I chose Sunny as my World Book Day character mostly because I like him as a person. I was also inspired by going to the Imagine festival, where I enjoyed a talk with ‘that bearded guy’ about the Grunts.
Sunny’s features are not just-a-normal-boy-who-walks-down-the-street-in-football-clothing sort of looks, but with some sewing and a bit of hairspray I thought I could nail that.
We started to make my costume last Sunday. First we brought down one of my light blue dresses (one that was slightly too small for me, I’m not too sure that Mrs Grunt would mind about things that are too small for people) and got out some white felt left over from my brother Freddie’s WBD costume. Then my Mummy had the ingenious idea of pressing the felt onto wet tea-bags, so they looked very Grunt-like. After that, we sewed on the felt patches with some black thread we found at the back of my Mummy’s sewing box. Later, I discovered a black belt that had once been part of a cow-girl outfit I used to dress up in. We added that to my costume. I also made a currant bun for Fingers out of felt and beads.
The morning of WBD I got up as early as possible so I could eat my breakfast before I started to get dressed. My Mummy took me out into the garden so she could hairspray my hair to make it stick up like Sunny’s, then I went upstairs to put on my costume. My Mummy also used one of her make-up pencils to draw on freckles.
I go to Rokesly Junior School. There, every year, usually on the Friday, we have a WBD dressing up assembly. The school sits down in two halves, one on each side of the room, so a catwalk is formed in the centre. Class by class, we walk down the aisle, as our teachers call out our names and which character and book we have come as. You see many different characters.
So goodbye you old earwig, and thank you for reading my blog!
Alice, age 9 (very nearly ten!)
Thank you, Alice, for being such an excellent Sunny, and for telling us all about your World Book Day! If you’re new to The Grunts, you can read the first chapter of The Grunts all in Trouble, the first book in the series, below:
As every parent, teacher, bookseller and librarian reading this blog will undoubtedly know, yesterday was World Book Day – and it was truly wonderful to see so many outfits inspired by characters from Nosy Crow books! Here are some of our favourites, posted on Twitter:
She included two families from children’s literature: the March family from Little Women (for the record, I would love to be part of the March family on any day of the year), and the Dursleys from the Harry Potter books (hard to argue with that).
Here are fictional families from children’s literature that the Nosy Crow team feels that we wouldn’t particularly enjoy pulling a cracker with:
I’d be a bit worried that Mr Darling from Peter Pan would mess up the day with one of his ludicrous ultimatum-based outbursts, and no amount of mawkish and self-indulgent attempts to compensate by sitting in a kennel would make up for the emotional trauma and indigestion.
Ola isn’t keen on spending time with Matilda’s family, the Wormwoods, from Matilda by Roald Dahl, who would watch the worst TV and never give books as presents. And she’s worried that the excessively blase parents from David McKee’s Not Now Bernard just wouldn’t notice if you weren’t there at all.
Tom doesn’t think he could spend Christmas with the Famous Five, on the basis that he likes to spend Christmas as lazily as possible, ideally sitting on a sofa watching Home Alone with a plate of mince pies, while the Five would want to break up a smugglers’ ring. He’s also doubtful his constitution would withstand a festive season with Mr Toad of Toad Hall, which he thinks would be likely to get out of hand. On the other hand, he feels that the wholesome piety and goodwill of the Cratchits from A Christmas Carol would grate after a very little while. I don’t think that A Christmas Carol is a children’s book, but he says the fact that there’s a Muppet version of it confirms that it is part of the children’s literary canon.
There’s a consensus that eating sprouts with Aunts Sponge and Spike from James and the Giant Peach would be no fun at all.
And, of course, the Grunts, though they love each other deeply really, would be unlikely to celebrate Christmas conventionally. A Christmas version of their roadkill diet doesn’t seem appetising, and Mr Grunt is an erratic gift-giver, having presented Mrs Grunt with a pair of barbecue tongs that she uses to pull out her nose hairs on one occasion and Sunny, the boy he stole from a washing line, on another.
Which families from children’s books would you not want to spend Christmas with?
To win any of these fantastic pieces, all that you have to do is leave a comment underneath that lot on the Authors for the Philippines website with your bid amount – if you’re the winner, you’ll need to donate that sum directly to the Red Cross Appeal and email proof of your donation to the Authors for the Philippines organisers. Here’s a full set of instructions.
The auctions close on Wednesday – so dig deep, support a truly worthy cause, and good luck!
If you’re in need of some inspiration on a very grey Monday morning, here’s something that ought to do the trick: Axel Scheffler drawing The Grunts, the stars of the hilarious series written by Philip Ardagh.
If you’re new to The Grunts, here’s chapter one of the hilarious first book in the series, The Grunts in Trouble:
And as it’s a PARTICULARLY grey Monday morning, here’s something else that’s also quite exciting: a very first look at the cover for the third book in the series, The Grunts in a Jam, out next year (click to enlarge):
Oh dear. I wonder what sort of trouble they’ve found themselves in this time.
Don’t forget there’s also a FREE iOS game app for the series, available for iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch – The Grunts: Beard of Bees. Build the biggest beard of buzzing bees as you can before your time runs out, but be careful – birds and butterflies will make your bees fly away! You can find it here on the App Store.
