Sunday, 26 June 2016

Now that's magic!



This week J.K. Rowling is quoted as saying ‘I don’t think I’ve ever wanted magic more’ and I know there are many people who are in agreement.

So for those of you despairing this week I thought I’d bring you some magic.

We are celebrating one hundred years since Roald Dahl was born here in Wales and I’ve been running events all over the place with some very excellent children who given me hope for the future with their brilliance and their imaginations.

Basing their work on ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ they have come up with some magical recipes of their own.

Running these workshops has filled my days with magic and I wanted to share a bit of it with you if you are feeling a distinct lack of sparkle at the moment.
And if that’s not enough magic for you Sharon Marie Jones’ book 'Grace- Ella Spells for Beginners' is out on September 15th from Firefly Press and has a whole bundle of magical things happening in it.




Grace-Ella is thrilled when a black cat walks through their door. She’s always wanted a pet. But Mr Whiskins has a secret. On the ninth day of the ninth month of her ninth year, he tells Grace-Ella that she is a witch and can start learning magic with the Witches’ Council. Grace-Ella has never been good at school — can she learn to be a good witch? As well as struggling with lessons, Grace-Ella and her best friend Fflur are bullied by star pupil Amelia. The Witches’ Council forbids using magic against anyone. But how else can Grace-Ella protect her friends?


To find out more about Sharon Marie Jones and her writing visit her BLOG or follow her on twitter @sharonmariej
I've been lucky enough to read Grace-Ella's first adventure and I can tell you that it isn't only a magical whirlwind it is also EXTREMELY BRILLIANT!


Saturday, 25 June 2016

A Light in the Darkness by Tamsyn Murray


Here we are.

What I had in mind for today's post was an interesting rumination on Imposter Syndrome - how and why it got its grubby little claws into me, how affects almost all of us. What I didn't expect was how monstrously sickened I'd feel about the events of Thursday 23rd June 2016, so I think that post will have to wait for another time.

At the start of this week, I started to realise just how much of a bubble I live in. My Facebook friends (at least the ones that talk to me) were all voting IN for the EU referendum. All of them - every single lovely, creative, clever person I knew and interacted with each day was open to an inclusive UK in partnership with the EU. Yet the external opinion polls were suggesting a different picture. So either they were lying or Facebook was.

I did an almost unprecedented thing, then: I spoke to a friend who was not a writer or an illustrator or somehow involved in publishing. And she said, "Everyone I know is voting out."

Which kind of suggested I was right about the bubble. And *that* got me thinking about a dystopian story where the population was split into 'Creatives' and 'Non-creatives' - the Creatives being the ostracised underclass and the Non-creatives being the oppressors. In this world, reading and storytelling are crimes, as are painting and music. It seemed pretty apocalyptic to me. But the more I started to think about how hard it would be to live in a world without the arts, the more I realised their importance.

Now - I must stress that this was just me following a story idea (as I am liable to do all the time) and I am not making any kind of comments about people who voted Leave or Remain and their relative creativity - but it occurred to me that the arts have never been more important. They are being denigrated and erased in our schools. They are having their funding cut. They are sneered at by government ministers, who are doing their best to snuff them out entirely. But they are important and those of us who make them need to ensure that we are not discouraged, that we continue with our creative work to shine a light in the darkness. Because two things are certain for the coming months and years:

1) We're going to need a lot of tea,


2) We're going to need art to feed our souls.

Tamsyn's latest book is Tanglewood Animal Park: Baby Zebra Rescue - out 1st July NOW!
Catch her on Twitter: @tamsyntweetie

Friday, 24 June 2016

Pick Yourself Up, Dust Yourself Down (Reality Bites: Part Two) – Liz Kessler

After a night of disbelief and a morning of despair, I am picking myself up and blinking against the sunlight that is poking out from dark clouds after hours of rain.

And, cheeky as it might be, I am taking advantage of this still being my ‘day’ on the ABBA blog to post a Part Two.

There are things I need to say, and I want to say them very clearly.

When more or less half of our country votes one way and half votes the opposite way, neither side can categorise the other with generalised labels or blanket descriptions.

No one will benefit from accusing 17 million or so people of being either ignorant and easily duped or being racist xenophobes. That simply isn’t true and isn’t helpful as a means of going forward. Equally, to gloat in the faces of 16 million or so people who are suffering and despairing is not going to take our country anywhere good.

