Happy Christmas to you all.
Thursday, 23 December 2010
Happy Christmas to you all.
Wednesday, 1 December 2010
Monday, 22 November 2010
National Short Story Week starts today.
Short stories are special for they encapsulate in a very short space all the very best elements of storytelling for they have a plot, characters, wonderful language and also some amazing settings. In the space of just a very few pages they can tell a complete story or leave the reader yearning for more.
Some short stories make up a whole narrative - think of the 1001 Arabian Nights, one story told each night so, by its very nature it had to be short! Then there is the traditional from whence they came - oral story telling - again these stories were meant to be short and succinct to appeal to their listener. Perhaps the most famous shrot story writer is Aesop. His Fables have been handed down over generations and are some of the most famous we now have. We should not however forget Kipling and his Just So Stories - also great classics this time explaining how the animals of the world came to be.
Not all short stories are 'classics' or old however. Dickens and Hardy, our great Victorian and Edwardian novelsists wrote short stories for their public audience and many of these were published in magazines of the day. Roald Dahl and Malorie Blackman have written volumes of short stories for the modern reader. there are many collections of themed stories which provide wonderful reading for all ages and my favourite short story writer of the moment is Toon Tellegan whose books have also been beautifully illustrated and are perhaps best described as a combination of Aesop and Kipling - charming moral stories that once you start you just can't put down. And being short they are very easy to finish!
An additional joy of the short story is the ability of the reader to dip into a volume at any story and read as many or a few as time permits - it is a great reading journey, a great way to be intorduced to new stories, genres and writers and a wonderful way in which to explore your imagination.
Pick up a short story this week, look at the National Short Story Week website and enjoy yourself - who knows where this adventure may take you?
Thursday, 18 November 2010
In the 7-14 category the winner was Louise Rennison with Withering Tights, a shamelessly laugh-out-loud story. Her heroine comments with wit and insight on the world around her whilst continuing to be carried along with it so there is plenty of humour in this book on many levels.
Judge and award founder Michael Rosen commented on the freshness and humour in these winning titles which were just one aspect of a wonderful and varied shortlist. I strongly urge you to visit the Book Trust website for more detail and to investigate the shortlisted as well as winning titles further.
In the meantime well done to the Louise's and thank you for bringing so much humour into our lives!
Monday, 15 November 2010
Sometimes I am amazed at the speed in which word can travel with the Internet and email. I wrote about my 'Book of the Week' for the school newsletter and sent the piece to the editor for publication on Friday of last week (we have a weekly newsletter), then that very same afternoon I had a parent in the library, who having seen the recommendation wanted to borrow the book. As it was 5.30pm on a Friday afternoon and I had shut down the catalogue I could not give her the book for the weekend but one was on the go and they could wait until Monday I was assured. Today the young boy in question came to get his book and as soon as I had it on my desk another teacher and another pupil both wanted to borrow it.
Is it the cover, the author name or the title I wonder? Perhaps it was my glowing recommendation. Whatever the reason this book is proving popular with my readers already so I felt that I really must recommend it to you - my Armadillo followers.
So what is this mystery book that is attracting so much attention? It is the new title from the widely talented David Walliams. The author of The Boy in the Dress and Mr Stink has now written Billionaire Boy. Published by Harper Collins this book looks like a big novel. It is a thick hardback with quite a few pages but open the book and find that it is a story packed with the wonderful illustrations of the much loved Tony Ross and a story that could be read by readers as young as 7 or as old as 77 for it is funny, accessible and a good read. It also conveys an important message about money - it really isn't everything, as Joe, the really, really rich main character is about to find out.
So do get your hands on a copy if you can, and let me know what you think too!
Friday, 12 November 2010
Thursday, 11 November 2010
Thursday, 21 October 2010
Alan provided some very tasty ship's biscuits (from Botham's of Whitby) which were actually edible (not at all like those of days gone by) and he designed labels with words to that effect himself which he soaked in tea to make them stained and look old fashioned!
Copies of each title were given to all guests and the authors happily signed away whilst guests admired the sites of London.
A very enjoyable evening had by all so it seems.
