Older Not Wiser by Sophy Henn

May 22nd, 2018

Older not Wiser and Sophy Henn

Sophy Henn, author of Almost Anything, Playtime with Ted, Bedtime with Ted, Edie and Pom Pom Gets the Grumps is back with a brand-new book! Older Not Wiser is out on the 31st May and tells the story of Jeanie’s up-to-no-good Grandma.

At what age are you old enough to know better? 10? 15? 20? Older? Jeanie’s Grandma is always getting into mischief and, although it can be embarrassing for Jeanie sometimes, it is really fun when she gets involved in her Grandma’s tricks.

This gorgeously illustrated Bad Nana book is the first in a brand-new series, with 8-year-old Jeannie sharing her Grandma’s latest exploits. This mischievous little book is aimed at readers aged 6 and above. Perfect for making little mischief-makers gasp in shock and laugh your socks off!

Andrea Reece’s View

This fabulously fun book has been reviewed by Andrea Reece who thinks this is a great book for ‘fans of Lauren Child and her Clarice Bean stories’. Here is a little more from Andrea Reece:

‘Children are fascinated by the way old people have a license to misbehave, and they will be delighted by Bad Nana’s exploits which break all the rules of good behaviour … This lovely, hugely appealing book is one to recommend to fans of Lauren Child and her Clarice Bean stories in particular.’

If you want to read the Andrea’s full review, head over to the Older Not Wiser book page on the LoveReading4Kids site.

This bright and colourful book, illustrated by Sophy Henn is a brilliant start to a new series that will be perfect for children starting to read on their own, and will bring laughter and fun to story times or assisted reading.

Older Not Wiser will be published by HarperCollins on the 31st May, meaning it’s not long until we can enjoy the exploits of Bad Nana!

How to Write a Love Story by Katy Cannon

May 14th, 2018

Katy Cannon is the author of Love, Lies and Lemon Pies as well as Secrets, Schemes and Sewing Machines, both of which are perfect for teenage readers. Her latest YA novel, How to Write a Love Story is based on one family who are “obsessed” with love. The main character, Tilly Frost has grown up reading the bestselling romance novels written by her grandmother. Tilly knows them so well that when Beatrix Frost is taken ill, she is able to finish her latest one for her.

The 16-year old Tilly must navigate the difficult ground of school crushes and relationships while also working out how to write a convincing and enjoyable romance novel when she’d never been in love. This touching book shows that love never quite happens in the flawless ways depicted on paper.

What Our Editorial Expert Thought

Our Editorial Expert Joanne Owen read and reviewed this book for us. Here is a glimpse at what she had to say:

‘In a Nutshell: A feel-good feast of romance, writing and one glorious gran … “When your whole family is obsessed with Love and Romance it sets some pretty high expectations, believe me”, explains 16-year-old Tilly, the witty narrator of this bright and breezy book … Delightful on the everyday dramas of family life, first love and fiction’s edifying allures, this is perfect for aspiring writers and fans of funny contemporary YA.’

The see the full review from Joanne, go to the How to Write a Love Story book page.

A Bit More About the Book

How to Write a Love Story was published on the 3rd May and is our Weekly Staff Picks this week on LoveReading4Kids (10th-17th May). The story of Tilly’s introduction to writing, her grandmother’s illness and her trials and tribulations as she decides to fall in love for real are all heart-warming and touching. This marvellous new YA novel by the incredibly talented Kay Cannon has is bound to have you falling in love with it.

The House with Chicken Legs by Sophie Anderson

April 17th, 2018

What’s The House With Chicken Legs About?

The House with Chicken Legs is the debut novel written by Sophie Anderson. This story is told by Marinka with Slavic folklore and stories of the Baba Yaga interwoven into the story to tell a remarkable story of a house that, two or three times a year, stands up and walks away from where Marinka and her family have been living.

All Marinka wants is for her house to stay in one place long enough for her to make some friends. Unfortunately, the house has other ideas and the only people that Marinka gets to know are the dead. Her Grandmother, Baba Yaga guides the dead through The Gate between this world and the next. With warnings against venturing too far in to the world of the living, and a destiny to become a Yaga, Guardian of The Gate, like her Grandmother, Marinka’s frustration could lead to her risking it all for the chance to make friendships that last more than one night.

This intriguing new story is a fantastic debut for Sophie and wonderfully combines coming of age themes and frustrations that are entirely relatable, with the supernatural and a developed interpretation of the Baba Yaga stories.

This story is great for those reading 9+ books and will be released on the 3rd May. Sophie Anderson’s book has also been read by one of our experts and our Reader Review Panel.

What the LoveReading4Kids Reader Review Panel Thought

Grace Phelan, age 10 – ‘Wow-just wow! What an enchanting read that was!

Seren Daly, age 11 – ‘This book was really good, and I enjoyed it a lot…It is about finding your own destiny and never giving up.’

Ellen Cox, age 11 – ‘This is one of the best books I’ve ever read. The House with Chicken Legs is one of my favourite stores now and I hope Sophie Anderson writes more stories like this.’

