Owl & The Pussycat get some love

Okay, I don't understand why this is dated tomorrow over at the Quill & Quire site, but it's a nice bit of news. Both this and the Jabberwocky Jorisch did for Kids Can are fabulous.

Illustrator St├ęphane Jorisch has won the 2007 IBBY Canada Elizabeth Mrazik-Cleaver Picture Book Award for The Owl and the Pussycat (Kids Can Press), based on the well-known poem by Edward Lear.

A Graphic Review

My seven-year-old son Euan grabbed Jellaby by Kean Soo as soon as it came into the house. He read it straight through. Twice. Euan isn't what I would call a reluctant reader, but given the choice often prefers to go off and write a book of his own.

I asked him if he would review Jellaby for me and found what you see here on my desk. Which is perhaps the perfect way to review a graphic novel.

If you like your reviews to have more -- oh, I don't know, words perhaps - then check out what the fabulous Betsy Bird has to say over at Fuse #8.

If you want to know more about the book or its author, you could check out this essay by Kean Soo over at DRAWN! in which he discusses what music he listens to while he works.

Oh, and I suspect that just one of the things the boy liked about the titular hero of Jellaby is that they share a Godzilla fixation.

I will do my own review of the book once I work out where Euanzilla has hidden it. Meantime, there are more treats in store here.


In today's mail from Publishers Group Canada, the following little gem:
My Little Book of Chinese Words
by Catherine Louis, Shi Bo (Illustrator)
NorthSouth Books

This isn't really a dictionary but just a gorgeous little picture book for small children. The author notes in her introduction that she was fascinated to see how quickly her two young daughters could learn Chinese characters.

Each character gets its own spread - on the left-hand side we have the ancient character, the modern character in white-on-black calligraphy, the word in English, and the pronunciation. Then on the right is a beautiful linocut illustrating (in all possible senses) the word.

Not so much a way of teaching a language to young children, but a very pretty way of teaching them something about the concept of language and writing.

Perfectly revolting

I've been absent from the blogosphere because of various things - including a comatose computer and a boking boy. Trying to return to normal service, but in the meantime, may I offer this as a distraction:


Pony up

I have just realised I may have been horrifically naive in my earlier statements about Heather Mills's stated intention to write children's books. I was thinking that she meant write in the sense of write, but perhaps she was thinking more along the lines of Katie Price (Jordan) and her Perfect Ponies book.

I was reminded of this by a link over at Bookninja that takes you to a Times Online article about the recent nomination of Price's best-selling book for the WH Smith Children's Book of the Year prize and the ensuing disbelief:

According to her publishers, Price, one of the most commercially successful writers in the country, is a “brand” and it is impossible to quantify how much of the book she wrote.

The Society of Authors has been inundated with complaints from concerned members. Tracy Chevalier, author of Girl with a Pearl Earring, who chairs the organisation, said: “I’m shocked. I’m amazed the publishers even put the book up. If it’s ghost-written then it’s inappropriate that it should be shortlisted. I am disappointed by the judges.”

Joanne Harris, who wrote Chocolat and is now writing for children, said that it would be “depressing beyond anything” if Price wins on April 9. “If this is an award for people who write books then it should be open only to people who write books, not to somebody who lends their name to a book, or who would have written a book if they had time but didn’t.”

I don't think all this is exactly what Dorothy Parker had in mind when she said that she "hated writing; loved having written."

Pop goes the book

Have wasted half the morning trying to find a very funny cartoon I recall seeing in which J.K. Rowling decides she will become a pop star. It's in answer to all the pop stars becoming children's writers.

And now it's not just pop stars, but pop star's ex-wives, as Heather Mills has announced that she wants to write children's books. (For a good laugh, check out Steph's commentary on Heather's sartorial stylings over at Crooked House.)

I'm a little tired of this whole attitude that writing children's books is dead easy. What can we expect to see in the catalogues next: I Don't Wanna Go to Preschool by Amy Winehouse?


Sally Forth

You can read an extract from Philip Pullman's new book, Once Upon a Time in the North, here. I am reading it during the ads in The Ruby in the Smoke on TV.

Billie Piper is playing Sally Lockhart, and say what you will about her, she certainly can rock a frock. For one mad moment I found myself wishing bustles would come back into style.

Now we know our ABCs

(I should acknowledge where I found this and would be more than happy to do so, if only I could remember.)


