Friday 21 December 2012

Giving Santa a Helping Hand, Bringing a Book to Poverty Stricken Kids This Xmas…

Over the past month I've had the pleasure of having many fantastic readers and writers join me in my Campaign to get Santa to put a book in every stocking, by writing to the Man-in-Red suggesting stocking filler books. It’s been great fun reading peoples letters to Santa as we all believe that ALL children love reading it’s just that some haven’t found the right book yet, so helping Father Christmas find the right book for each stocking has been very rewarding.

However it is a sad truth that some children are poverty stricken and can’t afford even a stocking to hang for Santa to fill. These children are amongst us, and we probably pass them every day. These children may well not receive any gifts as their parents can barely afford to put food on the table, let alone buy presents. As we all know Santa's Sat-Nav locks on to stockings, so he may be liable to miss these children altogether.  

So it’s time for us to give Santa a helping hand! Today I ventured in to Oxford, to the Blackwell’s Book Shop, as I had heard a rumour of Christmas goodwill.  Goodwill, I found in the form of the ‘Children’s Book Tree’ in the children’s department. The Children’s Book Tree has tags on it, and has a description of a child, (gender, age, reading ability & likes) that is from a disadvantaged back ground, who otherwise would not get any Christmas presents. You can pick a tag off the tree and buy a book, for that child. The book is then gift wrapped and the gift tag (that you write a message on) attached and delivered to the child.

I love this idea and chose a tag for a ‘Six year old girl who loves to laugh’, therefore buying ‘Agatha Parrot and the Floating Head’ by Kjartan Poskitt and David Tazzyman. Whilst paying for the book I spoke to the lovely sales assistant who told me that they have already sold, wrapped and distributed over 270 books. She then pointed out a healthy stack of wrapped books ready to be delivered and a pile of new tags to be hung on the tree. Apparently the initiative has been so successful you can now order ‘Children’s Book Tree’ gifts on-line  so press here to find out more or call 0131 6228225alternatively if you’re local to Oxford pop in to make sure a child that would otherwise go without gets a gift this Christmas.


I also discovered another Christmas Goodwill book initiative at the end of my road, this is a Christmas Book Crossing tree. This tree periodically gets transformed into a book tree by one of our village residents, so that children can pick off a book, read it and pass it on.  

What a great idea, so maybe if your children have any books they no longer want you could wrap them up, and hang them on a tree for other children to take, you never know it may make a child’s Christmas!

So please help Santa and spread a bit of Christmas goodwill by making sure every child gets a book this Christmas


Thursday 20 December 2012

Dear Santa a Grimm Stocking please! 200 Years of Grimm

 I would love Santa to put in a First Edition copy of the Grimm's Fairy Tales in each stocking, but as that may be a tad tricky and not all of us can speak German, here is a few alternative suggestions (PLEASE excuse mistakes,  was having a particularly bad dyslexic day!)...

So, Thank-You Santa, for Listening to all our #Book_in_Every_Stocking suggestions. Please take heed and use our suggestions to fine the right book for every child (no matter how old!).

Thanks everyone for stopping by and supporting the Book In Every Stocking Campaign. Please Tweet / FaceBook;#Book_in_Every_Stocking to support us, and maybe Tweet your Stocking Book Filler Suggestion for Santa Too!


Happy Birthday all Grimm Folk!
Merry Christmas One and All!

200 Today! Happy Birthday; Hans My Hedgehog, Red Riding Hood, Bearskin all Grimm Folk!

200 Year's old today! On the 20th December 1812 Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm First published their, 'Kinder- und Hausmärchen' / Childhood and Household Tales, which now iconically known as the Grimm's Fairy Tales. 

I am Uber Excitied about this fanastic anniversary, and will be back later today with a Grimm inspired #Book_in_Every_Stocking blog, so please come back and check it out later this afternoon!

Wednesday 19 December 2012

Dawn Finch's Stocking Filling Suggestion for Santa...

I'm delighted to have yet another published writer on the blog today supporting the #Book_in_Every_Stocking campaign. Today’s author is uniquely qualified to recommend books as she is also a Librarian. So welcome and a big thank you to Dawn Finch…

Dawn Finch is the author of the ghostly fantasy for 11+ readers – Brotherhood of Shades - pub Harper Collins (authonomy), for more info press here. It is out now in e-edition (all formats) and in print 2013. Sadly it on in a physical form to go in this years stocking, but SANTA - it can be a great book to give anyone who is getting a e-reader for Christmas...

