Archive for Science Fiction

Drawing mutant carnivorous plants: a chat with Sabrina Malcolm

How do you turn ordinary looking plants into walking, talking mutants? That’s what the wonderful illustrator Sabrina Malcolm has to do in The Fly Papers books. I asked her a bit more about how …

sabrinaWhen you start coming up with ideas for turning particular carnivorous plants into sentient mutants – what are some of the things you think about?

Sabrina: I always need to think about how the creature will move around, and how it will perform whatever actions are required by the story. Dion’s roots, for example, became his way of getting around; and his traps came in handy for things like opening louvre windows.

The eyes have always been particularly important, because they’re one of the most important ways of showing the creature’s thoughts and emotions. Other parts of the creature can be helpful with that, too — for example, Dross’s leaves can look bedraggled, or lively and excited; and similarly with his eye stalks.

Of course, these things are always decided in consultation with the author and designer!

dionDo you use real plants or photos for reference (or both)?

Sabrina: I use real plants when I can, but photos can be useful too, especially if I’m drawing while a plant has died down for the winter. Venus flytraps, for example, can look very poorly during the winter months.

How do you make the plants’ eyeballs express emotion?

 Sabrina: Eyelids are the crucial thing: without them, it’s much harder to show emotion. They can take on some of the job of eyebrows — pulling down for a frown, narrowing together to show suspicion, or rolling right back in fear.

The eye stalks can be helpful, too — if they’re rearing back, it can convey fear, and lunging forward can show aggression.

Okay, if you were Bette Noire – and you could create a mutant plant or animal in your lab – what might it be?

 Sabrina: A cow with cheesecake-flavoured milk. Oh, and edible brussels sprouts.

 

Sabrina is the illustrator of all The Fly Papers books, and also an author. Last year she wrote and illustrated a beautiful picture book: Blue Moon Bird.

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W.A.R.P.: The Reluctant Assassin book trailer

The reluctant assassin is Riley, a Victorian boy who is suddenly plucked from his own time and whisked into the twenty-first century, accused of murder and on the run. Riley has been pulled into the FBI’s covert W.A.R.P. operation (Witness Anonymous Relocation Program). He and young FBI Agent Chevie Savano are forced to flee terrifying assassin-for-hire Albert Garrick, who pursues Riley through time and will not stop until he has hunted him down. Barely staying one step ahead, Riley and Chevie must stay alive and stop Garrick returning to his own time with knowledge and power that could change the world forever.

If you’re a copy of Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl series you need to grab a copy of The Reluctant Assassin, the first book in Eoin’s new W.A.R.P. series.  Reserve your copy at the library now.

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Mirror, Mirror

 

AshleighIn Year 9 at Katikati College, Ashleigh Templeton likes to draw, play hockey and squash, and read vampire stories.  It turns out Ashleigh’s also a pretty good writer, winning the Year 8 section in last year’s Beyond This Age national writing competition with her fantasy suspense story, Mirror Mirror, which is to be released this week in Beyond This Age a collection of science fiction, fantasy and horror stories by New Zealand intermediate students.

Initially, Ashleigh’s story started out as something the class was doing, part of their school work, but Ashleigh says she took the story home and did lots of work on it, discovering that writing was ‘quite fun.’  That doesn’t mean to say it was easy. Ashleigh admits that she finds finishing stories hard, a problem encountered by many more experienced writers. However she offers this writing tip for other young writers: ‘Put your writing away and think about it for a while, and then come back to it.’

Ashleigh has two younger siblings, a brother and a sister, but she hasn’t included either one of them in her prize-winning story. Instead, in the tradition of famous stories such as Snow White and Alice through the Looking Glass (Lewis Carroll), Ashleigh’s story explores the sinister ‘side’ of mirrors, everyday objects found in almost every room of the house.

‘Mirrors are quite creepy,’ Ashleigh says. ‘I always wonder what’s on the other side of a mirror because you don’t actually know.’

What does she think about the experience of entering a competition for the first time?

‘Entering the competition was amazing – having a story published. It’s amazing having a book finished, something that other people can enjoy.’ Ashleigh says she didn’t have any particular readers in mind – just other kids her age. She’ll says definitely be entering some more competitions. Beyond this age 300 res

 Beyond This Age is a writing competition for intermediate school students held annually in Term 4 with the best stories (chosen by a panel of writers) included in an anthology of the same name.  If you’d to know more about writing competitions for students take a peek on www.youngnzwriters@weebly.com  If you’d like to read Ashleigh’s story and others like it, go to www.oceanbooks.co.nz or ask your librarian for a copy of Beyond This Age.

 

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If you like The 39 Clues you’ll love The Infinity Ring

The Infinity Ring is a new interactive series like The 39 Clues.  It’s one of those books that comes with extra bits and pieces so that you can find out more about the story and the characters.  The Infinity Ring series is all about time travel so you follow the characters through different time periods.  Each book comes with a Hystorian’s Guide, which is your key to unlocking the next adventure in the online game.

Book 1 is called A Mutiny in Time by James Dashner and it’s out at the end of the month. 

History is broken, and three kids must travel back in time to set it right!

When best friends Dak Smyth and Sera Froste stumble upon the secret of time travel — a hand-held device known as the Infinity Ring — they’re swept up in a centuries-long secret war for the fate of mankind. Recruited by the Hystorians, a secret society that dates back to Aristotle, the kids learn that history has gone disastrously off course.

Now it’s up to Dak, Sera, and teenage Hystorian-in-training Riq to travel back in time to fix the Great Breaks . . . and to save Dak’s missing parents while they’re at it. First stop: Spain, 1492, where a sailor named Christopher Columbus is about to be thrown overboard in a deadly mutiny!

Reserve your copy of The Infinity Ring: A Mutiny in Time at the library now.

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The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.

The Hunger Games is the first book in a trilogy, set in a place in the middle of what used to be North America, called Panem. Panem consists of twelve districts, that surround a city called the Capitol. The Capitol is cruel, and has complete control over those who live in the districts.  They keep them from starting a rebellion by forcing each district to provide a boy and a girl from 12 to 18, who are all sent to the Capitol to take part in the Hunger Games, which is a fight to the death in a huge arena. The person who is left alive wins, and lives in glory, fame, and riches from then on. The others all die. The worst part? The districts are forced to celebrate it, and it is made into a television show.  Katniss Everdeen is sent to the Capitol from District 12, taking her sisters place in the games to protect her. She has escaped death before, and is skilled with a bow and arrow, but each of the 24 contestants are all fighting to survive. She will have to make hard decisions to live through the games.

The concept behind the Hunger Games was so original, and I turned the pages especially fast during the middle, when the Hunger Games were actually happening. The description was simple and brief, but the action and dialogue made up for that entirely.
My favourite character was probably Katniss, but I found that by the end of the book, to my greatest surprise, I had become rather fond of Haymitch, who is Katniss’s drunken mentor. I thought that Peeta, who is the boy from District 12, was a little weak, and Katniss was always protecting him, so in a way, he was a bit wimpy.

I am excited to find out what happens next, because by the end of the book Katniss is in quite a bit of trouble. I’m not telling you what happens, though, you’ll have to find that out yourself!

I think that kids from 12 to 15 would like this book the most (although my dad loves the book just as much as I do!). The Hunger Games is also being turned into what is going to be an epic movie.

By Tierney, age 12.

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Six Days book trailer

Six Days by Philip Webb is a very cool book that I’m reading at the moment.  It’s set in a future London where the city is being torn down to hunt for a mysterious ‘artefact’ that is incredibly valuable.  If you like books like The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld then Six Days is the book for you.

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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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