Hitler and Mars Bars

Diana Ashcroft sent me a copy of her book at the end of December and I still haven’t managed to read it. (Sorry Diana). Having not read it I can’t comment on the title or it’s relevance to the book - but Hitler and Mars Bars is intriguing. Still… knowing never to judge a book by it’s cover Moira over at Vulpes Libris has beaten me to the punch.

Hitler and Mars Bars has - among other things - a tremendous sense of place.  That’s a term I’m probably overly fond of, but for some reason I always find novels set in definite and vividly drawn locations immensely  appealing - and Dianne Ascroft captures the essence of post-war rural Ireland quite beautifully.

Hitler and Mars Bars is a book for all ages but would be particularly good I think  for older children telling -  as it does - in a straightforward and unfussy but ultimately effective way,  a story about a little piece of recent Irish history that deserves to be far better known.

Go have a read, ah go on.

Written by david. in: Reading, childrens books | Tags: ,

Treading a new dawn

"Aslan is on the move" - A prophetic Disney poster

Some good news amidst the doom, gloom and torrential downpours in Dublin. Twentieth Century Fox has agreed a deal to pick up the Narnia film franchise - which Disney dropped in December. The next adaptation, The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader, will include the original cast as well as Son of Rambow star Will Poulter and is due to appear on the silver screen in 2010.

More over at the New York Times - with a really bad Aslan joke in there for good measure, too bad it wasn’t MGM…

Written by david. in: movies | Tags:

Tea anyone?

Those clever PR people at Barry’s Tea, in conjunction with those arty people in the Monster Truck Gallery, have put together something special tonight. Graham Rawle, him what lives in England draws those amazing pictures, is in Dublin for tea with anyone who fancies tagging along.

According to Barry’s Tea, Graham will share some of his Golden Moments over a delicious cup of Barry’s Tea with Barry’s Tea fans at this relaxed cultural gathering, organised by Barry’s Tea. I’m sure they’ll let a small number of non-tea drinkers in too - and it could be the perfect chance for us non-Barry’s Tea fans to give it a try.

Numerous illustrated versions of L Frank Baum’s The Wizard of Oz , not to mention its many stage and screen adaptations, have given us often strongly held notions about how its characters should be imagined. These assumptions are going to be dramatically shaken with the arrival of Graham Rawle’s quite stunning new version (Atlantic, £25), an interpretation which blends photography, collage, model-making and typographical experimentation in a surreal rendition of the (unabridged) original text. - Robert Dunbar on Graham Rawle, Irish Times

Written by david. in: news | Tags:


You take your eyes offline for ten minutes and it’s 5 O’Clock before ye know it.

So Neil Gaiman won the Newbury Award and buried any/all controversy around it. Neil Jordan is adapting the Graveyard Book for film and there are videos of Mr Gaiman reading the whole book up on mousecircus.com

Jamie Bell, replacing Thomas Sangster, and Daniel Craig are the latest high profile names to be tied into Mr Spielberg’s TinTin movie.

Anyone else glad to see Albert Uderzo speak out against accusations of his being too old and muddled to know better??

What has been given away is nothing more than shares in a publishing company, Editions Albert-René, that I set up in 1979. The accusation made against me is not only inspired by the appetite for power, it also aims to insult Asterix readers by confusing my abilities as an author with that of a publishing house shareholder.

Back to work.

Written by david. in: news | Tags:

Chain chain chain…

See where I’m going with this? Chains have links.. and I’m sticking up a list of links that could make up a chain. Right. I’ve slipped off the deep end - never mind.

First off, the lovely Celine Kiernan (who now owes me a wispa) has started a blog - Celine is already finishing her third book, she says so on the blog…

Next up are the poor souls over at the trappedbymonsters blog. Eight writers are trapped in a cave by monsters making them blog stories, pictures, jokes… and whatever else takes their fancy. Head over and see if you can help them out.

Mr Braine has a question for Roald Dahl…

Fighting Words got a huge mention in the Irish Times yesterday - if you haven’t heard about it yet head on over and read the article…

Neil Gaiman won the Newbury award - he was a bit shocked about it too… made for some fun tweets. And speaking of Mr Gaiman - he will be in Dublin on 17 February signing books in Chapters with an un-disclosed musical guest. (Hint)

Pauline McLynn is off to help judge the Costa’s - and the guardian is wondering who will win… All will be revealed tomorrow.

And finally the Dublin Film Festival tickets went on sale last night. Get flexing your credit cards and book some good movies…

Written by david. in: Jealousy, Reading, childrens books, news | Tags: ,

Yet another pleasant valley Sunday (on a Monday)

In between sleeping and er… sleeping over the weekend, I managed to read a few papers and a book or two - including Sarah Webb’s first Amy Green Teen Agony Queen, Boy Trouble.

