Archive for Books

We Are Moving!

The Christchurch Kids Blog content will be moving to our new Christchurch City Libraries website.  We won’t be using this blog any more but you will still be able to read our posts about children’s books, authors and writing on our new website.  You will also still be able to have your say and let us know what you think.

If there is anything that you would really like to see on our new website for kids please post a comment and let us know.

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We are moving!

The Christchurch Kids Blog content will be moving to our new Christchurch City Libraries website.  We won’t be using this blog any more but you will still be able to read our posts about children’s books, authors and writing on our new website.  You will also still be able to have your say and let us know what you think.

If there is anything that you would really like to see on our new website for kids please post a comment and let us know.

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Star Author: Barbara Else – How is The Volume of Possible Endings different from the first two Tales?

This third Tale of Fontania is another stand-alone novel. Some of the characters from the first two come back into it. But the main character, Dorrity, is new. So is the other important character, Metalboy. I like to have new main characters each time because that means there is an interesting (I hope) new story to be told even though it is set in the same fantasy world.

This time, there is another difference too. In The Travelling Restaurant and The Queen and the Nobody Boy the characters left home and went on an adventure. With this third one, I wanted to explore the place the novel started. It’s set mostly in Owl Town on the edges of the Beastly Dark, a great forest in the south-west of Fontania. It seems a fairly ordinary place at first, where life always goes on in the same sort of way. But there is only one child in the whole town. That’s odd. And there is a lot more going on than the child, Dorrity, realises. I wanted to find out what lived in the Beastly Dark.

I also wanted to figure out what King Jasper might have invented next. In The Queen and the Nobody Boy, he has only recently invented message birds. But that is five years before the story of Dorrity and Metalboy. What would Jasper have invented by now?

Though I’d had great fun writing the travel adventure stories of the first two novels, this time it was a change to ‘stay put’ and make the story a different sort of adventure that happens exploring pretty much one place.

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The Best and Worst Children’s Books of 2014

Cover of the song of the kauriThe end of the year is approaching and that means it’s time to evaluate the best and worst of 2014’s crop of children’s books. Hosted by Christchurch City Libraries, in conjunction with the Canterbury Literacy Association, the Best and Worst Evening is a Christchurch literary tradition. 2013’s event was so popular the event has been moved to the larger venue of Upper Riccarton Library.

Speakers include Bob Docherty (children’s book guru and renowned promoter of reading and literacy for kids), Kirsten Smith (Kaitakawaenga – Ngā Ratonga Māori at Christchurch City Libraries) and a kids-eye-view from Briana.

Our annual Holiday Reading list will also be officially announced on the night. Holiday Reading is a recommended selection of new titles added to Christchurch City Libraries in 2014 and includes picture books, chapter books, young adult and non-fiction titles.

Come along this Wednesday night (19 November) to Upper Riccarton Library, 7pm. Bring a gold coin for refreshments and early Christmas raffles.

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Star Author: Barbara Else – Where do the ideas for stories come from?

Answer: ideas come from everywhere and anywhere. The first idea for The Volume of Possible Endings came from a fairy tale. It isn’t one of the best known ones, but I’d been interested by it since I was about ten or eleven. It’s a story of a girl who has either six, seven or twenty-one brothers depending on which version of the story it is. A wicked witch changes all the brothers into swans and the spell can only be broken if the girl sews shirts for them all. I remember thinking what a lot of work that would have been – especially if it was twenty-one brothers. She didn’t have a sewing machine, either. It all had to be done with a needle and thread. Yikes. What really grabbed my interest was how much she must have loved her brothers.

But of course, it would have been hard work for me as well to manage twenty-one brothers in a story. I decided that three brothers would be plenty for my story, thanks. And – this isn’t a spoiler – the brothers in this novel don’t get turned into swans. But there is magic involved, and magical wickedness.

Anyway, maybe there’s an idea here that you could use for writing one of your own stories. In fairy stories you never get a lot of information about how the characters feel. They just do things, or things just happen to them. So why not start thinking about why the characters in a fairy story come to do whatever it might be. How do they actually feel? Choose a fairy tale you especially like, say, Red Riding Hood. Why would a mother could send her precious child into a forest all by herself? Does Red Riding Hood really want to go into the forest? Or, think about how the wolf feels. For instance, how long is it since he had a good dinner? Or is he just a greedy-guts? Or a bully and a show-off? Could you tell the story from his point of view? That might be fun.

