I am delighted to share my review today for The Big Ol’ Bike by Rachel Clarke. My thanks to Emma at damppebbles for my e-copy of this wonderful childrens book. I really enjoyed reading this one.
Big things are happening in Little Springs…
Everything about Oliver is small, from his footprint to his glasses-and a trio of bullies never let him forget it. When Oliver receives his grandfather’s old bike for his birthday, he rides tall for the first time. But the meanest bully in school doesn’t like that at all. Oliver quickly finds himself challenged to a race. Now, he’ll have to be bigger than he ever imagined in order to prove heroes come in small packages too.
The Big Ol’ Bike is a contemporary slice of life for ages 7-10. It’s filled with characters who could live down the street from you, or have a locker beside yours at school. Come hang out with Oliver, Austin, and Sue, as they experience excitement, setbacks, and adventure together. Themes of bullying, family, friendship, confidence, and community are all explored.
Longer than average for this age range, The Big Ol’ Bike is meant to be transitional between chapter books and middle grade novels. It’s an equally perfect choice for eager readers who fly through the pages, and kids who enjoy taking it chapter by chapter.
WARNING: Reading this book may cause an immediate and urgent need to ride your bike. Do not be alarmed-the feeling will pass soon enough. But don’t let it. 😉
What a wonderful story about The Bog Ol’ Bike was, as I read it I was reminded of my old Raleigh Chopper. I loved that bike and was gutted when I was then given a Raleigh Shopper! I was due to go to secondary school then and needed a bike suitable for carrying my school books. Yes a sensible decision, but still…
Back to the book, this is a gorgeous story that the author and illustrator has presented. It is about young Oliver and his bike. His old bike was too small for him and he is given his grandfathers old bike. Not a modern machine but one that Oliver loves.
This old bike however gives the school bullies something to tease poor Oliver about. It makes him doubt himself and also the reason behind the present.
The author has tackled bullying in this story as well as having a belief in yourself. it has been done in such a way as to encourage the reader to discuss problems they may be having. More importantly, I do think this book is a deal to sit and chat about. It would be great to pause the reading and start a discussion about “what would you do if it was you?”
This is such a lovely story and one that I do think is ideal for the age group of 7-10 that it is aimed at. It does have some very helpful advice that is part of the story. I thoroughly enjoyed this and I would definitely recommend it.
About the Author…
Rachael Clarke is a former police officer turned stay-at-home mom living in Portage la Prairie, MB. She rides the twisty rollercoaster of life alongside her sport-obsessed husband, adorably mischievous boys, and two quirky dogs. Rachael likes to stay busy, constantly juggling writing projects from children’s books to novels. Besides writing and illustrating, she enjoys photography, the outdoors, acting, and sipping steaming cups of coffee. Oh, and cake—can’t forget cake.
Rachael also writes multi-genre short fiction under the pen name R.A. Clarke. Her work has been featured in various publications, and has won both Writer’s Weekly and Writer’s Games.
I am delighted to share a promotional post today for a young author. Lost in Christmas Wonderland is the work of Annabelle John-Ligali. When Anne got in touch to ask if I would be interested in helping out with her daughters book I obviously jumped at the chance.
I also want to wish Annabelle a Happy Publication Day xxx
Annabelle is the daughter of Author Anne John-Ligali and I have had the pleasure of reading and reviewing a couple of Anne’s books.
Having read the synopsis, I have to say this sounds a wonderful read. So let me show you the details of Annabelle’s book…
When ten-year-old Bella Matthews and her mum, Isabel, visit Granny Sylta in the snowy village of Lakersfield for Christmas, it turns out there is more in store than just Christmas cake and a ton of presents.
When she arrives, she meets her cousin Rita and a boy called Tommy for the first time, and catches up with her friend Iris again too. Together they discover an exciting attraction is in town: A giant Christmas Wonderland Theme Park. They are dazzled by hundreds of decorated Christmas trees, a Musical Nativity, a Santa Parade, an Upside Down House, and many more attractions.
