Invite in a Jiffy

Bag, that is. It’s different – I’ll give Puffin that. I thought it might be a very thin book, when in actual fact the nice ladies at Puffin wanted to include the witch in their media book presentation for 2008. So, it being too wet to broom, I got my favourite morning train to London, which isn’t too full, and where the price of the ticket doesn’t force you to re-mortgage your house.

On arrival I shared a lift up with an author. Only I didn’t know it then, as picture book authors are not my strength. It was Jeanne Willis, and even I have had a book of hers read to me (though I do know how to read) before.

It was like Christmas come early, or maybe late, considering it’s mid January. Tables groaning under the weight of books, where you help yourself until you feel ashamed, or thereabouts. Puffin also did party bags, but seemed not to have cottoned on to the fact that you use them to get rid of people at the end. Never mind.

Very important people presented the new books for the year ahead. So I won’t tell you about those now.

Lots of people there. I didn’t quite have the nerve to introduce myself to Nicholas Tucker. Maybe I should have? I consider his voice an old friend. Talked to nice people from radio’s Go4It, and to equally nice people from book magazine Carousel.

Threw myself at Nicolette Jones to talk about her Pancakes for Findus review, and introduced myself to Julia Eccleshare, to apologise for all my “anonymous” emails. She took it well. Jellyellie from Spinebreakers was there, and not only is she one of these clever teen editors, but she’s writing a book. I sat next to someone from the Guardian, who had actually heard of me! (Fame must be round the corner.)

Ed Vere does picture books and he can talk and draw at the same time. Nearly. Something about piano playing gorillas.

Charlie Higson had been forcibly dragged to the presentation. He has a book to finish, but now we know who to blame that delay on. I’d started reading his Hurricane Gold on the train, which didn’t make me much of an expert. But he favours avoiding too much kissing for the young James Bond by having immediate and nearby explosions. And something to do with the Royal family that he couldn’t possibly talk about.

Meg Rosoff also has a book that wants finishing, but she did a good job going round kissing and hugging people, and tucking into the tasty food, and making dates for interviews and radio programmes and anything else.

To prevent myself from being the last person there, I took my leave and departed at an almost decent time. Could have done with help in the lift, though, as the buttons were totally un-intelligible. I’ve since worked out that E stands for Embankment and ST for Strand. And I only went wrong once. Bit of a challenge for a “country” witch.

7 responses to “Invite in a Jiffy

  1. Jeanne Willis is one of those children’s novelists who can clearly do winning stuff for all ages. My 6 year old loves her crazy jobs series while my older two were boggled (in a very positive way!) by Shamanka. Anyone who has met people from Go4It would be a legend in this household. Sheer chance that my children started to listen to it – it’s positioning just after Sunday night’s Archers is inspired.

  2. Thanks for setting me right. I had no idea Jeanne did anything but picture books. Looked her up, and there’s quite a variety there. (No mention of how I find the time to read any of it, but we’ll see.)

    Funnily enough, I was able to do Go4It a service. I introduced them to Meg Rosoff, whom they were dying to get to do something with horses, and everyone was happy.

  3. What we know on all these matters is so much driven by what our children or friend’s children come across and bring to our attention. There must be a whole new load of picture books out there that I have no knowledge of now that my three are past that. And while two years ago I was an expert on CBeebies and all its works I would now struggle to recognise any of the characters from the new generation of programmes. I’ll look out for Meg Rosoff on Go4It.

  4. Goodness it sounds exciting! I hope to see some of these books at some point!

  5. Wish I’d read this earlier, but may i just slap the witch’s wrist for not realizing what a genius Jeanne Willis is? I think I admire her as a writer more than anyone else writing for kids. Let me think if that’s true….yes, I think it is. Philip Pullman included, though I admire him plenty. NO ONE writes like Jeanne — and if you don’t believe me, read any of the following: Dumb Creatures, Hard Man of the Swings, Dr Xargle picture books, Mayfly Day (that one makes me weep), Tadpole’s Promise (a picture book that nearly caused my husband to faint — not an easy task), and now the divine Bog Baby.

  6. Ouch!

    All right, go on, slap. I admitted I’m an idiot. And ignorant.

  7. Pingback: The Penguin Random House Highlights Presentation | Bookwitch

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