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Random House Children's Publishers | One of the UK’s largest children’s publishers
March 6, 2014
Shirley Hughes Visits Hargrave Park School

Yesterday was an exciting day for Hargrave Park School in Islington when Shirley Hughes, the creator of Dogger and the Alfie series, paid a visit to celebrate World Book Day.

Random House Children's Publishers | One of the UK’s largest children’s publishers
Random House Children's Publishers | One of the UK’s largest children’s publishers
February 15, 2013

Are you looking for a top author event to help celebrate World Book Day in your school?

This World Book Day you can watch CHRIS RYAN LIVE from your school!

  

All you need to do is register here: www.chrisryanlive.co.uk and be ready to tune in with your class at 2pm. You can submit questions for Chris in advance either through the registration page or by tweeting him on @exSASChrisRyan using the hashtag #askchrisryan

 Chris will be talking about his AGENT 21 series including his brand new book CODEBREAKER and his brand new short story written exclusively for the World Book Day app: THE WIRE. For more info visit http://www.worldbookday.com/

 

 

 

 

Random House Children's Publishers | One of the UK’s largest children’s publishers
Random House Children's Publishers | One of the UK’s largest children’s publishers
March 5, 2011

The fabulous Lauren Kate, author of the amazing FALLEN books, talks about writing, and her own random book choices.

Lauren Kate

Hi everyone! Thanks for swinging by during World Book Week. I hope you’re celebrating by reading – or writing – something fabulous. As for me? I thought today would be an apt day to embark on writing Rapture, the fourth book in the Fallen Series.

As a reader, my favorite books are the ones that surprise me, make me laugh and sometimes cry, and take me on an unexpected journey. My favorite book as a child was Roald Dahl’s Matilda. If you stuck me on a desert island, I’d be okay as long as I had Nabokov’s Lolita. The book I wish I’d written is probably The Golden Compass, though I’m awfully glad Phillip Pullman wrote it instead.

As writer, I try to craft the kind of books I’d love to read myself. So far, FALLEN has been one of the most surprising, most rewarding journeys I’ve ever taken – and it’s not over yet. So thanks again for stopping in on World Book Week, I wish you happy reading and I hope you won’t mind if I disappear now into Rapture…

Find out about more about Lauren and her books at www.fallenbooks.co.uk

Random House Children's Publishers | One of the UK’s largest children’s publishers
Random House Children's Publishers | One of the UK’s largest children’s publishers
March 4, 2011

Today’s featured blog is from the wonderful Malorie Blackman! Here she is on video, just before her event at Stratford Circus Theatre, celebrating World Book Day and publication of the new edition of Pig-Heart Boy…

Watch Malorie talk about her five random book choices here…

Random House Children's Publishers | One of the UK’s largest children’s publishers
Random House Children's Publishers | One of the UK’s largest children’s publishers
March 3, 2011

Hi, it’s Toby the gargoyle here. Spluttering gutterz! I thought April Foolz Day was the best time of the year but that was before I celebrated World Book Day!

Toby

Me and my gargoyle friendz have been visiting lots of schools. This was in secret of course because as everyone knowz, gargoylz mustn’t be seen by humanz – except Max and Ben.

Anyway, what fun we’ve had! We’ve heard some great stories – though we like our one best – and seen some wonderful costumes. You kidz really know how to dress up like book characterz.

We dressed up as well. If any of you had Snow White and the fifteen dwarvez at your school we were the dwarvez! Grumpy (Bart), Snakey (Eli), Flyboy (that was me), Pongy (Barney), Twiggy (Abel), Dragony (Azzan), Bonez (Rufus), Lullaby (Cyrus), Blackbeard (Ira), Dino (Jelly), Blendy (Neb), Santa’s little helper (Ruben), Tiger (Theo), Pop (Zack) and Booky (Enoch).

Find out all about the latest mischief Max, Ben & the Gargoylz have been up to on the Gargoylz blog!

Toby talkz about the Gargoylz’ five random book pickz…

Desert Island
Abel and Bart would take a joke book. And Ira would take Treasure Island.

