Posts tagged dogs

Michael Morpurgo Month – Shadow by Michael Morpurgo

November 2013 sees a month-long celebration of Michael Morpurgo’s wonderful stories, marking his 70th birthday this year.  We’re celebrating by highlighting some of our favourite Michael Morpurgo stories, including Shadow.

Life in Afghanistan is terrifying for Aman and his family and they want nothing more than to escape.  When a Springer Spaniel appears in the mouth of their cave, Aman nurses the dog back to health.  The dog is like a “friendly shadow” that stays with Aman and his family and so he decides to call her Shadow.  When life becomes more dangerous, Aman and his mother leave their home and escape, with Shadow leading the way.

One of the things I like about Michael Morpurgo’s books is that you often get two stories in one.  In Shadow you get the story of Aman and Shadow, but also the story of Matt and his grandfather who fight to free Aman from the refugee detention centre in England.  There are sad things that happen in the story but there are also plenty of good things that happen, like Aman finding Shadow.

This is the perfect book for anyone who likes animal stories, survival stories, and stories about people from other cultures.    Recommended for 9+         10 out of 10

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Scrap – Oh My Dog

Scrap 2In the second of the Scrap series, Scrap starts life with a new team on the hills of Rocky Ridge Station. He’s still got a lot to learn, but at least he knows where his mum is. But to see her he has to get past Buster, the massive team leader, and the man that tried to drown him as a pup.

It’s interesting that every good story has a shape. It builds to a point towards the end of the story, everything depends on that moment and in a good story you never know quite how it is going to turn out.  In this story that high point is pretty scary and you wonder if Scrap will even survive. Can you think of one moment in any story you’ve read where you’ve been so drawn in that you just have to keep turning the pages to find how it all ends?

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Scrap – Tale of a Blond Puppy

Scrap cover 2Hey team – I thought it was time to tell you about Scrap. It’s a series about a blond sheepdog in New Zealand and the first book is about to come out. Poor Scrap is dumped as a tiny puppy before he can see or hear anything. Fortunately he’s rescued and taken to a farm where Bill, a retired heading dog starts to look after him. Scrap doesn’t know anything about being a dog and it’s up to Bill to act as his Mum and teach him about the life of a working dog. While Scrap is full of enthusiasm and has the ‘Eye’ which gives him special power over sheep, he still has a lot to learn. He’s also desperate to find his Mum. It’s a small district and Bill thinks that sooner or later he’s going to come across her. It’s a book that has some serious messages, but it’s also one of the funniest books I’ve written. I thoroughly enjoyed creating it, I hope you’ll enjoy reading it too.

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Interview with Chris Haughton, creator of Oh No, George!

Chris Haughton is the author and illustrator of a very funny new picture book called Oh No, George!  It’s all about a naughty dog who keeps getting into trouble and the story will have you laughing out loud.  I was lucky to have the chance to ask Chris some questions about his new book and his quirky, colourful illustrations.

  • Did you have a dog when you were a kid? If so what was it’s name?

CH: I had 3! Tammy, Tessa and Milly. Tammy was the most like George in personality. She once ate all my Easter eggs.

  • What did you do as a kid that made your parents go, ‘Oh no, Chris!’?

CH: Probably annoying my sister. Maybe running after her around the room in a similar way to George and Cat.

  • While researching the book you watched lots of guilty dogs videos on the internet. What were some of the worst things that you saw dogs do?

CH: I think 90% of them had eaten something. I was just using google images to see their guilty faces so I could draw them but I noticed there was one dog in particular that kept coming up again and again. The guiltiest dog on the internet! I wondered to myself what on earth had this dog done to have deserved such a reputation and that’s when I discovered that video… (http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=B8ISzf2pryI)

  • One of the reasons I love your picture books is because of your bright, bold illustrations. How do you decide what colour pallet to use for your illustrations?

CH: I just work on it as I’m going. I try to make the colours all work with each other and be bright and harmonious but be different enough to provide a bit of contrast and it just happens that it comes out like that. I ignore the ‘real’ colours of the animals and I just use colours in a way that best tells the story. For example the owl is the only thing black against the bright colours of the forest which helps define his shape. George fills so much of the book that he couldn’t be black, I wanted it to be a colourful book and for his shape to be easily recognised so I had him in one block colour which contrasted with the orange background and text. The whites of the eyes (which are the most important thing in every picture) are the only things that are ever white in any of the illustrations.

  • As well as being an author and illustrator you’re also a designer. How does your design work differ from your illustration work?

CH: There is a lot of overlap. A lot of the repeat pattern designs that I have done for dresses and clothes at People Tree have found their way into the forest and colours of A Bit Lost and Oh No, George! I think it’s nice to have a bit of variety between the different work I do because it all fuses together somewhere along the line and it helps keep it fresh in both directions.

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Join us for the Oh No, George! Blog Tour

On Thursday we’ll be joined by a great new author and illustrator called Chris Haughton.  Chris’s new picture book is called Oh No, George and it’s about a very naughty dog.  I got the chance to ask Chris some questions about his new book and his work as an author and illustrator.  You will even have the chance to win a print of one of the illustrations from the book.

Check out this fantastic book trailer for Oh No, George.

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Star Guest – Susan Brocker talks about The Wolf in the Wardrobe

As a writer, I’m often asked where I get the ideas for my stories. The idea for The Wolf in the Wardrobe came from our very special pet dog called Yogi.

My dog Yogi

Now Yogi is a real character. He is a long-haired German shepherd, an impressive looking boy with a shaggy coat and thick mane. Yogi loves playing with kids and near us live four boys who often hang over our fence calling out, where’s the wolf today. Can we play with the wolf? And they’re right; he really does look like a wolf!

So this got me thinking, what if Yogi was really a wolf and not a dog? Imagine the troubles that could bring! So gradually, the idea for a story unfolded of a cheeky boy called Finn who finds an injured wolf who has escaped from a circus. Finn has always wanted a dog of his own, so he decides to smuggle the wolf home and keep her hidden in his wardrobe. But not all goes according to plan. A quirky story of intrigue and adventure unfolds as Finn battles to save Lupa the wolf from the clutches of a creepy clown.

I loved writing this story. It was a lot of fun, especially the bits I wrote about Finn’s wonderful and funny Nana. I also learnt a great deal about wolves and the conservation efforts to save them in the wild. For instance, did you know that wolves now run free in Yellowstone National Park in the United States, and you can visit them there and see them if you’re lucky. I was lucky enough to go there last year just after I finished the book and met lots of amazing wolves. Many of them are rescued wolves like Lupa who now live in sanctuaries where they are safe from poachers and hunters.

I hope you enjoy The Wolf in the Wardrobe as much as I enjoyed writing it!

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Shadow by Michael Morpurgo

Most booklovers know and adore Michael Morpurgo’s work. If you don’t, Shadow is the perfect book to get you started.

This stunning title is about a boy called Aman who is telling his story to his best friend’s grandfather at Yarl’s Wood Detention Centre, along with other Afghani refugees. This is a tale of courage, bravery, and one life-changing dog.

My favourite character was Aman’s mother because she is so incredibly brave and always believing; God is good, God will help us. She is a tremendously important character in the story.

Shadow is definitely a ‘must read’, so I would recommend it to ages 9+ because the reader would then be able to appreciate some of the situations more accurately.

Saoirse, 10

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