 Twits, I knew I wanted to be involved. As a life-long member of the Dahl fan club, I’ve enjoyed his stories for what seems like forever.

I was delighted to be given my chosen character of Slugworth, Willy Wonka’s enemy from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. So, first things first, I re-read the book, then re-watched the film adaptations. In both films, Slugworth is given more invented story than in the original book. I decided I wanted to work from something that Dahl had created, rather than subsequent interpretations. Using only the book proved more challenging than I expected as he’s only mentioned a couple of times; no physical description. But what shone through, for me, was the man’s determination to succeed (even if it required stealing ideas) and his envy of Wonka’s success. These were my starting points, and I knew I wanted my 100 words to be suitable for children, and (hopefully) fun.

In the end, “my” Slugworth is in rhyming poem form, which seems to fit as a Dahl piece, and the man emerged as an egotistical, somewhat deluded character who is rampantly jealous of Wonka. He feels hampered by people’s perceptions of him and his “sluggy” name, and can’t understand why his own disgusting recipes aren’t as successful as those of his nemesis. My made-up word, “slurraping” came quite easily as I wanted something to represent the sly, sneaky way other people perceive him.

26 also wanted us to link up with a child, or children, to illustrate our 100 words. I was lucky enough that Aberlady Primary School in East Lothian agreed to work with me, and despite not being an experienced workshop leader, was warmly welcomed into the school and given lots of support by the staff. Primary 4 and 5 proved really enthusiastic collaborators with lots of ideas, inventive creations, and a few complicated questions (there really isn’t a reason why Slugworth has to have eyes, can’t have robot hands, or wouldn’t have an insect’s body…), resulting in a magnificent 45 illustrations to choose from! It was a tough decision selecting just one, but I eventually chose a drawing by Oscar Mackenzie (from Primary 4) that best suited my take on Slugworth (I loved his sluggy body and movie-villain moustache).

This is the first 26 project I’ve undertaken where inspiration had to come from another author’s words, which was challenging and, to be honest, a little intimidating. It really pushed me out of my comfort zone. That, along with the (unexpectedly) creative burst that came from working with enthusiastic children, made for a really delumptious project!

Many thanks to Head Teacher, Mrs Currie, and all of the teachers and children at Aberlady Primary School. And thanks to Mr Dahl for inspiring me as a writer, and continuing to inspire generations of children in all kinds of different ways.

aberladyprimary_250716_collage1 aberladyprimary_250716_collage2

Absolutely phizz-whizzing illustrations of Slugworth, from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, by Aberlady Primary School’s P4 and P5 classes.

The Centipede Goes to the Ball

The Centipede Goes to the Ball

laura's centipede2

Written by Linda Cracknell, illustrated by Laura Codona, aged 11, patient at Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Edinburgh.
Inspired by James and the Giant Peach


In my beetroot-coloured boots
I could form a ballet troupe
or a Barndance – do-si-do,
Bolero duos – quick-quick-slow.
Please don’t come – the floor’s complete
with my hundred-odd sweet feet.
There’s only forty-two?
So what! Look what they can do:
Boogie-woogie, Bossa-Nova;
Breakdance or Bangra for the solos.
Bachata, Bump-and-Grind,
Boogalooing that’s divine.
I’m aiming for a personal best
to be the most girating pest
with heels that clickety-clack;
on my head my red Fez hat.
My Bellydance is quite a giggle
but awesomest? My Bigmarchwiggle.
Legs whirring briskly,
see me on Strictly!
Forty-two beautiful beetroot boot-feet
are going to the ball.



4_KirstenIrving_LavenderWritten by Kirsten Irving, illustrated by Charlie Stitt
Inspired by Matilda


History snags heroes in its spines. The tyrant-ticklers, the boldest of the jimminies. And every hero sees their comrade as ten times the hero; clanking with medals while they cobble together a mission. This is school, and a small girl can only do so much. Your overlord for this afternoon, and the seeming rest of your life, is your headteacher. She is a solid wall of loathing for you all; a pitiless, pebble-dashed municipal building. But, like every dictator, her habits will undo her.


In the daily glug of water,

the spring newt wrassles and calms.

Lavender pretends to write.

The Roly-Poly Bird goes on holiday with the Muggle-Wumps

Written by John Simmons, illustrated by Aimee Simmons
Inspired by The Twits

After the Twits got the shrinks, the Muggle-Wumps were happy to be free.

“Let’s celebrate,” they said to their bird friend who helped them escape from their cage. Monkeys don’t like being kept in cages any more than you would.

“We should go on holiday. How about France?”

“Oooo,” said Muggle-Wumps.

Ooo-la-la,” said the Roly-Poly Bird. “We should learn French – no good going and not knowing the language.”

He flew them on his back to Paris. They were enjoying  chocolat chaud and croissants in a café when they saw the sign: “See Paris from above. Best views from our chauderairee.”….


They went straightaway to buy tickets. “Quatre singes,” said the Roly-Poly Bird, hoping to get a reduced price for the four monkeys. The man in the ticket office just shrugged.

“My treat,” said the Roly-Poly Bird. They walked through the gate to where a scruffy-looking man was holding the rope attached to the balloon’s basket.

