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“20% of UK Primary Schools sign up to the Nobby Travels National Children’s Book Review competition”

London 4 March 2008 Following a successful week of promoting their Government-supported “Nobby Travels National Children’s Book Review” competition, husband and wife team Darren & Julia Spence have already secured the support of over 20% of the UKs Primary Schools, representing over 250,000 of the Nations children.

The competition, which invites children between 5-11 years old to read and review any book of their choice, was launched by former Blue Peter, Matt Baker at Hamleys on 20th February. Darren & Julia then promoted the competition at the Education Show last week and were over whelmed with schools wanting to participate there and then. In all, over 2,500 schools signed up to the idea at the show, and a further 2,000 have either downloaded the entry form via the official competition website,, or have called the competition hotline for more information – 0844 561 6022.

The competition is being run in Association with Headteacher Update magazine and recently received the following endorsement from the Government, "I am delighted to lend my support to the Nobby Travels National Children’s Book Review competition and I am sure that it will really capture the imagination of the nation’s children and inspire many more of them to read for pleasure." Rt Hon Beverley Hughes MP, Minister for children, Young People and Families

Schools have until 17th May to submit their entries. An expert panel will then review the entries and on 1st June the best 40 will be uploaded on the website for the public to vote on. Voting closes on 1st July when the winners will be unveiled. The winners will receive a range of prizes consisting of family days out, book tokens, cinema tickets and iPOD vouchers. The schools that teach the winning children will also pick up a cheque of £1,000. Full details about the campaign, including the official competition entry form, can be found on the Nobby Travels website,

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 gone from strength to strength, 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.

Darren & Julia chose to launch their Nobby Travels books via the primary school network in September 2007. Schools were contacted after the summer break and asked whether they would like the chance to sell the books in return for a 25% share of the selling price. In addition to being innovative, the campaign was also very successful and the couple sold over 7,500 books.

Darren said, “Since launching Nobby Travels last year and speaking to a number of teachers, parents and children about reading we 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. Reading is so important and we need to do more to promote it. Although this competition will hopefully 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. We need to embrace the new technological advances around us and integrate them into a reading environment.

Entry forms for the 2008 Nobby Travels Children’s Book Review competition can be downloaded from Children and parents can also approach their Head Teacher and ask them for a copy of the form as it’s in the current 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.

For media information contact:

Jacqui MacCarthy Managing Director d'Image Ltd ; E:; T: 01628 522 982
Darren Spence, Managing Director, Weird Grape Ltd; E:; T: 07771 598 578

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