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Yokai featured in Takeshita Demons

Cover for Takeshita Demons: The Filth LickerSubarashii! Yabai!
Takeshita Demons
Things are going super-well for Takeshita Demons at the moment.

The Filth Licker is ready for pre-order in the UK and Monster Matsuri is in its 50-millionth-draft-phase, so getting where I want it (YAY!).

If you have read Takeshita Demons you will know that Miku Takeshita and her pal Cait run into lots of mythological creatures from Japan, known as yokai (妖怪).

Below I’ve included a bit of historical info on some of them: is your favourite demon in Book 1? Or will you have till wait till The Filth Licker comes out to see what’s in store for Miku and Cait at school camp?

Happy reading!
And PS: You can pre-order The Filth Licker here and get free worldwide delivery plus 25% off: BARGAIN!

Amazake babaa (literally: Sweet sake woman) 甘酒婆
This yokai takes the shape of an old woman with a gentle voice, but don’t be fooled. If you answer the door when she knocks, chances are you’ll fall ill with chicken pox.

Ittan momen (Animated cotton) 一反木綿
Ittan momen are long bits of cloth that can come to life in the night. They love to tangle around your body and might even try to suffocate you, so keep an eye on your curtains.


Click on the noppera-bo to read about sightings of this demon in England!


Noppera-bō (Faceless ghost) のっぺら坊
Is the person sitting next to you really who you think they are? Noppera-bō are experts at pretending to be other people, and they love to cause trouble. Just when you least expect it their features can disappear, melting away to leave their face as empty as a blank page.

Nukekubi (Cut-throat) 抜首
During the day you might mistake this yokai for a normal person, but be warned. At night, while its body is sleeping, its head can detach and fly around hunting for delicious things to eat (like children and puppy dogs).

Nure-onna (literally: Woman of the Wet) 濡女
With the torso of a woman and the body of a snake, this fearsome yokai has wicked claws and a long forked tongue. She’s strong enough to crush a tree in the coils of her massive tail.



O-kubi (literally: Big Throat) 大首
If you’re ever staring up at the sky and spot an enormous head in the clouds, watch out! Spotting an o-kubi usually means something awful is just around the corner…

Sakabashira (literally: Inverted pillar) 逆柱
Did it happen by mistake? Or did someone do it on purpose? Whatever the reason, if some part of your house was built upside-down, your entire house is doomed to be haunted.

Yuki-onna (literally: Snow Woman) 雪女
Tall, pale and icily beautiful, this yokai is a spirit of the snow. She leaves no footprints, preferring to float above the ground, and she can disappear in a puff of cold mist.

Zashiki-warashi (House ghost) 座敷童
This mischievous yokai haunts houses and usually appears in the shape of a child. If your house is haunted by a zashiki-warashi, count yourself lucky, but don’t forget to take good care of it. If your house ghost ever chooses to leave you, your luck will quickly end.

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My top five interview questions for Cristy Burne

Head over to Booked Up HQ to check out the great books available and explore their super new website.

I have a guest post on the Booked Up blog this week, about writing Takeshita Demons and being a writer, and hope that lots of kids will ask me lots of questions.

See you there!



Awesome kids site: Folk legends of Japan

I’ve just discovered a terrific site for kids (and big kids) interested in learning more about Japan: Kids Web Japan.

There’s a cool section on Japanese folk tales, including the Tongue-cut Sparrow, The Mouse’s Wedding, and Japan’s tale of star-crossed lovers, Tanabata. Plus, of course, my favourite folktale: Momotaro, the story of a boy born in a peach.

(When I was living in Japan, my third year students performed their own version of Momotaro at our school’s cultural festival, writing the entire script in English and performing to the whole school. It was brilliant!)(We also did Hashire Meros, based on a short story by revered Japanese author, Osamu Dazai.)

Anyway, back to this terrific site: You can learn about sumo, explore a virtual Japanese house, try your hand at cooking… It’s brilliant fun.

Working, writing, playing!
I’ve been flat out this week preparing for school visits next week (the last week of school – YAY!) and library visits (school holidays – YAY!) and I’m absolutely loving Monster Matsuri…it’s a funny, scary and exciting book…Just the sort of thing I love to read. I’m nearing the end of the first draft but I know there’s lots more work to do.

I love writing!!
But MAN…I love writing. It’s so cool to invent a world and people who live in it, and then spend ages playing with them. I used to love playing with lego (and we’ve just introduced Fergus to lego too…he thinks everything is an aeroplane), and writing is just like playing with lego. You get a few pieces (words) and plug them together in different ways (sentences), and then you play with them for hours. FUN!

Off for more of that then!


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Children’s Book Week – Key stage two activities

Takeshita Demons was featured in the 2010 Children’s Book Week pack with some ideas for key stage two activities. Below, I reproduce these ideas. If you’d like the pretty colour version, please download the booklet, activities, posters and more from the BookTrust site.


Takeshita Demons by Cristy Burne (Frances Lincoln) is an exciting adventure story inspired by Japanese folklore and in particular the supernatural yokai – demons – which are a key part of Japanese culture, but little known outside Japan.  These activities explore stories of supernatural creatures from around the world.

Amazing imaginary creatures

Ah...but are they imaginary?

