Author Archive for david.

Culture Night

Well there’s plenty happening around Dublin, Cork and Galway tonight - the highlight (other than the open mic poetry of course) has got to be Oliver Jeffers hanging out in the Ark. He’s making paper planes for a few hours - something to do with his new book The Great Paper Caper… (which has the secret to making great planes cleverly hidden in the book jacket)

Thanks to the Very Hungry Caterpillar for spotting the event. Check out for more.

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Hitchhiking his way to the stars | Eoin Colfer

The knack of flying is learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss.

Children’s writer, sometime comic and evil mastermind, Eoin Colfer is writing himself into the Sci-fi Hall-of-Fame with the announcement that he is to write the new Hitchhiker’s Guide To the Galaxy novel.

The man himself likens it to suddenly being offered the superpower of your choice.

If I had the choice I’d take teleportation. The Guardian has more about the new book - go have a read!

my love of all things rice

Remember Rice Boy (pictured), linked here?

Well he’s back. Sort of. It’s Evan Dahm, the man behind the boy, who is back. This time with a webcomic based 100 years before the Rice Boy comic - Order of Tales.

I’ve just started and have been sucked in all over again.

Seeing the future

The journo’s have started up the smoke machines, donned their best towels (on their heads, don’t be rude) and polished up their crystal balls to have a look at what is coming up over the next few months in television and books.

TV this Autumn is covered on the - one of my highlights has to be Merlin on BBC One:

No Robin Hood this autumn (that’s back in the new year); Saturday teatimes will instead get a magical, Arthurian makeover. Colin Morgan will star as the fledgling wizard, opposite Richard Wilson, Anthony Head, Michelle Ryan and a dragon sounding suspiciously like John Hurt.

And in books Suzi Feay over in the Indepenent UK has a look at what will be the next big thing -

And the next big children’s book is… about a bunch of kids in a boarding school! Andy Mulligan’s Ribblestrop (Simon & Schuster, April 2009) is a hilarious and morally questionable tale about a disastrous school whose pupils can be counted on the fingers of one hand. The building was falling down even before a disaffected pupil set fire to it. Health and safety is non-existent, rebuilding and DIY forms a major part of the curriculum, and a donkey sanctuary occupies the playing fields. The book’s hapless hero, Sam, is concussed, scalded and stripped of most of his clothes in the very first chapter. Ribblestrop has the “crazy school” appeal of Hogwarts and the grim humour of Lemony Snicket, and looks like a winner.

It’ll be interesting to see how the predictions fair once the smoke clears… In the mean time I’m off to find a beginners guide to tarot cards.

Press Catch up

A few quick clippings from the papers over the last few days:

> Deirdre Falvey has a look at children’s festivals throughout October - no mention of the Book Festival though which is really odd… (
> Frank Cotrell Boyce
looks at Terry Pratchett’s new book - Nation (
> Adele Geras
enjoys Eva Ibbotson’s The Dragonfly Pool (
> UK children’s minister, Ed Balls, is against age-branding on books (
> Amanda Craig looks at three books featuring well-known heroes as children (
I’m sure I linked to this already but: Philip Pullman’s Essential Reading List (
Stephanie Meyer’s new book has been put on indefinite hold after a draft was leaked online (
> Star of MTV’s reality show The Hills Lauren Conrad is working on a young adult fiction series (
UTV’s new sitcom, No Heroics, following the everyday lives of British superheroes kicks off next Thursday (

Right, back to nursing a hangover. Ugh.

Roald Dahl Day

Oh, and in case you forgot (like I did) Happy Roald Dahl Day!

Click the BIG RED BUTTON (you know you want to)

Saturday in the Park

Free this afternoon? Fancy hearing from some of the best known children’s writers around? Not sure why this post sounds like a cheesy radio ad? (Me neither…)  For some answers - head over to Marlay Park in Rathfarmham (Dublin) for the Books in the Park: A Family Fun Day from 1 to 5.

Niamh Sharkey, of Happy Hugglewug fame, will be there along with Judi Curtain (Alice and Megan might make an appearence too.) Andy Stanton, Aideen McBride and the needs-no-introduction creator of Skullduggery Pleasant, Derek Landy will all be there too telling tall tales and signing books.

Might see you there!