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Meet our November Star Author – Barbara Else

Our wonderful November Star Author is New Zealand author Barbara Else.  Barbara is an author of books for children and adults, an editor, agent, and was a judge for this year’s New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults.  She has edited several collections of children’s stories, including Great Mates and Hideous and Hilarious.  Barbara’s latest novels for children, The Travelling Restaurant, The Queen and the Nobody Boy and The Volume of Possible Endings, are set in the Land of Fontania.

Thanks for joining us Barbara!  We look forward to hearing all about your books and your writing.

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Final blog

Good morning from our Rome Hotel.  I was thinking this morning at breakfast what would be in the last blog and when should I do it!  Well today is the day!  I am packed and waiting for David and Amelia to finish their packing.  Its always a little challenging.  You need to  think and  pack, in such a way, to meet the requirements of the airline.

So we are off to Hong Kong today before heading back home.   I will leave you with some wise words from Amelia.

Amelia’sl Shopping Questions:

Do I want it?

Do I need it?

Will I use it?

Will it help me with anything?

Can it make my life easier?

Is it good quality?

Will MUM buy it for me?

____________________

Her list made me smile.

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Rome Summary

As I look out the window from our hotel I see tour buses; walking tour groups; people rushing here and there; tourists looking at maps; motorbikes; push bikes; parked cars in every spot; local buses; police cars – everything that makes this a busy city.

Can you guess what we did with 30,000 other people today.  We have sore feet and are all happy to have some relaxing time. Have you guessed?  Yes we went to the Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel (not the 16 Chapel someone in Amelias class said it was called),  St. Peter’s Basilica and St. Peter’s Square.  We went with a tour to skip the line entrance which was a long line when we got there.  After the tour we decided that we should take the opportunity to go up in the Dome.  Amelia was unimpressed with the time it took us to line up move forward.  The thought of walking up 320 steps after 3 solid hours of walking around was not exciting Amelia.  I promised the biggest gelato we could find at the end.

We found a nice restaruant for lunch and a refreshing glass of beer.  Arriving home to our hotel at 4.15 – a very full on day.

So packing, dinner and early night and we will be on our way to Hong Kong.  We will sleep well tonight even though I dislike the bed here. It is far to hard for my liking.

You might remember we were getting back here to the hotel in central Rome on Friday night.  So the weekend was full of walking with Margaret and visiting lots of sites.  So many photos were taken and there was lots of gazing at marble and granite and  battling thru 1/2 of the world’s population at places like Trevi fountain, the Pantheon & the Spanish Steps.  Both David and Margaret proved that their navigational skills need upgrading. Often walking in a direction other than where we ought to have been. Amelia to her credit just kept on walking and there was no complaints.

We bused to  our Saturday night dinner with Margaret’s familly.  Nigel cooked us a great meal of pasta with wild boar sauce, the meat with bitter broccoletti (didn’t enjoy that) and peas.  Isalena  had made pameir biscuits with fruit salad  and Amelia said homemade  ice cream was better than the expensive bought stuff.  Nigel took us high up on the roof and we saw all the major icons at night.  St Peters had singing and it was magical to hear it.

Sunday’s was another feast all cooked on the BBQ;  lamb, veal ribs, peppers,potatoes, and very long beans.  Isalena had been up early and  made lemon slice (we now have the receipe).  Phillipa (varsity mate of Nigel’s – lives in Perugia) brought pinenut biscuits.  As Margaret said we were still at the table at 5 pm; all quite memorable. It was a beautiful calm day,  perfect for sitting on the terrace.

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Rome – Naples – Pompeii — Sorrento – Capri – Positano – Rome

Good afternoon – message coming to you from our hotel in Sorrento.

We had our first day in Rome (Tuesday I think) with our own personal tour guide.  David’s cousin Margaret is visiting Rome to see her daughter and her family.  She had the day to be with us and it was amazing the things she could point outto us and the stories she could tell Amelia. Amelia is like a sponge soaking up the history and lucky we have a few more days in Rome as we have some biggies to do!

