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Friendship and free stuff: would you like to become a member of The Nosy Crow Crew?

Posted by Tom on May 24, 2013

Hot on the heels of our Reading Group (more really exciting news about this follows), we’ve had another thought.

The new idea is the formation of The Nosy Crow Crew, and we suppose it’s sort of like an ambassador programme: we’d love to have a closer relationship with some parents, teachers, librarians, booksellers, bloggers, and anyone who’s enthusiastic about children’s books and/or apps, and children’s reading in any medium… and who really likes what we do (books and/or apps).

In fact, part of the thinking behind this new idea came out of our decision to host a monthly book club – we received an overwhelming amount of interest from people who wanted to come (to the point that we sadly couldn’t include everyone), but we also heard from a number of people who couldn’t make it, usually because they didn’t live close enough.

We know that The Nosy Crow Crew idea isn’t the same as a reading group (though we do have A Soon-To-Be-Revealed-Plan for participating in the reading group at a distance, and we really hope that some of you might be inspired to set up your own children’s book reading group that might shadow our choices, or make your own), but the response to the reading group idea reminded us of how many people from all over the UK are interested in the same kind of things that we are, and this is just a way of getting a little closer to some of them.

And we are, honestly, both delighted and humbled every time someone on Twitter or elsewhere online says how much they love Nosy Crow, or a particular Nosy Crow book or app.

Although we’d have to limit membership of The Nosy Crow Crew to the UK and Ireland (at least for now – it’s all about the costs of postage and packing, honestly), you can be based anywhere in the UK and Ireland and still take part.

If you become a member of The Nosy Crow Crew, we’ll send you some Nosy Crow stuff right away – a Nosy Crow mug, badges, bookmarks, twitter ribbons, icons for your blog, and more. We’ll include you in our monthly books newsletter, and every three months we’ll write to you with some special insights and extra information and news, and send you one utterly and entirely free Nosy Crow book or app of your choice (up to the value of £10.99). There’ll be other exclusive offers as we develop the idea and as we think them up.

And what would we like from you? Well, we’d love to hear your views about what we do and about our books. And we’d very much like you to help spread the word about Nosy Crow online and in person… which is why you really need to like what we do.

You don’t need to have any particular background, although to avoid any conflict of interest, I’m afraid we’ve decided that you really can’t work for another publisher. Having a relevant (children’s book-y, children’s app-y or parenting) blog, a lively Twitter feed, or any other means of reaching an audience would be a benefit, but it’s not absolutely essential.

If you’re interested in becoming one of the first members of The Nosy Crow Crew, write us an email ([email protected]) telling us why you’d be right for us. There are a limited number of places available to begin with – we want to do it well, and make real connections with people, so it seems to us best to start small – but we may feel able to open Crew membership up to a wider audience later on in the year.

Win copies of our February books!

Posted by Tom on Jan 29, 2013

This competition has now closed.

It’s not long until publication day for our February titles, and to celebrate, we have some books to give away! If you’re a resident of the UK or Ireland you can win any of our upcoming releases simply by subscribing to our books newsletter and either tweeting to @NosyCrowBooks or leaving a comment underneath this blogpost, telling us the name you subscribed with and the book you’d like to win.

In February we’re releasing two brand new touch-and-feel board books in the Noodle series by Marion Billet, Noodle Loves the Zoo and Noodle Loves the Park – simple rhyming texts with lots for parent and child to talk about and explore on every spread.