New Discovery
Us gargoylz have just found out that we are in a series of our own so we’re reading all our own adventures!

Guilty Pleasure
Barney loves cake making books!

Wish I’d Written
Theo would like to have written the Jungle book because there’s a big fierce tiger in it just like him… Toby says Theo is more like Mog!

Use for Kindling
The gargoylz would never burn books, although Azzan did get very excited reading Alex Rider/Ghost Goalie and singed the cover.

Random House Children's Publishers | One of the UK’s largest children’s publishers
Random House Children's Publishers | One of the UK’s largest children’s publishers
Gargoylz

The new WBD title from Jan and Sara!

This week is a busy one for Jan Burchett and Sara Vogler – they’ll be zipping all over the place to promote their World Book Day title, Gargoylz Make Some Noise. The mischievous stories feature school friends Max and Ben and their super-powered stone companions, the Gargoylz. In the £1 flip book tale, the boys are heading to the library to see their favourite tough-guy author Troy Brawn. But when disaster strikes and Troy’s car breaks down, the boys are forced to attend the super girly Lily Twinkletoes talk instead! They definitely need the Gargoylz help to survive this World Book Day!

School number 2 earlier this week in Brighton

Jan and Sara have been working hard all week at events, telling jokes, getting pantomime style boos for their evil head teacher Mrs Hogsbottom, and teaching everybody the Gargoylz song! Throughout it all, they’ve been looking beautiful in their specially commissioned Gargoylz t-shirts (not available to buy in shops).

One of a kind T-shirts!

For more Gargoylz fun and games, head to the official site, or for info on booking Jan and Sara for events, head to their own page!

Sara talks about her random book choices…

Desert Island
I would have a tough choice between Pride and Prejudice, Rebecca and To Kill a Mockingbird and would want to take all three. Having said that, I’d probably plump of a big, bumper, Terry Pratchett Discworld book to make me laugh.

New Discovery
Carl Hiaasen – funny, thrilling books for children and adults.

Guilty Pleasure
I never feel guilty about reading.

Wish I’d Written
To Kill a Mockingbird – my favourite book.

Use for Kindling
Burning a book sounds awful! It would have to be something very offensive – Mein Kampf?

Random House Children's Publishers | One of the UK’s largest children’s publishers
Random House Children's Publishers | One of the UK’s largest children’s publishers

Steve Cole, author of Astrosaurs (and many other things), on life, the universe, and Enid Blyton’s lesser-known fight with evil killer turtles…

Steve Cole

You know, I think it was the famous author Enid Blyton who wrote, “HELP, THERE’S A KILLER TURTLE ON MY BOTTOM, IT’S BITING ME, AAAGGHHH, GET IT OFF, GET IT OFF, HELP!”

She didn’t write it any of her books, obviously. She wrote it in a story written by me, ENID BLYTON FIGHTS EVIL KILLER TURTLES WHO ATTACK YOUR BOTTOM. I wrote it when I was young.

The story starts with Enid Blyton writing books about killer turtles (she needed a fresh challenge). Suddenly real killer turtles attack her house. Enid Blyton is forced to train as a ninja to fight back. In the end she beats all the turtles in an astounding, action-packed battle, and decides she’ll stick to writing about the Famous Five and Noddy instead. When these characters almost immediately turn up to attack her house too, she beats them easily. Especially Noddy, who is rubbish.

My teacher wrote, “SEE ME.”

He wondered why I had chosen to make a real-life author the heroine of my story instead of making up my own character.

I wanted to say, “Because it’s my story and I can do what I want, so there ­– that’s the brilliant thing about writing.” But I didn’t dare so instead I shrugged.

“Enid Blyton writes stories,” the teacher said. “She can’t be in one!”

