The Project Twins, based in Ireland, have used their graphic art skills to illustrate this collection of strange, unusual and lost words. I am determined to start using as many of these words as I can in conversation - do this with me and together we can help bring them out of obscurity!
ON SALE 11TH MARCH 2014
I can’t wait to see it sitting alongside THE ABILITY on the bookshelves!
Hopefully it won’t be too long before I can show you the cover too - I’ve seen the sketches and it’s looking AMAZING! It’s being illustrated by the same artist as THE ABILITY - the incredibly talented Iacopo Bruno. As soon as it’s finished and I get the go-ahead, I will post it here (after a sneak preview for members of the Myers Holt Society).
Alright … this is going to get awfully heavy for a children’s book.
Taken as a children’s book ‘We are in a Book’ is successful on all counts. The vocabulary is repeated without tedium while still managing to be expressed in context. The artwork is charming, the characters pleasantly quirky without being overt, and all in all the word bubble dynamic make it easy for a child to identify tone and conflict.
So, mechanically, this is a very well written children’s book.
Now to the overall plot … Gerald and Piggie are seen relaxing when one realizes that they are, in fact, being watched… by a reader. Yes, the book is completely meta. The two explore the power they have over the reader by making the reader say specific words. This also acts as a tutorial on how to read Mo Willems typical work.
Then it gets … AWESOME. Gerald finally catches wind that the book will end! ENDS?! THE BOOK ENDS!? While he is exploring the horror and helplessness of his own ceasing-to-be Piggie attempts to comfort him. The worrisome nature of death is apparent in the elephant’s expression, and the pig’s stoicism and light-hearted approach is the foil to this. The two characters literally have a masked discussion about how ‘all books must end.’
After Piggie peeks ahead a few pages (not unlike the most powerful of soothsayers) she devises a way in which Gerald and her can continue their existence… they need to be read again.
The reader, unable to decline the pleading request, feels compelled to read the book again from the beginning … only to find that that alarm of Gerald has not eased and the same solution has been reached! It is a Sisyphean endeavor! You must read the book endlessly for ALL TIME TO PREVENT THE END OF GERALD AND PIGGIE. Unlike the Buddhist wheel, they do not grow or diminish or reincarnate in any way different than their current iteration, leaving the reader in an inescapable causality loop!
I met this lovely girl during my book tour and she sent me her review of THE ABILITY - I absolutely LOVE it! And so well written too - I think you may be looking at a future author here. I also think she deserves an ‘A’ for her report, don’t you?!
If you had found out you had a power that can control people’s minds, would you use it responsibly? Christopher Lane and five other children have to make that very decision. Chris is known for getting into trouble at school, and ever since he’s been left to take care of his mother, he has had to take up responsibility that makes him different than other kids his age. This novel goes beyond having magical powers and introduces a skill called The Ability to the children at the old school, Myers Holt, the setting where the children will be taught. The only problem that stalls the students in their success is an old friend of The Ability who now wants scores to be settled. But as many know, if not put aside, revenge can destroy a person. The Ability by M.M. Vaughan is 330 pages of completely jaw-dropping secrets and magical chapters, all leading up to a perfect last sentence, that will leave you begging for the next novel.
VAUGHAN, M. M. The Ability; illus. by Iacopo Bruno. Trade ed. ISBN 978-1-4424-5200-8 $15.99
R Gr. 5-7
Reminiscent of early Harry Potter novels with its neglected hero, oddball teachers, eccentric assortment of classmates, and secret school where students learn to harness their powers, the novel still manages ultimately to feel fresh and original, and the narrative strikes a delicate and effective balance between light-hearted wish-fulfillment, fun, dark moments of heartbreak, and genuine suspense. Occasional chapters from the point of view of the Genever brothers, the boys carrying out the evil plot, provide readers with a chance to learn more about the secret behind the attacks and create a second level of intrigue and suspense. Those looking for a read-alike to Stewart’s The Mysterious Benedict Society (BCCB 5/07) will be delighted with Christopher’s adventure. Final illustrations not seen. AM
Ooooh - look at what Simon & Schuster have just put up - I LOVE it! Take the (incredibly scientific) quiz to find out if you have the ABILITY on the SIMON KIDS facebook page. Click here to take the quiz now.
If you’d met me when I was ten, I would probably have had my head stuck in a book. I used to sneak books into dinner and would hide them on my lap just so that I could keep reading. And I read everything I could get my hands on, not just fiction; Readers Digest, National Geographic, even an entire encyclopaedia once! But there were some books that I reread over and over (and over) again and here, in no particular order, are my ten favourites (I still have the dog-eared copies of most of these). If you haven’t read them, you should.
