Click on the The Niggle Launch Competition for your chance to win one of ten signed copies of my new book, The Niggle.
The Niggle tells the story of Joe Jackson, a little boy who has never felt fear. Until the day a miniature monster swims in his ear! The monster is the Niggle, a tiny terror, who whispers worries in Joe’s head and makes him afraid. Will Joe Jackson let the Niggle win? Or will he learn to overcome his fears?
The Niggle, through humour and rhyme, tells children aged between three and eight that it’s OK to feel fear. In fact, you can’t be brave if you don’t! I hope it is a reassuring (though not too didactic) message for young children – as well as being a fun and exciting story!
As it’s National Poetry Day, I thought I’d tell you about some rhymes I wrote at the weekend. I spent the morning being inspired at the lovely Coastal Gardener’s Nursery, near to where I live on the Isle of Wight, writing rhyming couplets – Nursery Rhymes (geddit?!) – and planting them amongst the pots and borders.
It was part of an Artists in the Garden day and for me it was a silly, yet surprisingly challenging, extension of the rhymes I look for on a daily basis (and often post on Peta Rainford’s Books on Facebook.) I must say, it has given me a bit of a taste for ‘guerrilla rhyming’ and I will be looking for other opportunities to try it out. I will definitely be working it into future school visits.
Funnily enough, as I was driving to the Coastal Gardener’s nursery on Saturday, Sally Crabtree came on the radio, former gymnast and current poet. Sally takes guerilla poetry to another level and is an inspiration.
So watch this space – or possibly a school, supermarket, park, beach, library or other public space! I’d love to use school visits to get children involved in the poetry of the everyday (or silly rhymes, if you prefer.)
Tickets are now available for my session at the Isle of Wight Literary Festival on Saturday 14 October at 11am. Tickets are free, but you need to register for one to come long. It says ages 3-8, but that’s just for guidance; please come and join me for some lettery fun – whatever your age! And check out all the other fun and exciting sessions taking place in the Youth Zone.
Isabella, Rotten Speller
I am just in the process of finishing off the illustrations for my new rhyming picture book, due out this autumn. It’s probably my most ‘traditional’ book so far, both in terms of narrative and illustrative style – but don’t let that put you off (!) I think it still has a bit of an edge.
It returns to themes similar to those explored in Hairy Fairy (which is all about girls daring to be different; daring to be themselves), but this time I look at that time when children first feel the niggle of anxiety and lose their natural, gung-ho confidence. My story says it’s ok to be afraid. You can’t be brave if you feel no fear!
Keep your eyes open for more information, including the launch date, over the coming weeks and months.
Really looking forward to being part of the Youth Zone at the Isle of Wight Literary Festival (IWLF). The Youth Zone programme isn’t out yet (I will share it when it is), but I can tell you that I will be there on Saturday 14 October, at 11 am, reading Isabella, Rotten Speller and helping children create letter portraits and puppets. Can’t wait!
So pleased to have been able to start 2017 with a number of really fun school visits. So far this year I have been able to share my books and do related art and literacy activities with children from nursery and reception classes, as well as years 1, 2 and 5.
To support my visits, I have developed a number of resources, which I can deliver in schools myself, or which teachers are welcome to use in their own classes. You can find these resources here, alongwith more details of some of my recent school visits.
If you are a teacher and would like me to visit your school, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To mark World Book Day, I have been sharing five of the picture books I most wish I’d written.
This is the final one of the day:
5:The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers
Why do I wish I had written it?
I do like a concept book. And this is a great one. It tells of the story of Duncan, who just wants to do some colouring . But when he opens his box of crayons, all he finds is a pile of letters – each one written by a different coloured crayon – all saying the same thing, that the crayon has quit. Some of the crayons resent being overworked, others feel overlooked. Each of the letters reveals an individual personality. All of them are hilarious. The child-like illustrations by Oliver Jeffers are wonderful too. I would love to have written this original, clever, funny book.
So, to mark World Book Day, I’m sharing five of the books I most wish I’d written.
We’re on to number four:
4: Dogs Don’t Do Ballet by Anna Kemp and Sara Ogilvie
Why do I wish I’d written (and illustrated) it?
I love this book. It’s funny and charming and beautifully written. But the thing I like most about it is the characterisation of Biff, the (male) dog who dreams of being a ballerina and pines away when he’s not allowed to dance. His character is beautifully written by Anna Kemp, but it is brought to life by Sara Ogilvie’s wonderful illustrations. This book makes me smile! I would like to write a character as convincing and loveable as Biff.
For World Book Day, I am sharing five of the picture books I most wish I’d written.
This is the third.
3. Who’s Afraid of The Big Bad Book? By Lauren Child
Why do I wish I’d written it?
Well, I do have a soft spot for books about books. Julia Donaldson and Axel Sheffler’s Charlie Cook’s Favourite Book is another lovely one. But what I love about Who’s Afraid of The Big Bad Book? is that it’s laugh-out-loud funny. Lauren Child is so witty, subversive and clever. My favourite bit is where our hero, Herb, is trying to climb up the text to escape, but ‘Some of the words were a bit weak and the whole lot started to wobble’. I can honestly say, I know that feeling!
I thought as it’s World Book Day, I’d share five of the picture books I most wish I’d written.
Here’s number 2:
2: The Snail and the Whale by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler
Why do I wish I’d written it?
It’s the favourite Donaldson/Sheffler book in our house for all sorts of reasons. But the reason I wish I’d written it, is for the quality and ambition of the language. I so admire the description, the rhythm, the rhyme, the alliteration: ‘These are the waves that arched and crashed,/That foamed and frolicked and sprayed and splashed.’ It’s a wonderful book to read out loud. And I love the audacity of a picture book that uses words like ‘immensely’ and ‘towering’. It shows great confidence in the beauty of the way language sounds. Young children don’t have to know what every word means to love it. It is like listening to music.