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The new Booked Up site is live!

The new Booked Up site is live! Woo hoo! Over the next week three Booked Up arcade style games will be added to the website as well as e-cards and competitions. There will also be a message board for Year 7s to talk about Booked Up and the books on offer.

Schools have until Friday 22 October to place their orders and all books will be delivered by the first week of December. What a great Christmas Present! The Booked Up DVD is also available on the website and you can see my bit of the DVD by clicking here and scrolling down to the video viewer on the Takeshita Demons Booked Up page:

Last term over 5,000 schools, hospices and home educators in England registered for Booked Up and this week they start receiving their sample set of books, guide for teachers, posters, a DVD and magazines for children. AWESOME!

In July just under 2,500 public libraries in England received a set of the Booked Up books, bookmarks, stickers and information for librarians. Booked Up also featured in information for 11-year-olds in this year’s Summer Reading Challenge.

There is also a pilot Booked Up program running in Northern Ireland. The pilot is based on the Booked Up England model of delivering through secondary schools and adding value to the programme through partnership working with Public Libraries. Booked Up Northern Ireland is spread across the whole of Northern Ireland with 68 pilot schools and 95 public libraries taking part.


So things are really very exciting at the moment. AND, in especially cool news, I spent a lovely evening last night at the Fremantle Children’s Literature Centre for 123YA, a series of talks by three authors for Young Adults: Deb Fitzpatrick, author of 90 Packets of Instant Noodles; A.J. Betts, author of Shutterspeed and Wavelength; and Kate McCaffery, author of Beautiful Monster and others I’m too lazy to hyperlink (check out her website instead). It was great fun and very inspiring. If you live in Western Australia (or have a massive travel budget and lots of time) I recommend subscribing to Fremantle Press’s blog to find out when other, similar events are on. AND get yourself on the mailing list for the Fremantle Children’s Literature Centre: they do great stuff and always have something interesting lined up in their calendar.


Filming for the Booked Up DVD

A still from one of the 50 billion takes we filmed for Booked Up on Thursday

Exciting times!
As part of the Booked Up program, WalkTall Media are producing a DVD introducing the 19 books on the Booked Up list. Each book is introduced by its author, then reviewed by a Year 7 student. And to keep things short and sweet, each segment is only 30-40 seconds long.  So…I was asked to film myself talking about Takeshita Demons for the DVD. COOL!


Have you ever tried to talk about something you love in just 30 seconds?


I’ve done a bit of media training but haven’t had a whole heap of experience in front of a camera. In fact, I’ve tried to be seriously coherent for the camera just 4 times before:

Attempt 1) Australia’s Catalyst team tried to interview me about the LHC Computing Grid while I was working at CERN, in Geneva. I was incredibly nervous and stuffed up so often and so badly they didn’t end up using my bit at all.
Gaining-experience Rating:
5 stars
Waking-up-with-nightmares Rating: 11 sleepless nights (about 7 before, 4 after)

Attempt 2) An independant documentary-maker came to CERN to do a docco on the LHC and interviewed me about the LHC Computing Grid. As a young(ish) female scientist(ish) I was supposed to be the perfect choice for his documentary, except for one thing: I couldn’t put three words together. Luckily, when it finally came out, they only used about two seconds of my footage.
Gaining-experience Rating: 5 stars
Waking-up-with-nightmares Rating: 4 sleepless nights (3 before, 1 after)

A still from the Teacher’s TV interview

Attempt 3) My editor Janetta and I did a short interview about the Frances Lincoln Diverse Voices Children’s Book Award for Teacher’s TV. Luckily, I got to see Janetta being interviewed first, so I had a chance to see how it’s done 🙂 Plus, most of my camera nerves (the “mind goes blank just looking at the camera” bit) were gone: My previous efforts might have been awful, but they were brilliant practise. So, I was able to talk without stumbling too badly and I managed to say what I wanted to say (which apparently is the other Very Important Thing ;-))
Gaining-experience Rating: 5 stars
Waking-up-with-nightmares Rating: 3 sleepless nights (but I slept well as soon as it was over 🙂 YAY!)

A still from the video for the 2010 Diverse Voices presentation

Attempt 4) About three weeks ago we made a short video to congratulate the winner of the 2010 Frances Lincoln Diverse Voices Children’s Book Award (Tom Avery, although I didn’t know it at the time!).

Me losing it because some mad fellow is chasing wild pigs in the background

Luckily, my fabulous husband was behind the camera, and I knew my ridiculous friends (we **love** your work!!) were somewhere in the background being ridiculous (thank you!).

So, we managed to make a colourful video that said what I wanted to say (which was THANK YOU and CONGRATULATIONS! and HAVE FUN!!).
Gaining-experience Rating: 5 stars
Waking-up-with-nightmares Rating: 0 sleepless nights (this was more like a home movie: no microphones or special lighting)

Which leads me to experience #5: Film a 40-second blurb of yourself talking about your book.