I personally believe that Nigel Farage is an extremely dangerous man who has somehow been elevated to a position of power and influence by national media outlets that have granted him a generous and comfortable platform which he did nothing to earn. But this does not mean that everyone on the ‘Leave’ side of the vote agrees with or supports him.

His image, as an affable chap who’s in it together with the good, honest, working folk, has been cleverly orchestrated, and he has used scapegoat politics to give people a focus for their dissatisfaction with the status quo. ‘Don’t like what those out of touch politicians are telling you to do? Stand up for yourself – and while you’re at it, here’s some immigrants to blame.’

Yes it sounds simplistic – but it works. It’s worked before and it’s worked here. But we have to recognise that NOT EVERYONE who voted ‘Leave’ agrees with his stance or supports those politics. 

So here’s a challenge.

To those who voted ‘Remain’, let’s shrug off our sadness and shock, and ditch our despair and depression. The vote has happened, and this is where we are. So let’s look around and see how to deal with it. Find allies, keep conversations going, shake hands with people whose arguments we have been opposing for these last few months and let's prepare to work with as many people as we can in order to be part of rebuilding our country - and thus still have some influence in how that rebuilding takes place.

There is nothing we can do to change what has happened, so let’s turn our thoughts to positive action.

And to those of you who voted ‘Leave’ for your own, deeply held reasons and beliefs, and have been angry at being castigated as racist and xenophobic – now is your chance to get out from under that label. Join with those of us on the other side in letting Farage and the rest of them know that you don’t support him. Work with your communities, support the immigrants you say you are not opposed to, and please, please, whatever you do, try not to gloat over your victory.

And yes, even those who are UKIP supporters - I am utterly, utterly opposed to your politics - but the country has taken a vote and it has led us here, and I would rather have conversations in a reasonable and measured way than sling mud at each other across a wall that is so high neither side can see over the top of it.

We are here now. We have to work with what we’ve got, so let’s do it with dignity, compassion, optimism and kindness. 

And maybe when our children grow up and take our world into their hands, there is still a chance that they will look back on these days and be proud – of all of us.

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Reality bites, and it hurts - Liz Kessler

I wrote a post a week ago, which I scheduled for today.

It was about how, whatever happened in yesterday’s vote, I was putting my faith in the future, in children. It was a call to all of us to stand up for goodness and humanity. It was about my belief in the phrase that has been growing in popularity over the last few weeks: ‘Love Wins.’

The only trouble is, love didn’t win. What won was bigotry, intolerance, hatred, racism, ignorance, fear and xenophobia.

And having stayed up half the night watching it all unfold, and having then slept for a few hours and woken up to the results, I am finding it hard to stand by the optimism of that blog, and so this is a very hastily-written post that reflects how I do feel this morning.

I feel upset, horrified, aghast, ashamed, blank, empty, anxious, terrified.

I imagine most – if not all – of what we read, watch on television and talk about today will be about yesterday’s result. It is hard to think about anything else today. And most – if not all – of what we do is going to be about making predictions about the future. It’s going to be a very tough time. Friendships are going to be tested to their limit. Families are waking up to new divisions. Towns torn in half, and a country not only split almost 50:50 down the middle by a vote that in my opinion should never have been put into our hands, but thrown into a level of uncertainty that people of my generation and younger have never seen.

It’s tempting – SO tempting – to express anger towards those who voted ‘Leave’ this morning. Some of us are finding it impossible to resist. I am trying my hardest not to go there. The one bit of the post I’ve deleted that I do stand by is that we must try our hardest to cling to mutual respect, dignity and compassion.

It’s very hard though, because those are the values that ‘Great’ Britain voted against yesterday.

The ‘Leave’ campaign was based on two main strands. One was to do with money. The main point of this strand was a bizarre claim that the UK would somehow magically produce huge amounts of money to put into the NHS if we left Europe.  It’s not even 9am on the morning after as I write this, and ‘Leave’ leaders are already telling us this was a mistake and should not have been said.

Really? You don’t say.

The other main strand to the campaign was around immigration. It would be wrong, dangerous and untrue to say that all those who voted to leave are racist and xenophobic. What is true, though, is that the campaign to leave was focussed hugely on racist and xenophobic principles.

