Friday, January 20, 2017

Disaster David has landed!

He's here! In the flesh and paper and ink, my last title of 2016, Disaster David has made its way to Dublin from distant Armenia where Zangak Publishing did a fine job with my words and Julie Grugeaux/de Terssac's stunning illustrations.
This is a story very freely inspired by a traditional Armenian tale about David, a young disaster-prone giant.
It involves sheep, leopards and chamber pots, among other things, and is a light-hearted musing on how one's failings can be turned to an advantage.
The book is published in both English and Armenian (two separate editions) and can be purchased in all good bookshops in Armenia as well as online here or there. There will be more widespread distribution eventually, so watch this space for updates!

Monday, November 28, 2016

Babies on Board

As part of my tenure as Patron of Reading in SMGS National School in Inchicore, I have run a couple of sessions of Baby Bookclubs and it's been a hoot, or, more specifically, a roar.
Together with their dedicated grown-ups we have read about kings, queens and castles, about babies and about dinosaurs fierce, meek and fast.
Part of the session is spent reading together: we follow the text on the page as much as we wander from it to make connections with the toys we have in the room, to compare with our own skills (can you be very, very slow like the triceratops?), to manhandle the book or just pore over the images (and maybe do a bit of counting and name some colours, or, even better, find ourselves in the pictures).
The babies are in reality toddlers, with ages ranging mostly between 18 months and 2 and a bit, with the exception of a young lady for whom we are still counting in weeks (17 weeks old for session 1) and who is all eyes and ears: her fellow bookclubbers hold as much interest to her than the books and props. Last week, she was plied with a cloth book and spent half of the session engrossed in it. The other half she spent manipulating dinos like everyone else.
We shout, we run, we sing, we dance. Baby Bookclub is not a quiet affair. But we are engaged, we turn the pages ourselves when we are ready, we comment on everything, we learn (a tiny bit) of sharing and taking turns and we do some absorbing art at the end.
Even in those few sessions, I have seen some very rewarding sights, from the toddler who didn't really want to be there at 9 and didn't want to leave at 9.45, to the 2-year-old who had never quite taken to playgroup but was leading the way in Baby Bookclub.
It is also a chance to answer any questions the grown-ups may have, share reading tips with them and throw in the odd book recommendation. Book doctoring without the white coat!
I'm hoping to do more of these sessions in the new year and can't wait to see how our club members get on with it. For more, head over to my Patron of Reading blog, where you can see the very artistic craft we produced and some extra resources (dinosaur songs, anyone?).

Monday, November 21, 2016

Patron of Reading!

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I have had the great pleasure and honour to be designated Patron of Reading for Scoil Mhuire Gan Smál Inchicore.
'What's that?' you say. 'Inchi-which?' you say.
A Patron of Reading is a writer who develops a special relationship with a particular school and becomes a sort of embassador for reading for pleasure.
In other words, we're going to have book-related fun. Though job, I know.
SMGS is a National School in Dublin 8 with about 300 kids and, as of now, 1 Patron of Reading. It is the only primary school in the Republic to boast one so far, so we are all super-chuffed. (Sheena Wilkinson is Patron of Reading for Trinity Comprehensive School in Ballymun, and Pauline Burgess looks after Millenium Integrated Primary School in Ballynahinch).
We're going to have bookish competitions, writing club for kids, writing workshop for the parents, Baby Book Clubs for the younger siblings, and all manner of excitement. Keep up with it all at https://smgspatronofreading.blogspot.ie/
If you want to find out more about the Patron of Reading movement, it's over here: https://smgspatronofreading.blogspot.ie/.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Disaster in sight


Did I not say to watch this space? Well, here he is, or will be very soon, the one and only Disaster David.
David is a young giant with a big heart and big clumsy hands. He is forever breaking things, but he never means to. He is just too strong. So when the good people of Sassoon send him to mind their sheep up on the mountain, they should know what to expect: disaster!

Disaster David is my take on an old Armenian saga. It features sheep and bearded warriors, chamber pots and giant snores, hares and bears and tigers, and is splendidly illustrated by French artist Julie Grugeaux who has done an exceptional job here of mingling traditional patterns and architecture with the energy and zanyness of the text (if I say so myself).
The book is published (imminently) by Zangak publishing in English, with an Armenian translation to follow. Head over to my French blog for more pics...

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Tip top Tipp

The Inis reading guide in company at Thurles super cool library.
Another October, another bit of wandering, this time through Tipperary where the creative juices flow high.
They got it right in Tipp!
In Roscrea, Templemore, Killenaule, Carrick and Cashel, they know all about evil babies with laser eyes, granny wrestling champions, dentist superheroes who blast their way around with a toothpaste gun, cheese-flavoured chewing-gums, dinner ladies who must cook chicken for 80 days around the world, nasty Mr Pineapple and Acrobanea, the planet at the back of the closet where acrobats are born.
There was laughing, there was reading, there was shouting, there was writing and there was miaowing.
Also, there was some singing in French. For those who missed it, it was a 5-a-day version of Frère Jacques:
Frère Jacques, des tomates
Dormez-vous? dans les choux
Sonnez-les matines, dans les aubergines
Ding ding dong, des citrons.



Anyone?
Thanks so much to everybody who came along for the ride (and indeed provided the ride in the first place!), t'was tremendous!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Centenary

Today marks the centenary of the Armenian genocide and I still haven't written that book. The one with the horrible stories linked together by a forceful sense of survival, hope and legacy.
Every two years or so I go back to it, I rewrite it in my head, change the angle, add a new structure, plan on more research. But it's still nothing more than notes.
I have, however, written another book. One with a forceful hero full stop. He lives in the land of Sassoon and has survived to this day through many Armenian legends. His name is David, Disaster David and he is exactly what it says on the tin. I would love, today of all days, to share with you his charming but catastrophic antics, but I can't just yet. All going well, you will hear from David very soon.
What I can share, however, is a piece of story from a while ago. A story of joyful voyages, curiosity and, yes, hope too. The story of a little boy called Manoug in the French original, not Alexander or Gabriel as in the first US edition and the Brazilian one. Manoug is no conqueror, no angel. He is just a child, which is what his name means in Armenian.

Manoug had been traveling for almost a year now. He traveled to many new countries, and in each new place, he thought he discovered the Land of Happiness.
But each time the songbird would tell him, "It's true and it's not true."
More and more, the little traveler thought about Grandpa.
He began to wonder if the Land of Happiness really existed.
And how important it was to find it.

I leave you to decide that for yourselves...
(In Search of Happiness, translated by Rebecca Frazer, illustrated by Eric Puybaret, Auzou Publishing 2013)
(NB: in this second US edition, Manoug has been renamed Kalim; I'm giving him his birth-cert name just for this occasion)

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Bilingual book signing!


If you happen to be in my neck of the French woods on Saturday 4th April between 10am-12noon and 3pm-5pm, why not pop into the one and only bookshop of the little town of Excideuil in the Dordogne?
I will be signing my books in both languages and, sure, it'll be fun!
If you need more convincing, note that said bookshop is called De la Pomme à la Plume, that is Apples and Quills, because yes, they sell books, but also fruit, wine and all manner of fine foods...
Check out the shop window!