Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Granny At The Park - Reading Champions

I've been busy working on some very short stories with Franklin Watts recently to encourage and help very young children with their independent reading. The first of these is Granny At The Park, illustrated by Jan Smith. I've only seen the rough inside artwork so far but have just spotted the colour cover on Amazon so thought I'd share it here with you. It's fun and a bit challenging working on very short stories (there's only six words on each page) and they need really lively artwork to bring them to life. I think that Jan Smith has done a wonderful job of showing Granny having fun at the park as she causes more and more embarrassment for her Grandson. 

If you want to find out more about the illustrator, Jan Smith you can visit her website here.

Right now I'm busy working on more ideas...

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

A Late Happy New Year

It's hard to believe we are already ten days into 2017. Christmas really seemed to fly by this year and I've been busy writing since then. At the moment I'm working on lots of little story ideas for young readers but will soon be getting back to my big book. 

Before Christmas we had a couple of days in London, though we didn't have a lot of time to look round as our time was taken up with other things... We set of early in the morning and I drove us down to Watford to go on the Warner Bros. Harry Potter Studio tour. If you've never been before it's well worth a visit... make sure you give yourself plenty of time though as there is lots to see. Going at Christmas, the Hogwarts Great Hall (and Hogwarts itself) all had a Christmas theme which made it that bit more special. 
The Hall had Christmas decorations and even Christmas cakes on the tables...
 
After spending a few hours at the Warner Bros. Studio we were back in the car and heading down towards our hotel in London. We arrived just in time to grab a bite to eat before it was time to go to bed... we had to be up early the next morning. 

After a delicious cooked breakfast we headed down to the underground and caught a tube train into the centre of London. We just had enough time to call into the British Museum to take a look at the ancient Egyptian artifacts - mummies, statues and lots more. 

It would be easy to spend the whole day in the museum as there's much to see but we didn't have a lot of time... we had to get to the Palace Theatre in time for the first part of Harry Potter And The Cursed Child.

The story is in two parts; with each play being just over 2 and a half hours long - with short interval half way through and then a couple of hours gap in between the two so you have time to go out and get something to eat. Harry Potter And The Cursed Child is set after the films so Harry is grown up... and that's all I'm going to tell you (I don't want to spoil it). 
We didn't really know what to expect from the plays but I can tell you that they were excellent and we thoroughly enjoyed them. I would certainly recommend them to anyone. The acting was excellent and the effect were brilliant. 

Between the two plays we had time to grab a burger and have a little wander round to stretch our legs... it was great to see London all decorated for Christmas.
We had a lovely Christmas and hope you did too... it's back to work now and I'm on with the writing. Looking forward to a really good year with lots of writing and lots of school visits. 

If you would like me to come and visit you school or library - please don't hesitate to get in touch.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Getting up to date...

In the last couple of weeks I've had two little books published - 'Farmer Finn's Silly Sheep' - a very short story (only about 200 words) for young readers, and 'The Disastrous Dentist' a longer story with chapter (about 2000 words) for those that are Racing Ahead with their reading. Both books have been beautifully illustrated - one by Steve Brown and the other by Ben Scruton. A web page for both of these will be added to my website in the next few days...

The last few weeks and months seem to have flown by. I've been busy writing, visiting schools and doing lots of other things... In the weeks before Christmas I hope to tell you about what's been going on and next year I aim to write at least one diary entry every week so that I can keep things up to date. I know that one diary entry might not sound a lot but it can be really difficult fitting everything in... Lets see how it goes shall we?

Friday, 18 November 2016

Busy... Busy... Busy

Lots of work to do at the moment and lots to tell you about too but here's a quick hello to everyone at St Andrew's CE Primary School "The Rainbow School" in Hull... looking forward to seeing you all very soon. I will be back to my diary very soon and will let you know where I've been, what I've been up to and what I'm working on right now...

Friday, 14 October 2016

The Awful Astronaut

The Awful Astronaut has finally splashed down to Earth and you can buy the hardback right now from Amazon, order it from your local bookshop and keep your eyes open for it landing in your local library (the paperback version comes out next year).

It's always exciting when you receive copies of a new book through the post... you've spent ages working, writing and tweaking the story... you've seen the rough illustrations and finally the finished artwork - just a few tweaks to be made at this stage - but nothing beats holding the finished copy.