China reacts to ‘Bunny suicide’ book

The bestselling Book of Bunny Suicides: Little Fluffy Rabbits Who Just Don’t Want to Live Anymore has come under fire in China after a number of children made serious suicide attempts and one twelve year old jumped from a sixth floor apartment.

Newspapers there are blaming the exam-oriented educational system for excessive pressure on students while the China Mental Health Association has reported that suicide in China is triple the world average for 15 - 34 year olds.

As a reaction to the rising fears bookshops have begun to remove the book from their shelves. (Irish Times)

*September 10 was World Suicide Prevention Day. While I don’t see the need, or the effect, of candle vigils there is a need for people to be more open and willing to talk about suicide. It effects thousands of people each year - in 2005 431 Irish people took their own lives. Banning books that might initiate discussion isn’t helping. Books, like Keith Gray’s Ostrich Boys approach suicide with humour and reality and could, at least in theory, help begin discussion.

Can’t post today, I’m off saving the world

I’m getting to this one a bit late - Scamp, Comic Cast and the Forbidden Planet Blog all nodded to it yesterday - but the comic anthology in aid of GOAL is definitely worth a mention or two.

30 artists were given the the phrase I’m sorry I can’t take your call right now but I’m off saving the world and the 96 page anthology is the end product.

There’s a launch for the book at 9pm on Saturday (13 September) in Thurles, Co Tipperary but if you can’t make that don’t panic - the book’ll be available to buy for €7 online from 20 September. (Plans are already afoot for a Dublin release party) All of the proceeds from the anthology are being donated to GOAL and the book is dedicated to Conor Lyons, who died in Sri Lanka working for the charity.

Have a look at the GOAL anthology website for more on the contributors, the idea and a link to Cliodhna’s blog (the mastermind behind it all).

Update: The Comic Cast guys have Cliodhna on the show for an interview and the details for the Dublin launch are confirmed as Sunday September 21 at 9pm in the Stag’s Head.

Dahl and another shortlist

It is shortlist season - three competition’s have been announced in the last 8 days - this time it’s the Roald Dahl Funny prize. The competition is judged by Sophie Dahl, Roald’s granddaughter, and funnyman Dara O’Briain.

So without any more babble on my part - the shortlist for children aged six and under:

Stick Man by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Axel Scheffler
Elephant Wellyphant by Nick Sharratt
The Great Paper Caper by Oliver Jeffers
The Witch’s Children Go to School by Ursula Jones, illustrated by Russell Ayto
There’s an Ouch in My Pouch! by Jeanne Willis, illustrated by Garry Parsons
Manfred the Baddie by John Fardell

And the shortlist for children aged seven to fourteen:

Mr Gum and the Dancing Bear by Andy Stanton, illustrated by David Tazzyman
Paddington Here and Now by Michael Bond, illustrated by RW Alley
Stop in the Name of Pants! by Louise Rennison
Cosmic by Frank Cottrell Boyce
Aliens Don’t Eat Dog Food by Dinah Capparucci
Urgum and the Goo Goo Bah! By Kjartan Poskitt, illustrated by Philip Reeve
More about the prize over at

Lexiconical - Rowling’s copyright fight

JK Rowling has won her law suit against the publication of the Lexicon (an encyclopedia of the Harry Potter world). As a fan I am disappointed by the outcome - I found one of the most interesting aspects of Harry Potter was the explosion of fan fiction that surrounded it and Rowling’s support of that. However, there is a growing part of me that thinks as a writer that this makes sense:

I went to court to uphold the right of authors everywhere to protect their own original work - JK Rowling.

More about the lawsuit and the outcome on the Guardian.

24 Hour Comic Day

A year already? The plans for this years 24 Hour Comic Day have been not-so-spuriously leaked onto the interweb. From the 18 until the 19 October readers, artists and the clinically curious will come together at the Central Hotel in Dublin for… well, for 24 hours of comics.

Saturday 18 will also be the first Irish Free Comics Day - with, hopefully, free comics by Irish writers/artists and small presses available around Ireland.

Details are at and on

Looking forward to it.

