John Foster's Christmas Crackers

A book of Christmas Jokes, Riddles & Rhymes.
Read-a-Thon is supporting John Foster’s initiative to raise funds for Oxford Parkinson's Disease Centre.


John Foster is a highly regarded children’s poet and poetry performer who has performed his poems in over 500 schools and libraries and at the Cheltenham and Edinburgh festivals. John has edited over 100 poetry anthologies and published 12 books of his own poetry. He is a good friend of the Read-a-Thon having supported and attended every one of our events free of charge.


In 2005 he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s and developed a severe tremor. In 2011 he had a brain operation to control the tremor (Deep Brain Stimulation). He has continued writing and performing. He has written and compiled Christmas Crackers in aid of Parkinson’s research.


This is our chance to show our gratitude. These books are a perfect gift for your child's teacher(s), grandparents and friends, as well as a perfect gift for children of all ages, as a stocking filler.


For only £5 plus postage - buy this book & Read-a-Thon is offering FREE entry to each family of up to 5 people to its event on 16 September 2017 on presentation of the book at the gate. John has also very kindly agreed to sign it for you!

The 3rd Oxfordshire Read-a-Thon ... the Magic Continued ...

The Oxfordshire Read-a-Thon proved once again to be a real page turner with more than 3,000 eager young book !overs and their parents trooping through the gates of Milton Manor.


The 16th century historical house and grounds once again played host to a magical feast of storybook characters, pony rides, the Mad Hatter giving mad-cap tea parties and Swallows and Amazons-esque activities. Children lapped up boat rides, climbed trees, licked-ice creams, hugged Douglas and devoured the library of books hidden in trees and on benches.


The Manor's resident animals added to the atmosphere with Lulu the llama, her offspring, Poppy and Shire horse, Rocket playing their roles straight from the pages of Dr Doolittle and War Horse.


The event was opened by Sir Tony Baldry, Deputy Lieutenant for Oxfordshire, who was greeted by a colourful parade of participating characters -from Sherlock Holmes to Snow White and Frankenstein to the Wicked Witch of the West. He was given a personal tour of the house by the owner Anthony Mock!er before embarking on a grand tour of the grounds.


The event stems from the imagination of Milton resident and teacher bf 37 years Anne Wattam. Her aim is to encourage children to read for pleasure and develop a life-long passion for reading. "Reading is one of the best life skills we can give our children," she said.


The entire event is made possible by an army of volunteers, most of whom are from Milton. Beneath the latex masks and fancy costumes are, to name but a few, teachers, engineers, consultants and students. Anne paid tribute to Milton villagers. "This event can't happen without the amazing peopie who live here, " she said. "In the weeks beforehand you will find them trying on costumes, erecting marquees, collecting books and baking furiously. They are the main reason this event ls so successful and becoming a permanent fixture on the Oxfordshire events calendar."


This year the Read-a-thon played host to three world-class authors, who all have their roots in the County - Oxfordshire born and bred David Melling (Hugless Douglas/The Kiss that Missed/Jack Frost/The Goblins), Oxfordshire-based children's poet John Foster (Here Come the Dinosaurs/Dragon Poems) and Oxford-born cartoonist Neill Cameron (How to Make Awesome Comics/Mega Robe Bros). They kept their audiences enthralled with poetic tales of dinosaurs, robots brought to life through illustration and a life-size Hugless Douglas, who was not short of hugs at any time during the day.


This was the third time John Foster and David Melling have supported the event with readings and book-signings. Said John: "The Oxfordshire Read-a-thon provides a wonderful day of activities to promote a love of reading among children. The more children read, the more they understand about the world they live in. Reading fires their imaginations, expands their horizons and broadens their knowledge."


David Melling echoed his delight at taking part. "I'm so pleased that this family event is proving so popular and growing from strength to strength. What a wonderful way for young readers to enjoy, share and celebrate their love of books."


Local businesses also joined in the fun. RM Education hosted a Cat in the Hat themed marquee, Class Act Teaching Services ran a book tombola and The Plum Pudding provided much-needed refreshment for thirsty mums and dads. But St Michael's Primary School, in Steventon, held the golden ticket, running the Willy Wonka candy store.


The Read-a-Thon story looks set to run and run with a date already set for next year - Saturday 16 September 2017. Miltonians, you have been warned.
Sarah Keogh