Sunday, 27 March 2011

Sit down and Face the Tweets

Armadillo are doing it and it seems that everyone is at it these days - Twitter and Facebook of course. Reading is apparently no longer a solitary activity for those older people among us, we now have to share it which is wonderful news! We don't have a Facebook page but who knows. For now the Blog, an occasional Twitter @Armadillomagazine and the quarterly magazine are more than enough for us to be doing.

However if you want more from your books and you would like to be able to chat to the authors as well as other fans then why not pop along and see what Chicken House are tweeting at Chickenhsebooks, look for the latest news on their Chicken House UK Facebook pages or perhaps find out what Jonathan Stroud the author is up to @jonathanstroud on Twitter, or His Bartimaeus website has recently been updated and he is giving himself a wider online presence so pop along and see him for a chat one day.

Then as if that is not enough the Federation of Children's Book Groups are starting up a fortnightly Twitter book group, Sunday's between 8 and 9pm find them at @FCBGChair and why not join in?

This is a wonderful chance to see books, their authors and the stories in a whole new light, pick up some great hints and tips and even find out about new books to excite you as readers.

The to top it all off come back here for more latest news and take a quick peek at the inspired sketch Sarah McIntyre posted to her Blog ttp:// after a wonderful Armadillo interview in the current edition - thanks Sarah!

Make sure to remember however that there is still nothing better than sitting down with a real book and feeling the joy of turning those pages, heart in mouth as you wait for the story to unfold!

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

The Picture Book World of Polly Dunbar

An event report from Liz Bankes

This is a command: get yourself to Daunt Books on London's Marylebone High Road sometime before 24th of March! An utterly lovely experience awaits you. The Picturebook World of Polly Dunbar is an exhibition of over 60 original artworks from Polly Dunbar’s books, featuring all her much-loved characters – Ben and Penguin from Penguin, Tilly, Hector, Pru and the rest from the Tilly and Friends, Lizzie and her Dad from David Almond’s My Dad’s a Birdman, and many more. And if you haven’t been to Daunt Books (as I hadn’t) then you can have the double pleasure of seeing the exhibition and being in a proper ‘booky’ bookshop. Everything is wooden and there are galleries and staircases and books lining the walls – you will want to live there.

It’s also a lovely setting for Polly Dunbar’s illustrations. Her books already seem like classics.
The illustration ‘You be saucer, I’ll be cup’ from Here’s a Little Poem is an example – it feels like a picture I’ve known since I was a child, even though I’ve actually only just seen it! Seeing the original artwork allows you to look at this picture in detail – and there is a lot to see. The picture is made up of different textures, with the stars, characters and background cut from different types of material, and the flowery tablecloth is made from what looks like pink glittery wallpaper. Her characters seem familiar, like old friends, even though we’ve actually only met quite recently. I think especially with the Tilly and Friends series, because each book follows one of the gang, the characters’ personalities just leap off the page. This was the same even seeing one page from a book as an artwork on its own. My particular favourite is Hector the pig, and it was fun to go through the exhibition finding him in different pictures. Each picture is a story in itself, and even if you haven’t read the book it’s from you can tell immediately what is going on, and how the characters feel about one another.

Polly Dunbar was at the exhibition herself on Thursday 17th of March, spending her St Patrick’s Day kindly signing books for keen exhibition goers (thanks Polly!). I would imagine there were many young Polly fans who were later thrilled to be presented with a book containing not only her signature, but a sketch of one of the characters. She also did a signing/family event on Saturday 19th March. So what are you waiting for? Get yourself to the Picturebook World of Polly Dunbar. Ben and Penguin are expecting you.
The Picture Book World of Polly Dunbar

18th - 24th March 2011

Daunt Bookshop

83 Marylebone High St

London W1U 4QW

Monday, 21 March 2011

Artwork Up for Grabs!

I am a great admirer of artists who can also turn their hand to writing and of course vice versa. So it is with great pleasure that I report the following opportunity to you, my readers.

Jackie Morris, acclaimed artists whose work can be found sumptously decorating a number of beautiful children's picture books, is auctioning her original watercolour picture of a tiger from Caroline Pitcher's Lord of the Forest. The auction is being held in aid of the 21st Century Tiger fundraising partnershhip.

Only 100 years agio there were 100,000 tigers in the wild, now there are only 3,200. Jackie Morris loves knowing that tigers are in the wild and wants to ensure that they continue to live in the wild for future generations. 21st Century Tiger give 100% of all money raised to carefully selected projects in Asia so you can be sure that your money will be well used to save these beautiful animals and, if you take part in the auction you could own a very beautiful and orignial piece of artwork.

The auction starts today on Ebay and lasts for 10 days, finishing on 31st March. For more information vsiit and if you have never seen Jackie's artwork then start ith Caroline Pitcher's Lord of the Forest and you will be hooked!

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Loud Music!

My husband loves to play his cd's at a very high volume and I find myself sounding like my own parents when complaining about the voume so it was with a great deal of amusement that I read Kaye Umansky's Tales from Whitchway Wood: Crash 'n' Bang.