We’re also releasing the board book edition of Dinosaur Zoom! by Penny Dale – bursting with dinosaurs and vehicles of all shapes and sizes, and with a delicious, surprise ending. Here’s a look inside:

We’re publishing Open Very Carefully, illustrated by Nicola O’Byrne and with words by Nick Bromley – a very clever picture book with a crocodile who’s fallen out of his own story and into this one, and a lovely book for sharing and discussing how words and pictures work. Here’s a sneak preview:

It’s publication time for the final volume in the fantastic, innovative Mega Mash-Up series by Nikalas Catlow and Tim Wesson, Mega Mash-Up: Cowboys v Trolls in the Arctic, and the fourth book in the very funny Vulgar the Viking series by Odin Redbeard, Vulgar the Viking and the Terrible Talent Show. Here’s a look inside:

And last but not least, we’re releasing Dear Scarlett by Fleur Hitchcock – an irresistible story told in the first person, combining adventure, mystery, lots of funny bits and a truly brilliant hero in Scarlett, fantastic for 9 – 12 year olds, and especially good for girls (but very likely to appeal to boys too).

You can subscribe to the books newsletter here (if you’ve already subscribed you’re still eligible for this competition) – and every month we’ll write to you with details of our upcoming titles, author events, exclusive interviews, and all of our news. So have a good think about which book you’d like to win (we can only accept one entry per person), and good luck – we’ll pick the winners at random on publication day next week!

This competition has now closed.

Books about giving

Posted by Tom on Dec 18, 2012

A little while ago we wrote a blog about some of our favourite Christmas books. Today’s post is on a sort-of related topic: books about giving. This has been prompted by a couple of things: Ola suggested the theme with a couple of immediate nominations from our own list. And over the weekend, I read a short and very intriguing blog by Chris Blattman, a professor at Columbia University, about teaching children to share. Blattman writes about the policy of his child’s nursery:

Amara’s daycare (which, as you would expect, is the caricature of the overachieving and neurotic Manhattan nursery) doesn’t believe in sharing.

If Amara has a toy and Billy wants it, Amara is taught not to give it to Billy. Rather, Billy is told that it is Amara’s toy, and that he can have it when she’s done, whenever that may be. Amara is taught to say “mine” and fend off foul Billy.

The idea, they say, is to help a child (especially quieter ones like Amara) feel more secure, and thus share more confidently later in life.

My first thought: this is crazy.

My second thought: this is brilliant. This is the history of property rights in early human society: a set of norms that evolve to solve zero sum games, and thus promote harmony and cooperation in the absence of a coercive state.

Like Blattman, I can’t decide if this is crazy or brilliant, but it certainly made me think. Sharing and giving are very different emotional tasks for anyone to perform (I love giving books as gifts, but am very reluctant to share my own books, for instance…), although in children’s books the two activities are often treated interchangeably: celebrated as ways of teaching generosity, kindness and empathy (no bad thing).

Pip and Posy: The Super Scooter, by Axel Scheffler, is a book very much about sharing. Posy snatches Pip’s scooter and Pip is very unhappy about it. But when Posy has a nasty fall, Pip looks after her, and they learn to share together (and, in Posy’s case, say ‘sorry’) by the end.

That distinction – between sharing and giving – is probably the subject for a different blogpost, though, and for the purposes of this one, I’d like to concentrate just on giving, and on stories actually about giving – not just ones in which it features (so, no The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, for instance, which does have a great gift-giving scene, but really only as a plot device in service to a larger narrative). There is some crossover between this list and that of our favourite Christmas books, but not as much as I expected there to be, depending on how generously you interpret the idea of “giving”.

There are some lovely books about giving things other than objects, like Hug by Jez Alborough and Hugless Douglas by David Melling.

Badger’s Parting Gifts by Susan Varley uses gift-giving as a means of tackling another, more difficult subject – dealing with loss – and does it superbly.

A Christmas Carol by Dickens uses giving as a way of providing redemption for Ebenezer Scrooge.

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein and Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White both explore giving through acts of great sacrifice.

And Christmassy picture books like Just Right for Christmas by Birdie Black and Ros Beardshaw (and, indeed, our instant picture book The Snowman’s Journey, based on the John Lewis Christmas television advert) celebrate the joy of the act of giving itself.

What are your favourite books about giving (…or sharing)? And have you used them to teach any of these things yourself?

Win a Nosy Crow mug!

Posted by Tom on Jun 22, 2012

Last Friday, through our new Twitter account, @NosyCrowBooks, we ran a competition to win one of the rather fetching Nosy Crow mugs on display above.

