Five UK post boxes have been decorated to honour British authors and illustrators who’ve been using their work to help educate and entertain children during lockdown.

The boxes – one of which is a parcel postbox – are in London, Cardiff, Sheffield, Belfast and Oban, close to places of significance to either the writers or their work. Meanhile, each postbox is digitally activated, containing a QR code linking through to the free services offered by the author it celebrates, for example a YouTube channel offering free online readings.

The book creatros are: Cressida Cowell, Waterstone’s Children’s Laureate and author-illustrator of How To Train Your Dragon and The Wizards of Once. As Children’s Laureate, Cressida has filmed hundreds of videos of readings, creative challenges and masterclasses for children in lockdown – all available on her YouTube channels CressidaCowellOfficial, the BookTrust HomeTime website, and Cressida Cowell’s Creativity Camp. Her postbox, lavishly decorated with Hiccup and Toothless from How to Train Your Dragon, and with gold trim, is located in Oban, Scotland, where ferries to the west coast islands are caught. Cressida spent her childhood summers on an uninhabited island off the coast of Oban, and its beautiful backdrop was the inspiration for the How To Train Your Dragon series of books – now a hugely-popular film and TV franchise. The postbox also features a photo of Cressida writing on that island as a nine-year-old.

Nathan Bryon and Dapo Adeola, Waterstone’s Children’s Book Of The Year winners 2020, (pictured). Nathan and Dapo’s “utterly joyful” book about a science-mad young black girl trying to distract her brother from his phone actively looks to challenge perceptions around race and gender. In addition to writing one of the most popular recently released children’s books, Nathan and Dapo have been keeping thousands of children entertained with their lively and entertaining digital events, including their Puffin Storytime event which has been viewed over 25,000 times. The bright yellow postbox is in Shepherd’s Bush in London, where Bryon was born.

Julia Donaldson and Lydia Monks (this is a parcel postbox). The striking yellow postbox gives a beautifully designed nod to Lydia and Julia’s work, in particular their recent ‘What The Ladybird Heard’ series of books. Stories from this iconic author and illustrator duo include ‘Sharing A Shell’ and ‘Princess Mirror-Belle’, among many others. Julia has been working on the second series of ‘Julia Donaldson and Friends’ during lockdown, which offers free weekly broadcasts of stories, songs and poems, accessible through The Gruffalo Facebook Page. Lydia has also been running her popular ‘How To Draw’ films on her website, which allow children to create many of her characters, as well as animals and vehicles. This postbox is located in Sheffield, where Lydia Monks lives.

Eloise Williams,Children’s Laureate Wales 2019-21 – a project run by Literature Wales.From setting weekly writing challenges for children toproviding workshop resources for schools, Eloisehas had a busy lockdown! Her postbox is in striking regal navy with gold trim, inspired by her much-loved novel Gaslight, and is situated in Cardiff, where she spent much of her childhood.

Sam McBratney, author of Guess How Much I Love You. The author of one of the most beloved modern children’s books, Northern Irish writer Sam McBratney very sadly passed away last year. The book has been read online by numerous celebrities and high-profile organisations during lockdown and will remain an iconic part of British literature for generations to come. Royal Mail hopes that the beautiful cream postbox in Sam’s birthplace of Belfast is a fitting tribute to his legacy.

Mark Street, Head of Campaigns at Royal Mail said: “It is without a shadow of a doubt that the UK is home to some of the world’s best children’s authors, and it is heart-warming to see how so many have been focused on keeping the magic of literature alive for children during lockdown. As one of the guardians of the written word, Royal Mail relishes the opportunity to celebrate some of Britain’s most treasured writers during these unprecedented times, so it seems only fitting that their amazing work is honoured on some of our iconic postboxes.”

Cressida Cowell, Waterstone’s Children’s Laureate and author-illustrator commented: “I am so flattered and delighted to be part of this project, and have a postbox decorated with characters from How to Train Your Dragon. The series is inextricably linked with the astonishing beauty of the islands of the west coast of Scotland. I spent every childhood summer taking the ferry from Oban to Mull, and then on to an uninhabited island next to Staffa, where I explored the seaside wilderness, making up stories. I began writing about dragons and Vikings when I was nine years old, looking across the archipelago of islands all around me, which had been invaded by Vikings over a thousand years before, not knowing that decades later How to Train Your Dragon would not only be a book series, but also films and TV. I will always be grateful for the unique landscape of the islands of this area of Scotland. Their beauty, history and character are woven into my life and work. I use my example to encourage children to use our natural world as inspiration, and to tell them that their creativity is valuable, however old they are. Thank you to the Royal Mail and World Book Day for this honour.” More: Royal Mail and An Post jointly commemorate Jack Charlton with first-ever postmark collaboration

Cassie Chadderton, CEO of World Book Day said: “It’s wonderful that children and families have felt the benefit of shared reading during the lockdowns thanks to many authors and illustrators. World Book Day aims to that ensure children from all backgrounds can benefit from the improved life chances reading for pleasure offers. The challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic mean this mission is now more important than ever, and we’re delighted to team up with Royal Mail to recognise the amazing contribution these authors have made.”

Julia Donaldson, CBE commented: “I am really looking forward to seeing the finished postbox – what a great idea.  I hope it brings some cheer to families in Sheffield.  Maybe children can post some stories or pictures to their friends and family, and I hope they’ll have fun with the new What the Ladybird Heard activities too.”

  • Nathan Bryon & Dapo Adeola (Shepherd’s Bush, London): Uxbridge Road, W12 8LH
  • Cressida Cowell (Oban, Scotland): Argyll Street, PA34 5SG
  • Julia Donaldson & Lydia Monks (Sheffield): Clarkehouse Road, S10 2LD
  • Eloise Williams (Cardiff): St. John Street, CF10 1GN
  • Sam McBratney (Belfast) Donegal Square West, BT1 6JA

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