Ever wanted to be a sports commentator? Let Andy Griffiths show you how.
You can read Andy’s story Just Commentating, from The Age Summer Kids pages.
Archive for the “Try this book” Category
Ever wanted to be a sports commentator? Let Andy Griffiths show you how.
You can read Andy’s story Just Commentating, from The Age Summer Kids pages.
Nov 04 2009
Alex Rider. Crocodile Tears. 12 November. One week to go.
To win a copy of the much-anticipated eighth book in the series, leave a comment telling us what you love most about the Alex Rider series. (For me it’s that underwater escape sequence in Scorpia.) Check back next week to see if you’ve won. Winner will be announced in ‘Comments’ on this post.
And if you can’t wait for Tears to hit shelves, here are some links that’ll keep you busy for a week.
Oh, and it’s just been announced today that Mr Horowitz will be speaking at Sydney Writer’s Festival’s 2010 School Days sessions. Book quickly.
Oct 29 2009
Ever wondered what a Gloglup was? Or why a group of weasels was called a ‘boogle’? And did you know that, six or seven hundred years ago, when it snowed, people used to say that it ‘snew’?
And if you have your own kooky questions on wordstuff you can email them to email@example.com and Ursula may just answer you on her blog.
And why is there a special word for ‘thumb’ but not for ‘big toe’? Ursula suggests a ‘groog’. What do you think?
P.S. There’s also The Word Spy book over at www.ursuladubosarsky.com
Oct 12 2009
‘The great thing about explorers is that they go wherever they like and do whatever they want, no matter how stupid. They don’t listen to anybody.’
The Really Nearly Deadly Canoe Ride recently hit shelves and it’s another corker from David Metzenthen featuring two of the funniest, coolest, kookiest characters around – Shiny and Pod. It’s the follow-up to the super-dooper Really Really High Diving Tower and The Really Really Epic Mini-Bike Ride, all part of the ‘Aussie Chomps’ series.
Here you can get the inside stuff on the story from the author himself. And, for a chance to WIN your very own copy of the book, just leave a comment telling us your favourite adventure book ever and check back soon to see if you’ve won. The winner will be announced next week!
Dave, what happens in this instalment of the Really series?
Shiny and Pod are given a Canadian canoe, which they paddle down a creek which turns into a river which leads out onto the bay… where there are ships. Of course, they encounter many dangerous and sometimes disgusting things – which tests their seamanship to the limit – although they really have very little skill in paddling, but stacks of enthusiasm for the adventure.
What made you write another book featuring these characters?
I like the boys! I really like their take on the world …They are explorers, and they are slightly crazy … I like their language, I like their terrible suburb, I like the way things go wrong for them.
As a kid, did you go on lots of crazy adventures?
I did go on a few … I used to ride my bike from the city to the bush when I was about twelve… I used to hitch-hike… (God forbid!) I used to play with spears, knives, bows and arrows, sling shots, cracker guns, air rifles etc. I really liked being outside and totally unsupervised.
Sockby, where the stories are set, isn’t the most beautiful town in literary history. Where is it based on?
I just took the worst of many suburbs, and combined these into a place that offers scope for adventure… an industrial estate, a defunct railway line, a dirty creek – choice areas for Shiny and Pod to get out and about… The name comes from the suburb my wife, Fiona, grew up in… Sockburn, in Christchurch, in New Zealand.
Can you imagine any future Shiny and Pod adventures?
I do have another idea. It involves a method of tranport that is both unusual and has the potential to be extremely dangerous. But I will not reveal it, as no one’s really written about it yet … If people keep reading the Shiny and Pod books, I will try and keep writing them, because I dream of adventures every day! So, get out there – but no hitch-hiking, and never point a spear gun at anyone, and that probably includes fish.
Hope you enjoy Shiny and Pod’s latest adventure. And don’t forget to leave a comment on your fave adventure book for your chance to win.
Oct 02 2009
Pirates are in the news with the Australian Navy heading off a planned pirate attack off the coast of Africa. So, I thought I’d catch up with children’s author and pirate expert, Sherryl Clark. She’s the author of eight pirate books including four Littlest Pirate ‘Nibbles’ (two turned into picture books), Pirates of Quentaris, and her big, bloodthirsty, upcoming novel, Pirate X.
Why pirates? Why are you so interested?
I started with one pirate – Stede Bonnet – who was the most hopeless pirate in history! I got hooked on his story, and then I got hooked on the research! Pirate X is the story of a boy who ends up on Bonnet’s ship.
It’s not so much the pirate myths that I like, it’s the real history behind pirates. For example, everyone thinks they buried their treasure, but nearly all of them spent it while on land, having big parties and blowing the lot! And then they’d have to go back to sea and steal more. Obviously, the shop owners and tavern keepers in the towns they berthed in weren’t averse to their money either!