But Bella ends up having an unexpected adventure of her own as she dances with pot-bellied Santas, discovers a palace made entirely out of glass, wanders into an intriguing puzzle room, and treks for miles to find shelter on a snowy night.
Can Bella find her way back to Granny Sylta’s house in time for Christmas dinner?
Lost in Christmas Wonderland is a story about courage, kindness, friendship, the importance of family, and the magic of Christmas.
Annabelle is nine years old and lives in London. The inspiration for her book came after she visited Winter Wonderland in London’s Hyde Park in November 2019 with her mum, dad, little brother Andre, and Granny Sylta.
It was here she first saw an Upside Down House and had heaps of fun filming and visiting all of the rooms. Annabelle was so fascinated that she decided to vlog about it on her Youtube channel. Click here to watch the video.
Shortly after her visit, she thought how fun it would be to write a story about a girl who visits a Christmas theme park with some friends and goes on a little adventure.
Outside of school, Annabelle enjoys playing with her brother, vlogging about books she’s read, and places she’s visited. She also likes making up dance routines to songs that are trending on Tiktok. When she wants to have a giggle, she plays Guess Who with her mum.
Her favourite authors are Alesha Dixon, Trish Cooke, David Walliams, and Ben Miller. She also likes reading magazines like First News For Kids and Cocoa Girl. This is Annabelle’s first book, and she hopes you like it.
LOST IN CHRISTMAS WONDERLAND PUBLICATION DAY GIVEAWAY!
To celebrate the release of Lost in Christmas Wonderland, Annabelle is giving away a marshmallow cake. In her book, the family makes a huge fuss over granny’s Christmas marshmallow cake that she makes every year. In one chapter, granny Sylta asks Rita to buy a bag of marshmallows at the Christmas Wonderland theme park, and throughout the book there’s always a mention of this delightful cake. Annabelle has decided to give one person the chance to win a marshmallow cake to enjoy!
There’s also a second prize, you can win a box of candy canes.
I am delighted to share my review on Publication Day for Island of Secrets by Misha Herwin. This is the 3rd book in the Adventures of Letty Parker series and it is a right riveting read, full of adventure, pirates and secrets.
My huge thanks to Misha for my e-copy of the Island of Fear, my review is my own, unbiased and honest. Also, Happy Publication Day Misha xxx
When Letty Parker is asked by her best friend, Hepzibah, to solve a family mystery she willingly agrees. She has no idea that investigations will lead the Letty Parker & Associates Detective Agency team across the high seas to the exotic isles of the Caribbean.
Letty, Jeb and Mango, are soon fighting for their very lives in a world where pirates rule the seas, evil plantation managers hold the land, and the forests are filled with duppies and dark magic.
This is the 3rd book in the Letty Parker series, Letty and her associates find lost things and people. Letty is a streetwise kid who has a small group of friends and one of these is not well. Hepzibah has asked Letty to find her long lost brother Simeon who was sent away as a boy because he was out of control.
While Letty is focusing on her searching for clues her friend Jeb is in a spot of bother. You can rest assured that wherever Jeb goes, Mango is not that far behind. This is why they are all now together on a ship leaving Bristol set for Jamaica.
I was really pleased to be able to catch up with the streetwise Letty and her little gang. Set in Bristol with a Victorian backdrop but with more danger lurking in the shadows. Monsters are real as are other dark things.
I love this Gothic feeling series that at times has a steampunk feel to it, it has all the feel of a Victorian city but with a wonderful twist. The characters are really good and I do like Letty, Jeb, Mango, Hepzibah and also a few of the new characters that have a part in the story. Not all of the characters are good and there are some that are evil and dangerous. This adds to a sense of dread and fear especially if you are a younger reader.
A wonderful series that young, as well as adult readers, will enjoy. It is a mystery series with a fantasy alter universe feel and it works so well. It has a storyline that has a sense of foreboding, is addictive and just a great book to settle down and read over the course of an afternoon. I would suggest reading the series in order as there are some things that happened in the past that make more sense if you read in order. A brilliant next book in the series and one I would definitely recommend.