Well, it was such a success, that we’ve decided to do it again! To win a Nosy Crow mug, all you have to do is follow @NosyCrowBooks and tell us on Twitter why you’d like it. Here it is from the other side:

To enter, you need to be a resident of the UK or Ireland, and we’ll announce a winner at the end of the day – good luck! For those of you that don’t win this time around, don’t forget – we’ve also just launched a Nosy Crow Books Newsletter and to celebrate, we’re giving away lots of free books for our first issue – you can sign up here.

@NosyCrowBooks

Posted by Tom on May 29, 2012

As you may have guessed from the title of this post, we have a new Twitter account! There’s now an @NosyCrowBooks feed, which will be devoted entirely to information about – unsurprisingly – our books, with some tweeting and retweeting about children’s books in general.

We’ve had an @NosyCrowApps account that has operated in a similar capacity for a while now. And nothing about the @NosyCrow Twitter feed will change, but it’s very much Kate’s account and she talks about many things. In fact, the catalyst for a discussion as to whether it might be a good idea to have a books-only feed was a recent tweet in which Kate explained why she was not wearing shorts in hot weather.

It’s important to us that none of our Twitter feeds has a corporate or filtered feel. And @NosyCrowBooks will have the same kind of friendly informality that informs our other Twitter feeds: I’ll be contributing to the feed and I certainly find it difficult to think of myself as “corporate” while I am sat barefoot at my desk messily eating peaches.

If you follow @NosyCrowBooks (as well as one or both of our other Twitter feeds) you’ll be able to keep up with publication dates, author events, competitions, and reviews – and please, write to us with any questions or your own reviews of Nosy Crow titles you’ve read!

The Secret Hen House Theatre is out today

Posted by Kirsty on Apr 05, 2012

The Slush Pile. Every publishing house has one (unless of course it has closed its doors to submissions). And every editor dreams of plucking the Next Big Thing from it. Which is exactly what happened seventeen months and two Nosy Crow offices ago to THE SECRET HEN HOUSE THEATRE by Helen Peters , published today! (I’d love to claim credit for the plucking but can’t – step forward, Mr Adrian Soar, and take your bow.)

From first read, it was clear that this book is set to become a classic and that Helen Peters is an author with a great future ahead of her. The story, of a girl who pulls her chaotic family back from the brink through imagination, courage and a joyful commitment to secret theatres and muddy farmhouse living, is entirely engaging. It’s funny, sad, dramatic and impossible to put down. And here it is, already gracing the shelves of the Muswell Hill children’s bookshop.

A little snippet:

“The sow was charging straight towards her. Hannah turned and ran, the pig splashing and squealing behind her. Thick wet clay, heavy as concrete, clung to her boots. Dad crashed through the hedge just ahead and ran full tilt towards the enormous sow at her heels. And Hannah tripped over his boot and fell flat on her face into a gigantic puddle. She staggered to her feet, soaked to the skin. Freezing water cascaded down her back and legs. The world had gone dark. Her eyes were stuck together with mud, and she tried to wipe them but her hands and sleeves were coated with mud too. She could feel her hair plastered to her face. Through the muddy water in her ears she heard Martha’s laughter.”

I’ve read THE SECRET HEN HOUSE THEATRE many times now and it still makes me laugh. And I’ll admit, get a bit choked more than once. And it always makes me glad I don’t keep pigs. Congratulations, Helen, on writing a brilliant novel that everyone loves and happy publication day!

Are books and apps "bought" or "sold"?

Posted by Kate on Jan 11, 2012

I was interested to see this short article by Seth Godin.

He argues that some things are “bought” – they’re there, and consumers find them because they meet a need without the seller soliciting the sale, and others are “sold” – no sale happens unless the seller solicits the sale.

