Category Archives: blog tour
Today’s my stop of the Brain Finds a Leg blog tour and I asked author Martin Chatterton to write a guest post on comedy. I asked him a few questions, such as the funniest word in the English language, favorite comedy movies, etc.
Mr. Chatterton is a very very funny man. A quick look at his website and this is evident. He’s also written a quite few (undoubtedly hilarious) books.
Guest Post: Comedy by Martin Chatterton
It’s a difficult thing, trying to pin down what makes comedy writing ‘funny’. Better people than me have tried and failed. I think if you examine it too much it’s a bit like explaining the punchline to a joke; you understand it but in understanding it, it stops being funny.
I’ll move onto easier territory.
What makes me laugh? In writing it usually comes back to PG Wodehouse. He’s still my favourite comic writer. And knowing how hard he worked to make his books appear lighter than air only adds to the admiration. Other than Wodehouse, there are few writers who make me laugh (Mark Haddon’s ‘A Spot of Bother’ being a recent exception). I think that’s mainly because a lot of the best comic writers are working in television and film. ‘Literature’ does not have much use for comedy unfortunately. Personally I find my breakfast rising whenever I approach a book that takes itself too seriously (which is pretty much most of them). So writers like Larry David, Woody Allen, Ricky Gervais, Steve Merchant, are people who I look at and think ‘I wish I’d done that’.
Three things I find funny?
I watched the recent ‘Seinfeld Reunion’ show and the scene where Larry David falls backwards off a roof and is saved by grabbing hold of his assistant’s ‘muffin’ (a roll of belly fat) made me cry with laughter. It was so beautifully crafted and utterly surprising.
I loved the British TV series ‘The Mighty Boosh’. This is completely different from the Larry David/Ricky Gervais type of comedy in that it taps into a kind of English surrealism that I love. I think ‘The Brain Finds A Leg’ has a fair amount of that kind of thinking in it. Monty Python and Spike Milligan are also favourites.
I find death funny. That sounds morbid but I can explain, honest. Mel Brooks said that ‘Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you fall into an open sewer and die.’ I wrote a book a few years back called ‘Michigan Moorcroft’ which was inspired by my love for strange (true) death stories, the favourite being one in which a tango teacher danced out of his fifth story studio and off the balcony while demonstrating to the class. Or how about the guy who slipped off a cliff trying to retrieve a lucky four-leaf clover? Tragic for them, funny for us.
Favourite comedy movies? Anchorman. Armageddon. The Life of Brian.
Funniest word in the English language? Erect.
My thanks to Martin Chatterton for this guest post, and to Peachtree Publishers for letting me participate in the The Brain Finds a Leg Blog Tour! Check out all other stops! …And Armageddon?!!
Tags: guest post
It’s almost Halloween, and one of my favorite things about working at a bookstore is seeing all the new Halloween titles come in! There’s always quite a few, and so once I learned about The 13 Days of Halloween, I accepted the invitation to the blog tour.
Carol Greene’s 13 Days of Halloween is a picture book written in verse about a persistent (and peculiarly green-skinned) suitor and his object of affection. It’s a parody of the classic “12 Days of Christmas” song but these gifts are much, much more macabre. Also more fun.
The first day brings not a partridge, but a vulture in a dead tree. The second, two hissing cats. The third, three fat toads. All throughout the strange courting, the female ignores her would-be suitor, until the thirteenth day when she gives him a present. The ending of 13 Days of Halloween takes you by surprise. Judging by this, the title could easily become a crowd favorite, with scary voices, and a dramatic flourish at the clever ending. I think kids will ask for this story over and over, because of its catchy verse and ghoulish content.
The illustrations by Tim Raglin (The Wolf Who Cried Boy) add the perfect element of creepiness to the story: things are definitely not living in his haunted world, but they’re not too terrifying for a toddler either. Flipping through the book, the little touches Raglin makes stand out – the skeleton of a pink poodle, with little tufts of fur still remaining, or the angry toads dressed in bonnets a few pages later, and sipping magic potion. My favorite: the spider who weaves a web next to the opening words, and as the story progresses, she winds her way up and down the pages. It’s little touches such as this and the fun sing-song rhyming that make 13 Days of Halloween a treat.