About the Author…
Misha Herwin was born in England of Polish parents. English was not her first language but once she learned to speak it, she has never stopped. At twelve she wrote and staged her first play in a theatre made from a cardboard box. Since then things have improved and her plays have been both performed in England and Jamaica, where she lived for a while. As Misha M Herwin she has written two novels “Picking up the Pieces” and “House of Shadows”, both published by Penkull Press. “Dragonfire” “Juggler of Shapes” and “Master of Trades” are her fantasy trilogy for kids. “City of Secrets” is her most recent book and is the first in a fantasy adventure series for children. Her stories for adult readers have appeared in a number of anthologies including “A Fairy’s Story,” in “Bitch Lit”, and “The Satan Stones” in “Ancient Wonders,” by Alchemy Press. Her latest “The Loop Line” is in “The Darkest Midnight in December”. Her children are grown up and she lives in Staffordshire England with her husband in a house with a dragon in the garden.
I am delighted to share my review for Bridge of Lies by Misha Herwin, this is the second book in The Adventures of Letty Parker series and I have to say I adored it.
Let me show you what it is all about…
Letty Parker and Associates Detective Agency is finally in business. Before they can take on their first case, Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s famous suspension bridge is blown up. Letty decides to investigate but getting hired is not as easy as she thought, especially when the Dark Ones have their own plans for her.
Then there is Ma Pountney and her witches, plus The Bear and his gang of villains each determined to stand in Letty’s way. Nothing goes right and one by one Letty’s friends desert her. Even in a city, crowded with folk arriving for the Balloon Festival, Letty finds herself alone.
This is the second book in this series, 12 year old Letty Parker has recently started her own business of finding missing persons and lost things. Letty Parker & Associates has its first job and it comes in by way of one of the associates Mango, the other are Hepzibah, Jeb and Gabriel although he seems to be absent at the moment.
The setting for this story is Bristol and is just as Brunel is building a bridge. Having a historic fact like this is great for helping to set the scene and also keeps the reader well and truly in the time. It is also a great time to use for other things in the story such as Ma Poutney and her witches as there would have still been a lot of superstition and belief in old magical rites and rituals.
As I mentioned, Letty and her team have a new case but this soon gets overtaken buy other events as once again Letty is right in the thick of things. Friendships are put to the test in this story as loyalties are strained.
I really enjoyed this book and it has such a great feel to it while I was reading. The setting and time are great and there is also the inclusion of a fantasy thread with witches, bears, magic, nephilim, gargoyles and other dark creatures. I also found that one character in particular brings a steam punk style with some of his advanced technologies and adds a great additional element.
This is aimed at younger readers at around 8-12 years but I can say I adored it and it didn’t take long before I was engrossed. If you are a fan of YA books that have mystery, magic and mayhem then you really should look at this series. I would definitely recommend it.
Many thanks for reading my post, alike or share would be amazing 🙂 xx
I am delighted to share my review for Archie and the Enchanter by Alexander Weir. My thanks to Publishing Push and Alexander for getting in touch and sending me an e-copy of this fabulous childrens book.
Let me show you what it is all about…
This is for 8 – 12 year olds.
It takes place on Scotland’s wild West Coast where Archie discovers an ancient and supernatural set of bagpipes.
The magical bagpipes do impossible things. The music it makes is powerful.
Through its music, history begins to change.
It’s not the bagpipes but the chanter that is supernatural (the chanter is the part of the bagpipe that the piper uses to make music).
The chanter is probably more than 1,500 years old and yet looks brand new.
The name ‘chanter’ comes from the word ‘enchanter’ – and ‘enchant’ is what it does. The origins of the enchanter are shrouded in mystery. It disappeared before the Jacobite risings of 1715 and 1745. Perhaps the Young Pretender, Bonnie Prince Charlie, would have won through if the Enchanter had been around.
Then our hero, a scruffy little boy called Archie, found it, and this book is about what happened next.
