Tag Archives: Andy Stanton

A second Saturday of EIBF 2018

Our second book festival Saturday was mostly spent chatting to author friends we’d made earlier. And that’s a very nice thing; this meeting up with people who’ve all come to the same place. It’s also a rather bad pun to indicate that the first event yesterday morning was chaired by Janet Ellis. I got slightly more excited by this than my Photographer, until I did my maths and realised she’s too young for Janet’s time on Blue Peter. But us oldies enjoyed the BP-ness of it.

Kit de Waal

We had to get out of bed really early to get to Edinburgh to hear Jo Nadin and Kit de Waal talking to Janet. But thank goodness it was in the Spiegeltent, where you can buy tea and cake to revive yourself. I reckon we survived until well past lunch on those calories. It was so early when we got to the gates that the gates were actually not open, so we joined the queue, where we were discovered by SCBWI’s Sarah Broadley. My eyes were not open enough to see anyone at all just then. (That’s Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, in case you were wondering. It is, even if you weren’t.)

Jo Nadin

Once my eyes had opened a little more, I saw Alex Nye arriving for her event chairing A L Kennedy. And when we were back by the yurts after the first event, we watched A L being given the Chris Close treatment, although I think she might actually have given Chris the A L Kennedy treatment. She had her own ideas of what to do, like covering her face with a mask.

Jo Nadin and Kit de Waal

We also hung in the signing tent while Jo and Kit did their thing, meeting young miss Nadin for the first time, and after that they were ushered out to the photocall area, which brought back fond memories for Jo. And us.

Sent the Photographer over to catch perennial weekend morning favourite Andy Stanton and his long signing queue. It’s nice with traditions.

Andy Stanton

While getting ready to cross to George Street, we spied Barry Hutchison coming away from his morning event, and I could have sworn that was Chae Strathie who turned up as well. Barry came over for a hug. Two hugs, really, but that was before my Photographer mentioned the squirrels. We were treated to an impromptu show about a banana drink and a piece of popcorn in the wrong place (Barry’s throat; the wrong part of it) before he was called on to drive his family home.

Lari Don

There was a queue for the SCBWI event with Lari Don, Candy Gourlay and Elizabeth Wein, but it was all right. We got in and we got seats.

Candy Gourlay

Elizabeth Wein

Afterwards we hung in the George Street signing tent talking to the various SCBWI members and waiting for Candy to be free to socialise. Even Mr Gourlay turned up for a moment before deciding it was hopeless and walked off again. When the wait was over and Candy had promised not to talk to anyone else – hah! – we went for tea in the yurt, where we had such a good time that we forgot that Candy was going to be photographed by Chris Close, and she had to be extricated to high-five herself and to smile at the unlikeliest props. (At least she didn’t get the head with the black and white-chequered cloth covering!)

Candy Gourlay

Finally met Barbara Henderson in person, a split second after I worked out that’s who she was, and mere hours after talking about her book at home. Chatted to a charming **illustrator, whose name I forgot immediately, and her charming son, who will go far. Caught a glimpse of Donna Moore and then Photographer and I disagreed on whether we saw Jenny Brown or not. But it was definitely Yanis Varoufakis outside.

When there were more SCBWIs round the tea table than you could shake a stick at*, we decided we needed to run for the train we had picked as reasonably safe from too many Runrig fans heading to Stirling. Seems most of the 20 000 or so had not chosen our train. Just as well.

*There is obviously no such thing. I have plenty of sticks.

** Hannah Sanguinetti!!

(Photos Helen Giles)

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Take that, Yolanda!

Kind-hearted Keris Stainton is yet again battling against the powers of nature. Last time she mobilised fellow authors to help people in Japan after the tsunami, and now she has got together an even bigger crowd for the Philippines. Yolanda was very vicious indeed, and nowhere near as friendly as the name makes her sound.

Yet again you can bid for all sorts of book-related things. At the top end (?) if you can call it that, you could buy yourself a couple of authors. Only for a trip to the pub, but still. I’ve not even dared check how much I can’t afford to meet Anthony McGowan and Andy Stanton. Together. Phew.

There are masses of signed books on offer, or the odd old manuscript (Meg Rosoff – How I Live Now). School visits and book critique from many interesting and knowledgeable authors. Just part with your money.

I quite fancy being killed off in a book, actually. Several writers will put you in their next book, but only a few have made more firm promises of a dreadful end to your pitiful life.