What’s your coolest pirate fact?
Too many to choose from! One would be the ship’s articles. The captain and crew on a ship would draw up their own set of rules, and if you broke any of them, you were in big trouble. A common rule was no gambling with money, because it caused too many fights. So although they appeared lawless and dangerous, they still had their own codes of honour.
What kind of pirate memorabilia do you have at home?
Way too many plastic cutlasses and pistols people have given me, for a start! I have a great flag, and a pair of sunglasses with hologram skulls and crossbones on them. Lots of books, a little treasure chest, and a huge pair of gold earrings (pirate bling).
If you were a pirate what would your name be?
Some witty people might say Captain Clarrrrrrrrrk! I kind of like the idea of being Captain Blood. Something suitably dark.
Do you think modern-day pirates use terms like ‘Ahoy me hearties’ and ‘Arrrrrrrr’? Do they keep parrots on their shoulders?
No, modern pirates seem to use rocket launchers, from what I read in the news. I guess that overcomes the problem of damp gunpowder.
What are the top five pirate books around?
Pirate Diary: The Journal of Jake Carpenter by Richard Platt and Chris Riddell
Pirates by John Matthews (has a skull and crossbones on the black cover)
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
and if you’re a good reader, the C.S. Forester Hornblower books have lots of historical ship action from the Navy side. And I’d like to add Pirate X to the list, but it’s not published just yet. I’ll let you know!
Catch more pirate and Sherryl Clarrrrrrrk action at:
Sep 24 2009
www.guysread.com has just been revamped and it’s got heaps of cool boys’ book stuff. You can get tips on knockout reads, rate your fave books and link to other fun sites like the dude who gets paid to make cool stuff out of Lego.
Great Book Suggestions: www.guysread.com/books
Authors You Might Want to Check Out: www.guysread.com/books/authors
The Guys Read Top 20: www.guysread.com/books/ratings
Stats and Facts on Boys and Reading: www.guysread.com/about
Hope you like it.
Aug 17 2009
I’m Tristan Bancks, author of the Mac Slater and Nit Boy series’. I’m always on the lookout for incredible reads for boys and, over the next three months, I’m going to be guest-blogging at least twice a week here at Boys, Blokes, Books and Bytes. I’d love you to get in on the conversation and share your thoughts on amazing boys’ books, too.
To kick things off, I’ve asked a handful of Australia’s favourite children’s writers to give their tip on the best book for boys ever. And here they are:
James Roy: The Machine Gunners (by Robert Westall)
David Metzenthen: The Really Nearly Deadly Canoe Ride (by David Metzenethen)
Pat Flynn: Holes by Louis Sachar and Ishmael and the Return of the Dugongs (by Gerard Michael Bauer)
Nick Place: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (by Douglas Adams)
And my tip? My Side of the Mountain (by Jean Craighead George)
What’s your tip on the best boys’ book ever?
Jun 08 2009
Hi, it has been a while, how have you been?
We’ve been tied up organising a conference called Reading Matters. But that is done for now so it only remains to pick ourselves and get back down to boys, blokes, books and bytes business.
There were a number of highlights in the conference, including Tristan Bancks. His Mac Slater series is well worth checking out. But you can see what’s on Tristan’s mind at insideadog where he is writer-in-residence for a month.
Also pretty brilliant was the American author John Green. You can catch John’s take on Australia here. See John talk Nerdfighters, puppy sized elephants, Markus Zusak and more. John Green is an award winning writing for teenagers and one half of the Vlog Brothers.
And if that is not enough, check out this interview with Mal Peet, author of brilliant books including Keeper, Tamar and Exposure.
Other highlights of Reading Matters 2009 will be podcast at insideadog in the coming weeks and months.
The Finn Family Moomintroll books and comic strips are the kind of stories that you are never too young or too old for. The characaters, including Moomintroll, Moominmama and Moominpapa, were created by Finnish writer and artists Tove Jannson. They appear in books and comic strips and are among the world’s most famous stories. Philip Pullman, creator of the Golden Compass (or Northen Lights series if you prefer) says the Moomintroll are among his favourite stories ever.
Recently, the comic strips have been reprinted. But you can also read them free online. Here’s the first panel of a story. See what you think. Do you do Moomin?
Jan 06 2009
While you have been away (reading at the beach I’m sure!) we have been beavering away, on the lookout for great new reads. Top of the pile is a new book by the brilliant Jonathan Stroud, he of the Bartimaeus trilogy.
We recently spoke to Jonathan about his new book Heroes of The Valley and asked him what it’s about.
Tell us a bit about Heroes of the Valley. HotV has a very different feel to the Bartimaeus trilogy. What do you see as the differences, and were they conscious decision on your part to do something different, or were you just sick of wizards in London?