Let me also share the introduction to this magical story…
Archie and the Enchanter – Introduction
‘No one knows where it came from. It was found in a heathery glen by a shepherd tending his sheep. The shepherd was keeping a wary eye on the horizon for Viking raiders and for a moment looked down. And there it was shining silvery at his feet.
What it could and would do was a constant source of amazement. It didn’t seem to age, and despite the passage of the centuries it always looked as shiny and new as it had been when it was found. It became a treasured possession of one of the Highland clans. Its ownership was kept a closely guarded secret although the Royal Stuarts knew about it and called upon it to be used in their quest for power.
Then it was lost. Everyone in the clan searched, but no one found it. The chanter entirely disappeared during Scotland’s troubled times at the close of the seventeenth century.
Who knows how the conflict at Culloden would have turned out if it had been there.’
This is a wonderful story to read and I can see it being a real hit with the age group it is aimed at.
Archie is a wonderful character and one that seems to get himself into mischief without trying, I say mischief but what I actually mean is gets dirty, ruins his clothes and just seems to attract dirt from wherever he goes, much to his mums annoyance. Archie goes to visit his Grandfather and while Grandfather is asleep Archie goes exploring and comes across a very old set of bagpipes, as Archie already plays this instrument he is immediately interested.
Archie finding the old bagpipes is just the start of the story really, as the story then changes tempo as Archie discovers what the pipes can do. What follows is a wonderful tale that not only delves into a little Scottish history, but also gives some facts about bagpipes and of course what Archie gets up to.
The bagpipes have a wonderful magical quality that has quite an impact on the small Scottish Community where Archie lives. The story also has a moral.
Archie is a wonderful character who I really liked, along with a few of the other people who I briefly met. The author has done a really good job of creating an exciting story and at the same time adding little snippets of information that help me learn something as I read.
The setting descriptions were good, enough to get a sense of place but not too much to take away from the story for a younger reader. It has excitement, magic and quite a few chuckle moments in it to keep you entertained, well it did me!
This is the first in a planned series and it is a great introduction, I got to meet Archie, his family and some of the local community. This is a really good start to the series and I think the age group of 8-12 years feels about right, though I think 8-10 is more appropriate.
It is a story that has a older feel to it, by this I mean it is not full of modern technology so maybe I mean more of a whimsical classic children’s’ style to it.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I think children will enjoy it, I did and I would recommend it.
For Further Reading
If you head over to the Publishing Push Blog Site there is a great article that gives you a chance to read an excerpt of Archie and the Enchanter, there are also some really interesting facts and info there as well. You can follow the link HERE
Alexander Weir is married, with two children together with his wife, and three dynamic go-ahead grandchildren. He lives in a small community in a remote part of Scotland’s Argyll Coast. As part of the community, he teaches art to the children in the community home school and, come evening time, they join him in the family room for ‘story time’. The imagination of the children has been captured in this tale, and author Alexander and his family, are keen to see Archie’s escapades being enjoyed by other children of similar ages too.
He has serialised both books and have been read on Argyll FM radio and covering Ulster, with an outreach across Kintyre, Knapdale, and Northern Ireland. In addition, he has introduced the books to children in Canada and Ireland – and received an enthusiastic response. Alexander is also the Editor of a quarterly Scottish Fellowship of Christian Writers literary magazine, called ‘WordWise’.
Alexander gained his MSc from London South Bank University, and has worked a varied career from Railway Manager, to Missionary, Vice Chairman of Savanne Winery in Tbilisi (Georgia), and Company Secretary, General Manager and Director for two London-based companies. He retired from Business Life in London in 2012.
His writing has not only focused on children’s historical fantasy. Alexander is also author of a peer reviewed medical research paper, and of two theological books, ‘A Question of Time’ and ‘A Question of Identity’.
If you pop in again tomorrow you will get the chance to see which books I have chosen from those listed over the past 3 parts made my Top 10 Books of the Year. I do have a Top Read of the Year… I wonder if you can guess which one it will be! 🤔😉
I am delighted to share my thoughts on a retelling of one of my childhood favoutires – Heidi by Johanna Spyri. This version is retold by Jeanne Willis and Illustrated by Briony May Smith.