Easier said than done! Luckily, I managed to locate a fabulous Perth-based cameraman with the patience of a saint (Seb Craig of KBC Films, and I thoroughly recommend him and KBC for being professional, reliable and good at what they do…they were great!) and an awesome location (the Hyogo Prefectural Government Cultural Centre…I am SO grateful to everyone there for their help!). After a grueling session of 50 gazillion takes (and me forgetting my own name for half of them), I sent the finished products to WalkTall Media: fingers crossed they like them.

Step over, Tom Cruise

So…It was HARD WORK! I have a new appreciation for actors, because its not easy saying the same thing over and over. Luckily (and did I mention this before?), Sebastien was incredibly patient and also superb at giving the right feedback at the right time. (Including the brutal-but-useful “I wasn’t convinced…Start again”)

Still, it wasn’t easy: it was a freezing morning, but we had to turn off the heater cause it was affecting the sound (poor Yumiko had to wear a thick jacket and drink hot tea just to stay warm: it was super-chilly!). Plus, the Perth Japanese school has classrooms upstairs, and at once stage the kids were practising their taiko drumming (actually: this was perfect timing for a coffee break :-)).

We also filmed some readings, and a couple of short blurbs: one about The Filth Licker, and one about the 2011 Frances Lincoln Diverse Voices Childrens Book Award.  They should show up here in the next little while 🙂

All in all, it was exciting and harrowing and afterwards I couldn’t really talk much at all. I just sat and drank tea and soaked in the sunshine. It was all I was capable of, I think. And on Sat night I went to the movies with girlfriends and drank champagne and laughed a lot, and it was GREAT!! A recipe for unwinding stress 🙂

So…fingers crossed the filming we did worked: I can’t wait to see the DVD and meet the other Booked Up authors!

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Two million free books and counting

***Are you here for info on the short story competition for young writers?
Skip to the bottom***

Check out this awesome article on the amazing work being done by the Booked Up team and Booktime. The article includes some interesting stats, such as:

  • From 2008 to 2009 there was a 40% increase in the numer of dads reading with their children…YAY!
  • 60% of children like to share a book with their parents/carers as it shows that the parent/carer likes to spend time with them. (Awww. What cuteys :-))
  • the vast majority of parents and carers say that they often read for pleasure with their children (72% say weekly and 54% say the last time they read together was only yesterday). YAY!

And when children were asked why they liked to read with parents or carers, they said:

Why children love reading with parents/carers % Comments
They like spending time with me 60% This becomes the best thing about reading for older children (8-12), for whom time spent with adults has clear emotional benefits
We talk about the story / pictures together 55% Younger children (5-7) rated this as their favourite thing about reading together
They put on funny voices and make me laugh 50% This rises to 64% amongst 5 year olds and resonates more strongly amongst boys (52%)
I like the sound of their voice, it helps me relax/sleep 28% Younger children are more likely to cite this as reason for enjoying reading (34% of 5 year olds)
They / we make up new characters and stories 17% More than a quarter of 5 year olds said this is what they enjoyed about reading

Interesting, hey! But not every house comes complete with bookshelves of reading material, which is why Booked Up is giving kids the chance to choose a book they like and recieve a copy for free. HOW COOL!

Now in its fourth year, Booked Up will have given away over 2 and half million books to Year 7 pupils across England (by Christmas).

Booked Up allows each Year 7 pupil in England to make their own choice of free book from a selection of titles that include fiction, non fiction and poetry. This year children can choose their free book from a list of 19 titles, including six accessible books, to ensure that there is a book that will appeal to every child, whatever their ability or needs. The programme encourages independent reading and supports reading for pleasure as children make the sometimes difficult transition from primary to secondary education.

Secondary schools can register for Booked Up by visiting the Booked Up website. Public libraries and school library services are also being offered the opportunity to receive free sets of the books and supporting resources to enhance the Booked Up programme.

The new Booked Up book list:

Takeshita Demons by Cristy Burne (Frances Lincoln) [Also available as an audio book :-)]

Warning! Aliens Are Invading the School! By Dinah Capparucci (Scholastic)

Z-Rex by Steve Cole (Random House)

The Dying Photo by Alan Gibbons (Barrington Stoke) [Also available as an audio book]

The Joshua Files: Invisible City by M.G. Harris (Scholastic)

At the Sign of the Sugared Plum by Mary Hooper (Bloomsbury)

Love, Aubrey by Suzanne LaFleur (Puffin)

Uncle Montague’s Tales of Terror by Chris Priestley (Bloomsbury)

Fever Crumb by Philip Reeve (Scholastic)

Michael Rosen’s A-Z: The Best Children’s Poetry from Agard to Zephaniah (Puffin)

How to Avoid a Wombat’s Bum by Mitchell Symons (Random House)

The Crowfield Curse by Pat Walsh (Chicken House)

The Lost Thing by Shaun Tan (Hachette)

Boffin Boy and the Forest of the Ninja by David Orme (Ransom)

The Big Fat Cow That Goes Kapow by Andy Griffiths & Terry Denton (Macmillan)

Me and My Cat? By Satoshi Kitamura (Andersen Press)

Stone Soup by Jess Stockham (Child’s Play)

Calm Down, Boris! by Sam Lloyd (Templar)




Clackety-Clacks: Elephant by Luana Rinaldo (Macmillan)

Calling talented young writers!!