The Worst Witch by Jill Murphy
Before there was Harry Potter, there was Mildred Hubble - the worst student at Miss Cackle’s Academy for Witches. Potions classes, flying lessons and the most adorable, and useless, pet cat in literature - it has everything. For a younger age group than the Rowling books.
The Demon Headmaster by Gillian Cross
There was just something about a school where students never broke any rules and stood in the playground reciting times tables that creeped me out - in a good way. Great premise, really strong characters.
George’s Marvellous Medicine by Roald Dahl
I’ve picked this one, but really it could have been almost any other Dahl book. However, I did love this one with all it’s wickedness and sweet vengeance. It also inspired my brother and I to pour all the liquids we could find into the bath to make one big, foaming, mess. Lots of fun but, in the end, it just got washed down the plughole and we got into quite a bit of trouble with my mum.
This book dictated the way I spent a significant number of weekends during my childhood. Cut out newspapers, choosing a trenchcoat, how to tail people in the park and write letters in code - this book has it all. Also, by the by, there’s a great review for this on Amazon, click here.
Famous Five - Five on a Treasure Island by Enid Blyton
If ever there was a character that I identified with at school, it was George. Both staunch tomboys, I thought it was amazing that there was a book with someone just like me in it. I even tried getting my friends to call me George for a while, but it never caught on.
Fighting Fantasy - City of Thieves by Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone
More of a game than a book, this one was my favourite of the choose-your-own ending Fighting Fantasy books. It’s the reason that whenever I get to choose a character class in a computer game, I always go for thief (yes, I know). My mum would photocopy mountains of the adventure sheets for us and my brother and I would be completely silent for hours - well, until one of us caught the other cheating.
The Goalkeeper’s Revenge by Bill Naughton
This is a wonderful collection of short stories and the first book that made me cry. I was sitting at my desk listening to my teacher read ‘Spit Nolan’, completely lost in the story, when she reached the last line. I remember it took me a moment to work out what the line meant and then I burst into tears. All the stories are so original and evocative - it really doesn’t matter if you like football/soccer or not (I don’t), it’s just a great read.
The Hobbit by J.R.R.Tolkien
I never really got into the Lord of the Rings books, but I loved The Hobbit. I’m not the only one - it’s so brilliant they’re making three films out of it.
Blubber by Judy Blume
I read every Judy Blume book and loved them all but this was my first, and, even though I haven’t read it in probably twenty something years, I can still remember everything about it. Nothing used to upset me more than seeing somebody being bullied or picked on at school - something that hasn’t really changed - and this book really struck a chord with me.
The Essential Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Waterson
Should this book be on this list? I don’t know - firstly, it’s a collection of cartoon strips and, secondly, it didn’t come out until I was thirteen. Nevertheless, if it had come out a few years earlier, I would have loved it then just as much as I love it now. And, yes, I can pretty much quote the entire thing.
Calvin: I’m a genius, but I’m a misunderstood genius.
Hobbes: What’s misunderstood about you?
Calvin: Nobody thinks I’m a genius.
What do you think - do you agree/disagree? What would your list include?
Something to inspire all writers out there - J.K.Rowling’s Harvard Commencement Speech on ‘The Fringe Benefits of Failure’. I must have watched this a thousand times.
I spend a lot of time with a friend of mine looking for the perfect place to write. We have our own set of requirements (she needs wi-fi for her research and I need Diet Coke - both are deal-breakers) and, as we live on opposite ends of London, it needs to be a fairly central or East End location (with one Dulwich one thrown in for the days when I’m feeling lazy). It’s actually been surprisingly difficult to find somewhere that feels just right, though it could be that we’re just looking for excuses to visit new places. So, here, in no particular order, are our top ten places to write and their pros and cons:
1. The Connaught Hotel, Mayfair
Pros: Beautiful surroundings with lots of light, quiet and comfortable and you can’t help but feel like a serious writer. As it’s a hotel, they don’t mind people spending the whole day there working and not buying too much. Free wi-fi.
Cons: Food is (unsurprisingly) very expensive. A mozzarella and tomato salad cost £18! You can’t look too scruffy.
2. The Book Club, Hoxton EC2
Pros: Oh, it’s just so gorgeous - I want to live here! Incredibly hip and, well, it’s called The Book Club, which of course makes it the perfect place to write. Free wi-fi. Loads of events, workshops etc on in the evenings - worth keeping an eye on the schedule.