I’ve just read the piece, and don’t have huge amounts of time to think it over in relation to books and apps (I am in Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronic’s Show, the Kids @ Play summit and to pick up the KAPi award for best ebook for our Cinderella app). The examples that Seth Godin gives are at the opposite ends of a spectrum, and I don’t really think that the things that we acquire can be put into boxes of “bought” and “sold”: instead, there’s a kind of continuum of push and pull, of desire and need, of opportunity and quest.

And I think that sometimes – as in the example of the Charles Dickens biography and War Horse below – something other than, or in addition to, the seller is “soliciting” or at least prompting the sale.

There’s also, in the case of books and apps, a question of who “the seller” is. Is it the publisher? Is it the retailer? It is, perhaps, the author or creator in some cases?

But it seems to me that books are both “bought” and “sold”. If I go into Hudson News or WHS in a station or an airport before a journey, and buy a book that I have never heard of before, that book has essentially been “bought”. Yes, the fact that it’s on a table rather than a shelf, or face out on a shelf, may make me more likely to notice it. Yesterday, I did just that. I bought a copy of Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout (so far, so American and good). Perhaps the “Winner of the Pullitzer Prize” badge was part of a “sell”, and, I suppose, the cover, the blurb and the review sources suggested it would be a particular kind of woman-skewed, middle-brow read that might work for me when I was a bit jet-lagged and on a plane that I knew already would be as uncomfortable and rammed as only an American Airlines (gosh, but I hate that airline) flight can be.

But when I acquired the Claire Tomalin biography of Charles Dickens (I went on to write about it here) from Amazon, I didn’t stumble upon it. That book had been “sold” to me by review coverage combined, of course, with the event of the bi-centenary of Dickens’ birth, which meant that the subject was very zeitgeisty.

I think the fact that the bricks and mortar bookshop example was an example of a book that I “bought” and the online bookshop example was an example of a book that I was “sold” is indicative of a shift that books are going through now between from “bought” to being “sold”.

At the moment, I still think most, but not all, of course, children’s books are “bought”. Of course, there are exceptions: the film of War Horse is currently “selling” War Horse.

I think that, as publishers, we need to get better at “selling” books.

It’s hard to generalise about apps. I think that, in our case, many of our apps have been “sold”, in that people have gone onto the app store looking for them because they’ve seen a great review, or read about us in a paper or magazine, or connect with us on Twitter or Facebook (and social media is, of course, one of the ways that publishers could get better at selling books too), or heard about the app from someone they know.

However, I also think that some of our apps have been “bought”, by people finding them on the app store. At the moment, one of the great challenges of the Apple App Store is how to find good apps, but being App of the Week, or being on the front page of the store or a section of the store, or showing up well in rankings hugely increases the chances of being found by consumers.

Unlike much bookshop positioning (whether online or bricks-and-mortar), you can’t pay for positioning in the Apple App Store. Apple chooses the apps it promotes. All we can do is make sure our apps are as good as they can possibly be. Oh, and it would probably help if you voted for them in the Best App Ever Awards!

I am still thinking about this, so this is a far from definitive piece of writing, but I’d be interested to know your views.

So, do you feel books are bought or sold? What’s your own experience? Is it different from what you think other people’s experience is?

Do you feel apps are bought or sold? What’s your own experience, if you’re an app buyer? Is it different from what you think other people’s experience is?

S.C. Ransom and Fischer filming for Small Blue Thing [video]

Posted by S.C. Ransom on Sep 09, 2011

My first book, Small Blue Thing, has now been translated into German by Fischer Schatzinsel, a very well-respected German publishing company with a terific list. They are really enthusiastic about the book and have been working hard on the publicity and marketing ready for the launch today.

In Germany it’s being called ‘Nur ein Hauch von dir’ which roughly translates as ‘Just a Breath of You’, and they have produced an entirely different hardback cover, with a spooky, handsome face in the background over the London skyline which looks fantastic. They’ve also put a new voice-over on the video.