...and next year it'll be in traditional book form, ideal for stockings!

Thanks everyone for checking out the blog and supporting our campaign to get Santa to put a book in every stocking. If you want to support us further, then comments leaving your book stocking filler suggestion for Santa.  Please remember that the louder we shout the more likely the big man in red is likely to here us in the north pole, so please tweet and Facebook...


Monday 17 December 2012

Dougal Trump's Book Stocking Filler Choice for Santa

I'm over the moon that Dougal Trump, freshly from a controversial performance of an inn-keeper at his school nativity, has found time to suggest a book stocking filler for Santa. Dougal is especially busy as he also works with, ‘Her’ Jackie Marchant, to pen his books. His first book; ‘ I'm Dougal Trump and It’s Not My Fault’ is out now, and is a perfect stocking filler for small people who love to laugh! 

You can follow Dougal on Facebook and Twitter or visit his website

Thanks for visiting and supporting our campaign lobbying Santa to put a book in every stocking. If you would like to support us more then please Twitter or Facebook...


Friday 14 December 2012

Jo Wyton's Suggestion for a Book in Every Stocking...

Jo Wyton writes contemporary books for teens and was one of the winners of Undiscovered Voices 2012, with her novel ‘Magpie.’ Jo is represented by Molly Ker Hawn of The Bent Agency and is currently working on her next book, ‘Dirt Dog.’ Lets hope Santa puts a book deal in her stocking as well as books! 

Thanks for checking out the the blog and supporting the 'Book in Every Stocking' Campaign. Please help us spread the word, as if we call shout then maybe Santa will hear! You can help spread the word by tweeting or FaceBooking...


Wednesday 12 December 2012

Stocking Book Suggestion from Catherine Friess - It's Pants!

Catherine is a teacher, translator, aspiring picture book writer and mother to a four year old. She also blogs at Story Snug where she recommends picture books (mostly) to expats, new parents and non-native English speakers (or anybody who loves picture books!). Catherine doesn't review books; she makes recommendations all of which are books that she and her daughter enjoy.

To find out more about the books that Catherine and her daughter love, visit the Story Snug by Pressing Here.

Thanks for stopping by, and please comeback to see more great book stocking-filler suggestions. Please feel free to comment and let us know your suggestion for a fab stocking filler book, and we will pass it on to Santa!

If you liked campaign and wish to support us please tweet of FaceBook; 


In the spirit of Panta Claus! 

Monday 10 December 2012

Book In Every Stocking; Book Suggestion by Mo O'Hara...

Mo O’Hara made the journey across ‘The Big Pond’ from the USA to the UK, where she made her home, and had a previous theatrical life. A storyteller to the core, Mo found her vocation as a writer, her début novel; ‘My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish’ is out in March 2013 published by Pan McMillan.

My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish’, is the adventures of Tom and his pet fish Frankie.  Everything takes a sinister and hilarious turn when Tom’s, evil scientist big brother, uses Frankie in an experiment with radioactive-gunge.  Tom saves his fishy friend by bringing him back form the dead with a battery, but Frankie has changed; he’s a zombie goldfish and he wants revenge! 

Sadly, 'My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish' is not available for stockings this year Santa.  However listen up Easter Bunny, its out just in time, for Easter! 

Thanks for stopping by and supporting the 'Book in Every Stocking Campaign!' If you wish to spread the word, then please Tweet or FaceBook....


Saturday 8 December 2012

A Book in Every Stocking! Book Suggestion by Alex

Alex is eight years old,  he enjoys reading and like all eight-year old boys has a healthy obsession with all things Lego!

Thanks for checking us out, don't forget to come back and see other Book stocking filler suggestions for Santa. Please spread the word by Tweeting / FaceBooking; 

# Book_in_every_stocking

Thursday 6 December 2012

A Book in Every Stocking - Paula Harrison

A Book in Every Stocking


Paula Harrison

Paula Harrison is the author of one of my Small People's favourite series of books; The Rescue Princesses. The Rescue Princesses are a group of princesses who tired of getting dressed up and attending balls, secretly learn ninja skills, and use them to save animals in peril. 

Paula’s first book, The Rescue Princesses; ‘The Secret Promise’, came out in April, and was quickly followed by,  ‘The Wishing Pearl’,  ‘The Moonlit Mystery’ and  ‘The Stolen Crystals’.  The next Rescue Princesses daring adventure,’ The Snow Pearl’, is published in January.

