I met my first dragonoligst on the beautiful Greek island of Mykonos. He drew dragons in the sand explaining their habits, likes, fears and desires. (more…)
Great review in Kirkus of Once in a Blue Moon by Miranda Twist, a brilliantly funny book for children, nine and older. This just published book for children is about magic going wonderfully and dangerously wrong. Once in a Blue Moon is Miranda Twist's first book for children. She says that humour is her natural element. 'I so enjoyed creating the twists and turns in this story. It's great that so many readers have enjoyed it too.' In once in a Blue Moon, a host of strange creatures , including a troll and a six legged dog appear unexpectedly in an 'ordinary' garden. Beyond the garden is a wood, and in the wood strange things are happening because it's Grandpa Yo Yitsoo's birthday and he's having a pirate party to which everyone is invited, everyone except Grandma Yo Yitsoo with her wicked and scrumdiddlyumtious cup cakes that can shrink people and creatures in a matter of seconds. Here's what Kirkus said: 'An ill-used imagination conjures up some serious big-time baddies in this charming English import. It’s bad enough when your sister is the family do-gooder, but now she can perform magic as well? And not just any magic either, since Lucy now has the ability to invent any creature from scratch. When a magic wood behind their home grants Henry’s sister this awe-inspiring gift, he soon learns that she’s in danger from her own creations. The garingay want to steal her away, the yo yitsoo are on the prowl, and dangerous cupcakes are shrinking…
There's a winter sun playing around my garden, no wind, bright air and a fine cold that wraps you round, tingles your toes. He's looking straight at me, pausing thoughtfully, a paw raised to sprint or just walk away, turn his back on my familiar figure. We've met before—happy New Year fox. His raised paw touches the ground, for a second we exchange greetings, then he's off on some urban mission. Slower, I'm left behind, staring at the empty space. I imagine him, bright eyed, fox eyed slipping through on his mission to survive—we're far too slow and I envy him that speed, the way he can dash through a bush. That should be me. At night he'll be hunting in the small urban wood my bedroom window overlooks or I can see him, a fantasy fox driving a taxi when dusk turns a deep blue, ploughing the streets of London in clapped out old car, an uber fox.
I spent Friday in Telford doing creative writing with a small class of year nine. Some wanted to talk to get inspiration, one girl knew immediately what she wanted to write. She had a way of submerging herself as if the rest of us had vanished that made me tantalised. When she let me look, I saw some impressive writing. She described tears as ' not being tears of sadness. She was crying because she was confused. The bewilderment of the predicament she was in was enough to make anyone question existence and the mind of people.' The main character finds herself in a dream world: ' The melancholy tune filled the air once more. Her suspicions grew stronger. Where was she? Why was she here? Whose game was it and why was she the piece they were toying with? She lay down to rest, to let all her fears and feelings flood from her body, like a stream of water falling down a mountain side.' Jolie says she will one day write a book and I believe she will.
I'll be doing a day of creative writing workshops in a referral unit next week. We'll be looking at how to create fictional characters that are engaging, larger than life and yet inspired by experience and real life at some level. Fiction that is completely unrelated to the real world doesn't work. There has to be a relationship even if it is is oblique. That's why Gabriel Garcia Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude works so well and why his kind of writing is so difficult. Too may writers just set sail into their own private fantasy world leaving the reader on the shore wondering quite what's going on in their heads. There must be some sense of shared experience. I have visited about fifty schools this year—a fascinating experience. Many children have a natural and elegant way of blending the real and the imaginary. One boy began a story with the words , 'as I was walking home from the tattoo parlour.' That intriguing sentence led into story with engaging twists and turns, told with a light touch and plenty of humour. Children know intuitively, or from experience perhaps, that chaos is always just about to knock on the door.