Archive for January, 2012

The One and Only Ivan book trailer

The One and Only Ivan is a beautiful new book by Katherine Applegate, about a gorilla named Ivan and his friends Stella, Ruby, and Bob who live in the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade.  Reserve your copy at the library now.

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Steel Pelicans Update from Des Hunt

Steel Pelicans goes on sale 3 February 2012. In November 2010 I wrote about the story which at that time was in it’s very early stages. Here’s what has happened since.

I started writing Steel Pelicans on 18 October 2010 and finished the first draft on 4 March 2011. That’s almost five months, which is a little longer than usual for one of my stories. Of course Christmas and New Year came in that time as well.

The major change during the writing was that I shifted from the third person voice to the first person. To explain this, the original opening read:

As always, the view was fantastic. Looking north Pete could see across Port Kembla to the centre of Wollongong and a little further up the coast until the haze merged sea and hills into one.

After I changed the voice it read:

As always, the view was fantastic. Looking north I could see across Port Kembla to the centre of Wollongong and a little further up the coast until the haze merged sea and hills into one.

This change was made because in a lot of the story I had three boy characters in the same scene. In the third person I would always have to refer to each by name. In the first person, one of them could be referred to by I, me or my, making it much easier to write. However by making the change it meant that my storyteller, Pete, had to be in all scenes: something I wasn’t sure about until about half-way through.

At the end of the first draft the length was 62,000 words. Four rewrites and a month later it was 56,000 words. I’d removed about 22 pages. This was done to keep the story tense and get rid of the boring bits. The manuscript was sent to Harper Collins Publishers on 13 April 2011. I signed a contract another month later.

By July 2011 Harper Collins were beginning to consider the cover. I knew exactly the image I wanted: it was of a sculpture that sits on a pedestal in Brisbane River, Australia. As we were off to Darwin around that time, we changed our schedule so that I could visit Brisbane and photograph the sculpture. I think it captures the feeling of the story nicely.

Harper Collins finished their work on the book almost exactly a year after I had started writing. It was sent to the printers in Australia early November and I got my copies mid January 2012. I haven’t read it and I won’t. Only once have I read one of my finished books, and it was not the enjoyable experience I had anticipated. The problem was that I found things I wanted to change, and by then it was too late.

However I hope you will read it, and enjoy the story as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Ka kite.

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Floors by Patrick Carman

Imagine if you could live in a hotel.  Not just any hotel, but one where each of the rooms had a different theme.  If you like cuddly toys, you could live in a room full of cuddly toys of every size, colour and type.  If you like Playstation, you could live in a virtual reality room where you could be a character in any game you chose.  In Patrick Carman’s new book, Floors, Leo lives in the weirdest, most wonderful hotel in the whole world, the Whippet Hotel.

Leo Fillmore and his father Clarence live and work at the Whippet Hotel as the caretakers, making sure everything is in working order.  The hotel’s eccentric owner, Merganzer D. Whippet disappeared one hundred days ago and hasn’t been seen or heard from ever since.  This leaves the mean hotel manager, Ms. Sparks in charge of the hotel, and when the hotel doesn’t work as it should, everybody hears about it.  Leo spends his days helping his father maintain the hotel and making sure Betty and the other ducks get walked.  One day, as Leo is returning the ducks to their pond on the roof, he discovers a mysterious box in the duck elevator.  This box is the first of four that will lead Leo to discover the secrets of the Whippet Hotel and the mystery of the missing Merganzer D. Whippet.

Floors is full of wonder, mystery and mahem, and made me smile the whole way through.  Patrick Carman has created this weird and wonderful hotel and filled it with one exciting room after another.  There’s a Pinball Room, which is set up like a pinball machine, with bowling balls as the pinball and couches for the flippers; the Cake Room filled with real cakes that are delivered by the chefs each morning; and the Central Park Room which contains a scale model of New York’s Central Park.  The characters are just as weird and wonderful as the hotel.  There’s Captain Rickenbacker who thinks that his arch-nemesis is out to get him, the obsessive writer, Theodore Bump, and the nasty hotel manager Ms. Sparks.  Floors is one of the most fun, imaginative stories you’ll read this year.  It’s perfect for fans of Roald Dahl and Lemony Snickett.

