Tag Archives: Michelle Pauli

Rain and fizz

Steve Cole

Were you scared? Could you work out that Spiderman was really – only – Steve Cole? See, nothing to worry about.

Steve Cole

Steve came out of his lunchtime event fizzing. So did his Pepsi. All over the signing table. Hence the ‘handy-with-a-cloth’ Spiderman you can see here.

Steve Cole

Most unusual sight. Make the most of it.

We’d heard about the suit. Seeing it was almost better than the anticipation. Didn’t see much of the squirrels, though. Those that weren’t appropriated by the audience had already been stashed into a bag. (And they looked like teddies!)

Let’s see how long we can spin out our last weekend in Charlotte Square. There will be more detailed reporting on events, but the general goings-on come first.

We began by getting the first train out of Stirling, in order to go to Michael Grant’s morning event. It was worth it. Once you’re actually out of bed and dressed and all that, it’s not too bad.

Michael Grant

He had a very long signing queue, but after more than an hour we were permitted to drag Michael behind the tent to the dustbin area for a private photocall.

We hung on for Steve Cole’s signing, having found two well positioned chairs to watch from. I couldn’t help but admire the ‘Cole Mothers’ who were still smiling after over an hour waiting with their children.

Julia Donaldson

Julia Donaldson sat on her chair for a considerable time, and her ‘Gruffalo parents’ were very patient indeed. Her event was on first, and she was still there, signing away, hours later. Julia’s trusty musician entertained the crowds, and the Gruffalo did his bit.

The Gruffalo

A lovely message came via facebook, with the news that Jenny Colgan – who doesn’t know us at all – had managed to find Daughter a ticket for her Doctor Who talk that evening. It made our day.

Steve Cole

We trailed after Steve back to the yurt, where everyone jumped at the chance of seeing him jump. He jumped for a solid ten minutes for Chris Close while director Barley watched, along with Ian Rankin, Denise Mina, Patrick Ness, Melvin Burgess and many more, who happened to be passing.

Found Holly Webb in the children’s bookshop after her early morning event. Very long queue.

Holly Webb

Once things quietened down, we sat out in the yurt ‘garden’ again, until I spied Theresa Breslin and Nicola Morgan and we ran over for a signature in Theresa’s new book, Spy For the Queen of Scots. I made the mistake of telling the Guardian’s Michelle Pauli it wouldn’t rain. Hah.

Peter Englund

Back to photocall with Peter Englund of the Swedish Academy. He was bemused to be getting instructions in his own language on how to turn. In typical Swedish fashion he shook my hand. I suspect that is as close as I’ll ever get to a Nobel Prize. Oh, well.

As we ran to get to his event, we spied Philip Ardagh, so stopped to chat briefly. That’s when he decided to lean on me. Someone will have to tell him it’s not good manners. Besides, the cool red shoes of 2011 are no more. He’s back to black brogues.

Mrs, Baby and Mr Wigtown and Philip Ardagh

Philip introduced us to Mr and Mrs and Baby Wigtown, which was nice of him. Apparently they have nine star hotels in Wigtown. (Like I believe that!)

Mr Wigtown and Philip Ardagh

Then we ran on, and after Peter’s event the heavens opened. It’s a most effective way to make people take cover. If they have a cover to take, that is. We really, really needed to go and eat lunch, seeing as it was coming on for five pm, so covered all our techie stuff in polythene, looked at the one umbrella between us, and panicked. All was not lost. In the entrance we found people covered in some delightful white bin liners with the words The Guardian on the front. We bought an Observer and got ourselves two ‘free’ bin bags to wear, and the afternoon was a little drier. So were we.

On second thoughts, we could have sheltered under Ardagh’s beard. Should have.

Post lunch we returned for Daughter’s eight o’clock Doctor Who talk, which she very much enjoyed. A quick chat with Jenny Colgan over signing, followed by a dash for a train.

We are now officially back at Bookwitch Towers.