Compasses and Wine Gums

Philip Pullman in an interview with the Yorkshire Post had this to say about the film The Golden Compass (which I finally saw this week):

"Unless you are particularly obsessive about the purity of your works then I don't see any harm in it and I think they did a good job with The Golden Compass," he says.

Pullman also wants to clear up the confusion surrounding the apparent changing of the book's name.

"Before it had any title at all I was looking through Paradise Lost for a phrase I could nick and in book four or five when Milton's describing God dividing the created world from the uncreated chaos outside, it says 'he took the golden compasses, prepared in God's eternal store to circumscribe this universe, and all created things.' And I originally called it The Golden Compasses because I thought that was an interesting phrase.

"That's what it was when I sent it to my publisher in America, but while talking to my British publisher we decided it should be called Northern Lights and that became the first part of His Dark Materials, which comes from somewhere else in Paradise Lost."

But by the time he'd settled on the new title, the American publishers had already started promoting the book as The Golden Compass.

"In most of the countries where the book's published it's called The Golden Compass so it made sense for the film to be called that."

We were glad to have that cleared up as we'd been indulging in all sorts of conspiracy theories about the change in the title.
There were several things my son Liam and I quite liked about the film (not least the new Maynard's Mini Wine Gums being sold at the concession), but we did feel let down by the ending. Or rather the lack of the ending. I felt a little better after coming home and googling up this:


Just wondering ...

Why is it that I can't find an audiobook version of Russell Hoban's Riddley Walker to order?

If I say pretty, pretty please could someone do one? Please?


Magnetic Personality

Today when we were over at a friend's place, my son wrote a poem on their fridge:

My mom is special
because she has love
and a white elephant

I will treasure this always.

And just now it occurred to me that there is probably somewhere online where you can play with magnetic poetry. And there is. Here.

Now I'm off to feed the elephant.

How Does Your Garden Grow?

I recently picked up some children's books at a used book sale - including a copy of the Opie Oxford Children's Verse (I already have one but like a kettle or a garlic press, I think you need one for each house). The other thing I picked up just for the author was Spike Miligan's Dip the Puppy. I don't carry a lot of verse around in my head, but I suspect that "The wind blows through every nook and cranny,/But most of all it blows through Granny" may be one of the the last things to leave me. Plus, it is just bound to get more and more apt as I get creakier in mind and body.
I read the Milligan out loud for my son - at first he wasn't interested and then he was riveted to my side. At points I was laughing so hard that I cried. (For those considering whether or not to have children, I might point out that I laugh very, very hard at least once a day and that really there's nothing better).
While wandering around on line looking up stuff on Milligan I found him at the Poetry Archive reciting "The Land of the Bumbly Boo".

There seems to be a whole slew of wonderful stuff to listen to on their children's archive. Here's the list if you want to see if one of your particular favourites is at home.

There's everything from Michael Rosen's lovely bit of nonsense "Yesterday" to Uncle Willie's "Lake Isle of Innisfree".

And I must arise and go now, myself. We're off to visit friends with a lovely baby boy named Ezra and taking him a recording of Robert Louis Stevenson's Child's Garden of Verse. Can't recommend it enough - also can't find it online anywhere. Darn.



I was at a day-long session with writers and editors at Concordia University yesterday and heard all manner of interesting things. What will stay with me, though, is the wonderful Montreal poet and translator Erin Moure talking about how much the public library up her street meant to her when she was growing up in Calgary. She'd formulated a plan to start at the As and systematically make her way around the whole room, when a teacher noticed that she was a reader and gave her a copy of Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird. "I couldn't read that!" exclaimed Moure. "I was still on the Bs." But she did read it, and then read her way through the list that followed, joyfully sharing books with her reading-minded friends.

It was a lovely story and a strong reminder of how important teachers and librarians can be in the lives of children. It may be sappy to say so, but hey, colour me sappy. I can live with it.

Over at the Dewy Donation System I see that their final tally for this week is:
1,928 BOOKS
17, 494 DOLLARS

Way to go!

