Top authors take to Instagram to defend teenage book lover

Callum Manning, 13, whose reviews were mocked by pupils, backed by Matt Haig and others.

Callum Manning, 13, whose reviews were mocked by pupils, backed by Matt Haig and others.

A 13-year-old boy who was taunted for his online book reviews has received messages of support from bestselling authors.

Callum Manning, from South Shields, Tyne and Wear, created an Instagram account last week to write posts about some of the books he had read. But he was left “devastated” after other pupils at his new school began to mock the reviews in a group chat he had joined.

“I don’t tend to cry that often but I think that was the first time in a while I’ve actually cried,” Callum told PA Media.

After his sister Ellis Landreth, 24, tweeted about the incident, Callum was inundated with positive messages including from authors Malorie BlackmanMatt Haig and Caroline Kepnes.


In the original post, Landreth said: “Can’t believe how awful kids are. My little brothers [sic] made an Instagram reviewing and talking about books and kids in his new school have seen it and have created a group chat calling him a creep slagging him off about it and added him to it so he could see.”

She said her brother hoped about “20 or 30 of my friends [would] like a few of his posts or follow him or give him some words of encouragement”.

But within hours, thousands of people had left positive messages on the tweet and the popularity of Callum’s Instagram account has skyrocketed from 39 to 147,000.

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“People saw it and people just thought ‘it’s not right’ because it isn’t,” Callum said. “Then I started getting loads of comments from everyone showing their support. I just think it’s really nice that there’s still people in the world who are nice.”

Messages in the group chat had allegedly described him as “a sad weirdo” because of his love for books, which he could see despite being blocked from responding.

Among the books reviewed on Callum’s account are works by Jane Austen, George Orwell and Fyodor Dostoyevsky, as well as the Harry Potter and Game of Thrones series.


Kepnes, whose book You was reviewed on the account, sent a text to Callum after contacting Landreth on Twitter. “Obviously I’m a really big fan so I was kind of nervous but that was really cool,” said Callum.

His mother, Carla Landreth, said he had been in tears on Friday but the outpouring of support had seen his confidence soar. “We’re just so shocked. It’s been absolutely brilliant,” she said.

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