Updated 24th October 2023
Not-so-Little Red Riding Hood, illustrated by David Telling, published by HarperCollins.
A modern Red Riding Hood, goes off through the woods on her talking pony and she’s in for a big surprise.
The Big Dreaming, illustrated by Daniel Egnéus, published by Bloomsbury.
Winter is coming and Little Bear is worried that when he and Big Bear go to sleep for the winter, he’ll run out of dreams.
The Incredible Adventures of Gaston le Dog, illustrated by Viviane Schwarz, published by Walker Books.
Gaston tells his best friend, Hirondelle the house martin that he has to go for a big walk to the beach. On the way he meets up with friends – hedgehog, butterfly, snake – yes!, fox, owl, yak, – and meets some enemies: a cat, and a very bossy dragonfly. Will they find what really matters?
Farce Majeure – volume II of the Boris letters as dictated to Michael Rosen, illustrated by Zoom Rockman, published by Seven Arches.
More letters from Boris Johnson culled from Michael Rosen’s twitter account.
Chats with Cats, illustrated by Rebecca Hopkinson, published by Seven Arches.
Michael Rosen’s cats tell him what to do, disapprove of his behaviour, question him closely about his values and these comments all end up on Twitter. Now they’re in a book!
‘Three Little Words’ Podcast
I did a podcast with John Bishop and Tony Pitts. I had to choose three words that have been important in my life.
In July, I was at the WOMAD festival doing a poetry reading. I was expecting about 50 or so to come, because the main attraction at WOMAD is music, but in the end about 1000 people came. Thanks WOMAD folks!
You can find details of my appearance on Andy Worthington’s site, if you scroll down:
I am enjoying learning Yiddish, the language of my grandparents and it was also the language of my parents when they were children. I do a zoom session every Sunday night for two hours.
Before we began the course, we were asked to write down all the words or expressions we knew. I thought that it would come to about 30 or 40. In fact, it was nearly 300! I was amazed.
Yiddish can be written with the same letters as the ones you’re reading now but originally and traditionally it’s written with a form of Hebrew script. There are 40 letters. How many of these do you think I knew before I started? Just 3! Here is the alphabet:
So I’ve had to work very hard to learn the other 37 and I’m not very good at it!
I’ve now made two films about major things that have happened in my life. One is about me getting Covid and being in intensive care for 47 days or so, and the other is about the death of my son, Eddie.
We’ve made them in very similar ways: me talking to the camera, telling a mixture of poems and documentary pieces. They were funded by Apples and Snakes, directed and produced by Lisa Mead, shot and edited by Matt Dove from Little Ginger Co. Here they are:
We’ve been filming another film: a short about my time in a coma. It’s going to be very weird! Here are a couple of photos from behind the scenes:
Finally, while Finn Woodruff was a student at the University of Westminster he adapted the Sad Book that I wrote and Quentin Blake illustrated. Now it’s up on our YouTube Channel here:
PEN Pinter Prize
On October 11 I was very honoured to accept the PEN Pinter Prize 2023. There was a ceremony at the British Library.
Here’s my speech:
Here’s a photo of me at the Rye Festival.
And here I am at Leeds Children’s Hospital in September:
5th June 2023
The next book of mine to come out is I am Wriggly with wonderful pictures from Robert Starling.
It will be in the shops from July 6 this year.
The Repair Shop
I’ve filmed at BBC TV’s ‘The Repair Shop’. As I write this, I can’t tell you exactly where, why or what, but the programme I’m in goes out on June 28th. The programme has already put up some photos from the day, so here they are.
My Old Primary School
In March, I went back to one of my old primary schools, West Lodge, in Pinner. I’ve been back several times but it’s always quite an emotional feeling to be there.
I was a founder pupil at the school and it was not only a brand new building but it felt at the time that it was incredibly modern: big glass windows, girders running across the ceilings, brick walls inside with no plaster on them, and strange materials used for the ceiling so that they looked as if they were made of Weetabix or Shredded Wheat.
Anyway, I did a bit of show for the children in the hall, where I had sat so many times between 1954 and 1957. I almost felt like my headteacher, Mr Scotney, standing exactly where he stood.
Then I opened the school’s newly renovated library which, very kindly, they’ve named after me – as you can see from the picture!
