Wednesday, April 11, 2012

In answer to the last post

The short answer is: I've been writing. 

The slightly longer answer is that I had a few realisations: 

  1. I realised that I needed a good long break from my WIP. I've been working on it since November 2010 and if I'm to do it justice, I need to leave it alone and come back to it when I can do a good job. Until I actually admitted that I was feeling a bit down, but now I'm quite happy about that decision. 
  2. Whenever I interview other writers I ask plotter or pantster. I tried the Snowflake method. I got all excited and really enjoyed it and learnt a lot from it, but I think that deep down I'm a bit of a pantster. 
  3. Having said that last weekend when I decided that I was going to write something new (I knew I was going to start something new before last weekend, I just didn't know what), I went through my strongest idea with the Frog. He didn't say bof, but he might as well have. In desperation, I burst out with idea number two. By Sunday I was giving him a scene by scene breakdown of what was going to happen and who the characters were. The good news is, he likes it. 
  4. I think it's for adults, but it could be crossover, but then again it could be YA, but it's probably for adults. 
  5. I'm really enjoying that buzz of the first draft again. 
Right, I'm off to write some more and while I will be writing in the next two weeks, I won't be blogging. The photos will appear as if by magic, but the The Frog, Bubba and I are off to Guadeloupe for a couple of weeks. Squee. 

Monday, April 09, 2012

A book review: Cinderella

Title: Cinderella
Author: Nick Sharrat and Stephen Tucker
Published: Macmillan's children's books (2001)
Synopsis: Cinderella's sisters were such a rotten pair, She did all the housework, They never did their share. A funny retelling of the classic fariy tale with lift-the-flap surprises. Also in this series: The Three Little Pigs, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, Goldilocks.


The three year old test:  The bubba asked me what I was doing in her room so I asked her to pick me a book. About a year ago the book fair came to school and this one caught my interest because the bubba was big into her Spot books, so I thought she would like the lift-the-flaps in this book too. A colleague came along and virtually sealed the deal by telling me that her kids loved the books when they were kids. The clincher was the special CD.  

Rereadability: Part of the reason I liked the special CD was that we had just moved and the bubba was commuting to the creche. Because the text is so infinitely rereadable and memorable, even without the pictures Bubba loved this story. 

Text: It can be read fast slow or medium, depending on the amount of time you have. As there is a certain predictability to the text, kids can guess what is coming next and also eventually join in with it as they memorise the story. I certainly got to memorise the text after reading it every night for three weeks. When it was a late bedtime I could be pointing to the flaps as I recited away. We've borrowed Little Red Riding hood and Goldilocks from the library and the bubba picked out The Three Little Pigs when we were in the UK recently, but as we already have two versions I swapped it for Jack and The Beanstalk. So out of the four we've read, this one is definitely our favourite and the rhyming works particularly well. I also like that when you examine the text, it isn't too far away from the original, but there are a couple of lines that make it thoroughly modern and then there are...

Pictures: Nick Sharrat's pictures. In this version of Cinderella there are washing machines, discos. platform shoes and boxes of chocs. But there are also the traditional elements like a pumkin and white mice and a lovely gown and the shoe. Of course Cinders loses the shoe. 

Monday, April 02, 2012

A book review: Bright Stanley

Title: Bright Stanley
Author: Matt Buckingham
Published: Little Tiger Press (6 Mar 2006)
Synopsis: Far below the waves a little fish called Stanley lived with the rest of his shoal. They were the brightest, sparkliest fish in the whole of the deep, dark sea. One morning Stanley woke up rather late. "Coo-ee! It's me-ee!" he called to his friends as usual. But the reef was strangely quiet...

In the days when I wasn't exactly sure what to buy, I confess that in that banner that says: If you are buying this, then why not try this... I also confess that that was the first and last time I chose my books like this. Firstly because I was using and for some bizarre reason they never specify whether the books are UK and US edition. Now call me an old stickler, but when I don't know I'm reading a US edition the spelling throws me... anyway. 

Text: This is the tale of a slightly camp (well in my mind) and sparkly goldfish called Stanley, who wakes up one morning and realises he is late to meet his school as they swim to warmer waters. His adventures lead him through a whole gamut of emotions: glee, terror, disappointment and shock, which are quite fun to share with a young child. Stanley has a couple of catchphrases: 'Hello it's me!' and 'Jumping Jellyfish', which we really enjoy and like I said at the beginning I play him camp. One of the things I'm not too keen on is the growled, snarled, groaned... dialogue tags. I kind of know the book off by heart now, but to begin with it would throw me off my game. 

Pictures: In complete contrast with the Ahlberg's work, Stanley is pretty simple, painted pictures, but we really like them. We can see the emotion on Stanley's face (and I'm a bit of a Nemo fan and have watched all the extra bits and know how difficult that is to do). There are clever little devices in the pictures, such as a sea snail that appears on every page and the sparkly Stanley of course. 

Rereadability: Have I mentioned the catchphrase? Brilliant, because you pick up the book and everyone instantly says it. There is also a moment (I don't want to give it away) which will have your kid scuttling under the covers and when we're doing the read aloud we like to play that bit up. It's not really the calmest of bed time reads, but it definitely is fun . 

The three year old test:  I recently learnt that if publishers put foil in your books they LOVE you. Well Bright Stanley has foil on EVERY page people. And for the last page you practically need your sunglasses. This goes down really well with the three year old who loves stroking the foil. She also loves to join in with Stanley's catchphrase. All together now: Hellooooo it's meEE!

OMG! (Say that in a Bright Stanley way) I've just found the page! Jumping Jellyfish!


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