After four hours solid walking we stopped for lunch and then Margaret showed us whichbus stop to get off at for our hotel.  I had to push through many people to get off I did say excuse me but don’t think anyone understood.

So Wednesday morning with a 6.00am wakeup call we were checked out and waiting for the tour bus to collect us.

YES we were joining a tour for the first time on our trip and we were not sure how we would go with that.  By 7.15 David was back inside and asking reception of our hotel to ring and find outwhere they were.  They said they would send a taxi.  On arrival the taxi driver asked wherewe were going and we showed him the address.  He could not work out where to take us.Thankfully he was able to ring his office and we got on the bus and were on our way toNaples.  A highlight was seeing so many policemen and women around waiting forsomeone to come.  I asked who was coming but they didn’t have English and my Italianis not the best!

Next stop lunch and a drink before we toured Pompeii.  This buried city is  amazing and Ameliawas able to remember her year 4 learning.  If I remember correctly, 22,000 escaped and4000 were buried alive.  It was heart wrenching to see the Mother that laid over her baby for protection.  The ancient Roman city was destroyed by the eruption of ‘Mount Vesuvio in79 BC and buried it in stones and ash.  4-6 metres.

From Pompeii it was to our hotel in Sorrento.

Day two – picked up and taken to the ferry to Capri.

Marco our super Italian guide gave us instructions to be the first off the ferry.Stay down the back.  Following instructions. We all did what we were asked and thatenabled us to get on to our waiting boat and make our way to the Blue Grotto.We were going “grotting” – that is what David called it – a new word.Anyway, into little boats in fours we waited a short time and entered into a magicalplace.  This is very much a weather permitting activity and we learnt no one got through the next day.

Visited the Augustus Gardens and had free time to meet up again.The Spanish speaking people (3 in toal) ruined our guides day.  We waited forty-five minutes.  Missed our bus and had to get another one andmissed our lunch slot.  Got on the ferry to return and still no sign of the 3 people.Everyone knows Marco and he left heaps of messages trying to find them.

Day 3 – the 3 of us caught a local bus and went to  Positano, a town on the Amalfi coast. Spectacular road carved ito the cliffs.Caught the bus back and had lunch and cruised the shops of Sorrento,

Here we are waiting to do a few pickups of people and transfer back to Roma.

POSTSCRIPT – late into our hotel  9.15pm.

Long story.

 

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SANTORINI

Quiz question:  Where in the world do churches and buildings have blue domes?

Answer: Santorini

That was apparently a question Amelia was asked as a part of a classroom quiz during the third term.  Amelia was able to tell her team members because she was coming here.  The schools are now on holiday in New Zealand and it will be Monday when you read this.  I find it interesting that Amelia is the only child here on holiday.  She gets more than her share of double takes.

Amelia  is now over us taking her photo.  It was to be expected as David and I are having an undeclared competition with our new cameras who can get the best photos.  Don’t tell him, but he is winning as my camera has a little time delay and I sometimes miss that opportunity and in real life you cannot go back and say do that again.

Like this morning a bus wanting to turn into a narrow one way street in Thira.  Some foolish driver had parked with hazard lights on and left the car in the way of the turning bus.  Yesterday seeing a bride rushing down a little road.  This is the get married and have your photos taken in the Greek Islands place to be.  Seeing a group of donkeys walk up the path.  Another blue dome and another ice cream with Amelia having it all round her mouth.

We have had a car so we have been able to get around.  We have explored the prehistoric settlement of Akrotiri at the southern end of the island of Thera.  This is where the city whose ruins can be seen by the modern vistor dates from the first phase of the Late Bronze Age (1650-1500 BC). Finds discovered in the earlier levels of the dig indicate that the site was continuously inhabited from the Middle Neolithic period (that is the middlfe of the 5th millennium BC).  Earthquakes and a volcanic eruption over the different periods of time has seen it damaged and burried under the mantle of pumice and volcanic ash, which have preserved it for posterity.  The part they have unearthed is covered in a huge building and there is many years of work ahead of them to unearth the entire 1.2 hectare area.

We walked last night to the Pyrgos Tavern and Restuaruant for dinner last night.  Very nice and back to our hotel before dark.  You really don’t want to be walking along two way roads here in the dark – far to dangerous with tourists  from many countries driving cars and quad bikes.  More than once we have seen a close call and had a driver driving at us over the centre line.