University of Westminster students’ film
The event was filmed by film students from the University of Westminster and afterwards we went out and filmed around Pinner in the park where I used to go every day and also where I used to live, 6A Love Lane Pinner.
Here’s the photo I tweeted of me outside our old flat – I deliberately chopped half my face off, by the way!
The Questors Theatre
Another visit to old haunts!
When I was a teenager, I used to go once a week to the Questors Theatre in Ealing. I belonged to the Young Questors which was a drama club but quite serious in how they taught us how to act using what are called Stanislavsky techniques. We had two teachers, Rena Rice and Larry! I thought they were brilliant and we did all sorts of shows – a mix of plays and sketches. One I remember was the play ‘The Red Velvet Goat’ and we all forgot when to sing the theme song of the play, ‘La Cucaracha’, so Larry, who was waiting at the side, started singing it for us and we pretended that he was on stage and one of us!
In that play, I had to rush across the stage and say to one of the girls in our class (acting the part, of course) that I loved her and thought she was beautiful and how her eyes looked like the stars…etc etc It was so-o-o-o-o-o-o-o embarrassing. And then – I had to grab her hand too! Oh no! But yes! I don’t think that the girl herself liked me very much so that made it even more embarrassing! Help!
Anyway, enough of that. On May 13, I went back to Questors and did two shows there. It was in the theatre that wasn’t built when I was there. The theatre then was an old ‘tin’ chapel. In fact, most of our shows were to raise money for this new theatre that I was acting in.
It was wonderful to be there and be part of it again. One of the guys in my group when I was a teen couldn’t make it because he was ill but there’ll be another occasion, I’m sure.
Here are some images from the Questors Facebook page:
Here are some images of Questors, then and now, courtesy of the Questors Theatre Archive:
I did five events for this year’s Hay Festival: I took part in a panel to talk about the 100 best children’s books, I did my show for families and children. Next day, I joined with some wonderful actors and writers like Helena Bonham-Carter, Timothy West, Tony Robinson, Olivia Williams and Julia Donaldson as well as Maggie Aderin-Pocock – to read nursery rhymes and sing songs from Allie Adiri’s new book ‘A Nursery Rhyme for Every Night of the Year’. In the afternoon, Dr Rachel Clarke interviewed me about my book ‘Getting Better’. Then the next day, I took part in BBC Radio 4’s ‘Start the Week’ with two great writers: Barbara Kingsolver and Natalie Payne,
The weather was wonderful, the festival was packed, everyone was having a great time. It was a lovely way to spend the Bank Holiday weekend.
Here are a couple of video snippets from the Hay Festival Twitter feed:
7th March 2023
First of all – apologies! It’s been some time since I did a News update here.
Several new books have come out:
Getting Better, published by Ebury. Read more…
The Advantages of Nearly Dying, published by Smokestack Books. Read more…
Write to Feel Right, illustrated by Viviane Schwarz, published by Collins. Read more…
I am Happy, pictures by Robert Starling, published by Walker Books. Read more…
I am Hungry has also just come out in paperback, pictures once again by Robert Starling, published by Walker Books. Read more…
St Pancreas Defendat Me, with cartoons by Zoom Rockman, published by Seven Arches. Read more…
My book Unexpected Twist (an adaptation of Charles Dickens’s Oliver Twist) has been made into a play with music – rap and beatbox by the playwright Roy Williams, produced by the Children’s Theatre Partnership and the Royal and Derngate, Northampton.
I’ve seen one rehearsal and will be going to see it soon. I thought it was fantastic – lively, edgy, funny with beautiful singing, rap and beatbox. It’s touring all over the country.
Here are the touring dates: https://unexpectedtwistonstage.co.uk/
I recorded a podcast with Graham Norton for a programme about Emile Zola.
There’s also the Waterstones Podcast with Cariad Lloyd, Chloe Hooper and me.
Getting Better Interviews
There have been a lot of interviews and press write-ups of Getting Better. Here are some of them:
Daily Mail (Femail)
Here I am on BBC 1’s ‘Newscast’ programme.
My interview comes in at 15 minutes (after Isabel Oakeshott):
BBC Radio 4 ‘Saturday Live’
BBC Five Live with Nihal Arthanayake
BBC Radio 6 Cerys Matthews:
BBC World Service, Outlook, interview.
