Saturday, 26 December 2009

The Gruffalo, Bridge to Terabithia and The Hunger Games on film

Did you watch the Gruffalo film on TV? I did and I really enjoyed it. The animation and voices were fabulous.

I also watched The Bridge to Terabithia today. Christmas is a great time to watch children's books which have been made into film, isn't it?

Talking of which, does anyone know when the film of The Hunger Games is going to be released? I learned from the web that its in production. It's one of the best children's books I've read and I can't wait to see the film version. I bought my son the second book for Christmas. Apparently you can pre-order the third book, so look out for that too!

Friday, 20 November 2009

Rhyme for Pudsey

Check out this show, all in rhyme.
It's really good, you'll have a fun time.
There's poems and limericks;
one was written by me,
a little love poem to my hero, Pudsey!

(Well it is for Children in Need!)  Ted Robbins Show Fri 20th Nov

Saturday, 7 November 2009

The Gruffalo was revealed yesterday as the nation's favourite bedtime story in a poll by Radio 2. Find out more about the Gruffalo's  author Julia Donaldson at Julia's official website is a delight. It's worth setting aside an hour or so to have a good browse and find out more about Julia, her amazing career as a children's writer and the books, plays and songs she has written. The home page opens to reveal a gorgeous picture of Julia surrounded by some of her characters. You can click on the strapline to find out about her latest picture books, The Troll and Tabby McTat. There's a list of clickable page links down the left hand side of the home page. My favourite section was About Me, where I discovered lots of fun and amazing facts about Julia and her writing. If you read all the way down to the bottom of the page, or scroll down the beanstalk, you will find a link to a podcast in which Julia talks about her life and work. It's worth browsing the other sections too. You might discover some inside information such as the fact that The Giants and the Jonses is going to be made into a Warner Brothers' film. The beatiful website is very easy to navigate so take a tour today. You'll meet some amazing characters along the way.

Saturday, 31 October 2009

Hugh Lupton, Storyteller

Hugh Lupton is a well known British Storyteller. He co-founded the Company of Storytellers with Ben Haggarty and Pomme Clayton in 1985. Lupton tells a wide variety of stories, including Epics such as the Iliad and the Odyssey, but also collections of shorter stories such as fables and folk tales from Britain and around the world.
The following books are published by Barefoot Books and can be purchased by clicking on the link at the top right of my toolbar. Most of them are accompanied by CDs of Hugh himself telling the stories and the illustrations are fabulous. They would make perfect Christmas presents as there's something for everyone from toddlers upwards, including those hard to please boys looking for excitement and adventure.


The Story Tree: Tales to Read Aloud
Delight in reading these quirky tales aloud to the under-five crowd. Each of the seven stories imparts an important lesson while using humour and loveable characters to keep listeners engaged. Book with CD editions include stories read by Hugh Lupton.

Ages 3 to 4 years

Retold By: Hugh Lupton

Illustrated By: Sophie Fatus

Tales of Wisdom and Wonder
Prepare to be amazed, intrigued and enchanted by these astonishing tales. The seven stories gathered from sources around the world are full of magic, mystery and transformations. Book with CD editions include stories read by Hugh Lupton.

Ages 5 to 11 years

Retold By: Hugh Lupton

Illustrated By: Niamh Sharkey

The Adventures of Odysseus
Travel back in time to experience one of the greatest epic stories of all time. Once the Trojan war ended, Odysseus thought his journey home would begin. But what he assumed was the end of his adventure was truly only the beginning.

Also available in full-length story CD read by Hugh Lupton.

Ages 8 and up

Retold By: Daniel Morden, Hugh Lupton

Illustrated By: Christina Balit

Pirican Pic and Pirican Mor

Meet two rascally boys who have a disagreement beneath the walnut tree, and set off to find revenge. This retelling of a Scottish folk tale gathers pace as the cumulative items build page after page, with lessons that are both humorous and thought provoking.