I think this is a strange argument. Everyone stars in their own life story – even authors – but life is very rarely full of cliffhanger endings and winning fights with deadly turtles. So, if I could be anything other than a writer, I would love to be a character in a book because then, absolutely ANYTHING could happen. On one page I might be battling vampire elephants with Lady GaGa. On the next I might fall down a trap door into a pit full of blob-monsters (phew, a soft landing). Then on the page after, Jacqueline Wilson could rescue me and reveal that she too was a ninja (who had trained under Enid Blyton! What a twist!). She could teach me her best moves so I could handle such problems more easily in future.

I think it would be cool to star in someone else’s crazy story – so long as I win all the fights of course. And though I’m not sure if Enid would agree with me, I bet the killer turtles would.

Watch Steve’s latest video, featuring his special late-night Victory Dance (turn the sound up!)

Steve talks about his five random book choices… 

Desert Island
Marianne Dreams by Catherine Storr. Brittle, creepy and totally draws you in…

New Discovery
Vern and Lettuce by Sarah McIntyre. Charming characters in hilarious stories, Sarah is ace!

Guilty Pleasure
Old Spider-Man comics. Action, humour, colourful bad guys… I’m still hoping I get superpowers one day!

Wish I’d Written
The Great, Good Thing by Roderick Townley. This book does for fictional characters what Toy Story does for toys. Great fun, moving and meaningful. 

Use for Kindling
Spare foreign editions of my books (though German ones don’t burn very well)

Random House Children's Publishers | One of the UK’s largest children’s publishers
Random House Children's Publishers | One of the UK’s largest children’s publishers
March 2, 2011

Sweet Hearts author Jo Cotterill, on the mystical process of writing, when the real world fades away…

Jo Cotterill

Writing about writing is always a bit odd. Most writers, if you ask them, will tell you all sorts of things about where a particular idea came from; how they became a professional writer; how a manuscript turns into a book. But very few will talk about the strange, mystical process of writing itself. I think this is partly because it’s very hard to describe. If someone was blind, how would you describe the colour blue to them? If someone had never tasted Coca-Cola, how would you explain it?

When I sit down to write (at my computer; it’s almost always on screen nowadays) something very strange happens to my brain. It flits about from thought to thought – what am I going to have for lunch? Should I be sitting up straighter to improve my posture? Those shelves need tidying… It’s almost as though it knows what’s coming and starts jumping around like a naughty child, saying, ‘No, no, you can’t make me sit still, I won’t, I WON’T!’

At some point I have to wrestle my mind into submission and force it to concentrate on the screen. Think…how to start? I begin with a sentence or two. Does it feel right? No? Delete it and start a different way. This one is right…so keep going…yes, that’s exactly how the house looks…ah, that’s a surprise, I didn’t know that was going to happen…why did she just say that? Words just appear on the screen, almost as though they haven’t passed through my brain at all – in fact, sometimes when I’m writing, my fingers can’t go fast enough for the words that spill out of my head.

Everything around me fades into nothingness. It’s not quite the same as silence, but I just can’t hear anything. I have music on while I write, but I rarely hear it. It’s not unusual for me to realise that the CD has run out and to simply press ‘play’ so that it goes round again. And play it does – and I don’t hear it the second time either. The writing takes over completely. I’m guessing it’s something like being a medium, where you channel spirits (which I’m not sure I believe in, but that’s another story) and you’re just a sort of messenger.

And then, quite suddenly, it stops. And I have to think, ‘What happens next?’ Or, more usually, ‘I know what needs to happen next, but how to get there?’ And my butterfly mind starts jumping around again, as though all that sitting still has made it fidgety, and I maybe get up to make a cup of tea, or pop across the road to buy milk. Or (guilty pleasure here) I look at Facebook, where I can read what other people are doing right now and comment on it (why is this so addictive, I wonder?).

Then, after a break of anything from thirty seconds to half an hour, I drag my mind back to the story. The next bit might be hard work, dredging up words from a muddy river to stick them together and hope they make sense. Sometimes the hard work can go on for hours and I start to wonder if the book is ever going to be any good. And then suddenly, the characters catch fire (not literally) and off I go again, time whizzing by, the knock at the front door unheard, lunch forgotten entirely, CD going round for the fifteenth time.