And if you’d like to stay up-to-date with all our book news, you can sign up to our monthly books newsletter here, and we’ll write to you about all of our upcoming titles, along with interviews with our authors and illustrators, information on upcoming events, and exclusive competitions and giveaways.
Ireland’s Mountains to Sea dlr Book Festival welcomed a flock of Crows to Ireland last weekend! MD Kate Wilson was invited to give a talk on the future of children’s digital publishing ’Reading the Future’, and take part in a related panel event- ‘Great Ad-app-tations: The Picture Book and Beyond’- discussing the cutting edge of children’s publishing … and what lies ahead.
Meanwhile, Bearded Nosy Crow author Philip Ardagh was invited along to delight hundreds of school children with tales of his hilarious series The Grunts, illustrated by Axel Scheffler … and delight he did!
We like to take good care of our guests at Mountains To Sea and both Kate and Philip were warmly welcomed and well looked after. Philip, especially, was keen to sample some Irish specialities, names a few creamy pints of his favourite monochrome beer (it really does taste better over here!). Kate’s was more of a flying visit, but feedback from both events has been excellent and we’re very grateful to them both for attending.
So, as the sun sets on another successful Mountains to Sea, our eyes are already turning to 2015 (the festival is taking a break in 2014) and you’re all very welcome to join us next time around!
Thank you, Tom – we’re looking forward to returning next year! Here’s the first chapter of The Grunts all at Sea, the second book in The Grunts series.
If you’d like to try The Grunts in Trouble before you download it, you can read the first chapter below:
And if you enjoy the book, why not try the second volume in the series? The Grunts all at Sea is also available as an iBook (as well as a print hardback) and is currently on offer for the special price of £2.99 on the iBook Store, here.
A quest to find some breakfast leads to a nasty run-in with Gnasher – and a hasty getaway – for Mr. Grunt. You can see the original cartoon below (click to enlarge):
And there’s a special Grunts-themed competition, too! If you’d like to see your own work in a forthcoming issue of The Beano, colour in Axel’s artwork and send it to The Beano’s address (you can find all of their details, as well as the Grunts cartoon, in the current issue) – they’ll print their favourites!
On Sunday 11 August at 2.00pm, festival stalwart Philip Ardagh will be appearing to celebrate The Grunts all at Sea, the second hilarious book in The Grunts series. Expect beards, bees, and something called a POGI. Tickets cost £4.50 and you can buy them online here. And here’s the first chapter of The Grunts all at Sea:
And on Tuesday 13 August at 3.30pm, Olivia series author Lyn Gardner will be discussing the spellbinding final volume in the series, Olivia’s Curtain Call. Tickets are £4.50 and you can find more details here. And here’s chapter one – the beginning of the end…
You can find more details for the whole festival programme at the Edinburgh website, here. We hope you can make it!
Last week we posted a first look at some of the artwork for The Grunts all at Sea, the second book in the hilarious series by Philip Ardagh and Axel Scheffler, which publishes next month. And today we can do one better… the first chapter! If you want to find out what fate awaits Mr and Mrs Grunt and their adopted (well, stolen) son Sunny, read on! Here’s how the story begins:
If you’d like to find out what happens next, you can pre-order The Grunts all at Sea here. And if you’re discovering The Grunts for the first time, we’re releasing the paperback edition of the first book in the series, The Grunts in Trouble, next month as well – you can pre-order it here.
Our contact there was the lovely Charmian Allwright and books were provided by Sheryl and Morag from The Chorleywood Bookshop (and I HAVE to mention their two cocker spaniels – aaaaah-dorable!). And on the train up we met Guy Parker-Rees – ROADTRIIIIIIIP!
The walled garden as a venue was absolutely beautiful and the atmosphere matched it – enough people to give a great buzz, but not so many that pushchairs became unwieldy. Pretty perfect for a children’s book festival. Throw in the brilliant Jane Simmons, Alex T Smith and Jackie Morris – with Mr Ardagh – and you have a pretty atmospheric signing tent, too.
On arrival we were escorted to the author’s green room and presented with a HOME-MADE banquet – quiches, cakes, brownies, flapjacks and I don’t know who made those meringues BUTGETTHEE TO THEGREATBRITISHBAKEOFF. You’ll win it.
Owing to Philip’s hearing still being on the mend (but improving every day, I’m delighted to say), I made my debut as a ‘Human Microphone’ – Philip would single out a member of the audience with a question, send me to them, they would speak their question/comment in my ear … AND I WOULDSHOUT IT AT PHILIP.
I have to say, I loved it … even when Philip decided I needed more exercise and purposefully chose children at opposite ends of the audience. Quite often.
Philip, as he will tell you himself, was marvellous. As were the audience. Although I personally think they could’ve been sat closer together…
As we headed home, Philip quite tired but rightly pleased with his first back-to-health event, it definitely had the feel of a rather lovely day out. So, if you’re in the Luton area next year, treat yourself to one and go.
Well, this fellow certainly doesn’t look like he should be trusted.
That’s more like it. This is a creature I could do business with.
I’m not sure that tyre should really be there.
Goodness, he really doesn’t have much luck, does he?
There were PEALS of laughter when this arrived in the Crow’s Nest.
