Saturday, 30 October 2010

It was a dark and stormy night | StorySpark at The Ark

After a whole month of events and fun and games, some of the people behind the Children's Books Festival are back with more fantastic offerings to lighten up the our cold and dreary week-ends this winter. Children's Books Ireland, The Ark and Poetry Ireland are bringing us StorySpark, a celebration of the magic of story.
"Each weekend from 27th November, The Ark will become a hive of story-centred activity for families to explore. On Saturday and Sunday mornings, the creative facilities of The Story Lab, a facilitated interactive space, will be open to those wishing to write and record their own stories, or to enjoy those left by others. Later in the afternoon, The Reading Room will play host to some of the most talented children's authors writing today, with a series of exclusive readings at 2pm and 4pm.
Top-class writers and story-tellers include: Derek Landy, Anthony McGowan, Roddy Doyle, Frank Cottrell Boyce, Mary Arrigan, Aubrey Flegg, Ali Sparkes, Tony Mitton, Enda Wyley, Larry O'Loughlin, Marcus Sedgwick, Guy Bass, John Boyne, Ian Beck, Philip Ardagh, Oisín McGann, Joe O'Brien, Niamh Sharkey, Sarah Webb, Brianóg Brady Dawson and Gillian Perdue.

Check out The Ark's website for all the minutiae from dates to times to genre and age-group and the rest. Meanwhile, I'm going to find a 7-year-old to take me to see Philip Ardagh and His Beard.

Friday, 29 October 2010

In good company

Last Thursday saw Oliver Jeffers (of Lost and Found, The Great Paper Caper or The Incredible Book-Eating Boy fame) and Martin Salisbury (illustration expert) having a public chat in the National Library. For those of you who missed the event, despair not! Kim Harte has a great report on the night over here. The only snippet of info I feel compelled to add (for family reasons) (you know who you are) is that apparently Oliver failed a  colour-blindness test a few years ago and never took another one. So there's hope for us all!

Irish Book Award Shortlist Announced

Last night was the announcement of the Irish Books Award shortlist. And here are the lucky few who made it to the kidlit lists:

The Dublin Airport Authority Irish Children's Book of the Year - Jnr

The Heart and the Bottle, by Oliver Jeffers
On the Road with Mavis and Marge, by Niamh Sharkey
Alfie Green and the Chocolate Cosmos, by Joe O'Brien
Adam's Pirate Treasure, by Benji Bennett

The Dublin Airport Authority Irish Children's Book of the Year - Snr:
Ask Amy Green: Bridesmaid Blitz, by Sarah Webb

Skulduggery Pleasant: Mortal Coil, by Derek Landy
Timecatcher, by Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick
Noah Barleywater Runs Away, by John Boyne, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers

Now the final decisions rest into your hands. You have until November 21, midnight, to cast your vote on the IBA website. The winners will be announced on November 25. Off you go do you duty as a reading citizen!

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Seen on the Etherweb

I've made it to the picture books list on Mary Esther Judy's blog, Fallen Star Stories. Mary read In Search of Happiness and, it seems, liked it!
This is a warm and well-written fable style picturebook written by Juliette Saumande. While the story is a familiar one, in the telling is a quality genuine and unique that truly sets it apart. Stylized, exquisite illustrations by Eric Puybaret (illustrator of 'Puff, The Magic Dragon) perfectly accent this tale as it carries the reader along. A wonderful and timeless picturebook to be treasured.

Thanks Mary!

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Not as pink as you might think

October is always the high season of picture-book publishing, at least for me. On top of the other titles mentioned earlier, I can now proudly present 10 Histoires de Fées, featuring two by yours truly, and a reissue-cum-repackaging of Ma Première Grande Histoire de Fée (My First Great Fairy Story).
The compilation of 10 stories will introduce you to Chimera the Sardine-Tin Fairy, and to Chimes, a little detective of a fairy who wants to know why all her colleagues are disappearing.

My First Great Fairy Story (revamped under the title My Little Story Library - Girls) may look and sound fairly pink to you, but do not be fooled! It's actually about all the colours of the rainbow (and more) and includes a talking woolly hat, a worm-chopping ogre and a Hawaiian shirt.

As these stories are all in French, here are a few pictures, for those who can't enjoy the words...
Chimes is a fairy on a mission.
Where have all the fairies gone?

Meet the Sardine-Tin Fairy and Small Fry,
the ogre who conjured her up by accident.
There's definitely something fishy about those two...

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Out Now for all your Xmas and Saturday-nights needs...

It's release season for me, with 26 new books out this month in France. Yes, I did say 26. Do the maths yourselves...
1 Alcatraz contres les Ossements du Scribe, a translation of Brandon Sanderson's Alcatraz versus the Scrivener's Bones, book 2 in the demented series. Age 10+

1 52 Histoires pour tous les samedis soirs, 52 bedtime stories for every Saturday night of the year, featuring 6 texts by yours truly, including the infamous bandit Conor O'Connor who suffers from hay fever and the rather limited fairy Turnip-Flower who can only turn people into daisies. Age 3+

24 livres et c'est déjà Noel, 24 books containing a Christmas story each and sold in a box set. One story to read aloud every night before C Day, for 3+. This is the happing ending to a two-and-a-half year long saga where the actual writing of 24 very short stories (ie 24 very quick beginnings, 24 very quick middles and 24 very quick endings) took place over 5 weeks only. One was younger then...