Thanks go to Sourcebooks Jabberwocky for sending me a copy for review and for the blog tour invitation.
Author: Carol Greene (Illus. by Tim Raglin)
Date: September 2009
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
The story of Anastasia and the Romanovs has been the
subject of various works throughout the years – including the 1956 movie
starring Ingrid Bergman and the 1997 animated version. Are there any
depictions of the Romanovs that are a particular favorite of yours?
you are the first person to ask me that question! And the answer is an easy one
– I’m definitely a fan of the 1997 20th Century Fox Animation
version by Don Bluth. It had romance and magic and Rasputin – lots of good
stuff. In fact, since you did ask, I will tell you a secret! My Happy Meal
Anastasia figure (or maybe it was from Burger King – I don’t really know at
this point!) has sat on my desk the entire time I was working on this project!
Now let me say that the Dreaming Anastasia version of Anastasia is in no
way based on the animated film version, and in fact definitely doesn’t have the
film’s cheery outlook on things (can’t say any more or I would get all
spoilery), but I still liked the idea that some visual form of Anastasia was
watching over me as I wrote. Plus I love Meg Ryan, and I think she did
Anastasia’s voice in the film, didn’t she? And John Cusak – he was Dimitri, I
think. Love him, too!
With such an intricate plot spanning centuries, and
weaving in Russian fairy tales, historical elements, and magic, Dreaming
Anastasia appears to have required a good deal of research. How much
research and what kind did Dreaming Anastasia entail?
definitely did a lot of research. When you’re dealing with the creation of an
alternate history, you better know the real version first. So I spent a lot of
time reading about the Romanovs in books and on line at sites like www.alexanderpalace.org
, which links to numerous Russian resources, including some great primary
sources. I also studied up on Russian folk lore and fairy tales – the Baba Yaga
stories specifically, but also a variety of tales so I could get a true feel
for how the Russian folklore differed from, say, Grimm’s Brothers. I discovered
that a lot of people are fascinated with Baba Yaga – everyone from gamers to
fantasy lovers to new age feminists who embrace the “reclaiming the crone”
concept. It was actually very eye-opening to me and the more I studied, the
more I wanted to use Baba Yaga in a way that reflected a variety of those
aspects. And the magical elements really found their grounding in all of the
above, so that flowed out of everything else. It sounds like a lot of work, and
it was, but I have to say I really enjoyed it!
What’s the strangest dream you ever had?
Another question that no one else has thought of. (Let me say that when one is
on a 59 stop blog tour, this is actually rather remarkable, so yay!) I am one
of those people who actually does remember many, many of her dreams. I dream in
color and I am not always me when I dream, which is something that I gave to
Anne in the novel. A lot of the time when I dream, it’s like watching TV and
being one of the characters! Kind of crazy, but it certainly helps the whole
storytelling thing. Of the dreams I remember that I would choose to relate
here, I will tell you that I actually remember a dream I had when I was five
years old. I’d been sick and I had a sore throat and I dreamed that this bird
had walked into my mouth and I’d swallowed it! I woke up convinced that this
had really happened. Ick!
What are your top five favorite books?
an avid reader that that is actually a very hard question for me. It generally
depends on the year, my mood, what life is bringing my way. But if I can twist
the question a little to read “What five books do I think everyone should read
at some point?” I would say the following: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott
Fitzgerald; A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle; The World
According to Garp by John Irving; Hamlet by Shakespeare (a play not
a book, but hey it’s my answer!); and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper
Lee. Those are five that have resonated with me over the years and five which I
have re-read. Although like I say, it’s just the tip of the iceberg!