We have of course driven to Oia for the recommended sunset views.  We went early and found somewhere to sit down for a drink and made a booking on their rooftop for dinner.  We then wandered along the narrow little alleys and admired the best Oia had to offer.  Amelia told me everytime I picked up something – what do you want that for.  David much to her disgust purchased a fridge magnet with the water and blue domed buildings.  Its probably good that we are challenged by having no room in our bags so it is easy to say lovely but no can’t take that home.

Oh by the way the sunset was not particularly good and the next night we saw an impressive sunset from the restauruant in our hotel.

The highlight for David would be the day  we went out sailing.  There was 4 Australian’s; 3 Kiwis (thats us) and the two sailing hosts – Greeks.  It was a five hour sail and were shown the major points of interest and learnt about how the Vulcano had created the caldera and Islands.  We were taken to a little bay where a man lives in isolation.  We donned life jackets and swam around into an area where the water was warmer and it is heated from the gases from the volcano.   it was smelly because of the sulphur. We were laughing and all agreed that we would be swimming fast back to the boat if it suddenly got very hot.

We moved to another spot and Amelia and two others went snorkelling and saw small fish.  Back on board we were shown a ship wreck underneath us, and Amelia steered the boat.  A very nice day.  Oh and a wonderful lunch on board!

Off to Rome in the morning.

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ATHENS to SANTORINI

We had a flying visit to Athens.

Let me explain.

We had a 6.00am wakeup call on Monday and flew to Athens and arrived at our accommodation about 3.00pm.  We went looking for lunch/dinner and went to a restaurant close by that our driver had told us about.  Said it was “Greek food just like his Mother made and cheap.”   We were waved in and a white paper table cloth was put on our table.   The economy has been challenged so we asked what he recommended and made our selections.  The Greek salad was lovely but the rest can be described as ok.

Our hotel was well placed in the heart of Athens and only steps away from the New Acropolis Museum and The  Acropolis that is pearched on the hill.  We walked up the hill and made our way to entrance way.  Got tickets for the next morning and climbed up some very slippery rocks to take photos along with heaps of others and by now it was 8.15pm.  Made our way down the hill to beds.  Night owls and good books on kindles makes for a late night.

6.00am wake up call for the second morning saw us eating breakfast at 7 and heading to the Acropolis for an 8.00 am opening.  Interesting opportunity for 100E we could have had a guided tour.  Very persistent lady came back at us with a offer of 50E – she was going to find another couple.  A case of indecision do we wait or do we go and we went.  Lucky we did!

I failed to mention last night we saw the guards arrived to guard the Acropolis.  Being their at the opening allowed us to see the guards leaving with much stamping of their feet coming down stairs and stamping.  I was told to get out of the way and I was somewhat offended as I had no intention of staying where I was.  Lots of photos and then heaps more photos of the sacred rock that for many centuries has been the most important religous centre of the city of Athens.

Choose the right exit and you see and learn so much more.

Heading to The Museum we had a plan.  We purchased tickets and left to explore more of Athens.  Decision to go on the Sunshine Express by train (not a train on tracks) and we the other important sites.  It was an on-off train but on limited time we stayed on for the full 40 minutes.  A short walk and final pack and storage of bags.

We eventually came across the Smile Family Restaurant for lunch.  It was our intention to head there but a wrong turning had us lost and we were delighted to sit down and drink and eat.  For .50E we could have decorated a stone and left it with their collection.  Might post photos on their Facfebook page when we get home.

The Museum was next and sitting watch the video on The Acropolis was very enlightening.  A wonderful musuem and Amelia recognised that Jack in her class would love to have been experiencing the days visits.

An ice cream and we were waiting for our transfer to the airport.

Yes Santorini we are on our way.  A short flight with Aegean air and had to pay 75E for our bags and thinking it is strange that wasn’t done online as it would have been only $45E,  We were squashed into buses and  poor Amelia was somewhat challenged being on the shorter side.  They bus you from the plane to the arrivals lounge.  Waiting for the bags is challenging at best and Amelia was pleased to finally get her bag she did a victory dance.

The outlook from our hotel is stunning and the pool very inviting.