The thing that scares me the most is not the thought of what happens to our trade relations with Europe, scary as that is. It’s not even about financial concerns, scary as they are: the pound has already dropped to its lowest level since 1985.

The thing that scares me so much that this morning that I can barely stop crying is the message that this result has given to Nigel Farage and his ilk.

We have told Farage that he can stand in front of a poster that echoes Nazi propaganda, and get away with it. We have told him that he can stand in front of a camera and say, ‘We will get our borders back. We will get our country back,’ and our national television broadcasters will play his words over and over again without argument. We have legitimised words, actions and ideas that a decade ago would not have been acceptable to say in public.

I am terrified that the historians of the future will look back on these days, and they will be able to plot very clearly, very easily – shamefully plainly – how the UK moved, step by step, into a period of darkness and horror and extreme right wing rule that most of us have not seen.

My dad saw it. He escaped from it in 1938 as an eight-year-old boy. He came to the UK and was given safety; he was given his life. And now his generation were amongst the ones who voted most heavily in favour of leaving. But they weren’t the only ones. Over half the country agreed with them.

So now what do the rest of us do?

Do we just stand by as our country descends into a place divided by bigotry and ignorance? Do we paper over the cracks and do our best to heal the wounds of the last few weeks? Do we suffer on in silence, our heads in our hands, failing to see a way out?

I don’t think we can do that. I don’t think I can.

At this moment, I – like many of us – feel so stunned and shocked that I have no idea what we do, how we bear this, how we move on, how we tackle the coming weeks, months, years. I just know that we have to find a way. We have to stand up, be brave, be proud, be vocal, and ensure that when those historians of the future look back on these days, my fears are proved wrong. We have the responsibility now to ensure that they look at these days, at yesterday’s results, and they note that it was the point where the UK went up to the edge of a cliff – but where the voices of decency, humanity and compassion would not let us take a step over that chasm into the darkness that lay beyond it.

And I’ll tell you where I am managing to find a shred of optimism.

In the statistics that show that it was the younger voters who mostly stood up against the politics of scapegoating, fear-mongering and xenophobia. The ones who mostly voted to remain.

My shred of optimism comes from the fact that these voters are the UK’s future.

Today’s young people are tomorrow’s authors, doctors, teachers, politicians, scientists. They are tomorrow’s world leaders.

And whilst I ponder on that for a moment, ponder on this too: what a privilege to be a writer for children and for young adults.

So yes. Maybe that’s what I can do for now, whilst I work out where else to find a shred of hope. I can keep on writing my books about mermaids who, yes, go on some crazy-ass adventures but who also fight for opposing communities to unite and make peace.

I can continue to write about fairy godsisters who help others to have the confidence to stand up for themselves and not be afraid of who they are. I’ll carry on writing about girls coming out, about teenagers overcoming bullying, pirate dogs making friends with kittens, ponies looking after the chickens. I’ll keep writing my stories, and the underlying messages – of love, tolerance, compassion and unity – will find their way of sneaking into each one.

I will put my faith in young people and continue the privilege of working with and for those who have the future in their hands.

And I’ll hope that these young people will one day realise that this broken world that we are giving them to inherit is a world that they have the power to change, to bring back from the brink, to heal. And that they can do this safe in the knowledge that, whatever happened yesterday, there are plenty of us who will support, help and nurture them every step of the way.

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Thursday, 23 June 2016

Transient Beauty by Steve Gladwin

‘In the midst of life we are in change’.