But then, oh be still my beating heart; Steve Cole will dedicate his first Young Bond novel to you. I know I can’t afford that. Besides, I have already been dedicated, so to speak, and to ask for more would be greedy. Although, there are other options to have a book dedicated, so go and have a little look. Currently there are just under 300 items in the auction.

You have until Wednesday 20th November to bid. Go on! You know you’d like to feature in a book by the children’s laureate. Malorie Blackman might be too kind to kill you, but any laureate attention is good attention.

But Mummy read that!

What will today’s young readers want to force their – as yet unborn – children to read? Or if they are really understanding parents (rather like me!) simply sigh over and decide that maybe XXX is a bit old-fashioned and since there are so many lovely new books, they will just let Little Darling read those instead.

With it being Roald Dahl day later this week, I was thinking about an article I read, which said that it’s mainly the parents who favour Dahl’s books now. Because they were the books they themselves read as children. (With me it was the other way round. I read Dahl to keep abreast of what Son and his peers liked.)

So what didn’t I force Offspring to read? Primarily the ‘real’ classics. The books that were pretty ancient even in my time, like The Three Musketeers and Ivanhoe, or Journey to the Centre of the Earth. I could almost forgive them for having no interest at all in those books.

But more ‘contemporary’ books like Pippi Longstocking were required reading. Or so I thought. Reading which we got round by watching the films and the television series. And then I discovered that Pippi was a bit of a bully, and nowhere near as funny as I remembered her to be.

Perhaps that’s how Roald Dahl’s books appear to children now? I can recall how appalled I was, seeing George’s Marvellous Medicine on stage. It really brought home the awfulness of those books. To this day I can’t bear Willy Wonka.

It won’t be long until a whole Harry Potter generation start to forcefeed their children wizards and witches and wands. Those readers are already beginning to pop up as authors (it’s probably quicker to write a book than to give birth to a new reader), having been inspired by Harry and Co.

If you don’t read Dahl now, you are very likely enjoying Jeff Kinney’s Wimpy Kid or Andy Stanton’s Mr Gum. How long until they are the parents’ choice? Thirty years, maybe.

I get the impression that Enid Blyton still works, even without any arm twisting. I expected Daughter to like the Nancy Drew books and bought two with lovely period covers, and they are still sitting on a shelf in pristine condition.

The thing is, Mother-of-witch never suggested books to me. I read all of hers. There weren’t many, and I didn’t own a lot myself, so anything that was available got attention. Hers were mainly what girls had in the 1930s, so neither terribly classic or incredibly modern. They were just books.

Jules Verne, Till jordens medelpunkt

Perhaps if my childhood books had been in a language they could read, Offspring would have foraged and found something to enjoy.

Yeah, that’s probably it. Wrong language. Not wrong books.

Close encounters of several kinds

Barry Hutchison

Her condition for crawling out of bed early on Monday morning, was that Barry Hutchison should buy Daughter a Coke. Just to keep going. As it happened, Barry needed to keep going as well, so that was two Cokes plus a water for the witch, for our interview at the hotel across the road, first thing. Barry and I have been trying to synchronise our diaries for months, and success finally arrived in the shape of the book festival.

We interviewed and laughed and had fun, even on fairly little sleep. I’m so excited I will have to go and read some of Barry’s Fiendish books now.

With another eleven hours of our festival day to go, we ventured over to Charlotte Square for the morning’s event with Sally Gardner and Celia Rees, chaired by Nicola Morgan.

Towards the end of their fascinating talk, Daughter crept out for one of her most important photocalls. The one with Frank Close, who had been joined by none other than Peter Higgs of Boson fame. The two physicists cavorted and posed as though they were really actors. Well done!

Frank Close and Peter Higgs

Meanwhile your witch was on camera duty in the bookshop, doing her utmost best to do justice to Sally and Celia. Luckily the real photographer popped up to repair most of my mistakes. The ladies had so many fans queueing that I didn’t even get the chance to chat. I left an incoherent message with Nicola and ran for the sold out talk on Particle Physics (which in turn meant I had to leave Barry Hutchison and his 13 horsemen to their fate…)

It was great. And in case you feel that isn’t enough information about this year’s big happening, rest assured I will follow up with detailed events reports.

The Particle Physics queue

We did double camera duty for the queue at the signing afterwards. The queue was as busy as you’d expect for Particle Physics signings. Daughter put her fan hat on and got close to Peter Higgs, who kindly signed his colleague’s book.