What our LoveReading Expert Thought

Joanne Owen – ‘This sparkling debut weaves the captivating folklore of Baba Yaga with the thrills of a classic venturing-out-into-the-world quest, replete with primal conflicts, tantalising twists and an unforgettable protagonist that readers will truly root for […] ideal for fans of Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book. Older readers might also enjoy Circus of the Unseen, which offers an alternate re-working of Baba Yaga’s infinitely enthralling Slavic folklore. Radiant with wonder and wisdom, this is an exceptional debut.’

A chat with Guy Bass, bestselling children’s author

March 27th, 2018

1. Can you describe Noah Scape Can’t Stop Repeating Himself in 5 words?

When Noah doubles there’s trouble.
When Noah doubles there’s trouble.
When Noah doubles there’s trouble.
When Noah doubles there’s trouble.
When Noah doubles there’s trouble.

2. What was the inspiration for writing the book?

The name was the starting point. I wanted to write a “be careful what you wish for” story, with Noah deliberately deciding to start doubling but it soon spirals out of control to become a situation he can’t escape. There is something appealing about the idea of there being one more of you, or four of you, or eight, or a hundred … but when everyone’s the same, it’s a sadder world. At the beginning of the story, Noah’s so set in his ways that he rejects other people’s ideas and opinions but the more he duplicates, the more he realises that difference makes life interesting. Difference and dinosaurs.

3. You could say that Noah is a bit of a difficult student… What were you like at school? Were you as demanding as Noah?

I wish I had been – demanding, not difficult. I was really quiet at school. So quiet that I’m pretty sure I could have turned invisible and I pretty sure no one would have noticed. Which is just one of the two hundred super powers I wished I’d had as a child. I spent every school assembly daydreaming about floating into the air and out of the window. My memory’s hazy but i’m almost convinced it never actually happened.

4. We love Steve’s artwork and he’s said he just might have broken the record for drawing the same character again and again and again! What version of Noah is your favourite?

It’s an impressive record! My favourite’s one of the (many) Noahs on page 51. He’s far off in the background, holding a balloon and looking strangely sinister. Thanks to horror films it’s now impossible to hold a balloon and not look evil.

5. Noah loves nothing more than talking about dinosaurs and eating spaghetti with tomato sauce. What two things do you wish everyone loved as much as you do?

Comic books and cheese fondue.

6. Finally, we’d love to see the spot where all your characters come to life. Can you show us a picture of where you write?

I should point out that my main problem with writing books is the isolation. As you can see, I found a solution – you’re never alone with a thousand lifeless painted eyes staring down at you. Oddly, the toys on my shelves seem to have doubled recently. Maybe that’s where the real inspiration for Noah Scape came from.

Noah Scape: Can’t Stop Repeating Himself by Guy Bass and illustrated by Steve May is published by Barrington Stoke, the leading publisher of books for struggling and reluctant readers including dyslexia friendly books.

Noah Scape loves dinosaurs and spaghetti with tomato sauce. But Noah doesn’t always get what he wants and when school doesn’t revolve around dinosaur facts and lunch isn’t always his tried and tested favourite, well… enough is enough! It’s time for him to stop wishing and to decide on exactly what he needs; a world full of Noahs!  But, getting what you want isn’t always what you need in this laugh-out- loud comedy from one of the fastest-rising stars of the children’s book world Guy Bass.

Noah Scape: Can’t Stop Repeating Himself  is particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant or dyslexic readers aged 8+.

 

The UKLA Shortlist for 2018 has been announced!

March 26th, 2018

It is that time of year again to announce the Shortlist for the 2018 UKLA Book Awards. This year, the judges for these unique book awards will come from Wales. The UKLA Awards are the only awards that are judged solely by active classroom teachers.

The UKLA

The UKLA is a registered charity that works to improve and advance education in literacy. The UKLA is completely focused on promoting good practice in literacy and language teaching and research nationally and internationally. The UKLA Awards prides itself on being the only national book awards which are judged by teachers.

UKLA understands how important it is to encourage children to read and to promote the place that books hold for young people across all educational settings. The Association works to promote this outlook from nursery all the way though to key stage 4. Supporting their hard work and co-sponsoring this year’s awards alongside Micro Librarian Systems (MLS) are our very own LoveReading4Schools and LoveReading4Kids. One of our Directors, Deborah Maclaren says:

 

LoveReading4Schools and its sister site LoveReading4Kids are delighted to again support the UKLA Book Awards in 2018. Under new ownership the brand has been re-launched and the sites are being re-designed to bring them bang up-to-date and will continue to develop further to further support our mission to promote a love of books and reading by offering the tools, advice and information needed to help our members and browsers to find their next favourite book.

The fact that the teacher judges reflect on their students’ responses to the books gives these Awards huge credibility and trust so that schools know the books will be in turn loved by their own pupils. The awards are equally valuable for parents looking to support the school environment and further engender a love of reading at home. We can’t wait to see the eventual winners as the shortlisted books are all simply wonderful.

 

The UKLA Awards are judged by 8 groups of judges across three different age ranges, before coming together to decide the shortlists for each category.