Tomorrow night in Carrog Village Hall in Denbighshire, I will speak those words at the beginning of the first new show I have performed since 2000. It will be both the culmination of a journey I began seven years ago after my wife Celia’s death, and the beginning of a new phase. It may also mark the beginning of a new phase for Britain, when for good or ill a decision will have been made about our membership of the EU. I am not going to bang on about that now, except to suggest that if we ever have to make such an important decision again, we need to employ some sort of device which makes it impossible for anyone speaking for or against a motion to tell a lie. As has been proved yet again something like our continued EU membership is too important to be left in the hands of people who have a personal investment one way or the other.
When I was invited to write a regular blog for ABBA last September I wondered – I’m sure like many - what I would write about every month. To my surprise it has not been difficult to find subjects which I both feel strongly about and which I hope others might also feel stimulating and/or challenging. So as I’m about to perform a show about change and loss, and by the time I do it, Britain might have suffered a sore one - and might already be adapting to a time of change, that’s what I want to write about
However it’s not the actual change I’m concerned with, so much as that moment of transience when things are on their way to changing. Depending on your point of view, this might be either stimulating or terrifying. I’m sure many of us remember traveling up or down the country in our parent’s car to start our new life at college or university, or the interview that preceded it, or going back even so far as one of our first days at school. Before anything actually starts, there is that moment when anything seems possible – will it go that way or this way, is he or she going to talk to me? In an alternative version of our life things might go entirely differently and wouldn’t it be strange yet someone empowering if this time we were to re-live that moment in an entirely different way?

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

The cultural world is full of such moments of transience but the finest I know is in Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s beautiful poem Silent Noon, which comes from his huge House of Life sequence of sonnets. Speaking as someone who would labour writing any poetry which wasn’t either free verse or tongue or cheek rhyme, I’m impressed by someone who can write even one sonnet, but if you’re going to write just one, you might as well make sure it’s something as memorable as ‘Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day’, or Silent Noon which opens with the line, ‘Your hands lie open in the long fresh grass.’

Lovely as those opening words are, it’s a few lines later that we find the line which for me at least is the image of transience. Never mind that the poem itself evokes a caught moment by two lovers either pre or post love, or that it effortlessly captures those moments of delicious languor that in an ideal, sun dappled past might complement some snatched moments in a golden cornfield. The clincher –for anyone who doesn’t know it, is the way Rossetti talks about the dragon fly.

‘Deep in the sun searched growths, the dragon- fly.
Hangs like a blue thread loosened from the sky..

It’s the placement of that word ‘hangs’ which to me is truly transient – almost  as if it is the dragon fly itself that can control the moment and everything with it. And if that weren’t enough to make any writer gnashingly jealous, Rossetti goes and follows it with this.

‘So this winged hour is dropt to us from above.’

It is almost as if the poet also believes that time has 

been suspended until the

moment the dragon fly’s fall ---

breaks the moment.

When the composer Ralph Vaughan Williams came to set Silent Noon to music in 1903, as the second of his six settings from Rossetti’s House of Life, if anything he understood the idea even better than the poet, for on that word ‘hangs; the singer momentarily ‘hangs’ with the dragon fly, and later drops with awesome power on that ‘winged hour’ It all can only surely go to show how it is so often those small insignificant moments which mark our life or inspire our pen, paint or pencil.

I am going to finish by relating one of these. As long ago as 1982, I put together a book of 12 short stories, one of which was about a lonely old man whose dead wife came back to him in the form of a wren. I didn't do anything with the stories but – as they say – they never quite went away. The wren became - many years later - my totem bird and we still see them often. While Celia was nearing the end of her life in 2006, I had a visitation from a wren on the morning we were due to go and choose her funeral plot at Green Lane Burial Field. In a manner quite unwrenlike and in the presence of both my parents and I, a little wren appeared and began to tap insistently on our glass conservatory door for a good three minutes – time enough for all to see it and remark on how unusual this was.

Tomorrow night a things will come full circle with my telling of a new version of my original wren story, ‘A New Mourning’ as part of my cycle of tales of change, ‘From Raven’s Call to Swallow’s Flight.’ The story hasn’t changed very much, except that now there is also a moment with a barn owl. It is again one of those transient visitations where – late at night, the old man Edwin is awoken by a frenzied tapping. Going downstairs to investigate, he finds this 'ghost owl' outside the kitchen window where the wren will later perch.
But it might never have happened, just as the little wren might never have come and pecked at my glass door. All the stories in my show are in some way about transience and the show itself is another such moment in my life and career. It might just end up being a short series of taps, or a more insistent, more permanent visitation on a window sill!

For now however, in this moment the dragonfly hangs ------


Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Automatic Fiction: Your time is nigh, puny humans. By Dan Metcalf

Fiction is littered with self-aware computers, capable of thought and artificial intelligence: HAL in 2001, Eddie the upbeat computer in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and Holly in Red Dwarf. But in today's world, the increasingly bizarre 21st Century, we now have real computers that can create fiction. Naturally, it's with mixed results.