Here's an excerpt from a letter from Alicia Fox, librarian at the Children's Institute which was published on the Dewey site:

Kids who requested books are excited that they were donated and are now impatient to check them out! In the last two weeks we’ve had a surge of library card applications as kids are spreading the word to their friends that we have some cool books coming in. A 7-year-old boy that signed up last week got so excited last week when he got to check out some Bionicle books that he squealed in delight. It’s so rewarding to know that these kids who don’t always have a lot of perks in life can come here and be able to read books that appeal to them. I can tell that it has meant a lot to these kids that we have taken the time to listen to their requests and that people out there are listening to them! A 9-year-old girl asked me last week what it was like to be a librarian because she had to write a paper on what she wanted to be when she grew up and she thought what I did was so cool…to be surrounded by all these great books and get to read them. That was definitely a teary-eyed moment for me! The idea that these kids value libraries enough to want to work in one some day is a real treat, and something that I think the Dewey donors have had a real part in. Until now, most of the books donated to us are used and worn and often outdated. Since we are now getting new books that kids are asking for it has really transformed our library into the place to be!

Engaged Elsewhere

Have lost the last few days to work and other concerns and haven't had time to stop in here. Have been doing some reading though, and will be posting reviews soon on Skim by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki as well as reviews of Eoin Colfer's Airman and a new graphic novel called Jellaby. I am enlisting the help of two of my faithful household readers in the case of the last two.


House calls

Over at Chicken Spaghetti I find someone sharing my love of Eudora Welty and her One Writer's Beginnings. According to Susan, you can go on tours of Welty's family home and even see some of the books Welty read as a child. Will add that to my to-do list along with visiting the Edward Gorey House and maybe the Alcott house for the next time we make it down that way.
I've already been to The House of Seven Gables and still have nightmares about that staircase. On this side of the border, I would recommend the former home of Thomas Chandler Haliburton for those visiting Nova Scotia.

(Edward Gorey weathervane!)


In today's mail...

Simply beautiful from Simply Read.

From squid to geese

Just reading a Times online review of Proust and the Squid: The Story of Science and the Reading Brain by Maryanne Wolf. Steph at Crooked House has been talking about this one and I'd happily be reading the actual book if I had it to hand.

Here's a little of the review:

Meanwhile, Wolf offers practical advice to parents on how to encourage children’s reading. Being talked to, read to and listened to all matter. It is estimated that, by the age of five, a child in a home where lots of talking goes on will have heard 32m more words spoken than a child in a linguistically impoverished household. How often a child has stories read to it in its first five years is a dependable predictor of its later reading skills, and how the reading is done makes a difference. Sitting on a parent’s knee to be read to means that the child will link reading with being loved. Nursery rhymes, with their alliterations and assonances, train children’s ears and brains in the phoneme recognition that they need for reading.

Unfortunately, Wolf’s advice will not reach those who need it most. What her findings amount to is that many children are already failures before they go to school, because they come from semi-literate, semi-articulate homes. How to alter that (short of Plato’s solution, which was to take all children from their parents at birth and bring them up properly), nobody knows.

There's something a little funny about all of this. Maybe it's the idea it gave me that I'd only had a child so I could "read to it." But mostly, this kind of research just serves to tell us what we already know - the first years are key and that children raised in non-reading homes miss out on that critical period.

But is there really nought to be done? Here's a link to an article
I wrote ages ago about Mother Goose programs.

And here's the site for the Canadian Parent-Child Mother Goose program.

Here's what they say about the history of the program:

In 1984, Barry Dickson, a social worker and storyteller who worked with a large caseload of families who had barriers to bonding, and Joan Bodger, a therapist and storyteller, planned a pilot project that would serve families identified as “at risk” by the Toronto Children’s Aid Society, a child protection agency. The Mother Goose Enrichment Program was based on Barry’s experiments using rhymes and stories with the children in his care and on Joan’s experience in the New York City Head Start Program and her deep conviction of the value of using rhymes and stories orally with children and adults. Celia Lottridge and Katherine Grier, both storytellers and educators, taught in the program with Joan.

The idea was to begin at the beginning with the relationship between parent and baby or young child, and to use the pleasure and power of rhymes, songs and stories taught and experienced orally in a group setting to nurture the parent-child relationship and to foster family wellness.

It kind of makes so much sense it hurts. Also, while I have you here, have you read Joan Bodger's autobiography, The Crack in the Teacup? You'll have to read How The Heather Looks first, but really you should be reading that one anyhow.

And here is a very nice Mother Goose rhyme, courtesy of Barbara Reid's latest book:

Wooing with Pooh

Over at the newly re-instated Maud Newton blog (welcome back! we missed you!), I come across the most wonderful line:
“Winnie-the-Pooh is the reason I married my wife.”