Peter Higgs and Frank Close and fan

Meanwhile I turned 180 degrees and caught Andy Stanton who was signing on the opposite side. Still. He had been there two hours earlier, signing, with enormous queue across the square. Andy was singing and joking and chatting as though he wasn’t even tired. (And the ladies in the Ladies were gushing about how wonderful he had been… Just so you know.)

Andy Stanton

Not being able to catch Celia still, we departed for lunch. She phoned while we were reviving ourselves, and we agreed that her Edinburgh visit was just too short for that elusive interview. We will manage it one day. Third time lucky, perhaps.

Sally Gardner

Back to Charlotte Square to catch Sally before her event with Barry (which I also had to miss), to take some much needed proper photos. Her outfit for the day, of which you can’t see much here, unfortunately, was as great as ever.

Chris Riddell

Daughter wandered off and encountered Chris Riddell drawing in the middle of the square, having drawn a large circle of people around him. And then we went to join the unusually large crowd of photographers in ‘the studio,’ where we stood around for a long while, waiting, and me staring at the FBI type by the gate. But eventually the festival’s director popped along to greet Gordon Brown as he was ushered in. He disappeared after stopping for a split second for photos, after which we hung around for another half hour until the former PM returned and gave us a couple of minutes for proper photos. He was there to give the NLS Donald Dewar Lecture, and his queue was a long one.

Gordon Brown and Nick Barley

Trying to grab some internet, we headed back to the hotel, which we left rather quickly when the fire alarm went. So that was more or less goodbye to the internet again. Michael Palin cavorted outside the yurt, and then for the paparazzi. Daughter went to hear Michael talk, along with a few hundred others. Apparently he was GOOD!

Michael Palin

In amongst eating more cold pizza (yes, we do have a large supply of this ancient cheese topped bread) I managed to take some photos of Sjón and Jess Richards. Everybody is talking about this Icelandic author, but I know almost nothing about Sjón.

Sjón

I was afraid I’d have to do the honours (photographic variety) for Neil Gaiman and Chris Riddell, but was saved by prompt arrival of the real photographer. Neil had previously been posing for Chris Close. Lying down. That won’t have done much – good – to his clothes. Black as usual. Black with grime afterwards, I imagine. Edinburgh started Monday with rain, leaving the ground in a eugh state.

Neil Gaiman and Chris Riddell

I popped along to Neil’s and Chris’s event, which was even better than you’d expect from such a pairing. We were lucky to have Neil at all, since he had to depart for home straight afterwards, due to a family crisis. Chris signed for the two of them. Sort of.

Chris Riddell

If I paid myself overtime I’d have been rich after a Monday like this Monday. But I don’t, so I’m not. But it was good. Apart from the internet.

2011 Guardian longlist

Well, I was all prepared for it to happen a week ago, and then it didn’t. That’s the problem with a lack of information. Yes, yes, I know I’m a witch. Ought to be able to work it out with no help. But help is a sociable thing. OK, I’m not a very sociable creature, either.

‘That’s a short longlist‘ said Daughter. And it is, but the Guardian seems to prefer it that way, and at least it’s easier to get a proper view of it with only eight titles on the longlist. As far as I’m concerned it’s also an abysmally unknown longlist. But this time I’ve worked out why.

So, to the list: David Almond, My Name is Mina; Lissa Evans, Small Change for Stuart; Frances Hardinge, Twilight Robbery; Saci Lloyd, Momentum; Simon Mason, Moon Pie; Andy Mulligan, Return to Ribblestrop; Annabel Pitcher, My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece; Andy Stanton, Mr Gum and the Secret Hideout.

I have read Moon Pie and listened to My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece. Both books have been heavily publicised not only in my direction, but I’m sure at most people with an interest in children’s books.

I obviously know David Almond, and have almost been tempted to read about Mina. David is a marvellous writer, but the last of his books that I read made me so depressed that I decided not to risk it again. I just don’t know. I’ve had a Frances Hardinge book around, but it was one of those I ran out of time with.

Andy Stanton

After reading the first Mr Gum I have not followed his subsequent career. Could be I’m not a little boy any longer. I have never heard of Lissa Evans or Saci Lloyd. As for Andy Mulligan, I loved the first Ribblestrop, and have been on the verge to try and get hold of this second book, just to immerse myself in more warm insanity and adventure.

Just as I have asked countless times to be included on the Guardian’s press information email list (and you know, this time I thought I actually was), it seems I’m still not. Which limits me to guesswork on the when, and leaves me to read the information in the paper along with everyone else.