More Information about the UKLA Awards

The titles that are celebrated through the UKLA Awards are titles that teachers can and do share with their pupils as a part of their regular classroom experience. It is great to highlight the diversity in children’s literature and using high quality and enjoyable books throughout education is a great way to get more children reading for pleasure. The titles that already feature in the UKLA 2018 longlist have been highlighted for their ability to inspire an extended dialogue about the books. Whether this is a wider discussion of the book and its themes, a creative interaction with the topic or a better understanding of the wider curriculum. The UKLA also want to make sure that the books they celebrate in the awards work to enhance all aspects of literacy learning as well as literary study.

The choices made by the judges as a part of this awards programme reflect the teachers’ preference for the diversity and quality of reading material offered by small independent publishers such as Andersen Press, Barrington Stoke, Gecko Press, David Fickling Books, The Bucket List, Two Hoots and Words & Pictures, who all feature on the shortlist.

The Shortlist

Now that the shortlist has been announced, the next stage for the judges will be to narrow the books chosen down even further, and eventually choose a winner. The winner of the 2018 UKLA Awards will be announced on the 6th July at the UKLA International Conference. The shortlist for the 2018 UKLA has been announced today, keep reading to see which books managed to make the cut for each category. The books that feature in this shortlist have the unique guarantee that they have been tried and tested in the classroom.

Past winner Jason Wallace has proven to be a hit once again. Jason won the 12-16 category in 2011 with Out of the Shadows, his debut novel. This year, his second novel is featured in this year’s shortlist. Featuring alongside him in the shortlist are the Current Carnegie medal shortlistees Geraldine McCaughrean with Where the World Ends and Marcus Sedgwick with Saint Death. Past winner Sarah Crossan co-authored We Come Apart with Brian Conaghan, a verse novel also featuring on the shortlist. 2018 sees the first graphic novel featuring on the UKLA Awards shortlist with Alpha: Abidjan to Gare du Nord. Frogkisser! By Garth Nix completes the line-up for the 12-16 category.

The 7-11 category features a book in translation from Gecko Press publishing with Megumi Iwasa’s Yours Sincerely, Giraffe which goes up against the powerful refugee story written by Elizabeth Laird, Welcome to Nowhere. The brilliant debut novel from Maria Farrer Me and Mister P. and the gorgeously illustrated The White Fox by Jackie Morris also feature in this category alongside two information books: Lesser Spotted Animals by Charlotte Gullian and The Street Beneath My Feet by Yuval Zommer

The final category, focuses on titles aimed at children aged 3-6. This category sees Eric and Terry Fan, or The Fan Brothers pitted against themselves, as they have illustrated two of the titles on the shortlist: The Darkest Dark by Chris Hadfield and The Night Gardener. The brothers will be competing to win this category with two English Association award winners including the inaugural winner of the Margaret Mallet Award for Children’s Non-Fiction Laura Knowles (It Starts With a Seed) and the 2017 4-7 picture book category winner Oi Dog by Kes and Clair Gray and Jim Field. Also competing in this category is the debut from Morag Hood Colin and Lee, Carrot and Pea and Odd Dog Out by Rob Biddulph.

 

 

 

 

Tricks from the Top to Improve your Writing

March 8th, 2018

The Wicked Young Writer Awards deadline is looming (12th March 2018), and in order to encourage anyone considering entering, we have a round-up of advice from some of the best children’s authors in the industry. So whether you’re looking for tips ahead of submitting your entry to the Wicked Young Writer Awards, or have already caught the writing bug and want to improve, keep reading to find some great writing tips perfect for budding authors.

Cressida Cowell

Cressida Cowell, the popular author of the books How to Train Your Dragon that has gone on to beadapted into two films and a TV show has shared her tips for writing ahead the release of her latest book, The Wizards of Once.

My Top Writing Tip – Read lots, to give you a feel for the way different stories can be told. Also practise writing as much as you can – write, and re-write – don’t worry if you don’t finish a story, as long as you are practising, that’s what matters. Also don’t worry if your stories aren’t very long: I didn’t start out writing books as long as the ones I write now. You can still do research when you are creating your own fantasy world. Kids often think that ideas get beamed into an author’s head, or that when you write fantasy you can’t do background reading, but many ideas in The Wizards of Once were sparked by books I read about the history of magic, and magical creatures.

Inspiration – You can be inspired by your own experiences. Ideas I had about Vikings and dragons during summer holidays when I was 9 years old became 12 books, and a film and TV series. I had a slightly unusual childhood (I spent my summers on an uninhabited Scottish Island), but the world we all live in is full of extraordinary, wonderful idea for stories. You only have to watch an episode of Blue Planet to see that’s true.

Draw a Map of your Imaginary Place – I always begin my stories with a map of my imaginary place. Lots of other authors have done the same – Robert Louis Stevenson drew a map of Treasure Island before starting to write. This is a really easy way of thinking about characters and setting.

Think you are Not Good at Writing? Then think again – Often kids say to be that they aren’t very good at writing, but I know that’s not true – what they’re struggling with is the mechanics of getting the words onto paper. If you can make up a game in the playground, or you tell your friends stories, you can be an author! Get an adult to write or type for you, if you need to.