Ages 4 to 9 years

Retold By: Hugh Lupton
Illustrated By: Yumi Heo

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Book Review: Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd

The double story line and rather challenging language make this a book I'd recommend for teenagers and adults rather than children. It's very much a coming of age novel, but there's much more to it than that.
Seventeen-year old Fergus discovers the body of a girl in a peat bog on the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic. The author uncovers the historical account of the girl's tragic life alongside the present drama of Fergus' own life. Fergus' brother is on hunger strike in the Maze prison and the family's loyalties are divided. When asked by a friend to ferry parcels with an unknown content across the border, Fergus agrees in the hope it will help save his brother's life. But every day his brother is getting close to death.
The plot of the book is compelling and has all the ingredients of a page-turner: suspense, humour, red-herrings and unexpected revelations. Add to this the dual historical backgrounds and well developed characters and you have a book well worth reading. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
You can read excellent reviews of this book on amazon UK and USA .

Friday, 23 October 2009

Don't forget to vote for your favourite UK Children's Author Site

Please vote for your favourite author site by the end of October. So far only one person has done so! The sites I've listed are well worth a visit. They are fun and informative and tell you about authors, books, tips on writing and so much more. You can play games, watch videos, listen to and read interviews and maybe even contact your favourite author. Each one has been specially chosen because it has a lot to offer.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

The Secret Seed Society: Let You in on their Secret

On the 10th July 2009 the Secret Seed Society launched the first in a series of adventure packs that make growing and eating your own food simple and so much fun that it is quite literally child’s play!
Each pack in the series contains an illustrated storybook, seeds, growing instructions and a recipe so children can follow their food on a journey from plant to plate. The books tell the stories of the inhabitants of Seed City; an urban environment populated by vegetable beings.
The first pack comes with a membership card for children to sign up online to become Seed Agents. Seed Agents get emailed missions that involve growing and eating, as well as being supported and encouraged with prompts and tips on the website. Growing isn’t always easy and it requires a lot of patience in the early stages.
The Secret Seed Society will engage children - and through them their families and communities - in a move towards fresh, local, organic food that they have grown themselves, perhaps on an urban balcony or a rural allotment.
Who's behind the project? The Secret Seed Society is a social enterprise. The founding team brings together a teacher, an anthropologist, a filmmaker, a sustainability strategist and an illustrator. In March 2009, they decided to independently finance, publish and distribute these adventure packs.
“There aren’t many things that I’d launch in a recession but this pack makes so much sense right now. Growing your own food saves cash, reduces carbon and tastes delicious.” Shena Cooper, co-founder of the Secret Seed Society.
They have had huge amounts of support for the project - photographers, lawyers and designers have all pitched in and given their time, they have received a Millenium Grant from UnLtd, discounts from suppliers and the enthusiasm of a bunch of friends who worked through the night assembling 2,500 packs by hand.
More info
Contact Menka for more information, photos and a pack.
mobile: +44 (0) 797 070 6516
Let Peter Parsnip keep you up to date

Secret Seed Society is running its 3rd story writing competition, for a storybook starring a personified Onion!

If you’ve always wanted to be a published children’s author, put it on your to-do list: 700 words, for £700, by 5th October.
The stories are set in Seed City and are full of the challenge, adventure, the wonder of active urban living, and a sprinkle of fantasy.
Full details here:
Good luck!

Monday, 14 September 2009

Vote for Your Favourite UK Children's Author Website

At the bottom of this post are links to my top ten favourite UK children's author websites:

I'd like you to roam all the sites using the links below then vote for your favourite. To vote, just send me a comment with the name of the author whose site you like best and why. Don't forget it's the site you're voting for, not the author.
I will announce the winner at the end of October and post a blog featuring the winning site the first week of November. I'll also let you know which site or sites are my favourites and why. Please also let me know if you have any favourite author sites not included on my list.
Have fun and don't forget to vote!

Michael Morpurgo    
Jaqueline Wilson

Malorie Blackman

Anne Fine         

Philip Pullman   

JK Rowling       

Darren Shan     

Eric Carle        

Terry Deary\    

Julia Donaldson 

Sunday, 13 September 2009

North East author David Almond is chosen as Liverpool Read

Graphic novel The Savage, written by David Almond and illustrated by Dave McKean, has been chosen as the Liverpool Reads book for 2009. The city-wide initiative, coordinated by The Reader Organisation at the University of Liverpool, encourages the reading and sharing of one book each year. 20,000 copies of The Savage (published by Walker Books) will be given away across the fomer City of Culture from 15 September. 
(New Writing North, September Newsletter)
David is my favourite children's author and my 12 year old son Ben has become a fan too. He particularly loved The Savage and Skellig. Congratulations David!