There are scores of examples of people programming computers to make stories. There is even a competition each year for the coding community to make their own in NaNoGenMo, a light-hearted spin-off from National Novel Writing Month where the aim is to write code that auto-generates a 50,000 word 'novel'. The works produced are unlikely to set the literary world on fire; one is a reproduction of Moby Dick but with the words swapped for the word 'meow' in varying word lengths (EG: 'Call me Ishmael' becomes 'Meow me Meeeeow'.). Another is a repetitious story that tells a story within a story within a story (It was a dark and stormy night, the ship was sinking; "Tell us a story, Captain!" the crew begged. The Captain began: It was a dark and stormy night, etc, etc, etc...).

But every movement starts somewhere; Charles Babbage started with a plan and a bunch of cogs. NaNoGenMo is primarily for amateur and hobbyist coders, who like to produce fun but essentially pointless apps. The real work is being done in computer science labs in universities around the world, most notably the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, where Mark Riedl and colleagues have developed Scheherazade. This program uses AI to research how humans describe actions and then it retells a list of actions it is given in a designated style. For example:
John opened the bank door.
John went in the open bank door.
John looked around the bank.
Sally the bank teller noticed John.
John approached Sally.
Sally smiled at John.
John said hello to Sally.
John told Sally he had a gun.


John took another deep breath as he wondered if this was really a good idea, and entered the bank. John stepped into line behind the last person and waited his turn. When the person before John had finished, John slowly walked up to Sally. The teller said, “Hello, my name is Sally, how can I help you?” Sally got scared when John approached because he looked suspicious. John pulled out a handgun that was concealed in his jacket pocket. John wore a stern stare as he pointed the gun at Sally. Sally was very scared and screamed out of fear for her life. In a rough, coarse voice, John demanded the money. John threw the empty bag onto the counter. John watched as Sally loaded the bag and then grabbed it from her once she had filled it. Sally felt tears streaming down her face as she let out sorrowful sobs. John strode quickly from the bank and got into his car tossing the money bag on the seat beside him. John slammed the truck door and, with tyres screaming, he pulled out of the parking space and drove away.
Which, I think you'll agree, is fairly impressive for a heap of silicon chips.

It doesn't stop at books either. Artificial Intelligence is being used to write tweets, music, create art and write screenplays (which explains a lot about the current state of Hollywood cinema). The results are again underwhelming. Take a look at the film that was written by an AI computer. It's no Casablanca (or even Ishtar) but could it pass for an experimental sci-fi film? Probably.

So should authors be worried?

Yes. And No.

Yes, because the growth of ebook sales and so-called 'Authorpreneurs' have highlighted how easy it is to flood the market with material, and how a surprising amount of badly written books are sold. Until now it has been the reserve of how-to books and non-fiction but maybe one day a plucky coder will work out how to generate ten books a day to satisfy a voracious audience.

No, because I for one believe that quality will rise to the top and that for now a computer will not be capable of producing a novel with that most elusive of qualities; heart.

For now...

What do you think? What other examples of computer-generated fiction can you think of? Will AI replace authors?

More linky things on this subject:

image: Creative Commons

Checkout Dan at

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Celebrating Freedoms - The CKG Award and the Amnesty CILIP Honour by Dawn Finch

The CKG award has always been very special in the life of school librarians and the people who work with books for young people, and it’s genuinely exciting to be this close to it all. I always read all of the shortlisted books and write about them, and this year is no different - apart from the fact that I was a little closer to the action this year. This is a most remarkable book award and the books are chosen by people who all have deep and detailed knowledge about children's books. 

This has been a very special year for the CKG Award because this is the first year we have joined up with Amnesty International to award the first Amnesty CILIP Honour. This brand new honour is given to the author and illustrator of one title from each of the Carnegie and Greenaway shortlists. The ACH will be awarded to the title that most distinctively illuminates, communicates, or celebrates our freedoms, as chosen by Amnesty’s own judging panel. The judging panel included representatives from Amnesty International and educational groups as well as storytellers and artists Manya Benenson and Dean Bowen, children’s writer SF Said, and last year’s Carnegie winner, Tanya Landman.