I almost don't want to know any more - that's enough. But temptation was too much for me and I headed over to The Paris Review to read more of the Kenzaburo Oe interview.

Winnie-the-Pooh is the reason I married my wife. Just before the end of the war a translation of Winnie-the-Pooh was published by Iwanami Shoten, a highbrow publisher. There were only a few thousand copies. I knew my wife’s brother Juzo Itami in high school, and their mother asked me to find her a copy of The House at Pooh Corner. She had read it during the war but lost it. I was an expert on secondhand bookstores in Tokyo and was able to find Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner. I found one, sent it to their house, and then struck up a correspondence with her daughter. That’s how it began. But I don’t actually identify with Pooh as a character. I’m more of the Eeyore type.

That subject line is in homage to one of my all-time favourite titles: Cooking With Pooh.



Thinking about vampires somehow got me thinking about Joseph Delaney. Which is slightly odd, as there are no vampires in the books of his I've read. Even odder is the fact that when I went to look him up I found this in his wiki-entry:

On first leaving school he started work as an apprentice engineer. Delaney went on to become an English teacher, before setting up the Media and Film Studies department at Blackpool Sixth Form College. He specialised in vampire literature.

From there I progressed to Delaney's website here.

In the U.K. the series of wonderfully frightening novels by Joseph Delaney is known as The Wardstone Chronicles, while over here it's known as The Last Apprentice. Apparently the fourth novel in the series is to be published this side of the Atlantic in March - which makes me wonder how we missed number three. (Oh wait, now I remember, I bought number two twice.)

The first three novels (over here) are titled Revenge of the Witch, Curse of the Bane, Night of The Soul Stealer. The fourth, to be released next month is called Attack of the Fiend. (But the fifth will be published in June in the U.K. so we may have to sneak over and get it - I've had this same problem reading Alexander McCall Smith's Ladies Detective novels).

The Last Apprentice novels are full of quite believable ghosts, witches and boggarts, and the hero is a spook's apprentice - a boy charged with confronting the world of the unquiet dead. I was pleased to read that one of the settings of the novels, Priestown, is based on Delaney's hometown of Preston - which also happens to be my maternal grandfather's birthplace.

I haven't heard the audio versions - wonder if they are read with a Lancashire accent? - but a friend bought them for her son and found they were too frightening. Isn't that wonderful? Think how seldom books are actually too frightening these days.


Love this:

You can find out about it over here at the Eric Carle Museum site

But where did I see it first? Oh here, over at Shelf-Talker.


Manky Mingin Rhymes

I was looking up Jenny Davidson's blog in order to recommend it to the Bookwitch (who is intrigued by The Explosionist) and also to add to my list of links for children's writers on the web. Then - as I do - I started wandering around and happened on a post she'd made about Harry Potter being translated into broad Scots. When I followed the link I saw that the publisher was called Itchy Coo Books. So naturally, I had to look. I was tickled to see that their menu includes a "hame page" and a section titled "aboot us." And I really, really think we need this:

KIDNAPPIT by Robert Louis Stevenson
Adapted by Alan Grant
Illustrated by Cam Kennedy
Translated into Scots by Matthew Fitt & James Robertson

Wi his mither an faither deid, an wioot a bawbee tae his name, David Balfour sets oot for Embra an the hame o his sleekit auld Uncle Ebenezer. But Ebenezer is no pleased when his young nevoy chaps his door.

Efter narrowly joukin death at the Hoose o Shaws, David is swicked intae gaun aboard the brig Covenant whaur he finds himsel KIDNAPPIT an aboot tae be sellt intae slavery. When the ship gangs doun in gurlie seas, David, alang wi gallus Jacobite rebel Alan Breck, begins the lang an dangerous stravaig back tae Embra through the Hielans o Scotland tae claim his richtfu inheritance.

Published in collaboration with Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature's One Book – One Edinburgh reading campaign, KIDNAPPIT is the first ever graphic novel in Scots

For very young readers there are "keek-a-boo" books, while for slightly older readers there is this: King o the Midden - Manky Mingin Rhymes in Scots, Edited by Matthew Fitt and James Robertson and illustrated by Bob Dewar
or this:
The Eejits, By Roald Dahl, Translated by Matthew Fitt and iIllustrated by Quentin Blake

Eejit was actually one of our second son's first words. It was sort of term of endearment - "Eejit, you are one," he used to tell his elder brother.

The romantic past

It seems like vampire books are harder to get rid of than vampires. And finally, someone explains why in a way that makes sense to me.