To find out more about Paula’s books (that also make great stocking fillers Santa!) press here. 

Please come back and check out the the other book stocking filler suggestions!

# Book_in_every_stocking

Please check out Read It Daddy's Book In Every Stocking post on his blog by Pressing Here

Wednesday 5 December 2012

A Book In Every Stocking Poem - by Elli

The campaign lobbing Santa to 'Put a Book in Every Stocking' is gaining momentum.  Here we have a beautiful poem in support of the campaign by Elli, please check out her site for more heart-warming poems by pressing here. 

A Book in Every Stocking

What’s in this stocking? What’s in this stocking?
It’s really appalling, it’s dreadful, it’s shocking!
Open it up. Go take a look.
Plenty of toys but not one single book!
Lots of cheap plastic which may look fantastic
Until it gets bust the next day.
Battery-powered toys which make plenty of noise
They’re horrible – take them away!
What’s in this stocking? What’s in this stocking?
It’s really appalling, it’s dreadful, it’s shocking!
Mass-produced tat. Look at all that!
It will only amuse for a while.
What children need is a book they can read
To give them a long-lasting smile.
What’s in this stocking? What’s in this stocking?
It’s really appalling, it’s dreadful, it’s shocking!
Please Father Christmas, please little elves,
Just give us some books we can put on our shelves!

© Elli Woollard 2012

Thanks so much Elli! 

Starting tomorrow we will have suggestion to Santa of books which will make great stocking fillers, by authors, librarians' children and many other book loving folk. So please do remember to come back and see what books are added to the stockings!

And don't forget to add this to use the tag if you Tweet or Facebook!  #Book_in_every_stocking


Monday 3 December 2012

My Christmas wish – A Book in Every Stocking!

It’s December, I know this because last night my husband and I sat beside the fire and watched ‘The Nightmare before Christmas,’ whilst drinking sherry and eating mince pies!  Yes its advent, and the small people have been writing there letters to Santa, and present lists for us.

I was thinking what would be on my letter to Santa?

1.       Agent – don’t think Santa can help with that!
2.       Publisher – Even less likely!

Then only one other came up and it’s not for me, but for all the small people who hang up there stockings on Christmas Eve….

My wish is that every child has a book or comic in their stocking,  that’ll actually make them want to pick it up and read it. So that what I've written on my letter to Santa.

I know that Santa may not have time to make lots of new books, but he can pop out and get some maybe from an indie book shop see link to my favourite indie book shop Mostly Books here. Or if he’s tight of cash he could try a charity shop or a cheap in line book seller like Banana Books see link.

If you would like to see this too, why not tweet or Facebook; #Dear_Santa_Book_in_every_Stocking. 

Monday 12 November 2012

The Next Big Thing

The Next Big Thing

I have really enjoyed reading fellow writers The Next Big Thing blog posts. It’s really interesting and inspiring learning what other people are working on. Especially as usually we all know everyone is typing away engrossed it their stories, but rarely get a glimpse of what that stories actually is until the writer has polished it enough to let out of their grubby mitts for critiquing.  

Thanks Jo Wyton for tagging me in, and if you haven’t read Jo’s blog press here. And without further ado here is my Next Big Thing Blog Post…

What is the working title of your book?

Journey to the Bone Factory

Where did the idea come from for the book?

 A dream – I dreamt a scene that was so vivid I woke up and wrote it down.

What genre does your book fall under?
YA Sci-Fi / Fantasy / Dickensian - it’s a real mixed bag. However I've heard from agents that mixed genre is big at the moment; Russell T Davis’s CBBC Wizards Vs Aliens is evidence of this. So, with a bit of luck (fingers crossed) it still will still be ‘BIG’ when I'm submitting! 

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Maisie Williams from Game of Thrones, for the main protagonist Jack.

Max von Sydow  - as Gamps the Rag-Bonner gypsy of the stars that trades the universe most valued commodity –secrets.