If you’d like to find out what ties together an umbrella-wielding duck, a tyre-clutching knitter, a villainous raccoon and a very unlucky ship captain… well, you’ll just have to read the book. You can pre-order The Grunts all at Sea here – and by happy co-incidence, the paperback edition of The Grunts in Trouble will also publish in June. Here’s the first chapter:
Now that Spring seems to have finally sprung, there’ll be lots of sitting in gardens and enjoying the sunshine for the Crows this weekend. And in TRUE Friday afternoon fashion, our minds immediately leapt to thoughts of gardens in literature.
Given how potentially fertile (excuse the pun) a literary location gardens can be, they seem to be woefully underused in children’s books. But that isn’t to say there aren’t some excellent ones – here are some of our favourites:
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, and Tom’s Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce, of course.
The Painted Garden by Noel Streatfeild.
The Oxford Botanical Garden is used to heartbreaking effect by Philip Pullman in the Amber Spyglass, as the location for Will and Lyra’s cross-dimensional almost-reunions.
There’s a great garden in The Twits – the scene for much mischief and trickery – and Philip Ardagh’sThe Grunts in Trouble (which will appeal to any fan of The Twits) has an excellent garden, too.
Howl’s Moving Castle and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland feature appropriately magical gardens.
I’m sure Sam Gamgee’s garden is described with typically lavish detail at some point during the Lord of the Rings saga.
For younger children, there are fantastic gardens in Oliver’s Vegetables, King Jack and the Dragon, Now Now, Bernard, and The Tale of Peter Rabbit.
There are plenty of fairytale gardens – Rapunzel and Sleeping Beauty spring to mind.
And Kate can’t let one of these lists go without finding the opportunity to mention The Diddakoi, by Rumer Godden, which does indeed feature a garden.
We hope your weekends will be suitably green-fingered – and if you can think of any favourite literary garden to add to our list, please suggest them below!
In The Grunts all at Sea, Mr Grunt has become a man with a mission. He has to get a Person of Great Importance (or POGI) to someone called Mrs Bayliss by the twenty-fifth. Alive and well. And he can’t tell anyone more than that, not even his lovely wife, Mrs Grunt, because there will be people trying to snatch the POGI and so the POGI must be transported in secret. It’s an exciting adventure, but what interests Mr Grunt most are the silver coins he’s been promised at the end of it.
The Grunts’ stolen son, Sunny, has a few questions. Who is the big-earringed cyclist? Why does the POGI have to wear a barrel all the time? Is Rodders Lasenby a lovely person or simply the rudest man on the planet? And how long will it be before they find themselves All At Sea?
If you’re new to the series, you can read chapter one of the first book, The Grunts in Trouble, below. And if you’re familiar with the adventures and misdeeds of the Grunts, all I can say is… watch out for bees!
And here are his main pieces of advice, in a handy, pocket-size slideshow format:
Outstanding suggestions, I think you’ll agree. If you’d like to see some of Philip’s credentials before committing to a beard, then you can read chapter one of The Grunts in Trouble, the first book in his new series, below – or order it online here.
What are your best bits of writing advice? What have you found helpful?
At the end of last year, I wrote a blog post about our first year of publishing (2011). It’s here. I thought that I’d do the same thing for 2012, our second year of publishing.
It has, once again, been a busy and full year and it’s hard, even after spending the days between Christmas and New Year like a slothful grub wrapped up in a duvet on a sofa reading books for grown ups with a cold as my only excuse, to pick out the key things from 2012 from the whirl of memories and impressions. Nevertheless, here we go…
What we published, and what we signed up:
In 2011, we published 23 books for children aged 0 to 14. In 2012 we published 35 – a 50% increase. The biggest increase was in our fiction output, and we published 19 fiction titles simultaneously as print and ebook titles. Once again, the books ranged from board books for babies to fiction titles for young teenagers (though this year we added a few ambitious novelty books like Playbook Farm).
2012’s books came from talented debut writers that we plucked from the “slush-pile”, like Helen Peters and Paula Harrison, and from established names like Axel Scheffler, Penny Dale, Jo Lodge and Philip Ardagh, and from creative talents inbetween. In 2012, we published new books by ten of the 12 authors and illustrators we’d published in 2011 (the exceptions were Benji Davies, but then we did publish two apps based on his Bizzy Bear character and we’ll publish more of Benji’s books in 2013, and Ros Beardshaw, whose paperback Just Right For Christmas was new in 2012 and from whom we also have a new book in 2013). But – and I hadn’t realised this before I totted things up – in 2012 we published 16 authors and illustrators that we hadn’t published in 2011.
We did our first bit of own-brand publishing and our first “instant” book when we published, at the very end of the year, The Snowman’s Journey, based on the John Lewis Christmas 2012 TV ad, for The John Lewis Partnership. Here’s the story behind it.
But all the time we were publishing in 2012, we were also acquiring for 2013 publication and beyond. We’ll be increasing our output of books in 2013 to 50 titles. We’ve written about some of them here.
We are going to focus on a few, very ambitious apps this coming year, of which Little Red Riding Hood is the first. However, we have other digital plans, including, this month, the launch of our innovative audio book picture book programme, Stories Aloud.
