Friday, December 23, 2011

Philip Reeve's xmas present

A brand new short story from Philip Reeve as a xmas present for his blog readers. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

What do you with your old books? | The death of the printed word

That's what Nick Georgiou does with his. Mad or what?

"My art is inspired by the death of the printed word. Books and newspapers are becoming artifacts of the 21st century. As a society we're shifting away from print consumption and heading straight towards full digital lives. "

Monday, December 19, 2011

Adopt a bookshop

To all writers and illustrators stuck for gifts ideas this christmas, check out the Adopt a Bookshop project. You may find that you'll receive as much as you give...

"So how does an author Adopt A Bookshop? Well, there are no social services checks involved, no counselling, no painting the spare room and tempting the bookshop into it with a plate of Pop Tarts… It’s more practical than that."

Read on...

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The new new Inis

It's out! And partly online, as is my review of Little Red Hood by Marjolaine Leray. Here's a snippet:
"This is a very different retelling of the classic tale, one that does not shy away from its cruelty and awfulness, but embraces both through plot, graphic style and text. One wolf, one girl, two pencils, no décor to speak of, no props apart from the strictly indispensable or highly symbolic. " Book cover image for Little Red Hood

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas Special over on the other side

Just a quickie to let those of you who speak French that I'm doing a Christmas special over on my French blog, which includes recommended reads, cool illustrators to watch out for, book giveaways etc.
Come along, all welcome!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Amazing paper sculptures

Mysterious paper sculptures at the Book FestivalOnly in Edinburgh can you have a mysterious paper artist leaving a trail of masterpieces around the city. Anonymously. Check this brilliant article, it's got all the photos.
Mysterious paper sculptures
Paper sculptures - the end!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Library of the Early Mind film on dvd and online!

I mentioned it before somewhere on this blog, it's now available for all to see:
"Library of the Early Mind” is an exploration of the art and impact of children’s literature on our kids, our culture, and ourselves. From the first stories we hear told to us to those childhood heroes that stay with us a lifetime, the impact on our culture runs deeper than what we might expect. “No one suspects the children’s writer,” says author and illustrator Mo Willems, a former 'Sesame Street' writer. The film features nearly 40 prominent authors and illustrators talking about their work, its genesis and its impact. The number of books in print by the authors in 'Library of the Early Mind' exceeds 240 million."

You can pre-order a DVD by email (beware, it's evil NTSC format!) or rent a digital copy (for a measly 4.99) here. Their website is here and the blog here. Now you know everything you need to know!

Friday, November 11, 2011

You've got to love Chris Haughton

Aren't they wonderful? Chris Haughton has created those two posters for bookshops and libraries and he's making them available for free! More here and here.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

To all of us procrastinators extraordinaires out there

"For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin - real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way. Something to be got through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life." (Alfred De Souza)
You wouldn't believe this post has been sitting in the drafts pile before I got around to publishing it. Think I'd better print it and nail it to my forehead. In a minute.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Bistoing again

And what a joy it is! For the third time running I've been given the chance to be part of the Bisto Book of the Year Award jury. Check out who my distinguished colleagues are on the new-look Children's Books Ireland website.
Plenty to keep us busy this year as Irish writers, illustrators and publishers have been very productive. There will be in particular a lot of novels coming from brand new publishers such as Hachette Ireland and Puffin Ireland.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Tidying up the Hobbit mess

The Guardian is running a story about the recent discovery in Tolkien's papers of a number of early, unpublished illustrations and sketches he made for the Hobbit. Click for the slideshow.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Sword of the Awesome Manuscript

Agent Mary Kole over at has found a nice and neat way of describing what she's looking for in a novel. Well worth a read, here.
"If fiction is a balance of action and information, the axis of the scale, the part that holds everything else together, is emotion. Without emotion to lord over the work and to keep everything else in check, your whole manuscript falls apart."

Sunday, October 16, 2011

RTEJr Radio's Little Pages

A new programme is hitting the interether this very morning on digital radio RTEJr. Little Pages, presented by Gráinne Clear, will look at children's book from around the world and around the block, from picturebooks to teen novels, classics to the latest thing. There's also a series of podcasts for parents in the pipeline, discussing topics such as "how picture books work, why children like to be scared, the childhood love of the grotesque and bizarre, and many other themes which will help parents understand the workings of children’s books".
The show is on every Sunday at 9am and repeated on Fridays at 5pm. You can listen to the station here for example.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Tell me what you read | Little Friend by Colleen McKeown

A nice, warm and wind-filled picturebook for little people.
This is my review, mitched from the Inis blog (shocking, I know).

"Little Friend is the simplest of stories: a little girl called Laura finds a lone duckling in the grass one day, takes him home to nurse him, befriends him, and finally must let him go join his peers in the wild.