So when they asked if I minded helping, I was delighted. I found myself being photographed on the banks of the Thames, with St Paul’s Cathedral as a backdrop, by Maria and Caroline from Fischer. They needed a video of me speaking too, just a short one, to say hello to all the fans of the series in Germany. I really wished that I had paid a bit more attention in all those long-ago German lessons, then I might have been able to do it in German, but sadly it’s not a skill I possess.

They had a copy of the German edition for me too, and it’s great seeing the story I wrote, with all the familiar names and places, in text I can’t quite understand. My daughter Ellie (who I wrote the book for originally) has just started studying the language, and she’s very excited about taking the book into class next term. I’m really looking forward to seeing the rest of the series translated too.

Maria and Caroline from Fischer, photographed in front of the Tate Modern:

You can read more about the book (in German) on Fischer’s website here.

Summer Reading

Posted by Tom on Jul 29, 2011

Now that Summer is most certainly upon us (evidenced at Nosy Crow by the fact that almost everyone is on holiday), the ritual of reading round-ups has been getting its yearly airing in the press. Without wanting to look a gift horse in the mouth – we’ve been very pleased with the inclusion of our books in so many round-ups – there seems to me to be something a little… unsatisfactory about the criteria for these lists. Surely, in order to qualify as a great Summer read, a book ought to have more going for it than a recent publication date.

There is, of course, all kinds of ways one could choose to define a good Summer book. Some – like our Mega Mash-Up series – are brilliant for keeping children occupied on long journeys or during days at home. Others, like Noodle Loves the Beach and Bizzy Bear: Off We Go!, evoke Summer quite literally. And stories like Dinosaur Dig! somehow encapsulate the outdoorsy, spirit-of-adventure feeling that Summer represents when you’re young – or, as Camilla put it to me in an email from the road, “Summer is about liberation isn’t it – from school, parents and routine, and in theory, the weather.”

When I asked for everyone’s suggestions here (before they all left), we decided to restrict ourselves to books that actually take place over the Summer. Needless to say, as with every previous discussion on the subject of favourite books of one sort or another, the debate swiftly dissolved into endless one-upmanship, but out of this, I’m pleased to say, came some truly excellent suggestions.

As ever, we’d love to hear your favourites, so please leave your comments at the bottom of the page or on Twitter.

Adrian suggested some true classics – Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons and The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame, as well as a long-forgotten gem, The Inviolable Sanctuary by GA Birmingham.

Dom, pipped to the post for The Wind in the Willows, chose Laurie Lee’s Cider with Rosie, saying that, “Some of the scenes from that book were so vivid, they’ve become practically my own memories. It’s the book equivalent of Inception!”

Kirsty has nominated L.P. Hartley’s The Go-Between, Falconer’s Lure by Antonia Forest, and Winnie the Witch at the Seaside, by Valerie Thomas and Korky Paul, for “the best infinity pool ever.”

Camilla’s first suggestion is The Enchanted Wood, by Enid Blyton – and she has exactly the measure of a lot of Blyton’s books:
“Ginger beer, doorstep sandwiches and smugglers coves – in fact the very holiday I am just embarking on, though of course it never seemed to rain and I bet they didn’t spend hours sitting in a traffic jam on the A30.”

Some of her other choices are Iggy and Me on Holiday, by Jenny Valentine and Joe Berger, and Shirley Hughes’ Lucy and Tom at the Seaside.

Kate seconded Kirsty’s nomination of The Go-Between, and has also added Greengage Summer by Rumer Godden and What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell, both for older readers. Her other suggestions include Lyn Gardner’s Olivia’s Enchanted Summer, out next year, Greenwitch and Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper, and Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, which I believe has the distinction of somehow being included in every single one of the “Best of” lists that we produce.

My choices are, for much the same reason as Camilla, Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books, as well as A Spoonful of Jam by Michelle Magorian and Raspberries on the Yangtze by Karen Wallace, both of which have sort-of magical qualities about them. And finally, I believe I would be remiss not to mention the summer strips of Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes cartoons (pictured above), which, like all of our choices, cannot capture everything that’s wonderful about Summer, but certainly go a long way towards trying.