Bookwitch bites #62

I’m beginning to feel like the Sesame Witch, and here I am again, bringing you the letter T.

For those of you who haven’t yet heard the voice of Shaun Tan (yes I know, I go on about him a lot), here he is  in the Guardian podcast, interviewed by Michelle Pauli in Stockholm earlier this year.

Shaun Tan podcast.

And please note how clever those young children are, being interviewed in a foreign language. (Just wanted to point that out.)

This week the winner of another Swedish award for literature was announced. Tomas Tranströmer is this year’s Nobel prize winner, and I read somewhere that he is the most translated poet in the world. So many Ts…

Continuing with the awards, Theresa Breslin has just won the Young Quills prize for historical fiction, with Prisoner of the Inquisition. Is it my imagination, or is Theresa and that book of hers winning a lot?

Before I leave you to go and drink some tea, I will return briefly to the letter B and the blasphemous and banned Meg Rosoff. Her darling creature Eck, that we all adore and would love to call our own, is about to become real. Sort of. In the book he must have been created by Bob (God, to you and me), since Bob created everything.

In real life, Eck – who has a very long tongue – is being created by a Mr Godlee, who is a friend of Meg’s. You couldn’t make it up, could you? In order to part with money, please contact Meg.

There was no dog…



The new children-only reading website

I should hate them. They are trying to outdo me. In fact, they probably already have, because one worn-out witch cannot compete against the whole of the Guardian. Or even just against site editor Michelle Pauli and all her enthusiasm for children’s books, and with a little bit of backing  by that newspaper. But then I never tried to be a whole media group, even though it might look like it occasionally.

But I don’t hate. It looks good, this new website for children and their books, which launched while we were sleeping. It’s by far the best World Book Day idea I’ve seen so far. Not that WBD has much to do with the world outside the UK, but you know. Reading, children, books. Good.

Guardian children's books

It’s for the children themselves. They will read and write reviews and they will do interviews, so I might as well just retire. I already know they will have better questions, and they will see right through phoney books.

There was a nice piece about it by Claire Armitstead in the Review on Saturday, and I love the fact that her children liked Animorphs. I can’t stand it when people have children with perfect adult tastes, and I can only wish I could have witnessed her themed children’s parties. Or even that I had her stamina in organising them.

In actual fact, I’m even more upset about not having the time to visit this website as often as it should be visited. There seems to be a little bit of everything, and I want to look at all of it.

I’m hoping that the word ‘children-only’ doesn’t mean I’m banned from going there? Surely adult-free zone means only that the children will be doing the work? Not that I’ll be kicked out? Tell me I won’t be kicked out!

Bookwitch bites #23

You know how you always hate the way you look in photographs? (Unless you are a little bit narcissistic.) Well, I think it’s time people recognise that they look good to others, in some of those photos. Last year at the Edinburgh Book Festival I published a photo of Theresa Breslin, which she didn’t like. So I changed it. I still maintain it’s a good picture, but Theresa is allowed to disagree.

I was thinking of this when I saw the photo of her that accompanied the interview by Michelle Pauli in the Guardian last week. It may have been taken by the great Murdo Macleod himself, but he seems to go for the weirdly interesting rather than leaving women looking beautiful. Anyway, there is an interview, and that is good.

There is another issue of Armadillo magazine out now, so feel free to pop over for some reviews and stuff.


Somewhat late, but better that than never, here is a photo of Derek Landy with his greatest fan Charlie. Both very fine looking boys. The book they’re smiling over isn’t half bad either.

Queen Cathy

And the Queen of Teen has been crowned and it is Cathy Cassidy! Excellent choice, and Cathy looks right at home in that crown, doesn’t she? And only marginally pink. Very queenly hair.

It almost makes me wish I’d had the strength to travel down to Godalming to join them in their pinkness after all. Although I gather Cathy had the support of Meg Rosoff, and possibly that of Doc Martens.