Thursday, 4 February 2016

Happy Book Birthday February Edition

This is the biggest ever edition of our Happy Book Birthday feature - so many amazing MG titles coming out! A huge thanks to Aimee Carter, Jo Cotterill, Cathy Brett, Sarah Rubin, Rachel Delahaye, Cas Lester, Rachel Hamilton, AF Harrold, Alex Marlowe and Elen Caldecott for taking part! I love that we have fabulous illustrations from Cathy, who illustrated Electrigirl, and from Jamie Littler, who illustrated Unicorn in New York: Louie Lets Loose!



What was the most memorable birthday party you had, or went to, when you were a child?

Aimee: The most memorable birthday party I had as a kid is probably my tenth. My parents rented a couple hotel rooms for me and several friends, and we had a great time running around, eating cake, and swimming (even though I had a broken wrist at the time and had to have my cast wrapped in plastic). It was a ton of fun.


If money was no object, what kind of party would you throw to celebrate publication?

Aimee: Since Simon Thorn and the Wolf’s Den has so much to do with animals, I would love to throw it at a zoo - the Central Park Zoo, specifically, as much of the story takes place there. It would be a lot of fun to walk around and point out where things in the books happen, and to see the animals and enjoy New York City!

Jo - Oh gosh, how long have you got? Right, well, I'd have the party inside a giant Faraday cage, which is a metal cage that conducts lightning, so you can stand inside it and watch the lightning go all round the outside and you're perfectly safe. And I'd have a whole wall of a pre-drawn comic strip (by Cathy, natch) with empty speech bubbles, so that guests to the party could fill them in. I'd have biscuits in the shape of comic-style explosions, with words like 'BANG' and 'WOW' written on them. Everyone would OBVIOUSLY come dressed as a superhero. We'd play games where you'd have to guess the name of a secret superhero (my three-year-old daughter would guess 'TOILET GIRL' for all of them). We'd have a band playing music from superhero films and TV shows ('Spider-Man, Spider-Man, does whatever a spider can...'), er...there'd be an amazing exploding cake with Smarties inside, because who doesn't like Smarties? Everyone would get a goodie bag containing a mobile phone just like the ones in the book, which are sleek and shiny and have the CyberSky logo on them (CyberSky is the evil corporation). Oh - there'd be a quiz game on the phone too, just like the one Electrigirl's best friend Imogen wins in the book. Er - there'd be a cartwheel game, because Holly Sparkes (the real name of Electrigirl) is really good at cartwheels, and it'd be funny to see how many adults can remember how to cartwheel. I could go on for HOURS doing this! You said money was no object, right? :-D

Sarah: I would absolutely love to throw a launch party at The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. The Franklin Institute was my favorite museum as a kid and it makes a cameo in Alice Jones:The Impossible Clue. They have all sorts of interactive science exhibits. My favorite was the human heart big enough to walk through, but Alice prefers Foucault's Pendulum. Add some Philly food classics like cheese steaks and soft pretzels and I'd be in heaven.

Rachel D: The ultimate Jim Reaper launch party would have to be a private orbit of the earth in a space shuttle. Well, you did say money was no object! Jim is obsessed with the mysteries of the world, so in honour of that we'd do really excellent experiments like 'what noise will a balloon make when popped in space?' and 'if you eat your weight in sweets in space, will you float or sink?'. We could then attach Jim books to parachutes and scatter them above Earth.


If your main character was going to a party to celebrate their book birthday, what would they wear?

AF: Fizz wears an unusual (for him) outfits in the new book that he definitely wouldn’t wear to a party: a grey and boring school uniform. For his party he’d wear his big red ex-Ringmaster’s coat, which makes him feel warm and circus-y, with a special t-shirt which reads ‘My other friend’s a sea lion’, because it’s the only one that’s clean.

