Royal Mail has unveiled special post boxes honouring British authors and illustrators to mark World Book Day.
In Oban, a post box on George Street has been brightly painted with dragons.
It celebrates the work of Cressida Cowell, Waterstone’s Children’s Laureate and author-illustrator of How To Train Your Dragon and The Wizards of Once.
Other boxes decorated for World Book Day are in located London, Cardiff, Sheffield and Belfast. They will all display their new look for a month.
The post boxes have their own unique designs to celebrate the work of the various authors and are situated close to places of significance to either the writers or their work.
As Children’s Laureate, Cressida has filmed hundreds of videos of readings, creative challenges and masterclasses for children in lockdown – all available on her YouTube channels CressidaCowellOfficial, the BookTrust HomeTime website, and Cressida Cowell’s Creativity Camp.
Her postbox, decorated with characters Hiccup and Toothless from How to Train Your Dragon, and with gold trim, is located in Oban where ferries to the islands are caught.
Cressida spent her childhood summers on an uninhabited island off the coast of Oban, and its beautiful backdrop was the inspiration for the How To Train Your Dragon series of books – now a hugely-popular film and TV franchise. The postbox also features a photo of Cressida writing on that island as a nine-year-old.
With no rules to follow other than “Come back when you’re hungry,” and “Don’t fall off a cliff,” Cressida, her brother and sister were free to spend their days exploring.
Cressida was inspired by tales of Vikings invading the Hebrides. She would play in the ruins of long-abandoned crofts, imagining what it would be like to be a Viking, or to be an islander spotting the sail of a dreaded Viking longboat on the horizon.
The other authors honoured at locations throughout Britain are Children’s Laureate Wales Eloise Williams, Dapo Adeola, Nathan Bryon, Lydia Monks and Julia Donaldson, who used to live in Bearsden.
Each post box is digitally activated, containing a QR code linking to free services offered by the author it celebrates, such as a YouTube channel offering free online readings.
Other examples of artistic and interesting post boxes include a parcel post box in Sheffield which celebrates the work of Donaldson and Monks.
Mark Street, head of campaigns at Royal Mail, said: “It is without a shadow of a doubt that the UK is home to some of the world’s best children’s authors, and it is heart-warming to see how so many have been focused on keeping the magic of literature alive for children during lockdown.
“As one of the guardians of the written word, Royal Mail relishes the opportunity to celebrate some of Britain’s most treasured writers during these unprecedented times, so it seems only fitting that their amazing work is honoured on some of our iconic post boxes.”
Cassie Chadderton, chief executive of World Book Day, said: “It’s wonderful that children and families have felt the benefit of shared reading during the lockdowns thanks to many authors and illustrators.
“World Book Day aims to ensure that children from all backgrounds can benefit from the improved life chances reading for pleasure offers.
“The challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic mean this mission is now more important than ever, and we’re delighted to team up with Royal Mail to recognise the amazing contribution these authors have made.”
Julia Donaldson said: “I am really looking forward to seeing the finished post box – what a great idea.
“I hope it brings some cheer to families in Sheffield. Maybe children can post some stories or pictures to their friends and family.”