An Ideas Notebook – Keep an ideas notebook so you can scribble down ideas and drawings. This doesn’t need to be neat, and no one should be correcting it for spelling, because spelling doesn’t matter. I kept a sketchbook for The Wizards of Once for about 5 years.”

Lauren St John

Lauren St John’s portfolio of popular books include The White Giraffe, Dolphin Song, The Last Leopard and The Elephant’s Tale. Lauren also wrote Dead Man’s Cove, winner of the 2011 Blue Peter Book of the Year Award and a part of the Laura Marlin mysteries. Her latest book, Kat Wolfe Investigates is due out on the 17th May. Lauren has also worked as a Journalist for the Sunday Times and has shared her tips for writing too!

You don’t have to Begin at the Beginning – If you’re having one of those days or even years where a blank piece of paper feels like a cliff you’re expected to scale without ropes, forget about starting with the first sentence of your novel, story or chapter. Write what you feel most passionate about writing. If you’re in the mood for writing a thrilling chase scene that takes place on page two or 200, write it now. If you wake in the middle of the night longing to write about the moment the girl in your story rescues a runaway horse, or makes a break for freedom from some ghastly boarding school, get up and write it then and there. Writing something that moves or excites you often makes it easier to get back into the flow.

Think like a Journalist – No, I don’t mean one of those horrid tabloid reporters that you see in the movies. I spent years working for The Sunday Times and the essence of my job was to capture the sights, sounds and magic of a situation for our readers. Whether I was swimming with sea lions and Hammerhead sharks (yes,that really happened) in the Galapagos Islands, or interviewing Sia or Tiger Woods, I had to make readers feel as if they were there. That helps me now as a novelist. I want my readers to experience the sights and sounds of riding at Badminton or racing across the Savannah on a white giraffe. I want them to feel the thrill of finding clues or outwitting assassins alongside Kat Wolfe, my newest young detective.

Walk in the Shoes of your Characters – Beyond a vague outline, I don’t plan my books. That’s because I like to solve the mystery with my characters. For instance, in Kat Wolfe Investigates, there’s a scene where Kat climbs a cliff path in a sea fog to the futuristic mansion of her first pet-sitting client. It’s a nail-biting scene, and when I wrote it I felt as if I was with her and as scared of what she might find as she was. That’s the best bit about writing children’s books. You get to have the adventure yourself!

Sir Michael Morpurgo

Children’s novelist and writer of War Horse Sir Michael Morpurgo has been honoured with an exhibition about his life and writing process at the V&A Museum. With a large number of other books published, such as the Mudpuddle Farm series or his latest novel Flamingo Boy, Michael has a wealth of experience to call upon when offering writing advice.

Live an interesting life – Get out there, go places, meet people and move outside your comfort zone. Read a lot and widely, learn from other writers, from the greats. Every book you read informs, builds confidence.  With every book you read you are subconsciously finding your own voice.

Write just a Little Every Day – Have a note book handy wherever you go – a writer’s sketch book – and jot down thoughts and ideas, memories, snatches of overheard conversations, moments of high drama, or quiet reflection.   Frequency is important. The more you do it the less inhibited you become, the less you worry about words. From these jottings will emerge the ideas for your stories and poems.

Take the Time before you settle on the Idea for your Story – Find an idea that you care about, that you’re really passionate about, then research around it, read around it and dream it out in your mind. Don’t be in a hurry to decide but make sure it feels right.

I don’t Plan the Plot though other Writers do – What works for me is as far as possible to forget I’m writing it at all. I tell it down onto the page, as if I’m telling it to one person only, my best friend. Remember to be comfortable when you write.  Don’t hunch over. Don’t stay sitting too long. Get up and walk about every half an hour. If you dry up, go and do something else, put it out of your mind and come back fresh.

Remember to Write for Yourself – not for a market and give yourself time to develop your own style, your own voice.    It takes a lifetime. Enjoy it!

Jill Murphy

Writer and Illustrator Jill Murphy is well known for a wide range of works including the Worst Witch novels. These novels have inspired a TV series that has been refreshed, and is still running on CBBC. Jill has also gone on to write more popular children’s books such as Whatever Next!, and Peace at Last. Below are the tips that she has for aspiring writers.

Try to be Original – Don’t be too influenced by the books you’ve been reading – we’ve already got those! Try to think of an original or unusual angle if you base your story on well-known genres.

Use your own Experiences – Try to remember things that have affected you, either happy or sad and weave a story round that time in your life. You can always give it a happy ending, even if the incident was a sad one – it’s your story, you can do what you like with it!

Beginning, Middle and End – Make sure that your first paragraph grabs the reader’s attention making them want to read the next part of your story, all the way through to a satisfying ending.  The ending can either tie up all your loose ends, or leave the reader guessing what happens next, paving the way for a sequel!

Save all your Energy for Writing Your Story – Don’t tell people about your story or read bits to friends. I find that if I do that, I feel as if I’ve already written it and sometimes don’t finish writing it down. Speaking, and writing something down are very different processes. For a start, when you’re reading your own story aloud, you can do funny voices or put in emphasis and make it sound funny or easy to understand. You must remember that your reader will have to make sense of your story without any verbal assistance from you.