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Inspirational video

Scroll down to the bottom of the page to see an inspirational video with quotes from lots of famous people including children's authors Philip Pulman and Ursula le Guin. If you love stories, (and who doesn't?) you'll love this You Tube video. The video is one of several by Chris Cade, author of Inscribe Your Life. I've just subscribed to the Inscribe Your Life Programme, so look out for more information on that later or discover it for yourself at I might even post some of the stories I write here later.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Eleven year old girl self publishes children's book

Sasha Pryce, an eleven year-old girl from Kent, has self-published her first novel and will donate all revenues from the sales of Labby's Adventures to the RSPCA and Batttersea Dogs and Cats Home. Sasha told Writers' News magazine: "My ambition and dream was to become an author and this was made possible by journalist Deborah Durbin who runs long distance courses for children eleven years and upwards.

After I decided what my novel was going to be about and who my characters were I started writing the chapters. Each week I would write a little and then go back to it the following week. Once I had written a chapter I would send it to Deborah and she would discuss the next step and if I needed to change anything. The chapters would go to and fro until finally in February this year I had finished the final chapter and sent it off to Deborah. She confirmed that it was now ready for the final bits; the illustrations, contents page, the blurb and then the front cover. By the end of April I was ready to upload my book onto Lulu and publish it. It was so surreal I couldn't believe that within a few weeks my novel would be in book form.

I would like to say to any child of any age; if you have a dream, follow it, work hard and persevere. Do not give up, dreams do come true - look at me!"
website: (Writer's News: September 09)

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

SCPSW Annual Children's Short Story Competition

The Society of Civil and Public Service Writers is pleased to announce

Prize: £150 (£100, £30 and £20) and publication in our magazine ‘Civil Service Author’ Entry fee £5 (£3 for members of SCPSW and refund of £2 for entrants who join now)
Results will be posted to website:
No entry form required; enclose SAE for return of entry and copy of results
Closing date 31 October 2009
(One entry per person)
Entries in type, double spaced, on one side of A4 only Only pen name, word count and page numbers on manuscript.
Name, address and pen name should be attached on separate sheet and sent to:
Competition Secretary Nina Matter, 4 Redruth House, Grange Road, Sutton SM6 6RT
Cheques should be made payable to SCPSW. Competition is open to all but those interested in and eligible for membership i.e. serving or retired members of Civil Service, Armed Forces, National Health Service, Local Government or any Public Service, should send, please, an SAE to
Joan Lewis, 17 The Green, Corby Glen, Grantham NG33 4NP for details or email

Bog Child wins Bisto Children's Book of the Year

The late author, Siobhan Dowd, has won the Bisto Children's Book of the Year for Bog Child. This is the second year running that she has received the prize. In 2008 she won with The London Eye Mystery.

Siobhan, who died aged 47 in August 2007, was announced as the winner at a ceremony in Dublin, where her sister accepted the honour on her behalf. She was presented with the Bisto Children's Book of the Year trophy. The prize money will go to the Siobhan Dowd Trust, set up by the author before she died, to help disadvantaged children to improve their reading skills and experience the joys of reading.

Four other awards were presented at the ceremony:

Eilis Dillon Award: Mary Finn for Anila's Journey

Bisto Honour Award for Writing: Kate Thompson for Creature of the Night

Bisto Honour Award for Illustration: Oliver Jeffers for The Great Paper Caper

Judges' Special Recognition Award: Kate Thompson for Highway Robbery

(Writer's News: August 2009 edition)

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Meet author Neil Gaiman on the web.

