Thursday, 13 December 2012

Dream come true: The Calvin and Hobbes search engine

This is the kind of things that happen when you type "Christmas" in the Calvin and Hobbes search engine:
Calvin and Hobbes

No, you're not hallucinating. There is such a thing as the Calvin and Hobbes search engine. Type in any word and see all the relevant strips come up. *_*
Beware: it's ridiculously addictive!

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Rachel Von Kooij in Dublin

It was a very international evening: a Dutch author writing in German and living in Austria came to Dublin to celebrate the release of the translation into English of her novel set in Spain.
The launch took place at the Residence of the Austrian Embassy and, although there was no mulled wine or anything christmassy on account of it being still November, it was a warm and lovely event with lots of familiar faces as well as some new ones and some in between faces too (they're the faces of people you've been chatting to for weeks via email but have actually never met).
Rachel Von Kooij read from Bartolomé, The Infanta's Pet in Siobhán Parkinson's translation for Little Island, before answering Marian Keyes' questions together with Siobhán.
Bartolomé is the story of a crippled boy in 16th-century Spain who gets spotted by the Infanta who wants him to become her human pet. When asked if she had considered watering down the cruelty and the occasional violence apparent in some of the scenes, Rachel replied:
"No. Not at all. With children, you can do violence and cruelty with words, because the images that the words will conjure up are images that the child can cope with. If you tell the tale of Hansel and Gretel, the child will come up with an image of the witch and an image of the oven that he or she can cope with. But it doesn't work with film, where you impose an adult-made image on the child viewer."
You can read the first chapter of Bartolomé here and a review over there.

Monday, 19 November 2012


There were heroes and monsters, cats and rabbits, zombies and sellotape, and sure it was great!
Madness was had by all at the Little Island launch last Saturday in Smock Alley Theatre, including yours truly...

More can be seen at Sadie's too, including the aforementioned zombies.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Inchicore, Ilac Centre and other places beginning with I

The furthest I've had to travel so far...
Shop local! There may be an author near you...

Let's hear it for Kettle Horse Boy and Super Girls!
More brilliant characters, created this time by the ladies and gentlemen from the Oblate School and Our Lady of Lourdes. Thanks for the hugs!

And now for this week's excitement: the Dublin Book Festival!

A conspiracy of writers.

It's a secret!

Some serious hair action with the girls from George's Hill Presentation School.
Captain Poop Monkey, Black Cat Crazy Hair: you rock!

And, look, a special guest snuck into our session in the Central Library for the Dublin Book Festival.
Siobhán Parkinson, publisher and writer extraordinaire.
Best question of the week (to Sadie): 'How do you feel when you draw?'

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Kick off

And so the Dublin Book Festival was launched last night in the very splendid venue of Smock Alley Theatre. Are you ready for a near-week of publishing, talking, reading, bookmaking, treasure-hunting and writing extravaganza?
Alternatively, you can just curl up with a good book (any book, of course) in the kids' area. Fancy bean bags or what?!

Monday, 12 November 2012

Thursday, 8 November 2012


Are ye ready for this? Monsters VS Superheroes madness at the Dublin Book Festival next week.

Do come and celebrate Jean Flitcroft's Pacific Giants, Annie Grave's new Nightmare Club titles and, yes, our Mad Cap in Smock Alley Theatre on Saturday 17 November at 1pm.
The more, the crazier!

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

38 and fresh as ever!

(c) Michelle Moloney King. Loving the style!
Inis 38 is here! Where? In your letterbox, your favourite bookshop, your local library, your neighbour's day's post, your greedy hands... 

Everything you ever wanted to know about Sally Nichols, Alexis Deacon, Jutta Bauer, Éilís Ní Dhuibhne, eco children's literature, selling children's books to adults, the last Artemis Fowl, the latest David Almond, the first Girl who Circumnavigated Fairyland and much, much more all brought to you by a host of brilliant contributors (if I say so myself).
For a sneak peek, click!

Scary Sapphire

Told you she was a psycho cat!
This is Sadie's handiwork and the setting is Imaginosity during their Festival of Stories where we met more superheroes such as Pumpkin Girl and Mister Amazing...

