Author: piers

Matthew Kelly & Josefina Gabrielle to star in The Box of Delights

Delighted to finally announce our incredible cast for my brand-new stage adaptation of The Box of Delights at Wilton’s Music Hall:

National Treasure Matthew Kelly and West End superstar Josefina Gabrielle are to star, as part of an ensemble cast in the gloriously Christmassy surroundings of Wilton’s Music Hall. Joining Kelly and Gabrielle as part of the stellar lineup will be Mark Extance, Safiyya Ingar, Tom Kanji, Samuel Simmonds, Rosalind Steele and Alistair Toovey.

Matthew Kelly is an Olivier-award winning actor best known for television and stage acting and presenting family favourites Stars In Their Eyes and Game For a Laugh. Having appeared in several West End productions; Of Mice and Men, Waiting For Godot, Funny Peculiar and Sign of the Times to name a few, Matthew has most recently been appearing in Desire Under The Elms at the Sheffield Crucible. Three-time Olivier-nominated Josefina Gabriellehas appeared in countless West End shows, including Stepping Out, Charlie and The Chocolate Factory, Sweet Charity and Merrily We Roll Along. Her television credits include Miranda, Doctors, Auf Wiedersehen Pet and Heartbeat.

The original great British children’s literary classic, which has inspired authors from C S Lewis to J K Rowling, The Box Of Delights was reinvented as an award-winning BBC television show in the 1980s and became an instant cult classic, creating a fanbase of thousands around the world. This brand-new stage show tells the story of young orphan Kay Harker, the boy who must save Christmas. On the train home for the holidays he encounters an old magician, Cole Hawlings, who tasks Kay with protecting his Box of Delights, a wondrous device with time travelling powers. And so begins a tale of adventure that transports Kay through time and space, as he must protect the Box against Cole’s nemesis, the evil sorcerer Abner Brown.

Matthew Kelly says ‘I couldn’t be more delighted to be returning to Wilton’s, a magical venue and the perfect setting for the Christmas classic The Box of Delights. How they will achieve the effects of snow, flood, talking animals, miniaturised children and flying cars in this exciting time-travel adventure I have no idea. If anybody can do it, Justin Audibertdirecting and Tom Piper designing can and that’s why I’m on board. Hurrah.’

Josefina Gabrielle says ‘I’m so excited to be joining the cast of The Box of Delights. And I can’t wait to see what this incredible creative team has in store for us in bringing this wonderful story to life at the very special Wilton’s Music Hall this Christmas.’

Packed with Christmas spirit, festive fun and magic, this family show is brought to life by our acclaimed creative team including Director Justin Audibert (Royal Shakespeare Company; National Theatre) and Olivier award-winning Designer Tom Piper and takes place in the wonderful Wilton’s Music Hall, a venue so Christmassy the smell of mulled wine positively oozes from the walls…

Costa Book Award Judges announced.

The judges for this year’s Costa Book Award have been announced…and I’m one of them.

Along with Sanchita Basu De Sarkar from the Children’s Bookshop in Muswell Hill and Fiona Noble from The Bookseller, I’ll be one of the category judges for the Costa Children’s Book Award.

We’ve been spending the summer reading, and I mean READING. This is a photo of just some of the forty plus children’s and YA titles I’ve been lucky enough to read this summer.

Our shortlist is will be revealed on Tuesday 21st November 2017…it’s going to be a very, very difficult decision.

There May Be A Castle now in paperback

There May Be A Castle paperback

Finally, There May Be A Castle is out in paperback! With a fabulous new magical, shiny version of the acclaimed cover by Rob Biddulph.

Just in time for Christmas…

To celebrate, please join me at Waterstones Greenwich on 7th October for the launch, where I’ll be reading, taking questions and signing.

I also have some signed copies to give away, which you can enter to win below:



Interviewed by John Craven on BBC Countryfile

It was a pleasure to talk to John Craven about Roald Dahl (they knew each other) about how Dahl was inspired by the countryside on a special tribute episode of BBC Countryfile.


I enjoyed a great morning with John and some local school children discussing Dahl in the beautiful Angle Spring Woods outside Great Missenden. It’s believed that whilst walking in these woods Roald Dahl came up with the idea for Fantastic Mr Fox…

The Box of Delights – world premiere announced

‘John Masefield’s The Box of Delights is one of the true classics. It has all the magic, adventure, threat, enchantment & excitement of the best tales for children of all ages. I remember wriggling with pleasure when I first read it and I couldn’t be more excited that such a talented team is bringing it to life for a new generation – and at Wilton’s – wonderful!’ 