The Daily Mirror also ran an article by me in support of the Nurses’ action for better pay:
I’ve been taking part in live streams (and some recorded ones) for schools. Some with the British Library on how to write your own Fairy Tales. Here’s part of one of my contributions:
And here’s the listing for the one I did for Shakespeare Week. I hope that a recording of it will go up soon.
There was a very special event at the Wiener Holocaust Library, launching an exhibition called ‘Holocaust Letters’. These are letters that people sent each other while the terrible events of the Holocaust raged around them. One part of the exhibition includes photos, letters and the canvas bag that the letters were in, sent to my father’s cousin from his parents. He was just 17 when he fled to eastern Poland. He was then arrested by the Russian forces and taken to a labour camp in Russia. Later he was able to join the Polish Free Army (Anders Army), fought with them all the way from Russia to Italy. He then came to Britain, we kept in a Polish Resettlement Camp for two years but then left, stayed with my father’s sister, and became a London cabby. His name is Michael Rechnik and his sons, Grant and Barry, have donated the letters sent by his parents to the Wiener Holocaust Library. It was very moving to see these letters in the exhibition alongside many others. I hope you can get to see this as it’s a rare example of this moment in history being told by people actually experiencing it.
Here’s Jenni Frazer’s review of the exhibition from Jewish News.
My health seems to have stabilised. I am what I am! No improvement in the left eye and the left ear. I sometimes catch myself that I can’t hear very well in my left eye and can’t see very well with my left ear.
I made a film of Many Different Kinds of Love and some of the poems I’ve written since. It was shot and edited by cinematographer, Matt Dove and produced by Lisa Mead from Apples and Snakes. Here it is on our YouTube Channel, ‘Kids’ Poems and Stories with Michael Rosen’.
If you add together the number of views we’ve had for the film on the two platforms it’s reached 40,000.
Other Bits and Pieces
I’ve always liked Bluegrass music but I now spend a bit of time going on to YouTube and listening to different artists. My favourite singer is Ralph Stanley. Favourite banjo player: Eddie Adcock. Favourite fiddle player: Kenny Baker. They all played in different bands with different combos so I spend many happy times digging out their material, their best solos, best songs.
The Malvern Festival of Ideas
There’s a sequence of poems I do in my performances which you can find in my book Michael’s Big Book of Bad Things. There are four sections called just that: ‘Big Book of Bad Things’. I used to perform it quite often before I got ill, but I haven’t done so since because I got a little bit worried that I wouldn’t be able to remember it all. Anyway, I was in Malvern for the Malvern Festival of Ideas and I thought, I’ll give it a go. And I could remember it! I was surprised and pleased! Why surprised? Because I do worry sometimes that my memory has been affected by having been in an induced coma for so long. Well, the memory of those pieces is still there!
At the Malvern Festival:
Another test of my memory comes every Sunday night. I’ve enrolled in a class to learn Yiddish. Yiddish is the language that my grandparents spoke and many generations in my family before that. Both my parents could speak it but when I was growing up, they only used a few words and expressions. Well, I thought it would be a good idea to learn how to speak it, read it and perhaps write it. So every Sunday night I hook up on Zoom with a teacher from the language school Babel’s Blessing, along with four or five others and we learn Yiddish together.
It’s both a challenge and very moving. Every so often a word or phrase comes up and it reminds me straightaway of my mother or my father and I hear in my mind how they said it, or the reason why they said it. It’s a challenge because Yiddish is traditionally written with Hebrew letters and I only ever went to Hebrew Classes (called ‘Cheder’) for a short while when I was a child. You can read why I left in my poem ‘Chessington Zoo’ in ‘Quick Let’s Get Out of Here’.
Anyway, learning Yiddish means for me, learning a whole new alphabet. I’m getting there, but I am quite slow! And I don’t always make time during the week to do my homework. It reminds me of me at secondary school, 65 years ago!
It’s fantastic fun and I love the sound and feel of the language. I’m very glad to be doing it.
Here’s Rukhl Shaechter in New York teaching ‘Word of the Day’. Rukhl is not my teacher but it’ll give you an idea of what we do:
To browse my older news stories, visit the News Archive.