When five-year-old orphan Heidi is sent to live in the Swiss Alps with grumpy Grandpa, the rest of the village take pity on her. But Heidi soon discovers that her grandpa is gentle and kind behind his scowl, and she loves her new life running wild in the mountains with the goats, the flowers and her best friend Peter. That is, until Heidi is forced to move far away to the soot and smoke of Frankfurt to be the companion to an unwell girl. Will she ever return to her true home in the mountains?
I absolutely adore the story of Heidi by Johanna Spyri, I still have my own childhood copy. I admit I was a little apprehensive about reading this retelling of a childhood favourite.
The book itself is gorgeous and the dust cover illustrations are just a taste of the pictures inside. I removed the dust jacket to find gorgeous embossed pink hardcover that matches the pink detailing on the outer cover and there is also a ribbon book mark attached. The photo really doesn’t do the cover justice. And in case you are wondering, yes they are my fluffy pink PJ’s 😁❤
The illustrator Briony May Smith has done such a wonderful job and there are so many details in each picture that represent each page of the story.
Now the story itself has been retold by Jeanne Willis. It is a simplified version of the classic story of Heidi. A young girl who is taken to the Swiss Alps to live with her grumbly and rather moody Grandfather. Heidi meets Peter the goat-herder and they become friends. Grandfather gradually softens to Heidi and when the day comes that Heidi is to leave, everyone is sad. Heidi is to become a companion t a sick child, Clara and moves to Frankfurt.
The story is one that brought back many memories for me, not only from the full version book I read as a child but also the TV series. Even though the story has been shortened and is a simplified version of the original, it still holds the magic. It is a story that has a heart, is about friendships and family as well as the challenges of life.
I love the way this book has been presented and the way the story retains some of the essences of the original one. This is a book that would suit being read to a child and also for a child to read to themselves. The illustrations complement the story and the story is enchanting. A fabulous book that I would definitely recommend.
If you are on the look out for a fabulous fiction read for children then you really can’t go wrong with this one it would make a lovely Christmas stocking filler. I know I would have loved this book as a younger reader, in fact I love that I have this copy as an adult reader!
Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be amazing 🙂 xx
I am delighted to share my thoughts on Lucy Makes A Wish by Anne Booth. This is a fabulous read for children aged 6 and up and would make a lovely Christmas present. I loved it ❤
Here is what it is all about…
When Boots the puppy bounces into Lucy’s life, fun and friendship are never far behind. He’s waiting for his forever home, and until he finds one Lucy is determined to give him the best Christmas ever, taking him out and about and giving him all the love he’s missed.
But they’re going to need the help of all the friends they have made when Boots slips his lead and gets lost. Will Boots find a way home? Lucy needs to make a wish. . .
This warm and festive story is an ideal present for a child to read during the festive season. Animal-lovers everywhere will delight in Sophy WIlliams’s gorgeous illustrations and the simple language and short chapters are perfect for developing readers or to be read aloud. Fans of Anne Booth’s previous titles in this series, Lucy’s Secret Reindeer, Lucy’s Magic Snow Globe, Lucy’s Winter Rescue, Lucy’s Magical Surprise, and Lucy’s Search for Little Star won’t be able to resist this latest Lucy story!
Lucy Makes a Wish is the latest in a series of stories about a young girl called Lucy.
This is such an adorable little story that readers of 6 years and above are going to get on really well with. The story focuses on Lucy and a young girl who has a huge love of animals.
Lucy’s Gran is looking after a young boisterous puppy called Boots. Boots needs a forever home and as much as Lucy would love to keep him it is not a good idea with her parents working and she is at school. During Lucy’s walks with Boots, she askes various people if they would like him, but like Lucy, they don’t have the time. Lucy makes a new friend called Alfie, and it is through Boots and all the other animals in the story, that a friendship is formed.
There are lots of animals mentioned in this story that are being looked after by Gran and another family. This is where the book is so good. The author uses the animals to show how rescue centres and sanctuaries care for the animals and how they are not pets like boots. There are mentions of how they can react, such as a shy donkey may kick, or a wounded squirrel could bite. These mentions are done in such a way that they have become part of the story.
