Tag Archives: Janine Amos

Super Stories for Stockings

As special advisors to the children’s book department at the North Pole, we have been campaigning for a story to be included in every child’s stocking. I know a nine-year-old has written to Father Christmas asking for St Viper’s School for Super Villains because I’ve been asked by an elf to write a personal message inside the cover. I’ve seen Kay’s book Treasure This  on the present conveyor belt too. Here are some other brilliant stories we’ve suggested to the book-buying elf team.

Inkling ideas for bookworms

Kim Donovan, author of the series St Viper’s School for Super Villains.

Every Christmas Eve my son and I dust off Father Christmas by Raymond Briggs and read it curled up together in bed. The book is in comic-strip format and has well over a hundred exquisite illustrations, showing the reader everything Father Christmas does from the moment he wakes up on December 24th to going to bed on Christmas Day: making cheese sandwiches for the journey, filling the sledge with presents, riding through fog, tripping over a cat in someone’s house. We also see him being a grumpy old man, which is a nice change from the standard jolly Father Christmas character. The book is full of humour, the illustrations are delightful and my son seems to appreciate the story more with each passing year. A special 40th edition copy has just been published.  As Father Christmas says, “Happy Blooming Christmas to you, too!”

Janine Amos at  janineamos.com

There are so many wonderful children’s books to choose from. . .

For children who like fairy tales, I’d recommend The Snow Queen, vividly retold for confident readers by Sarah Lowes, Barefoot Books. This little version of the Hans Christian Anderson tale about friendship and courage is illustrated by Miss Clara, a French artist with a gift for the magical. There are other books in the series – The Princess and the Pea and The Twelve Dancing Princesses  − all perfect reading for a cold winter’s night.

For something much more contemporary, Frank Cottrell Boyce’s novel Millions is a miracle of a story: what happens when millions of banknotes fall from a train right into the arms of Damian Cunningham, Year 5. This fast-paced adventure, told in Damian’s voice, is both funny and sad; it will have you laughing out loud and crying too, and I can guarantee that after reading it you’ll never see the school Nativity Play in quite the same way again. Millions really will please anyone from 8 to 80 – Cottrell Boyce’s “dream-reader” is an adult and child reading together, one of the very best ways to spend Christmas I reckon.

Jenny Landor

Some stories have a magical quality you can’t quite put your finger on … For a rip-roaring yarn which adds that X factor to Xmas, look no further. Geraldine McCaughrean, one of the most acclaimed and original storytellers for children, gives Christmas a real twist in Forever X, a novel for ages 10+ which will enchant and surprise grown-up readers too.

When the Shepherd family car breaks down at the start of their summer holiday, they are forced to stay in the nearest B and B, a bizarre place where December 25th happens every day of the year. Despite Holly, the resident elf, and grandfather F-C’s efforts to fulfill wishes, the drama here isn’t all tinsel and candy, especially when the police and the mysterious Mr Angel arrive…

Funny, moving and brilliantly plotted, the story explores family relationships and gets to the bottom of what Christmas is really about. Read about Geraldine’s books here and check out another favourite, The White Darkness, a gripping and romantic survival adventure which, by contrast, has a decidedly wintry setting. Peter Pan in Scarlet, the official sequel to J M Barrie’s original, will delight too.

Kay Leitch, author of Treasure This

If you happen to see Santa sitting chuckling over a book before Christmas, he’s probably reading ”Who Could That Be at This Hour?” by Lemony Snicket (the first in the “All The Wrong Questions” series). And if you like your mysteries to have quirky humour, wit and a sense of the ridiculous, you’ll make sure this book finds its way into your stocking too. This series has all the usual fun, twists and turns we’ve come to expect from Lemony Snicket, along with more curious characters such as the enigmatic Ellington Feint, librarian Dashiell Qwerty, and Moxie Mallahan the journalist. Lemony’s secret assignment centres around finding a statue of the Bombinating Beast, presumed stolen… but perhaps not actually stolen…  and as usual Lemony shows himself to be much smarter than his chaperone, S. Theodora Markson, who is the best there is… or perhaps not…

A nice mystery, neatly tied up at the end… or maybe not…  which means you’ll probably want to read the other three in the series. Great fun and a delight to read. Just remember – the map is not the territory!

Another favourite of mine is One Boy and His Dog by Eva Ibbotson. A bit of a modern classic, this is simply but beautifully written and, sadly, was the last one Eva Ibbotson completed before her death. Hal has always wanted a dog and his overly house-proud parents humour him by hiring one – Fleck – for a weekend, thinking Hal will tire of the idea. As anyone who has ever loved an animal knows, you don’t tire of them in a few days – you fall more deeply in love. Hal is devastated when Fleck is taken away and returned to Easy Pets Rental. This is the story of how he runs away and tries to get Fleck back, with the help of his friend Pippa and four other dogs. An emotional journey for characters and readers alike and a very satisfying read.

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Murder Mystery for Kids: Kay’s Halloween Launch

ELECTRIK INC’S NEW ARRIVAL

Talent, hard work, patience and determination – all were rewarded last Wednesday when Electrik Inc’s Kay Leitch launched her dazzling new murder mystery for children, Treasure This. There was only one word to describe the atmosphere as fans, friends, writers and family packed the Comedy Cavern at The Victoria, Bath, to celebrate the crowning moment in Kay’s journey to publication – ‘electrik’.

