Big DoG 22-27 March

6 March 2021
Bdlogo Landscape No Strap 1

We are delighted to launch this year's DIGITAL Big DoG Children's Book Festival programme, which is packed with events from authors, storytellers and illustrators. In addition, it includes puppetry and a live science show. We hope there's something to entertain and inspire the whole family.

The programme offers lots of opportunities for schools far and wide to get involved by streaming the events for the whole class, or for families to enjoy together at home.

All events can be accessed through the Big DoG YouTube Channel or the homepage of

We've been working alongside the speakers to ensure there are plenty of follow up resources for schools and home learning. These can be downloaded from each of the individual listings below. Please continue to check this page as additional resources are still being added.

You can browse the programme online, or download the PDF here.

If you've attended any Big DoG events we would love to hear what you thought. Please fill in our short questionnaire.

Ailie Kat E Website

Monday 22 March | 9.30am
Ailie Finlay, A Sensory Story

A Big DoG story about a big dog! Enjoy Ailie's lively sensory story about Big Dog's Springtime adventure on the farm. Tap-along, bark-along and you can even gather together some props to join in with. (All our props are ordinary household objects.) Lots of fun for everyone, but particularly for children with additional needs. 


Read along or download the printable story and rhymes, with illustrations by Kate Leiper, for your own sensory story time at home or in the classroom.

Big Dog Sensory Story Read Along

Big Dog Sensory Rhymes

Supported by Section 10 Grant Funding 2020-21

If you enjoyed this event, catch up on the other sensory stories and rhymes adapted and told by Ailie Finlay with illustrations by Kate Leiper, here.


Alastair Website

Monday 22 March | 11.15am
Alastair Chisholm | The Tale of the Valiant Ninja Frog

Join author Alastair Chisholm as he reads from his new book, The Tale of the Valiant Ninja Frog, a laugh-out-loud story showing that even small characters can be mighty. Put your own imagination to the test as Alastair challenges you to create your own story. Make sure to have your pencil and paper to hand.

The book and reading are suitable for children ages 3+. The writing workshop is suitable for children ages 7+ or younger with the help of a grown-up.

Download this activity sheet to join in the fun at the event!

Alistair Chisholm Storyteller Sheet


You, your parent or your teacher can send questions to Alastair during or after the event [[email protected]] to be answered in a special follow-up Q&A session later in the week.


You can also watch Alastair's Author's Live event HERE.

Ross Website

Monday 22 March | 1.30pm
Ross MacKenzie | The Otherwhere Emporium

Blue Peter Book Award Winner Ross MacKenzie leads us back inside The Nowhere Emporium one last time. The magic has changed, the Carnival of Wonders has fallen into disrepair and the soul of Daniel’s greatest adversary, trapped in the Emporium, leaves a path of destruction in his wake. What has happened to Daniel Holmes and can Mirren find him before the shop, and everyone inside it, is lost forever? Join the creator of The Nowhere Emporium, Ross MacKenzie as he chats with author Vivian French about the final chapter in this magical trilogy.


You or your teacher can send questions to Ross before or during the event [[email protected]] for a Q&A session at the end.


Ross invites you to create your own villain! Dive to the depths of your imagination and create a dastardly evil-doer for one of your stories. Remember to think about what makes them evil, and what motivates their schemes. Send your villain writing or drawing to [email protected] – every submission will receive a surprise gift. Remember to include the name and age of the child and your postal address.


Alan Website

Tuesday 23 March | 9.30am
Alan Windram & Saffanna Al-jbawi | One Button Benny in English & Arabic

Benny is a special robot. A single red button sits in the middle of his stomach. Benny has never known what the words “Only Press In An Emergency” mean until one day he is forced to find out. Join author Alan Windram and translator Saffana Al-jbawi. Suitable for non-English speakers.


Draw of make your very own robot, with a special power. Send us a picture of your robot to [email protected] – every submission will receive a surprise gift. Remember to include the name and age of the child and your postal address.


Abi Website

Tuesday 23 March | 11.15am
Abi Elphinstone | Everdark

A world of magic and adventure awaits. Join Abi Elphinstone as she leads you into a whole new world in her latest title Everdark, the prequel to her mesmerising Unmapped Chronicles series.

