Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Darn, I forgot to wish you all a Merry Christmas.

I meant to do this earlier, but you know how it is - so little time, so many pies. 

Happy Christmas
Its been another pretty difficult year in establishing ourselves amongst the big boys of publishing although in the final week of the year Waterstones placed the HPM no.1 in the Ebook Picture Book Charts and no.77 in the Ebook charts for children.  In the whole of the Ebook charts we are 902 out of 4739.  (so that's still in the top 20%.

I know this might not sound "whoop" at the moment but I am higher than Connan Doyle, Clive Barker and John Le Carre - ( and they have good PR.) Of course there is a chance that by the time you read this I may have slipped back into oblivion, in which case - take my word for it.


Jim sent me some more black and white images to experiment with over the holidays. At the moment I am still toying with the palette and colour scheme of the book -

I never realised that colouring in a spaceman would prove to be so difficult.  Most of the good skin colours have been used already i.e. Smurfs, Simpsons, Toy Story, which left very little choice.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

The Hairy Plug Monster has Christmas Dinner.

Last Christmas I was invited to Hillcrest Grammar School to give a reading to the reception class, Mrs Griffiths who was their teacher at the time had read her grandson's copy of the HPM - and loved it.  The kids were brilliant and a couple had even bought in their copies for me to sign.   As a special treat, Mrs Griffiths asked if I would write a little Christmas poem, and so I did.

The Hairy Plug Monster has Christmas Dinner

As she stood by the tree, Maya’s eyes opened wide,

There were stars hung all over with chocolates inside,

Tinsel and baubles, with lights wrapped around,

And even more presents that lay on the ground.

On the shelf by the fire -Dad placed a mince pie -

With a nice juicy carrot, so Maya asked “why”?

“You need to leave food for the reindeer”, dad said,

“And Father Christmas wants mince pies, to keep himself fed.

Climbing up and down chimneys, All night isn’t fun,

And he can’t take a break ,when there’s work to be done,

Perhaps you can help?”,dad said with a laugh

“With the Hairy Plug Monster ,Who lives under the bath”

Maya thought for a while

And she smiled and then said -

“Maybe I could…”

And then went off to bed.

A few hours later,

Maya hadn’t slept,

So into the bathroom,

She silently crept.

The Hairy Plug Monster,

Was sat by the soap,

With a floppy red stocking,

All tied up with rope.

Maya asked once again -

“Do you fancy a feed? ”

And the Hairy Plug Monster,

Smiled and agreed.

“We’ve got Mince Pies and chocolates

and a huge Christmas Cake.

There’s even a turkey,

All ready to bake”.

So they tiptoed downstairs,

and walked through the hall,

straight to the kitchen,

to the fridge by the wall.

Maya opened the door,

and they both peeked inside,

And the Hairy Plug Monster’s

One Eye opened wide.

There on the shelf was a large plate of jelly,

A trifle,

and pudding

and cheese that was smelly.

There was mince pies and chocolates,

And cranberry jam,

Sprouts and Potatoes,

And a big piece of ham.

The Hairy Plug Monster,

Jumped onto the shelf,

And in no time at all -

He was helping himself.

Maya said to her friend,

“That’s all we’ve got,

Its Christmas tomorrow,

And you cant eat the lot”.

But the Hairy Plug Monster,

Didn’t reply, he was already munching,

On a tasty mince pie.

He tried out the pudding, and some of the cake.

And then all the sprouts,……….


What a mistake.

Yuk –yuk yuk yuk

What a funny old taste.

He didn’t like sprouts,

And curled up his face.

The hairy plug monster,

Was hungry no more,

And sat down and sulked,

On the cold kitchen floor.

Maya thought and then said,

“I know just what to do,

Father Christmas is coming,

He’ll be here very soon”.

They went to the front room,

And both peeked inside,

And The Hairy Plug Monster’s one eye,

Opened Wide.

There by the fire was a man dressed in red,

With a big floppy hat,

That was hung from his head.

His belt and his boots were shiny and black,

And down by his side was a huge great big sack.

“Hello Father Christmas”,

said Maya with charm,

And she held out a mince pie

at the end of her arm.

“I’ve come here to help

and make sure that you’re fed

You can sit down and rest while - everyone’s in bed.”

Father Christmas sat down, with the pie on his knee,

While Maya placed presents around the big tree.

“Thank you” said Santa, and started to yawn,

“It’s time that I went, for soon it is dawn”

Father Christmas got back, on his magical sleigh

Gave a carrot to Rudolph, and then flew away.

The Hairy Plug Monster needed a nap,

so he crept back upstairs

And squeezed back through the tap.

His stocking was full of presents and toys,

And a small yellow duck - that made a strange noise.

“What’s that noise?”, said her dad the next day with a shout

“There’s a noise from the hole where the water runs out”

“You know who that is” Maya said with a laugh

“That’s the Hairy plug Monster…..who lives under the bath”.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Can you do this?

After the dissapointment of the teaching awards, Jim and I have decided to push ahead with the series of books regardless.  Given the speed that Jim can provide the illustrations, we should have half of the series completed pretty soon.  At the moment we are meeting during his dinner break each week and trading ideas on the choice of 'pallette' for the characters - the image above is just part of several that we are considering.

I have been given the first 45 key words that children learn to recognise in reception and another 100 that they are expected to know by the end of Y3.  Having to write using a restricted vocabulary is a skill in itself, but thankfully one I posses -  

I was a reading recovery assistant for a short period of time this year, and one thing I noticed that really used to wind me up is that Publishers are getting away with murder when it comes to producing educational reading books for KS1.

Both Jim and myself are intent on avoiding the same traps that others succumb to and are trying to create an  almost 'Seusslike' series of books instead of producing the same 2 dimensional rubbish that my daughter used to bring home when she first started to read. 

CAT     DOG    TORTOISE  etc

aaarrgh!!!!!  I am sure you must have seen them - they usually open with a small word like DOG and then without any consideration for the reader, they will throw in a word like TORTOISE and expect the child to be able to recognise the word just by showing a picture. I don't know about you but Tortoises are pretty rare where we live and it's really hard to be able to explain the difference between one and a picture of a Mutant Ninja Turtle. (except for the mask)