Monday, 5 November 2012

Fan mail

This fan is looking into new and interesting ways to read Mad Cap...
(The hair, I'm told, is not an imitation of Madgie's. Some say it's the other way round.)
Inline images 1

Friday, 2 November 2012

That's what I like to see!

Indeed it is!
Mad Cap is on loan in lots of Dublin City libraries and, mysteriously, in Charleville Mall, one must apparently 'reserve [one]self' before reading it. Quite the experience, I know!

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

From one festival to the next: Roll on November!

So, the Children's Books Festival is nearly officially over. Didn't get enough? Fear not, dear reader, as the Dublin Book Festival is on its merry way! Running from 13 November to the 18th, it's got an impressive and varied line-up of writers for little, medium and big people including some of your favourites such as Biddy Jenkinson, Laura Jane Cassidy, Oisín McGann, David Maybury, Alan Corbet, Niall de Búrca and many more. There will be storytelling, treasure-hunting, book-binding, reading and general shenaniganning. 

Oh yeah, and there will be me... More on this last bit later.
Meanwhile, the website is here. The children's programme is ici and the school events are listed aqui.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Festival of Stories 2012 at Imaginosity


Will you be there? Because I will. And Sadie, and Mad Cap and Norbert and Manic Mudrick and and Scrum the cat.... The works!

We will be doing a Hero DIY workshop on Sunday 28 (yes, THIS Sunday) at 4pm. You have been warned!
All the details are here.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

New Job

Not sure I mentioned this here before, but I find myself wearing a new and dashing hat: that of reviews editor for Inis, Children's Books Ireland's magazine. Proud, excited, terrified, snowed-under don't even begin to describe how I've been feeling over the last few weeks. 

I'm currently in the tricky but well-documented process of Doing Every Thing At the Same Time: updating contacts, introducing myself to contributors and publishers, fighting off the avalanche of email, reorganizing my (and other people's) life so that I can attend launches, previews and presentations (got my first invite to Xmas drinks today!), reading advanced proof copies to try and determine what's the next unmissable big thing and skimming through gabillions of books before assigning them the best reviewers possible.
I'm also still an Author with work to do, like 3 non-fiction books to write for my French publishers, 1 perhaps-translation (after the New Year, phew!), lots of perhaps-online articles and oooh, a perhaps-novel in English. And did I mention the school and library visits for Mad Cap?
Oh yeah, and I'm making dinner, too.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

In full swing

And so, the 2012 Children's Books Festival is entering its second week and going strong. This is my first year taking part from the author side of the fence and it's been quite something so far!
After 7 events in as many days, my brain has started getting into high-spin mode, but I still have plenty of adrenaline left in my system to buoy me up through the exhaustion, the rain and the lack of chocolate around the house. (I hope).
Last week saw my partner in workshop Sadie Cramer and myself visit the sun-flooded library in Stillorgan where we met two bunches of very keen and very alert ladies. Both were 5th class, the first lot came from Mount Anville, the second from Saint Raphaela's (whom the book is partly dedicated to) (yes, it was a bit of a shock to them) (long story). We saw some very cool heroic logos created there and some terrific cliffhangers written (I for one want to know what became of Juliette Froggy Girl please!).
On the Friday I ventured all on my lonesome to meet this strange species called... boys, in Willow Park School in Blackrock. Like the girls before them, two groups of third class tried their hand at writing about a superhero of their making: how he/she/it got superpowers, what happened when he/she/it first met Santa/monkeys from outer space/another hero, that sort of thing. To spice it up though they had to include a random word (given by me) in their story, in any shape and guise they wanted. Which is how we ended up with Kettle Man. (And also Super Hot Dog Man but that had nothing to do with me or the approaching lunch time).
Finally on Monday 8 October, I joined forces with Sadie again to explore Castletymon Library in South Dublin, where we were awaited by three(separate) groups from St Kevin's GNS, Scoil Aonghusa and Scoil Cholmcille. There was some serious writing and illustrating here too. The last class we met was actually reading Chop-Chop, Mad Cap! so it was a slightly different experience for us. For them too, in fact, as they got a special treat in the shape of an extract from Mad Cap's next adventure and as they made suggestions of titles and plot lines for the third or fourth instalment in the series.
Those guys were very optimistic! Thanks!
Over the week we got lots of brilliant, pointed questions ranging from technique to inspiration via career, money and 'can you speak French to us please?' But I think I should leave you with the best questions of all, asked by one of the lads in Castletymon:
'How big would you say is your love of writing?'
Can anybody trump that? I think not!