It is midnight in Crackledawn - a midnight full of magic. Sea dragons stir in the depths of the ocean, silver whales surface beneath the moon and sand goblins line the shores. Everyone is waiting for the phoenix, the guardian of the kingdom's magic, to rise up from the forests of Everdark. But there is no sign of the phoenix tonight. Can eleven-year-old Smudge and a grumpy monkey called Bartholomew sail beyond the legendary Northswirl to stop the harpy stealing Crackledawn's magic, before it’s too late?

Grab your compass, roll down your sail and join the adventure.


If you enjoy Abi's event, she has a series of masterclasses and writing challenges. You can access those HERE.


Stuart Website 1

Tuesday 23 March | 1.30pm
Stuart Paterson | Workshop: Writing in Scots

Join author Stuart Paterson, author of A Squatter o’ Bairnrhymes to hear a little bit about the history of the Scots language, where you’ll find different dialects, and how many people speak in Scots. Expect entertaining poetry and the chance to write your own Scots poem about something that matters to you.


Write your own Scots poem and send it to us at [email protected] – every submission will receive a surprise gift. Remember to include the name and age of the child and your postal address.


Catherine Website

Wednesday 24 March | 9.30am
Catherine Rayner | Arlo: The Lion Who Couldn’t Sleep

Catch up on a new BBC Authors Live broadcast with Catherine Rayner as she shares her latest picture book Arlo: The Lion Who Couldn't Sleep, a beautiful story about finding peace and calm. Catherine will also do some live painting and reveal step by step how she creates her beautiful illustrations.

A Scottish Book Trust event


You can follow Catherine's step by step drawing guides to create your own characters. Find them HERE.


Jo Puppet Website

Wednesday 24 March | 11.15am
Jo's Portable Art Department | Stinky McFish and the World's Worse Wish [Ages 5-9]

Scuttle the Crab longs to be human. Can little Lucy help to make his dreams come true? And should Scuttle be careful what he wishes for? Meanwhile, Marina, the Marine Explorer, needs some help to make life in the rock-pools good again for everyone. An original and beautifully crafted comedy puppet show about friendship, home and the environment.

 Jo’s Portable Art Department is run by character-comedian Jo Neary (Mrs Jones in CBBC’s So Awkward) who brings her observational brilliance and off-kilter wit to this interactive puppet show for children.

Part of Puppet Animation Festival 2021. Look out for more events 5-17 April 2021. Visit

David Website

Wednesday 24 March | 1.30pm
David Long | Survival in Space: The Apollo 13 Mission

In April 1970, Apollo 13 launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It should have been the third manned Apollo mission to land on the moon. But when an explosion on board damaged the spacecraft, it became a perilous and near-impossible fight for survival. Join author David Long as he chats with Jessica Fox about how courage, determination and teamwork succeeded in beating all the odds to bring the spacecraft home. 

This book is particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant or dyslexic readers.


In many parts of Dumfries & Galloway we live under some of the darkest skies in Europe. Step outside with a grown up before bedtime and take a look at the stars - see if you can find any constellations. You don't need to send us anything, just enjoy it.


Stay At Home Website

Thursday 25 March | 9.30am
Stories for Lockdown | Stay At Home [Ages 7-12]

It’s almost a year since writers from across Scotland united to publish a book of stories and poems all about lockdown. Hear them share their work, which might resonate with some of your own experiences of staying at home. Have you seen aliens? Had a bad haircut? Celebrated a birthday a bit differently? Some of the stories are serious, some are silly, but they all remind us there’s a rainbow after the storm.


Renita Boyle Joan Haig Website

Thursday 25 March | 11.15am
Renita Boyle & Joan Haig | Workshop: Going Elsewhere

Bedroom, kitchen, living room. Bathroom, kitchen, bedroom. We have spent much of this year staying at home. But, what if the door to your imagination suddenly became a portal to another place, space or time? Join Renita Boyle and Joan Haig who will help you go elsewhere, even when you can't (just yet). Use what you discover in this workshop to create a story, poem, illustration or comic to share the adventures of your imagination.


You can submit your Going Elsewhere adventure to [email protected] – every submission will receive a surprise gift. Remember to include the name and age of the child and your postal address and let us know if you’d be happy for us to share your adventure in a special blog post after this event.


