Tuesday, September 28, 2010

George and Ghost- launch dates and party.

Brrr! It's getting a wee bit parky outside, isn't it? On my 'commute' this morning (from my front door, around and about a bit... and then back to my front door) I noticed the sky had developed that Winter bleak, indulgently wretched look- you know the one. It's been grey for weeks, but suddenly it's seems the colour gets sucked out of the landscape as well. It's the look every good Brit waits for, groans, and then enjoys a really excellent, hearty moan about.

"Ooh, Summer's over again!"

"What Summer?!" *chortle, chortle*

"Have you seen Tesco have got Christmas stuff in ALREADY?!"

"£10 for a box of Quality Street- I ASK you!!!" Etc. Etc.

No, this is not a generalisation. Every Brit does it- it's true. You get to a certain age and suddenly, in order to communicate with other people of a certain age, you turn into Nora Batty. TRUST ME!

Anyway, I noticed that the woodland was starting to get that tree graveyard feel to it. The paths were strewn with tiny leaf skeletons. I always mean to collect some up for an un-named 'crafty' project, and always leave it too late. Probably a good thing. I have indulged in this kind of romantic notion once or twice before, filling my pockets with multi-coloured gems. Each time is all fun and games until I discover an earwig laughing evily in my studio chair or a hoard of woodlice in my afternoon cuppa. Oh yes, it's not such a hoot then! The door's flung open and the unfinished collage/painting is tossed out the door amidst a flurry of foot-stamping, hair-brushing and shrieking; alongside tutting and panicked scurrying from the relevant evacuating little beastie(s).

However, this years' "Is it too early to put the heating on?" conversation means only one thing to me. That's right, everybody! Not Halloween, not Bonfire Night, no! It means something even more exciting! Oh yes! It means that the launch date of 'George and Ghost' is nearly upon us! Huzzah, eh?! Eh???! Thrilling stuff indeed!

I got my advance copies a couple of weeks ago- hugely exciting as I received a hardback AND a paperback! This is the first time I've actually seen my work in paperback. Somehow this makes it seem all the more official, since it's the paperbacks we're more familiar with seeing in the shops these days, isn't it? and I think the printers have done a lovely job with both. Hugely excited to see how it does. Currently, it'll just be the hardback on public release, mind. You shall have wait patiently and form an orderly queue for the paperback... In fact, I don't even know when that'll be out.

Yes. So I think you should all chuck on another pair of thermal undies, knit yourselves a tea-cosy hat and go and put in a pre-order. Now, dagnammit! What are you waiting for??? The official launch date is the 4th November, but I'm pretty sure if you chop-chop and get those orders flying, any of you folk wanting it in time for Halloween won't be disappointed.

If you want to come and hear more about 'George and Ghost', I shall be doing two events at The Lightbox in Woking on the 30th October. 1pm and 3pm. Advanced booking strongly recommended (both the Lively Elizabeth events sold out before the day).

There will be all manner of games and activities, including a treasure hunt, a game of 'Ghostbusters', drawing with me (always fun to see how much I screw up!), and a 'George and Ghost' reading. As it's Halloween, fancily-dressed and particularly scary-looking kids (practice those monster faces now, please!) will be awarded prizes.

If you're too far away from The Lightbox to make it to the events (I fail to believe you could have ANYTHING more important to do on that weekend) then you can also order your books via me, which will mean you'll get a personal inscription and a little drawing,- so please, do dry your tears! The book's priced at £10.99 + p+p.

Right, I'm off to go and put my feet in the toaster, and stick a glove on my nose.

Banned Books Week

It's Banned Books Week; a week in aid of highlighting the ubiquitous and ignorant censorship of books.