For more pics of the week that was, head over to Sadie's blog here.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Mad Cap on the web!

Hear, hear! Mad Cap of the Rent-a-Hero Agency has made herself a wee home on line at
Go have a look and find out some secret stuff about herself and Norbert (and me!). (And cool Mad Cap logo or what?!)

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Chop-Chop, Mad Cap! The book!

When Madgie Cappock (aka Mad Cap) and her best friend Norbert Soup set up the Rent-a-Hero Agency, they think they’re ready for anything.
Not quite though, what with the local butcher disappearing, Madgie's big brother swearing revenge on the Rent-a-Hero team and one purple-haired granny with murder in her eye giving Mad Cap a job. Just as well Madgie’s a superhero and Norbert's a genius, right?Chop-Chop, Mad Cap! is available in all good bookshops, online and from the publishers, Little Island.
And here's a little bit of praise if you need more convincing...
'This is a thoroughly enjoyable read for young, confident readers. Mad Cap is personable, funny and the kind of girl you'd want to have around. The setting and events provide great excitement. It can be difficult to find a book with a central girl character that is strong, likable and true to life. But here she is! The flow of the story and the relationship between the characters make it highly suitable for boys and girls alike. And the presentation of the book adds to this notion, as the illustrations and cover do not rely on a feminine 'pink-girly' image, even though the central character is a girl. A great, new read... but be prepared for your own little super-heroes to be inspired into action. Utterly recommended!!' Mary Esther Judy, Dubray Books Galway
'... a really fun, light-hearted, wacky read' Sunday Independent'... its zany capers will amuse readers of eight plus.' Sarah Webb, Irish Independent
'Lively illustrations make this wacky début appeal to Clarice Bean and Judy Moody nuts.' Primary Times'... this book takes the reader on a whirlwind tour of Barnaby Street. The bold graphic quality of the illustrations captures the ups and downs of the lovable heroine and her imaginative escapades.' Bookfest 2012 Recommended Reads Age 9-11'Chop-chop, Mad Cap! is written by a French author living in Dublin, who has completely captured her adopted language and humour. The plot is fun, silly and hilarious. ... it is written with an incredibly funny sense of humour. It is a book that will appeal equally to boys and girls ...' The School Librarian

The Agency: Meet Mad Cap

Madgie M. Cappock aka Mad Cap is an unusual superhero: she has no super powers, she couldn't drive her MadMobile if she had one, her middle name is Madonna.
BUT she has a super costume, a super genius friend and she's a pro at origami. So there, what else could she possibly need to run one half of the Rent-a-Hero Agency, find out stuff and generally save the world?

15 things you should know about Mad Cap. (Or not.)

  1. She knows 17 different recipes for hot chocolate. One of them involves cheese.
  2. She’s extremely good at finding old rusty nails.
  3. She’s less good at not crying when the nail goes through her foot.
  4. Every summer, she swears never to wear flipflops again (see 2 and 3).
  5. She’s rotten at keeping good resolutions.
  6. She can say “Where is the sweet shop?” in five languages.
  7. She’s plump in all the right places, plus a few extra ones, but it’s ok because her super hero cape could hide a small army of Mad Caps.
  8. Her left foot is slightly bigger than her right. Or maybe it’s the other way round.
  9. The last time she wore a dress in public, she spilt orange juice all over it. On purpose. 21 times.
  10. She’s invented a deadly judo move involving fat dad bellies and sneaky tickles. It works every time.
  11. She gets freckles if there’s enough sunshine.
  12. Her favourite colour is blue. No, red. Wait, green’s not bad either.
  13. She once tried on her mother’s bra and filled it with Jaffa cakes. She didn’t do it twice.
  14. She once tasted cat food. She didn’t do that twice either. It was Norbert’s idea.
  15. Her best friend is Nortbert. You know that, but it’s nice to say it every now and then.