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Derek Landy talks about The Dying of the Light

Check out these videos of Derek Landy talking about the final Skulduggery Pleasant book, The Dying of the Light.  Derek Landy is coming to Christchurch on Thursday 2 October and you can meet him.  Read our post about Derek’s tour to find out all about it.

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Amelia’s holiday Part 1: LA

Hello!

It’s Amelia here.

Today we are on our second day in LA. We are currently sitting in our hotel room regrouping from our adventures during the day, but back to that later.

 

We first boarded a plane to Auckland and during that flight I spent the majority of the time staring out the window. We were delayed slightly and after we landed in Auckland they had to hold the plane to LA as a lot of passengers on our flight were transferring to the LA flight. The plane we were on was quite large and held a large amount of passengers. There were screenss to watch movies & TV on which were well used b myself. I watched Malifecent, Divergent, and Percy Jackson and the lightening theif, which were all great. I got a fairly good amount of sleep on that flight, although it was rater broken sleep. The flight took roughly 11 hours and we landed in LA at about 7:30 NZ time/ 12:30 LA time. We took a while to get out of the airport and got to our hotel a few hours later.

 

After we had unpacked we went across the street to a cafe where we had late lunch/early dinner and afterwards had icecreams. I had this absolutely delicious Oreo thing and I am rather jealous that we don’t have then in NZ. We all slept very well after our tiring day of flights and such, my mum did most of all.

 

In the morning we got up and went to the same cafe for breakfast. I had some chocolate chip pancakes that were scrumptious. After breakfast we set off for Disney Land, conviniently located just across the street fr our accomodation. We first went up Tarzan’s Treehouse in Adventureland. It was quite cool to go around it like that, although I got rather startled by a model tiger that I wasn’t really expecting. We then walked further through Adventureland and went on a Pirates Of The Carribean boat thingy (I forgot the name :/ ). I spent the majority of the ride with my eyes closed even though it wasn’t a particularly scary ride because of my automatonophobia (Fear of Mannequins). Further on in Adventureland I got my picture taken with Tigger and Winnie the Pooh ^-^ which sadly I can’t put up due to technical difficulties *sighs*. In Tommorowland I bout some Minnie Mouse ears out of the huge variety they sold. We wandered around the other lands and had some food along the way then left the park for a few hours as we were actually pretty tired from walking around in the heat all day. I still cannot fathom how it’s always so warm here, I think these people are wizards O.O .

 

After a nice long swim and some sitting around in our hotel room we went back in for the parade at 7. We first had dinner at a place just outside Frontierland which was very filling. We sat along the main street for the parade and had to get there about half an hour earlier to secure a place to watch. By the time the first float came out the footpaths were chock full of people, but the crowd was worth it for the awesome parade. After the parade we all had icecreams and walked back to the hotel.

 

Overall, my thoughts on LA are:

  • It’s so big!
  • It’s so warm!
  • It’s so loud!

That’s it for now guys, i’ll hopefully be back to blog tomorrow, although that may change.

~Amelia

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Meet Derek Landy in Christchurch this October

We’re excited to announce that Derek Landy, the author of the brilliant Skulduggery Pleasant series, is coming to Christchurch on Thursday 2 October.  Derek is coming to promote the release of the final Skulduggery Pleasant book, The Dying of the Light, at the Riccarton Primary School hall at 5:30pm on Thursday 2 October.  Not only will you have the chance to get your books signed, you can also hear him talk about his books and ask him your burning questions.  There will also be the chance to win some awesome prizes for those who come dressed as their favourite Skulduggery character.

In the lead up to Derek’s visit we’ll be featuring some videos of Derek talking about the ending of the series. You’ll also have the chance to win a copy of Armageddon Outta Here, the new Skulduggery Pleasant short story collection.

For details about the event and to get tickets check out the poster below.

 Derek Landy poster

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Flight of Fantasy

dappled annie and the tigrish coverKia ora! On the cover of my book Dappled Annie and the Tigrish you can see the tigrish flying. You can’t? Are  you sure? Check out the word ‘Tigrish’ …. anything there?

Ah yes, the tiger stripes (they’re lovely to stroke too when you hold the cover), and what’s that slipstream effect  on the page, wooshing silkenly past the ‘grish’ of ‘tigrish’, in front of Annie and into the hedge? That, my friends,  is the tigrish.