Elen: Flora Hampshire is a sleuth who knows how to get things done. But she also quite likes a pretty dress. So, she would wear something sparkly, with a lot of colour, BUT it would need pockets for her notebook, pencil and a copy of whatever book on forensic science she happens to be reading.

Cathy:



Cas: That would depend who was going to the party!  If Wilfred's wizard master, Wincewart the Withering, wasn't invited then Wilfred would undoubtedly 'borrow' Wincewart's second best wizarding cloak - the midnight-blue one covered in magikal symbols stitched in gold. But if Wincewart was going to be there he wouldn't risk it. So he'd be stuck in his only outfit - tatty brown tunic and leggings and  scruffy leather boots, oh, and with his Bag of Bees magik charm on it's grubby leather string slung round his equally grubby neck, of course.

Alex: Luke’s from Victorian times so he’d probably wear a frock coat, cravat and top hat – unless his vampire friend Evelyn points out it’s the 21st century and the party isn’t fancy dress. He’s got to have his satchel bag on him at all times, too, full of weaponry designed to fight supernatural creatures. You never know who’s going to turn up at the party.

What party game would they be most confident in winning at?

AF: Fizz is good at dares, especially the one ‘I dare you to put your head inside this lion’s mouth’. But since not everyone plays dares, he’d probably like to play pass-the-parcel, because he’s very good at lifting things up, being a strongboy.

Jo: Pinata, because Holly has electrical powers and she could just blast the pinata instead of hitting it with a stick. Voila - sweeties!   

Sarah: Alice is very mathematically minded. She'd be great at 'guessing' the number of jelly beans in a jar. (And by guessing, I mean calculating a rough figure based on the number of jelly beans in a square centimeter and the approximate volume of the jar where V=πr2h.)


What three things would they most want to find in their party bag?

Cas: Well, Wilfred the Unwise is a lot wiser than his name might imply. So, in his party bag he would desperately want: a dead simple but impressive magik trick which any idiot can do, a REAL Talisman of Potency like proper wizards have (preferably a solid silver one in the shape of a dragon's eye) and finally an impressively large, but easy to read, grimoire - with lots of pictures and not many runes.

Rachel H: Louie isn't one for collecting stuff. He set sail for his new life carrying nothing but glitter, cake and tap shoes. So his favourite party bag would probably be a giant sack containing his three best friends - Frank the Troll, Danny the Faun and Miranda the Mermaid - because a party's not a party without those three.


Alex: A UV grenade, A History of Werewolf Society in Medieval Europe by Brother Pietr Domicus, and a ticket to Loch Ness to solve the mystery of the monster


What would be their ideal birthday cake?

Cathy: 

Elen: One that's big enough to share with friends. Joining the Marsh Road Investigators is by far the best thing that's ever happened to Flora.

She's spent her life so far in the shadow of her talented twin sister, Sylvie, but now she has a group of people around her who care what happens to her and will do anything to help. Fiercely loyal, she'd be happy with any kind of treat at all - as long as Minnie, Piotr, Andrew and, oh alright then, Sylvie too, are by her side to share it.

Rachel H: Louie loves cake to the point of obsession. (I have no idea where he gets that from - who says authors put a bit of themselves into their stories?)

When he arrives in New York after leaving Story Land for the first time, the place he feels most at home is the 'Sunshine Sparkle-Dust Cupcake Cafe.'


 So, his ideal birthday cake would be a huge giant cupcake. It definitely wouldn't be a donut. He's gone off those since the cafe owner starting using his horn to make the holes in the middle.


Rachel D: That's easy! Jim would like any birthday cake that isn't cooked by his mum! Jim's mum is a health nut and there's no such thing as normal food in his house. She's always putting leaves in his lasagne, algae in his smoothies and superfoods in his sandwiches. Her idea of a birthday cake would be scary - a multi-seed and seaweed sponge cake with avocado icing. Yuk! If it up to Jim, he'd just like a chocolate fudge cake with his name spelled out in Smarties.


