Friday, 25 September 2015

Welcome Back to...Brilliant Books!

Welcome back to Brilliant Books. 

For those of you who don't know the Brilliant Books project, if you fancy a "brilliant" explanation of what Brilliant Books does, you will find loads of information on this blog.

It is currently funded by an award from the Big Lottery Fund

If you are busy, here's Brilliant Books in a hundred words. 

Essentially, Brilliant Books go into schools with successful people in tow; people who credit their success in careers etc because they read fiction as children and continue to read.

In two hours, they give an inspirational talk, then help us work with up to twenty children, in small groups, mostly reluctant readers, each writing a short story. 

Finally, after eight weeks, the stories are collected in an anthology which is presented to the kids in front of their peers, so they essentially become published authors at between 10 and 14.

The team have moved on to a new school after two terms at Seely. 

We are now based at

Nottingham Free School

Working with 12 and 13 year olds at Secondary level. this presents the BB team with a different challenge. We've met the group and delivered two sessions so far.

The first session was delivered by Michelle Place

who read from rascally rabbit tearjerker Watership Down. 

Michelle started off in Nursery Nursing and is now Business Partner for Workforce Development at City Care, a supportive social enterprise connected to the NHS. 

Michelle is passionate about reading and talked about her love of fantasy novels of all types. She read an extract from the book - an original copy! - and then settled down to work with the children in small groups.

Phil set an exercise connected to Watership Down, which is a novel with a subtext of displacement and departure. Entitled Leaving Home, the team worked with seventeen young people on written exercises (1)

It was interesting that Watership Down could be seen as a metaphor for the European Refugee/Migrant Crisis, particularly those leaving war torn Syria and Afghanistan


This Monday, in a change to the advertised programme, Mark Barry took over and delivered a talk on Comics and Graphic Novels. 

Mark is a writer, publisher and (mostly) a professional bid writer, downloading funds from government and other bodies for projects like Brilliant Books.

Mark talked about his educational difficulties (he was almost unteachable due to what is now recognised as ADHD, and then seriously bullied in one of Nottingham's most notorious schools), and credited exposure to superhero comics (such as Batman, Avengers, X-Men) as the first time he was able to sit and concentrate. 

Mark blossomed due to comics and to novels by authors such as Stephen King and James Herbert and then became a novelist, with one of his books selling several thousand copies and others attracting considerable respect.

He admitted to the chlidren - a mixed ability group with a varied, sometimes reluctant attitude to reading - that without comics, it is extremely unlikely that he would have written those books. 

In the break he displayed and discussed his comic collection and answered questions, but his main emphasis was all about how reading comics led to his success.

First appearance of Elektra: Assassin

The school are very keen on uniform and all the pupils, of whatever stream, dress in blazers and ties. 

Mark also discussed the work of some of his Indie author network - themselves success stories due to reading including top Indie romance novelist Georgia Rose ( a big supporter of BB), the Queen of Steampunk Rae Gee (ditto) and noted faction writer Brenda Perlin, whose anthology "LA PunkRocker" reached #1 in the US Punk charts.
This is the type of success network the kids need to be exposed to. And that's what Brilliant Books does.

It's been a good start so far and next week, we welcome Kevin Price, a legal expert and a massive Dickens reader...

...reading from classic Dickensian comedy of ambition and intrigue Great Expectations.

Thanks for reading.

The Brilliant Books team.

Phil Pidluznyj - Chief Facilitator
Shellie Eyre - Support Tutor
Mark Barry - Logistics and Resources

1) We were unable to take photos of children for these sessions as official parental permission had not been granted for many.

2) The funding for Brilliant Books comes from the Big Lottery Fund.  Forty eight percent of your £2 ticket goes toward good causes - projects like this - AND they pay the core costs which are absolutely necessary to run projects.


  1. Really nice. Love seeing what you are doing over there with Brilliant Books. This is well needed and will make a difference over the years. Bravo to you all.

  2. Ohh I bet they loved the comics Mark - I've never read Watership Down though, perhaps I should now although I could do without a bunny tearjerker! You're all doing a great job and I can't wait to join you all next year. Thanks for the TtW photo as well - much appreciated :-)

  3. Brilliant! I also go into sdcondary schools and talk about how reading turned me eventually int a writer. I read from my Soy Girl books and chat to the pupils about what they read. I also talk to parents about the importance of reading. As a tutot, I can tell straightaway the kids who read - their vocabulary and spelling are waaay ahead of everybody else.