As the full moon calls, each cat slinks through the shadows to where the storyteller waits.
Will you saty in your cosy bed? Or dare you go and join the Scaredy Cats and hear the tale of Bluebeard’s Cat and her master’s nasty, creepy secret! Watch and listen as Shoo reads this gruesome story. Are you prepared?
When you are finished,maybe you’d like to watch and learn how to Draw Bluebeard’s Cat in the video below:
I’m thrilled to have just signed a contract with Firefly Press, a brand new Welsh publisher. No, I’m not writing a book in Welsh but a book in English with a strong Welsh theme. You could be writing writing one for them too, as they have a competition to find a new writer. They are looking for:
A novel must be aimed at 7-9 year olds, written in English, 15-20,000 words long and set at least in part in contemporary Wales. We will accept stories with a realistic setting or stories with a fantasy/timeslip element, but not stories set exclusively in a fictional fantasy world that has no connection to Wales or historical stories with no contemporary content.
If you don’t know much about Wales, this probably isn’t the competition for you, but if you know a lot about Wales, then maybe this is your chance to finally get yourself into print!
I was childishly pleased when I came up with the series title, Little Horrors. They’re horror stories for small children, whom we often call little horrors themselves. Actually there’s no horror in them at all, just the suggestion. They are meant to be funny with moments of doubt… Shiver with fear.. shake with laughter, as the series slogan goes!
I love reading these stories to Key Stage 1 children. Some hug each other, some pose and pretend they aren’t scared, some burst into tears, but most laugh and join in with the noises and actions. Sadly the publishers, Orchard Books decided not to reprint. But that gave me the opportunity to bring the stories back to life again.
Online, print-on-demand publishing is an amazing thing. The first book in the series, The Swamp Man in now available in old fashioned print and as an ebook for the iPad. When I discovered the Open Dyslexic Font, I made it available as a Dyslexic font edition on the ipad too. The type is weighted so the letters behave themselves and sit on the line and the page colour is cream.
If you would like a signed copy of the Swamp Man, then click here
The Swamp Man – Little Horrors book.
What a strange word is Author. When I go to a meeting of the Society of Authors, I always expect to find people like me. But I don’t. Every one of them is different. Having found myself caught up in a conversation with someone who writes about bees and pollination, a chic lit writer,or an academic who writes sadistic thrillers in Old Norse, I think, “I am nothing like these people at all!” So I huddle in the corner with my pals, the children’s authors.
But we have very little in common too. We use words and maybe pictures to express ourselves. When ever there is a discussion about children’s books, it’s hopeless. We all imagine that the thing we do defines the world of children’s books. But it doesn’t. If we are lucky, we find a tiny niche and stay there as long as possible before others notice and pile in.
Then I think, at least I’m the same as those in my niche – but I am not. Even within our little niche or genre, we have different ideas about what it is and how it should be done.
I remember being part of a group of writers brought together to write stories for a new reading scheme. You could see every one itching to get in first and claim the best books for themselves. I was amazed! No one wanted to do the beginner books – the ones with ten words or so – such a challenge! They others looked at me blankly. Why would I want to do that when I could write the older books? It would never occur to me to want to write them. It’s just not what I do.
And that’s the trouble with the little controversy I started a couple of days ago.
I see there is a prize for Children’s books. I know exactly what a children’s book is and do not understand why Young Adult books keep winning – the Carnegie WorkingParty have now explained to me that it’s all because of the The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and as the shadowing process takes place mainly in secondary schools the whole process is skewed to Young Adult books. I’d say the rights of the child would mean that primary schools should get an equal look in. But that’s me. My readers are children. They go to primary (elementary) school. That’s how I define children’s books.
I think if you have a prize that is really a prize for writers of books for older children, you should say so. Children have a right to know what is being promoted in their name.
I recently came across the Open Dyslexic Font, which was created by by Abelardo Gonzalez. The font is weighted at the bottom so the gravity allows the letters to stay put on the line.
When I found it, I’d just finished making my first Little Horrors book, The Swamp Man, available as an iBook on the iPad. I realised it wouldn’t take me long to make a dyslexic font version, so I did. I made the pages cream too, which involved reworking the artwork, but I soon got photoshop to automate that part of the job. So, it will be interesting to know what people think.
My book Craig M’nure, was written for Barrington Stoke, so I’ve learned a little about books for Dyslexics. I know that the text hasn’t been written with dyslexics in mind, but the sentences are short and I think the text is pretty uncomplicated. Besides. The one thing that I took away from my Barrington Stoke experience is that Dyslexics find it much easier to read when they “hear the author’s voice”. Then the difficult word constructions seem to be blown away with the extra voice working in their head.
Dyslexia is such a muddly word. I’ve come to realise that no one is “normal” and that dyslexia comes if many forms and degrees of complexity. I read perfectly well, I do when the letters stop moving! It’s writing that is the hard part. I know that writers deal in words. I’ve watched them do it, they could write with their eyes closed. They think and “see” in words.