I love this question. I’m going to take
“children’s title” as excluding YA, which would be another answer entirely. But
right this second, I’m going to pick one that I read over and over as a little
girl and say that I’d love to live inside the world of Sydney Taylor’s All
of a Kind Family. I loved the gentle adventures of those turn of the 20th
century sisters – buying penny candy and taking books out the library and
playing this game where the mom hid buttons for them to find while they were
doing chores like dusting. I really did want to live in that book when I was
the Wardrobe (8/29)
of 2k9 (8/29)
Passion for Books (9/3)
World of Books (9/9)
Crammed Bookshelf (9/10)
EST author chat)
Just for Elephants
Just for Elephants and Travels with Tarra offer children and adults a great lesson in animal conservation, and the classroom resources located at elephants.com have curriculum available, one for grades K-3 and 4-8. Publisher Tilbury House has a list of suggestions for classroom activities as well. They’ll inspire some tears over the elephants’ plights before arriving at the Sanctuary, but also some awareness.
Copies for review provided by the publisher.
Tarra and Bella: The Elephant and Dog Who Became Best Friends
CBS and Oprah did features on the unlikely pair. You can view the CBS feature below, courtesy of their Youtube page.
Author: Carol Buckley
Date: July 2002
Author: Carol Buckley
Date: November 2006
Author: Carol Buckley
Date: September 2009
– Copy of Just for Elephants signed by Sanctuary co-founder Carol Buckley
– Copy of Travels With Tarra signed by Carol and stamped by Tarra the Elephant!
– A package of Tilbury House animal books — The Goat Lady, Thanks to the Animals, and an advance copy of Bear-ly There
Wednesday, Sept. 2: Sacred Elephants
Thursday, Sept. 3: Read These Books and Use Them!
Friday, Sept. 4: Maw Books
Saturday, Sept. 5: Shelf Elf
Sunday, Sept. 6: Bees Knees
Monday, Sept. 7: Through the Looking Glass
When he was six years old, a child was found in a locked bank vault in the city of Dunce. He’s suffering from amnesia and only a small scrap of paper offers a clue: his name, Bran Hambric. His parents’ whereabouts are unknown, and so according to Dunce law, whoever found him is responsible for his welfare. The task is entrusted to Sewey and Mabel Wilomas. But nobody, not even Bran, realizes how important the boy’s survival is, and his connection to the titular Farfield Curse.
Reading Bran Hambric: The Farfield Curse, the similarities of Harry Potter will occur. However, after the publishing of the Potter series, such comparisons were inevitable. Literature throughout the ages has been littered with the archetype of the hero, a boy of extraordinary power and living in ordinary circumstances. Bran Hambric has another thing in common with Mr. Potter: A sharply written novel with engaging characters, a twisting storyline, and equal dashes of humor and action.
Author Kaleb Nation started Bran Hambric when he was fourteen years old. He completed the novel in 2007. It all started with his imagining a boy and a banker waiting on a rooftop for a burglar to arrive. As Nation tells it, he wrote five hundred pages in six to nine months. The result is a novel meant for middle grades but enjoyable by all ages.
Starting in on Bran Hambric, once I was invested in the story, I didn’t want to leave. You know a book is good when you’ll torture yourself on an elliptical for another thirty minutes to read it! The characterization is great, from the curmudgeonly yet likable Sewey Wilomas (my favorite) his health-obsessed wife Mabel to the characters who aid Bran Hambric in his search for the truth – Adi and Astara. The book is filled with scenes of Bran’s family life, Sewey’s outlandish behavior, the mysterious world of gnomes, mages, and etc. This wait for more action, however, might bore younger readers. With so many wild incidents (odd occurences at a town fair, an unusual bookstore visit), older readers should be entertained nonetheless. The villain, Baslyn, is amiss for a good deal of the book, but his evil presence still fills the novel, making the confrontation of him and Bran thoroughly creepy, and worthwhile.
Nation has mentioned he has enough material written by five more sequels, and hopefully, Bran Hambric: The Farfield Curse leaves readers anticipating more, as Bran is a promising new character whose story has much left to tell.
Copy for review received from the publisher.
Title: Bran Hambric: The Farfield Curse
Author: Kaleb Nation
Date: September 9, 2009
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
I conducted an interview with Kaleb Nation as part of the blog tour, with the help of Sourcebooks. You’ll find it below!
The world of Bran Hambric is inventive, with a variety of magical creatures, items, and beings. If there could be one magic-related item, creature, or person from your novel that was in the real world, who or what it would be? Why?
