This year my picture book You’re A Hero Daley B topped 200,000 sales worldwide. To celebrate I am offering schools a free Daley B musical! The musical is suitable for KS1 children from reception up, who will be provided with a script, lyrics, four song tracks and dub versions of these tracks to sing over! It can be performed at any time but is particularly suitable for spring. No problem with copyright as all tunes and lyrics are by me!
Here’s one of the songs accompanied by a rather silly video.
Other news: namechecked by Philip Pullman
I don’t often big up the work of other authors, but I must give a mention to Philip Pullman’s new graphic novel. This year I am celebrating 30 years as a Cardiff children’s author, but I must admit I was afraid no-one would notice. Many thanks then to Wales’s must eminent author for young people whose Adventures of John Blake: Mystery of the Ghost Ship comes out this spring. I won’t quibble about the mispelling! Glad to see the illustrator has featured my trademark red shirt and kindly erased any traces of grey hair around the temples.
Amusing the tinies at Parc Play
I spent the 24th March at one of Cardiff’s favourite kids’ venues, Parc Play, reading and talking to some very small people in the company of their rather larger parents. It was another chance to road-test You’re In Trouble Daley B, my long-delayed follow-up to the best-selling Daley B. The new story was voted more popular than the old one! That’s a great tribute to wonderful new illustrator Nick Roberts, who’s revinvented the confused rabbit first sketched by Axel Scheffler.
World Book Day in Merthyr
I was lucky enough to spend World Book Day at the Spread The Word literature festival in Merthyr Tydfil, where (amongst other things) I road-tested my follow-up to You’re A Hero Daley B – just 26 years after the first book came out! The response was great – in fact my enthusiastic audiences gave me enough ideas for another three books! Thanks to all the children who took part, and the wonderful organisers of this event which totally took over the centre of Merthyr on a beautiful sunny day.
Daley B’s big anniversary
It’s now twenty-five years since Daley B hit the shelves. Retitled You’re A Hero Daley B by legendary editor Wendy Boase, the rabbit with the identity crisis has gone on to sell more than 200,000 copies, and is still selling strong,
especially in China. It’s also been made into a musical in Germany! Everywhere I go somebody has read this book, and so many love it. Of course, having illustrations by Axel Scheffler helps. Daley B was Axel’s first picture book.
Back to my roots
On Saturday 16 October I was invited to be guest author at an event organised by the Rotary Club of Easthampton, raising money for the Thames Valley Air Ambulance. The event took place near Wokingham, Berks, and someone just happened to know that I was born down the road in Mortimer. My mum came from the slightly famous village of Yattendon, where her Dad worked as a gardener, and my Dad was the village baker in Burghfield just after WW2, till Mothers Pride put him out of business! I’ve still got relatives in the area, and thanks to this event, I also have some new fans! Thanks to all the people who bought Thimble Monkey Superstar. The next event for me is the Cardiff Book Festival on October 29.
Cardiff Book Festival soon!
On Friday 23 Sept I was delighted to be asked to read at the launch event for the first Cardiff Book Festival. A roomful of people in Cardiff Library sat very patiently while I droned on for ten minutes or so, giving a thrilling taster of what to expect on Saturday October 29 when I will take a session for the festival: more about the event at http://www.cardiffbookfestival.co.uk
Blake given facelift by own son
Just had a wonderful camping holiday in Pornic, France where I recorded a little video with my amazing son Jordi, who was kind enough to give me a personal facelift to remind everybody of how great I looked thirty years ago when I had my first book published. As I may have mentioned, Jordi is the model for Jams Cogan, disabled hero of Thimble Monkey Superstar, allegedly the funniest book ever written for children, available in all good bookshops.
Trapped by beavers
I’ve just had the unusual experience of being trapped in a room full of beavers. Fortunately I survived to tell the tale. I’d been invited to help raise funds to improve the toilets in the 1st Llandaff Scout hut when I found myself confronted not only by the beavers, but also cubs, and even more scarily, their parents! Fortunately they all proved to be friendly and full of questions. I think everyone enjoyed the event, because I brought a bag full of Thimble Monkey Superstars with me and when I left it was empty. I hope everyone will soon enjoy an improved hut: cubs have got a lot more fun since I was young! Many thanks for a great evening. At the moment I’m happy to do such events completely free so long as I can sell my new book! Events organisers can contact me here.
Rip Van Winkle retold
My latest story for the OUP is a retelling of Washington Irving’s classic story about the man who falls asleep for twenty years. “TreeTops Greatest Stories offers children some of the world’s best-loved tales in a collection of timeless classics. Top children’s authors and talented illustrators work together to bring to life our literary heritage for a new generation, engaging and delighting children”
E-books now available
For those of you who like reading on one of those little screens, I now have quite a few e-books available. Some of these can only be found in this format, though, as you’ll see, these include some of my very best books! Have a look at them here.
One of the best things about Thimble Monkey Superstar is that it has reunited me with that fantastic illustrator Martin Chatterton. We’ve done many books together over the years, including Little Stupendo which was shortlisted for the Children’s Book Award. For me Martin is the perfect interpreter of my writing, but I have been lucky enough to be teamed with many of the UK’s greatest children’s book illustrators: David Roberts, who appeared with me at the Hay festival; Axel Scheffler; Tony Ross; Korky Paul; Arthur Robins; Paul Sample; Nick Sharratt. I’m always asked what it’s like to work with such artists, but the truth is that generally it is the publisher who chooses them and quite often I never even get to meet them!
As always, however, there are talented people who never get the credit they deserve. My literacy hour favourite Mark Two, for example, was brilliantly illustrated by an artist called Frank James. As far as I know it was the last children’s book he worked on.
Back on the road
Long before I wrote my first novel I was writing songs and playing in bands. I was up there performing during the punk rock years, and as I reached the age when I got a bus pass I had the urge to get back to playing again. So that’s what I did. I’ve got a pile of songs that have never been performed before and a great little band called Shipbuilding. Our first gigs have gone down a storm and I’m hoping there’ll be many more. Can’t wait to perform on Top of The Pops! They still do have Top of The Pops, don’t they?Follow @jonblakeauthor