Now – over to you!

We’ve had some Twitter recommendations with the hashtag #summerreads:

@rogue_eight suggested The Weirdstone of Brisingamen, by Alan Garner

Kate (@nosycrow) pointed out that S.C. Ransom’s books Small Blue Thing and Perfectly Reflected both have strong sense of a London summer.

As Father's Day approaches, a look at dads in books for children

Posted by Tom on Jun 14, 2011

It may well be true that Father’s Day is without a jot of authentic tradition to its name, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t fun to celebrate. At Nosy Crow we’ve been listing our favourite dads in children’s literature all week, and what started out as a harmless pub game between Kate, Camilla and me has spiralled rather dramatically into a mammoth collection of categories, sub-categories and clauses.

Being a bit of a purist about these things, I initially protested to Kate that our list should be comprised only of nice dads, and that bad dads would go against the spirit of the exercise somewhat – this is for father’s day after all! – but we all realised pretty quickly that a lot of the best characters are really awful fathers.

This initial concession led to a proliferation of different categories.

Here are our best categories and our strongest nominations, with, where I felt it necessary, some context or justification. Please add your own categories or nominations in the comments below or on Twitter with the hashtag #kidsbookdads or Facebook!

Good dads:

William from Danny, the Champion of the World (written by Roald Dahl and illustrated by Quentin Blake, see the picture above). This is a pretty uncomplicated one – I think we can all agree that William is an amazing and exciting dad (even if he does lead his son into a life of crime). The opening chapter is a really lovely and quite moving tribute to the relationship between father and son.

The dad in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang by Ian Fleming is another good example of an exciting dad.

The dad in Millions by Frank Cottrell Boyce is a favourite of Kate’s.

Big Nutbrown Hare from Guess How Much I Love You (written by Sam McBratney and illustrated by Anita Jeram). Big Nutbrown Hare is never specifically referred to as Little Nutbrown Hare’s father, but I think we’re invited to assume as much.

Gorilla from Gorilla and the dad in My Dad by Anthony Browne are pretty good entries from the outgoing Children’s Laureate…

… And we have two from the incoming one: Stick Man from Stick Man whose quest is to get back to his family tree, and the gruffalo, from The Gruffalo’s Child, who tries to warn his adventurous child against the mouse. Both are written by Julie Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler.

Pa Ingalls from Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

John Arable from Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White.

And Tango Makes Three, by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson and illustrated by Henry Cole, is an inspired choice by Camilla – the true story of the two male penguins in New York’s Central Park Zoo who raised a baby penguin together.

Two excellent suggestions by Kate B were Mr. Brown from Paddington (by Michael Bond) and Pongo from 101 Dalmations (by Dodie Smith).

Atticus Finch from To Kill A Mockingbird (by Harper Lee). I have had to lobby quite hard for inclusion of Atticus Finch: on the one hand, he is, of course, the greatest father in any book, but is To Kill A Mockingbird really children’s literature? Well, it was treated as such on its release in 1960, and it’s taught all over the world in schools, so I think that makes it not not children’s literature.

Kate made the very interesting suggestion of Anne Frank’s father, “especially in contrast to how she portrayed her mother”.

My contribution to the sub-category of real-life good dads is Michael Rosen in his poems about his son Eddie, which reach their heartbreaking conclusion in Michael Rosen’s Sad Book.

Kate B also suggested James Potter from the Harry Potter books, which to begin with seemed like a silly suggestion to me; certainly not worthy of the Pongo/ Mr. Brown company in which it stood – James isn’t even alive in the books! – but it is, of course, actually an excellent choice. James dies protecting his family from Voldemort – a powerful symbol of fatherly love, and he’s there in Harry’s mind throughout the books.

James Potter segues seamlessly into our next category…

Absent dads:.

There are quite a lot of these in children’s books, ranging from dads who’ve abandoned their children to dads who are absent through no fault of their own.