Well, the Bart books are fantasy with a capital F: right from the start you get zillions of imps, djinn and afrits running about, magicians casting spells in pentacles and magical mayhem of one sort or another. So when I finished Ptolemy’s Gate I was keen to try a different sort of fantasy, where the whole supernatural side wasn’t central, but on the margins instead. And that gives HotV its own tone and tension: we have ordinary human characters in an essentially non-magical world, while on the fringes (literally as well as figuratively) we’ve got the stories of the Trows, these legendary monsters who may or may not lurk underground, and the tales of the Heroes, who may or may not have done great deeds. Part of the problem for Halli and Aud, the two main characters – and it’s a problem for the audience as well – is: does the fantastical actually exist? It was fun to play with audience expectations in this way!
Did you ever want to serve Halli a Bartimaeus smackdown? Do you miss footnotes?
I think Halli certainly deserves a bit of a Bart-style thumping early on, though hopefully he becomes a more admirable fellow as the book goes on! Having said that, part of the interest for me was that I couldn’t resort to the wild scraps and chases that go on when Bart’s around. Halli himself daydreams about having epic fights and doing outrageously unlikely heroic deeds, but when he actually encounters violence for the first time, it is NOT funny or over-the-top, but nasty and murderous and short. He has to adjust to reality, just as I had to adjust as a writer to a story where I couldn’t have my hero turn into a gargoyle and run away.
I do quite miss footnotes now, having not written any for three years, but it was good to do without them when I began HotV: I wanted to avoid becoming stale!
HotV is a fresh take on a traditional story, harking back to Norse Viking stories, and the more recent hero-quests of Lloyd Alexander’s Prydain series. Can you tell us a bit about your influences?
Right from the start my main influences were Norse Sagas – specifically the Icelandic Sagas written in the medieval period. They’re well worth reading – a wonderful mix of the mundane and the fantastic. Basically they’re about real-life farmers in Iceland, who do ordinary things, such as arguing with their neighbours, arranging marriages and gathering to settle legal disputes. But every now and then a bloke will go up into the hills on his way somewhere and have an encounter with a troll, or wrestle with a ghost. Then he’ll dust himself down and carry on with the ordinary stuff. It was this mixture of domestic and supernatural that I wanted to play around with. Another motivation was that the Sagas have already influenced modern fantasy massively via Tolkien etc, so it gave me the opportunity to subvert a few of the traditional fantasy clichés along the way!
Did you have to do much research?
I read a lot of the Sagas and a bit about Iceland’s history, but that was pretty much it. I decided early on that my story would be set in an unknown, fictional land, so I could do with it as I wanted. I stole all the names from the Sagas, to give it a coherent feel, but everything else is more or less made up. I think too much research makes books heavy and cumbersome…
Both HotV and the Bartimaeus series are very anti-authoritarian. Is this something you do on purpose or is it instinctive?
I suppose my books are rather subversive in this way, though in reality I’m tediously law-abiding! Partly I guess this is a function of the fact that stories about rebels are inherently more interesting than ones about people who fit in – but it’s the friction between the individual and their society that really interests me. Neither Halli nor Bart is an out-and-out good guy: both have chips on their shoulders, both behave badly, both have far too much energy and are generally v. annoying for those around them. But they also have great potential to harness that energy to something good that will benefit society: the question is, will they find that out and will they want to?
HotV in particular seems to focus around the idea that we shouldn’t be living our lives in a certain way just because some ancient story tells us to (I feel like Richard Dawkins would approve). What part do you think storytelling plays in shaping who we are and what we do?
Yes, one of the main things explored in HotV is the power of storytelling, and how sometimes that power is used to keep societies together, and make individuals conform. I think this is pretty relevant to all of us, wherever we are, and whenever we live, and it’s worth writing about, even when it’s buried deep in a Norse-ish fantasy. But more importantly than that, it’s just fun to write good stories, and I really enjoyed putting together the web of legendary hero tales that Halli grows up believing. I guess I’m trying to have my cake and eat it: I like the whole heroic legend thing, and get a sneaky pleasure in undercutting it too!
Tell us there’s going to be a movie of the Bartimaeus trilogy. Please.
Well, it’s been very quiet for a long time, but in fact only last week I heard that there’s some movement on the Amulet movie at last. At the moment the screenplay is out with some directors, so they’re looking for someone to helm the project. That must be good news!
What’s next? Are we going to see more of Halli and Aud?
I always thought HotV would be a stand-alone title, so I think that’s the end of Halli and Aud’s adventures. I’m now working on a couple of new ideas which are a bit secret at the moment. I’ll certainly keep you posted, though, via my website, which is www.jonathanstroud.com and also at www.heroesofthevalley.co.uk .
Thanks very much for the questions – I loved answering them!