Banner image: Penny Dolan, storyteller & childrens author My
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
Thanks to everyone at WELLHOUSE J&I SCHOOL, Golcar, nr. Huddersfield,for making my first "Author Visit" of the Autumn Term such a cheerful afternoon. Greetings to Miss Kayee and all in CLASS 1, and to everyone, including Miss Redfern and Mrs Haigh in CLASSES 2&3. (Your questions were really good!)

Plus another thank you to Mr Bailey who helped me with car-loading at the end of the day! Greatly welcomed. Have fun with the rest of your Book Week, everybody - and Happy Writing!
Friday, September 23, 2005
Hi there. Mostly just a nudge-along blog entry. Yesterday had fun setting out my stall at an ARTIST'S FAIR at YORK Head Teacher's Conference, and seeing around the other artists exhibitions, too. Textiles and percussion, and sculpture, and willow weaving, and mosaic and lots of good stuff. Today much house-stuff and file-tidying etc, but tomorrow on to some real work, I hope!
Monday, September 19, 2005
Term starts with a surge of "Author Visit" requests, many centred around 3rd - 7th October, which will be CHILDREN'S BOOK WEEK 2005. How great to have these National Celebrations, but how beneficial that some schools avoid them, letting authors spread their visits to everyone's comfort. Oh dear! How my heart sinks when the call includes those over-booked dates, when I have to say no when I wish to say yes!

Alongside, reading JULIA CLARK's new teen novel THE OTHER ALICE (OUP) which is great, and wanting to get hold of the new JULIA DONALDSON & AXEL SHEFFLER picture book, "CHARLIE COOK'S FAVOURITE BOOK". I'm sure it will be this generation's "EACH PEACH PEAR PLUM", great fun with its references to all sorts of other tales. Look out for it! You can find details on the ACHOKABLOG website - plus lots of other good stuff - but I'm sure CCFB will be in your nearest bookshop now. Go read!

Hmmm - BOOKSHOPS! Don't get me started on the OTTAKERS takeover news. My nearest Ottaker's only recently took over a wonderful Hammicks! And choice? Even while I've been a writer, the chains etc. have offered few and fewer selected titles, all placed ( I suspect!) on a deal and a discount, but with less choice, fewer authors, a smaller range of viewpoints and language, kids being sold much more of the same. Though great if you are a media celeb already, I guess.

Thank heavens for the few true independent bookshops - no, not the "remainder title" sellers - who, despite their continual struggles, keep a wider view alive. THANK YOU FOR YOUR WORK! Yes, folks, sometimes Penny Dolan is warped and bitter! Right, Deep breath. I'm back to the sunny smile, okay? : - )) !!!
Saturday, September 10, 2005
Today's storytelling session at HEADINGLEY LIBRARY'S FESTIVAL OF WORDS & PICTURES 2005 - many thanks to librarians Liz, Mary & Britta, and everyone else who came along, and helped it turn into a really enjoyable time - also reminded me of three general "Visiting" perils.

One: PARKING! Every single visit has its unique parking pattern - buildings hidden behind hedges, places with locked school-gates come 8.31 am, even those that share with the local pub. I've learnt to ask, or at least to take my mobile so I can be guided in if needed. Today I squidged my car round the back of the library, edging it carefully among a row of dustbins so as not to block an exit. Meanwhile, across the narrow road were several empty private company parking spaces, bristling with clamping warnings, and not for use even on Saturday.

Two: PHOTOGRAPHERS! I must admit to a certain amount of deluded vanity, but WHY OH WHY do photographers always take piccies when my face is gurned up into "aged crone" or "oinking pig" or a zillion other unflattering characterizations, rather than revealing my true (ahem!) beauty? I'm sure Kate Moss and all don't have this problem.

Three: PANDA EYES! Today tracked down (guess how?)and slung into the bin a particularly cunning and evil mascara (marked "waterproof", ha ha!) given to sliding across the face if a room rises above freezing point. If nobody noticed the blotches, I bet the camera - see above - did, adding a touch of failed prize-fighter to those mug shots. Move over, Mr. Russell Crowe!

But, wry thoughts aside, today was a truly friendly session, and so nice to have been invited along to share stories with everyone. THANK YOU, LEEDS LIBRARIES!
Wednesday, September 07, 2005
About two weeks ago,I was visiting libraries in YORK and meeting some lovely people. (NB. Thank you, everyone, and sorry I haven't got any namees to give you a personal cheer!) But in STRENSHALL library, I met a dad and his young daughter. She had seen me before, he told me. "Where?" I asked, thinking local schools. "In Cyprus" he said.

Now, this was so wonderful, and brought back a sunburst of happy memories. In March 2004, I had a most brilliant "school visiting" week to Cyprus, arranged by Maria and Demetri Theokari of Highgate School, in Nicosia/Lefkosi. Some days local schools came to Highgate School for my talks, and some days I was taken to other schools on the island. Each day I was taken by the most generous people to museums, and mountains, and harbours, and historical walks around the city, and was given the most delicious of meals. It was a truly magical trip, and I have never felt so looked after in my life.

And to find these Highgate friends there for my York session was amazing. They had come back to the UK the month before - and I was even carrying a picture the little girl had drawn when I had been at Highgate! So absolutely lovely and unexpected a coincidence!

Yesterday was another great meeting: a lazy lunch with two writing friends. They were HELENA PIELICHATY, who writes the AFTER SCHOOL CLUB series and some great teen novels, and HILARY ROBINSON, who created "THE PRINCESS LETTERS" and many other very clever picture books. Ate and chatted in the sunshine, and decided life was pretty good after all, even if we weren't J.K.Rowling.

Today the sky is greyer, and I must get back into work mode. Also tidy my books n story basket for the weekend celebration of bookish activities at HEADINGLEY LIBRARY, LEEDS. I'll be there on Saturday from 10 to 11am. A bit early, maybe, but you can always bring a slice of breafast toast along with you! Meet you there?
Sunday, September 04, 2005
Just back from a surprise family-visiting week in Ireland last week. Big rush to get all done before going, and couple of days needed to recover afterwards (mostly from a 4am start to catch the 9.30am Dublin-Liverpool ferry) but a great time had by everyone! Now trying to tune in and get ready for the new project, mostly by de-junking the workroom while I do the anxious-inside procrastination.

NB! It's going back to school week for lots of you, so hope all goes well and have fun!
A blog about the life, times and travels of a Children's Writer, Storyteller and Book Week Visitor. For more writerly thoughts, pop over to my other blog The Year Of Mouse ( Squeak!

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