The father in The Railway Children. I can’t remember his name, but it doesn’t matter – he’ll always be “Daddy, my daddy!” to me, in the manner of Dead Poets Society and “Captain, my captain”.

The fathers in Jacqueline Wilson’s The Illustrated Mum and Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women were both examples of Kate’s category of “Absent Dads who are the Deus Ex Machina, resolving things at the end or making the ending happy”, as is the dad in The Tiger Who Came To Tea by Judith Kerr.

Bad dads:

Interestingly, a lot of bad fathers are defined in terms of their absence (in another blog post I’m sure there’d be a lot to say about that…) Some literary dads, however, would leave their offspring a lot better off if they did disappear.

Surely the absolute worst dad ever is Huck Finn’s; the violent town drunk who locks his son in a cabin and leaves him to starve. If we can have To Kill A Mockingbird then we can probably sneak in Huck Finn.

An excellent contender for the same title must be Matilda’s dad (from Roald Dahl’s Matilda)

Kate B points out that many fairy tale dads, such as the fathers in Hansel and Gretel, Snow White and Cinderella, behave shockingly badly towards their offsping, though they’re often under the influence of wicked stepmothers.

Bad dads who become good:

This is a more heartwarming category and it seems to be an popular archetype in children’s books:

The father in our very own Olivia’s First Term, by Lyn Gardner is viewed by some of us as a bit of a bad dad, but others of us felt this was harsh, and that he really was doing his best in difficult circumstances.

Other complicated and difficult dads who are more or less redeemed at the end of the book or books include Lord Asriel, from the trilogy His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman; Mortmain, from I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith; Mr. Darling from Peter Pan; and Colin’s dad in Frances Hodgson Burnett’s Secret Garden

Surrogate dads:

Adrian thought up the “surrogate dads” category:

Ben from Patrick Ness’s Chaos Walking trilogy.

Tom Oakley from Goodnight Mister Tom by Michelle Magorian.

Joe Gargery in Great Expectations by Charles Dickens.

The magnificent Akela from Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book.

Finally (!), here are a few that didn’t quite fit anywhere:

Kirsty called the dad in Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging “the best comedy dad”, and nominated the dads in Big Red Bath and Peepo“ for the title of “Best at giving baths dad”. And Charlie and the Chocolate Factory demonstrates the “Dad upstaged by grandfather” genre rather well…

As you can see, once you’ve started, it is hard to stop.

Over to you…

An author's view of the printing process: Perfectly Reflected gets real

Posted by Kate on May 14, 2011

S C Ransom, who, as the author of Nosy Crow’s first book, and therefore our inaugural book with Clays gets rather special treatment from them, blogs about visting the printer for a second time:

I recently went to Clays in Suffolk to watch the first printing of my new novel, Perfectly Reflected. It was a specific request on my part as I had so enjoyed watching the first book in the series, Small Blue Thing, being printed last Autumn. I had never seen books being printed before, and the guys at Clays had given us a comprehensive tour and explained all the processes that the book goes through. But for that book there had been bound proofs before there were finished copies, so I had held it in my hand before, albeit without the beautiful, shiny cover.

This time it was different. Before I went to Clays, Perfectly Reflected existed only in my laptop and on great wodges of A4 paper bristling with sticky notes and covered in pencil marks. It had never looked anything like a ‘real’ printed book. I was also particularly interested in seeing the first books coming off the line, as that was something I had missed on the previous occasion. When Andrew and Rebekah gave me the tour, they explained that the operators prefer to show the process when it’s up and running – once all the start-up wrinkles have been ironed out. But they smiled at my excitement, and, as the first bound double book came shooting around the line, someone deftly lifted it off and handed it to me. The next ones went through the process of being sliced into two separate books and then trimmed. At the far end of the line they were sorted into piles, shrink-wrapped and loaded onto pallets. The machines were very loud and very efficient, and wastage was almost nil. At the end of the process I saw just two of my books in the recycling bin; one had a ripped cover and the other had a slightly dented cover. (I couldn’t resist rescuing the dented one, and it has now gone to a good home!)

