Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Big Breakfasting

I went to the Chicken House’s Big Breakfast event last week. And look, I spotted a copy of my book! Well, okay, it was just a spiral-bound printout, but this is the first time I’ve seen anything of Haunters on paper, so it was still memorable. I was even asked to sign a few.

These Big Breakfasts are all about bringing authors and their books together with interested parties from the world of children’s literature. There were croissants, there were readings, and there was the great Barry Cunningham to make it all sparkle.

The Chicken House’s list for this year seems very strong, and a few titles particularly caught my eye: Freaks by Kieran Larwood (last year’s Times Chicken House Fiction Competition winner), Girl About Time by Kerstin Geir (best-selling time slip romance first published in German in 2009), Floors by Patrick Carman (madcap goings-on in the barmiest hotel in the world) and Muncle Trogg and the Flying Donkey by Janet Foxley (the sequel to the wonderful Muncle Trogg, and which the author kindly inscribed for my son (who adores Muncle and anything to do with Mount Grumble)). But those were just the few books I snaffled on my way out. The rest look great too. I just hope Haunters won’t let the side down when it’s finally published in May.

Monday, 9 January 2012

A Boy and a Bear in a Boat

I was very pleased to be able to go to the launch -- at Heffers in Cambridge -- of Dave Shelton’s charming and delightful illustrated novel, A Boy and a Bear in a Boat. And it was lovely to meet so many old friends from art school and beyond. Though wishing to spare the author’s blushes, everything about the book is lovely too.

First there’s the title, which is itself a definition of what ‘high concept’ is all about. Then the cover is a jaw dropper, not only because it’s stylishly understated, but because publishers are thought to be allergic to anything but ‘play it safe’ these days. Then inside… well, inside there’s humour, humanity, allegory, a sea monster, fly-fishing with a rubber duck, a very strange sandwich, and much more besides, all peppered through with fine drawing. And some cracking one-liners too: “The boy managed a half-smile (he would save the other half for later)…”

For children and grown-ups alike, especially if they appreciate good design with their future classics. Buy it or find out more here or here. And you can see pages from Dave’s sketchbooks on his excellent blog. And if that isn't enough, Sarah McIntyre has written a much more fullsome acount of the launch, with photos and cake and everything!

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Happy New Year! And...

Don’t worry, I’m not going to give you a breakdown of the last 12 months. For me, 2011 was all about 2012 anyway. And I’m not going to be making any resolutions either (beyond the usual desire to increase brain activity whilst decreasing stomach usage). I just hope you all have a good time ahead, and can keep positive. Don’t let the tabloids get you down.

To set my blog going again, I wanted to post something about a twelve-year-old sketchbook blogger called William Sedgwick. Only, to do that I had to wait till he’d turned thirteen. His age is relevant because William recently suffered the indignity of having his long-standing blog and g-mail account summarily deleted by Google because he was ‘underage’. By two months. That’s DELETED, not frozen or suspended. And how was this young hoodlum found out? He was honest about his age whilst trying to upload a film to You Tube. Clearly the action of a dangerous subversive.

Anyway, now that Will’s matured overnight to be a responsible member of the blogosphere, I’m happy to say he has founded a new blog: Drawing Lizards. Please take a look – he has a fine and confident line, and a fearless eye. But after being slapped by Google, even Will could do with a boost. And he deserves more followers too, having lost the following he’d carefully built up. Will’s an old friend (is that okay, Google?) and I’ve seen many of his sketchbooks, indeed, been there when he drew in some of them. You won’t be disappointed by his blog, I promise.