Monthly Archives: April 2008

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.

2008 Carnegie shortlist

Here, briefly, is the shortlist for the Carnegie, announced today. It looks very respectable, but I’ll have to start reading quickly. One of them has been lying around in the piles for ages, so this will have to be the spur.


LINZI GLASS: RUBY RED Penguin (Age range: 12+)

ELIZABETH LAIRD: CRUSADE Macmillan (Age range: 10+)

TANYA LANDMAN: APACHE Walker (Age range: 12+)

PHILIP REEVE: HERE LIES ARTHUR Scholastic (Age range: 12+)

MEG ROSOFF: WHAT I WAS Penguin (Age range: 12+)


What do people think?

Meg needs a book title

Not only is Meg Rosoff hard at work improving her website (it didn’t look that bad before, Meg), but she seems to have written a book, and it needs a title. So if anyone has one spare, she would like to know. Although, as Meg doesn’t have what I have, i.e. a comments facility, she appears to want people to come and see her in Hay in May. (Hey, that rhymed. Great.)

This could well be a recurring problem, as Meg needed assistance with the last book as well.

I’m no good at titles, as you can see, but I’m fairly sure it wouldn’t be too hard to provide some blogging software, if only to prevent jam in Hay. In May.

Books about books

What is J K Rowling up to with this court case? As I understand it, she appreciated the work done by Steve Vander Ark, as long as it was online, and he didn’t stand to make lots of money out of it. Now she takes him to court. Maybe the quality of the book isn’t good enough, but then lots of books are pretty bad.

I have to make the obvious comparison here with Philip Pullman. True, he’s not as big as J K. And Laurie Frost did approach him about her idea for a book about his books, before she put too much work in. Philip seemed to think it was  a good idea, and he has written the foreword to Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials; The Definitive Guide. He claims to use Laurie’s book when he needs to remember things he made up earlier.

I think J K said the same about the Lexicon, earlier. That she used it.

When The Golden Compass film came, it brought with it lots of books. Many were film company related, but not all. Not all were good, either, but let the buyer suffer disappointment, then.

Is J K only doing this because her film company can’t stand their rights to Harry Potter being borrowed? Surely, by now, Harry Potter belongs to us all, in some way? I’m writing about him this very moment, so either I’m breaking some law, or I’m not. Actually, since I’m not making money out of this, I suppose it’s OK.

But neither J K or her film company should lose money over fans buying someone else’s book. Unless they were thinking of doing the same?

Laurie’s book will soon be available everywhere, which is good.

Playing with fire

Not a good idea, obviously. Unless you are Valkyrie Cain, in which case you should do things with fire every now and then. Playing With Fire is Derek Landy’s second offering of Skulduggery Pleasant, and Valkyrie is his sidekick. This time last year I was saying I was looking forward to meeting them again, and the really sharp eyed amongst you will now point out that Skulduggery’s sidekick was called Stephanie. She was. Then she went and changed it to Valkyrie. Gave her more power, or some such thing.

It was still nice to see the two of them again. I think I could be in for the duration, here, for however many books Derek will give us. (For all that money he’s got, he jolly well should provide a few books.)

I have got used to bad language in children’s books. Sometimes I don’t even notice it. What’s so good with Skulduggery Pleasant, though, is that there is no need for it. You can be cool and exciting and full of action without four letter words.

What the book does have is “wall-to-wall deadpan sarcasm”. I had to steal this one over at Crime Always Pays, and even there it’s a quote, but it’s such a good one. I love the plot, but more than anything, I love the humour. It’s rather like The Thin Man. Lots of very commonplace polite phrases, but used slightly eccentrically.

We like that.

Nice poster

I found this on Sara O’Leary’s blog, and immediately needed to copy her. I also tried to print it out for myself, and failed utterly, because it’s rather big. So I might not be able to have it as a poster, after all.

Quentin Blake on reading

But it reminds me of why reading is so wonderful. Don’t know why I need reminding, but it’s always good to see this kind of thing, and Quentin Blake’s illustrations are always lovely.

I think this link might take you somewhere where you can print your own, or not. Does anyone have a mega printer?  Even my Apple teacher says he hates printers, and you’d think he would know how to get round any problems.

Seeing Sara

The Sara Paretsky interview is finally here. It may look long, but it could have been longer still. She’s very interesting, and there was so much to talk about. Writing it was good, but not something that combined well with school holidays. One day I’ll work out how to go without sleep. Maybe. And as you can see, photos were not down to the witch alone (forgetting, or otherwise). Son is responsible for all the diagonal pictures…