Across our books and apps, we will add around the same number of new authors and illustrators in 2013 as we added in 2012.
Selling our books and apps:
We more than doubled our revenue compared to 2011, with sales well in excess of two million pounds.
Once again, working with Bounce, we had books sold and promoted in a huge range of UK sales outlets from independent booksellers through bookshop chains and online book retailers to supermarkets and toy shops. Many were selected for promotions by bigger retailers and supermarkets – we have, I think, a particularly good strike-rate in this area.
To sell our books and apps, we’ve travelled to the US (where we work closely with Candlewick Press on illustrated books), Australia (where we work exclusively with Allen & Unwin), Germany, France, Holland and Italy. We visited Apple HQ in Cupertino for the first time to talk about our apps.
Having sold our apps exclusively through Apple in 2011, we experimented with Android for the first time this year, selling a couple of our apps for use on Nook tablets. You can read about it here.
This year, we added Japanese and Turkish to the list of languages in which we’ve sold rights to our books, bringing the total number of languages in which we’ve sold rights to 18. Brazil (as a direct result of my visit in late 2011) has been the biggest new source of rights sales. We ran our first two auctions, both of which were in the US, and both of which ended in six-figure dollar deals.
We added Gottmer in Holland to Carlsen in Germany and Gallimard in France as translation partners in our apps programme.
Speaking of Nosy Crow…:
We have had another great year of reviews and mentions in traditional national press from The Wall Street Journal to The Daily Mirror, in specialist press from Kirkus and The School Library Journal to The Bookseller and in many terrific children’s book, parenting, technology and app blogs. You can see some of our most recent high-profile reviews and mentions here.
In 2012, we had 120,000 unique visitors (up 58% on 2011) to the Nosy Crow website (I wrote more about our web stats here and here). From the autumn of 2012, we decided we’d try to blog every week day (though we have had a bit of a rest over the Christmas/New Year break). Judging purely by the number of comments (though some of the comments are our responses to people who’ve commented), these were particularly popular blog posts this year:
As I write, @nosycrow has 9,740 followers on Twitter, @nosycrowapps has 3,164 followers and @nosycrowbooks, more recently introduced, has 654 followers. There’s a bit of overlap between these, but overall, that’s 13,558 followers – up 80% on last year. We’ve 2,438 likes on Facebook and we’re now active on Pinterest and Tumblr too.
Back in the real world, Nosy Crow authors were at numerous literary festivals, including Hay, Edinburgh, Bath and Cheltenham, and staged countless events in schools, libraries and bookshops.
We were hugely proud to win a hat-trick of awards at the Independent Publisher’s Guild Awards in March 2012, based on our first year of publishing. We won the 2012 Children’s Publisher of the Year award; the Newcomer of the Year award and the Innovation of the Year award.
Our apps continued to win and be shortlisted for multiple awards and made many “best apps” listings. Our books, authors and illustrators were shortlisted for awards too: S C Ransom was shortlisted for the Queen of Teen prize; The Baby that Roared was shortlisted for the Roald Dahl Funny Prize; The Secret Hen House Theatre was shortlisted for the Solihull Children’s Book Award.
I ended my 2011 retrospective with a look at what had gone wrong and here are some of the things I mentioned:
The much-investigated drainy smell in the office bathrooms. I am sorry to say that this is not completely resolved, despite plumber intervention, but either it’s less pronounced or I am just getting used to it.
The one or two important UK retailers who hadn’t stocked our books. We did manage to expand our customer base in 2012: we hadn’t sold anything to John Lewis before The Snowman’s Journey, for example.
The key countries we hadn’t managed to sell rights to, like Japan. We did, this year, sell rights in several picture book and novelty titles to Japan.
So most of the old things got better and some stayed about the same. Of course there were new problems and challenges in 2012 – we were particularly sorry to see Kate Burns leave us this summer, for example, but, on the other hand, we were delighted that Louise Bolongaro replaced her at the beginning of November as Head of Picture Books.
2012 was another very good year for Nosy Crow.
Thank you to everyone who has supported us or worked with us in 2012, or who, in 2012, agreed to work with us in 2013 and beyond. One of the pleasures of being a small publishing company is that many of us will be able to show our appreciation for you in person if you’re an author, illustrator or some other kind of creator, if you’re an agent, or a bookseller or a foreign publisher. But we can’t thank, other than in this blog post, the ever-increasing number of people who choose to buy our apps and our books and share them with children, without whom we don’t have a business.
It’s been a very busy Monday in the Crow’s Nest, and although this blog post is a little late in the day, there are a couple of pieces of app news that we wanted to share!
The video at the top of this post is a very early look at our upcoming app, Rounds: Parker Penguin, the follow up to Rounds: Franklin Frog. The app is coming along BRILLIANTLY and will be out in mid-December (and there’ll be a full trailer coming soon). In Rounds: Parker Penguin, you can learn all about penguins and life in the Antarctic, and help Parker by sliding, swimming, hunting, marching, dancing – all the things that penguins do best.
Animal SnApp: Farm is almost ready (it’ll be available to buy on the App Store for the introductory price of $3.99 from Thursday) and we can barely contain our excitement. We’ve been posting a new animal combination from the app every day on Twitter (today’s is a Dow, shown at the top of this post) and there’ll be some VERY exciting competitions to celebrate the launch of the app later in the week (so check back here).
