Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

PICTURE BOOK RETREAT 2020: Picturing Words and Writing Pictures CANCELLED FOR 2020

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Date(s) - 10/07/2020 - 13/07/2020

Holland House
Main Street - Cropthorne Pershore, Worcestershire WR10 3NB

Great news that the Retreat is as popular as ever and has sold out in 2 days. If you would like to be added to the waiting list then please drop and email to Paul and Nick.   and we will be in touch.


From Money Go Round by Mini Grey

From Money Go Round by Mini Grey

Illustration by Mini Grey


From Mrs Noah’s Pockets by James Mayhew

Illustration by James Mayhew


A long luxurious weekend of play, exploration, personal work time, group critiques and fun for picture book writers and illustrators.

Are you ready for an invigorating weekend on the beautiful River Avon in Worcestershire? Ready to wake up each morning and jump into a creative workshop with our faculty to kick-start your writing, explore new techniques and experiment with words and images? Then join us at Holland House to do just those things.

As well as the creative activities in our facilitated sessions, there will be time for work on personal projects. Every attendee will be assigned a faculty mentor for their one-to-one review session, some will have the chance to book a one-to-one slot with a commissioning editor or art director.

Evenings will be open for informal critique sessions, discussions on technique, craft and the children’s publishing industry.

We are very pleased to announce that returning in July this year is award-winning author illustrator James Mayhew. James will be joined by award-winning author illustrator Mini Grey.


James Mayhew is an illustrator and author, best known for the Katie books, Ella Bella Ballerina and Gaspard the Fox. Alongside his books, James also collaborates with musicians and orchestras in concerts for children, painting illustrations live on stage in time to the music. For many years he taught on the MA in Children’s Book Illustration at Cambridge School of Art.





Mini Grey is an illustrator and author. Born in a mini car in a car park in South Wales, Mini worked as a theatre designer, then a primary school teacher, before studying for an MA in sequential design at Brighton University. Since then she has been mostly making children’s picture books, some of which have won awards.

Recent books by Mini include Hermelin, the story of a typing mouse detective, Space Dog, an intergalactic canine/feline romp set in the Outer Spooniverse, The Bad Bunnies’ Magic Show and The Last Wolf. 2020 sees the publication of Money-Go-Round written by Roger McGough and illustrated by Mini, and Not Entirely Useful Advice, a book of poems and pictures by AF Harrold and Mini.


As is customary, we will be joined on Saturday and Sunday by two day visitor professionals from the publishing industry.

These visiting speakers are still be confirmed, watch this space.

Questions or queries, email

Most of the art materials for making dummies and optional craft techniques are supplied and a list of suggested art materials for bringing along with you will be sent closer to the time of the retreat.

The retreat begins on Friday, 10 July (arrival from 3 pm) and ends after breakfast on Monday, 13 July 2020.

The retreat will be held at Holland House located on four acres of beautiful gardens in Cropthorne, Pershore, Worcestershire. A magnet for writers and artists, Holland House is a perfect setting to find inspiration and new ideas, to experiment and share expertise. Take a look –

The nearest British Rail station is Evesham. Once in Evesham you can take a taxi or bus to Holland House.

Directions: use post code WR10 3NB * for navigation settings or Google map directions.

*Word of warning, last year this postcode sent people to a different location, so please check on your sat nav map that it is Holland House, Cropthorne as your target destination.

Retreat fees include accommodation and meals. Every attendee can have their own room or, as happened last year, there is a limited opportunity to share one of the larger suites, at a slightly reduced cost. This will be announced once bookings have filled, everyone that has successfully booked will be emailed further details, and at that stage we will ask if anyone is willing to share a larger suite.

*Please book as an illustrator, author illustrator or writer. This is to try for a balance of illustrators and writers at the retreat. Once the event is fully booked a waiting list will be created.

Non-refundable deposit to hold your place – £60 member (£75 non-member)

Full cost of the retreat for members – £360

Non-member full cost – £405

Balance due by 31 May 2020

If you do not pay the balance by 31 May 2020 you may forfeit your place and your deposit.

Below are a couple of pictures from past Retreats followed by some lovely testimonials from last year.

Here’s what previous participants thought about Retreat 2019 …

Hi all. I’d just like to thank you for a most magical and inspiring retreat! It was so much fun and so lovely to meet you all. I particularly enjoyed getting back into the fun of experimenting and exploring with creativity – and just chatting with other eccentric, creative people. What a wonderful retreat! Can’t wait for next year.



A wonderful weekend and will change the way I work in many ways.

Many thanks again to our terrific organisers and to everyone for being such good and interesting company. It was fantastic to be in the company of so many talented and fun people.  And I can make origami swans now (sort of)



Echoing what everyone else has said… I had a great weekend and am feeling excited about editing some old projects and starting some new ones. And I got two ideas for new books in the car to the station with Paul and Viv, which I’m really looking forward to playing around with, so extra thanks, 



It was my first writers and illustrators retreat and I felt totally accepted as a newbie.

A wonderful group of friendly, funny and amazing writers and illustrators.

Thank you for all the constructive advice it was so helpful as I am only just beginning a new journey in this area of my life .

Thank you to all of you, you made my weekend very special.



I was just reflecting that when I signed up for this on a total leap of faith thinking hmmmn well – I’ll stick a deposit down and then see …then seeing all these email addresses of people I didn’t know, again thinking  – what am I doing?!! – little would I know… what a welcoming, fun, energising, supportive and great bunch of souls would coalesce. Thanks to the morning yogis :-), the chats, feedback, generous sharing of info and names, music and art.



I want to join the chorus of thanks to organisers and thanks to participants who made this weekend so special. I have made new friends and I’m excited for everyone’s projects as well as my own! Next year feels so far away! When can we book?



Yes, it really was a joy to meet you all. Thank-you for your support, kind words and making me feel incredibly welcome.

Best wishes for all of your upcoming projects – it was a honour to spend the weekend amongst such talent!

Right, now to return to my paper aeroplane practice ready for next year… 


Questions or queries, email

The full retreat programme is under construction, and subject to change.