Posts Tagged ‘egmont’

Author Talk: Andrew Smith on The Alex Crow

Monday, March 2nd, 2015

Author Andrew Smith writes about the story behind his new novel The Alex Crow. The first time I met editor-publisher Julie Strauss-Gabel, she was handing out Advance Reader Copies of John Green’s Paper Towns. It was just a couple months before the publication of my first novel, and I was completely star struck because Julie is, well, Julie.

Naturally, this meeting left no lasting imprint on her memory.

The next time I spoke to her came several years later, and it was over the telephone. Julie was calling me to talk about her enthusiasm for Grasshopper Jungle, which, of course, she eventually edited and published.

Now she knows who I am, I think.

One of the things that appealed to me about having Julie Strauss-Gabel publish Grasshopper Jungle was her openness about seeking literary works that defy convention and don’t resemble anything else out there. She’s a champion in those regards. So, when she inevitably asked what I was going to write next, I told her that I wanted to write a book called The Alex Crow, about a refugee kid, but that it wasn’t going to be a predictable tale—I wanted to include suicidal, formerly-extinct animals, an icebound steamship, a schizophrenic and melting bomber, a summer camp for video game addicts, and a little man (who might be the devil) frozen in ice. You know, a typical “Andrew Smith” book.

I also explained to her why I needed to write this story about survival and selfish compulsions; and the general failure of male-dominated societies.

In The Alex Crow, the main character, a refugee boy named Ariel, wakes up after falling asleep inside a refrigerator while he’s dressed in a clown suit, the sole survivor of an attack on his little town. When he’s saved by America—which is what America likes to think it’s good at—he’s sent to a summer camp for boys who are addicted to technology, even though he’s never used a cell phone or played a video game in his life.

In the acknowledgments to The Alex Crow, I include a statement of gratitude to my English Language Learner students—the incredible survivors who introduced me to the novel’s protagonist, that refugee kid named Ariel.

There is a real Ariel. He came from Syria. His family left behind everything they had and got out of the country when the civil war there was getting particularly nasty. It was a good idea, because the real Ariel’s family are Christian, and they came from a place that was recently overrun by the Islamic State movement.

The first day Ariel sat in my classroom was just a few days after he left the chaos of Syria. Imagine that! It also happened to be one of the days when I read aloud to my kids, and I was reading from Kurt Vonnegut’s Breakfast of Champions (yes, I go there)—the part about how ridiculous, when you think about it, the lyrics to America’s national anthem are.

The real Ariel was very confused.

And I said, “Welcome to America, kid,” a line that’s repeated to the Ariel in my book.

That was about three years ago. And the impression I got from our first meeting—about how scared and lonely and confused this poor boy must have been—really stuck with me and informed the book I knew I had to write. Recently, I spoke to the kid again about that first day he spent in an American school, and he confirmed to me how overwhelmed he was—and is—by the strangeness of American society and culture.

He’s a terrific and highly intelligent kid.

Children’s Christmas Books November 20

Tuesday, November 20th, 2012

The Christmas lights are up, adverts are everywhere and the shops are playing the same old Christmas tunes. It’s time to start thinking about Christmas presents. What can you put in their stockings? Where do you start? Well, why not make us your ‘Bookshelf-Elf’? Yes. Elf is on its way! And spend more than £15 and we will give you free 2nd class UK postage. What are you waiting for?

Pre-Publication Exclusives for November

This category is getting increasingly popular and we love sharing news of upcoming books with you. See the shelf below for this month’s books. We are also looking for ten teen readers to review a stunning debut Infinite Sky by C. J. Flood before it’s published in February 2013. We love it – but we want to know what you think!

But be quick you only have until 30 November!

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Beautiful Poetry Book and App!

Poetry for a younger audience is often ‘shunted in the realm of schoolwork’ but IF: A Treasury of Poems for Almost Every Possibility by Allie Esiri reminds us of the resonance that particular poems can have throughout our life. A perfect collection of poetry for the whole family to share.

And to make it even more relevant and immediate the poems are available in a wonderful ‘App’ where you can hear some of the poems read by Helena Bonham Carter and Bill Nighy.

Free Prize Draws not to miss

Our Free Prize Draws category is bursting with book goodies up for grabs. From Hogwarts Box sets, and Heritage Classics from Egmont to Beautiful slipcase edition’s of Clarice Bean and exclusive Mr Gum books. Click here to find out more and enter them all!

Win a signed copy of our Mega Book of the Month

From Lemony Snicket comes – All The Wrong Questions – Who Could that be at this Hour? Is a wise-cracking detective story in a topsy turvy world packed with brilliantly weird characters is perfect for 7-11 year olds. As well as reading an exclusive free Opening Extract you can WIN a signed first edition!

Reader reviews of Annabel Pitcher’s novels

Annabel Pitcher’s multi-award winning debut novel My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece was one of our favourites last year and her latest, Ketchup Clouds, is out shortly.

Check out what a number of 11+ year olds thought who were lucky enough to be selected to receive review copies of these books. There’s time to read My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece before Ketchup Clouds is published at the end of December and you can read an exclusive extract of both of them here right now.

Which is your favourite Children’s Book of 2012?

The shortlist of the final children’s book award of the year, sponsored by National Book Tokens, has just been announced – there’s some pirate fun for toddlers and young children right up to 9-12 year olds who will love BBC Presenter Simon Mayo’s all-action adventure that’s perfect for fans of Alex Rider and Young Bond.

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The One Stop Shop for Children’s Classics

Is it time you started collecting a library of children’s classics for your children or grandchildren? Christmas is the perfect time to give them as gifts. If so, you’ve come to the right place. Hardback or paperback, large or small format we have something to suit your needs, and budget, from the best names in Children’s Publishing – Walker, Templar, Puffin, Oxford, Vintage and Egmont. Visit our Children’s Classics category today.

Finally, scroll down to see a taster of our Christmas book for all age ranges or visit the site to see the whole glorious selection.

P.S. With the first Hobbit film, An Unexpected Journey, soon to be in cinemas why not build up the excitement with The Hobbit Companion. Intriguing to the uninitiated, enchanting to the Tolkien enthusiast, The Hobbit Companion can only enhance our enjoyment of this dark, mysterious world created by J. R. R. Tolkien.


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