I do hope these tips will help you on your quest for the very best story you’ve ever written!

Hopefully, these tips and tricks from popular authors will inspire you to get writing. Entries for the Wicked Young Writer Awards close on the 12th March, and entries are accepted from people aged 5-25. Happy writing!

Hurry – Entries for the 2018 Wicked Young Writer Awards close on 12th March 18

March 1st, 2018

NOTE: THIS WRITING AWARD IS NOW CLOSED FOR SUBMISSIONS

“I credit the Wicked Young Writers’ Award with helping me find my voice as a writer and build my confidence. Having my winning story printed in the Anthology and read aloud by an actor from Wicked was a treasured moment. I have recently published my first book, lost and found, and I credit this award with being the first people to believe in me as a writer and so helping me to start this journey. The opportunities this award gives are unrivalled and I would urge every young writer to enter.”

Sophie Max, Wicked Young Writers’ Award winner 11-14 category 2012.  Sophie and one other winner have also shared their TOP TIPS TO BUDDING NEW WRITERS as has the bestselling author of How to Train your Dragon, Cressida Cowell, has also shared her tips too.  Scroll down to view them.

Now in its 8th year, the Wicked Young Writer Awards is a chance for young people from across the UK and Ireland aged between 5 and 25, to write on a theme or subject of their choice, so absolutely anything! It’s your chance to get creative and write on any theme that interests you. Young people are free to submit entries written at home or at school, and teachers are encouraged to enter writing on behalf of their pupils. The judges want to hear your voices through original writing and stories.

 FICTION categories – any creative writing will be accepted including a story, play, or poem with five age ranges – 5-7 years old   •   8-10 years old   •   11-14 years old   •   15-17 years old   •   18-25 years old

NON-FICTION categories – enter the Wicked: For Good Award for Non-Fiction and write an article, essay, biography, review or letter, to name a few! – 15-17 years old   •   18-25 years old

Launched in 2010, the free-to-enter, annual creative writing competition for 5-25 year olds raises money for, and awareness of, the National Literacy Trust who campaign to improve public understanding of the vital importance of literacy.  The Wicked Young Writer Awards was established by the long-running musical WICKED to link the important messages of the production with a competition that would inspire young people to use creative writing to look at life a little differently. Since its launch in 2010, over 20,000 entries have been received.

Deadline for entries is  MONDAY 12th MARCH 2018. Entrants can submit their writing by visiting www.WickedYoungWriterAwards.com, where they will also find writing tips and resources from the Award judges.

JUDGING PANEL – The acclaimed WICKED YOUNG WRITER AWARDS, created and sponsored by the award-winning musical WICKED in association with the National Literacy Trust, are delighted to announce that author, award-winning journalist and former Labour MP Ed Balls is returning to join on the judging panel, alongside acclaimed Young People’s Laureate for London, Caleb Femi and Editor-in-Chief of First News, Nicky Cox MBE. Author and illustrator of the How to Train Your Dragon books, Cressida Cowell, returns as Head Judge for the fourth consecutive year, together with long-standing judges Jonathan Douglas, Director of the National Literacy Trust and Michael McCabe, Executive Producer of WICKED.

Check out some Top Tips to Budding New Writers from bestselling children’s author and one of this year’s judges, Cressida Cowell as well as two previous winners:

Cressida Cowell

My top writing tip would be to read lots, to give you a feel for the way different stories can be told. Also practice writing as much as you can – write, and re-write – don’t worry if you don’t finish a story, as long as you are practicing, that’s what matters. Also don’t worry if your stories aren’t very long: I didn’t start out writing books as long as the ones I write now.

You can still do research when you are creating your own fantasy world. Kids often think that ideas get beamed into an author’s head, or that when you write fantasy you can’t do background reading, but many ideas in The Wizards of Once were sparked by books I read about the history of magic, and magical creatures.

You can be inspired by your own experiences. Ideas I had about Vikings and dragons during summer holidays when I was 9 years old became 12 books, and a film and TV series. I had a slightly unusual childhood (I spent my summers on an uninhabited Scottish Island), but the world we all live in is full of extraordinary, wonderful idea for stories. You only have to watch an episode of Blue Planet to see that’s true.

I always begin my stories with a map of my imaginary place. Lots of other authors have done the same – Robert Louis Stevenson drew a map of Treasure Island before starting to write. This is a really easy way of thinking about characters and setting.

Often kids say to be that they aren’t very good at writing, but I know that’s not true – what they’re struggling with is the mechanics of getting the words onto paper. If you can make up a game in the playground, or you tell your friends stories, you can be an author! Get an adult to write or type for you, if you need to.

Keep an ideas notebook so you can scribble down ideas and drawings. This doesn’t need to be neat, and no one should be correcting it for spelling, because spelling doesn’t matter. I kept an sketchbook for The Wizards of Once for about 5 years.

Cressida Cowell’s new book, The Wizards of Once is available now.