You can watch the trailer for Pip and Posy: Fun and Games – a series of fun, friendly games based on the characters from Axel’s wonderful picture book series – below, and buy the app for $2.99/ £1.99 from the App Store here.
And you can download The Grunts: Beard of Bees, based on the character from Philip Ardagh’s illustrated fiction series The Grunts, for free here.
And here’s one final peak at Animal SnApp – what an unhappy looking pig…
If you’d like to be reminded about the release of Animal SnApp once the app is on sale, you can sign up to our Apps Announcement mailing list here.
It’s just the beginning for the site – and there’ll be more lots more to come – but already you can learn about the series and its creators, read excerpts from the first book, The Grunts in Trouble, download lots of fun stuff (including a character quiz, stick-on beard, word searches, and more), and watch films of Philip and Axel. Here are two of the latest videos, of Axel drawing the main characters – Mr and Mrs Grunt and their adopted son, Sunny – and Philip and Axel being interrupted mid-interview by some unwelcome guests…
And don’t forget, there’s also a free game app for the books, The Grunts: Beard of Bees, which you can find on the App Store here – build a buzzing beard of bees for Mr Grunt!
If you haven’t read The Grunts in Trouble yet, you can buy it online here.
At 11.00am today, author Philip Ardagh and illustrator Axel Scheffler will be on the online children’s TV programme (filmed, as they say, before a live studio audience), The Big Book Babble, talking about their just-released fiction title, The Grunts in Trouble. You can see them rehearsing above (Axel has his back to the camera, drawing on a flipchart).
Philip embracing The Big Book Babble experience
Axel in a dressing room getting ready for his close-up
If you miss the show, or would like to watch previous The Big Book Babble shows, you can view past programmes on the website.
The Grunts in Trouble has already had some nifty review coverage and is being promoted by many retailers from indies to WHS and Waterstones. We’ve sold rights to Germany and are in discussions about selling rights on other languages: we expect to have more news after the Frankfurt Book Fair.
There’s already a free game app linked to the book and a website for the series (there’ll be more books in 2013 and beyond), that Tom’ll be blogging about later today.
It’s our busiest publication day ever – as well as our hat-trick of picture books, we have a further FOUR books out today. There’s something for every possible taste…
Kate’s worked with Philip Ardagh over the years and Kate’s worked with Axel for more years than either of them care to remember, but, though Philip and Axel knew one another, they’d never worked together. So when Kate began discussing the possibility of Philip writing a series of books for Nosy Crow, Axel’s name quickly came up as the dream illustrator.
THEGRUNTS IN TROUBLE is the first book in a brand new series. The combination of Philip’s Roald Dahl Funny Prize-winning writing wit, and Axel’s best-selling character visualising and humour, makes for a very funny and very silly read.
We’ve had a nice clutch of reviews for the book already. As well as being a Sunday Times Children’s Book of the Week, The Telegraph described the book as “Gloriously repulsive … as always with Ardagh, there is the clever word-play, irony and plain silliness that make his books such fun …. To add to the enjoyment, the book is full of wonderfully incisive and daft illustrations by Axel Scheffler.” Meanwhile, The Guardian said, “Their adventures are as unsavoury as they are entertaining, as Axel Scheffler’s illustrations wittily show. Fans of Andy Stanton’s Mr Gum and Roald Dahl’s The Twits will delight in this disgusting but amiable family.”
So go on, meet the Grunts. They’re not that bad. No, actually, they ARE. Maybe worse, even…
Even Vikings have to go back to school, and for a certain small boy, the long Nordic days of summer are over. In the third in the hilarious series for six years and up, VULGARTHEVIKINGANDTHESPOOKYSCHOOLTRIP, Vulgar is set to return to the classroom to learn about basket-weaving and growing vegetables. How he longs for the good old days of raiding and pillaging, when Vikings didn’t grow vegetables, they just took everyone else’s! But this term, something’s different – his boring teacher is off sick and they’ve got Otto the Bone-Cruncher instead! He’s a proper Viking, and he’s taking them on a proper school trip!
His head full of sword fighting and roaring, Vulgar sets off in fine fettle. But after a very long, damp walk up a mountain and a tea of roasted slugs, Vulgar’s not so sure about ‘the good old days’ of Viking hardship. He’d actually quite like his comfy bed and his mum’s famous burnt toast for breakfast. Still, he does get to tell his most excellent scary story round the camp fire. It’s a good one, all about flesh-eating trolls who prey on defenceless campers. Vulgar tells it so well, and in such disgusting detail, that even Otto goes pale. And then runs off screaming into the night.
How will the school trip end, now that the proper Viking’s done a runner just as the trolls are closing in? There’s only one way to find out…
Held og lykke, Vulgar, and keep looking behind you…
Read chapter one of Vulgar the Viking and the Spooky School Trip:
Having a best friend when you’re an eleven-year-old-girl can be a mine-field. One minute, you’re arm-in-arm, a united front, an unbreakable unit, and the next, it’s over and you’re out in the cold. Dumped. Excluded. And probably thoroughly miserable.