Columbia University comparative literature professor Jenny Davidson, 36, who is the author of a forthcoming paranormal YA book, The Explosionist, argued that vampire books going back to Dracula, Bram Stoker's 1897 novel, often represent anxiety about modernity. "The Stoker novel really is a book about technology and modernity," she told me. "It really is a book about telegraphs and letter-writing and wax cylinders that you might record madmen speaking onto. And that intersects with the idea that the vampire isn't modern, the vampire is from the deep past. ... The vampire seems to be a place for that intersection--very modern, but very much from the romantic past."

~ quoted over at About Last Night from a New York Observer article about a surfeit of vampires in current teen fiction.

I have just read an advance copy of Jenny Davidson's The Explosionist (thanks to Laura Fetterly at Harper Collins) and I can tell you two things:
#1: it doesn't contain a single vampire
#2: it's fab

I have to check the pub date on this but you'll be hearing more about it here soon. The novel's plot has heavy spiritualist content and I'll take a good ghost story over a vampire story any day. Also, it's set in an Edinburgh that just as real and unreal as Lyra's Oxford. Does anybody know the correct term for a futurist novel that's set in the past? Because that's The Explosionist.


When you were non-fiction

Somebody is selling my book on eBay. Not only are they selling at well over the list price but they are describing it as non-fiction. Since it is a picture book in which a boy is told that his parents gave him baths in a teapot this seems uproariously funny to me.

Now I'm not saying you shouldn't buy my book, because of course you should. Please do. But perhaps not on eBay. Not when you could spend less and get something like this:

Or this:

Or even this:

I'm just saying.

Good Cause of the Day

The Dewey Donation System folk are on a drive for donations of books and money to go to The Rockhouse Foundation (Jamaica) and The Children's Institute (Los Angeles). They are collecting up until March 12 and currently have received donations of 1,414 books and $13,501. The Dewey Donation System was started by writer Pamela Ribon and in past years has helped out libraries devasted by tsunamis, hurricanes and fires. Go check them out - apart from the feelgood factor, they have some nice prizes lined up for donors.


Tumble Books

Calling all librarians!

This looks promising: Tumble Books.

(And also, don't you think you need this librarian action figure? Or would you maybe prefer one that looks young and hip like the real live librarians we know? And maybe one who is reading out loud from a book instead of making this shushing gesture? Hmm?)

Graphic Novelty

There now seem to be graphic versions of all sorts of previously published books either about to release or else already on shelves: Artemis Fowl, Coraline, Pendragon, Discworld. I'm thinking this just might be some sort of a trend.
Anybody noticed any other titles?


Trailer hitch

The idea of book trailers seems weirdly genre-bending. I was just explaining them to my seven year old as he came over to peer into my laptop, intrigued by the music from a Lemony Snicket trailer.

"They're short movies," I said. "About books. They're like an ad for the book."
"They're not like an ad," he said. "They are an ad."
He's right of course.

I was on the Harper Collins site looking for the trailer for Susan Juby's Another Kind of Cowboy. A friend is reading it to his daughter who is now laid up after a school ski trip. The friend reports that the book is excellent for reading aloud. I like the fact that the trailer for the Juby book actually has a trailer in it.

I'd like to watch more trailers, but basically I'm lazy. I'd like them all in one place for convenient browsing. A sort of trailer park, if you will. And I like the ones that have been uploaded to youtube so that I can embed them here. Like this one for Meg Rosoff's How I Live Now:

Any trailer recommendations?

Celebrity Authors

Okay, so I can just about deal with Brooke Shields writing a children's book. It's called Welcome to Your World, Baby and is set to release this July. A former pretty baby turned mama is one thing, but flipping over the catalogue page I find Captain Cheech by Cheech Marin. How're you supposed to read a picture book featuring Cheech to your kid with a straight face?

The same catalogue (Simon & Schuster) brings us a new book for middle readers by Simon Winchester called The Day The World Exploded: the Earthshaking Catastrophe at Krakatoa. I think Simon Winchester is great. The Professor and The Madman was brilliant. I somehow missed his best-selling book on Krakatoa for not-so-middle readers, but this looks promising.


You are My Baby Bird

I can't find a picture of this toy anywhere online, but trust me you want it.
It's a little stuffed version of the baby bird from this book:

Spotted in the Publishers Group Canada catalogue (thanks, Jennifer).