Thursday, 14 October 2010
It seemed a high-risk strategy to me. The winners of the Young Critics competition – aged about eight and up – were each given a scroll, but told not to open them yet, as they would reveal the winner. If I’d been in charge, I’d had lined the children up against the wall, and told them to stand there and not move for the next ten minutes, but all went well and nothing was leaked.
It was left to Mal Peet – last year’s winner – to award the prize to Michelle Paver, for Ghost Hunter, the final part of her highly-praised Chronicles of Ancient Darkness sequence. She paid tribute to her editor, Fiona Kennedy of Orion, and to her agent, Peter Cox, and said something every author will recognise: when Fiona sent a text message to say that she liked the draft, Michelle had to text back to ask, “But did you really?”
It’s a great month for Michelle – her adult novel, Dark Matter, is published, also by Orion. It sounds irresistible: a ghost story involving Arctic exploration. I haven’t read her winning book, so can’t comment on it, but from what I know of Michelle’s writing I can’t wait to get hold of a copy of Dark Matter.
From the publisher's press release:
Michelle collects the £1,500 prize for the only children's award in which authors are judged by their peers.
Julia Eccleshare chair of the judges said, “Whatever the individual judges thought about fantasy before they began Ghost Hunter – and some admitted to hating it! – they were immediately captivated by Michelle’s brilliantly created world, her wonderfully dramatic story and her powerful story telling. They loved the way she described the world she has been fashioning throughout the series saying, “The language is inventive and rich. Sharp and poetic but also child friendly”. They also adored her characters describing Wolf as “endearing” and the people as “real”. Finally, one summed Ghost Hunter up in terms of awe: “The construct of the world is amazing. I am jealous and impressed!”
Michelle Paver says of the award: “I’m thrilled and delighted that Ghost Hunter has won this award – especially given the amazing quality of the other short-listed books. And somehow, I find it particularly gratifying that it is the final book in the Chronicles of Ancient Darkness which has won, because it’s the book in which Torak and Wolf reach journey’s end.”
Sunday, 10 October 2010
Recent trips to the wilds of Epsom and Ashtead have rewarded me with plenty of fruit for my autumn jam making which I must say is not always appreciated by my husband who believes we could feed an army with the stock we currently have – it will however find its way into hampers at Christmas and happy recipients I am sure.
This brings me quite nicely to my latest reading material, for Cloudberry Castle by Janey Louise Jones opens at Christmas and whilst, despite its charming name, there is very little mention of berries it remains a charming and captivating story for younger readers, fans of ballet in particular. Gently written, touching on difficult issues such as bereavement and grief as well as family tensions this story finds its young heroine, Katie, showing strength in adversity and having a great adventure at the same time. It is a charming, beautifully written story with lots of pace and great appeal.
Perhaps at the other end of the scale are two books for teens which whilst they don’t link to my opening paragraph have still featured in my reading this week and have links to Cloudberry in that they both touch on some hard-hitting themes but do so with great skill so that the reader does not feel bogged down by issues but rather that they are working with the character to face adversity and overcome it. I’d Tell You I Love You But Then I’d Have to Kill You by Ally Carter may be a long title but it is an immediate draw!
Its lead, Cammie Morgan, knows seven ways to kill a man but is about to go on her most dangerous mission for Cammie is a member of the Gallagher Girls and whilst the Gallagher Academy may look like any other highly respected girls school from the outside it is what inside that matters and here it is a school for spies and assassins. With a fast pace and gripping story line this is one book that my senior girls can’t get enough of! However as there aren’t enough copies to go round I have been able to tempt at least some of them with Joss Stirling’s magnificent Finding Sky. From its evocative cover, a barbed heart set on a black background to its distinct character this is a book that deceives. I thought I was going to be reading another Twilight spin-off but what I found was a love story with true grit and realism. Coming of age is never easy. When you are in a new country among strange people with new powers it is even harder. Effortlessly blending fiction with fantasy this is a must read for young teens this autumn.