The Agency: Meet Norbert

Norbert Soup is a cool dude by Martian standards. He's an official genius and always comes up with the plans and the home made gadgets. He has a cat called Scrum who is the size of a small elephant. He wishes Scrum wouldn't crush him under his tons of fur and fat every time he goes to bed.

12 Things you should know about Norbert. (Or not.)

  1. He once tasted cat food. He didn’t do that twice. It was Mad Cap’s idea.
  2. He never mixes his food in his plate. He keeps the bangers on one side and the mash on the other, the only exception being buttered toast, because eating butter on its own is gross.
  3. He has never come up with a way to make his cat Scrum lose weight. But he lives in hope.
  4. He thinks Crunchies are lovely. He’s weird that way.
  5. He really can’t sing, but he can spell Supercalifra… Supergistick… Superfrodocious… That.
  6. Hats really suit him, according to his Granny Jo.
  7. His Granny Jo is really nice, but she’s blind as a teapot.
  8. His family name used to be much more complicated before his great granddad came over from Puducherry in India  and lost a bit en route.
  9. He wishes his great granddad hadn’t been called Norbert.
  10. His teeth are so white they glow in the dark.
  11. He hates wearing socks in his sandals.
  12. He hasn’t walked on a single crack on the pavement since age 4.

Back from Newbridge

And so, Sadie and myself were in Newbridge. Locked up in a room full of super heroes of all shapes and sizes as well as their creators. Electricity Man, Smelly Man, Hello Kitty, the Big-Eyed Bug, Sweet Tooth, Valkyrie Cain, Rat Girl and her best pal Cat Girl, Mega Man, Jonathan Ripples, Caffein Man, Dog Man, Weather Man, Kitten Cat, Tea Man and the rest... not to mention their respective arch enemies and secret weaknesses (including decaf coffee, worms and naan bread)... there was some serious imagining going on.
And thanks to Sadie you can have an idea of what we all got up to.

For more, head over to Sadie's blog and look out for more shennanigans during the Children's Books Festival, starting next week. Stillorgan, Castletymon, Blackrock... here we come!

Sneak peek!

Midnight Raid
The bedroom was darker than the old loo in the back garden, and Madgie M. Cappock, aka Mad Cap, stood there waiting for her eyes to adjust and scratching her nose furiously. She was wearing her superhero cape (which was great for camouflage) and her superhero mask (which was dreadful for itchy noses).
The bedroom belonged to her big brother Colm and she could hear him snoring like a cat with asthma. But that didn’t worry Madgie. It was all part of The Plan, the plan her best friend Norbert Soup had carefully designed. Norbert was officially a genius and Madgie knew she could count on his brilliant brains to get her out of impossible situations as well as into them.
Just like tonight. Tonight, Mad Cap’s mission was to uncover a potentially juicy secret: the name of her brother’s girlfriend. And for that she needed Colm’s diary. And for that she needed to sneak into his bedroom in the dead of night...

The rest of this free sample of Chop-Chop, Mad Cap! is only one tiny click away: RIGHT HERE.

Meet the crew: Illustrator Sadie Cramer

Illustrator Sadie Cramer

Sadie Cramer, from Teignmouth, Devon, studied Fine Art Sculpture at the University of Ulster in Belfast. After graduating in 1993, she moved to London where she worked in art departments for film and television. She has lived in Galway for the past 16 years with her husband Mark Hand and four children.
You can see what she's up to at

Meet the crew: Author Juliette Saumande

Author Juliette Saumande

Juliette is French but she lives in Dublin, because she has a passion for wet summers and toasted sandwiches. She’s written over twenty picturebooks and info books (published in France), one or two college theses and a long, silly poem in pig-Latin (but we don’t talk about it). She used to dress in white and stab people with swords, but now she’s taken up wrestling with her two cats, one boy and one girl. She’s not a great loser, but she’ll get used to it, eventually.
You can have a look at her website ( or her blog ( if you want.

