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Mon, 09 Jan 2012 10:02
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!
Fri, 06 Jan 2012 14:32
Before 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.
Fri, 09 Dec 2011 10:21
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
Tue, 29 Nov 2011 11:03
Wed, 09 Nov 2011 09:36
Today we have a guest blog post from etymologist Mark Forsyth
I find myself recommending the Book Depository a lot recently. It's the free shipping. Every time a friend of mine phones up from Hong Kong or Belize or New Caledonia asking where they can get hold of a copy of The Etymologicon I direct them straight here without once stopping to ask myself why the hell all my friends seem to prefer being on the other side of the world from me.
Anyway, as the Book Depository is so good at delivering to these flung-far places, I think it only fair to point out that they deserve the free shipping, they've earned it. After all, they never demanded a penny for all the words that they gave to England for absolutely nothing. So here is a brief sample and selection of words from some of the more recondite states whither the Book Depository delivers.
For example, I have never been to Samoa, but the Book Depository undertakes to deliver a copy of my book there, if requested. And I know, merely from having wasted my youth with dictionaries that we share a word with them. Captain Cook was sailing around the South Seas when he happened to ask the natives what their body art was called. They replied that it was a tattoo. On other subjects they were much less forthcoming. These subjects they called taboo.
Madagascar is home to one of my favourite creatures, etymologically speaking: the Indri. An eighteenth century French naturalist called Pierre Sonnerat was hiking through the Malagasay jungle discovering new species when his guide pointed at a funny little creature and shouted 'Indri'. Sonnerat whipped out his notebook, described the creature and noted that it was called the Indri. It still is. However, had he been familiar with the native tongue, he would have known that in Malagasay indri just means 'Look at that!'
And finally, the Vatican. Did you know that the Vatican has the highest crime rate per capita of any country on earth? Well you do now. It's also the home of the original Devil's Advocate, who is more properly known as the Promotor Fidei, or promoter of the faith. The job of the Devil's Advocate was to find good reasons that somebody shouldn't be made a saint, and thus stop any awkward scandals when a newly beatified fellow turned out to be a scoundrel. The French for advocate is avocet, which is also the French word for avocado. I think this means that across the channel the Promotor Fidei would be popularly known as Satan's Avocado, an idea that amuses me more than I can say. They're unrelated, though, advocate and avocado. The latter, as I point out in The Etymologicon, comes from the Aztec word for testicle; and, as I'm incurably puerile, I find that even better.
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