Monthly Archives: April 2008

The Scottish graphic novel


Don’t know if we have to be superstitious about this graphic book. Maybe not. After all, I’m sort of in it. I mean Macbeth, in his new graphic form. And he meets some witches, but none of them are anywhere near as good looking as I am.

As one of the enthusiastic quotes on the back says, it’s surprising nobody has done Shakespeare in graphic form before. It’s such an obvious thing. And an easy way to proper literature, I’d say. Thinking back to my university days, far too many people seemed to read the study guides instead of the book, rather than as well as. Not me.

On the other hand, I had never read Macbeth before, so this was a nice way of doing it. Shakespeare as a comic, albeit with a good many complicated words. But the pictures really help, and I’d hope the illustrations would entice young readers of the Bard. It can’t even count as cheating, surely, as it’s all there.

A comic full of well known quotes, half of which I didn’t know where they came from. But now I know it’s Macbeth. And a Harry Potter rock group, if I’m not mistaken.

If schools had money, this would be a good book to buy. But they never have any.



Authors have been like buses here. Several days have passed with no author in sight, and then you get two in 24 hours. Catherine Forde and Derek Landy have both called in at the local bookshop, while the owners are away. So, the witch has played at being a shop owner, with none of the inconvenient hard work they have to do. Just swan in and greet people and have tea and chat to them. Not bad.

Catherine is doing a tour this week to talk about her new book Sugarcoated, a teen thriller. She turned out to be lovely, despite professing a wish to kill off her main character.

And we already knew Derek is a sweetie, but it doesn’t hurt to check again. He, too, has a tour and a new book, Playing With Fire. Derek admitted he quite liked killing his characters, so that makes two murderous visitors to start the week with.

I got to act as go-between, as well. We’re back to coincidence here. Cathy had a desperate need to send a thank you card to Derek, but didn’t have his address. Seeing the posters advertising his imminent arrival, she wrote a card and asked the witch to revert to her old profession of postal worker for a moment. I’d like to think it was MEANT. What’s more, I remembered to do it.

As a new idea, I met both Catherine and Derek in the company of two young readers, thinking I could get them to do my work for me. Not a bad idea, at all. I don’t have to think so much, and get to feel good with starry eyed fans who like meeting authors. The coconut cake can also be recommended.

The results of these interviews will appear here. Some time. Hopefully soon.

Page 123

This week’s game would seem to be some blog tagging exercise where the victim has to bore their readers with three sentences from their nearest book.

1. Pick up the nearest book.
2. Open to page 123
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people, and acknowledge who tagged you.

I am rather belatedly reading Jacqueline Wilson’s latest book, My Sister Jodie. Sentences number six to eight on p123 go something like this:

She kicked too hard and hurt her foot. “Ow!” she moaned, hopping on one leg. She wasn’t good at balancing on just one high heel and nearly toppled over.

This mad chain blog thingy could only have come from one place, Crime Always Pays. You silly man. Haven’t you got nappies to change and sleep to catch up on? Oh, well. But you people who I’m about to tag had better remember it’s nothing to do with me. The lucky victims are Lowebrow, Julie Bertagna, The Green Knight, Sara O’Leary and Jen Robinson.

Signing other people’s books

Do you? If you’re an author, I mean? I just read Mary Hoffman’s tale of a session in a bookshop last week, where one young customer forced her to become Francesca Simon, for a moment. The customer is always right, of course. Except when they’re wrong, which happens often enough.

So, as a deluded customer; would I prefer Horrid Henry signed by Mary Hoffman or by a fake Francesca Simon? What do people do? I’ve seen it in book signing queues. More than one sibling, but only one who is the right age for the books written by the visiting author. Other child wants a book too, and wants it signed. It’s only fair.

Life-changing books

This sounds so awfully worthy that I’m almost ashamed. The Resident IT Consultant forced a copy of the New Scientist on me the other evening, saying I might want to read the bit on books.

They had talked to a number of scientists (what else?) about books that inspired them when they were young. Quite interesting, in a quirky way. Only the women dared mention anything vaguely childish in the way of books. Whether that’s because the men never were childish, weren’t inspired by children’s books or didn’t think it right to mention, will remain a mystery.

Alice in Wonderland, Doctor Doolittle, and Tarzan will have to count as children’s choices. Not sure about A Mathematician’s Apology, The Art of the Soluble, One Two Three Infinity, or The Mind of a Mnemonist. Wow. Heartily approve of The Foundation Trilogy.

Having got this far, I’m beginning to suspect that you won’t let me finish without giving you mine. It will have to be Five On A Treasure Island. And I refuse to blush. After that it could be many others, but perhaps I wouldn’t have those if I hadn’t had the Blyton to begin with? You wouldn’t be sitting reading this drivel if it weren’t for the Five. Makes you think, doesn’t it?

Famous Five

This isn’t MY cover picture, which I couldn’t find. Couldn’t even find my book to take a photo… But this is nice enough.

Silver donkey

I just couldn’t resist this book by Sonya Hartnett. The Silver Donkey is an attractive little book (would have been even better without an ugly orange sticker in the middle, the kind that does not come off very well), and it’s got some wonderful illustrations by Laura Carlin.

It says that Sonya was inspired to write the story after seeing a programme about Dunkirk, but I trust it’s set during World War One, or else I’m totally lost.

Two little French girls find a blind British soldier in the woods one day. He tells them stories and they help him get home. Very simple, and very touching. And rather like Private Peaceful, where the adult reader might see more in the ending than the younger reader. Very sad.

And in the pink, again

Another newsflash, so to speak. You were so good with the pink comments last week, that we have moved across to the Guardian today.