Mystery, suspense and humour: Kay holds her audience spellbound

Mystery, suspense and humour: Kay holds her audience spellbound

There were no bats flying. And certainly no vampires present. But the orange-jacketed books with heroine Addy silhouetted in front of that ominous garden shed, gave the occasion a decidedly Halloween feel. So did the hunt for dead bodies! Very small, ingeniously hidden, yellow ones, I hasten to add.

Most spine-tingling of all, however, was the hushed silence which fell on the room as Kay picked up her debut novel to read. You could have heard a pin drop. And the faces reflected in the extraordinary mirror on the wall behind her, confirmed that we had stepped into another realm. The wit and humour which infuses every scene of Treasure This, produced laughter in the Comedy Cavern, although the mood changed quickly to shock and suspense as two bumbling thugs invaded the once cosy world of Roseleigh Manor.

It was a fitting evening for Electrik Inc’s second birthday. We were proud. Kay is the second in our author collective to become an independent publisher in her own right. BOLDbooks, her company name, says it all. She follows in the footsteps of Kim Donovan whose St Viper’s series goes from strength to strength, with a growing fan base among younger readers.

The team. From the left: Janine Amos, Jenny Landor, Kay Leitch and Kim Donovan.

The team. From the left: Janine Amos, Jenny Landor, Kay Leitch and Kim Donovan.

‘One of the joys of writing Treasure This,’ Kay told her audience, ‘was being part of the Electrik Inc collective, and knowing that the book would go through three professional editors before it was finished. We want to write and produce quality books for children, and publish them independently. With the seismic changes in digital publishing over the past few years, it’s become much easier to do that.

‘I don’t believe for a minute that physical books are dead – too many of us love them. I certainly do. But books are evolving in really exciting ways. All this means writers can take control – of their novels, of how the cover looks, how the book sounds – everything. I hope quality independent publishing can co-exist with traditional publishing, which means readers get more choice – more good stories, which is what I want to write.’

Book signing begins

Book signing begins

A former Sunday Times and Cosmopolitan production editor, Kay is more used to writing the headlines than making them. Yet she’s already been the subject of a feature article in The Bath Chronicle, with a caption her editors love: Kay’s Killer Debut Novel. The marketing rollercoaster has got off to a flying start.

Treasure this moment, Kay. You’re a star!

Jenny Landor, Electrik Inc Co-Founder

______________________________

The author. Kay Leitch launching Treasure This at the Comedy Cavern.

The author. Kay Leitch launching Treasure This at the Comedy Cavern.

Read more about Kay’s launch here: http://kaywritesheretoo.wordpress.com/

Her book is available via Amazon and Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights in Bath.

 

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BATH SPA PANEL EVENT: READING THE FUTURE: DIGITAL CHILDREN’S PUBLISHING

For all those interested in independent publishing, children’s reading (and writing) and the digital revolution, this promises to be a very informative night.

Kate Wilson, managing director of children’s publisher Nosy Crow, leads a panel of experts to explore trends that might impact on children’s reading as digital reading experiences evolve and to consider the question: What kind of reading experience can digital offer children? Chaired by Janine Amos, Bath Spa University.

Date04-10-2013
Time6:00 PM – 7:00 PM
VenueGuildhall
Price £7, Adults

bathfestivals.org.uk/childrens-literature/event/bath-spa-panel-event/

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MAGIC MOMENTS

ELECTRIK INC’S FIRST BOOK LAUNCH

Super Villains pretending to be Ultra Ordinaries

Magical moments come in all shapes and sizes and can brighten our lives at any time. Some are a pleasant surprise, like rainbows on a cloudy day. Others are the realisation of a dream. The kind of dream that encompasses hard work, perseverance, talent, patience, and the ability to run around doing twenty-five things at once while still maintaining the outward appearance of sanity. The kind of dream that starts with a blank sheet of paper and ends in a local bookshop filled to the rafters with screaming, whooping, whistling, clapping children. All practising their evil laugh, just like Dr Super Evil in St Viper’s School for Super Villains.

Kim Donovan launching St Viper’s School for Super Villains at Topping & Company Booksellers of Bath

This was Kim Donovan’s magic moment: Friday 15th June, at Topping & Company, an independent book store in Bath, when the launch of St Vipers proved that all her tenacity (writing, rewriting, proofreading, editing, organising illustrations, correcting illustrations, formatting pages, swearing at the computer, re-formatting pages, banging head against the wall and re-re-formatting pages, marketing, organising, writing to schools etc etc…) – all that hard work was worth it.

Writer slave!

Green balloons bobbed everywhere, the kids wore super-villain masks and yelled their evil laughs and bought the book until the tills were smoking. St Viper’s School for Super Villains was a sell out and Toppings had to break into the box of books which had been set aside for school visits and brought along ‘just in case they need them’. Boy, did they need them. Kim signed books while the queue grew ever longer.

The Team. From the left: Jenny, Kay and Janine

It was a magic moment for Electrik Inc, too, and the culmination of all our blood, sweat and proofreading,  seeing our first ‘baby’ safely delivered – and so well received. Toppings declared it a ‘great success’, parents beamed, and the kids lapped it up. They loved the story, they loved Petherick’s illustrations, they loved the characters. Just seeing them jumping around pretending to be Demon, or Stretch, or Wolfie, made me realise how fantastic it is to write books that children love. There they were, up late, in a wonderful book shop, wearing fun masks and being read to by a lovely woman who told a story about a school where it was not only okay to be very naughty but was actively encouraged and on the curriculum. Unblinkinbelievable! What bliss. So this was their magic moment too. And that’s what it’s all about.

The Author, Kim Donovan

Here’s to more magic.

Kay Leitch

The Illustrator, Petherick

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