There are illustrations inside the book, too – by illustrator Annie Hayward – but nowhere do you see the lovely  tigrish. Not even a peek. Okay, maybe a feather. You see Annie  Hayward and Gecko Press and myself decided  we’d prefer to leave the reader to imagine the magical, glowing  tigrish all for themselves.

When I started writing Dappled Annie, I knew I wanted to have a large magical creature in it. Why? Because I  love characters like the Luck Dragon in Neverending Story and Aslan in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.  And because my daughter, Issy, loved the dragon in Cornelia Funke’s Dragon Rider, and because I know so    many young readers like my niece Libby and goddaughter Daisy who love love love stories with animals in  them, and even better if the animals are kind, magical creatures  that befriend the main character who might be  called  Issy or Libby or Daisy or Annie …  all well and good, but there don’t seem to be enough of such stories.

So somehow, as happens when you write, the tigrish appeared in my story. I can’t even remember how I came by the name. I guess he brought it with him. I didn’t intend for him to fly, but when I was talking to Annie Hayward about him (we talked a lot as I wrote the book), she said, ‘Of course he flies.’

Annie’s like that, she lives in the world of the imagination, and flying, magical creatures are as real to her as her pet dog, Ruby. In fact, I started writing Dappled Annie because I saw a painting Annie did of some magical hedges, and then it seemed absolutely right to call the main character Annie.

So should the tigrish fly? I didn’t even have to think about it. Of course the tigrish flew! And what fun it was to write. Not only do people love big, kind, magical creatures in stories, they also love when anything and anybody flies! Think of characters like Peter Pan and Mary Poppins … and on to the Luck Dragon and beyond.

I had to think hard about how the tigrish would fly – would he have wings all the time or just when he flew? how would he take off from the ground with them? how would the children hang on? what would they feel up there? what would they see? This is the fun of being an author, answering questions that only your imagination can answer.

I am going to invite a bunch of children at Wellington’s Capital E to give it a go over the holidays with me. I’m running a writing class on October 9 called Flight of Fantasy where 8-10 year olds will work with me to invent their own flying creature and write a story around it. I am very very excited about this. Read about it here. 

Meanwhile, here’s a taste of the tigrish taking off for the first time, with Annie (9) and her brother Robbie (4) on his back. They’re scared because they don’t know what’s happening. The tigrish has run through Annie’s garden and is leaping over the fence into the field beyond  … and beyond that are the Giant Woods …

Landing on the other side of the fence, there was no heaviness or jolting—the tigrish just seemed to glide into the grass, and the grass let him in.

Annie leaned over to see, and when she did, she tipped slightly and her hands slipped, and Robbie gripped, and she had to sit up quickly to keep balance. She held more tightly to the fur. That’s funny, she thought, is it softer? It was thicker around the shoulders, anyway, but now it was as if her hands were sinking into a feather quilt. She stared at the golden back with the slashes of black across it like black crayon, and the way the fur fell away in long sweeps, flaring out on either side of the powerful shoulders like…she cried out. Wings! The tigrish had wings!

The great creature tensed its muscles and released them, and two enormous dappled wings—muscle by muscle, feather by feather—unfolded. Then the tigrish leapt forward—no, lifted off into the afternoon.

“Fly-ing!” yelled Robbie. He sounded excited now.

Annie shut her eyes. She could feel the air rushing past and around her like the windy days when she walked the hills with her dad. And she could feel the muscles of the tigrish tense and release each time the wings lifted and fell. Such a strong wide back.

Flying! Was there anything else like it? Slowly, she opened each eye.

 

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Meet our September Star Author – Mary McCallum

Our super September Star Author is Mary McCallum.  As well as an author Mary has worked as a creative writing tutor, a bookseller, book reviewer, broadcast journalist and television presenter.  Mary’s first children’s book, Dappled Annie and the Tigrish was published earlier this year.

Thanks for joining us Mary!  We look forward to hearing all about your book and your writing.

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Get writing, with a little help from your friends

My first blog post was about daring to start writing. My second – about how I get inspired (and giant moons). Number three was the top three questions I get asked about writing.