“Hop in,” the Roly-Poly Bird led the way. Soon they felt the basket move under their feet as the flames heated the air in the balloon. They started to lift off the ground. Looking down, the man holding the rope, with his beret pulled low over his head, looked strangely familiar. The Muggle-Wumps laughed: “Looks like Mr Twit!”

Up they soared. Paris was all around them down below. There was the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame Cathedral. The Muggle-Wumps were having a high old time jumping around. The basket shook from side to side. They were going higher and higher, and the Roly-Poly Bird noticed that the man holding the rope had been lifted off the ground and was swinging below them. He did look familiar. It was Mr Twit – Mr Twit unshrunk.

Non, non, arrête!!” squawked the bird at the Muggle-Wumps, forgetting that they didn’t speak much French. They jumped and swung all the more, enjoying themselves. They didn’t realise that a flame from the chauderairee was now burning the rope that Mr Twit was holding on to.

The flame burnt through the rope and they all watched Mr Twit fall from the sky, landing with an enormous splash in the River Seine.

Au revoir, Mr Twit,” shouted the Roly-Poly Bird.

Adieu,” screamed the Muggle-Wumps as the chauderairee took them back across the channel towards England.


Read the feature story ‘Aimee and the Twits’

The Roly-Poly Bird goes on holiday with the Muggle-Wumps

The Roly-Poly Bird goes on holiday with the Muggle-Wumps

rolypoly-lgWritten by John Simmons, illustrated by Aimee Simmons
Inspired by The Twits


After the Twits got the shrinks, the Muggle-Wumps were happy to be free.

“Let’s celebrate,” they said to their bird friend who helped them escape from their cage. Monkeys don’t like being kept in cages any more than you would.

“We should go on holiday. How about France?”

“Oooo,” said Muggle-Wumps.

Ooo-la-la,” said the Roly-Poly Bird. “We should learn French – no good going and not knowing the language.”

He flew them on his back to Paris. They were enjoying  chocolat chaud and croissants in a café when they saw the sign: “See Paris from above. Best views from our chauderairee.”….

Read more…


Read the feature story ‘Aimee and the Twits’


Aimee and the Twits

Written by John Simmons

In a house in north London lives a family who are nothing like the Twits. But it’s here that Aimee Simmons, aged 9, lives with her mum and dad and younger sister Ada. Aimee’s mum Mathilde is French so Aimee has learnt to speak two languages. She reads Roald Dahl books a lot and one of her favourites is The Twits.

Aimee is my granddaughter and some months ago I asked her if she would like to take part in a project called 26 Twits. She said Yes and we started thinking about which character we might feature in our new story. We agreed it should be a character from The Twits so I read it again. One character caught my attention – the Roly-Poly Bird who frees the Muggle-Wump family of monkeys. So we talked about this, in particular the part where Muggle-Wump asks the Roly-Poly Bird about speaking other languages in the countries he visits. “Of course I do,” said the Roly-Poly Bird. “It’s no good going to a country and not knowing the language.”

Aimee was about to go to France for a few weeks to stay with her French grandparents. Which is lucky for Aimee but also very clever because she can speak French perfectly. This gave us the idea for our story and our invented word for a hot-air balloon, a chauderairee. We wrote the story and Aimee took it away with her to France.

When she was away her parents (who are really not like the disgusting Mr and Mrs Twit) played a Twit-like April Fool’s joke. They said they had been repainting rooms. Aimee replied by email to her mum like this:

Is it a joke?

You and daddy painted my room DARK brown with PINK (I don’t really like the colour pink) sploodges and Ada’s room BLACK just black! Could you (if this whole thing isn’t a joke) make Ada’s room a bit more colourful.

Mathilde confessed that this was an April Fool, and Aimee replied:

So you mean you haven’t painted our rooms brown, pink and black at all!

You haven’t even painted one wall?! Gosh, you need to start doing some house work BOTH OF YOU, yes, that means you as well dad.


This seemed very much in the spirit of Roald Dahl, as were the illustrations that Aimee made to go with our story. She decided to do one as a comic strip because she loves Asterix. For a bit more inspiration we had a great day out with Aimee and Ada at the Roald Dahl Museum in Great Missenden, where you are surrounded by Roald Dahl characters and art materials to make your own creations.

In The Twits there’s a simple message that kindness can beat nastiness; and that we should look after people for their difference not despite that difference. We tried to put similar ideas into our story, hoping that children will grow up in a world that encourages the same.


A Warning about Books

A Warning about Books

Matilda_Riley-Dobson---Jo_TWritten by Jo Thomas, illustrated by Riley Dobson
Inspired by Matilda


Books put mush between your ears
They turn your brains to jelly
Ideas make little heads explode
You’d better stick with telly

Books spark phizzlejimbly spells
Transform you while you’re reading
Into a girl or boy or dog
Or dragon that needs feeding

Books can blast you into space
To far off lands and oceans deep
Best prepare for wild adventures
Wave goodbye to dreamless sleep

Books will get you hooked for life
Like nose-picking, a habit
You’ll catch the reading bug and say
“Now here’s my chance,” and grab it!