I've recently discovered a host of websites on one of my favourite authors, Neil Gaiman, and would like to share their delights with you. The official publisher's website is A great introduction to the prolific author Neil and his publications, this is exciting from the moment you log in. Be sure to click the "stuff you won't find anywhere else" link for exclusive editions, extra materials, interviews etc. There's a further link on this website to the author's own website: where you can follow Neil's blog journal, listen to interviews and excerpts and even see pages from Neil's notebooks. Yet another link takes you to Don't miss the video tour. You can hear Neil read the Graveyard book, chapter by chapter. These are sites to return to again and again. Like Neil's books, once you've dipped into one, you'll be hooked and need more and more. Let me know if you discover any hidden gems. I'm sure you will.

Rebel Books seek Stories for Upcoming Anthologies

Currently Seeking Submissions:-

Rebel Books LLP is currently seeking the following. So get writing! They look forward to reading your stories in due course.


The first publication by Rebel Books LLP will be an anthology of stories with a supernatural theme aimed at young adults. We are looking for submissions for this anthology covering all manner or supernatural creatures, including vampires, witches, shape-shifters - so let your imagination run wild. For more information on how to submit please see our submissions criteria page.


We are looking to produce an anthology of Faerie Stories for young adults. We are open for submissions now although we are aiming to publish this anthology mid-2010. Your stories must be modern, original stories about or including faeries with an edgy teen focus. Please see our submissions page for details of how to submit.



Our first publication for children is to have a magical theme. This will again be an anthology of stories but aimed at the ages 7+. Your stories should have a magical, fantastical theme to capture and hold the reader's attention but should still be original and modern. Please see our submissions page for details of how to submit.



Writers: Click onto the follow link to find more details of Rebel Books and specific guidelines for submission:
Readers: Keep an eye open for these anthologies next year. They'd make great presents!

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Hero or anti-hero competition

Winter Witch Books have launched an exciting new competition, 'Hero or Anti-hero?' which is suitable for writers of both adult or children's fiction.

All entrants will receive a free week of the publisher's creative writing course on receipt of their entry.
The prizes are:
1st Prize: GBP250, publication of your full book & 12 week creative writing course with feedback
2nd Prize: GBP50, first chapter of your book published in the back of the winning book & online, 12 week creative writing course with feedback
5 Runners Up will receive a 4 week creative writing course with feedback
Closing date: 30th September, 2009

Competition details from the website are given below:

What does it take to be a hero? Do you have to battle against a terrible foe to rescue the love of your life, do you need to be kind to kittens or gentle with the weak? Do you need to be able to ride without a saddle and fight aliens with your eyes closed?
Is this why anti-heroes have such a bad press? Your average anti-hero is not interested in saving the world, the world should be able to save itself. If a damsel is in distress, she probably brought it on herself. As for the weak, well, you can imagine how the anti-hero feels about them. and aliens might just make life more exciting.
Kittens though, might be different, as anti-heroes are more likely to favour animals than humans. You know where you are with an animal.
For our new competition, we want you to focus on personality, in particular your hero or anti-hero. With a strong emphasis on your main character or characters, give us a good storyline, inhabited by believable and vibrant people. They don't need to leap off the page screaming and waving their cutlasses, but they should make you feel you know them by the time you've read their story.
Decide whether your main character is a hero or an anti-hero. Can a fictional character who gains a life of their own ever be one thing or the other? If they are a true villain, with no redeeming qualities, what is it about them that makes us love them so much?
Please note that we have used the male form of hero and anti-hero for ease only, feel free to have as many strong, scary, wonderful, kind and world-saving women as you want for your main characters!
Your work should be fiction but the genre and audience is up to you.
Please see our creative writing courses page for more details of the courses we have available.
For enquiries, please contact us on as we have had some issues with the Contact Us forms.
International entries are welcome.
Entries are GBP4.00 per entry, you may enter more than once. Please see below for full guidelines.
Enter Now! GBP 4.00
If you wish to pay by cheque, please make it payable to J. Findlay.