There you go: 1 + 1 + 24 = 26.
Cheating? Me? Never! ;o)

Thursday, 7 October 2010

The Big Draw

If October wasn't busy enough with our own Children's Books Festival, it's also the month of the Big Draw, a worldwide campaign and series of events which "aims to use drawing to connect visitors with museum and gallery collections, urban and rural spaces – and the wider community – in new and enjoyable ways." Check out the website for events listings, there could be something down your neck of the woods or your Internet alley...

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

TV star (ahem!)

It would appear that while I was away doing serious research into the Scottish children's books market, a strange woman with stranger feet was spotted on the French TV channel TF1. It's in French and lasts for a whole glorious minute and nine seconds. It's all about, you know, books, how they're made, you've seen it all before...

Back at the ranch | CBF 2010

Meanwhile, some people have been busy. The Children's Books Festival (aka CBF) has been kicked off with gusto up and down the country. For plenty of worshops, talks, readings, etc. wherever you might be, check out the CBI website. They have an events calendar and a festival blog.
If, however, you're desperate to go but are stuck at home with a bad case of flu, pesky attention-seeking babies or a heavy wardrobe accidentally resting on your chest (stuff happens), you can also enjoy some action from home on Tuesday 12 October at 11.30. Read on:

To celebrate Children's Books Festival, Laureate na nÓg Siobhán Parkinson will participate in a special webcast. Siobhan will be in conversation with Bisto Award winning author and illustrator Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick and school and library groups all over the country are encouraged to tune in from their own classroom or library via South Dublin Libraries live stream.This event will be live streamed from County Library, Tallaght. You can tune in live on October 12th or you can view the interview at a later date by visiting
Young readers can submit their questions to Laureate Siobhan Parkinson in advance
of the broadcast by emailing A selection of questions will be answered during the event and any questions that don’t get answered on the day will be answered afterwards by Siobhán on the Laureate’s special website -

So off you go now!

Dublin Culture Night

I couldn't attend this year's edition of Culture Night (what with being in Scotland and all), but it seems I still managed to take part in it by proxy and unbeknownst to myself. The lads and lassies at CBI took a liking to the sight of these Awfuls (the baddies in my French Tirligok series) and put them up in the reading area for an event at the National Library! Thanks guys!

A wee tour

As you can see, I've been busy sorting out my shelves, which is why it's been quiet in these parts lately...
That, and the fact that we've been taking a litterary tour of Scotland, which included :

  • Leaky's (a second-hand bookshop in Inverness, above);

  • A visit to the McManus Gallery in Dundee where we discovered the fascinating story of the first world tour by two female reporters (sent by publisher DC Thomson, of The Beano fame, in the 1890s to 'obtain full and accurate information as to woman's position in the world', more here);

  • A quick stop at Waterstone's in Edinburgh (where you can find Scots versions of The Twits, dubbed The Eejits! and The Hoose at Pooh's Neuk): 'I'm Pooh,' said Pooh. 'I'm Teeger,' said Teeger. 'Oh!' said Pooh, for he hadna ever seen a craitur like this afore. 'Does Christopher Robin ken aboot ye?' 'Of coorse he does,' said Teeger. 'Weel,' said Pooh, 'it's the howe-dumb-deid o the nicht, which is a braw time for gaun tae sleep. And the morn's morn we'll hae some hinny for oor breakfast. Dae Teegers like hinny?' 'They like awthin,' said Teeger cheerily. 'Weel, if they like gaun tae sleep on the flair, I'll awa back tae ma bed,' said Pooh, 'and we'll dae things in the mornin.'
  • No Loch Ness monster, but this... I've been wondering ever since what the Irish equivalent would be... Simon the Selfish Sausage Roll? Colm the Cool Colcannon? Patrick the Proud Potato (looks like it's there in the background already!);
  • And last but certainly not least, our favourite, good old William Topaze McGonagall, the world's worst poet, who left us these incomparable lines:
Beautiful Railway Bridge of the Silv'ry Tay!

Alas! I am very sorry to say
That ninety lives have been taken away
On the last Sabbath day of 1879,
Which will be remember'd for a very long time.

When the train left Edinburgh
The passengers' hearts were light and felt no sorrow,
But Boreas blew a terrific gale,
Which made their hearts for to quail,
And many of the passengers with fear did say-
"I hope God will send us safe across the Bridge of Tay."
So the train mov'd slowly along the Bridge of Tay,

Until it was about midway,
Then the central girders with a crash gave way,
And down went the train and passengers into the Tay!
The Storm Fiend did loudly bray,
Because ninety lives had been taken away,
On the last Sabbath day of 1879,
Which will be remember'd for a very long time.
Oh! ill-fated Bridge of the Silv'ry Tay,
I must now conclude my lay
By telling the world fearlessly without the least dismay,
That your central girders would not have given way,
At least many sensible men do say,
Had they been supported on each side with buttresses,
At least many sensible men confesses,
For the stronger we our houses do build,
The less chance we have of being killed.

(see here for the rest and plenty more, you now you want to!)