The same with several of the books. They are published by companies I keep trying to get regular information from, and regularly failing. Most are quite happy to help when asked, but, you know, I have to know, before I can ask.

It’s not the books I’ve got in my piles but haven’t read that are on the list. It’s the ones I’ve not even got near.

You’ll be wanting to know which of the hopefuls will make the shortlist. (I wonder when that is?) It will – most likely – be David Almond, Simon Mason, Annabel Pitcher and, let’s see, Andy Stanton. I wish all of them the best of luck.

Bookwitch bites #40

Far too often you find out about thoroughly wonderful people when it’s too late. I have been wondering if there is any way of publicising the kind of appreciation you get in obituaries, before someone dies. Becca Wyatt, who worked on the Carnegie medal, is one such woman. She died suddenly and at far too young an age just before Christmas. And from what I’ve heard about her she sounds like someone I would have loved meeting. Here is an account of how Becca’s many friends paid tribute to her at her funeral last week.

Someone else who has died is Dick King Smith, who by all counts also was both lovely and interesting. And he wrote great children’s books. I remember reading one or two with Offspring when they were the right age. Other than that I’m a fan of Babe, that wonderful little pig with grand ideas. Lucy Coats worked with Dick King Smith when she was an editor, and I rather liked her blog post about him.

I first met Meg Rosoff at an event in the Jewish Book Week five years ago. Ever since they send me their programme, and there is often a lot that interests me. But, it’s not always at a time and place that fits in (first time lucky, I suspect) for me. I will persevere, however. And for those who are in London there is a Family Day on Sunday 13th February, featuring Francesca Simon, Andy Stanton and Inbali Iserles.

Just think; without JBW there would have been no Bookwitch blog… And I promise to go away and practise saying Inbali’s name correctly. I know I have been taught it once, so am sure it can be done again.

I have this silly notion that once we’re into the twenties in January it’s practically spring. It would appear I’m not the only one who is calendarically challenged (I just love making up new words). Keith Charters can be seen being interviewed wearing a short sleeved shirt (and trousers, I expect) in Scotland. In January. And there is something which I took to be a surfboard, but turned out to be a rocket instead.

What to do about 3-year-olds

To tell the truth; I don’t know. I have had two myself, but they have gone on to other things, like being four and twelve and even worse. One of them was a 3-year-old boy at one time, and it’s boys we are worrying about here. We must have done something with him?

It was while I was in the exploding-glasses corner on Thursday, chatting to cartoonist Neill Cameron that he asked what he should get for his 3-year-old. It’s hard being an ‘expert’ and standing there having no clue whatsoever. What did we do?

There appeared to be a gap between the plastic foam bath-book and the Oxford Reading Tree in the infants. Son read the Resident IT Consultant’s coffee table train book. He read it until it fell to pieces, but that was just looking at photos of choo-choo trains.

Thomas the Tank Engine. Book and video. Tootles the Taxi. We read that over and over and over and… Can you discern a trains and cars preference here? When he was three Son was an only child. When that stopped, Daughter arrived bearing a road mat as an introductory bribe for her big brother. So, more cars.

I was invited to Usborne parties. I remember that. I bought Usborne books. There were some nice ones about a farm; female farmer (so pc) and lots of tractors. Usborne also did some nice larger books with ten or twelve stories to read at bedtime. We read those a lot.

In fact, at the time I was still almost at stone age levels re purchasing for Offspring. ‘You don’t need much’ was my mantra, so we read books lots of times, instead of reading lots of books.

Vaguely recall books called Stories for 5/6/7/8/9-year-olds (not all at once, obviously), so it stands to reason there must be a Stories for 3-year-olds too, in which case we will have owned a copy.

Wolves. We had loads of wolfie stories. With or without pigs. Sometimes the wolf was bad, at other times the pigs.

Then came school and Kipper. The Kipper books kept us going until Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl arrived at about age six or seven. Another three years on we went potty over Potter and I know for a fact that Son was ten when he read Northern Lights. (But Daughter enjoyed it on audio at seven.)

Back to Thursday when I could only think of Steve Cole (who was there) and Philip Ardagh (who wasn’t). Later I remembered Andy Stanton and his Mr Gum. But they are all more of the six and upwards. But maybe they will do well a lot earlier if someone reads them to their child? Not having tried them myself I don’t know how early they can be appreciated. Barry Hutchison has written one book scarier than the last one, and his own son could only tolerate things up to the third one. Or so I believe.

As you can tell, I’m not getting very far here. Help!