Last week I had the opportunity of watching other children’s authors do their thing at Peter’s Books in Birmingham, where The Reading Agency had set up a Chatterbooks Day. The Author Fleur Hitchcock was telling us how sensitive she is to smell and how dyslexic she is an how hard writing is for her. Fleur’s Daughter has the gift too, she can sort her school friends clothes out by smell and return them to the right people!
Fleaur was asking for a description, a word to express smells or emotions. One child suggested a connective. A shadow passed over Fleur’s face, then she admitted that she had no idea what a connective is. (I’m not sure – I think and is a connective?” I recognised that look. Proper writers know what a connective is. Their world is made up of such things. I’m a storyteller. I use words and pictures to tell stories. Fleur uses words and smells! Others use dance or maths or colour or shape or taste to tell their stories. Sadly, the education system, which is run for and by word people, is pretty much unaware of the perceptions of a large percentage of those they hope to educate.
My world is made up of ideas and stories, and they tumble around in my head faster than I can write them down. Since I’ve talked openly about this, I’ve found many others are the same, and have often seen a smile of relief on a child’s face when they realise that my problem is their problem too and that they are not alone in the world.
I think that is what happens when I read. I get caught up in the idea, begin second guessing, in my conversation with the author’s voice, and tumble ahead of the words to see what happens next. the words on the page try to catch up and, in their haste, jumble up on the page. Maybe if they are weighted, they will find it harder to fall over and get mixed up with each other!
You can get a sample copy of the book by clicking here or on the picture to the right.
I would love to know what you think and would really appreciate some feedback. It’s only available for the iPad at the moment. I am thinking of doing a PDF version to read on other systems and would also love to know if this would be useful for you too.
Also, if you’ve read this far, let me know why you would like a free copy and, if I think it’s a good reason, I’ll let you have a code to get a free copy from the iTunes store! I’ve five to give away.
There is no contest. The ipad provides the best apps, books, (there is a kindle reader for iPad so it is a kindle too) and the best operating system by far. When I hear schools discussing the choice staffrooms, the same argument comes up, “Well, iPads are so expensive, and we can get so many more android tablets for our money.”
So you can, and with them you buy so many more headaches down the line. Android is the new Windows. A loose operating system that is changed and mucked about with at the whim of Google and the manufacturers of the hardware. One Android tablet is not like another. Each machine has it’s own quirks. They all have different capabilities and idiosyncrasies, just like windows pcs.
An ipad is an iPad is an iPad. They just work, and Apple make sure the apps that go on them work too. As with all technology, both iPad and Android tablets will have their off moments and frustrations, but you will have far fewer moments and lesser frustrations with iPad.
When it comes to illustrated children’s ebooks, iPad is the only game in town. I don’t mean singing and dancing animated app books, I mean books where the text stays still on the page waiting to be read. You can’t learn to read when the text is dancing up and down and reading itself to you – that’s entertainment.
eBooks for children with pictures in the right place, with video and interactive elements for learning are only readily available on the iPad.
If you want to get on and do stuff, get an iPad. If you want to spend your time asking for help from IT support staff, get Android. If you want to save time and money down the line and have the best apps available to you, iPad is your choice every time.
It has always amazed me that those who don’t use Apple products wonder why Apple users are so fanatical about their support for Apple products. Those who use Apple products are the kind of people who try other systems and are always amazed that anyone would want to use anything else.
After a crazy summer of hard work, my Euclid project is now ready and available on iPad. I think you are going to love this fresh, exciting new way to learn the basics of geometry for Primary and K-6.
You can download the iPad version here right now – a preview is available for free. It’s got off to a good start in the US!
Euclid – The Man Who Invented Geometry, is loosely based on Euclid’s Elements of Geometry, which nowadays looks like a very complex text book for a secondary, 7-13 age group.
The wonder of Euclid is his axiomatic approach. He starts with the simplest idea – a point in space – then adds another point and joins them with a line (or a segment if you want to be really precise!) By adding simple concepts, Euclid soon builds up the basics of geometry in easy, understandable steps.
This project is written as a story, with the character of Euclid, a genial old fellow, explaining things to his friends, who make terrible geometry jokes as they try to tease their teacher! (What exactly do sausages have to do with geometry?)
The iPad version has videos built in, to help explain the trickier parts of geometric construction.
The paper book is almost ready. It will be premiereing at the Wigtown Book Festival in Scotland on Saturday the 29th. If you’re that way, come along. Otherwise I’m taking bookings for Euclid days in Schools and Libraries, which should be great fun.
Next will come a book on three dimensional models and how to make them – that should be fun! Maybe Pythagorus after that?
This is my first self-published original project and I’m really proud of it. I’ve aimed it at young mathematicians who need a story and a drawing lesson or two and at artists who like a story and need to learn a bit of mathematics. I’m sure your children are going to enjoy learning the beautiful subject of geometry and will soon find themselves to be “Friends of Euclid”too!
What a thrill and an honour! And look at the company that he’s keeping! Charlie and Lola, Harry and his dinosaurs and Elmer – that’s a pretty great list to be along side. If you would like to get a copy for your iPad, then here’s the link http://bit.ly/TheGingerNinja
Euclid and his friends show you all the different types of triangle in this fun, new video.