Spooks and Scooters is the third book in The Marsh Road Mysteries series by the award-winning and much loved children’s author Elen Caldecott. Piotr, Minnie, Andrew, Flora and Sylvie return another thrilling adventure.

Elen Caldecott’s books have received high acclaim and award recognition since she was first published in 2009. In the last five years she has been shortlisted for the Red House Children’s Book Award and the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize, been highly commended at the Sheffield Children’s Book Awards and won The Lennoxlove Author Award. Elen’s books have been shortlisted for 30 different awards. Originally from Llangollen in Wales, Elen now lives in Bristol with her husband and their dog, Biff.

www.elencaldecott.com  / Facebook: Elen Caldecott Children’s Author / Twitter: @ElenCaldecott


Jo Cotterill has been writing stories and songs since she could hold a pencil. Growing up in Oxfordshire, she took out as many books as possible from the library each week and drew pictures on her bedroom walls. She can resist buying almost anything except books. Successful careers in acting and teaching were fun but nothing is as great as seeing your name on the cover of a book or enthusing kids about stories. Jo has published over twenty books and has far too many ideas for the number of hours available to write them. She lives in north Oxford, likes making cards and cakes, and believes passionately that there should be more female superheroes.
Website: http://jocotterill.com Twitter: @jocotterillbook


Cathy Brett has been a theatre scenic artist, school art technician, college lecturer, fashion illustrator, packaging designer, jet-setting spotter of global trends and style consultant to the British high street. These days she loves drawing more than anything else. Ever. Except her nieces. And cake. Drawing her nieces while eating cake would be utter bliss.
Website: http://cathybrett.blogspot.co.uk   Twitter: @gingerdoodles


Sarah Rubin spend most of her childhood in costume, directing her younger siblings in lavish living room productions and trying to get lost in the woods. Now that her brothers and sisters are too old to boss around, she directs on-paper characters instead.
http://sarahrubinbooks.com/


Cas Lester had a fabulous time and a great deal of fun working in children's television drama with CBBC making shows like Big Kids, Jackanory, Muddle Earth and The Story of Tracy Beaker and lots of others. But now she's having a fabulous time and a great deal of fun writing children's books - including the HARVEY DREW space comedies and the NIXIE THE BAD, BAD FAIRY series. She doesn't care where she writes, as long as her daft dog Bramble is settled next to her quietly. (Quietly: as in 'not snoring louder than a hedgehog in a bucket'). Follow Cas on Twitter: @TheCasInTheHat and find out more about her on her website:  www.caslester.com  Wilfred the Unwise is published by Piccadilly Press. It is illustrated by Mark Beech,


Rachel Hamilton is a graduate of both Oxford University and Cambridge University and has put her education to good use by working in an ad age by working in an ad agency, a secondary school, a building site and a men’s prison. Her interests are books, films, stand-up comedy and cake, and she loves to make people laugh, especially when it’s intentional rather than accidental.

Her books include Unicorn in New York (OUP), The Case of the Exploding Brains (S&S) and The Case of the Exploding Loo (S&S), which was nominated for the Redbridge Children’s Award and Leeds Book Award, was runner up in the Montegrappa First Fiction Prize and won the Worcestershire Awesomest Book Award.

Rachel recently won the Emirates Woman of the Year Award 2015 in the Artist Category

Website: http://www.rachel-hamilton.com
Twitter: RachelLHamilton
Facebook: RachelHamiltonAuthor


Rachel Delahaye is the author of Jim Reaper: Son of Grim.
Website: www.racheldelahaye.com    Twitter: @RachelDelahaye


Aimée Carter is the author of Simon Thorn and the Wolf's Den.
Website: www.aimeecarter.com/ Twitter: @aimee_carter


AF Harrold is the author of Fizzlebert Stump: The Boy Who Did P.E. in his Pants, illustrated by Sarah Horne.
Website: afharrold.com 
Twitter: @afharrold


Alex Marlowe is the author of The Last Immortal.

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