‘Don’t be a jerk, even if you’re a chicken’: the cookbook written by kids

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Hidden behind a deliciously silly supermarket in east London, the Ministry of Stories teaches children how writing can be a career – and their latest project is a cookbook

The noise is phenomenal. Two dozen kids, uniforms in various states of disarray, have just come bursting through the secret door at the back of the tiny Monster Supplies emporium in Hoxton Street, east London (specialities include “old-fashioned brain jam” and tinned collywobbles), looking as if the last thing they are here for is an afterschool writing club. Yet within 15 minutes, they are all sitting at tables, clutching pencils – although the volume has not decreased one bit.

The deliciously silly supernatural supermarket out front is the street address for the Ministry of Stories, an organisation set up by a trio including the author Nick Hornby in 2010, which describes itself as “a local writing and mentoring centre in east London, where anyone aged eight to 18 can come and discover their own gift for writing”. As a fellow founder, director and dramaturge Ben Payne, says to me: “I think it switches a light on for a lot of kids, that writing can be a career.”

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