Umansky is on fine form and back in Witchway Wood not with Pongwiffy this time but a host of new characters. She has turned her storytelling skills to the tales of some of the others we always knew lived in the woods but who were always on the periphery of the action. They are now firmly in the centre of it and making a lot of noise too!

Witchway Wood may be a magical place but it is not always a favourable magic that befalls its residents as the Witchway Rhythm Boys are about to discover.

This band comprising a dragon, fiend and leprechaun, not forgetting the later addition of a Werewolf have their own share of problems, some of which seem to be the result of magic, some of which are the result of being in a not very well-known rock band! they are loud that much is certain and yes they do have some talent but there is one thing missing ... a singer ...

Become a groupie, follow the band as they set out to win the Battle of the Bands. Are they any good? Will they ever find a singer? Will they make it to the venue? Will magic, politics and romantic rivalry spoil the day or can the band win? Will Skulgooey's kitchen ever get cleaned and will they make it to the cake sale? Lots of questions, but if you read the story there are lots of answers.

Kaye Umansky is a talented writer of funny, unusual but above all warm books that will endear her to children of all ages. Funny books can be taken seriously as 'proper' reading books, just start with this one and you will soon see how.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Worlds of Books

Have you enjoyed a wonderful World Book Day? Found a book to enjoy or perhaps one that you are considering buying with your voucher? We have had a wonderful day, buzzing with books and ideas for stories as well as suggestions on how to use our vouchers. But all is not yet over for on Saturday the adults have World Book Night, this may have come under some criticism but it will be interesting to see how it goes. I don't think I will brave the cold and crowds in Trafalgar Square but I will be curled up at home with my next new book from the ever growing pile.

If you are looking for a book to read, having been inspired by World Book Day or in preparation for World Book Night then why not try Factotum by D M Cornish, published by David Fickling books? Reviewed here for you by Armadillo reviewer Simon Barrett it is the third in a brilliant trilogy that can actually be read on its own but why miss out on a great series?

Rossamund Bookchild: Founderling, Lamplighter and now Factorum or personal servant to Europe, the most feared monster-slayer in all the Half-Continent. Together they travel to her residence in the city of Branden-Brass, escaping the evils of Winstermill, only to find that scandals travel faster.

Here in the city Rossamund at last finds out his true identity. He is a rossamunderling: a manikin or monster in the form of a man. Rossamund however still needs to discover his true purpose in a life full of contradictions. He is a monster deeply loyal to a monster-slayer. Men call him a sedorner -- someone who sympathises with monsters – while monsters call him humbuggler, a hypocrite who acts the opposite of what he says. Somehow he must be himself in a world where men can be monsters too, such a man as Pater Maupin, who becomes Rossamund’s most deadly enemy.

Factotum continues the epic story of the half-continent in which men and monsters war and half-forgotten myths of monster-Lords come to life in the most unexpected places. The author, D M Cornish, continues to expand the horizons of the Half-Continent and the things that inhabit it, whilst delving deeper into its history and the origins of men and monsters through the footsteps of Rossamund. Along with the Branden Rose, Rossamund is joined by his once guardians and sea-salts, Craumpalin and Franistart. There is plenty of adventure and desperate to the death struggles as well as enjoyable sojourns in which Rossamund and his friends taste the delights of life. It all reaches a fierce and bloody end in which friends and foes lie dead or mortally wounded.

For young adult readers of fantasy the Monster Blood Tattoo series will continue to sate your appetitie and make you hungry for more.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Words and Letters

Having now fully recovered from the madness that was the last half term I am now back on an even keel and have been able to return to my reading habit, I try and get through at least four new children's books a week, not least becasue there are so many good ones to read but also because the children at school love to hear my latest recommendations and I now have a reputation to maintain!

So I have been busily reading away though I must confess that half term found me finally finishing
Anna Karenina - a moving and powerful story and Emma Kennedy's hilarious 1970s holiday memoir The Tent, The Bucket and Me. It was lovely to indulge in some adult reading but I do miss my children's books. There is something very special about the way in which writers of chidren's book use words and language with such skill that they can be as entertaining and fulfiulling for an adult as a child. There is also something very special and priviledging about being able to read such books.

One book that stays with me and I find myself regularly recommending is Toon Tellegan's
Letters to Anyone and Everyone. Tellegan has a magical way with words, making them powerful, touching, amusing and compelling. Not only does he prove that letter writing is not a lost art but that short stories can be built from the simplest of letters. Accompanied by the gentle and calming illustrations of Jessica Ahlbery, Tellegan has created one of a series of such books that Boxer Books, the small, indpendent publisher discovered and thankfully shared with us. So special is this particular book in fact that it recently won the Marsh Award for Children's Literature in Translation. This award is fully deserved and will, I hope, bring this wonderful author and his very special skill to a much bigger audience.

I can not recommend the book more highly and suggest that you all make an effort to find and read a copy, you will, I promise, be transfixed!