I must confess, I'm really happy with the way the book looks and feels, It's just what I wanted it to be - a good mixture of information and fun, and it's been illustrated by the fantastic Davide Ortu (click HERE to visit Davide's website). The publishers, Franklin Watts, were looking for stories about quirky characters doing jobs that they weren't very good at. The idea was to show some of the things that the jobs might include as well as the funny stuff.

Sam has dreamed of being an astronaut all his life and he finally gets the chance after seeing an advert in the newspaper. But becoming an astronaut isn't easy and Sam has to do a lot of training and things keep going wrong for him - he worries that he might just be the worst astronaut ever.

I was fortunate to get the chance to write two books in the series - The Awful Astronaut and the Disastrous Dentist. The Disastrous Dentist is published next month and is much sillier than the Astronaut book... I will tell you more that nearer the time.

There are some other great books in the series by different authors... you might like to keep an eye for them in your local library: The Terrifying Teacher by Claire O'Brien - illustrated by Santy Gutierrez, The Calamitous Cook by Rachael Delahaye -illustrated by Janet Cheeseman,  The Petrified Pirate by Vivian French - illustrated by Mike Phillips (who also illustrated my History Heroes books about Neil Armstrong & Christopher Columbus), The Not-so Brave Knight by Kate Woodward, illustrated by Yulia Somina (who also illustrated my History Heroes book about L.S.Lowry) - and my Disastrous Dentist which has been illustrated by the brilliant Ben Scruton.

Monday, 26 September 2016

St Gabriel's C of E Primary School

Here's a HUGE HELLO to everyone at St Gabriel's C of E Primary School in Huyton - I'm really looking forward to my first visit to school tomorrow. 

See you all soon...

Monday, 12 September 2016

A Postcard From Iceland

A little while ago we got to spend a few days visiting Iceland.
The flight to Iceland only takes a couple of hours so after leaving home it wasn't long before were touching down on the island. We were too early to check into the hotel so we left our cases and went for a wander round the city Reykjavik.   

It was a bit cloudy as you can see from these pictures, but it didn't spoil our walk around the harbour - taking in the mixture of new and old in the city.
The picture below is of the impressive Harpa Concert Hall - if you look carefully you might just be able to see us reflected in one of the windows...


After walking around for a few hours we finally headed back to the hotel and checked into our room. We couldn't wait for the next few days. We also needed a bit of sleep as it had been a long day. One thing you might find odd about a visit to Iceland is that, at the time of year we went, the sun hardly sets at all - easy to understand why it's known as the land of the midnight sun. It's a little strange waking up in the middle of the night though and finding that it's still light outside. On the first night I woke in the middle of the night and thought we'd overslept - but it was only 2 in the morning.

After breakfast the next day we went on a trip to the Blue Lagoon - a natural geothermal spa where you can spend the day relaxing in the mineral rich water that comes from deep underground. It's amazing how long you can spend there just relaxing. The water was very warm and it was a hot sunny day so we got quite a sun tan too. There's even a bar in the pool so you can bob along and get a refreshing drink to cool you down.
The picture above is of the natural pools outside the Blue Lagoon bathing area. The water you bathe in looks just like this... The Blue Lagoon is open until late at night so next time we visit Iceland we plan to go in winter so we can relax in the water and look at the Northern Lights. 

The day after we took a coach trip around the Golden Circle so that we could see some of Iceland's famous sights - Gullfoss Waterfall, The Geysirs, and Thingvellir National Park.

Situated on the northern shore of lake ├×ingvallavatn, ├×ingvellir (Thingvellir) is the national shrine of Iceland and UNESCO World Heritage Site. It's a very important location in Icelandic history as the oldest existing parliament in the world first assembled there in 930 AD. As well as being place of historical significance, ├×ingvellir is also protected as a national park due to its unique geology and natural features.

From there we went on to see the Geysir hot springs. The area became active over 1000 yers ago and is made up of lots of hot springs and boiling mud pits...

The geyser, Strokkur is very active and fires a jet of water up to 30 metres in the air.

Others, like the one above just steam and bubble away gently.
From the geysers it was only a short drive to the impressive Gullfoss waterfall. On sunny days you can see rainbows over the falls but as you can see - it was a bit wet when we went.

The final outing of our visit was to go whale watching... I didn't manage to get any pictures of the humpback whales that we saw but I did manage to get a little picture of a puffin swimming in the sea.
We had a great time visiting Iceland and we're really looking forward to going again before too long...