Cons: It gets very busy. Sometimes closes during the day for events - or at least it did on one particular day that I turned up raring to get writing. If you’re easily distracted (and not alone) then the ping-pong tables won’t help.
Pros: As their flagship store, this is the only Starbucks of its kind in London. A cool seating area, comfy sofas and brick walls - it really feels like you should be writing a book in there. Lots of other people who look like writers (we didn’t ask) which adds to the whole literary feel. They don’t mind you spending the day there with a single cup of coffee. Food is well-priced - important if you’re going to be eating there every day.
Cons: The seating area is downstairs in the basement, so not somewhere you’re going to want to work in if the sun happens to come out. It gets very full so you’ll probably end up sharing your sofa and table with the lunchtime crowd. Oh yeah, and it doesn’t serve Diet Coke - so that was that for me.
4. The Woolpack, Bermondsey Street, SE1
Pros: Proper pub, loads of original features and some particularly lovely green tiles. Free wi-fi. A few booths - my favourite. Lovely beer garden if you prefer to take your writing outside. When it’s not busy, it is the perfect place to work in.
Cons: Gets incredibly busy and noisy during lunch and after work hours - even headphones don’t help.
5. The British Library Cafe, Kings Cross NW1
Pros: Designed for working - there’s free wi-fi, loads of powerpoints and many, many tables. The wall of books is beautiful and reminds you that you are in a library (you could be forgiven for thinking you were sitting in a huge Apple store). If writer’s block strikes, there’s always an interesting literary exhibition or two to get you inspired. Good food, well-priced.
Cons: There really aren’t any cons. For me, it’s a bit inconvenient travel-wise, otherwise I’d probably be here every day.
The Crown & Greyhound Dulwich
Pros: A lovely, large pub and, unless it’s the weekend, there’s always somewhere cosy to sit. Free wi-fi (but not great). Huge beer garden for the rare sunny day.
Cons: It’s a bit of a trek for most people. Very popular, particularly with mothers and babies, so take headphones.
7. look mum no hands!, Old Street EC1
Pros: Free wi-fi. Great food and coffee at very reasonable prices. Loads of power points to charge up the laptop. Hip, warehouse style with a bicycle repair shop inside, which only adds to the cool vibe of the place.
Cons: Really noisy and full most of the time. The constant stream of people means the door is always opening and closing which, on cold days, means everybody at the front of the place is sitting with their jackets on (fix - sit at the back).
8. London Bridge Hotel, London Bridge
Pros: Right next to London Bridge station. We’ve been there quite a few times and it’s always empty or nearly empty which, whilst depressing for the owners I’m sure, is good in terms of getting on with work. The staff are friendly, the food and coffee are not overpriced.
Cons: There’s nothing we can really put our finger on but, for more reasons than just the lack of people, it’s slightly soulless. The wi-fi is free but you have to keep going to the bar to get a new printed password as your connection only last one hour.
9. The Booking Office Bar, Kings Cross.
Pros: Beautiful, imposing and awe-inspiring. It’s the perfect setting in which to write in and, if you’re into armchairs, you can’t find a finer collection. Despite its considerable cons, it really is worth visiting at least the once.
Cons: No free-wifi. The staff (and others who have been say the same), are rude and snooty. Very pricey. They turned us away at 9.30am, even though the place was empty, as they only allow hotel guests in before 10 for breakfast.
10. The Wellcome Collection, Euston Road NW1
Pros: It has a creative office feel about it, perfect for that moment when you get really serious about finishing your book, and the bookshop is there to remind you of the direction in which your hard work is heading. Cool lighting (you can’t tell from the photo, but take my word for it) and free wi-fi too.
Cons: Like all the best places, it gets really busy, particularly during lunch hours. There’s no music and a lot of talking so headphones are a must. If you’re a morning person (I’m not), then you might not like the fact that it doesn’t open until 10am.
In between creating great literary works, these authors also found the time to create some pretty decent art too. Urgh, as if I didn’t feel guilty enough about my Mad Men boxset marathon.
And finally, the shotgun artwork of William S. Burroughs
(this post was inspired by a Melville House Books post - visit to see some more examples)
So, I’m finally allowed to show this….the cover of my book!!!!!!!!! I had absolutely nothing to do with it - all credit goes to Simon & Schuster’s cover designer Krista Vossen and illustrator Iacopo Bruno. Hope you all like it - particularly if you are between nine and twelve years old and into fantasy/adventure books :)