Friday, 30 July 2010

Summer Holiday Fun

Bored already? Children declaring there is nothing to do? Need some useful ideas for activities to keep the kids out of trouble for the remainder of the holiday?

The most recent Armadillo Magazine competition challenged readers to submit top tips for keeping the family entertained this summer, from the great entries submitted I have selected winners whose books are on the way to them. In the meantime, because some of the ideas were just so good I am featuring them here.

I hope this keeps the kids and family entertained for a couple of weeks as I am off on my summer holidays tomorrow so you won’t be hearing from me for two weeks!

Anyway back to those tips, here are samples from the top three:

Pay a visit to your local library and select a book, this book will provide the family with a theme for the week and each member of the family must then use this theme to create or organize a related activity.

An example of this may be the book of choice being Gilbert in the Deep by Jane Clarke. This is a book about a giant shark and as such activities could include:

Having a fish and chip supper

Going for a swim

Investigating shark infested rock pools at the beach

If it is raining making a fish mobile to hang in the house

Theme around the family summer holiday. If it happens to be camping then hunt second hand and pound shops for camping accessories and create a mini camping adventure in the park or garden to get the kids in the mood. Then afterwards make up a scrap book to remember the day. This is a great idea that could be applied in lots of different situations.

Write activity ideas on scraps of paper, fill an empty jar with them and then when the kids are bored pull one out and endeavour to do it!

Have fun and do let me know how you manage to keep those kids entertained!

Monday, 26 July 2010

A sense of mystery

Today’s Blog entry comes to you with two voices mine and that of Shelley Instone, Armadillo reviewer, who recently attended the book launch of ‘The Moonstone Legacy’ at the Nehru Centre in London’s Mayfair.

The Moonstone Legacy is the first instalment in a planned trilogy based on Wilkie Collins’ Moonstone and has been written by Diane de Gunzberg and Tony Wild.

Shelley’s full report will feature, along with a book review in the September edition of Armadillo, meanwhile here is a taster of the evening…

The evening began with light refreshments and informal chat as Diane and Tony revealed how they had known each other from childhood and had a mutual fascination with India. Tony stated that their friendship and shared interests arose from what he described as ‘a slight dislocation from both of us coming from culturally diverse backgrounds.’ On asking Diane why she had decided to write for a teenage audience she stated that, ‘it simply felt natural as young people are going through so many changes.’

Both Diane and Tony stressed how they had carefully researched their novel by travelling to India and tracing the footsteps of Wilkie Colllins’ novel. They felt it was essential to experience the colourful and diverse aspects of Indian life. Although ‘The Moonstone Legacy’ is placed in the historical context of the late 19th Century both authors felt very strongly that all characters should be equal in terms of ethnicity. This, they claimed was a conscious departure from the imperialistic narratives of writers such as Kipling and Forster.

Diane disclosed that there had been the odd argument over character and plot…

Tony added, ‘this created the mystery that the protagonist, Lizzie Abercrombie must solve.’

I had the distinct impression that if this collaborative piece of fiction could emulate just a fraction of the success of Wilkie Collins’ Moonstone, both authors would be delighted...

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Fabled cities, personality disorders and master criminals may not instantly come to mind in the same thought but when you are spending an evening in the company of Eoin Colfer then they are quite a natural collection of ideas!

Last night an invited audience of booksellers, the media and publishers celebrated the launch of Eoin Colfer's 7th Artemis Fowl adventure. Eoin has now been writing about Artemis for 9 years and despite a break of two years during which he completed a novel for adults in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series his enthusiasm for Artemis has most certainly not dwindled (he is of course the Puffin of Puffins after all) and neither has his, very typically, Irish sense of humour!

Following a day of interviews which began with BBC Breakfast and took in Channel 4 and Amazon (where he has knocked Stephanie Meyer off the no. 1 spot) Eoin then went on to broadcast a live web chat before submitting to questions for Julia Eccleshare and the gathered audience on the 10th floor of Puffin on the Strand in London.