As far as I'm concerned, "You are not my mother, you are a snort!" is right up there with "They give birth astride of a grave, the light gleams an instant, then it's night once more."

Andersen, Annotated

When I was growing up, I had one book by Hans Christian Andersen. I believe it was called Andersen's Fairy Tales. I also believe it was green. It may stil be around here somewhere. But it was as an adult that I become a true Andersen aficionado. I think the tale that turned the tide was "The Old Man is Always Right." And then not long ago I came across a beautiful 1912 film of the Andersen story "The Match Seller."

A few years ago my interest tipped briefly over into obsession after I read a fabulous biography of Andersen by Jens Andersen, alongside a fabulous new translation of the Fairy Tales by Tiina Nunnally.

And now I have a copy of The Annotated Hans Christian Andersen, edited by Maria Tatar (Norton). It's Andersen! It's annotated! I love both those things. (I spent one whole wonderful summer dallying with Ulysses Annotated).

One of the wonderful things about this annotated edition is the variety of illustrations. I always knew that I loved Arthur Rackham.

~ Arthur Rackham, The Emperor's New Clothes

But Harry Clarke is pretty wonderful too:

~ Harry Clarke, "The Tinderbox"

And look how lovely this is:

~ Edmund Dulac, "The Princess and the Pea"

This Norton Annotated Andersen is full of treasures. One of the lesser known stories here is "The Goblin and the Grocer" which begins:

There was once a student who was living in a garret. He owned absolutely nothing. There was once a grocer who was living on the ground floor of that very house, and he owned the whole place. The household goblin was devoted to the grocer, for every Christmas Eve he was given a bowl of porridge with a big pat of butter right in the middle of it.

In this story a book of poetry is brought home by the student after he finds it being used to wrap cheese by the grocer. Given the choice between buying the cheese or buying the book being used as wrapping paper, the student chooses poetry. Takes me back to my own student days.

Thanks to Alina at Penguin for this one. I'm curious to see what other Annotated treasures are in store.


Canadian Children's Laureate Announced

Okay, that subject line is a big lie. There is no Canadian Children's Laureate. But doesn't it seem like we could use one?

Last month American children's writer Jon Scieszka (author of The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales, The True Story of the Three Little Pigs and The Time Warp Trio series among others) was named the first National Ambassador for Children’s Books in the USA.

This is basically a new world version of the UK Children’s Laureate and makes me wonder yet again, when are we going to get a Children's Laureate to call our own?

Scieszka's latest book is called Smash! Crash! and is the start of a new series called Trucktown which looks set to start revving toddler engines. (Does Scieszka really rhyme with Fresca or did I dream that?) Check out his literacy website at www.guyssread.com where you can download jazzy GUYS READ bookmarks and find recommended titles.

But back to us. Up here in Canada. Laureate-less. Well, not entirely. We have a very good Poet Laureate in John Steffler, but I do think it's time we had some representation for one of our most significant group of readers.

Now let me think who I would nominate should anyone ask. Hmm, how about Sarah Ellis? She's already won about every prize going and in addition to writing fantastic children's books herself has done valiant service in the field as both a librarian and critic.

Other suggestions? And anyone know who we could be pestering about this and how?

A true 19th century Batman

Here's the trailer for Eoin Colfer's new novel, Airman.

The novel gets a good review over at Fuse #8.
Here's a bit of what she says there:
Is it fantasy? No more than any historical novel where the hero indulges in science. Is it science fiction? Only if you consider the notion of one man discovering the use of propellers on his own fantastical. Is it steampunk? No. Stop being silly. No this is, odd as it may sound, fiction with spice. That's not really a category, so I don't know if you can call it anything but original.

I think we'll be needing this one. And incidentally, anyone who isn't in awe that Elizabeth Bird is doing a review a day and doing them darned well needs a slap upside the head with a good book.


Please, no more butt cracks

Okay, I know it makes me old and cantakerous to admit this but I don't much care for potty humour. Poo, pee, fart, bum, underpants ... nope, still not so much as a smile here. Which is why I was in my best Queen Victoria "not amused" mode when I came across a series of books new to me: Butt books. The newest title from Andy Griffiths (no, not that Andy Griffiths), is called What Buttosaur is That?

I do know that Everybody Poops and that most of us wear underpants most of the time, (although I don't know why aliens should love them). I just don't have any burning desire to read about it. And if you have a farting dog, please, please keep it to yourself.