This is what happens to Jessica, the hugely likeable heroine of Catherine Wilkin’s laugh-out-loud debut, MY BESTFRIENDANDOTHERENEMIES. Does she take her best friend Natalie’s appalling behaviour lying down? No, she does not. She fights back, with an armoury of wit, determination and Lego pirates, as well as her ability to draw excellent satirical cartoons. Truly, the pen is mightier than a bunch of girls being mean to each other.
When Natalie chums up with evil new girl, Amelia, Jessica finds herself left out of all the fun trips to fast-food outlets, cheesy boy-band gigs and crazy sleepovers. But worst of all, she’s not invited to join their secret gang, Cool Awesome Chicks, or C.A.C. for short. Jessica pointing out that this sounds like ‘one of the milder swear words for poo’ does not help things:
‘I feel like I’ve been dumped, and Natalie and Amelia have just announced their engagement. Which I suppose is kind of what’s happened.
I feel a bit like I’ve been on the verge of being dumped for ages. In some ways this is better. Oh, this is so not better. I feel sick. I honestly can’t work out if I feel more hurt or angry. Maybe this is the feeling my mum is describing when she says, “This is the living end!”
Well, you know, I can be dignified in defeat. Probably. “Thanks for giving me the full picture,” I say. “I will leave you two to it.”
As soon as I’m out of the room I run straight to the toilets and lock myself in a cubicle. Oh dear. What am I going to do now? Seriously. What am I going to do? I could stay here in the toilets and cry, I suppose; that’s always an option. But that will only take me up to one-fifteen, and then I’ve still got history. What am I going to do? This really is the living end…’
Jessica is a great character and you don’t stop rooting for her throughout. There’s one point (and I won’t spoil it for you) where I found myself punching the air and crying gleefully, “Take that, Amelia!” which made my Tube journey even more uncomfortable than it already was.
Catherine Wilkins has written a brilliant book, and Sarah Horne’s illustrations are brilliant, too. But don’t take my word for it, it’s OUTTODAY!
Read chapter one of My Best Friend and Other Enemies:
And last but by no means least, today’s the day the second book in the incredible MAGICALMIX-UPS series – part illustrated fiction, part innovative doodle-book – publishes.
In Magical Mix-Ups: Friends and Fashion, written by Marnie Edwards and illustrated by Leigh Hodgkinson, best friends Princess Sapphire and Emerald the Witch enter a fashion-design competition (well, Sapphire enters and brings Emerald along with her). All the outfits get in a TERRIBLE mix-up and muddle, and Sapphire and Emerald can’t sort it out on their own – they need you! Doodle, design and draw while you read and make the world of fashion as magical as it can be!
Read chapter one of Magical Mix-Ups: Friends and Fashion:
Last month we wrote about an early review for the book in The Guardian. Over the weekend, it was reviewed by Martin Chilton for The Telegraph and Nicolette Jones for The Sunday Times, and they both loved it. It was even named The Times’ Children’s Book of the Week!
“Gloriously repulsive … as always with Ardagh, there is the clever word-play, irony and plain silliness that make his books such fun …. To add to the enjoyment, the book is full of wonderfully incisive and daft illustrations by Axel Scheffler.”
“Axel Scheffler’s illustrations impart a quirky comic charm to Ardagh’s daft and comic story about the Grunts, whose silliness and bad behaviour are in the tradition of Roald Dahl’s Twits and Andy Stanton’s Mr Gum … Ardagh will always go the extra mile for the sake of a joke, even to the point of being a bit tiresome, like giggly seven-year-olds getting carried away. So he is perfectly on their wavelength.”
If you’d like to know what they’re talking about, you can read chapter one of The Grunts in Trouble below:
You can also find out more about the book here or pre-order it here.
Philip Ardagh with the first ever copies of The Grunts in Trouble
I feel I should explain myself before you start reading this blog. When enthused, I gush. And I’m enthusiastic about festivals – for a publicist they’re something between a long-awaited reunion and an assault course. LOTS of catching up, laughing, hugging and storytelling (both professional and not-so-professional…). Lots of great food and drink. And exhaustion. And elation. And regret.
And seeing as I missed Edinburgh last year – Kate and Tom went up – I was doubly ready to be enthusiastic. I didn’t just miss the Edinburgh Festival – I MISSED it.
I missed the authors, I missed the organisers, I missed the Yurt, I missed the bods from Scottish Book Trust, I missed the gossiping – I missed it ALL.
So, the events. Without exception our brilliant authors excelled themselves. For some – Catherine Wilkins and Lyn Gardner – it was their first time at the festival. Catherine’s comedy masterclass event was HILARIOUS. For the 9+yrs age group, most comedy, it’s safe to say, is found in poo and pants. Well, for me too. I ROARED through the whole thing. And I think I can safely say we shall be seeing some of the masterclass’s attendees at the Edinburgh Comedy Festival in the future. My Best Friend and Other Enemies is off to a great start…
A long queue of eager Olivia fans waiting to have their books signed
Lyn’s latest book – Olivia’s Enchanted Summer – is set at the festival, so as well as being a cracking read, it was contextually perfect. And Lyn knows her Edinburgh. She’s up every year for the whole shebang as the Guardian’s theatre critic – and she performed her event with all the elan, style and poise of one of her classically-trained stage school characters, taking us from the flying trapeze to the dizzying high-wire with her atmospheric readings. Encore!
