Win a Copy of Alex Rider: Crocodile Tears

Alex Rider Crocodile Tears

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.

A blog post on Croc Tears from Anthony Horowitz

Video of the author introducing the book and a sneak peek at Horowitz’s office with secret passageway!

Now head over to and dive into the world of Alex’s stunts, spy skills, disguises and most dangerous missions. There are heaps of downloads, trailers and fan packs, too.

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.


The Word Spy

The Word Spy by Ursula Dubosarsky

The Word Spy by Ursula Dubosarsky

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’?

You can discover these and other extraordinary, funny, sometimes gross and always odd facts about words at Ursula Dubosarsky’s blog, The Word Spy. (

And if you have your own kooky questions on wordstuff you can email them to 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

Win ‘The Really Nearly Deadly Canoe Ride’!



‘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.



Sherryl Clark (aka Captain Blood) Talks Pirates

The Littlest Pirate and the Treasure Map

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!

Sherryl Clark

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.

Pirates of Quentaris

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?

Try these:

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:



Take a Tour of Hogwart’s

Wizarding World of Harry Potter 

You’ve read the books (seventeen times), seen the movies (eighteen). Soon you can step inside the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios. (Surely your folks will buy you a measly old plane ticket to Florida in order for you to fully indulge your love of literature… and stuff.)

The website humbly claims that ‘this completely immersive world will transcend generations and bring the wonder and magic of the amazingly detailed Harry Potter books and movies to life.’

You can take a virtual tour of HarryLand on Youtube here:

I’m not even that much of a HogwartsHead and I want to go. (I think all school librarians should arrange an excursion as a matter of urgency.)


Fun New Guys Read Site

guys read 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:

Authors You Might Want to Check Out:

The Guys Read Top 20:

Stats and Facts on Boys and Reading:

Hope you like it.


Free Ranger’s Apprentice eBook!

Ranger's Apprentice 1: Ruins of Gorlan 

It’s 44 days till John Flanagan’s ninth Ranger’s Apprentice book hits stores in Australia and, to celebrate, Random House have re-jacketed the series and are giving the first book away! If you sign up for the Ranger’s Apprentice newsletter you score yourself an ebook version of Ranger’s Apprentice 1: The Ruins of Gorlan

It’s over at

See you soon.


Illustrator Gus Gordon Draws His Way Out of Life or Death Situation

Gus GordonThe Undys Cover Image
Wouldn’t it be cool to be able to draw? Or maybe you can and you want some tips on what to do with your talent? Come and spend a few minutes inside the mind of picture guy (and writer) Gus Gordon, illustrator of The Undys series and the new picture book, Wendy.

What is the best thing about being an illustrator?

The parties and the waterskiing for sure! Other than that it would probably be the daily challenges of trying to control a wobbly line.

Have you ever drawn your way out of a life-or-death situation?

Oh yes, many times! The most terrifying of these type of situations is when your paper is wet and you keep poking your pencil through (pirate situation) or when your hands are handcuffed behind your back (kidnapped by guerrillas situation.) It always amazes me how fast you can draw when there is a shiny sword near your throat. Other than that, no.

Do you and Michael Wagner speak much when you’re working on the Undys books together?

Yes. Luckily he is a nice guy so we have long chats … It often helps to speak to the author. You can get some good insight into the stories (or back stories) of your characters – things that you may help you with the illustrations. Especially when you’re designing the characters. His characters are strong and very visual so that makes it much easier.

Do you have any advice for others who would like to spend their lives getting paid to draw funny pictures? 

Yes. Don’t do it! You will eventually lose your mind. Having said that, this is not such a bad thing for a creative person. Persistence is the key. Stick to your guns, your style will find a home in the end.

What are some of your fave illustrated books?

The Undys (of course) by Michael Wagner.

Aussie Bites (Penguin) are generally always good.

Anything by Roald Dahl and Quentin Blake.

Battle Boy is Here

Battle Boy: Open Fire Cover


‘Basically you’ll find yourself in the middle of a battle. There’ll be bullets firing, arrows flying, men fighting to the death, and anything from cannons and spears to battle axes and bombs…’


Napoleon Smythe is at the library when he receives a note that lures him into an extraordinary adventure. In the bowels of the building the librarian (actually an undercover special agent) is overseeing Operation Battle Book and Napoleon is her latest recruit. His assignment? To collect DNA from Sir Francis Drake in the Battle of Cadiz, Spain, 1587.


Battle Boy is not a never-seen-before scenario. There have been lots of kid spies in wildly implausible situations, but it is so jammed full of spectacular gadgets, historical characters, battle scenes and fun illustrations that, if you’re a primary school boy, you’ll eat it up and reach for the next in the series.


Battle Boy is the new Zac Power. It’s a training ground for future Anthony Horowitz and Matt Reilly readers. And it gives librarians a serious rock ‘n’ roll edge.


I’ll be hunting down an interview with author Charlie Carter for this blog in coming weeks and I’ll be looking to give away copies of the first two books, so check in soon.