Monthly Archives: June 2019

Book Review – cock-a-doodle hooooooo!

Title: cock-a-doodle hooooooo!

Written by: Mick Manning

Illustrated by: Brita Granström

Published by: Little Tiger Press

Cock-a-doodle hooooooo!

Another book with a theme of empathy. This beautiful picture book also encompasses themes of friendship, acceptance, role models and just being yourself. One stormy night, a lost and lonely owl walks into a farmyard looking for a place to rest. He sleeps in the hen house, but next morning the hens don’t want him to stay. They need a cockerel, not an owl! Owl has to convince the hens that he can be their perfect cockerel.

Cock-a-doodle hooooooo! is an entertaining story from award-winning author-illustrator team, Mick Manning and Brita Granström. I just love Owl’s facial expressions. This is a wonderful picture book to read aloud to pre-school aged children. Owl is very patient and does try and fit in to the hen house but in the end the hens realise he is perfect just the way he is. This is an ideal book for introducing a discussion on ourselves and looking at similarities and differences.

An interview with… Alec Price

In my Writing 4 Children column this month, I interviewed Alec Price about the pros and cons of mainstream publishing v self-publishing. He had some very interesting things to say about the two processes of becoming a published author.

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His children’s books are about the Trogglybogs, strange children who are only two feet tall and covered all over in brown fur. they live deep in the caverns on Brinscall moors. These cheeky mischief-makers enjoy nothing more than sneaking up on people who are picnicking on the hills and stealing their food.

Trogglybogs book cover

Alec told me that in the end of experiencing both methods he prefers the self-publishing route. he said:

I think it is much more satisfying, and more profitable, to do the whole publishing process yourself. It’s not that hard.

Alec Price

For both ways of getting published Alec explained he has to do most of his own self-promotion. The publisher did put his book on Amazon and other online book sites. He contacted local papers and radio stations, he organised his school visits and he also set up his own mobile book stall to take to fair and summer fetes. Alec said:

With self-publishing you have complete control of your book; it is your baby. you can make it a success and reap the rewards.

Alec Price

For more about Alec Price and his books you can check out his website: www.alecpricewrites.co.uk

You can read the complete feature in Writers’ Forum Magazine #213 July 2019

Point of View

When I saw this it made me laugh. It highlights how different characters can see things from different points of view.  These two frames get the creative juices flowing for a whole host of stories. How did the characters get there? what’s going to happen now? Generally though a story should be told through the eyes of a single character, usually the main character.

point of view

I have found this myself when reading a novel, sudden shifts in the story’s point of view can jolt and disorient me, as the reader, out of the story. As a rule to keep it consistent, I tend to narrate only what my chosen character would know and nothing they wouldn’t. For example, other people’s thoughts, or something out of sight. although some stories work excellently with two point of views. For example, Philip Pullman’s, The Subtle Knife is one of my all-time favourite books and is told from the viewpoint of Lyra and Will. So like Philip Pullman, if you do need to switch to a different point of view, set up a separate section or chapter for it.

subtle knife

Written in third person, The Subtle Knife, immerses the reader in both characters’ voices in alternate chapters. The narrator’s voice is kept well out of the picture. This again should be a general rule when writing novels, unless you are writing fairy tales and folktales, which opens up for a whole new post.

Book Review – Mole’s Star

Title: Mole’s Star

Written and Illustrated by: Britta Teckentrup

Published by: Orchard Books

mole's star

Mole’s Star by Britta Teckentrup is a cosy picture book about sharing and empathy told in fourteen spreads. Each night Mole sits on his favourite rock, gazing at the twinkling stars. One day he sees a shooting star and makes a wish. He wishes he could own all the stars and his wish comes true. Mole fills his burrow with star light and loves it.

But after several days, Mole misses his favourite rock so pops out of his burrow and finds the world is in darkness. He is shocked to discover all the other animals are upset about this. When he made his wish, he had not considered the effect it would have on the whole forest and had not realised the other animals loved the stars as much as he did.

Mole finds the wishing star and sets about putting the stars back with the help of the other animals so they can all enjoy the magical star light together.

This is a book for sharing. I think every child will enjoy comparing the dramatic contrast of the night sky with and without stars, which Britta Teckentrup’s portrays in her delightful illustrations. I particularly like the way some of the ladders are made of tiny little stars.

inside mole's star

This timeless book about the night sky is ideal for reading at bedtime to children from birth upwards. It has an enchanting lyrical feel that will calm and relax your child ready for a good night’s sleep. It could also be used at Key Stage One as the basis of classroom discussion on sharing and considering other’s feelings.

An interview with… Chitra Soundar

In September 2016, I interviewed Chitra Soundar about her favourite stationery for the Papers Pens Poets blog.

DSC_6459 chitra

She told me she is not keen on pencils for her writing she prefers pens because she fears with pencils her writing may become blurred over time. This would be a disaster.

“…especially if I become so famous that there might be a museum and these notebooks will have to go on display. What if a young researcher who wants to read my writing finds it hard to read?”

Her favourite pens are Pilot V-sign – especially the black and red hues. They are bright and will keep her words safe forever.

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As for notebooks Chitra prefers, plain paper rather than dots or lines, as she can scribble across and diagonally without the lines staring at me with disapproval.

In fact she is very fussy about notebooks and would rather have branded notebooks, such as Leuchtturm and Moleskine because of the thickness of the paper, the gorgeous vibrant colours of the covers and the options available – like hardbound vs leather covers vs cardboard covers. It’s the quality of paper that clinches it for her. The Moleskine Cahiers are journals with a flexible heavy-duty cardboard cover with visible stitching on the spine. For every new project she buys a new Cahier, which come in a pack of three. She likes the pastel coloured covers best. Chitra claims they look graceful.

“It’s not really about the brand – it’s more about the quality of paper. I recently found a A5 notebook in Paperchase which had same quality of paper and beautiful hardbound cover which I use as the “in-my-purse” notebook.”

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“I think buying a notebook is the same (but more important) as buying shoes or bags. Good functional quality and then design and looks. Then the price makes it either a “reward” buy or a mandatory buy. I absolutely cannot write my award-winning novel celebrating diversity without a French Cahier by British Moleskin written using Asian Pilot V-Sign.”

Chitra told me that when she was writing full-time on an empty stomach, she was not sure if she would choose wisely between a Cahier and a full meal. Just in case, she ended up choosing food, she was hoarding all her favourite notebooks so when the day came she had to suffer for her art, at least her art wouldn’t suffer.

You can read the full interview here.

You can find out more about Chitra and her books on her website: www.chitrasoundar.com Or follow her on Twitter  @csoundar. Or Facebook: www.facebook.com/ChitraSoundarAuthor