The author obviously knows how a puppy behaves and has bundled various fun and mischievous antics that make up Boots the playful puppy. This had me smiling knowingly as I remember my dog as a puppy. Here again, the author adds various little tips for raising a puppy and successfully incorporated it into her story.
This is a fabulous book that also has a special little bit of magic in it. The cover is gorgeous with Boots the puppy taking the centre and some very nice little glittery snowflakes add a really nice touch. Throughout the book there are some wonderful illustrations by Sophy Williams, they fit wonderfully in with the story of Lucy and Boots.
This is a wonderful story that has magic, sparkle and friendship. It will be a fabulous stocking filler for any young animal lover and this older animal lover thoroughly enjoyed it. It is a book I would definitely recommend.
Here is a sample of the inside illustrations, I love this cross-hatch style and they fit wonderfully with the story.
Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be fabulous 🙂 xx
I am delighted to be sharing my thoughts today on a wonderful children’s book that would make an ideal Christmas present for younger readers. The Girl Who Speaks Bear by Sophie Anderson and is illustrated by Kathrin Honesta.
Let me show you what it is all about…
They call me Yanka the Bear. Not because of where I was found – only a few people know about that. They call me Yanka the Bear because I am so big and strong.
Found abandoned in a bear cave as a baby, Yanka has always wondered about where she is from. She tries to ignore the strange whispers and looks from the villagers, wishing she was as strong on the inside as she is on the outside. But, when she has to flee her house, looking for answers about who she really is, a journey far beyond one that she ever imagined begins: from icy rivers to smouldering mountains meeting an ever-growing herd of extraordinary friends along the way.
Interwoven with traditional stories of bears, princesses and dragons, Yanka’s journey is a gorgeously lyrical adventure from the best-selling author of The House With Chicken Legs.
Oh my goodness what an absolutely beautiful read this book was. It is the story of Yanka, she is known as Yanka the Bear as she is bigger and stronger than others of her age. Even though she lives happily in her village with her Grandmother, there has always been a question she has wanted answers to. Where did she come from and who were her parents. The story is one of Yanka discovering her roots and finding out who she is and where she feels she belongs.
This is an absolutely brilliant read that is full of adventure and magical folklore tales that have a feel of Eastern European folklore to them. Dark mysterious forests full of wonderful creatures and things that you would find in fairy tales. A tale of bears, a dragon, a lone wolf, a weasel, an elk and a walking house with chicken legs have all been wonderfully woven into a totally captivating story.
The descriptions of the animals, creatures and surroundings are wonderful and it was so easy for me to see what was described. This was enhanced by some very simple but wonderful illustrations by Kathrin Honesta, these complimented the story so well and in such a subtle but suitable way. Just look at the cover can you see the bear?
The story itself is actually a book of stories that have been interwoven to create a bigger story and I loved how each of these little stories started in the classic “Once upon a time” way. This for me adds a touch of magic and took me back to wonderful stories I read as a child. Talking of children’s stories, this is actually who this book is aimed at and I am so glad I read it because I loved it so much.
The story is a journey of discovery for Yanka and how she is trying to find her place, by this I mean where she feels she belongs. She is a girl who is conflicted and feels that because of her strength and size she could be a danger to others around her. It makes her wary of joining in or accepting help. In her own journey, she discovers so much about herself as well as realising things she was not aware of before.
This is a beautifully written book that has its roots in the fairy tales of old, it has a wonderful flow and fabulous descriptions. This is the second book the author has written and I have not yet read the first one, I will be soon though as I have just ordered a copy of her first book “The House with Chicken Legs”.
The Girl Who Speaks Bear is a book that I would definitely recommend.
Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be amazing 🙂 xx
I am very excited to welcome Stuart Reid onto my Blog today, I hope you are ready for bogies, snot, bottomburps and bums…I kid you not! If I say that this author has described as the “Billy Connolley for kids” that should give you some indication of how this post today is going to go!
