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20 February 2008 London: Tonight in the world famous toy store, Hamleys, former Blue Peter presenter Matt Baker, will be launching the Nobby Travels National Children’s Book Review competition. The competition, which is the brainchild of husband & wife authors Darren & Julia Spence, has been designed to get kids reading by encouraging them to write a review of their favourite book. With prizes of up to £1,000 up for grabs, schools up and down the country are expected to participate. Despite this, and the competition’s relevance to the Government’s “Year of Reading” initiative, the Government has been slow to come forward and support the cause. Darren Spence , the competitions co-creator and co-author of Nobby Travels said yesterday that “in order to get the Government’s attention, he would like nothing more than to dress up as a dog and walk through parliament howling like the main character in their children’s books, Nobby Travels.”

Full text …

Tonight in the world famous toy store, Hamleys, former Blue Peter presenter Matt Baker, will be launching the Nobby Travels National Children’s Book Review competition. The competition, which is the brainchild of husband & wife authors Darren & Julia Spence, has been designed to get kids reading by encouraging them to write a review of their favourite book. Assisting them with the launch will be representatives from the education sector including Judith Bloor (Editor of Headteacher Update magazine), Eileen Hayes (Child Development Expert and Advisor to the NSPCC), and a Member of Parliament.

Forming part of the Government’s “National Year of Reading”, the competition will invite every UK primary child aged 5-11 years old to read any book they wish – and write a review of it. Darren & Julia will be asking teachers & parents to support the campaign by encouraging children to participate.

The campaign, which is being run in association with Headteacher Update magazine will run until 17th May. On 20th June the best 40 reviews (20 per age group) will be shortlisted and the public will then be able to vote for the ones they think are best, with the winners being announced on 1st July. The winners will receive a range of prizes consisting of family days out, book tokens, cinema tickets and iPOD vouchers. The schools who teach the winning children will also pick up a cheque of £1,000. Full details about the campaign will be available after 21st February 2008 on the official competition website, www.nobbytravels.com/Bookreview.

Nobby Travels was made famous by Darren in October 2007 when he appeared on the popular BBC entrepreneurs show, Dragons’ Den. Since appearing on the show, the couple have had a very successful time, and on 18th January 2008 found out that their publishing company, Weird Grape Ltd, had been shortlisted to win the most “Innovative Publisher of the Year” award by the Independent Publishers Guild (IPG). The IPG were particularly impressed with the efforts the couple had gone to to work effectively with the Primary School network and considered their approach very original. The winner will be announced on 8th March 2008.

As part of the launch, Darren will explain that since launching Nobby Travels last November and speaking to a number of teachers, parents and children about reading the couple wanted to do something quite special to encourage more children to read and felt a National Children’s Book Review competition was the best way to motivate schools and encourage parents to put reading back at the top of their agenda. He will reiterate how important reading is and will say that although the competition will help raise the profile of reading and start a wider debate, we need to be thinking of new ways to make reading more interesting and accessible for children. He will continue by saying teachers, parents and publishers all need to embrace the new technological advances and integrate them into a reading environment.

Entry forms for the 2008 Nobby Travels Children’s Book Review competition will be available to downloaded from 21st February from www.nobbytravels.com/Bookreview. Details can also be found in the Feb/March edition of Headteacher Update magazine.

About Nobby Travels:

Nobby Travels is aimed at children aged 4-8 years old. It tells the tale of a Chocolate Labrador puppy who has a magical dog flap, which allows him to travel to different countries. When he jumps through it he is greeted by a dog from the country then taken on an adventure involving fact and fantasy - teaching him and the readers about the country.

Each Nobby Travels book begins in exactly the same way ….“Night night, Nobby!”
The Chocolate Labrador puppy settled down in his basket. His owner switched off the kitchen lights and shut the door. He heard the stairs creaking, and then it was quiet.

He should be going to bed now. But something told Nobby it was not a night for sleep. He sniffed the air. Amongst the wafts of tonight’s dinner and damp boots drying by the fire, there was something else –a whiff of magic

It was a clear night, and the moon shone brightly through the kitchen window. Nobby looked across at the back door and the moonbeam falling at the dog flap. He got out of his basket by the fire and crept across the shiny kitchen floor towards the door. He paused, wagged his tail with excitement then leapt through his dog flap ….

Each book has approximately 40 pages and 25 colourful illustrations. The content is very light hearted and makes for a perfect bedtime story. There is a small section at the back of each book where children can see exactly how far Nobby has travelled and learn a few basic facts about the country.

There are 5 books in series 1 plus the standalone title, Nobby Travels to Lapland, was available during the festive period 2007.

www.nobbytravels.com
www.weirdgrape.com

For media information contact:

Jacqui MacCarthy Managing Director d'Image Ltd
E: jacqui@d-image.co.uk
T: 01628 522 982

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