Sometimes I look back over what I’ve written and think, ‘Gosh, how did that happen?’ It’s a bit like when your mind zones out for a while and you realise you’ve missed your bus stop. But here’s the strange thing: you can’t remember that bit of the journey at all.

That’s what writing is like for me. It’s what happens when my mind sits back and lets imagination take over. And it’s magic.

The next book in the Sweet Hearts series, Forget Me Not, is out on 2nd June 2011, but here’s a sneak preview of the cover. Find out more about the Sweet Hearts series and read Jo’s own blog at www.ilovesweethearts.co.uk

Sweet Hearts: Forget Me Not 

Jo talks about her five random book choices… 

Desert Island
Wilderness Survival for Dummies (duh). Oh, all right, that was kind of a joke. A book I read over and over again is Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. I adore it; it’s so clever and witty and original, and it never loses its freshness for me.

New Discovery
Angel by LA Weatherly. I don’t read much fantasy, and I’m not into paranormal romances, so this one shouldn’t have even been on my radar, but the author is a friend and she’s got the same agent as me, so I read it and LOVED it. If you’re so over vampires and werewolves, try evil angels. It’s pacy and well-written and clever and romantic and – well, I can’t wait for the next in the trilogy!

Guilty Pleasure
Agatha Christie. Though I don’t feel all that guilty really. I reach for an AC when I’m ill or stressed – they’re my comfort reading. I have the complete collection in the form of battered, mostly second-hand copies. Favourites are the Poirot stories, particularly The Big Four. Two that make me shiver are Crooked House and Murder Is Easy.

Wish I’d Written
The scripts for Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I’d love to write for TV one day. Book-wise, Holes by Louis Sachar, which I think is about as perfect a book as you can get.

Use for Kindling
Anything by Dan Brown. Sorry to anyone who likes his books, but I can’t bear them. They make my teeth ache.

Random House Children's Publishers | One of the UK’s largest children’s publishers
Random House Children's Publishers | One of the UK’s largest children’s publishers
March 1, 2011

Louise Yates, author of the award-winning picture book, Dog Loves Books, on putting pen (& pencil) to paper…

Louise Yates

Today was a very fun day. The first day I’ve really concentrated on getting some new ideas down on paper. There are several different ‘phases’ I go through in making a picture book, which go something like this:

  • Generate ideas
  • Reject and re-write ideas
  • Make a full rough of the final idea
  • Begin the final artwork
  • Complete and deliver the final artwork
  • Delude myself and relax in the knowledge that the book is finally finished
  • Start to get excited about the next book
  • Realise that the previous book is not finished; add the finishing touches (covers, endpapers etc)
  • Actually finish!

Possibly the stage I enjoy the most (though I love it all really) is the first one – generating ideas. Anything goes at this point: it seems there is nothing to lose and everything to play for… I’ve been trying to put things together in my head for my next book, before committing them to paper. I’ve been doing this for two reasons: one is that I’ve noticed that once ideas are committed to paper – no matter how roughly – they seem so much harder to change. And secondly, I have noticed that ideas for a book usually come to mind when you’re not thinking about it and you don’t have any paper to hand! But soon the time comes to let them all spill out in ink, paint and print, so today I did what I love best – scrawling and doodling and painting and printing and making a complete mess of my desk. I believe that from the chaos a new book will emerge…

Louise Yates Illustration 1

An early sketch for Frank and Teddy. Frank gave up smoking shortly after consulting the RH team (realising they had his best interests at heart).

Louise Yates illustration 2

A very early drawing of Dog in his bookshop.

Louise Yates illustration 3

An early sketch for Dog Loves Books (one of the adventures that never made it…)

Louise Yates illustration 4 Louise Yates illustration 5

Trying to decide who should wipe rabbit’s nose in A Small Surprise…

Louise Yates illustration 6

…or ‘Rabbit Reappears’, as it was then.

Louise Yates illustration 7 Louise Yates illustration 8
Who should tie his shoes…?!