These are books that contain; sex, drugs, weaponry, homosexuality, genitalia Etc.- even in an educational context. But the banned list also includes; Sausages, sandwiches, hedgehogs, double-decker buses (American children won't know what they are, so better not include them rather than arouse curiosity) nipples (even on a gorilla- see Lynne Chapman's blog) and facial expressions (it's prefered a picture book gives out unrealistic or mixed-messages than shows anyone angry, sad or scared), anything occult (Bye, bye, Harry!) danger (pots on stoves, children anywhere near stoves... in fact, we know it's a kitchen and the book's about cooking, but perhaps we could leave the stove out altogether...?!)

Some of you may have read about this in UK press. Articles such as this BBC report are well-meaning but completely misinformed when they say 'There is a battle being fought in America over books.' I see you all reading that and looking slightly smug. If I didn't know better, I would be too.

Here, Anne Rooney's brilliant article highlights how this oversea's battle affects UK authors/illustrators and every single UK child. We may not think we're censoring our children's reading over here, but by Golly we are. And the decision to censor has been made long before teachers or parents have even caught a whiff of the books.

As well as slowly maiming our authors and illustrators imagination, I believe this level of taboo limits a child's opportunities to imagine and question. As Albert Einstein said,

"The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education."

He also said,

"Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods."

So, take a look here for Banned Book event idea's. You'll never know all the ways that the picture books on UK shelves have been altered/neutered (!) in order to be released, but to show your solidarity, simply have a read of some of the banned fiction texts. You can find a few of them here. 'James and the Giant Peach,' anyone?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Lightbox Private View

Read all about the Escape To Wonderland Private View over at my Lightbox Blog. Don't forget to become a 'follower' if you want regular updates!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Lively Elizabeth podcast.

Lively Elizabeth's lovely U.S. publishers, Albert Whitman, have put up a podcast interview with myself and Mara to celebrate its' U.S. launch.

You can read Albert Whitman's blog and listen to the recording here

It was great fun to do, if a little scary. You can hear a couple of points where Mara and I are confused as to what to say when. And whilst Mara is a Lady with a capital 'L', I'm just glad I didn't totally disgrace myself.

If you read my Lightbox blog, you'll know I recently did a radio interview in my P.J's. I can confirm that this interview was a civilised affair- Not a slipper or hot botty in sight!!!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

New Piccy

I'm currently working on this, and feeling very cross-eyed with it. Been a while since I worked on something detailed, and am really enjoying it.

I like to put a picture such as this into photoshop towards the end of its' drawing to test out details, so this has been digitally 'beefed up'. Will then go back and redo the 'beefing up' manually since I've now worked out where it's lacking. Don't think I can face it today though. Am at that point where I might grow impatient, go mental with my pencil and cock it all up. Might take a little walk and work on something else.

Am jolly chuffed I got to use the phrase's 'beefing up' and 'cock it up' in one blog post though. Tremendously satisfying. There's not enough 'beefing up' in my life!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Enjoy the States, Lizzie!

Woohoo! It's out! Storming the Empire State Building, shopping its' little heart out in Bloomingdales, tightrope-walking across the Grand Canyon and having a cheeky flutter in Vegas. Lively Elizabeth is officially out in the U.S. and here's the proof!

Here's its first American review, from the August 15th edition of Kirkus. I could marry the reviewer!

'Elizabeth is more than lively; she’s a very noisy whirling dervish. One day at nursery school she pushes Joe. He knocks the child in front of him and thus begins a chain reaction that involves all the children in the class. Each one blames the one behind until they realize that Elizabeth started it all. She is contrite, apologizes sincerely and all is well in this very slight cautionary tale. Bergman describes the action with sharp imagery that is beautifully complemented by Thomas’s bright, spirited illustrations that race across the pages. The children are dressed in a wild variety of costumes and accessories that are flung about and make a resounding, booming noise as they come crashing down. Both the text and artwork capture the chaos vividly. Young readers will delight in details like untied shoes, silly headgear and the classroom frog on the loose. Parents and teachers will find it a great candidate for reading aloud, for it tickles the funny bone while providing a gentle lesson on safety. A sweet charmer. (Picture book. 3-7)'

Be the first to let everyone know what you think of Lively Elizabeth by writing an Amazon review!