Stuart is an author of the Gorgeous George books for Children, he is a regular at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and tours schools bringing his books to children everywhere. . I admit I had great fun writing up this post. I hope you all enjoy it…
I don’t know about you, but for me I love Book Covers! Want to have a look at a couple of Stuart’s? (I apologise for reducing the synopsis for each book!)
Sneezing, sniffing, snoring and snots! Zombies, zebras and zits!
Bogies, baddies, bagpipes and bums! Farting, false teeth and fun!
A must read for children (and anyone else) who love crude, rude, exciting, silly, sometimes smelly and humorous books.
I must admit the kid in me is sniggering sssoooooo much 🙂 🙂
Okay now for the Q & A (aka – author interrogation!) – make yourself comfy…
1.When was the moment that you realised you wanted to write children’s books?
I’ve always loved writing. When I was 16, becoming a sports journalist would’ve been my dream job (basically being paid to watch football) but I studied Business Management instead because I thought it was sensible. After 25 years in business, I was running a 300-bedroom hotel in Dubai; I had a large house, a maid, a gardener, a swimming pool and two 4×4’s and I realised that I wasn’t happy. Work was unfulfilling and the credit crunch made things much harder. My wife persuaded me to start writing again… anything that would make me happy… and I began writing about people, situations and weird stories that I laughed at when I was 9 years old. I regressed back into my childhood and have never been happier.
I think being happy is your work is important, but still WOW…
2.Where did the idea of taking your books direct to your audience come from?
In 2009, I decided to give up my job… along with my salary, my car, my house, my healthcare and my pension… to start writing children’s books, so my family and I returned to Britain where I finished my first book. I was luckily enough to find a small publisher who agreed to publish the first book but he said “You’ll never make any money being a children’s author” so I started working as an area manager in retail again (which was soul-destroying). I realised that my target market meet together five days a week, forty weeks of the year… if I could tick the education box for the teachers, the reading inspiration box for the parents and the enjoyment and excitement boxes for the kids, then I might have a product that schools could benefit from. Six months after my first book was released my diary was so full with bookings from schools, libraries and book festivals that I was able to give up my proper job again and become a full-time children’s author. Since then, I have hosted over 1,500 events throughout the Uk and Ireland, as well as Dubai, Abu Dhabi, India, Hong Kong and Australia.
Finding your target audience was obviously important!
3.Is there a special standout moment from your books or from your performances?
Yesterday I was boarding a flight in Australia, returning from the Adelaide Festival, when an Emirates check-in staff member asked for my ticket and passport. She looked at the passport and then asked, ‘Are you the author? Were you performing at the Fringe? You asked my husband up onto the stage to be a lady elephant!’ – I nearly wet myself laughing. I also hosted an event in the Middle East with a group of boys from a royal family and almost started a riot. After one of my Edinburgh Fringe events last year, one of the parents described me as ‘Billy Connolly for kids’ – which is a massive compliment but one which I felt wholly inadequate to justify (didn’t stop me putting on my posters though). Writing scenes in my books where kids can help me bring the stories to life is great. Young volunteers help the audience visualise certain chapters by throwing false teeth at me, becoming snot zombies, enacting the water and the mountains and the tents around Justin Bieber’s campsite, as well as unleashing the two cheeky chimpanzees that amuse the crowd and terrorise the elephants.
Audience participation appears to be a key factor and also increases the fun!
4.Its obvious children love these performances from the video. I also noticed the adults loved it as well. Is this something you expected?
The more I’ve toured, and met mums and dads and teachers, the more I’ve found that most people still hold onto their inner child… the little person they once were that enjoys silliness, that laughs uncontrollably and helps them realise that it’s okay to have fun. Life can often be challenging but people need to laugh more, to enjoy life as much as possible and never take themselves too seriously. We’re only on the planet for a visit!
Yep, I have many silly, hysterical moments, and thats all I am saying about that lol
5.As I am a lifelong bookworm, I have to ask what were your favourite childhood books?