Sophie Max (Co – Winner of the 11-12 category, Wicked Young Writer Awards in 2012):

1. Write down all your ideas! I carry a journal to jot down sparks of inspiration. If I don’t have my journal to hand, I’ll use the Notes app on my phone.
2. I always say that I know my characters better than I know some real people in my life. Perhaps its because I’m also an actress, but I think you’ve got to know them inside out to be able to get inside their head and write their experience authentically. You need to love them in order for your readers to love them!
3. Jump in at the deep end! Just write. Try and turn off your inner critic and let the words flow out. Don’t worry about the grammar, the structure, the word count. You can go back and edit later. I like to get some distance from my work by not looking at it for 2 weeks, then go back and re-read it: once for typos/spelling/ grammar, then multiple times more for the sense, word choices and the story, to check I’m expressing myself exactly how I want to. Then, I leave it again for a week or two before starting the whole editing process again.
4. Inspire yourself! Meet interesting people, go to art galleries, watch plays and movies, read a variety of books, travel, keep up with the news, go for walks…you never know what might inspire you. Cultivate yourself because your writing comes from you- the more interested you are, the more interesting your work will be!
5. Each person has a different voice- your biggest power as an author is YOU. Write from your heart and imagination. Write what you’re passionate about. Never worry about what someone else thinks or mimic another writer – you won’t write the same as someone else and that is your
strength!  GOOD LUCK AND HAPPY WRITING!!

Iona Mandal (co-winner of the 8 to 10 category, Wicked Young Writer Awards 2017)

King Edward VI Camp Hill School for Girls, Birmingham

“Good writing needs practice and is best nurtured over time. Try to write something new every day for the joy of it and refine your work continuously with time and patience.

Good reading makes good writing. A latent idea often needs a spark to emerge. Good books inspire conceptualizing new plots besides helping barge onto unfamiliar territory and subjects. Technology is a blessing and can be used judiciously to boost online reading. I tend to rely on personal experiences, anecdotes or even stories passed down orally over generations in the family. These can be valuable repositories in framing characters and situations from myriad perspectives as one chooses. Research becomes crucial especially if one is delving onto subjects demanding historical authenticity in terms of dates or facts. But I also tend to let my imagination run wild.

An inquisitive and sensitive mind always helps. Observation, often deliberately or unknowingly (till it becomes almost second nature) can help one make mental notes to be later translated onto paper.

A good piece of writing oozes power and yet remains silent. Hence, handpicking right words or phrases is vital so as to express ones thoughts and feelings as eloquently as possible so as to touch a chord with the reader. Building one’s vocabulary always helps but what is more important is to appreciate the meaning and feel of words so as to enrich the quality of writing.

Clarity of thought comes from knowing what you wish to accomplish exactly. It is worth keeping the plot simple with a few well thought out characters. Imperfections and peculiarities always work, so avoid clichés.

Normal is boring. There is a big, wide world out there waiting to be explored!”

RULES

  • 750-word limit (not including the title words)
  • Entrants must be aged between 5-25 years old when entering the Wicked Young Writer Awards
  • Entries can be hand-written or typed
  • Writing must be original and your own ideas
  • Judges criteria: originality, narrative, descriptive language, characterisation.
  • Ensure that all students include their name, surname and age on the entry form
  • Open to UK residents only

Full Rules can be found at Wicked Young Writer Awards

PRIZES

  • 120 finalists from across the UK will see their work published in the WICKED YOUNG WRITER AWARDS Anthology, which will be published in association with Young Writers (www.youngwriters.co.uk). The 120 finalists are also invited to an exclusive ceremony at London’s Apollo Victoria, home to the musical WICKED since 2006, where judges and members of the WICKED cast announce who has won in each category.
  • The overall winners from each category will win £50 book/eBook tokens, and the 5-14 year old winners will receive £100 worth of books for their school library kindly donated by Hachette Children’s Group.
  • Winners in the 15-17, 18-25 and FOR GOOD categories will also win an exclusive writing experience with one of the Awards’ literacy partners.
  • The three schools that submit the most entries will also win a Creative Writing Workshop for their school for up to thirty students delivered by WICKED’s education team.
  • Winners in all categories receive a VIP family experience at the West End production of WICKED, including tickets, an exclusive backstage tour and a meet-and-greet with members of the cast.

AWARD PARTNERS

NATIONAL LITERACY TRUST – The Award is proud to partner with National Literacy Trust.  One person in six in the UK lives with poor literacy. This holds them back at every stage of their life. As a child they won’t be able to succeed at school, as a young adult they will be locked out of the job market, and on becoming a parent they won’t be able to support their child’s learning. Lacking these vital skills undermines their well being and stops them making a full contribution to the economic and cultural life of our nation. The National Literacy Trust is a national charity dedicated to raising literacy levels in the UK. It works to improve the reading, writing, speaking and listening skills in the UK’s most disadvantaged communities, where up to 40 per cent of people have literacy problems. Its research and analysis make it the leading authority on literacy. Because low literacy is intergenerational, the National Literacy Trust focuses its work on families, young people and children.

FIRST NEWS – First News is the Media Partner to the awards and is the UK’s only newspaper for young people. It was founded in 2006 by Sarah and Steve Thomson with editor Nicky Cox. It has always been independently owned and have no political affiliations. It is published both print and digital editions every Friday. Ten years on, over 2 million young people nationwide read First News each week with over half of all UK schools subscribing to the paper.