Guardian shortlist 2008

I postponed putting up the Guardian shortlist on Saturday in favour of Darko Macan and Tihomir Celanovic. So many of you will have seen it already:

Frank Cottrell Boyce, Cosmic
Siobhan Dowd, Bog Child
Jenny Downham, Before I Die
Patrick Ness, The Knife of Never Letting Go

How must Patrick Ness be feeling this week after two nominations? Well, according to himself:

The last thing I was ever shortlisted for was a Wandsworth Council short story prize 8 years ago (I came in second, won 60 quid, and I gotta tell ya, was just as happy about that as I am about this, which is to say: very happy indeed).

When an umbrella just isn’t enough

A brilliant short by Darko Macan and Tihomir Celanovic to warm everyone up on such a miserable weekend. Translated by Tiger Balm and spotted on Bookslut.

Read Mister Bookseller here.

New and unfamiliar territory…

Last night saw the premiere of John Boyne’s Boy in the Striped Pyjamas in Dublin. I had two tickets to go but couldn’t make it… with good reason! (I had spies at the screening and they reckon it was pretty great. Congratulations John!)

But why couldn’t I make the movie? Ah, here’s the fun bit. I was holed up at a secret location being introduced to seven very interesting people. These seven very interesting people and I will make up the 2009 Bisto Book of the Year Award judging panel*.

(My brother asked last night what a Bisto award was. So for him: “The Bisto Book of the Year Awards are the leading annual Children’s Book Awards in Ireland” - more about them here)

I’m honoured and shocked at being asked. I’m also terrified about it and the many many books I have to read. But thanks to all those involved for the invitation, I am looking forward to it!

*This is the one and only time I think I’ll be able to mention the awards without giving anything away but if updates are fewer around here you can take it for granted that I’m way behind on a reading deadline. The first batch is already in and I have work to get to…

Fanfiction | Inis 25

Lynn O’Sullivan has an article in the new edition of Inis, Children’s Books Ireland’s magazine, giving an overview of fanfiction. The piece begins at the most basic level and reviews the history of fan based fiction - did you know that in the 17th century fans of Cervantes wrote their own sequels to Don Quixote?

There were very few gaps in the piece but one name, I was surprised to find, was omitted, Francisca Solar. The worlds most famous fanfic author - who, after writing her own sequel to Harry Potter, was offered a three book deal with Random House.

I’m still stuck in the middle of the Autumn issue of Inis (filled with news, events and reviews - including a great feature on The Spiderwick Chronicles by Ruth Coleman) Available in good bookshops or through CBI.

The Group

Is that children’s writer Larry O’Loughlin appearing at the Button Factory in Dublin with The Last Waltz tribute band The Group?

I think it is, despite vicious rumours that it could have been Charlie Daniels. I think Charlie is a better dancer ;)

Free books? | Neverwhere

Fancy a free read? Harper Collins are offering Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere as a free PDF download. There is a catch though - the PDF will last 30 days before disintegrating back into the ether.

Still, as he says himself, free is free.


Booktrust Teenage Prize Shortlist

As previously spotted (here) the Booktrust Teenage Prize is nearly upon us - the shortlist was announced on Monday and the 16 original titles have been whittled down to a mere 6. Unexpectedly Meg Rossoff’s What I Was isn’t listed, nor is Jenny Downham’s Before I die - two books I expected to be up with a good chance.

The shortlist does make for good reading though -

Creature of the Night by Kate Thompson
The Knife that Killed Me by Anthony McGowan
The Red Necklace by Sally Gardner
Snakehead by Anthony Horowitz
Apache by Tanya Landman
The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

Walker Press must be delighted - they have three titles in the race, including the excellent Knife of Never Letting Go. It is great to see Kate Thompson still in with 1:6 chance for Creature of the Night as well as Anthony McGowan’s The Knife that Killed Me. I haven’t read The Red Necklace or Apache yet but I have some time between now and the 18 November.

Electric Weekend

Back from Electric Picnic (it was incredible - check out some of the pics here) A couple of things to catch up with now that I’m back though:

Including Philip Pullman’s address to the world (or to anyone who will listen in the world) about Age Branding. As Michael has said - read every word. Go on -

Spotted on Boing Boing that Disney are releasing a new edition of Alice in Wonderland, featuring Mary Blair’s original movie sketches. Looking forward to seeing how it looks! Here’s a sneak peak at Blair’s illustrations, enjoy!