I think (as most people probably already expect!) I would really enjoy having a gnome around! Gnomes are such wonderful creatures and can do so many things, and I think a gnome would be a wonderful friend to have as well.
We learn in Bran Hambric there’s several different types of mages. Into which category do you think you’d fall?
I think I would most likely be an Illian. Illians are drawn towards books and writing, and I think that I can relate to Adi in that way as well!
Who have been your greatest writing inspirations? What advice would you give to other aspiring young authors?
I think one of my greatest writing inspirations has been Stephenie Meyer, not so much of her writing style but because of the way that she interacts with her readers. She has an interesting way of making her readers feel as if she’s talking directly to them, even if there might be 500 or 1000 people at the event. I always want to have a connection with readers the way she does.
I think that the advice I would give to other young writers is to really stick with it and make sure that you enjoy what you are writing. There are a lot of rough times when you’re writing a book with little hope of it being published, so it’s important that you’re writing a story that you enjoy, not just something you think will sell!
One of my favorite elements of the novel is the diverse cast of the characters. Each of them was compelling in their own way, from Mabel’s constant paranoia about imaginary germs to the curmudgeonly yet still oddly likable Sewey. Do any of the characters within your book have facets to their personality that you’ve drawn from yourself or other people you know?
I think that every character in the book draws upon certain aspects of myself or people that I have met in real life. I think that Bran’s interest in drawing is very much his version of my interest in writing. Some of Sewey’s crazy driving was directly inspired by my early driving lessons! And my family went through some sort of a health craze for a year or two a long time ago, so I think that Mabel’s health obsession might have been inspired by that somewhat (though greatly exaggerated in her case!).
I know from your website you’re a composer yourself. A good deal of authors sometimes mention particular songs or genres that have influenced them, such as Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight and the band Blue October. Is this the case with you and Bran Hambric?
There were many songs and bands that I found over the years to fit with writing Bran Hambric. But since I wrote the book between ages 14 and 20, my musical interests naturally changed a lot over the years. At the beginning of writing, I almost entirely wrote with Enya playing in the background. Closer to the end though, I switched to a more random assortment or rock, with a lot of Anberlin and Shiny Toy Guns. Nowadays, it’s a mix of those bands and a lot of movie soundtracks, especially from the Lemony Snicket movie and Finding Neverland.
If you could live inside any children’s book, what title would it be and why?
I think I’d love to live in the world of Lemony Snicket, as dreary as it might seem! It’s so quirky and strange I’d have a wonderful time exploring it.
My thanks to Kaleb and Sourcebooks for letting me participate in the blog tour. You’ll find the rest of the stops on the tour below. There’s some great stops, be sure to visit them all! Also check out Kaleb Nation’s Official Site, BranHambric (where you’ll find music composed by Kaleb for the novel), and Sourcebooks’ Bran Hambric page. You can download the first four chapters here and enter Sourcebooks’ contests for signed soundtrack CDs, Bran’s necklace, and more.
Blog Tour Schedule
Sunday, August 30th
Monday, August 31st
Tuesday, September 1st
Wednesday, September 2nd
Thursday, September 3rd
Friday, September 4th
Saturday, September 5th
Sunday, September 6th
Monday, September 7th
Tuesday, September 8th
Wednesday, September 9th
Thursday, September 10th
Friday, September 11th
Saturday, September 12th
Sunday, September 13th
Monday, September 14th
Tuesday, September 15th
Wednesday, September 16th
Thursday, September 17th
Friday, September 18th
Saturday, September 19th
Horrid Henry is the #1 bestselling chapter book series in the UK, and he’s now in the USA! So far there’s four collections of Horrid Henry stories. Each book has four stories about Horrid Henry. All of them are fairly short.
Horrid Henry is a little boy who definitely lives up to his name. He constantly teases his brother, Perfect Peter, who subscribes to magazines such as “Best Boy” and delights in eating his vegetables.
Author Francesca Simon has created a character that is mischievous and fun, and just a little bit devilish. But all of his pranks and antics are fairly harmless, and just funny. My favorite scene is in Horrid Henry and the Mega-Mean Time Machine, where Henry has tricked his brother, Perfect Peter, into thinking a cardboard box in the living room is really a time machine. And Peter can travel in time, if he dresses like the boys in the future do.. in dresses and lipstick.