LOVEREADING – We have just joined the Awards as a partner for 2018. LoveReading is a unique family of websites including Lovereading.co.uk, Lovereading4Kids.co.uk and Lovereading4schools, and media channels which helps to connect writers, readers, publishers and organisations with an active and enthusiastic audience of book lovers.

THE LITERACY SHED – a unique online resource for teachers, home to a wealth of visual resources collected by primary school teacher Rob Smith over 10 years as a teacher. The Literacy Shed has over 24k followers on Twitter.

PRIMARY TIMES – over 18 million copies of Primary Times magazines distributed every year through primary schools in 59 regions across the UK and Ireland.

 

ABOUT WICKED
Based on the acclaimed novel by Gregory Maguire that ingeniously re-imagines the stories and characters created by L. Frank Baum in ‘The Wonderful Wizard of Oz’, WICKED tells the incredible untold story of an unlikely but profound friendship between two sorcery students. Their extraordinary adventures in Oz will ultimately see them fulfil their destinies as Glinda The Good and the Wicked Witch of the West.  Now in its 12th year in London and acclaimed as “one of the West End’s true modern classics” (Metro), WICKED has already been seen by over 8.5 million people in London alone and is the recipient of over 100 major awards worldwide, including ten theatregoer-voted WhatsOnStage Awards (winning ‘Best West End Show’ on three occasions) and two Olivier Audience Awards in the UK.

 

 

Mark International Women’s Day with LoveReading4Kids!

February 27th, 2018

What Is International Women’s Day?

International Women’s Day, or IWD for short, is on 8th March and has been marked around the world for more than 100 years and is seen as a day to feature the achievements of women across history while also looking ahead, and making sure that women and girls have the same opportunities to succeed now and in the future.

One of the main events that is often focused on is the Women’s Suffrage movement which 100 years ago this year succeeded in getting votes for women. As a suffragette (the more militant women in the women’s suffrage movement), one of the most important figures was Emmeline Pankhurst who is the main character for Megan Rix’s Emmeline and the Plucky Pup. You can also read more about Women’s Suffrage, by clicking here.

Why is it important that we mark International Women’s Day?

It is really important that we celebrate IWD to remember the work and sacrifice that has gone in to women’s education and the chances they have today. The work that has been carried out throughout history has changed the lives of women today, with the education they are allowed to have, and the jobs they can choose. In the past women weren’t able to own anything, all their possessions belonged to their fathers, then their husbands.

However, there is still room for improvement, so celebrating IWD every year offers a chance to educate the younger generation of girls and boys, and help them to understand the need for an equal society. There is a wide range of books available for children and teenagers that will encourage the next generation of women to think big, as well as to educate boys and girls about Suffrage. These books include Things A Bright Girl Can Do (13+) by Sally Nicholls which is set in the 19th century and tells the story of three young suffragettes who come together from three different backgrounds in order to join the fight for a fairer society. Mollie on the March (9+/11+) by Anna Carey is about Mollie Carberry and her best friend Nora and their work to be involved in the suffragette movement, overcoming obstacles in the urgency and excitement of the times.

Fantastically Great Women Who Made History (5+/7+) by Kate Pankhurst (a distant relation of Emmeline), the follow up from Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World is an inspiring picture book packed full of women’s stories that will get young readers inspired and excited about the remarkable achievements of pioneering women and the power that everyone has to change the world. Lucy Beevor’s Amazing Women: 101 Lives to Inspire You is another beautifully illustrated collection of amazing achievements of more than 100 inspirational women of our time who have become trailblazers, campaigners, pioneers and creators including Beyonce, JK Rowling and Serena Williams. Another great recommendation is Girls for the Vote (9+/11+) by Linda Newbery which tells the tale of thirteen year old Polly who becomes friends with two suffragettes and, with her new found understanding, starts to question the views of those around her.

Little girls with dreams become women with great vision so do share The Little People Big Dreams series with children aged 5+. From designers and artists to scientists and engineers, all of the people in this trailblazing series went on to achieve incredible things. Yet all of them began life as a little child with a dream…Little People, Big Dreams is the original biography picture book series for young change-makers – a first library showing the true breadth of women’s achievement. Each book tells the childhood story of one of the world’s female icons in an entertaining, conversational way that works well for even the youngest non-fiction readers, allowing them to identify with the characters in each story.

You can also check out our Blog post on LoveReading.co.uk which has a wide range of books written by fantastic female authors as well as suggestions that are perfect for perusal this International Women’s Day.

Call for entries: 2018 Henrietta Branford Writing Competition

February 27th, 2018

Call for entries: 2018 Henrietta Branford Writing Competition

For young people who enjoy writing stories! – Finish a story started by 2017 Branford Boase Award winner, Beetle Boy author M. G. Leonard.

The Henrietta Branford Writing Competition, the annual competition for young people which runs in conjunction with the Branford Boase Award, is now open.

The Branford Boase Award recognises a debut children’s author and their editor and was set up in memory of the outstanding children’s writer Henrietta Branford and the gifted editor, Wendy Boase, Editorial Director of Walker Books. They both died of cancer in 1999.