With incredible speed, the line was running at its usual speed of 12,000 double books per hour, and from where I was standing in the middle, there were copies of my book on every conveyor belt I could see. From never having seen or held one, there were suddenly thousands and thousands of them. My vision and all those months of hard work hunched over the laptop were suddenly transformed into a real live book, bound in a glistening, foiled blue cover.

Everyone from Clays was lovely, answering all of my dumb questions and cheerfully explaining all the various processes. Perhaps having an author there was a novelty, though they must have had to make time to treat me so well.

As we walked around I looked at the monitor listing all the print runs for that particular production line (one of many they have at Clays). The next book up was Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. How’s that for being in exalted company?

Two different fairy tales

Posted by Kate on Apr 29, 2011

This is an update of yesterday’s post.

London has really been partying today, and many of you will have seen the coverage of the Royal Wedding.

We are very lucky to live in the middle of London, but it wasn’t really an option to stroll out and bag a great place this morning: so many people had planned for today very carefully and secured their views by turning up before it was light or even camping out for days (I saw the first tents on Wednesday morning).

I have two girls, who were more interested in event than they were readily willing to acknowledge, both being past the pink princess stage. We watched much of the lead-up and the ceremony on TV. They liked the trees and the music (top marks to timpani man), and the dress more than passed muster even with the sartorially-critical child. Then, in the lull before the balcony appearance, my older child said she thought we ought to go out and see what was happening on the ground. We arrived at the south side of Buckingham Palace about ten minutes before the wedding party came out onto the balcony. I can’t say the view was great, but I was able to catch sight of them, and, by lifting up older child (something I don’t do often these days), she was able to see them too, even if they did look like dressed-up ants at that distance. What was amazing was to be out in the sun and part of a crowd of a million people (that’s what the BBC is estimating) all of whom seemed to be in a good mood. There were British people and non-Brits, people in wheelchairs and babies in buggies and slings, couples and families with grandparents and kids, people in sensible jeans and tee-shirts and people in wigs and wedding dresses.

We came home and made chocolate eclairs for people who were dropping by the house on their way out of London – the first time I’d made choux pastry since I was a taught domestic science at school. They are, in fact, ridiculously easy to make, and I say that as someone who can hardly cook at all.

Anyway, what this post is really about is another fairy tale altogether, so, if you’ve had your fill of princesses, it’s the turn of pigs – and, specifically, our Three Little Pigs app, which has had the most fantastic reviews online and in the app store and of which we’re very proud.

Just because we’re feeling generous, we’re giving away ten copies of our Three Little Pigs app for the iPad and ten copies for the iPhone/iPod touch.

Here’s how to enter. Answer one of these questions in the comments field below. We will pick the best answers and award promo codes so the winners can download the app.

1. Who is your favourite character in the story of The Three Little Pigs and why?

2. What’s your favourite memory of reading The Three Little Pigs either as a child, or to your own children (or grandchildren, nephews, nieces, neighbours)

3. Why do you you think your children (or grandchildren, nieces, nephews, neighbours…) will like this app?

Please be sure to tell us whether you’d like an iPad or iPhone version of the app in your response.

The contest is running now, and we’ll close it to entries at runs now, 6.00pm UK time, 1.00pm EST on Saturday 30th April.

UPDATE: THE COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED.

The Three Little Pigs app on the CBS Early Show

Posted by Deb on Apr 07, 2011

What great timing! Kate’s on a business trip in the US this week and coincidentally Nosy Crow and our Three Little Pigs app was mentioned in a segment about moms and smartphones on the CBS Early Show this morning.

We’d like to thank Cool Mom Tech for including The Three Little Pigs app in her list of favorite smartphone apps. You can watch the video here or below. She mentions The Three Little Pigs 3 minutes 20 seconds into the video.

The story talked about how moms are increasingly using smartphones to manage their family’s activities. The downside, smartphone addiction. The upside, greater productivity, organization and cool apps for kids.