Entries cost GBP4.00 per entry, you may enter as many times as you like but there is only one free week of coursework per entrant.
Please note, there is no feedback available with the one week of free coursework.
The free coursework can either be sent to yourself or as a gift to someone else - please specify at the time of entry. Children's courses are available.
All coursework sent will be from our advanced courses, unless otherwise requested.
We would appreciate being able to send all coursework by email but if this is not possible, please provide a stamped address envelope of A5 size or above for your coursework to be posted to you. The coursework will be no heavier than 60g.
The coursework will be sent as a PDF attachment by email.
Please enter the first 1-3 chapters of your work, depending on the stage reached in your project. Your project does not have to be completed for you to enter. We would also like a synopsis and/or character biographies.
The length of your finished project is flexible, though we would prefer your final book length to be less than 150,000 words. Please contact us if this is likely to be an issue.
If your work is unfinished, please state the estimated final length of your book - this will not affect your chance of winning. If it is complete, the approximate word count should be included.
Please submit your entries in 12point font size or above and ansure all pages are numbered and labelled, in case they become separated.
If submitting by email, please send your work in the body of the email or as an attachment in MS Word, MS Works or as a PDF.
If submitting by post, please send to:
Winter Witch Books,
3 Stoneybeck Cottages,
Broughton Cross,
CA13 0TX.
If you wish to pay by cheque, please make it payable to J. Findlay.
(The photo is my son Ben, my own little hero, playing the part of the Grinch)

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Patrick Ness: Virtual Writer in Residence

Booktrust have a new online writer in residence scheme, which will run for two years, with a different author every six months. The first writer in residence is children's author and award winning author, Patrick Ness. Click on the following link: to find out more about Patrick, and about his writing. Read Patrick's latest post on the release day his latest book, The Ask and the Answer, sequel to The Knife of Never Letting Go. And don't miss his tips on writing series, which is down-to-earth, sound advice for all would-be published authors. Patrick's enthusiasm for reading, writing and living is contagious and I for one, will be a frequent visitor to the blog. Well done to Booktrust and Patrick for a great parnership. I can't wait to find out who the other writers in residence are going to be, but will be sad to see Patrick leave.

Friday, 27 March 2009

British Author, Neil Gamain, wins Newberry Medal

British-born author Neil Gamain has been named the winner of the Newberry Medal, America's most prestigious children's fiction prize. Neil was awarded the medal for The Graveyard Book, the story of a boy named Bod who lives in a graveyard and is brought up by ghosts.The annual Newberry Medal was founded in 1992 in honour of John Newberry, a British bookseller, and is awarded by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the author who makes 'the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children."

Newberry committee chair Rose V Trevino said of The Graveyard Book: 'A child named Nobody, an assassin, a graveyard and the dead are the perfect combination in this delicious creepy tale, which is sometimes humourous, sometimes haunting and sometimes surprising."

The Newberry is the latest in a long list of awards for Neil, who is a recepient of a number of prizes, including four Bram Stoker Awards, a British Fantasy Award, two Nebulas and an International Horror Guild Award. He writes prose, poetry, comics, song lyrics and drama. Website:

Article from Writer's News, April 2009, Photo by Kimberley Butler from the website

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Download the Munch Bunch stories

The six winning entries in the Munch Bunch Storytelling competition are now available on the Munch Bunch website. You can download each story as a podcast to listen to and print it off to read. The stories are:

Munch and the Missing Moo by Julie Hanratty

Munch and the Ghost of Davy Jones by William Adams

Munch Visits the Moon by Caroline Jones

Munch and the Disappearing Lettuce by Michael Murphy

Munch goes on an Adventure by Alex Dixon

and my own story,

Munch the Storyteller by Dorothy Massey

All six stories are narrated by celebrity mum Gail Porter. Go to to download the six winning stories for free. Please let me know what you and/or your children think of them.
You can also watch the two Behind the Scenes videos in which my son, Ben and I are featured.

Story Website for Deaf Children

A website that teaches deaf children classic stories has won its North-East inventor an honour. Malcolm Wright, from Darlington, was named a 'Reading Hero' by the Prime Minister's wife, Sarah Brown.

Mr Wright caught the attention of judges for his new website, which makes reading more accessible to deaf children. The site, at, features stories brought to life with sign language, sound, text and vision.

The service, launched by ITV, is expected to grow into an online library of more than 300 children's books.

Mr Wright said: "Being acknowledged at Downing Street for helping children to enjoy and benefit from reading is an unexpected honour. Through no fault of their own, deaf children in the UK have been disadvantaged by poor levels of literacy. We hope our website will make a real difference to their lives.