Next up we had the World Premiere of The Grunts – drum-roll, please… Naturally, if you combine Philip Ardagh and Axel Scheffler – both Edinburgh Festival stalwarts – in any event you’re onto a winner. And we were. The audience loved it and even though it was a first for both Axel and Philip, event-wise, it went swimmingly and the newness of the material and format gave the event a very special feel. It felt a bit of a privilege to be the very first of what is sure to be a brilliant series of events this Autumn.
But that wasn’t all, Grunt-wise. That very evening we launched The Grunts at The Honours – Martin Wishart’s celebrated new restaurant… and I can only apologise to the other diners. The laughter coming from our two tables was TERRIFIC. If I hadn’t been sat at our table, I would’ve WANTED to be sat at our table. Such a good time was clearly – and audibly – being had by all. But we can’t have been too badly behaved as I had a very sweet e-mail from The Honours saying what a pleasure it was to have us and what a thrill it was to have hosted such a creative bunch of diners!
Then Axel and Kate took to the stage for a Pip and Posy event – Kate doing a brilliant job as storyteller and Axel’s live-drawing, as always, entrancing the youngsters in the audience… and then the guests of honour, Pip & Posy THEMSELVES appeared as a finale. Cue LOTS of waving, stroking and round-eyed wonder from the toddlers in the audience as they filed past on their way to the signing tent. I noticed ‘high-fives’ were also big this year. They grow up so fast these days…
The grand finale was the Mega Mash-Up boys, Nikalas Catlow and Tim Wesson – again, experienced Edinburgh festival goers – and as always absolute crowd-pleasers. Robots, giant slugs, dinosaurs, aliens, secret agents, ancient Egyptians – talk about something for everyone. Our Scottish Bounce rep, Sarah, was especially looking forward to the Mega Mash Up event – her son is a BIG fan.
And so the sun set on another Edinburgh – and it’s always a curious feeling. Elation, certainly. But also regret that it’s over. The city has a unique atmosphere when the festival’s running – pretty much its entire population, however temporarily, is up for a good time. And you can feel it. Couple that with a Yurt-full of excited authors, charming, capable and welcoming organisers and event chairs who absolutely bubble with kindness, knowledge and enthusiasm and you have a festival that’s very easy to miss. So my advice to anyone is – DON’T miss it. Next year, go.
The game requires fast fingers, quick thinking… and no fear of bees! Build the biggest beard of buzzing bees as possible for Mr Grunt before your time runs out, but be careful – flowers, birds, and butterflies will all make his bees fly away. You can compete with friends for the highest score, and join the fun on Twitter, recording your score with the #beardofbees hashtag.
The game includes brand new artwork by Axel, hilarious voice-work by Philip, original music, and ingenious game play. You can find out more here, and read chapter one of The Grunts in Trouble below:
And here’s a video of Philip and Axel talking about the book (there’ll be lots more video content on our upcoming Grunts website):
It’s been two months since we launched our books newsletter on the blog, and September will be a bumper edition (its our busiest publication month yet!), so we thought we’d run another competition to celebrate. You can win copies of ANY of our September titles just by subscribing.
The books we’re publishing next month are (deep breath!):
And the chance to win any of these isn’t all you get by subscribing! Our newsletter also contains exclusive interviews with our authors and illustrators (last month we spoke to Penny Dale, author and illustrator of Dinosaur Zoom), details of upcoming events, a first look at what we have coming up in the future, and news from the Crow’s Nest.
You can subscribe to the newsletter here, and once you’ve done so, are automatically eligible for this competition if you’re a resident of the UK or Ireland – just write to us in the comments underneath this blog or on Twitter @NosyCrowBooks, with the name you subscribed under and the book you’d like to win.
It’s been a busy weekend of for The Grunts in Trouble, the first book in the brand new series by Philip Ardagh and Axel Scheffler (out in September).
On Saturday, The Guardian included it in a round-up of Summer reading for under-10s. Julia Eccleshare wrote:
“Their adventures are as unsavoury as they are entertaining, as Axel Scheffler’s illustrations wittily show. Fans of Andy Stanton’s Mr Gum and Roald Dahl’s The Twits will delight in this disgusting but amiable family.”
Meanwhile, our entire apps team has spent the last few days in a closely-fought competition to achieve the highest score in an upcoming Grunts app, which is currently in its testing stage and will be released at the same time as the book. I don’t want to give away too much about the app now, but suffice to say, there are LOTS of bees. You can follow our weekend progress by searching on Twitter for the hashtag #beardofbees.
There’s no trailer for the app yet, but here’s something even better to whet your appetite – chapter one of The Grunts in Trouble:
You can also watch a video of Philip and Axel talking about the series in this earlier blogpost. There’ll be lots more exciting video content coming up soon.
Axel will be holding a second event for fans of his Pip and Posy books on Friday 17. There’ll be lots of drawing, readings from the books, and if you’re very lucky, you might even be able to meet Pip and Posy themselves! You can find out more here.