I’m no 13 year old girl and I can solemnly swear that Dermot O’Leary is not on my swoonsville wishlist - but I still enjoyed the read. Everyone should have a Clover in their life to look out for them and the books is all based in Dublin so I got that ridiculous twang of pride when I read about somewhere I recognised - and there’s a blogger named Dave. The book comes complete with a new website and updates from Amy and Clover - go and have a read… (Don’t blame me for the pink and girly content - guys probably shouldn’t open it in work or next to their mates.)

And back to the papers…

Peter Murphy gets the Irish Times treatment this weekend - an interview with Catherine Cleary and a review from Eileen Battersby.

Murphy has his own voice. There are moments of violence and throughout the book John Devine is subjected to shocking, quasi-Joycean dreams. This may be a story of relatively recent contemporary Irish life, but Murphy also conveys a sense of the Ireland that went into making John’s world, a place in which the Bible and folklore walked hand in hand.

Across the water, Leonie Flynn in the Times UK suggests some books for 8 - 12 year.

Joanna Carey interviews Oliver Jeffers in the Guardian:

Jeffers became passionate about making picture books when he began to understand the subtle relationship between words and pictures - “that was what excited me. Until I got really involved, I hadn’t realised how just a few words can totally change the meaning of a picture.”

And another interview, this time in the Times UK, Kate Muir talks to Lauren Child:

The question that I must get asked the most, which I’m most dumbfounded about, is: ‘How do you write for children when you don’t have any children?’” Child scowls down into her Moomintroll coffee mug. At 39, she has a boyfriend, but no children so far. “Would you ask most writers that? Do you ask a crimewriter if he’s committed any murders recently? Childhood: we’ve all been there.” She continues: “Writing is all about observation. That’s your job. I remember Alan Bennett saying writers are very cruel people because they are always looking for those little oddnesses. It’s a kind of curiosity, that’s what you have to have.”

Written by david. in: Reading, childrens books | Tags: ,

Thank crunchie it’s Friday

Woke up to aching muscles and a foreboding sense of trouble… It must be the morning after the CBI quiz. We came, I think, in a respectable fourth place - beaten by the Table of Power, headed up by Sarah Webb. But after all the trash-talking I did to certain others I’m dreading the forfeit I’m to face from Sarah and Sineád. What ever it is, it won’t be pleasant.

In other news, Chicklish have two reviews ye should be reading - if you haven’t already. Alexandra reviews Keith Gray’s Happy and R J Anderson’s Knife:

My above paragraphs don’t even cover half of what goes on in this fast paced novel (so hopefully no spoilers!). There’s lots of action and many twists and turns towards the end which keep you guessing to the last page. Excellent read.

And Ian Burell in the Independent UK explores the secrets behind magicians, sorcerers and dragons in oscar winning special effects factory The Mill.

Written by david. in: childrens books, news | Tags: ,

Eye of the Tiger

Have you got what it takes to survive? Reckon you know the difference between an Enid Blyton and an RL Stine book? Can you remember the names of the 10 books published by JK Rowling? Or know the capital of Morocco? Then the CBI Table Quiz is probably for you… and it all goes for a good cause.

This evening Dublin plays host to the 173rd* Children’s Books Ireland Table Quiz. Now is your chance to prove your mettle, have some fun and maybe win a prize or two.

*numbers may be inaccurate.

Written by david. in: childrens books | Tags:

Puffin (no, I’m not out of breath)

Anyone else spot the new puffin list announcements over on Book Brunch yesterday? Francesca Dow, from Puffin, pinned down the uncertainity about what is to come - “To be honest, I don’t really know what 2009 will be about.”

All that said… Puffin are presenting a huge list of interesting books including Charlie Higson’s Fourteen (September) and two new Young Bond books By Royal Command (June), and The Young Bond Dossier (November).

Then there is, in order of release, Jason Bradbury’s Dot Robot (February), Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Rodney Rulez (February), Morris Gleitzman’s Then (February), Anna Perera’s Guantanamo Boy (February), Adam Stower’s and Jeanne Willis Bottoms Up! (March), Sarwat Chadda Devil’s Kiss (May), Suzanne M LaFleur’s Love, Aubrey (June), Kevin Brooks’ Killing God (July), Ross Kemp’s Gang Lands (August), Jay Asher’sThirteen Reasons Why (August), Meg Rosoff’s The Bride’s Farewell (September); Lauren Child’s Who Wants To Be a Poodle? I Don’t (September), Jill Murphy’s Dear Hound (October), Nick Butterworth’s Trixie (October), Eoin Colfer’s And Another Thing (October) and a 40th anniversary of The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

Giddy at the thought of it.