I am delighted to tell you that Wilton’s Music Hall (the oldest music hall in the world), has invited me to adapt the former Poet Laureate John Masefields’ Christmas classic, The Box of Delights, for the international stage premiere this festive season. (30th December 2017 – 6th January 2018).

I grew up on this story, both in book form and the wonderful BBC TV adaptation, and it has been a thrill to bring it to life for a whole new audience. Full of enchanting stage magic, here is a reminder of why this is one of the best Christmas tales ever…

Kay Harker is on the train home from school for the holidays. But this Christmas will be different. His parents are dead, and the wolves are running… He meets an aged magician, Cole Hawlings, who charges him with protecting his wondrous Box of Delights, a device of great power. But when the old man mysteriously disappears, Kay faces the fight of his life to protect the Box, and with it, the people he loves. For Cole’s nemesis, the wicked sorcerer Abner Brown will stop at nothing to get his hands on the Box. 

For me, The Box of Delights is a magical and festive adventure like no other in which one boy must enlist the help of the heroes of the past, to defeat the evil in his present. The very future of Christmas itself depends upon him… 

I’m very excited to be working with an incredible team. The show will be directed by Justin Audibert (Royal Shakespeare Company; National Theatre), designed by Tom Piper (Olivier-Award winning and designer of Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red poppy installation at the Tower of London), with movement direction from Simon Pittman. Lighting is by Anna Watson, sound and music by Ed Lewis, and video by Nina Dunn.

Tickets are now on sale, with some limited but special offers for schools and group bookings still available.

It’s going to be a magical winter – hope to see you there!

The Wild Beyond shortlisted for Islington Book Award

I was so proud to go to the Arsenal Emirates Stadium this afternoon, for a vey special ceremony, with hundreds of local Islington school children – the first ever Islington Primary Schools Book of the Year Award!

Created by the amazing team at Islington Libraries, using a road map reading ladder, this prize has got thousands of children reading dozens of truly amazing books. And I got to meet some of the amazing authors also shortlisted at the ceremony today – Pamela Butchart, Shane Hegarty, and Susan Moore! Pamela won, deservedly so, for her brilliant “Attack of the Demon Dinner Ladies” – which is also illustrated by Thomas Flintham who illustrated The Wild Books.

It was particularly special for me as until two years ago, I had lived in Islington all my adult life, and all of the Wild books were written there – just a few minutes away from the Stadium!

A Wisp of Wisdom raises £13,000 for Cameroon children

Very proud that, thanks to Tom Moorhouse and Lantana Publishing, our collection of African short stories, “Wisp of Wisdom: Animal Tales from the Cameroon”, has raised over £13,000 which will help put books into the hands of children who have none. And it’s in no small part down to your generosity – so thank you from all of us.

Read more about it at The Bookseller

Buy a copy here.

Visit Kester’s room in Spectrum Hall

Well, nearly. I can’t quite believe I am writing this, but I just returned from the most surreal but wondrous visit to the fantastic Story Museum in Oxford, and their fantastic new “Animal: A safari through stories” exhibition – featuring The Last Wild!

The show takes a very imaginative and comprehensvie look at all the different ways animals appear in stories – from Greek myths and African folktales to Wallace and Gromit and Maus. In keeping with their belief in the magic of stories, the Story of Museum has created their own incredible set of illusions.

I hid in the Master’s wardrobe at Jordan College with Lyra and Pan, looking at the Northern Lights, wandered over the warrens of Watership Down, nosed about War Horse’s stable and – this is where it got really magical for me…I went into Kester’s room at Spectrum Hall.  And you can too! There is a stunning recreation of his room at the moment the pigeons and cockroaches come to rescue him. You can meet the General, lie on Kester’s bed and imagine what it would feel like to be him… There is also a great game you can play built around finding a cure for the Last Wild.

There are also many other brilliant recreations of scenes and characters from other contemporary books – Gill Lewis’ Moon Bear is there, as are Katherine Rundell’s wolves, Tom Moorhouse’s voles – with their own board game!- and you can even throw a shadow like SF Said’s Varjak Paw.

Please go if you can. It’s an amazing day out, and as a new museum, the Story Museum needs the support of keen young readers.

And find out more about their spectacular  “Animal” exhibition here...