Archive for October, 2013

Kids’ Books: picks from our October newsletter

Some picks from our October Kids’ Books newsletter:

Cover of My Tourist Guide to the Centre of the EarthCover of Mister Max: The Book of Lost ThingsCover of A Cat Called ElvisCover of Lego Minifigures Character EncyclopediaCover of FishtalesCover of Cave of WondersCover of Flora & UlyssesCover of BoomCover of Only You Can Save Mankind

Subscribe to our newsletters and get our latest titles and best picks straight to your inbox.

For more great reads for kids, check out our Fun to Read page – it links you to reading lists, if you likes, interactive quizzes and lots more.

Comments off

Lauren Child talks about Ruby Redfort

Lauren Child is the author of the fantastic Ruby Redfort series.  If you like action, adventure and mystery stories, check out the Ruby Redfort books in the library.

Comments (5) »

Your turn!

Your turn to write a poem

I find lots of people think that poetry is so hard to write.

Yet a poem can be written with rhythm, strength and strong feeling by just using two words for each line, a bit like a ladder, all the way down that page

Here are some photos that might help you to have a go.

Image

Image

Image

Here’s an example:

Brown towers

cobble stones

sky paving

giraffe tall.

(c)  Lorraine Marwood

See if you can write ten lines like this- after all that is only a 20 word poem.  Have a go.  Post your poems in the comments section.  I’d love to read them.

This type of poem cuts out all the unnecessary words and allows the poem to breathe.  It also makes us use the strong words of writing like nouns and verbs.

Comments off

Lockwood and Co.: The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud

When the dead come back to haunt the living, Lockwood & Co. step in . . .For more than fifty years, the country has been affected by a horrifying epidemic of ghosts. A number of Psychic Investigations Agencies have sprung up to destroy the dangerous apparitions.Lucy Carlyle, a talented young agent, arrives in London hoping for a notable career. Instead she finds herself joining the smallest most ramshackle agency in the city, run by the charismatic Anthony Lockwood. When one of their cases goes horribly wrong, Lockwood & Co. have one last chance of redemption. Unfortunately this involves spending the night in one of the most haunted houses in England, and trying to escape alive.

The Screaming Staircase is one of the most exciting books I’ve read this year. Jonathan Stroud had me on the edge of my seat, anticipating a ghost to jump out at me around every twist and turn of the plot.  Jonathan has created such a chilling atmosphere in the book that you hear the creaks and groans of the old houses and almost feel the temperature drop in the room as the characters get closer to the ghosts.  You get caught up in the mystery of the lives of the living and the dead and Jonathan keeps you in suspense.

I love the world that Jonathan has created in the book; one much like ours but one plagued by ghosts of all sorts.  There are different types of ghosts, from a Type One Shade to a Type Two Wraith.  There are Physic Investigation Agencies (of which Lockwood and Co. is one) which specialise in the ‘containment and destruction of ghosts.’  These are run by adult supervisors but rely on the strong physic Talent of children.  It is only children who can see and hear the ghosts so it is up to them to capture them.  There is no mention of when the story is set (which I think just makes the story even better), but there is a mixture of both old-fashioned clothes and weapons, and modern technology.  The ghost hunters’ kit includes an iron rapier, iron chains and magnesium flares, all of which prove extremely necessary when facing the spectral threats.  Jonathan has even included a detailed glossary of terms and types of ghost, which I found really interesting to read after I had finished the book.
The three main characters, all members of Lockwood and Co., are all fantastic characters who really grew on me as the story progressed.  They each have their quirks, especially Lockwood and George, but they make a brilliant team and have each others’ backs when it counts.  There’s no love triangle here, just good old-fashioned camaraderie and getting the job done (if it doesn’t kill them first).  Lockwood, George and Lucy are building their relationship in this book, so there are some tense moments between them (especially George and Lucy) but Jonathan’s dialogue is brilliant.  I’m looking forward to seeing how their relationships develop in the further books.
I can’t wait for more Lockwood and Co.!  If you want a book that you won’t want to put down, that you’ll want to read with the lights on, then Lockwood and Co.: The Screaming Staircase is perfect.  I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Comments (5) »

Childhood and its influence on my writing.

Now that’s an interesting topic!  I know that what I liked as a child, I still like now.

