I’m just back from a picture book retreat organised through the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). Here are my thoughts on the experiences I had and the inspirational people I met while I was there. It isn’t perfect but it makes me smile as I remember the highlights from a fantastic weekend.

AND I even played my first ever game of Croquet…in the dark…using lights from our phones to show us the way. Great fun!

p.s if you read SCBWI as Scooby it will flow better. Trust me.

Consequences, Croquet and all the risks involved

Flying high over fields and valleys so pretty

I make my way down to Birmingham city

I emerge in the sun with my notebook in hand

excited to see what SCBWI has planned

I met David Gray, some of you may know him

he arrived with a grin and we set off for Evesham

hugs and intros, an abundance of smiles

as we all got together, our books in a pile

Anne-Marie & Bridget were so organised

giving out our new schedule soon as we arrived

with workshops and meet-ups, we were going to be busy

to work on our books in grounds that were pretty

Alexis took charge of our wee SCBWI clan

heading out to the garden to tell us his plan

A game from our childhood with a slight SCBWI twist

Consequences on paper to create a new beast!

And create we did, on that sunny first day

the beast was amazing, scaring even me

we shared our best books, our hearts and our minds

as we connected as readers and writers alike

Pterodactyls and frogs, strange creatures and more

our job – to describe them using only small words

we hunched in our groups searching for lots of clues

as Alexis sat back looking rather amused

Walker and Egmont came along for the day

giving valuable insights on what we should say

with pencils poised, we scribbled down notes

on subs, on our format and how to approach

We started day three with a wonderful session

from Helen Stephens and the lion she’s hiding

her drawings and stories enthused and inspired

with mayors, and Fleabag and Italian church spires

A relaxing day with writing and crafts

the lino was cut and the ink was well splashed

we shared all our work and headed outside

for the funniest match the lawn could provide

Alexis, our captain and umpire divine

was no match for our Julie cos we ran out of time

her prowess in Croquet created a spark

especially since it was played in the dark

The sun shone forever lighting up the blue sky

with the odd wispy cloud slowly passing us by

Our hosts were fantastic at keeping us fed

as we worked through our tasks before heading to bed


    1. Author

      Hi Jane! Thank you very much – it was a great weekend. Now, onwards to the conference 🙂

  1. Well done for portraying our time so well and so quickly! It was fab to meet you & everyone else, & I came home invigorated and ready to go! Sadly though, my garden is not big enough for croquet 🙁

    1. Author

      Thank you Shanabanana, it was lovely to meet you and I look forward to doing it all again next year.

  2. Hi,Sarah!

    I was really envious of your weekend away. It sounded fabulous. I’ve always fancied trying croquet. Alice in Wonderland eat your heart out. Shh, but they play croquet on the lawns at Holyrood Palace.

    1. Author

      I may need to work on my skills for next year, Angela!

  3. Great to meet you Sarah and a great write up – thanks – just needs Candy’s beautiful photograph to illustrate it like a picture book!

    1. Author

      Absolutely, Bridget! I am still in awe of all the wonderful, talented writers and artists I met.

    1. Author

      I missed some things off but thank you, I had a wonderful time and my writing and knowledge of the PB world has expanded even more now. Lovely to meet you all, such an inspiration to me.

      1. Hello Sarah, I enjoyed reading your rhyming account of the retreat. I agree, it was wonderful. It was lovely to meet you, too and I wish you success! x

        1. Author

          Hello Frances! Thank you for getting in touch – what a wonderful way to meet amazing people who understand what you mean when you say ‘should he have purple hair or green toes’ without flinching!

  4. Well, what a real eye-opener as to what our authors get up to the minute you turn your back. I wouldn’t have been in the least surprised to hear you used flamingos as mallets.

    I’m glad you had such a great time Sarah and that despite the fun and games, a lot of work was done too.
    xxx Massive Hugs xxx

    1. Author

      David, you should join SCBWI and come along the next time, it’s not that far from you! It was such a peaceful place, a perfect hideaway to get some work done. I met some wonderful people…and I love the idea of Flamingos as mallets!