Archive for November, 2011

A thousand Tintins

Kia ora and thanks to all the cool Christchurch kids who entered the Tintin colouring competition. We got nearly a thousand entries, and look how fabulous they are!
Paris's entry Leni's entry
Laura's entry
Amelie's entry

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Gangsta Granny by David Walliams

Does your granny smell like cabbage?  Does she like to play boring games like Scrabble? Do you think she’s boring?  If you’ve answered yes to all of these questions you probably don’t know her that well.  For all you know she could be a spy, a superhero or even an international jewel thief like Ben’s granny.

Every Friday night Ben gets sent to stay with his granny, while his parents go out to the movies or to watch Strictly Stars Dancing Live.  Ben thinks she’s boring and would rather be anywhere else than spending time with her.  Ben gets sick of eating his granny’s cabbage soup and decides to look in her cupboard for some real food.  He never thought he would discover the stash of priceless jewels in her biscuit tin.  When he confronts her to find out the truth, he discovers that his granny isn’t boring, she’s an international jewel thief.  Ben decides to help his granny pull off the crime of the century – break into the Tower of London and steal the crown jewels.

Gangsta Granny is a book that’s both really funny and a bit sad.  I’m sure your granny’s just a bit like Ben’s granny, even if she’s not a jewel thief.  If you ask her I’m sure some of her stories are just as interesting.  Ben’s parents seem like they don’t really care about him because they’re more interested in their dancing show than they are in him, but deep down they love him.  I love the way David Walliams writes because his stories are so different and his characters are really easy to relate too.  If you liked his other stories, like The Boy in the Dress, Mr Stink and Billionaire Boy, or you like Roald Dahl’s books, you’ll love Gangsta GrannyRecommended for 7+     8 out of 10

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Research a Story – it’s fun

One of the things I love about writing is all the interesting things I discover on the way to writing the story. Becuase I write historical fiction, there’s quite a lot research involved. I spend a whole month looking up bits and pieces before I even start to write – and the research doesn’t end until the story is done. The strange thing is most of the things I discover don’t end up in a book at all. But it still helps me write.

Research gives me story ideas. When I was writing Polar Boy, my initial idea was a story about a boy who was scared of bears. I was thinking polar bears, because they are magnificent creatures, they scare the life out of me, and I wouldn’t go anywhere near one!  As I dug deeper into my research I discovered the Vikings were coming from Greenland, at the same time as my story, heading for the same place I was. And they were called ‘the berserkers’ or ‘bears’. So immediately my plot extended and it wasn’t a Polar Bear that became Iluak’s biggest challenge. It was the threat of the Vikings who didn’t want to share the land with the Inuit people.

Research is full of snippets of day-to-day information. What should my characters wear? What do they eat? Do the doors have doorhandles? I am constantly surprises how much the details of life change from place to place and through the centures.

Another thing I get from research is a strong sense of time and place. I am an armchair writer. I never travel anywhere, although I would love to visit Japan. So when I am writing the Samurai Kids series I have to imagine I am there. I do this by watching documentaries, looking at images, reading books written by Japaese samurai hundreds of years ago and listening to shakuhachi flute music.

Sometimes I can’t find all the answers I need. I wanted my samurai kids to study origami. I knew the samurai believed it was important to exercise the mind as well as the body and in addition to fighting skills they also learned other things – like  flower arranging and poetry! And I knew origami was paractised in Japan at the time of my novel. But I couldn’t find any proof – not a sentence, not a picture. So I decided most kids love origami so the samurai kids would too and included it in my book.

Photo Copyright: Pedro Henriques

When I was researching the next Samurai Kids book, Elephant Feet (#7). I needed to know all about Cambodia. I didn’t know anything. One thing I quickly learned is it has the most amazing array of birds and animals. Many of the birds and their calls made their way into my story background like the hoopoe bird (It’s call is oop-oop-oop! You can listen to a sound file here ). But I was always gettting sidetracked by other interesting information even though I knew I wouldn’t use it. Here’s an example. I found that a new species of gecko had been discovered in the southern mountains of Cambodia. It’s wonderful to think new species are still being found but there is a sad side to this lizard discovery too. Cambodia has one of the highest deforestation rates in the world and many of it animal habitats are in danger of disappearing.

PS When I went to find a picture of the gecko on the Internet I found another new species had been discovered even more recently – a blind legless lizard that looks like a snake!

Check out my other posts here:

Making a Noise – in the library!

Hello from Sandy

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The Hunger Games trailer and book giveaway

The first full-length trailer for the Hunger Games movie has just been released and you can watch it here.  It’s being released on March 23, 2012 and it’s going to be one of the biggest movies of the year.  The movie is based on The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, which is the first book in one of the most exciting series you’ll ever read.  Here’s what our Star Blogger Rhys said about it:

“Prim Everdeen is chosen as a representative for the hunger games while she is still 12 years old, Katniss, her big sister, volunteers to go instead of Prim and she goes to save her sister. Without giving too much away being selected isn’t a good thing. I reckon that they are a great series and that if you like fighting, romance (sort of) and cunning plotting you should read them.  I’d recommend them to anyone over 10.  They are great for adults too.  They are some of the best books I’ve read, and I have read some really, really good books.”

The movie looks like it’s going to be absolutely amazing and you can see what it’s like in this trailer:

If you’ve been dying to read The Hunger Games to find out why it’s so great or you would just really like to have your own copy, we’ve got one to giveaway.  To get in the draw, all you have to do is leave a comment on this post telling us why you should win the book.  Competition closes Friday 25 November.

See below for terms and conditions          Read the rest of this entry »

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Bananas In My Ears – Poems by Michael Rosen

Michael Rosen is a cool poet and author who has been writing poems for years.  His poetry collections always have really funny titles like Lunch Boxes Don’t Fly and Mustard, Custard, Grumble Belly and Gravy.  His latest collection, Bananas In My Ears, is full of weird and wonderful poems.

In Bananas In My Ears there are poems about everyday life, like things that happen at breakfast time or when you go to the doctors, but there are also poems about silly things that could happen.  My favourite poems in the book are called ‘What if…’ and they’re about things like ‘What if a piece of toast turned into a ghost just as you were eating it?’ or ‘What if they made children-sized diggers?’  They’re really funny and things get completely out of control in them.  Each of the poems are illustrated by Quentin Blake, who you might recognize as the illustrator that did the covers and illustrations for all of Roald Dahl’s books.

Poems are great to read if you don’t have alot of time to read or just want something short and Bananas In My Ears is a collection of poems you’ll want to read again and again.

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Sticky Ends – Poems by Jeanne Willis

There are all sorts of poetry books you can find in the library.  There are nice, sweet poems about friends, poems about animals, or poems about monsters.  Some of them rhyme and some of them twist and turn all over the page.  Sticky Ends is a new collection of twenty-six very funny cautionary verses where the characters come to a sticky end.  Some of them are stupendously silly, some are horribly gross, but they’re all funny.

In Sticky Ends you’ll meet Bubblegum Pete who ate all the bubblegum he could eat, but then comes to a sticky end when he blows the biggest bubble and gets blown away.  There’s a very naughty Father Christmas who gets blackmailed by a naughty boy, Lardy Marge who eats too much butter, and Filthy Frankie who gets cocooned in snot.

If you ever need a really funny poem to read aloud at school or to make your parents squirm, Sticky Ends has a great selection to choose from.  If you’re looking for it in the library, just look for the picture of an elephant sitting on a person on the front cover.

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Rosie Black Blog Tour

Follow Lara Morgan’s Rosie Black Blog Tour to find out more about Lara’s writing, her characters and the Rosie Black Chronicles.

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