Straightforward and gentle as it is, this tale manages to avoid falling into twee territory. Its strength lies in everything the text does not say but only hints at: the joy of marching through the snow, the duck’s longing, the excitement of first flight, and Laura’s sadness.
All those unstated feelings are wonderfully relayed by the brilliant pencil and crayon illustrations. The broad sweep of landscapes, the constant presence of the wind, and the subtle passage of time infuse great energy to the book and add another layer of emotion."

Friday, October 7, 2011

Bloody genius

If you can't write, sing!
(and click!)
(Thanks for those Kim!)

Monday, October 3, 2011

Quentin Blake's new baby

Thinking of redecorating your local maternity hospital? Then ask the specialist! The Centre Hospitalier d'Angers (yes, in France) has just unveiled Quentin Blake's paintings on its glass façade and delivery suites inside. Talk of a good start in life...
More here.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Ready, Steady, Go! Children's Books Festival 2011

October is just around the corner so it's time for CBF 2011! On the menu: story-telling sessions, illustration workshops, author talks, readings, competitions and more for tots to teens. So just hurry up and check out the Children's Books Ireland website. Also keep an eye out for Bookfest, the recommended reading guide, edited this year by Sarah Webb, Liz Morris and yours truly, and deliciously illustrated (that is, the front cover, see left) by Niamh Sharkey. It's free and contains reviews of the best books published in 2011, from picturebooks to novels, via info and poetry. So go on, have a fe(a)st!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Best Buddies: Chris Riddell's top 10 author/illustrator double acts

The Guardian ran this piece last week. Most of Riddell's choices go without saying (Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, AA Milne and EH Shepard, Roald Dahl and Quentin Blake...), but there were a couple of titles/series that were totally unknown to me and simply sound glorious such as the Treehorn trilogy written by Florence Parry Heide and illustrated by Edward Gorey. But then again I am a Gorey fan...

Monday, September 19, 2011

Give you picturebook a good shake

Saw this video on the inis blog and had to share it. Artist Raghava KK gives this inspiring talk at a TED event about changing our perspectives through stories that morph at the shake of an ipad... Brillig!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

It's September, but don't panic

The lunch boxes still look fresh and inviting, the school bags still have their shape, it's raining and windy and grey, so this must be September. Worry not, however, dear reader! The Squeaky Door has reopened just for you and to give the autumn a colourful kick-off, here are some cool pics just for you.
First off is the water-colour on the top left corner by young French illustrator Solenn Larnicol who is truly, truly wonderful. No surprise she was selected to be part of the Bologna exhibition last spring. (click on pic to see it in big and be amazed)
Next, is this slightly envy-inspiring article from the Accredited Online Colleges blog on some celebrities private libraries. Some are suspiciously tidy, but still, impressive. (Here's Karl Lagerfeld's; doesn't strike me as a terribly practical way to store books if you ever want to find one in particular, but that's only me)

And finally, for those of you who are looking for inspiration for the next Edible Book Festival or are just feeling a bit peckish, look what I found on Chris Haughton's blog!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

How do you draw love? | A Shaun Tan interview

I just saw this on Kim Harte's blog and I had to share it. Shaun Tan has given Der Spiegel an interview and has answered all their questions... without words. Go have a look.
(Above is Shaun Tan's answer to ''How do you draw love?")

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Some stunning re-imaginings (literally) of some old favourites by Spanish illustrator and publisher Juanjo G. Oller (Milimbo is the publishing company). Follow the links to get to the slideshows for Little Red Riding Hood and Hansel and Gretel.

Monday, May 30, 2011

The world is made of sugar

Saw this thanks to Sarah Webb. Take 4 minutes to listen to Sarah Kay's deadly spoken word poem and spend the next 14 mesmerized and inspired.
“This world is made out of sugar. It can crumble so easily, but don’t be afraid to stick your tongue out and taste it.” That quote is going straight on to my wall...

Friday, May 27, 2011

Tell me what you read | Bracelet of Bones, by Kevin Crossley-Holland

As mentioned previsously, Inis is now online, where it hosts a heap of articles and reviews that are not available anywhere else. One of those is my take on Kevin Crossley-Holland's latest novel Bracelet of Bones. Here's a teaser:
"The fantastic setting of 11th-century Europe (think boats rolling over land, Viking settlements from Iceland to Russia, runes, bone-carving and Christian–Muslim–Pagan conflicts) provides Kevin Crossley-Holland with a wealth of fascinating detail as well as a plot rich in danger, tension and drama."

For the rest, I'll invite you, again, to go over to the Inis site, right here.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Inis: live

Hear! Hear! The new glossy-fab Inis magazine is out and shiny! Go and grab your copy at a bookshop near you and have a wander around the brand new website: it's full of reviews and features from back issues as well as things that will not appear in the print edition. It also has a blog to help you keep in touch with your kidlit side and keep you posted on events, competitions and debates. Speaking of which, you should join in the current discussion about the Bisto Awards: how they work, what they do, and what they're for. See what you think!

