Postcards for Giveaway

My lovely publisher just sent me some more of these fab promotional postcards he had made in advance of Where You Came From hitting the stores.

I'm going to give some away to some of you dear readers - just post a comment here and I'll be in touch with several randomly selected winners.

Summer blogging schedules

For those who have been assiduously blogging, here's a little desk-side relief.

For the rest of us there's this by way of sartorial justification:

I saw this on someone else's blog, but I'm afraid I've been unable to re-trace my steps.


Age banding vs. age branding

I've been following this whole age banding hullabaloo with some interest. To be frank, I'm a little on the fence over the whole issue. Or perhaps just a little surprised at the degree of lather writers seem able to get themselves into over it. All that said, I've duly signed the petition at www.notoagebanding.org. Maybe just because I remember the years of my childhood where I did my best to storm the gates of the adult collection of my local library.

I've written a couple of books that would likely be marketed as for readers ages 3-8. And while I do think the books are very suitable for children of about that age, and if I am going to do a school visit or reading that is certainly the audience I would hope for, I do suspect the main purchasers of the book (soon to be books!) are childless, twenty-somethings who knit (and knit-witless as I am, I do love those readers.) So where does that slot into age banding?

So, in light of all this contretemps, I was amused to find at the village book fair a book very specifically titled Best Stories for Eight-Year-Olds by Enid Blyton.

I've dipped into it a few times, but frankly the resident eight-year-old is much more interested in this:

Richard E. Grant? Doctor Who? Colour us there! You can find the whole thing at the BBC site here.


Top Ten

There's a nice little thing in the Guardian archives with several very good children's writers listing some of their picks for children's books.

Jacqueline Wilson's list includes Dodie Smith's I Capture the Castle which would definitely be on my list too (if anyone cares to know). She writes that she knows the first paragraph off by heart, which was excuse enough for me to go look it up. And here it is:

I write this sitting in the kitchen sink. That is, my feet are in it; the rest of me is on the draining board, which I have padded with our dog's blanket and the tea cosy. I can't say that I am really comfortable, and there is a depressing smell of carbolic soap, but this is the only part of the kitchen where there is any daylight left. And I have found that sitting in a place where you have never sat before can be inspiring I wrote my very best poem while sitting on the hen house. Though even that isn't a very good poem. I have decided my poetry is so bad that I mustn't write any more of it.


St. Martin's By The Sea

I think I've mentioned here that we have a house in the village of St. Martin's, New Brunswick.

What I may not have mentioned is that St. Martin's in the process of becoming a booktown - rather like Hay-on-Wye in Wales or Wigtown in Scotland. You can read more about it here at the St. Martin's Booktown page.

And there's a view of the village from the sky. We have not one but two covered bridges right in the village.

This week is the annual book fair. So if you are in the neighbourhood, do drop by.

Our house looks just as it does in the picture above - only minus the Victorian smithy shop and the paddock.


Free Willy?

I have been sadly remiss in posting here lately. Trying to write a new book seems to entail spending a lot of time avoiding my computer. I have read a number of books, though, and one day soon will post a number of reviews of said books.

In the meantime, I've been thinking about the subject of sex education books for children. For a long time I was hesitant about calling my latest picture book Where You Came From because it sounded so much like an earnest little pamphlet with pictures of cute little spermatozas swimming merrily along. Then I started to find that funny enough that I stopped caring.

I was talking about this with a friend and she said she'd gone out and bought a "facts of life" book for her son. Then she told me the title....


One for my friend Ezra

Here is Bill Martin Jr. singing the text from his book Brown Bear, Brown Bear:

Found over at weheartbooks.

I originally posted thinking this was the video of illustrator Eric Carle reciting the text, which is here:

I realised my foolish error while reading Fuse #8, which I am very happy to see back online.


A is for A beautiful book

I have this lovely and talented friend who knows how to make things - quilts, paintings, jewelry, gardens and other things beyond my imagining. Now popping in to her blog for a visit I find she has also made an absolutely beautiful abecedarium.

I've lifted a few pictures to show you here but you really should drop in and see for yourself: ABC here and DEF here.

The blog is called Desideratum and it belongs to Gwen Buchanan.


Two Bits Worth

You can now purchase an Anne of Green Gables quarter. If you really think you need one.

Heads or redheads, anyone?


Fireworks and other dangers

Mrs. Peterkin had always been much afraid of fireworks, and had never allowed the boys to bring gunpowder into the house. She was even afraid of torpedoes; they looked so much like sugar-plums she was sure some of the children would swallow them and explode before anyone knew it.
She was timid about other things. She was not sure even about pea-nuts. Everybody exclaimed over this: "Surely there was no danger in pea-nuts!" But Mrs. Peterkin declared she had been very much alarmed at the Centennial Exhibition, and in the crowded streets in Boston, at the pea-nut stands, where they had machines to roast the pea-nuts. She did not think it was safe. They might go off at any time, in the midst of a crowd of people, too!
Mr. Peterkin thought there actually was no danger, and he should be sorry to give up the pea-nut. He thought it an American institution, something really belonging to the Fourth of July.

"The Peterkins Celebrate the Fourth of July" in The Peterkin Papers by Lucretia P. Hale (NYRB).


The Red Tree

There's an article in The Australian about what sounds like a fascinating project: a musical collaboration based on Shaun Tan's fabulous picture book, The Red Tree.

The project brings together Richard Tognetti, Australian Chamber Orchestra artistic director, with composer Michael Yezerski, and the Gondwana Voices children's choir director Lyn Williams.

The performance will take place against a backdrop of illustrations from the book - a beautiful story about depression and hope.

Tan is best known as the author of The Arrival, but has a number of other wonderful books out there. There's a great interview with Tan by Elizabeth Bird at her School Library Journal blog.


Rattling On

Over at the wonderful Rattling Books site they are running a contest to find a caption for the Razorbill Cartoon by Jennifer Barrett which you see here.

Go to the site and learn how you "could win a yaffle of Rattling Books!" Yaffle?

And if you don't already know about Newfoundland's own Rattling Books you should have a good look round while you're there. They do all kinds of wonderful work - I'd particularly recommend the Mavis Gallant Montreal Stories.

I've just re-read "The Fenton Child" and was thinking about how Gallant's work fits into Steph Aulenback's category of stories "about childhood." Gallant has created some painfully knowing children.