Written by david. in: Reading, childrens books | Tags: ,

And the nominations are:

The Irish Blog Award nominations are out - and it makes for a very long list of blogs… Thank you to whoever nominated me for the Best Art and Culture Award!! Congratulations to the very deserving list of other nominees and I hope to meet all of ye in Cork in February!

The Film Talk
Scamp: An Irish Illustration Blog
Pearls And Rubies
Stony River Farm
An Art and Ecology Notebook
Pursued By A Bear
Arts Management Ireland
Confessions Of A Film Critic
Fair Maiden Of The Mindful Blossom
Musical Rooms
Eoin Purcell’s Blog
The Anti-room
An Cathach
Crime Always Pays
Very Hungry Caterpillar’s Weblog
Éagsúil- Arts Show On West Limerick 102
Bluebirds are so Natural
Fustar - Recycling Cultural Waste Since 2005
A Doubtful Egg
The Red Scrapbook
The Devious Theatre Company
Caricatures Ireland
Chris Judge Illustration
Self Interest And Sympathy
Circa: Now!
[ Irish Kc ]
Dante And The Lobster
Music Roadmusic Road
Fin Keegan

But wait! There’s more - there are plenty of other categories all with long lists of potential winners, the judges have their hands full this year. Get yourself clicking and read some great blogs.

Written by david. in: Blog Awards, awards | Tags: ,

Toxic children

Polly Curtis reports on new research from ChildWise into children’s digital habits. The report surveys 1,800 children at 92 schools in England - and there is plenty of interesting statics coming from the annual figures released… …84% said they read for pleasure in 2006, 80% in 2007 and 74% this year.

Rosemary Duff, ChildWise’s research director:

It’s so clear that a lot of children are fluent communicators but not in a conventional way. They aren’t readers, they are reliant on spellchecks. They are a generation abandoning print and paper, and the whole integration of technology and the way they glide from one to the other is seamless. They will be surfing the net, talking to a friend and downloading a track simultaneously. 38% of nine- to 14-year-old girls take a games console to bed at night. That is the age group of girls who used to be the most avid readers. Now they have a media hub in their rooms.

There’s nothing new in the statistics but Duff’s response speaks volumes - I’m not convinced that a generation reliant on spellchecking aren’t going to want to read books. Brace yerselves for the sweeping, generalised statements about how publishing could adapt:

The next step for writers should be crossing media - building an online presence and developing projects for books and reading on screen alongside interactive elements - a twitter account for a character, a simple java game for mobiles, a DS sampler with video/sound - the ideas are endless. Next year it’d be great if Duff’s comments read: “surfing the net, talking to a friend, downloading a track and reading a character feed simultaneously”.

Written by david. in: Publising, childrens books | Tags: , ,

On writing and peace.

January has gotten into full swing and book events around the country are kicking off with bang - Poetry Ireland in association with Trócaire and Amnesty International have organised a non-partisan reading with some very interesting writers, all speaking in response to the situation in Gaza.

The reading has a huge line up including John F Deane, Anne Enright , Hugo Hamilton, Seamus Heaney, Ronit Lentin, Michael Longley, Lia Mills, Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, Éilís Ní Dhuibhne, Peter Sirr, Colm Tóibín and more.

More info over at Poetry Ireland.

Written by david. in: Reading | Tags:

Another Pleasant Valley Sundaaaaaay…

A few interesting pieces after a lazy Sunday scan through the papers…

John Lacey reviews the new Octavian Nothing book from MT Anderson in the Guardian

Andrew Johnson in the UK Independent looks at movies inspired by toys - including Transformers, He-Man, Hot Wheels GI-Joe, Monopoly. There has to be room for a violent, action packed, 5 hour long period drama based on Risk.

Sarah Webb is in the Sunday Tribune and tells Katrina Goldstone about the book that changed her life.

Lucy Mangan keeps up the Book Corner in the Guardian - this week it’s Noel Streatfeild’s Ballet Shoes.

Books for Schools is back in the Times UK and Michael Morpurgo, Amanda Craig and Caroline White are on the campaign trail with plenty of reading suggestions.

And finally, in the Times UK, David Baddiel says goodbye.

Written by david. in: Reading, childrens books | Tags: ,

Tony Hart

Just read the sad news that artist and childhood hero of Saturday mornings, Tony Hart has died. There is the urge to make the “He had an ‘Art attack” joke, but well…

I hadn’t known that he’d been ill but the Guardian has an interview from last year:

The eventual strokes left Hart unable to use his hands and he admitted to spending most days confined to his chair. In an interview in 2008 he said: “Not being able to draw is the greatest cross that I have to bear, for it has been my lifetime passion. But I endeavour to stay cheerful, as there is nothing to be done about my condition.”