And if you’re a keen writer and would like the chance to meet some AMAZING people in the writing industry, as well as be a judge of the 2010 Booktrust Teenage Prize, then this is the opportunity for you:


The launch of the Booked Up programme also sees the launch of a short story competition for young adults, to win a place on the judging panel of the 2010 Booktrust Teenage Prize. The theme of this year’s short story is Invisibility and was inspired by the 2009 Booktrust Teenage Prize winning title, The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman.

A panel of judges will select the best four short stories and the prize for each winner will be:

  • a place on the Booktrust Teenage Prize judging panel to help choose the 2010 teenage book of the year
  • a ticket to the award ceremony in London in November
  • the chance to meet and interview all the shortlisted authors, using a flipcam – yours to keep
  • a complete set of the shortlisted titles
  • your winning story published on the Booktrust website.



Woo-hoo! Takeshita Demons is part of Booked Up!!

And in the most Exciting and Pinch-me-please Brilliant News Ever…….

…..last night’s award ceremony was also an opportunity to announce that Takeshita Demons has been selected to be part of Booked Up, an awesome program that gives free books to children.

Booked Up is a national programme that aims to give a free book to every child starting secondary school in England.

Booked Up’s goal is to encourage reading for pleasure and independent choice. Year 7 pupils choose their free book from a list of specially selected titles.

How FABULOUS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And can you believe? Takeshita Demons is one of those specially selected titles!!! (I am shooting around the room with sparks coming out of my ears as I write this…it’s utterly, utterly brilliant and exciting and wonderful!)

Also on the list are fabulous fellow Aussies Shaun Tan (with The Lost Thing) and the hilarious duo Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton (with The Big Fat Cow That Went Kapow). And check out the list: every one’s a winner. There are utter legends of children’s literature on this list: I feel woozy just thinking about it.

The best thing is, thousands of Year 7 kids will have the chance to read Takeshita Demons for free. Which is SO COOL because hopefully it’s a story that will get kids reading and encourage all kids to race through an entire book, sometimes laughing, sometimes trembling, but always having fun. YAY!

Many thanks to the selection panel for Booked Up 2010…

This year the panel included:

Nikki Gamble (Chair)
Nikki Gamble has worked in education and reading promotion for over 25 years, Formerly a teacher and teacher educator, she is a lecturer, writer and education consultant. Nikki is Director of Write Away UK and Associate Consultant at the University Of London Institute Of Education. She is currently a member of International EC of IBBY and Director of the 2012 IBBY World Congress. She is also on the current Executive Committee of United Kingdom Literacy Association (UKLA).

Sean Edwards
Sean Edwards, Head of Children’s & Youth Libraries, for the London Borough of Haringey, has worked in Children’s Libraries for twenty years. He is passionate about reading and books for all ages and thoroughly enjoyed the whole decision making process for the ‘Booked Up’ panel. He thinks that the whole range of titles available for both boys and girls reflects the continuing need to provide material that not only extends the reading experience but also enhances reading for pleasure.

Irene Marillat
School Librarian and Booked Up Coordinator, Tolworth Girls’ School, Surrey. (You can follow Irene on Twitter.)

Karen McCombie
Karen McCombie is a best-selling author whose novel An Urgent Message Of Wowness was on the Booked Up list for 2010. She worked on teenage magazines before becoming a full-time writer, and now has more than sixty titles to her name. Originally from Aberdeen, Scotland, she lives in leafy North London (the setting of her hit series ‘Ally’s World’) with her husband, small daughter and two dopey cats, who all provide her with inspiration, whether they like it or not.

Carol Webb
Carol Webb is a librarian working at Forest Hill School in Lewisham, London. She has extensive experience in creating a positive school reading culture and of developing boys’ reading abilities and interests. Carol is currently studying for a Doctorate in Education and recently co-authored The innovative school librarian: thinking outside the box.

Rebecca Wilkie
Rebecca Wilkie is the editor of Booktrust’s children’s books website and produces the annual Best Book Guide. She also works on The Big Picture campaign, which aims to promote and reawaken public interest in picture books. Rebecca read English at University College London and has worked in children’s books for the last eight years.

Alexandra Strick (Consultant on accessible titles)

Alex works as a freelance consultant/project manager on a range of activities around children, books and disability. These include:

  • Bookmark, the online resource regarding books and disability
  • Bookstart, as the scheme’s disability consultant
  • Outside In, children’s literature in translation
  • In the Picture, a campaign to encourage publishers, illustrators and writers to embrace diversity

More on Booked Up…

What an awesome idea! Thanks to funding from the UK Department for Education (DfE) and support from children’s book publishers, the programme is run by Booktrust, an independent charity dedicated to encouraging people of all ages and cultures to engage with books.