You can watch Philip and Axel talking about the book – and the experience of collaborating together – in the video interview above. And there’ll be all sorts of funny, mad (and slightly grubby…) stuff happening in the next few months: a brand new website launching, a brilliantly fun app for your iPhone or iPad, and lots more – so watch this space! This week, I’m reading one of our latest proofs:
Honestly, I’d have gone even if he hadn’t been a Nosy Crow author (we’re publishing the first in his new series, The Grunts, next year, with illustrations by Axel Scheffler). His events are masterclasses in high-energy, interactive, stand-up comedy and for a child-and-parent audience, that weave together the story of how Philip became an author with lots of great scatalogical and tongue-in-cheek self-aggrandising material that had the child one along from me actually falling off her chair she was laughing so much.
However professional and brilliantly prepared Philip is, he can’t predict everything, and a high-point of the event was him putting his foot (clad, as everyone in the audience knows, in size 16) through the set of one of Hay’s two swankiest event spaces:
Philip worked the incident into the event so brilliantly that even the technicians in charge of the venue were laughing in the aisles. Here he is with a triangle of broken stage after the event:
I, for one, can’t wait for the Philip–Axel The Grunts double-act.
This is big bananas for us, and we have been working flat-out to get ready for it.
It is one of two weeks in the year – the other is the Frankfurt Book Fair in October, but Bologna’s the big one – when we meet the non-UK publishers we’ll do business with for the rest of the year. At Bologna, we have just 30 minutes (20 if they have to queue for the loo before the appointment) to impress a foreign publisher with our books. The aim of the game is to sell, or at least interest them in buying, the right to publish our books in translation.
For the last few months, Anne-Marie’s been putting together the schedule of selling appointments for me and for Adrian. We have appointments every half-hour from 9.00am to 5.30pm without breaks for three-and-a-half days.
For the last month, too, Imogen’s been collecting together final print and freight prices for books of many different sizes and kinds – board books and pop-up books and picture books, and working out how much we have to sell them for in order to stay in business. This is a hard task: we always want our books to be the best they can be – to have the heaviest paper, the most spectacular pop-ups the most unusual touch-and-feels – and it’s tough to compromise!
For the past few weeks we’ve been receiving artwork from illustrators. Some of it arrived in time for us to proof it, but most of it, because we are still new and building our list and publishing sooner after artwork delivery than is ideal, did not, so we’ve had to make dummies using photocopies of the art stuck into blank books. This is an unbelievably time-consuming, tricky, painstaking and monotonous task, and Steph and Nia, in addition to doing lots of last-minute designing, have been working on this tirelessly with Camilla. Nia finished the very last one at 10.30pm yesterday evening.
And for the past few weeks we’ve also been pulling together words and pictures to add to the books section of our website to announce some of the books we’ll be taking to Bologna, including The Grunts, the acquisition of which we announced to a great response on Wednesday.
For the past day or so, we’ve had a steady stream of meetings with people who are in the UK before they go to the book fair – our Japanese agent, Noriko Hasagawa, for example – who I mentioned in a recent post – and Liz Bray from our Australian distributors, Allen and Unwin. They have gamely picked their way through the chaos of the office, and brushed scraps of paper and fur-fabric (for touch-and-feel books) from chairs before sitting down at a table that is slightly sticky with glue.
For the past day or so, too, I have finally been getting down to working on the slides for the first Tools of Change Conference to happen in Bologna, at which I am – eek! – the first keynote speaker on Sunday.
And yesterday, as if we didn’t have enough to do, we bought (or at least confirmed the deals on) three picture book texts, illustrations for two picture books and a debut novel.
This is a series of four books by award-winning author Philip Ardagh. The books, which feature the eponymous and disgusting Grunt family, will be illustrated in black and white by Axel Scheffler and the first book, The Grunts in Trouble, will be published in May 2012.
Philip makes me laugh – as a person and as an author. Always has done, always will. His combination of professionalism and irreverence make him the perfect Nosy Crow author, and we are pleased and flattered that he’s chosen to publish with us. Pairing him with Axel Scheffler is going to make this an utterly irresistible series for children of 9 and up.
“I’m delighted that The Grunts, my latest series of (very silly) novels, is to be published by Nosy Crow with the crow so fresh from the egg, and still slightly yolky. For Axel Scheffler to have agreed to illustrate it — without my having to resort to threats of any kind — is the real icing on the metaphorical cake. I very much look forward to working with him, Kate Wilson, and the rest of the Nosy Crow team on what I hope will be some of my most outrageous books to date. These are exciting times! FUN just doesn’t express it.
And Axel says:
“It’s been several years since I’ve illustrated fiction, but there was an anarchy and humour in the outrageous Grunt characters that really appealed to me, and I look forward to working with Philip on his series with Nosy Crow.”
This is the most high-profile of several recent great fiction acquisitions, including a series of four titles by best-seller Holly Webb, that make it clear how serious Nosy Crow is about fiction publishing as well as full-colour publishing. We’ve got world rights in all languages for all of them, so there’ll be lots to talk about at the Bologna Book Fair next week.
Today, as well as announcing this acquisition, we have added our 2012 titles to the Books section of our website. We will publish 25 new titles this year, and at least 35 next year. This year we’ll launch 5 apps for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch and we’re planning to make at least 8 new apps in 2012.