Written by david. in: news | Tags:

Why, it’s the theatre dahling!

News broke yesterday that Terry Pratchett’s Nation is to be transformed into a National Theatre production by Mark Ravenhill. Bookwitch reckons that it will be in the Olivier and will appear some time in November. So far that’s all the details I’ve read.

There have been plenty of decent other stage adaptations in the press this month - including The Snowman, Michael Morpurgo’s Why the Whales Came and Martin Murphy’s version of Peter Pan. And if that has whet your appetite - why not visit the Ark in Dublin to see Marina Carr’s The Giant Blue Hand - tickets are only €10!!

(See what I did there? Reeled ye in slowly, got you interested with news about the Terry Pratchett play and before you knew what had happened? I had you booking tickets for the Ark. Clever, huh?)

Written by david. in: Theatre, childrens books | Tags: ,

tweet tweet.

Twitter is gaining a huge following from publishers and others of a wordy interest. If yer an interweb fiend then it is a far more interesting place than my blog, sometimes. Okay, most of the time.

Thanks to a tweet from abigailrieley, yes that Abigail Reilly, I found out just how big and interesting it has become.

High Spot inc have a list of 188, American-centric, publishing related twitter profiles. Publishers, agents, bookstores, publicity agencies and reviewers have all taken to the 140 character craze. Then there are the writers who are up there - including Neil Gaiman, Diane Duane, Warren Ellis, Alex Milway John Cleese, Stephen Fry, John Scalzi, Alan Carr, Dani Jones and so many more that I’m sure I’m forgetting…

Just beware of the Banana Goo Fingers.

Written by david. in: Publising | Tags:

IBA’s (sounds like a medical affliction)

Get yer mind out of the gutter - IBA has nothing to do with your bowel. Tis the Irish Blog Awards and nominations close today. You only have a few hours left to decide who you want to win - so get voting.

There’ll be plenty of mentions about Blog Week closer to the time - including a special book blog event with yours truly and Sinéad Keogh of blogging fame firing the hard hitting questions.

In the mean time - have a go at the the Empire movie quiz. Genius.

Written by david. in: Uncategorized |

Have you seen this?

In Dublin on January 23? Free yourself up for some free art - Free Art Friday.

Written by david. in: Uncategorized |


There is a lot to look forward to this year, despite the bleak economic outlook. Irish children’s publishing has especially got plenty to look forward to - including three new imprints.  So here’s a very glimpse of what 2009 has to offer:

Jonathan Stroud has already hit the shelves with Heroes of the Valley alongside Anna Godbersen’s Rumours.

David Almond’s award winning Skellig will be making an appearance on the small screen in April - with Tim Roth playing the fallen angel and Bill Milner (the famous Son of Rambow) playing Michael.

Popeye will be ripped off by dozens of imitations after the 70th anniversary of Elzie Segar’s death.

The much maligned and delayed Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince will make it’s way onto the silver screen.

Dave Eggers has transformed Maurice Sendak’s classic Where the Wild Things Are into a film with Spike Jonze, and a new novel, The Wild Things.

Mercier Press will launch Susan Connolly’s Damsel and Walker Books are teetering on the edge of teen-hysteria with Sarah Webb’s Amy Green, teen agony queen.

There’ll be more violence and public health hazardry with books from Patrick Ness and Derek Landy.

Shirley Hughes has a graphic novel for adults on its way, Bye Bye Birdie.

Simon and Schuster unleash the next big thing with Sarah Rees Brennan’s The Demon Lexicon. (S&S have other coups up their sleeve for 2009 with the release of Andy Mulligan’s Ribblestrop and Michelle Harrison’s The 13 Treasures)

Eoin Colfer’s And Another Thing, the new The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, hits the shelves - and propel him into literary super-stardom.

And then there is Watchmen to look forward to. Need I say more?

Written by david. in: Publising, childrens books, news | Tags: , ,

Some more wireless tuning.

Some more suggested radio listening - thankfully not me talking about fairytales and pooing moles. This time it is the epic heroes of Irish children’s books, Robert Dunbar and Siobhan Parkinson, who appeared on the Arts Show earlier this week to talk about they know best. (Hint, its books!)

Over 20 minutes they manage to cover Michelle Magorian’s recent Costa book award, cross-over fiction (books that appeal to children and adults alike), the makings of a children’s book, JK Rowling and recurring themes, Irish writing old and new as well the state of indigenous children’s publishing and quality control.

If you haven’t heard it - get yourself a-clicking. Not to be missed.

Written by david. in: Radio, childrens books | Tags: ,

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