Alex Pettifer - to play Zef, the young Rag'n'Boner who becomes Jacks friend and helps Jack to travel to The Bone Factory.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Jack lives life by the rules until one day, he breaks every one, setting into motion events that’ll shake the whole galaxy, and sending him on a quest to a mysterious abandoned planet that’s home to The Bone Factory, and a prisoner so dangerous he’s been marooned on the furthest outpost of the galaxy.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Hopefully Agency.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I’ll get back to you as it’s still WIP, but I'm hoping that the first draft will be complete by Christmas.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Going to answer this slightly differently - I would say this is Dickens V’s Firefly (although I only saw firefly after I started writing it)

Who or What inspired you to write this book?
As I said I had a dream which I wrote down, I then submitted the small piece of writing to my crit group and got a really positive response so I decided to continue working on it. I’ve never written Sci-fi before so it’s slightly daunting but the world that appeared in the dream was so well formed and visualised that it inspires me to write to try and capture some of its atmosphere and dog-eared beauty.  

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Heaven’s Gate – the galaxy’s shanty town – home to the most poverty stricken folks, which is paradoxically paved in gold as the planet is solid pyrites or ‘fools Gold'

Rag’n’Boners – The gypsies of the stars that trade in rags and‘bones – the 'bones' being dead bodies.

A Bone Factory – where they recycle dead bodies into pillows, ceramics, candles and resins.

So here are the writers I’m tagging in who will be talking about their Next Big Thing very soon…

Dawn Finch
Who has two of my dreams jobs; being both a library Consultant and published author of ‘Brotherhood of Shades’! Fellow SCBOOIE and fan of dark literature. Check out Dawns Next Big Thing by Pressing Here.  

Ozlem Yickici
Talented artist (I can say this as we studied Art together at uni so I know she’s talented!) writer, SCBOOIE and overall lovely person. Ozlem like me is Dyslexic and is writing YA fairy tale inspired books. To check out her Next Big Thing post Click Here.

Liah S Thorley  
Travel Journalist with a theatrical past life and now writer of historical, sci-fi and fantasy (sometimes two at once) adults and YA books. Fellow Dyslexic and Abingdon Writer, to read about Liah’s Next Big Thing Press Here.

Also check out KM Lockwood, who Jo also tagged, to see what KM Lockwood's Next Big (Watery) Thing is Press Here.

Monday 5 November 2012

Western Fairy Tales in Manga

Western Fairy Tales in Manga

In the spirit  - Here is me Mangafied!

What’s Manga?  

Literally translated Manga means, ‘whimsical sketches’ – and it is the name for Japanese graphic novels and comics. Manga became prevalent in the post WWII Japan; believed to have been born with the publication of  Osamu Tezuka's, ‘Mighty Atom’ or ‘Astro Boy’ in 1951. 

The Manga I read is Shōjo Manga, which dates back to 1969 when a group of women manga artists known as ‘Year 24, debuted their Shōjo Manga’s, which is largely manga by women for women.

I was a late comer to Manga but have became a fan and at some points an addict when my mother (yes you read that right – my MOTHER) introduced me to ‘Fruits Basket’ by Natsuki Takaya. Since then I've read many Shōjo Manga series, being an artist and writer I'm drawn to the way story is delivered by both the illustrations and text working together as one entity.  For stories where text is used frugally they pull you in with concepts, story arcs, characterization, and quality of writing to rival any well penned novel.

One thing that I have noticed, is that every Manga series I have read references WESTERN fairy tales. Of course they reference Japanese and also Chinese folktales and mythologies, but there seems to be an abundance of western fairy tales coming through too. So I thought I'd talk about how the Shojo Manga use western fairy tales, starting with Tachibana Higuchi's, ‘Gakuen Alice.’  In future blogs I will  talk about ‘Fruits Baskets’ by Natsuki Takaya, and ‘Grimms Manga’ by Ishiyama Kei.

Gauken Alice or Alice Academe is about Miikan a 10 year old girl who travels to Tokyo to the Alice Academe in search of her best friend Hotaru. When she arrives Mikan finds that the Academe is a school for ‘gifted’ children who have superpowers called Alices.’  Mikan becomes enrolled as she too has a powerful alice, and soon discovers that the academe is much more sinister than it seems.  

The Gakuen Alice books use a lot of western fairy tales, in addition to an on-going,  ‘Alice in Wonderland / Through the Looking Glass’ theme. The reason for the’ Alice in Wonderland’ references is probably due to the shared Alice in title, but is used repeatedly throughout the series, for example the front covers of every book refers to, Alice Looking Glass, as each character in framed in a mirror.   In addition many of the characters costumes are also Alice in Wonderland themed emulating Alice’s iconic pinafore dress or have white-rabbits hats or even have playing card motifs.

In book 3 chapter 12, the cover illustration has Hotaru and Mikan outside a house made of sweets, and then later in the chapter Mikan puts on a performance of ‘The Little Match Girl’ to earn money to buy sweets. 