5 out of 5 stars.  Recommended for 9+  

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Guest Author: Johanna Knox, author of The Flytrap Snaps

Today we’re lucky to be joined by New Zealand author, Johanna Knox.  Johanna is the author of The Flytrap Snaps, one of my favourite New Zealand books of 2011.  It’s a quirky story with action, mystery and plenty of laughs.  Here’s Johanna to tell us all about carnivorous plants and the part they play in her story.

 

You know you’re a carnivorous plant fan when …

I’m normally a gentle, peace-loving sort of person – really I am! – but I get ghoulish shivers of, yes, almost delight, when I watch my own potted carnivorous plants eat bugs. I know I’m not the only one.

I admit it: It satisfies me to see house flies meeting their demise, while at the same time becoming food for a beautiful plant.

Carnivorous plants come in many shapes, sizes, colours, and species. I like to keep mine in pots along windowsills and in sheltered corners of the garden, and I try to water them most days. Sometimes they seem almost like pets, with their own personalities.

In fact, that’s why I started writing The Fly Papers series … to have fun imagining what each different carnivorous plant might be like if it grew a mind of its own, and could walk and talk.

If you’ve read the first book, The Flytrap Snaps, you’ll know it’s about a mutant Venus flytrap called Dion who wants to be a horror movie star.

The second book, which I’m busy with now, is called The Sundew Stalks. The name of the mutant sundew who stars in it is Dross.

Other species of carnivorous plant that you’ll meet in The Fly Papers include:

  • Bladderworts, which suck in their prey through underground trapdoors
  • Butterworts, which glue insects to their buttery leaves, and
  • Nepenthes, which have enormous pitchers, like cups, in which to catch their prey. (Real-life Nepenthes grow so big they sometimes trap frogs, lizards, birds, and small rodents.)

You can buy Venus flytraps, sundews, and pitcher plants in garden centres, or online, including on TradeMe.

When my family and I started collecting these plants, we lived in Wellington, but we made purchases from an amazing carnivorous plant nursery in Christchurch, run by Ross Taylor.  Since the earthquakes, Ross has downsized his nursery – for now. But he still sells plants at shows and privately.

And if you want to find out more about all sorts of carnivorous plants, you could start here, at The Fly Papers blog.

COMPETITION – Win a copy of The Flytrap Snaps

Answer this question: Why do you think the sundew character in The Fly Papers series is called Dross? (Hint: do an internet search on sundews.)

Email your answer with your name, address and phone number to christchurchkidsblog@ccc.govt.nz

All correct answers go in the draw to win a copy of The Flytrap Snaps.  Entries close Monday 30 January.  See below for terms and conditions  Read the rest of this entry »

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What’s your school survival tip?

I’m sure some of you don’t want to be reminded that school starts back next week (or maybe the week after).  It’s the start of a new year, with a new teacher, a new classroom, and possibly a new school.  I was one of those weird kids that got bored after a couple of weeks of holidays and was dying to go back to school.  For some of you though school might be one of those things that you just want to survive, and your favourite part of the day is either lunch time or 3 o’clock.

We want to know what is your best school survival tip?  What helps you get through the school year?  Leave a comment on this post and let us know.

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Hugo movie – what do you think?

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Win a Hugo movie prize pack

If you’ve read Brian Selznick’s The Invention of Hugo Cabret you’ll know what an amazing story it is.  It’s a magical story told through a mixture of words and pictures.  The book has been transformed into a wonderful new movie, called Hugo, by a great director called Martin Scorsese.  The trailer is really cool and I can’t wait to see the movie.  You can let us know what you think about the movie in our poll.

This week you can win a Hugo movie prize pack.  We have a copy of The Hugo Movie Companion and a Hoyts movie pass to give away to one lucky person.  All you have to do to get in the draw is tell us: What is your favourite Brian Selznick book (Invention of Hugo Cabret or Wonderstruck) and why?  Leave a comment on this post with your answer, as well as your name and email address (so that we can contact you if you win).

Thanks to everyone who entered the competition.  The winner was:

  • Darren

There were also two runners up who won a Hoyts movie pass:

  • Josiah
  • Noah

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