And my last one? This post is about carrying on writing, even when it gets hard. And asking for help.

I’m working on my sixth edit of my fifth story at the moment. Yes, you heard me right – the sixth edit!

This story is 60,000 words long, and I’ve read every one of those 60,000 words over and over, tinkered and played with them, rearranged them, changed them … then started the whole process all over again. Six times in a row.

And it’s still not quite ready to send to a publisher. Before I do that, I’ll ask two clever friends who love words as much as I do to read my story too. They’ll notice things I don’t, and give me advice about ways I can tweak my book to make it even better. Plus they’ll spot the odd word that’s spelled wrong or any words I’ve put in the wrong order too.

So, if you’ve got the writing itch, hitch up your determination, find some clever friends to go on the journey with you, and get writing. It’s worth it – I promise!

Bye for now,

Juliet

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Top three questions kids ask me about writing

Hi all,

I’ve been doing a few school visits lately (which I love!) so today’s blog post is a hit-list of the top three questions I get asked by the kids I’ve been talking to.

Plus I’ve squished in another Storylines shout-out at the very end 🙂

What made me decide to become a writer?

I’ve wanted to write for as long as I can remember, in large part inspired by my love of Margaret Mahy’s stories – in particular her young adult books. In addition to adoring Mahy, I come from a family of writers, bookworms and crossword fanatics, so escaping the call of writing would have been hard. Despite all this, I managed to put off doing anything about it for several years. I was terrified I’d be terrible. I finally got brave enough to try writing a story when I took a year off work after having my first daughter.

What is a typical writing day for me?

I don’t really have a typical writing day. My husband and I have two preschoolers and we both work full time. I write whenever and wherever I can – but most often on the couch at night after we’ve got the kids off to bed. I’ve written in lots of odd places though – in the car, in parks, in supermarket car parks, in cafes, on the waterfront, in spare meeting rooms at work … generally wherever I can find five spare minutes when I’m not doing something else. If I get stuck I go for a walk – that’s when I do my best writing by far.

What do I enjoy most about writing?

I love it when my characters surprise me by doing or saying unexpected things – it’s like they come to life. I love playing with words too, and it’s a wonderful feeling when my writing flows, in contrast to the opposite feeling when it’s like I’m wading through a puddle of glue.

I get really excited when I start thinking about new story ideas. Other authors have made me laugh out loud, get mad, or burst into tears. I love the idea that the more stories I write, the better I might get at moving my readers, just like other authors have inspired me.

Then here comes the Storylines shout-out bit – the Wellington Family Day was AMAZING! If you like reading and writing, make sure it’s on your agenda for next year if you didn’t make it this time around … and if you’re in Auckland or Northland, go check it out this weekend!

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Meet your favourite authors, illustrators and storytellers!

I’m going to be one of many authors, illustrators and storytellers at the Storylines Festival Family Day in Wellington this weekend.

These free family days are great fun. It’s a chance for you to meet writerly types and listen to magical stories. Plus there are fun competitions to enter too.

So come along and join in the story fun. There are family days being held in Wellington, Dunedin, Christchurch, Whangarei and Auckland. 

Find out more about Family Days at the Storylines website.

Talk more soon 🙂

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Get set for super (duper) perigee moon!

Guess what? This year, there will be not one, not two, but three perigee supermoons. The first happened in April. The next is due early morning Monday 11 August, and the third will happen in November.

Which begs the question, what is a perigee moon, and why on earth did I end up with one in my book about Tilly Angelica, The Night of the Perigee Moon?

A perigee moon is when the moon is at its closest point to us here on earth. A supermoon is when the full moon and perigee happen together. Because it’s so close, and it’s the full moon, it looks amazing. Big, golden and HUGE. You can read more about supermoons here.

And a perigee moon ended up in my book because I happened to go stand on my back doorstep one night and saw one staring back at me. I was so taken with it that it ended up in my story.

That’s how I find my stories come together. I settle on a central idea, and then all sorts of other funny everyday events and happenings end up bossing their way in too.

When I started writing my book, I had no idea that a supermoon would end up being central to the story. That’s one of the things I love about writing – it’s an unfolding surprise, with moons, stars and all sorts of other enchantments wrapped up in it.

Now, go check out that moon!

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