Had a great time at book Expo yesterday, signed over a hundred books and met a lot of lovely people, including Neil Gaiman who signed a book for me. I really should have taken my camera.

Simply Read Books have created a fantastic booth with lots of beautiful wares on show. Kudos to Dimiter and the lovely Gillian. I really do consider myself tremendously lucky in my choice of publisher. It was nice to see all the great work done by Simply Read over the last few years and the attention it was garnering. Particularly crowd-stopping was a poster for the forthcoming Alice Through the Looking Glass to be illustrated by Iassen Ghiuselev. If you don't already own the Simply Read edition of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland then you are missing out.

In the Simply Read booth today will be signings by Doug Keith, illustrator of the The Bored Book and Stephen Parlato who will be signing posters for his forthcoming release Dragon Love. Parlato's previous book with Simply Read, The World That Loved Books is an absolute stunner, so trust me this is not to be missed.

Today's signings are at booth 3366 (on the third floor) at 1 PM for Keith and 2 PM for Parlato. Wish I could be there (and would love to score one of those posters!) but I'll be seeing Stephen Merritt's Coralinethis afternoon. Oh poor me.

Oh, and if I haven't already said this, you should take a look at The Picnic Basket, a blog about children's books run by Deborah Sloan who I finally got to meet in person yesterday. She's a sweetheart. And she gives away free books on her blog - go and see!


Book Expo America in New York

I will be signing copies of Where You Came From at BEA on Friday, May 29, 11 - 12:30PM (Booth #3366).

This is me (in a picture taken by Terence Byrnes for his Montreal writers project). Say hello if you see me!

Other Simply Read authors will also be signing books on Friday and Saturday:

Oliver Neubert, author of Chantel's Quest fantasy series, will be signing on May 29 from 1:30 -2:30 PM.

Award-winning illustrator Doug Keith will sign the picture book, The Bored Book on May 30, 1:00 - 2:00 PM.

Collage artist Stephen Parlato (of the PBS recommended The World That Loved Books) will sign posters from his new Dragon Love, May 30, 2:00 -4:00 PM.


Eggers, Hercules, Outlaws

Dave Eggers has been honoured for his work with 826 - which is exactly as it should be. Story here.

And from the 826 National site:

826 National is a nonprofit tutoring, writing, and publishing organization with locations in seven cities across the country. Our goal is to assist students ages six to eighteen with their writing skills, and to help teachers get their classes excited about writing. Our work is based on the understanding that great leaps in learning can happen with one-on-one attention, and that strong writing skills are fundamental to future success.

Just this weekend, I read the David Sedaris edited collection of short fiction, Children Playing Before a Statue of Hercules which you should buy if you care anything about short fiction. (Note: despite the mention of children in the title this is not a children's book). Some of the most heart-rendering (as Anne Shirley would have it) stories in the universe are in this anthology, including Lorrie Moore's "People Like That Are the Only People Here" and Amy Hempel's "In the Cemetery Where Al Jolson is Buried" - two stories that I would steal and call my own if I could possibly get away with it. And, if you need are still in need of convincing, by buying this book you will be supporting 826 and that is a very good thing. And as long as you're doing good, go ahead and order a copy of Noisy Outlaws as well. You won't regret it. And it is a children's book - which brings things neatly around to the avowed subject matter of this blog.


Young Adults

I have bought tickets to see Stephen Merritt's Coraline and I am very excited. Very, very excited. Almost insufferably excited, in fact. You can go here to see what Betsy Bird at Fuse #8 has to say about the show. I do like the idea of the child Coraline being played by an adult, I must say.

My older son has been on a bit of a Neil Gaiman kick lately. He went from The Graveyard Book straight to Neverwhere. He asked if I thought there might be a sequel to The Graveyard Book and I said I doubted it because Bod would be an adult. "I'd still read it," he said. It made me think about the way we generalise about YA - that young readers want to read "up" in terms of age, but not too far up. The most recent Tim Wynne-Jones novel, The Uninvited is an interesting example of something that is categorized as Young Adult but is actually about adults (albeit young ones). It's also about the incest taboo, although I've yet to see that mentioned in reviews.


Wonder Emporium

Young son and I watched Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium (written and directed by Zach Helm) the other night and it was so much better than I expected it was going to be that I felt a little sad at the thought of how it had pretty much come and gone without making any noise at all.

One of the really wonderful things about it - in a satisfyingly long list of nice things which included a Buster Keaton marionette, a Kermit the Frog cameo and a boy actor (Zach Mills) who managed to do endearing without mugging - was the title sequence, which was credited to the wonderful William Joyce (George Shrinks, Rolie Polie Olie and many more).

I can't work out how to embed the title sequence but you can watch it here. It's beautiful.

And really the toys were amazing. I badly, badly want that Buster Keaton puppet. Here is an article about the company that made it. My son decided that what he really needed was one of the Ugly Dolls pictured in the film. Luckily he is more resourceful than his mother and made his own.

I see that on the Magorium's site they have a Toy Creator feature but I don't think that's what they meant.


Murder and Undoing

Not technically a YA novel, but certainly of interest to my resident young adult reader (what an odd phrase this is - does this make me an old adult reader?), is a release from last year called The Suspicions of Mr Whicher: A Murder and the Undoing of a Great Victorian Detective by Kate Summerscale. His eagerness to read the book may have to do with his having recently gone through a spate of Sherlock Holmes fever (and I am happy he's gone to the source before the release of the Guy Ritchie movie).

There is a fantastic website website which has a particular appeal to those of up growing up playing Clue rather than Nintendo. I haven't read the book yet myself - it keeps vanishing on me, but I am looking forward to it. Here's what novelist Sarah Waters (whose wonderful new book The Little Stranger I am currently reading) had to say about the book: “Brilliant...a pacy analysis of a true British murder case from 1860, the unraveling of which involved one of the earliest Scotland Y ard detectives and inspired sensation novelists such as Dickens and Wilkie Collins by exposing the dark secrets of the Victorian middle class home. Absolutely riveting.”

I'm also pleased to have a new adjective to add to my store - didn't know you could use the word that way but if anyone would know about pacy, it would be Waters.

Mr. Whicher is available through Bloomsbury/Raincoast here in Canada.

Save the Words

There are many good causes out there but here's one I'm prepared to get behind: Save the Words.

The site is brought to us by the fine folk at Oxford Dictionaries and you can sign up in seconds and then you are able to adopt a word of your choosing.

Oh yeah, what does it mean? Mutual kindness and care, especially of a child for his parent. It's one of the virtues I'd like to inculcate in my offspring ... completely out of self-interest, of course. And I've pledged to use it in my writing and conversation as much as possible. Go on and adopt a word yourself. You know you want to.


Monster in the City

We read Kean Soo's Jellaby: Monster in the City the other night and really loved it. But it was just a little scary.

Here's our favourite page:

Check out more from the new Jellaby here.


The Children's Book

Interesting piece by Robert McCrum in the Guardian about, or perhaps more aptly, around, A.S. Byatt's new novel The Children's Book, which I really do need to read.

Over at The Independent, Byatt suggests that "The children's writer on the whole wants to be a child, and takes up the central place in the child's story." Hmm.


Grimble excerpt here

The above note was as cryptic to me as it probably was to you. And then I clicked through and read it and Grimble is perfectly wonderful. And it's by Clement Freud, who died just lately, and Neil Gaiman blogged about it here and if I hadn't made this note I would have forgotten about my desperate need to find the Grimble books. And if someone could pretty please publish the unpublished ones then that would be a help.