Then again in Book 5 chapter 23 the main characters do a play called, ‘The Sleeping Snow White in the Woods.’ The play has a mash up of Grimm’s fairy tales, (with a boy playing the princess) yet still preserves many of elements that construct western fairy tales.

With in the series the use of the western fairy tales puts Mikan again and again in the place of the poor fairy tale hero, having to overcome poverty and  adversity with just her wit. This is a clever reflection of Mikan's adventures throughout the series, where she is the poorest and most resented student within the school. Mikan character is also very much in accordance with western fairy tale heroines, she is naive, good natured, kind  and hard working yet suppressed by those who fear her.

The Gakuen Alice book’s are still being translated so I eagerly look forward to reading the rest of the series to see what other fairy tale delights are in stall for Mikan and her friends.

I hope you enjoyed reading this blog, and do comeback and read the other blogs in the series. Also I'm hoping to do more research about Western Fairy Tale in Manga, so if you can think of any examples, please let me know by leaving a comment , thanks!

Wednesday 31 October 2012

Our family Halloween Favourite Reads

Our family Halloween Favourite reads

Happy Halloween, All Hallows Eve, Samhain, Martinmas, and if you’re a witch then Happy New Year!

So with pumpkins carved and at the door, it’s time to celebrate Halloween, and so with that in mind I thought I share some of my families favourite Halloween reads.  The books were chosen by my small people and the words are all their own too…

Small Person Number One, Age eight.

‘Bedtime Monsters’ by Emma Harris and Paul Cherrill.

This is Halloweeny because it’s all about monsters, little scary ones that like hiding in a particular place. The reason they’re hiding in that particular place is their mum is trying to find them to put them to bed.

Winnie Witch books by Valerine Thomas and Korky Paul

The Winnie books are good for Halloween because there are witches and they do silly magic tricks, well not magic TRICKS – BUT ACTUAL MAGIC!

Small Person Number Two, Age Six.

Meg and Mog Books by Helen Nicoll and Jan Pieñkowski

Because they are FUNNY!

My Choices…

This is so difficult because there are soooo many great Halloween reads but my two favourite are…

‘The Graveyard Book’ By Neil Gaiman

I only discovered this book this year and, well, was absolutely blown away. The first line is one of the best openings ever… and had me hooked…

‘The knife had done almost everything it was brought to that house to do, both the blade and the handle were wet.’

Then the wielder of the knife goes to finish the job, but his final target the baby has gone, climbed out of his cot, down the stairs, out the open door and into the grave yard. The baby is found by the residents of the graveyard – the dead, who raise him giving him the freedom of their home. The story follows the baby, called ‘Nobody’, as he grows and as he interacts with the graveyard residents and has adventures.

The story is as beautiful as it is macabre, with real emotion and brilliantly crafted writing. But for me it’s the fabric of the story which gives it it’s strength. Its originality, woven together with legends and mythology create a rich narrative. I can’t tell you how excited I was when Nobody’s tutor, ‘Miss Lupescu,’  turned out to be a ‘Hell Hound’ – (well I actually shouted YES very loud in a hospital waiting room *cringe*)

The last thing I’ll say is the character Silas, Nobody’s guardian, is fabulous – not once in the whole book does it actually say what Silias is, but let’s see what you think. Silias unlike the other graveyard residents is not dead –although he’s not alive either – has the ability to leave the graveyard as he pleases. Silias is pale, imposing; he eats only one thing (which is unspecified). He also moves like…

 ‘…a familiar shadow swirled beneath the street lamps. Bod hesitated, as a flutter of night-black velvet resolved itself into a man-shape.’

Anyway this is a fabulous read any time of year, but especially at Halloween.

My other choice is ‘Chibi Vampir’e by Yuna Kagesaki.

These are fabulously illustrated Manga graphic novels, about Karin, a vampire with a difference. Unlike the rest of her family, Karin does not like the dark, she loves garlic, and she doesn't drink blood, instead once a month she has an abundance of blood and has to bite people and give them her excess.

The books are YA Gothic Contemporary Comedy’s, and are fun quick reads, and well worth checking out.

And finally a firm family favourite published this year, nominated by my husband; 'The Totally Terrifying Three’ by Hiawyn Oram and David Melling. It’s a colourful tale that’s Halloweeny not matter how hard they try, The Terrifying Three will not scare your small people!

Happy reading on Halloween!