Friday, 10 October 2014

James Jones of Experian Talks Brilliant Books

Breakfast TV's James Jones

Popular James Jones is a regular on TV and Radio and an expert on credit reporting and credit itself. When it comes to Brilliant Books, James is the type of person we had in mind - someone who had made a success of himself through reading and literacy. Here is some of his advice.

He is (obviously) highly literate and credits a lifelong interest in reading as one of the major reasons for his success. I'm delighted to say he agreed to join us and his chosen book was the novelisation of long forgotten ITV series Catweazle about a completely useless Wizard. 

"Catweazle is a rather shabby and slightly mad magician who lives in a quiet cave with his ‘familiar’, a toad named Touchwood, in Eleventh-Century England. However, Catweazle’s peaceful life is soon shattered when he is forced to flee from a gang of attacking Norman soldiers; in desperation he casts a spell of flight in order to escape his pursuers – only to find himself transported through time, nine-hundred years into the future. Terrified by the sights and sounds of an strange new world, Catweazle stumbles across Hexwood Farm, where he befriends a young boy named Carrot; an unlikely friendship is soon forged, as over the course of thirteen episodes Catweazle attempts to find a way back to his proper time, whilst coming to terms with the wonders of the unfamiliar world in which he finds himself, such as “electrickery” (electricity), the “sun in a bottle” (a light-bulb), and a “telling bone” (telephone”). "

After James read from Catweazle, the young people were asked various questions about time travel and, in groups, they came up with some interesting answers, which they wrote down in their Brilliant Books notepad.


"I would go back to one month before the first Concorde was flown and make a lot of designs for it".

"I would go back in time to when school was invented and I would put children in charge".

"I would travel to the end of 1999 to see what it was like at the end of the years beginning 19. It would be great to be at the start of the years beginning 20!"

James reads "Catweazle" to the Brilliant Books group
It's been my pleasure to report that, half way through the first project, we've not lost a single group member (18) and the young people show a great deal of enthusiasm.  Some of the work - which will be included in the Brilliant Books anthology - is showing great promise. 

Have a read of this: this was written by someone on the topic of evacuation (where kids were taken out of the major cities in 1940 during World War Two's Blitz and sent to live in the country).

"I'm on the train and I'm saying goodbye. When it's moving I feel petrified because it's the real thing and I'm leaving my family and friends and toys and teddy bears...

There was a war and I had to go on a train. My heart was broken. I felt like a homeless person. I feel sad and worried about leaving my fabulous parents. I don't want to live with strangers. Who knows what their behaviour is like? My mum started to cry but she put on a brave faceabout leaving her daughter with a stranger."

Beautiful, huh. The writer is ten. 

I'd like to thank James for working with the children and I hope he can return at some future point as several other schools have shown an interest in working with us.

Next week: My colleagues, friends and acquaintances from my work as a writer and publisher (and particularly those active on Twitter) will be delighted to see that one of their own - an author who has made quite a stir - has agreed to work with Phil and Shellie to share her experiences with the kids. 

We cannot wait.

Until next week,


Brilliant Books is funded by the
Big Lottery Fund - your £2 goes a long way

PS: An alternative approach to engaging kids in reading- particularly young boys - can be found here from Julia Donaldson, an author of 160 children's books (the Gruffalo series), which I personally find completely naive, silly, and a bit "woman-in-the-street", but you may agree with her. See what you think.


  1. I think the piece of writing from your ten year old is terrific and hope there will be plenty more of this for the anthology. From experience I would say that there is little point in pushing inappropriate books on teens just because you think it is what they should read, it's like leading a horse to water and expecting it to drink. The trick is to know your teenager and choose a book according to their interests etc. It's not like there isn't plenty of choice out there :-)