I had an interesting comment from a friend yesterday, reporting that my "Ghostly Tale" books were as popular with the boys as . . . wait for it . . . Northern Lights? NO! The "Redwall" Chronicles? NO! Want to know? Blooming CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS, that's who! (Actually, in a way, it's great to think of boys reading my books as well as the stories about that majorly popular baldy guy! But not good for the "quality-of-my-sensitive-writing" ego.)
Furthermore, thanks for lovely school visits to the children and staff of Fellisclife & Kettlesing Primary School, N.Yorkshire and Dorchester Primary School, Hull.
Also, for more personal reasons, very special love and thanks to St Joseph's Catholic Primary, Bishops Stortford, Herts, where I spent a wonderful day last week! Thank you to all children and teachers.
One of those delicious, renewing days today! I'd been invited along as a wandering author to a Children's Literary Lunch at Leeds "West Yorkshire Playhouse" today. Six Halifax Primary Schools had organised this event for their Year Six children. Various activities arranged by the theatre, with MICHAEL ROSEN as the main speaker. A great session, with Michael recreating many childhood anecdotes - including his dad's sayings, as in the title - to make a hilarious hour.
Last time I saw Michael Rosen was long ago, at a Children's Literature Conference in Homerton College, Cambridge. HERE FOLLOWETH A BIG & WISTFUL SIGH. 'Cos I suspect that was a time when all primary teachers were expected to gain a knowledge about children's books as part of their training course. Still, today those Halifax teachers were flying the flag higher, so reasons to be cheerful: ONE!
Seem to remember this blog promised to be about books. Also hope, dear reader (or deafening silence!) that you've remembered these may not be straight-from-the-marketing-campaign titles, but books that have gathered a few fingerprints before appearing here.
So, here's my Blogging Books Number 1.
Susan Price's "THE STERKARM KISS".(ISBN 0-439-97838) It's been part of a bookpile by my bedside in a "saving the favourite chocolate" sort of way. Loved "The Sterkarm Handshake", then felt v. smug guessing what the Kiss IS before I'd read the book.(Not telling, okay?) This re-creation of the Border reivers life, set in a landscape I know a little and love a lot, is so full of energy. I was gripped by the tension between the brutal innocence of the past, and, as his schemes slowly tighten, the awfulness of the corporate thug and villain Windsor. Probably in paperback by now.
Robert Swindell's "NO ANGELS" (ISBN 0-14-131467-1) Another example of Robert Swindell's skill in creating a rich plot, heightening themes by the use of two or more "voices" in the telling. Nikki, running away from abuse and disbelief at her home, and the 19th century vagrant Nick, who works for strange Doctor Snow, live their stories in the same part of London, but not at the same time. It was Nick I remembered afterwards, maybe because of his particularly hopeful "voice", despite everything, and maybe because his story includes the London wells-and-cholera-statistics link.
Last in this set is "BLOODY JACK" by L.A. Meyer (ISBN 0-330-41819-6) a ripping "Girls Own" sea adventure, full of pace and action. Told by our heroine, her voice manages to be of the past, but direct and briskly engaging too. Mary Faber escapes to sea as sailor-lad Jacky. The dangers and perils she faces are great, but, as her femininity develops, include the possible discovery of her disguise. An excellent read for those exhausted by the screen version of "Master & Commander". There are other Meyer titles around, too, though I suspect the plain red cover with antique style black titling doesn't exactly welcome the young reader in.
Must go. Feeling a touch guilty suggesting reads for keen readers of ten years and over, rather than the wonderful seven-to-ten-year-olds where my reading and writing heart lies! Bye for now.
So now I have it from the Children's Laureate himself!
Now, thanks to his video-interview at this year Red House Children's Book Award, Michael Morpurgo's shown me how (and where) to Do The Writing - SITTING IN MY BED!
So, forget my three paper-strewn desks, plus computer etc. I'm starting on my new approach tomorrow. Now, can I train the cat to make me tea? Answer the phone? Get me the post?
Seriously though, it was great to hear that the children had chosen Michael Morpurgo's "Private Peaceful" as this year's Children's Book Award Winner. Congratulations to him, and to all the young voters too! You can read all about the Award - and see the pictures too - on Michael Thorn's Achokablog weblog, via the Achuka website.
One of the oddest "being a writer" jobs is filling in forms about yourself for publishers! Today I've battled on, and finally completed sheets the patient and persistent publicity people have been sending. What a sense of relief!
When I'm working on my writing, the last thing I can think about is ten interesting facts about myself. Three might be pushing it, anyway! Have done nothing famous. Have no important relatives. Am not a previous actor, singer, celeb, didgeridoo player!
Makes me want to start fibbing my socks off. "Rumoured to be the daughter of heavy metal rockstar Rayman Agga Deadjaw, Penny ran away to the circus, and, before completing her PHD in Ancient Icelandic Rune Stones, was adopted by the famous LaRosa Flying Family, because of her skill on the trapeze, and for foiling the kidnap of the only white tiger reared in captivity . . ." See? I can do that stuff without much of a thought! It's all the exact facts and figures that are hard. Groan!
Still, the stuff is completed at last! All I have to do is copy it before I send it off so I can remember what on earth I said! And will I feel smug tomorrow when I cross it off my list! (Use of exclamation marks: 9. v. bad)
Channel hopping or hoping?
Sunday 10pm. Ended some catch-up paperwork, and turned on TV. Big Brother's ego-howlings & Ramsay's restaurant stunt seem hardly believable against the humble faces, heroism, and reticence of the gathered D-Day veterans. Horrid!
A giant phew from here! Emailed down the revised Tale of White Winter Hollow text last week, and heard on Friday that it was all okay, and should be with the designer by now! And another small project also signed off this week. So I'm in that delicious time when I can potter about and start msuing on new story horizons!
Off storytelling at Hob Moor in York yesterday afternoon. These outdoor events are always fun, and attract interestingly different persons (eventers and audience) to those in the education or book worlds. I saw another diplay by the Falconry team from Thorp Perrow, and witnessed a huge eagle owl in flight being spooked by rooks (interesting pronunciation conflict there!) The Thorp Perrow birds were in magnificent health and feather. There was a fun dog show too, including "Dog with the Most Mysterious Heritage".
Bye for now - and that updated website may be visible any dau soon!