Monday, May 16, 2011

And the winners are... | (NOT the Eurovision!)

Hear, hear! The winners of the Bisto awards have been announced to-day!
Here goes...

Winner of the Eilis Dillon award for best first children's book: A bit Lost by Chris Haughton
Winner of the award for best illustration: Winner of the award for fiction: Taking Flight by Sheena Wilkinson
Winner of the jury's special award: The Heart and the Bottle by Oliver Jeffers
Winner of the Children's award: Taking Flight

Over-all winner for best book of the year... yes, him again!

Well done to all!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Busy, busy

 After a couple of months of "far niente" (ie, writing board books, game books and stocking up on trivia for a forthcoming info book), I've recently got stuck in a new translation. And quite a task it is: over 350 pages of dystopian teen sci-fi involving genetic and environmental issues, politics, love and a couple of child-births.
The book is called Prized and it's the second in the BirthMarked trilogy by US writer Caragh M. O'Brien. It's very different in feel and style from the other series I've been working on, so it's an added challenge, but a welcome one, too, as I get to exercise a different part of my brain/dictionary. I really like what O'Brien has made of Gaia, the heroine, in this second instalment and I'm looking forward to showing it to her French fans...

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Coming up next: The winners of the 21st Bisto Awards


Patience, the wait is nearly over. Next Monday (16 May) will see the announcement of the winners of the 2010-2011 Bisto Book of the Year Award at the National Library. In the meantime, as last year, Scoil Cholmcille in Skryne has put together the verdict of its own Junior Jury and you can see what they think of each of the shortlisted titles here and here. Brilliant!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Reading with your ears

A brilliant article on the trickiness and stakes of translation over on the Guardian's website.
"It has to sound as though it were written in English – though with enough of the accent of the original to remind you constantly, in reading, of the text's beginnings... The translator's art is a transparent, inconspicuous one."

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

As promised

And for the vile unbelievers or the faithless incredulous, me on a snowskithingy during my WORK trip in the Alps:

Monday, April 18, 2011

Told you so

Didn't I, though? Didn't tell you the Moomins are great? Yes, I did and it looks like I'm not the only one of that opinion:

I love this book, and all the other Moomin adventures, because they are exciting and the characters are very well described. The way Tove Jansson, the Finnish author, writes about Moominvalley just makes you want to live there!

The rest of the review is on the Guardian children's bookclub.
So there.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Even though I never liked Snow White...

... one must admit that Angela Barrett's vision of She of the Apple is quite fabulous. Check out the feature on this and her other works in the Guardian. It's here.

Friday, April 1, 2011

In Bologna... in spirit

Yes, top shelf, smash bang in the middle, it's me!
(And in excellent company, you'll note, n'est-ce pas Alice?)
Thanks to the CBI crowd who bumped into one of my publishers' stall in Bologna and thought of taking a photo!

Award season

While you're desperately waiting for the winners of the Bisto Book of the Year Award, here are another two shortlists to keep you busy.

The CARNEGIE MEDAL has announced its selection for the 2011 prize:
"The importance of finding common ground and forging friendships across seemingly unbridgeable divides forms a unifying theme for the six novels for young people on the 2011 CILIP Carnegie Medal shortlist, announced today."


The KATE GREENAWAY MEDAL shortlist for 2011 (for illustrated books):
Grahame Baker-Smith Farther

Anthony Browne Me And You
Bob Graham April Underhill, Tooth Fairy
Mini Grey (text by Hilaire Belloc) Jim
Oliver Jeffers The Heart And The Bottle
Kristin Oftedal (text by Carl Norac) Big Bear Little Brother
Catherine Rayner Ernest
Juan Wijngaard (text by Mal Peet & Elspeth Graham) Cloud Tea Monkeys

Winners to be announced on Thursday 23 June. For more, here's the website.

Astrid Lindgren Award

As is now the tradition, the prestigious Astrid Lindgren Award was announced this week at the Bologna Bookfair and this year's winner is Australian writer-illustrator Shaun Tan. For more on this fab news, head over there.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

And we're back!

So we are, after some very intensive but very fantastic time up in the French Alps. As mentionned before, I was invited to a book festival and fair in Ugine in Savoie where I also had the opportunity to visit no less than 10 classes in different schools.

Said schools are planted on the side of mountains with views you wouldn't believe (which is why I photographed some of them) and are usually quite small with a couple (sometimes literally) of multi-level classes, which seems to suit everybody.

We chatted books, writing, ideas, cats, chocolate and fantasy for two days and a great time was had by all (I think).
And yes, there were some local cheeses, snow bikes and snow shoes involved too. Sadly, I can't find the pics for those...