The joy of events

With Frank and Teddy Make Friends freshly published, I’ve been out and about at quite a lot of events. I always walk into events expecting that my presentation won’t work, or that I’ve forgotten to bring the presentation, or that the presentation (if it does work and I haven’t forgotten it) isn’t interesting. But I always walk out of these visits feeling completely elated! And it is not because they are finally over, (once they’ve begun, I usually don’t want them to end), but – as in the case of my most recent events – because the children I speak to are a joy to be with.

I find it moving and inspiring to hear children talking about where their own imaginations take them. Hearing them expressing profound ideas reminds me of the degree of complexity that can be conjured in a picture book through simple language and simple means.

Louise at the Starlit Festival
At the Starlit Festival, Shoreditch, London 2009. ­­

I often leave these encounters feeling inspired by the ability young children have to give themselves over completely to their imaginations: to experience stories rather than just read them. Perhaps it does become harder and harder to do this as an adult. Reality seems to demand more and more from us and leaving it can seem at best indulgent and at worst negligent! This is one of the reasons I love my job so much – I have an excuse! I feel that the imagination is a place we go to reflect on and learn about reality, and nowhere is that clearer to me than when I’m talking to children.

Finally, Louise talks about her five random book choices… 

Desert Island
Robinson Crusoe, by Daniel Defoe – a companion in my isolation; or, Jacko, a picture book by John S. Goodall. A beautifully illustrated, textless book about a stowaway monkey who ends up living happily on a desert island.

New Discovery
The Cat that Lived a Million Times, by Yoko Sano. I found this book in a Japanese shop in London, I bought it because I fell in love with the illustrations – the text was in Japanese. The cat has such an intelligent, worldly and defiant gaze. The colours are beautiful – subtle ink washes, loose and free. There is a sort of flattened perspective and a naiveté to the style that is very endearing and interesting. I became very curious to know the story and found a translation on the Internet. It is a sort of parable about the search for happiness. It is, I think, a very beautiful book.

Guilty Pleasure
I don’t feel guilty about reading anything! Although I did sneak a peek at Alexis Deacon’s work for his new book when I was last in the RH office… it’s wonderful – we’re all in for a huge treat! I do hope he doesn’t mind…how could I help it? (Not guilty, but a HUGE pleasure!)

Wish I’d Written
So many books: can I list a few? Wise Children, by Angela Carter; and among picture books, I’ve recently fallen for It’s a Secret, by John Burningham; if I had to choose one it would probably be Ridley Walker, by Russell Hoban; or Five Letters from an Eastern Empire, by Alasdair Gray.

Use for Kindling
I don’t think Dog would approve of this suggestion! I would have to be pretty desperate for warmth or fuel before I did that! (Even on my desert island  – or perhaps especially there). Books connect people, it would mean severing potential connections – chopping off hands – a very grisly prospect! Even if I don’t want to embrace the outstretched hand, others might – I’d rather give the book to a charity shop, or leave it somewhere in the faith that the right person will pick it up.

Random House Children's Publishers | One of the UK’s largest children’s publishers
Random House Children's Publishers | One of the UK’s largest children’s publishers
February 28, 2011

Welcome to the brand-new UK Random House Children’s Books blog!

As it’s World Book Day on Thursday, we thought this week would be the perfect time to launch our new blog – Talk About Random – with a jam-packed schedule of guest posts from some of our fabulous authors & illustrators including Louise Yates, Steve Cole, Jo Cotterill and Lauren Kate to name a few…

All our guest bloggers will be talking about their book choices for the following categories… Desert Island, New Discovery, Guilty Pleasure, Wish I’d Written & Use for Kindling. So, if you’re looking for some new reading ideas, you’ve come to the right place.

Happy reading!

Random House Children's Publishers | One of the UK’s largest children’s publishers
Random House Children's Publishers

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    Random House Children's Publishers | One of the UK’s largest children’s publishers
    Random House Children's Publishers | One of the UK’s largest children’s publishers