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  • Periodic Tales

    Thu, 19 Jan 2012 12:36

    blog imageToday, we welcome author Hugh Aldersey-Williams onto the blog to talk about his new book, Periodic Tales.

    Consider the Eurozone crisis. No, on second thoughts, you've probably done enough of that. But do consider the actual euro - the folding stuff used by so many of our continental cousins. It's a closely kept secret that the security features in these banknotes incorporate one of the most obscure elements in the whole periodic table - or it was until I blurted it out in my book Periodic Tales. The element is europium, and it's used in some of the fluorescent dyes that make the notes harder to forge. (These dyes are what light up when the cashier in a bank puts the money into those funny UV light machines they've got on their desks.) It's obviously not there by chance - they could have used lots of other elements. But who's responsible for this little euro jeu d'esprit. Nobody's telling.

    Of course, the London Olympics will be big on elements too - gold and silver, and the copper and tin that make up bronze, not to mention the titanium and other fancy alloys used in equipment such as javelins or the carbon-fibre prosthetic limbs of some of the Paralympic athletes.

    And they're even present in the books that the Book Depository ships hither and yon. Mainly as carbon, oxygen and hydrogen in the cellulose of paper, of course. But perhaps also a whiff of chlorine left over from the bleaching process, and some colourful metals in the dyes used for the cover illustrations.

    Periodic Tales has been pretty popular, but I first encountered The Book Depository several years ago, when I self-published a previous book, called Findings: Hidden Stories in First-Hand Accounts of Scientific Discovery. It was a peculiar project (but I think a successful one), taking leading scientific papers of the 20th century, and subjecting them to lit-crit-style deconstruction. All sorts of amazing things emerged from these supposedly dispassionate documents, including seething envies and rivalries, and desperate attempts to cover up for inadequate data. Anyway, Findings was my adventure at the more recondite end of the publishing industry, and that's the reason I really support the Book Depository and its ethos of "selling 'less of more' rather than 'more of less'."

    Happy New Year,

    Hugh

  • The Very Best of 2012 - sort of

    Thu, 12 Jan 2012 10:56

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    We've rounded up a great selection of titles coming up in 2012. We know we've missed loads so why not help us out and give us some top tips. Guaranteed winners only please! (Only kidding).

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  • Chocolate factories

    Mon, 09 Jan 2012 10:02

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    CHOCOLATE FACTORIES, BOARDING SCHOOLS, AND THE WORLD'S WILDEST HOTEL.

    When I was at Puffin Books, Roald Dahl used to tease me about my beard - he called me the real Mr Twit, and said that I only had to eat one meal a day as most of it ended up in my whiskers! His form of tough love appealed to children everywhere. He told the truth about adults, greedy children, bullies, and possibly facial hair, and he always championed the underdog! His masterpieces also had the most exciting of settings, from an extraordinary chocolate factory to a giant peach!

    If your children love vivid settings and captivating adventures then try two marvellous writers from the USA. Trenton Lee Stewart's New York Times bestselling MYSTERIOUS BENEDICT SOCIETY is a much-loved story that celebrates unusual talents, in which four unlikely young heroes go undercover to test their ingenuity and puzzle-solving skills against arch foes. Set in a boarding school on a remote island, which is actually a façade for a sinister organisation, this will really enliven their imagination.

    Or there's Patrick Carman's brand new book, FLOORS. His setting is the strangest hotel in the world, with hidden floors, a different challenge on each one - and unexpected ducks! Like chocolate factories, hotels are alive with adventurous possibilities - perfect for any 8 to 12 year-old reader to move into!

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  • Professor Munakata v Mr Noh

    Fri, 06 Jan 2012 14:32

    blog imageBefore Christmas, to celebrate the Yukinobu Hoshino exhibition at the British Museum, we ran a competition to design a Manga super hero. We've had dozens of brilliant entries which you can see on our flickr page here. But, as in every super hero battle, there has to be a winner and our judges (two of the British Museum's Japan curators and comics aficionado Paul Gravett) have come to their decision.

    Mr Noh by Agosto is the winner of all our Manga and British Museum goodies.

    The judges were hugely impressed by the quality of the entries and wanted to give honourable mentions to five others. So, well done RebeccaM, KolyaS, Francisca, TeaganM and VickiS.

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  • Zombies and Christmas

    Fri, 09 Dec 2011 10:21

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    Surely no one is more qualified to help than Book Wizard, Barry Cunningham - the original publisher of Harry Potter. He has worked with some of the greatest names in children's books past and present - from J.K. Rowling to Roald Dahl and Cornelia Funke. And now, as the highly successful publisher of Chicken House, he is busy finding outstanding new fiction.

    Every month he'll talk book magic: pick a favourite story - and link it to another lesser-known book that keen young readers will also enjoy!

    "Some of my favourite authors have loved scary stories - I remember Roald Dahl telling me even more terrifying versions of his Tales of the Unexpected stories in the back of his car while coming back late on tour for Penguin Books. There's something about snow and wintertime that makes cosying up with a terrifying but comforting story even more fun! So if you've got older children or younger teens who love the frighteners in movies and books, then they - and you - will adore Kirsty McKay's UNDEAD, where zombies really make a meal of the school trip. And if you find yourself hiding under the covers, why not check out Kirsty's top tips to help you survive the zombie apocalypse..."

    'Fast, furious, freaky, funny...' CHARLIE HIGSON, author of The Enemy

    'Twilighters will love it... hysterically funny, suspenseful and altogether superior fare.' Amanda Craig, The Times

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