One thing I loved to do was explore.  We lived near the bush and near the abandoned workings of one of Bendigo’s famous gold fields.

I walked through some paddocks and into the old mining area.  It was very dangerous when I look back now, because many of the mines were uncapped and so deep and so full of water , way down.

But I could feel the history, the untold stories, the drama, the hardships, the excitement of finding gold.  I also began to read about the gold fields.  So many thousands of people came to Bendigo from all over the world to find their fortune.  Many Chinese came too and you can still see the re-workings of abandoned mines by the Chinese, they made the mine shaft circular, different to the Cornish miners.

I began to imagine.  For years an idea ran through my head.  I even have the draft of a story I wrote before my goldfield story ‘Ratwhiskers and me’ was published by Walker books.

Image

The story is written in a different way, as a verse novel.  I realised that particular genre was just what I needed to complete that story.

I remember begin ‘stuck’ half way through the writing.  So I took a thermos and sat just in a little park near an abandoned gold field.  My characters began to breathe easy and as I soaked in the atmosphere, my writing had a new direction.

This was a story I had to write.  I love finding snippets of history and breathing new life into them.

Image

Here is a photo of the graves of many Chinese miners who died on the Bendigo gold field.  A cemetery is often an interesting place to walk through.

So this is one aspect of my childhood that lives on in one of my books.

What do/did you like as a child and are you still interested in those things?  I’d love to hear about them.

Lorraine M

Comments off

The Sundew Stalks by Johanna Knox.

Danger, wrestling, mutant plants and epic adventure; welcome back to Filmington. The Sundew Stalks is the sequel to The Flytrap Snaps, continuing popular NZ author Johanna Knox’s The Fly Papers series.

Tora de Ronde has been a BodySlam wrestler all her life; she trains every day after school under the proud gaze of her father. Little does her father know that Tora lives another secret life only she knows about. When Tora’s secret leads her to a laboratory full of carnivorous plants, she stumbles upon a complex mystery that will show her who the bad guys are in Filmington…

I was very pleased that The Sundew Stalks was written from the perspective of Tora de Ronde, as she is clever, brave and a strong heroine. Having the second book written from a different point of view is also quite refreshing. Johanna Knox has very cleverly made The Sundew Stalks match up with The Flytrap Snaps- the second perspective makes everything start to fit together; questions are answered and mysteries are solved.

The book also introduces one new character in particular; Dross, the mutant sundew. Dross is just as moody and hilarious as his relative Dion in The Flytrap Snaps- you will instantly fall in love with this charming carnivorous plant.

The Sundew Stalks is even funnier and more addictive than the first novel. Readers won’t be able to put it down as they begin to unravel the mystery of Filmington, Jimmy Jangle and the Fly Papers.

Reviewed by Tierney Reardon.

Comments off

Gathering Ideas for writing

How does an author gather ideas?

How does a poet gather ideas?

My answer:

We look and observe, capture a tiny detail, embroider it

look at it from a different angle, then surprise the reader and ourselves.

I use exercise books like this to keep all my ideas together:

Image

I always write the date in, I jot down a thought, a sight, a little treasure of a word, or a sudden idea.

(or even the complete poem)

If I don’t write it down straight away it goes away never to return.

Here is a suggestion for you to begin your own ‘ideas’ book.

Try keeping an ideas book each day for a week.

  1. Just write down a conversation that was funny or unusual you were a part of or overheard.

Here’s an example:

While on a walk recently  I overheard these comments:

‘I bet a thousand dollars…’

 

‘It’ll make you dizzy.’

 

‘But then you would never…

These fragments could become part of a story, or a poem or lead to more ideas.

2.  Just write down a few words about what was happening in your world, even the weather.

3.  Even a quick sketch of your pet and a few words about what they like to do best.  Sketching and writing is a great idea.

For my latest collection of poetry ‘Guinea Pig town and other poems about animals’ Walker books, I was able to observe animals and then write from this.  Taking a photograph to look back later was great also.

Here are two photos of two animals.  Both were in London and both are the subjects of poems in my book.

Image

Image

If you are able to look in a copy of ‘Guinea Pig town and other Animal poems’ then look up:

‘A big bathroom’

‘Flamingos’

Then you can see the finished poems.

What do you like to write about?  I’d love to hear from you.

Lorraine M

Comments (5) »

%d bloggers like this: