Delighted that The Times has chosen Stinkbomb & Ketchup-Face and the Great Kerfuffle Christmas Kidnap as one of their Books of the Year 2016!
Since my event at Cheltenham, I've also been to the Turn the Page Festival in Totnes, to do an event with the marvellous Mr Tom Morgan-Jones, illustrator of Dinosaurs & Dinner-Ladies, and to The Hague, in the Netherlands, to visit the Kinderboekenmarkt (Children's Book Fair) and the British School. A big hello to everyone I met there!
You didn't nag me!
I've been busy, mind you. Thank you to everyone who welcomed me to West Croft School, Appledore School, Great Torrington Community School, and Barnstaple Library, on my recent trip to the Appledore Book Festival. And thank you to everyone - all 650 of you! - who came to see me at the Cheltenham Literature Festival yesterday!
And now, here's a picture of me and Barbara from Waterstones in a boat at the Cheltenham Book Tent yesterday:
Sorry. I've been a bit rubbish at blogging over the summer. I'm going to try to blog more often this term. Little and often. Shall we say once a week? Feel free to nag me if I forget.
I loved being Patron of Reading at West Earlham Junior School, and I'm very pleased to say that I'm now Patron of Reading at Minchinhampton Primary here in Gloucestershire. And hardly had I become their patron than (a) we started a fab new writing project and (b) some people from the telly came round and filmed us. Here we are:
(I look really tired in this video. Must get to bed earlier!)
I've really enjoyed being Patron of Reading at West Earlham Junior School. But my three years is up, and so just before half term I paid my final visit. It was a fab day, and we finished with a tea party to celebrate the refurbishment of the already really rather wonderful library.
During the day, I visited every class and together we wrote a poem in celebration of libraries and reading, which will be painted on the library wall. Here's me reading it for the first time...
...and here's me tucking into one of the rather tasty ketchup cupcakes.
Big thanks to everyone at West Earlham. It's been great being your patron, and I hope it won't be long before I get to visit the school again.
Really should have blogged about this a couple of weeks ago, but so much has been happening. However, I do want to put just a few things about The Great Cotterill & Dougherty Book Launch Party online!
Now: back to the party. It was great. Jo and I talked about our books; and we sang a few songs; and our editors said some lovely things; and there was CAKE! Oh, my word, so much cake...
My daughter Cara and I worked very hard on the Stinkbomb & Ketchup-Face cakes. The bomb-shaped one (shaped like the bomb in the logo) was made with BLUEBERRY JAAAAMMM!!! while the ketchup-splat one was made with ketchup. Yes, honestly. It tasted surprisingly yummy.
Meanwhile the fabulous Cake Addiction Oxford made us some fantastic lemon meringue cupcakes, and some gorgeous badgery salted caramel cupcakes, and... and now I think I'm just going to show you some photos with helpful explanatory captions where necessary.
Guests at the party included....
Author friends Dan Hartwell & Steve Cole (seen here with the back of someone's head), and Linda Newbery & Mary Hoffman (seen here with Mary's husband Stephen).
All in all, it was a terrific party. Looking forward to the next one already!
If you're doing SATS at the moment, and struggling with concepts like 'modal verbs' and 'subordinating conjunctions', you have my deepest sympathies. Please remember that most people who write for a living have even less idea than you what these things are. And while they may be useful to those who study language for a living, for most of us they're not important at all.
Here's a song I wrote about it. Nicky Morgan is the government minister currently responsible for this nonsense, and Nick Gibb is her right-hand man.
Book birthdays are always nice.
If you've never heard of a book birthday - well, it's the day when your book officially comes out in the shops. And today is the book birthday of Stinkbomb & Ketchup-Face and the Great Big Story Nickers! Written by me, and illustrated as ever by the fabulous and fantastic David Tazzyman, without whom...
In Stinkbomb & Ketchup-Face and the Great Big Story Nickers, those villainous badgers get hold of a copy of Stinkbomb & Ketchup-Face and the Great Big Story Nickers and start mucking about with it. And this causes difficulties - not just for Stinkbomb and Ketchup-Face, but for me, my editor Kathy, and our designer Karen. Because when characters in a story are making changes to that story - some of them quite big changes... Well, it gets complicated.
And as if that wasn't complicated enough, we held a competition. You know those competitions where the winner gets to be in a story? One of those. So there's a young chap called Alfred Kendon-Furtado who keeps popping up and adding to the complications.
But however complicated it gets, it's still an awful lot of fun. Why not get hold of a copy and see for yourself! And to get you in the mood, here's First Draft with the Stinkbomb & Ketchup-Face theme song!
Of course, I'm not the only one having a book birthday today. A glance at my Twitter feed suggests that the first Thursday in May is a very popular publication day, and some of my other author friends have new books to celebrate. I know that the new Young Bond book, Heads You Die, by the fabulous & fun Steve Cole is out today, and School for Dads by the lovely Adam & Charlotte Guillain (and illustrated by Ada Grey) is also in the shops.
Paula Harrison has some very shiny new books out today. And several lovely writers including Susie Day, Elen Caldecott and Sally Nicholls have a collaborative book out - 12 short stories by 12 great authors.
Jonathan Meres is celebrating the publication of his TENTH 'World of Norm' book today!!!
And UPDATE 3;
My lovely friend Cas Lester sees the latest of her Nixie the Bad Bad Fairy books in the shops today, too!
kThanks to Mango Bubbles Boy for commenting on my ChipLitFest post!
This wee I've mainly been getting on with Stuff. Just had a look at the layouts for Dinosaurs & Dinner-Ladies - Tom Morgan-Jones has done some fab illustrations! I'm very excited.
One of the poems in the book, Auntie Fred, is actually a song that I wrote when I was still at school. Here's me, performing it with the rest of First Draft at ChipLitFest last weekend:
Gosh, a whole 10 days since I posted anything. Sorry! But I do have an excuse...
I've been at the Chipping Norton Literary Festival, organising the children's events with my friend Jo Cotterill.
The first thing we did was the festival's biggest author signing! A few months ago, Jo & I went into two Chipping Norton schools - Holy Trinity and St Mary's - and talked with the Year 5 children about some ideas for stories, based on an idea by some guy called William Shakespeare. And then some of the children wrote their own stories, and they got printed up in a book which we launched on Wednesday! Here are some of the books...
...and here are Jo and me and some of the authors at the launch event.
On Thursday came a day of events in schools, featuring some brilliant authors...
...the photo shows (back row) Bali Rai, Adam & Charlotte Gullain, Candy Gourlay, me, our junior reporter Pheebs, SF Said, (front row) Jo, Tamsin Murray, Cas Lester, and schools' coordinator Milly Weaver.
And then we were into a weekend packed full of fantastic events by the likes of amazing authors like Joanna Nadin...
... and for the little ones there were events from Teresa Heapy & Sue Heap, Atinuke, and Paul Stickland
(this is Paul showing his Dinosaur Roar illustrations before doing an amazing pop-up monster workshop).
Oh, and I did an event too. And so did Jo - an utterly fab and hugely entertaining event alongside her Electrigirl partner Cathy Brett...
Cathy & Jo are pictured here with Pheebs and our other junior reporter Mango Bubbles Boy.
Jo and I, along with Paul and his wife Helen, also performed as First Draft. That was fun.
I got to see some events from the grown-ups' programme, too, and hang out with authors like Mark Billingham, and Chris Brookmyre, and Saira off of Masterchef...
And there was a quiz on the Saturday night. Jo and I were on the winning team, along with - among others - novelist and former Blue Peter presenter Janet Ellis.
And that's why I've been too busy to blog for a few days...