SF Said

Said was our Writer in Residence from March - September 2023. He used his residency to champion the importance of encouraging children to read whichever books they most enjoy. He challenged the idea of there being a “right and wrong” way for children to engage with books. His message is that every child can be a reader.


SF Said is the author of award-winning children’s books including Tyger, Phoenix and Varjak Paw – which featured in BookTrust’s list of 100 Best Children’s Books from the last 100 Years, and has been studied as part of the national Key Stage 2 curriculum. Said is a powerful advocate for making reading a more inclusive experience for more children and shares BookTrust’s ambitions to improve representation in children’s books.

With a strategy which has a focus on supporting the most disadvantaged children to build a reading habit, the BookTrust residency provides a platform for writers and illustrators to explore issues that they are passionate about and use their creativity to inspire more children and families to read together.

"I want to use my time in this role to celebrate the life-changing power of reading for pleasure. We know from research that reading for pleasure has the greatest positive impact of any single factor on children's life chances. I think this means we have to do everything possible to enable every child to find the books that will unlock reading for them; the ones that will light the spark of literacy, and give them a space in which they feel included and inspired. I will be advocating for all different kinds of books and different ways into reading."

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Features from our Writer in Residence


Books by SF Said


Author: S F Said Illustrator: Dave McKean

Lucky is on the run and joins up with a group of aliens - refugees from the ongoing war between aliens and humans - who agree to help Lucky find his father. A thrilling space adventure, full of suspense, action, emotion and more.

Read more about Phoenix


Author: S F Said Illustrator: Dave McKean

Adam is a boy living in London, but not as we know it. In this alternate universe slavery was never abolished, which has left the UK in a sorry state with rich overlords ruling over a sprawling poor and people with origins anywhere apart from the UK particularly vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. That includes Adam’s family of shopkeepers. Then Adam meets…

Read more about Tyger

Varjak Paw

Author: SF Said

Pedigree cat Varjak Paw lives in a luxurious mansion with his family, but when trouble comes to their door, he's forced to escape to the streets to enlist the help of a sworn enemy. A modern adventure which considers what it is to be persecuted for coming from a different culture, and, at the same time, find strength in the wisdom passed down from our ancest…

Read more about Varjak Paw

The Outlaw Varjak Paw

Author: S F Said Illustrator: Dave McKean

Having saved the city cats from a fate worse than death, Varjak Paw finds himself the elected and popular leader of a new gang

Read more about The Outlaw Varjak Paw

Previous Writers in Residence

Previous writers to take up the post include Matt Haig, Laura Dockrill, Cressida Cowell, Chris Riddell and Patrick Ness – see what fun things they all got up to during their time in residence.

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