I loved the titles of all of the characters mentioned in the books – not just Horrid Henry has an alliterative adjective describing him, but there’s a slew of other characters – Lazy Linda, Moody Margaret, Prissy Polly, etc.
Tony Ross’ illustrations are a perfect fit for a series like Horrid Henry. The slightly manic style reflects the silly and impish sides of the Henry stories. Ross has illustrated books for Paula Danzinger and Roald Dahl as well.
There is no order to the series (but I’d recommend you read Horrid Henry first, as it introduces his family), and the playful language makes it perfect for a read-a-loud session. As I said before on an In My Mailbox post, this series is excellent for a reluctant reader. Reading just “one more page” won’t seem daunting after kids read how Henry himself pulls a fast one to win a reading contest..and ends up getting more than he bargained for!
Horrid Henry features the first Henry story, his and Moody Margaret’s quest to make the most disgusting gloppiest glop ever, and two others, including his quest to be perfect for an entire day.
Horrid Henry Tricks the Tooth Fairy has Henry devising ways to make the tooth fairy think he lost a tooth, as well as three other stories, such as how Moody Marget moves in and is a most unpleasant house guest.
Horrid Henry’s Stinkbomb involves a wicked plan to get the girls’ club back, plus three stories, like disastrous sleepover.
Horrid Henry and the Mega-Mean Time Machine features the time machine prank I mentioned above, plus Peter’s revenge, and two more stories.
There’s a nice bit of resources to accompany the Sourcebooks series as well! And soon, Horrid Henry will be a videogame. The official site has a ton of materials able to be downloaded for free as well. You can find a list of them below.
Check out the other stops on the Horrid Henry blog tour!
Bri Meets Books (6/16)
Lit for Kids (6/17)
Moms Inspire Learning (6/18)
Karin’s Book Nook (6/19)
Not Just for Kids (6/20)
Book Advice (6/21)
The Excelsior File (6/22)
Brimful Curiosities (6/25)
SMS Book Reviews (6/26)
Book Aunt (6/27)
In the Pages (6/29)
Lori Calabrese Writes (6/30)
Talk about a coincidence. Just yesterday, I was visiting with my mentor and we discussed what charities we’d donated to this Christmas. She mentioned her family of six participated in Heifer International two years in a row, and as luck would have it, I was scheduled to review today: Give a Goat, a picture book from Heifer International founder’s daughter, Jan West Schrock, and illustrated by Aileen Darragh.
Give a Goat is a true story about a fifth grade class who set out to help give a goat to a needy family. The children are inspired by a story read aloud by their teacher, and get together to hold fund raising to make enough to purchase a goat for a needy family so they may have a better life.
I won’t reveal the ending, but one thing the book taught me about Heifer International was “passing on the gift”: how one family receives an animal that eventually gives birth, the owners give the baby animal to another family, so they can too can experience an improved life.
As, The Well-Read Child points out, the book isn’t a blatant shilling for Heifer International., While the organization features heavily in the storybook, the result is a sweet story about giving, and how anybody – even children – can change the world, and the children inspired others in their school to give to other charities.
The language employed is a child’s vocabulary, with the occasional “cool!” – the tale related as if a child were really telling it, and the sketched, watercolor-like illustrations evoke a child-like feel, with mischievous goats populating the pages.
Monday, Dec. 8:
Tuesday, Dec. 9: Mitali’s Fire Escape
Thursday, Dec. 11: On My Bookshelf
Friday, Dec. 12: The Starts
Saturday, Dec. 13: The Well-Read Child (author interview)
Sunday, Dec. 14: In the Pages
Wednesday, Dec. 17:
Thursday, Dec. 18: Tea Leaves
Friday, Dec. 19: Becky’s Book Reviews
Saturday, Dec. 20 – Crazy 4 Kids Books
Sunday, Dec. 21: Read These Books and Use Them
Other visits recommended:
Copy for review provided by the publisher.