Sunday, 3 October 2010
The temptation to read all these wonderful books is just one temptation in my life, the other is to want to do everything at home myself, that way I can be sure it is done to my exacting standards!! Well not quite but at least I know that things have been done…
So when I opened up yet another exciting parcel to find the latest title from Andersen Press and Tony Ross, A Little Princess Story with the title ‘I Want to Do It Myself’ I just had to keep this one back! Imagine my sheer joy and surprise then when the next book to come out was Share! a glorious new title from the pen of Andrea Simmons and the drawing board of Georgie Birkett. A better combination could not have been planned!
You are probably wondering by now what the Little Princess wants to do all by herself … well … she wants to go camping! Off she sets with bags packed but, on finding the perfect spot it appears that the little princess has forgotten the tent, and the cooking equipment and … well the list goes on. luckily there are some quiet and secretive helping hands to ensure that all goes smoothly, the only trouble is that on the way home the bags do seem very heavy! A story in which lots happens as if by magic which is how I often feel myself! If you love the Little Princess stories then you will also love A Little Princess Trilogy which also landed on my desk recently and is a great collection of 14 wonderfully hilarious stories along with puzzles to play - so go on, indulge!
Share on the other hand finds a brother and sister having to do just that – learn how to share. From toys to food and even bathtime whatever one sibling loves the other automatically desires to share and after all that is what Mummy wants them to do. Delightfully cheeky this picture book is the perfect size for sharing, will bring a smile to all faces and will make the perfect shared bedtime book. It is also a very important message to children about how to share.
The wonderfully bold, bright and vibrant pictures in both these books are a testament to the skill of the illustrators who know just how to appeal to young eyes, theirs is a skill I would love to share but I remain content to know that I can share in other ways as can we all.
And now I am off to enjoy the late Sunday afternoon sun and check that the rabbits and chickens are sensibly sharing the garden and perhaps even some lovely fresh eggs for the soufflé dinner….
Friday, 1 October 2010
Sunday, 26 September 2010
Wednesday, 22 September 2010
Sunday, 19 September 2010
Wednesday, 15 September 2010
The book was lauched last week by Andersen Press and Armadillo reviewer Shelly Instone attended, sending this report;
The owner of Anderson Press, Klaus Flugge told the audience how the book had received a mixed reception by critics. He felt this was because “Sharon had stepped on a button that we feel uncomfortable with.”
On the question of writing a novel that follows Anne Frank’s diary, Sharon disclosed that she had had read it obsessively. “I felt I had a personal relationship with her. However, after re-reading it in my thirties I felt that Anne’s views were questionable. I was more interested in the views of Peter. What was it like for him? Anne’s descriptions of him are brilliant! What most upsets me is the way Anne’s diary ends: the suddenness of it. I felt quite cheated.”
Monday, 6 September 2010
Thursday, 26 August 2010
Friday, 20 August 2010
Friday, 30 July 2010
Bored already? Children declaring there is nothing to do? Need some useful ideas for activities to keep the kids out of trouble for the remainder of the holiday?
The most recent Armadillo Magazine competition challenged readers to submit top tips for keeping the family entertained this summer, from the great entries submitted I have selected winners whose books are on the way to them. In the meantime, because some of the ideas were just so good I am featuring them here.
I hope this keeps the kids and family entertained for a couple of weeks as I am off on my summer holidays tomorrow so you won’t be hearing from me for two weeks!
Anyway back to those tips, here are samples from the top three:
Pay a visit to your local library and select a book, this book will provide the family with a theme for the week and each member of the family must then use this theme to create or organize a related activity.
An example of this may be the book of choice being Gilbert in the Deep by Jane Clarke. This is a book about a giant shark and as such activities could include:
Having a fish and chip supper
Going for a swim
Investigating shark infested rock pools at the beach
If it is raining making a fish mobile to hang in the house
Theme around the family summer holiday. If it happens to be camping then hunt second hand and pound shops for camping accessories and create a mini camping adventure in the park or garden to get the kids in the mood. Then afterwards make up a scrap book to remember the day. This is a great idea that could be applied in lots of different situations.
Write activity ideas on scraps of paper, fill an empty jar with them and then when the kids are bored pull one out and endeavour to do it!
Have fun and do let me know how you manage to keep those kids entertained!