When I was about nine, I was hooked on a mystery series entitled Alfred Hitchcock’s The Three Investigators, where my love of an abstract adventure came from. Before that, the first book I remember reading by myself was Roald Dahl’s The Twits, and loved the monkeys gluing the furniture on the ceiling and Mr Twit pulling off the birds’ legs (which sounds a big gruesome nowadays). I also remember a hilarious book called Fungus the Bogeyman, as up until that point, I never knew you could put bogies in a book! And as a teenager, To Kill A Mocking Bird was the first book I ever read twice.
I remember The Twits and have heard of but never read Fungus.
6. And because I am nosy, what are your favourite books as an adult?
I am obsessed with Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series, and have recently started another Stephen King phase. My two teenager daughters are brilliant at recommending books too. I’ve just finished You by Caroline Kepnes, although it was a wee bit rude so I will be having words with that daughter! I couldn’t put John Green’s The Fault In Our Stars down, and it was the first book where I’ve actually cried buckets. Me Before You was very good and I shed a tear or two with RJ Palacio’s Wonder. I still enjoy reading children’s and young adult books, as I need to be aware of market and like to recommend books to little readers and their teachers.
Never too old to read children’s books!
7. And yes, I’m very nosy! What are your interests and hobbies away from books?
I love cooking and will always be experimenting in the kitchen – creating new tapas dishes is my favourite thing right now. My wife and I love to travel, so if she’s not joining me on my book tours, we try to squeeze in a cheeky wee holiday or weekend break every couple of months. And although my stage shows are quite energetic, and my fitness levels are okay, I don’t play football anymore, as I’m scared of breaking my leg and not being able to perform on stage. Playing FIFA on the PS4 is the best sport I can manage these days.
8. Apart from bringing stories to a younger readers, what are your future aims or dreams for your books?
If I was to allow myself to have a dream for my Gorgeous George books,it would be a movie or television series, with a young Rupert Grinch playing George, an older, balder Robert Carlisle wearing an enormous ginger moustache would play Grandpa Jock. A younger version of Letitia Wright (from Black Panther) would be Barbara and Allison would be played by the Game of Thrones actress Maisie Williams, if she had a time machine go back to being a kid again. The adventures would be a mixture of live action, bright animation and full-on CGI, with Simon Cowell as the villain in Giant Geriatric Generator. We’d need a cast of hundreds for the Zig-Zag Zit-faced Zombies story and Simon Pegg & Edgar Wright and Woody Harrelson would have feature too, with time-warp trouser trumpets, aliens, Loch Ness monsters, piles and piles of pink poo, a parody of A Christmas Carol would need to be the festive adventure and there’s also a love story for Grandpa Jock too. But to be honest, I haven’t really given it much thought.
Oh I agree no thought at all hahaha
9. If I could wave a magic wand what would you wish for?
Wow… you mean apart from the last answer? Well, I suppose I want every kid in the world to see one of my live events, and to feel inspired enough to want to read more books, more often. And not just my books, but any good book. And to learn to love reading, and to share that love of reading with their own children. My books are yucky… they are about boogers, bums and big bottom burps and my characters will never grown up… but I know that every little reader will, and they’ll leave Gorgeous George behind and read other books, better books and more intelligent books but I’d love it if my books were the inspiration for that. Oh, and world peace.
My love of reading started as a child and has been with me ever since!
10. Now the 3 W’s – What is next? Where Will it be? And When will it be?
It’s already shaping up to be another busy year. My diary is full for months with a short tour of N.Ireland, followed by my first gigs at the Brighton Fringe, then the launch of Book no.8 Gorgeous George and the Incredible Iron-Bru-Man Incident in July. My sixth year at the Edinburgh Fringe is in August with 60+ appearances there, more school events, Book Week Scotland and my first tour of schools in Qatar. There is also the possibility of hosting events in Australia again with Perth Fringe in January 2020 and back across to Adelaide again in February. It’s great to be so busy… I think I have the best job in the world!
Wowsers…very busy and I wish you all the very best. I agree, it does sound like you have the best job!!
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