Get in touch!

Have a question? Want the recipe for popcorn soup? Get in touch with Mad Cap, Norbert, Scrum the cat (and perhaps Juliette and Sadie) in the comment box below. If you're a real person and not a robot (or a zombie), you'll get an answer!

Monday, 24 September 2012

Let's talk about YOU!

Click on this handy link or on the page tab up above to see what YOU have been up to.
Stories, pictures, reviews and more from the DIY Workshops and Sadie's and Juliette's visits to your schools and libraries.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Everything you ever wanted to know...

... or not! My interview for Megan at Reading Away the Days is live and Megan has one extract from the book AND 2 copies of Mad Cap to give away. Enjoy!

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Reading Away the Days

Megan, blogger extraordinaire at Reading Away the Days, is hosting a fantastic kidlit event for the whole of this month: author interviews, reviews, book excerpts, giveaways, there's something new every day. Today you can find out about our own Mary Murphy (here) and here's the programme for the rest of the week (dedicated to books for 0/5 year-olds):

Wednesday 5th September: A post on Kipper the dog & review of Hide Me, Kipper the 18th Birthday edition book plus giveaway of Animals & bedtime stories mini library
Thursday 6th September: A post on memories of our parents reading to us featuring authors answers & reviews of some easy read books also a giveaway of a Winnie the pooh book
Friday 7th September: Guest post from children's author & illustrator Rebecca Emberley & A Funny Bones Book Feature
Saturday 8th September: A post on the importance of parents reading with or to their children with author answers & Peppa Pig feature plus giveaway of a Jakers & Jay Jay the jet plane book
Sunday 9th September: Children's author Judi Curtin spotlight & review of Mother Goose Action Rymes by Axel Schuffler

And I can tell you now what Tuesday 11th September will be about: one Madgie Cappock aka Mad Cap, missing butchers and tap-dancing. I shall reveal no more for the time being...

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Fun in class: Mad Cap teacher's notes

Hullo, world! I'm not quite back to school yet, but the folks at Little Island have been busy putting up the teachers notes I did for Mad Cap on their website: there's some classic stuff (questions and food for thought) as well as more... unusual material such as how to make an origami rabbit and a riddle from Norbert's Temple of Codes.
It's free and easily downloadable, so off you go and share it! It's only one click away!

Thursday, 26 July 2012

We have a winner...

Never mind the lack of collaboration of some...
The Truly Innocent Hand came to the rescue...
 And we have a winner of the MAD CAP giveaway!
(we also have, you will note, several home-grown artichokes of legend)

Friday, 20 July 2012

What are YOU doing in September?

Hero DIY WorkshopAs for me (and artist Sadie Cramer) I'll be busy running the fantaglorious Hero DIY workshop at the Riverbank Arts Centre in Newbridge, on sat 22nd.

Madgie Cappock aka Mad Cap and her best friend Norbert Soup of the Rent-a-Hero agency are recruiting new members. Do you have what it takes to join the gang? If you think you can tackle elephant-sized cats, crazy purple-haired old ladies and tap-dancing rabbits, the job could be yours! Author Juliette Saumande and artist Sadie Cramer will help you develop your own superhero identity and brush up your heroic CV, in this fun-filled writing and illustration workshop. You'll be ready to fly to the rescue in no time!
Wanna come with?

Tuesday, 17 July 2012


So, now that I have my precious author's copies of MAD CAP, I am in the very enjoyable position to GIVE ONE AWAY to you, my charming readers. I'm running the competition here, on my French site and on good old Facebook as well so that you can be in with a chance of winning wherever you might be.

How? you ask.
Easy peasy, I answer.
Just drop me a comment down below (or on my French site or on Facebook) before 25 JULY. All entrants will be thrown (metaphorically speaking) into a hat (literally) and a Trusted Tool of Fate* will be used to designate the winner.
* if he's not too busy watching the Muppets.

Best of luck to all!