On Thursday evening I was invited along to a launch for the new edition of ‘Mad About Books‘, the must-have guide from Dubray Books. While there I was honoured to meet Joe Prendergast and even more honoured when he presented me with copies of his books!
For anyone who hasn’t heard of Joe, he’s nine years old and he has TWO published books to his name with a third on the way. The proceeds of the books go to Cancer Clinical Research Trust, following the sad death of Joe’s dad. You can read a great interview with Joe here.
Joe was kind enough to sign the books for me!
The books themselves are about The Great Fragola Brothers, Italy’s most famous magic duo who get embroiled in the kidnapping of a famous actress, secret societies and even REAL MAGIC! I flew through the first one because I loved it so much. The books are funny, exciting, thrilling and full of edge-of-your-seat action. Go and buy the books. Not only are they for a great cause, but like I said, they’re also great!
I know I haven’t posted in weeks and for that I apologise. But I honestly have been so busy since Children Save Dublin started in January that this is the first time I’ve had to write a new blog.
So as a lot of you will know by now, my book ‘Arthur Quinn and the World Serpent’ was chosen as the featured book in the first ever ‘Children Save Dublin’ reading campaign from Unesco. From January to March children in city were encouraged to read the book and engage with it through web games, discussion, acting, art and meeting me. There were so many highlights that I really wouldn’t be able to write them all down here!
I visited 25 schools, libraries and bookshops in Dublin and a further 10 around the country – nearly all in four weeks! I met hundreds of young readers, dozens of teachers, librarians, booksellers and parents. In that time, I answered countless questions, read from the book so much that I know certain passages by heart and signed a cramp-inducing number of books. I even got the pleasure of watching a play based on the first five chapters of the book! Read the rest of this entry »
As I mentioned briefly in this earlier blog, my book has been chosen to be the featured book in the inaugural ‘Children Save Dublin’ reading project. The initiative has been established by UNESCO Dublin City of Literature – (the people behind the hugely successful ‘One City, One Book’ project) – and will run from today right up to the end of March. There are lots of events planned for the duration of the festival. I’ll be giving workshops in libraries, schools and bookshops and Michael Moylan of Irish History Live will be bringing his Viking History show to various locations around the city. The project culminates with a huge event as part of the St Patricks Festival. We’re going to have a train parked in Connolly Station, designed to look like the World Serpent itself. Each carriage will host a different fun event – (I’ll be there giving workshops and more!)
This morning I could be seen at Stephens Green for a photo call. Why, you ask. Well it for the launch of the UNESCO Dublin City Of Literature reading project “Children Save Dublin”, that is encouraging children between the ages of 8 and 13 to read my book. There will be some big events throughout and I will blog about it properly later but for now, here are a couple of images of a Viking with Arthur and Ash!
For anyone who’s read my book Arthur Quinn and the World Serpent, you’ll be aware of the importance of the River Poddle in the plot. In one major scene, Arthur, Ash and Will explore the river under the city of Dublin.
Here’s a great clip from an RTE documentary a few years ago that tells you all about the Poddle, as well as giving us a glimpse of the river itself. Watch it to the end to see the grate that features in the book, too!
And here’s the actual programme that inspired me to write Arthur Quinn. When I saw the Poddle in this, I just knew there had to be some sort of monster hidden there! (The Poddle part starts from the 4 minute mark.)
During the week, author Terry Pratchett – who has been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s – broadcast a documentary on the BBC. It was called ‘Terry Pratchett: Choosing to Die’ and detailed his own, and others attempts to be receive assisted suicide in Switzerland. Certainly a sobering and painfully sad documentary; but an important one, nonetheless.
It got me thinking about Pratchett and the huge number of books he’s written. He wrote a book with Neil Gaiman – (‘Good Omens’, which, I’m sure, I will write about in the future) – is one of my favourites. But of the Discworld novels, of which there are now about 40 titles, the one that stands out for me most is Mort.
At just over 300 pages, Mort is one of his shorter novels but, to me, this translates as most succinct. While I often find the other Discworld books can stray off the point at times, Mort sticks rigidly to the classic, three-act story-telling structure. We meet a teenager called Mort, whose farmer father believes that his thoughtful temperament prevents him from finding gainful employment. The plot begins when Mort’s dad brings his son to a local employment fair. Thoughout the day, Mort fails to find a new employer. Then, as all hope was lost and at midnight, a stranger arrives in a black coat riding a white horse. He offers Mort a job, which the boy accepts gratefully. The only hitch is that the man is Death and that Mort’s new job is as an apprenticeship ushering souls into the next life. So begins a rollicking adventure that’s part comedy/parody, part fantasy, part romance and part reflection-on-death-itself.
Today is Bloomsday, when fans of literature the world over celebrate the life and work of Irish author James Joyce. He’s most famous for the masterpieces ‘Ulysses’ or ‘Dubliners’ but many people don’t know that he wrote a children’s story for his son Stephen. It was based on an old French myth. The Devil in the story even spoke in a Dublin accent.
Here’s storyteller supremo Jack Lynch telling the tale of the Cat and the Devil…
The World Street Performance Champtionships are taking place this weekend in Dublin (starting today). On Saturday and Sunday they’re trying to break a world record to get the most Where’s Wallys in one photo at one time.
To get in the mood, I thought I might share this fun Where’s Wally (or Waldo for our American friends) game.
Another tip for all the Wally fans out there. You can now buy all the Wally books in one handy travel pack for under €15!
Just a quick note about something I got up to at the weekend. I went on a tour of Dublin Castle. And, as interesting as it was seeing the places the Queen visited only two weeks ago, what really got me going was the Medieval Undercroft. It’s essentially the foundations of the old castle, under street level. You can even get to see a bit of the River Poddle that flows under the city – (and is a main feature of Arthur Quinn’s world!) The tour is €2 for kids, €3.50 for students and €4.50 for adults and is well worth it.