With a new story comes the inevitable new twist and whilst Eoin was giving little of the story away in case the assembled audience had not been lucky enough to read it (I was one of the few who had and can highly recommend it). he did however read a very short excerpt before answering a few questions and having us all in stitches with his replies!

Artemis fowl and the Atlantis Complex is Colfer's opportunity to punish Artemis for the wrongs he has committed by giving him a fairy illness and forcing him to face a few truths, along with the fact that perhaps he is growing up... This is new territory for author and character, there are light touches but a lot of psychology that older fans will enjoy. It is a book to be read on many levels and as such it will appeal to fans of all ages.

Eoin still gets immense pleasure from Artemis and enjoys writing his stories as much as we all love reading them. he reassuringly told us that there is more still to come and we should perhaps look forward to even more excitement for Artemis' 10th anniversary next year!

Thanks to Puffin for putting on the event, Julia for some great questions and Eoin for being such a funny, lively and brilliant author - go out and buy the new book now!!

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Awards, Awards, Awards!

The blog has been quiet owing to a few days away in Devon with my family but I have still been keeping tabs on events in the book world for you...

Last night I had the pleasure of joining publishers, authors, children and their families as well as other librarians and book review magazine editors at Walker Books for the announcement of the Branford Boase award.

Anyone unfamiliar with this award and wanting more information should visit the website at However what I will tell you is the this award, for the a first time novelist and their editor went to the thrilled and very nervous Lucy Christopher for her book Stolen. Lucy's editor Imogen Cooper also received an award and between them they offered thanks to a great team at Chicken House and most especially Barry Cunningham for spotting Lucy's talent. She will certainly be an author to watch, as will all those who reached the shortlist for this award has a habit of finding authors who certainly make it bog after their first novel and continue to write with strength and imagination!

This award is the only one to recognise the editor as well as author of a new novel, it is a hugely encouraging award and comes with a beautiful hand carved presentation box as well as a nice cheque! Julia Eccleshare, chair of judges was equally complimentary and Lucy was keen to note the strong competition that she had been up against so do take a look at all the authors on the shortlist and watch out for them becoming big names.

At the same time an award was also presented to six young people, winners of the Henrietta Branford Writing Competition, their stories can be read on the website and their names could certainly be ones to look out for in future years.
Thanks to Walker Books for sponsoring the award and throwing such a great party, it was a lovely mix of people and a great atmosphere, a true celebration of new and emerging talent that will hopefully continue to go from strength to strength.

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Gorgeous Glitz and Glamour

If you had been passing the light and airy atrium of the Mayfair Hotel in London's Green Park on Thursday evening you would have found a small group of booksellers, librarians, journalists and publishers sipping champagne, eating smoked salmon canapes and enjoying an evening of glitz and glamour to celebrate the launch of Cathy Hopkins Million Dollar Mates.

Think Pink! was the instruction on the invitation and there was certainly a pink presence in the room, for Million Dollar Mates is all about glitz, glamour, paparazzi and girls! It takes the reluctant Jess Hall, her brother and cat away from the comfort of their grandmother's care and into the managers suite at Porchester Place where her dad is the new general manager.

Porchester Place is not just any normal apartment building, this is strictly for the A-List and living in this gilded cage at first seems to Jess incredibly exciting and exotic. She soon learns that whilst the high life is not all it is cracked up to be, her down to earth attitude reaps its own rewards!

Cathy's launch party included a number of friends who explained to me that she has been writing for as long as they can remember! Cathy confirmed that it has certainly been a long time, at least 20 years now and says that she really couldn't imagine doing anything else. She is in person as glamorous and yet down to earth as some of her characters and she loves nothing more than discovering her books are hitting th emark with their intended audience. This launch party was celebrating the release of the book and also allowing us a sneak preview of the potential cover for book 2 - due in January 2011. Cathy is very excited by the next title and explained she was looking forward to working with her Simon & Schuster publishers as well as the charming Christopher Little, her agent, on this new series.

Ending the evening with a special good bag complete with mini love hearts, chocolates and a bubble bath for relaxing whilst reading this fantastic story, Simon & Schuster as well as Cathy must be thanked for a truly glamorous occasion and wished every success for their continued success as partners.