The Carnegie Award 2016 - One written by Sarah Crossan
Grace and Tippi are conjoined twins. And their lives are about to change. No longer able to afford homeschooling, they must venture into the world - a world of stares, sneers and cruelty. Will they find more than that at school? Can they find real friends? And what about love? But what neither Grace nor Tippi realises is that a heart-wrenching decision lies ahead. A decision that could tear them apart. One that will change their lives even more than they ever imagined.
Written in free-verse, One is a remarkable and beautiful story and one that makes me, as a writer, suddenly realise that there are too many words in my own writing. Crossan uses verse to drive home a deeply complex storyline in swift and precise strokes. This is enviably good writing and we are lifted and swept along with the elegant precision of the storytelling. It is wonderful to see poetry win this award. These verses weave a delicate tapestry of a story that builds up to show us the beauty in belonging, and the agony of loss.

The Kate Greenaway Award 2016 – The Sleeper and the Spindle illustrated by Chris Riddell (written by Neil Gaiman)
A young queen throws aside her wedding gown, puts on her armour, and sets off to rescue a princess from a cursed enchantment. Does she really need rescuing?

Riddell is an extraordinary illustrator, and in Sleeper he has used pen and ink to take us on a fantastic Gothic journey through a wild landscape. We are guided through this quest by both Riddell and writer, Neil Gaiman, and are left with a book that is a beautiful whole. The detailed illustrations are remarkable, and with just a lick of gold, they feel both detailed and lavish – classic Riddell. An absolute treat and a book that celebrates independence, personal strength and individuality. 

The 2016 Amnesty CILIP Honour for a Carnegie book – Lies We Tell Ourselves written by Robin Talley
It's 1959. The battle for civil rights is raging. And it's Sarah's first day of school as one of the first black students at previously all-white Jefferson High. No one wants Sarah there. Not the Governor. Not the teachers. And certainly not the students - especially Linda, daughter of the town's most ardent segregationist. Sarah and Linda are supposed to despise each other. But the more time they spend together, the less their differences matter. And both girls start to feel something they've never felt before. Something they're determined to ignore. Because it's one thing to stand up to an unjust world - but another to be terrified of what's in your own heart.
The novel swings back and forth between the two main characters, Sarah and Linda, as both of their lives unfold in the first wave of integrated high schools in the southern states of America. The book is a brave and challenging read as Talley uses the often offensive language of the day. The language cuts at our modern sensibilities and drives home the futility of the segregationists’ arguments. The feelings of Sarah and Linda tear our heartstrings and the often casual brutality they both witness is chilling. An important novel that shows us a world we have often only had a tiny view into, and a reminder of the freedoms fought so hard for.

The 2016 Amnesty CILIP Honour for a Kate Greenaway book – There’s A Bear On My Chairby Ross Collins
As you might have guessed from the title, there’s a bear in Mouse’s chair. It’s a polar bear and it’s pretty comfy and does not want to move. I’ll be upfront about this – Bear On My Chair made me laugh out loud from the first page. Well, I say that Bear made me laugh but actually it was Mouse who made me laugh, and he continued to do so as he tried to get Bear out of his chair. A joyful book about patience, persistence and the right to peaceful protest - especially against a huge and apparently immovable object! The illustrations are full of life and movement and the book is entirely joyful.

Sioned Jacques, Chair of the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Judges said;
“It has been my pleasure, a dream come true, to chair the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway awards. Despite learning to read firstly in Welsh, looking back at books I read as a child, past winners are prominent. This testifies to the fact that these awards really do promote outstanding literature and illustrations.”

It was a great honour for me to make a speech at the event, and here is an extract.
“One of the most important things about working with children is that it constantly reminds you how important freedom is. I have worked with thousands of children now, and far too many of them have lacked the personal freedoms that we take for granted. Many have had to overcome incredible challenges before they’d even reached double figures, and yet they never lost their joy of life and their open appreciation for what freedoms they still had. They remained optimistic, open, patient, understanding and tolerant – something that it often sadly lacking in many adults.”

In her speech Kate Allen, director of Amnesty International UK said;
Why do we think children’s books are important?
Because, fundamentally, great authors and illustrators make us care. Your stories and picture books have the power to develop children’s empathy, broaden horizons and give them confidence. And those skills of empathy, awareness and confidence are exactly what we need to stand up for each other against discrimination. They are skills for life and we all need them if we are to shape a better world.”