The Henrietta Branford Writing Competition aims to find and encourage writers of the future, something Henrietta Branford was always keen to do.

The 2018 competition is open now and anyone under the age of 19 can enter. Entrants are invited to complete this story begun by last year’s winner, author of Beetle Boy, M. G. Leonard:

‘The map had led us to an old wall covered with ivy. I reached through the leaves till I was touching the bricks and felt my way sideways. The wall continued three paces then changed from the rough touch of fired sand to the smooth damp texture of rotting wood. We pulled the evergreen curtain aside. Beneath it was a hidden door. I grabbed the heavy iron ring handle that was riveted to the ancient wood and twisted it with both hands, hoping the door would open.’

The story should be no longer than 1000 words, must follow on from the starter paragraph, and have a title. All entrants must live in the UK and be under 19 years of age. Entries will be judged by Prue Goodwin, consultant and lecturer in children’s literature. She says:

‘We are looking for stories that keep the reader wanting to know what is going to happen from beginning to end, are imaginative and unpredictable, and are written with a genuine reader in mind’.

Six winners will be invited to attend the Branford Boase Award celebration party in London in July.  There they will meet M. G. Leonard and the authors shortlisted for the 2018 award as well as editors, publishers, agents, and other professionals in this field. They will receive a copy of each of the books shortlisted for the Branford Boase Award and be able to have their books signed.

The closing date for the competition is Saturday 21 April 2018.

Full details are available on the Branford Boase website:

 

 

A Q&A with the author Bea Davenport on her latest novel The Misper

February 16th, 2018

Bea’s first novel The Serpent House was written during her Creative Writing PhD at Newcastle University. Her tutors were Jackie Kay, the award-winning poet and writer, and Professor Kim Reynolds, an internationally-renowned expert in children’s literature.

In its early, unpublished form, The Serpent House was shortlisted for The Times/Chicken House award.

The Misper was longlisted in a Mslexia Writing for Children competition and is published by The Conrad Press.
Bea has also written two crime novels for adults, In Too Deep and This Little Piggy, and teaches journalism and creative writing.

She lives near Berwick-upon-Tweed in Northumberland with her partner and children.

Describe The Misper in one sentence?
Anna and Zoe turn to magic to try to shake off their geeky friend Kerry – but they should’ve been careful what they wished for.

Who’s your favourite character in the novel?
Anna’s the nicest of the three. But I have a massive soft spot for troublesome Zoe. She’s so bright and so prickly.

Shakespeare or Dickens?
Both, of course! But if I have to choose, George Eliot.

Favourite author?
I can never answer this as I don’t have a single favourite. I have a huge long list and it changes from week to week. At the moment Neil Gaiman is very near the top of the list but it’s very often the last author I read.

Favourite character from a book?
I’ve always had a soft spot for Pippi Longstocking. I like a free spirit!

Prefer books or the film adaptations?
Always, always books! It’s not that there aren’t some fantastic film adaptations, as there are, but if I was on a desert island I’d rather it had a library than a cinema.

If you weren’t an author, you would be…
I was a journalist for many years and that was a fun job. And I’ve always liked the idea of playing a baddie character in a TV soap.

Favourite place/setting to read a book?
On holiday, anywhere in the sun. That way I don’t get the niggling feeling I should be working instead of reading.

What inspired you to write your book?
A couple of things: When I was very little, I remember the excitement of organising a Halloween party and that was the starting point for the story – but then it got darker and darker, so it needed to be for older readers than I first intended. But also, I’ve seen what it is like to feel on the outside edge of a friendship group and I also know what it’s like when someone tags onto you that you don’t really want around. So I wanted to explore friendship dynamics.

If you had a dinner party what three authors or characters from literature would you invite?
First would be Edith Nesbit, author of the first ever historical time fantasy for children (The Story of the Amulet). I’d love to ask her about the genre she started and the way it’s so popular today. I’d invite Dorothy Parker to make everyone laugh. Finally I’d invite Mary Poppins, so that she could magic us up a feast and clear it up at the end with a click of her fingers.

When did you start writing?
Like most writers, I scribbled stories from the age of about eight or nine. They were just bad versions of Enid Blyton’s adventure tales. I carried on writing while working as a journalist, but I only had the courage to show anyone my writing a few years ago.

How long does it take to write a book?
It depends on the book and a lot of other factors. My first crime novel for adults took a few years, because I only got the chance to write now and again while working and having young children. The second adult novel only took a few months! The Misper took about a year to write the first draft but it’s been through a zillion changes, so all in all, I guess it took three or four years.

Where do you get your ideas from?
Everywhere! I’m a typical journalist – I love listening to what people say and to what they don’t say, and I’m always on the spy for story ideas. There’s hardly a day goes by when I don’t find myself thinking, ‘Oooh! There’s a good story idea…’

Do you base your characters on people you know?
Not deliberately! But I think all writers use little bits of people they’ve met and weave them together to make a composite character. My partner spotted the character of Tom in The Serpent House doing something that he regularly does. Fortunately he didn’t mind me pinching his actions to use in the book!

To read an extract and to see what the Lovereading.co.uk editorial expert thought click here.


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