It's a place where all the family can share the fun of stories together. I hope signed will encourage thousands of children to get pleasure from reading some brilliant books."

The Northern Echo: Tues 3rd March

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Interview on Book Bites for Kids

Recently I was invited by Children's Writing Coach Suzanne Lieurance to be interviewed for Book Bites for Kids on Blogtalk Radio. Suzanne and I talked about my prize winning children's stories and discussed the benefits of entering short story competitions. If you'd like to hear more about my exciting competition wins and get tips on how to win competitions yourself, click the arrow on the Blogtalk radio box on the right.

Monday, 2 February 2009

One World One Heart Promotion: Win a signed copy of Mini Mysteries and Kooky Spookies

As part of this year's One World One Heart event I'm offering readers of my blog the chance to win a signed copy of Mini Mysteries and Kooky Spookies, an anthology of twelve stories for children including my three Ghost Twin Tales. All you have to do is leave a comment on my post. Make sure you leave a link to your blog or an e-mail address so I can notify you if you are a winner. The winner will be announced here on my blog on Thursday February 12th. For more details of the One World One Heart event, in which you can enter to win lots more freebies and/or generate traffic to your own blog, click on the badge in the column on the right hand side.

My story recorded by Gail Porter

Last Friday my son, Ben, and I visited a recording studio in London, where my story, Munch the Storyteller was recorded by Gail Porter. Gail really brought the story to life and it was an experience Ben and I will never forget. I especially loved the high-pitched voice used by Gail as Munch the Cow. We were videoed before, during and after the recording, which was a little daunting, but fun nonetheless. While I was being interviewed after the recording, Gail took Ben over the road to Hamley's toy shop where, he tells me, they toured the ground floor and played with remote control cars. Ben was even given the chance to go into the studio to read part of the story himself which was recorded on a souvenir CD. I can't wait to see the podcast of my story and those of the other winners when they go live in March.

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Recommended sci-fi and children's book authors

The Yahoo Group, Wordpool Writers have recently been recommending sci-fi and children's books they rate. The dozen authors below all featured on the list:

Julia Golding
Jasper Fforde
Garth Nix
Philip Reaves
Holly Black
Michele Paver
Katherine Roberts
Joseph Delaney
Kate Thompson
Philip Pulman
Angie Sage
Steve Augarde

I'm off to the library to borrow some of their books!

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

I'm a Munch Bunch Winner

Yesterday I received an e-mail telling me that I am one of the winners of The Munch Bunch Storytelling competition. My short story, Once Upon a Munchtime, will be recorded as a podcast by TV presenter Gail Porter and will be available to download later on the Munch Bunch website. Next week I'll be travelling to London to attend the recording. I've also won a day trip to Lapland to meet Santa and his elves and take a husky-led sleigh ride on a frozen lake, so I've got that to look forward to at the end of the year. Next weekend I'll blog about my podcast recording experience and let you know who the other winners are.

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Patrick Ness wins Booktrust Teenage Prize

Patrick Ness rounded off a successful 2008 by winning the Booktrust Teenage Prize for his novel, The Knife of Never Letting Go.

The announcement was made at a prizegiving ceremony in London, where Patrick was presented with a trophy and a cheque for £2,500.

The Knife of Never Letting Go is Patrick's first novel for teenagers and has been widely acclaimed, winning him the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize, a longlisting for the Carnegie Medal and a placing as one of Amazon's top 100 books for 2008.

Speaking at the ceremony, Chair of Judges, Amanda Craig said, "In a strong year for Young Adult fiction, the judges of the Booktrust Teenage Prize selected six novels that we all felt were outstanding for the scope of their imagination, their originality, their writing and their appeal.

The Knife of Never Letting Go made the judges laugh, cry and debate its contents with passion; a striking mixture of thriller, science fiction and literary tour de force, it's influenced by writers as diverse as Laurence Sterne and Ursula le Guin and should appeal to a large readership."

The Booktrsust Teenage Prize judges included five children who won their places on the judging panel by submitting the best entries to a Booktrust competition. (Writers' News Feb 2009)