The winners also all made the most wonderful speeches and talked about freedoms and libraries and how important a love of reading is. They talked with passion, eloquence and humour and if you missed it you can still see the whole award ceremony on the Carnegie Greenaway site.

I always think that children’s books are not just for children. Children’s books allow young readers to know themselves, to understand their own lives, and place themselves in the world, but as adults they give us so much more. Through their pages we gain the ability to see the world through the eyes of another, and through the eyes of a child. Through the pages of wonderful children’s books, such as the winners of these awards, we can all gain a better understanding of the world and the kaleidoscope of life experiences that go to make it so remarkable.

Amnesty International has an active campaign to support prisoner of conscience, librarian Natalya Sharina. Find out more and support this campaign on the Amnesty International site.

CILIP has a high profile campaign to support your legal right to have library services in your community. Sign up and show your support for #mylibrarybyright

Dawn Finch
President, Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP)
Children’s writer and librarian.

Monday, 20 June 2016

Goatcitement! - by Susan Price and Andrew Price

And I'm being told we can see a trailer for this exciting new book!



Stay tuned, fairy-tale fans! More coming soon!

                                                                                               Illustrated by Andrew Price

The Limos Circle The Block, by Susan Price and Andrew Price

                Hi again!

     There's such an atmosphere here at the launch for Three Billy Goats Gruff!
     The limos are circling the blog and we'll soon be welcoming our first star!

     And wait!
     A limo is pulling up!

          I can't see who's getting out yet....
          It's sure to be someone exciting!
          It's - it's - 

                                         Ooh, I'm thrilled!

It's the Bridge!

I was another bridge, further down river, but the part was written out.
That's how it is in this business.  
I was the original bridge too far and one of the bridges of Toko-Ri.
You don't see me. I was behind a building.

Who is this arriving?

Can it be - ooh, can it be Great Big?
      Oh, girls, he's so dreamy. For a goat.

Art work: Andrew Price

Runaway! - by Susan Price and Andrew Price

Hi folks and welcome back!

I'm reporting from the launch party for Three Billy Goats Gruff and they're all arriving -

I hear Great Big is in the building but we can't speak to him right now -

But another limo's pulling up... Who's this arriving?

It's Chapatti!
   Star, of course, of that wonderful, 'The Runaway Chapatti,' which has been such a hit!
     I'm going to try and get a word with him...

Find The Runaway Chapatti here.


Never mind, folks - there are plenty more limos circling the block and I'll be here throughout bringing you up-dates - be sure to check back in now... After this promo...


Originally written for the Cambridge Reading series, this is Carnegie Medal-winning author Susan Price’s retelling of the traditional story ‘The Gingerbread Man.’

"Once a girl made a chapatti for her tea. But the chapatti didn’t want to be eaten. Up from the table it jumped, and out of the door it ran, singing,
'Run, run, as fast as you can,

You can’t put me in your frying pan!'"

The chapatti leads the girl on a merry chase that involves a friendly dog, a cheeky monkey and a long crocodile before finding a big suprise in the deep jungle!

Suitable for ages 3-4.

The lively illustrations by Adam Price, full of movement and gorgeous colour, will have children asking for the story again and again.

Find The Runaway Chapatti here. (UK)                                                        (US)


Haute Couture, by Susan Price and Andrew Price

Welcome back!

I’m so excited – we can watch the arrival of Little Billy Goat Gruff and his special guest, Tinku, live, as it happens! Via our amazing Goat-Cam installed in their limo!

Tinku Tries To Help, written and illustrated by Adam Price


And we're back!
I'm talking to one of the stars of the Three Billy Goats Gruff, Little Billy Goat Gruff.


   Three Billy Goats Gruff Story Book

 "Who's trip-tripping across my bridge?"

This well-loved traditional tale is here retold by Carnegie Medal-winning author Susan Price, and illustrated in an exuberant slap-stick comic-book style by artist Andrew Price.

This book is by a UK author, but the wording of this book complies with US spelling.

   Three Billy Goats Gruff Colouring and Activity Book

Little Billy Goat Gruff says, "Some of our words and letters have fallen out of our book! The colour has been lost too! Please, can you help us? Colour us in again and put all our words back together. Thanks!"

This book is by a UK author, but the special American edition complies with US spelling.