Shoo Website2

Thursday 25 March | 1.30pm
Shoo Rayner | Walker and the Missing Millions

Author and illustrator Shoo Rayner brings you the newest Walker adventure - it’s a thriller! The Police want to speak to Walker. There’s a strange van lurking in the village and a mysterious man with a nasty little dog lurking in the woods. Baddie, Arlington Wherewithall, might be in jail but he can still make things difficult and scary for Stella and Walker – the boy who can talk to dogs.

Join Shoo to find out just how much worse things can get for Walker and his trusty sidekick, Stella.


You or your teacher can send questions to Shoo before or during the event [[email protected]] for a Q&A session at the end of the event.


Shoo is celebrating the launch of Walker and the Missing Millions by designing a new dog character everyday until 25 March (the publication date for the book). Children and families can submit their own ideas and photos to Shoo, with a chance for their family pet to be included in the next book! Find out more HERE.


Renita Website

Thursday 25 March | 6.30pm
Renita Boyle | Tuck in Teddy Tales

Have your teddies at the ready and join Renita for some Tuck In Teddy tales and tunes. Perfect for families with littlies.


Martin Jopson Website

Friday 26 March | 9.30am
Marty Jopson | ZAP! [Ages 5-11]

Join Dr Marty Jopson, the BBC One Show’s resident scientist as he takes a sparky journey through the story of electricity. From the Ancient Greeks, through Faraday’s genius, this show aims to put the awesome back into electricity. A show chock full of demonstrations: the astonishing floating orb, the levitating pie dishes, the world’s first batteries and motors. The show culminates with not one, but two million-Volt, singing sparks. Expect a hair-raising performance!


You or your teacher can send questions before or during the show for a special Q&A at the end. Submit to [email protected].

Joanna Website

Friday 26 March | 11.15am
Joanna Nadin | The Worst Class in the World

According to Miss Bottomley-Blunt, 4B is the worst class in the world, but Stanley and Manjit didn't mean to make their whole class sick, or for Manjit's dog to eat their teachers shoes, or for the rat to escape. These things just seem to happen, even when they have a foolproof plan. They might be the worst class in the world, but where else would you want to be?

Join Joanna Nadin as she talks to Vivian French about the hilarious adventures in her new laugh-out-loud series.


You or your teacher can send questions before or during the show for a special Q&A at the end. Submit to [email protected].

Kate Website

Friday 26 March | 1.30pm
Kate Wiseman | Gangster School

Blaggard’s is a school like no other. Instead of learning Maths and English, Milly and Charlie learn about lying and stealing from master criminals, coming face to face with super villains. Join author Kate Wiseman and design your own Gangster School villain. Send your design to Kate for a chance to win prizes for the most villainous!


It's important to choose your words carefully. Kate has created a worksheet to help you think about the best words for your story. Download it HERE.

We'd love to see your own Gangster School villain! You can draw freestyle or use Kate's template to help you. Download it HERE.

Send your fictional villain to [email protected] – every submission will receive a surprise gift. Remember to include the name and age of the child and your postal address.

Book now. 

Ross Collins Website

Saturday 27 March | 9.30am
Ross Collins | There’s a Mouse in My House

A funny family story from the award-winning creator of There’s a Bear on My Chair. Bear has an unwelcome guest – a cheeky little mouse who just won’t leave. Follow the hilarity through this beautiful rhyming picture book as the mouse creates chaos in Bear’s house, but proves that mice are actually rather nice, in the end. Author and illustrator Ross Collins welcomes the audience to listen and draw along.

Here are some activities you can download to join in the fun!

Rhyme Time

Mouses New Jumper

Spot The Difference


You can submit your illustrations from the draw-along to [email protected] – every submission will receive a surprise gift. Remember to include the name and age of the child and your postal address.

Book now. 

Vivian Website

Saturday 27 March | 1.30pm
Vivian French | Giants' Tea Party

The royal family are down to their last penny so the king and queen have sent Prince Max on a mission to the valley of the giants – with only a grumpy donkey for company. Legends say that the giants are rich beyond dreams, living in gold palaces and brushing their teeth with gold toothpaste. But even if it’s true, will they share their treasure? With dangers lurking in the shadows, Max must keep his wits about him to find out. Bring your own afternoon tea or carpet picnic as author and storyteller Vivian French introduces her brilliant and boisterous new fairy-tale adventure.


You, your parent or teacher can send questions to Vivian before or during the event [[email protected]] for a Q&A session at the end of the event.

Book now.

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