  • Give each child a large sheet of paper and ask them to design their own imaginary creature.
  • Let imaginations run wild: have a range of art materials available, or bring in old magazines and newspapers so children can use collage techniques to create magical creatures from pictures of animals, birds, insects and people.
  • Give creatures a name, and label them to show their unusual features or special powers. Make a display of the finished creatures.

Find out about folklore

  • Divide children into pairs or small groups, and assign each group a different supernatural creature from traditional folklore, legend or myth. Try the Loch Ness Monster (Scotland), the Yeti (Nepal and Tibet), the Phoenix (Greek myth) or the Banshee (Ireland); alternatively, children could choose their own creatures based on stories they have read.
  • Ask children to use the library or research online to find out more about their creature. What does it look like? What are its magical powers? Do they think it would be friendly or scary?
  • The last pages of Takeshita Demons suggest that there might be more adventures still to come. Ask children to continue the story by imagining that Miku and Cait now encounter their creature. What do they think would happen? Write and illustrate the story.

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Free resources for UK Children’s Book Week

Check out some of Shirin Adl’s fab Book Week illustrations!

Free Children’s Book Week resource pack!
Woo hoo! Another surprise in the mailbox this week:
A pack of fun things to celebrate UK Children’s Book Week (4 – 10 October 2010), complete with stickers, posters, a Best Book Guide and booklet full of Children’s Book Week resources (including teaching ideas, tips for planning a writer visit, activities and more!).

The resource packs are free and were posted to all English state primary schools, public libraries, special schools and initial teacher training institutions.

This year’s Children’s Book Week theme is BOOKS AROUND THE WORLD, so even if you’re not living in England, the pack contains heaps of relevant stuff to do and explore.

If you’d like a peak, free downloads of the Children’s Book Week pack are available on the Booktrust website. The pack features awesome artwork by illustrator Shirin Adl.

Key stage two activities: Takeshita Demons

Frances Lincoln Children’s Books are the major publisher sponsor of this year’s Children’s Book Week in the UK, which means Takeshita Demons is lucky enough to be featured in the book week pack.

Children’s Book Week is also sponsored by Crayola (thanks from kiddies everywhere!) and run by Booktrust.

Australia’s Children’s Book Week: not long to wait!

I’m doing some Aussie library visits for Australia’s Children’s Book Week (21 – 27 August) so plan to cross-pollinate and add the UK stickers to my pile of giveaways 🙂

And the last word goes to Children’s Laureate, Anthony Browne, author and illustrator of nearly 40 children’s books:

‘This year’s Children’s Book Week theme of books around the world provides a wonderful opportunity to explore and celebrate difference, as well as to read books that transport us to new places and introduce us to new cultures.

One thing that my travels have taught me is that children around the world have a lot in common; hopes, fears, joys, but most of all, a love of stories.’

And I couldn’t agree more! 🙂 🙂


Simply the best: tips from the Perth Writer’s Festival

I’ve just spent the last few days living the dream at the Perth Writer’s Festival: wandering the green UWA campus, listening to some of Australia’s most brilliant writers for children and young adults, meeting with my Australian distributer (Walker Books)(exciting and inspiring stuff!), sharing laughs with theatres full of children, watching massive queues of kids clutching books they want signed. It has been fantastic, and I learned a HEAP from watching other authors work their magic.


Some interesting points were raised, and I list a few here to think about: I managed to attribute some ideas to some of the authors I saw on Sunday, but the others came from Saturday and I can’t remember who said what (sorry!!!). So here goes:

– A good book needs three great scenes, with no bad scenes

– You can drive a good plot by finding out what a character needs, and then taking it away from them (noone ever said writers were nice people ;-))

– fantastic YA books are also fantastic plot-driven adult books that happen to star a young protagonist

– we human beings love getting wind of a good problem, especially someone else’s problem, so….give your characters a problem, or three. As a bonus, when you introduce a problem into your story, you automatically introduce the possibility of more than one ending (Morris Gleitzman)

– saying “bum” is funny and addictive. And humour is an amazing way to inspire kids’ imaginations (Andy Griffiths)

– you can practise telling stories by creating three-sentence stories that have 1) a beginning, where you introduce the character and setting, 2) a middle, where you add a complication, and 3) an end, where you overcome the complication and sort everything out (Garth Nix)


ALSO….thanks to Jon Doust (author of the amazing Boy on a Wire), who I randomly met in a queue for lunch. I swear, Jon looks just like my Uncle Max, but since it took me a long while to work this out (right up until about half an hour ago when I went “aha! Uncle Max!”), and so I started our conversation with the awful, awful “don’t I know you from somewhere?”.

Which, of course, I didn’t.

But now I kind of do. Because Jon gave me (a complete stranger who was way too nosy) two bits of his sushi (chicken teriyaki…yum!), which was not only very generous but probably also saved my life because the queue I was in was the “order from the bar” queue and not the “pay for your sandwich” queue, so it could have been a long time between sandwiches. THANK YOU JON!!


You can listen to podcasts of many of the sessions c/o the ABC.


WOO HOO! I just sent FORESTS AND FILTH LICKERS to my editor in London. EXCITEMENT!! I hope she loves it as much as I do 🙂 🙂 And WOO WOO HOO HOO (double woo hoo)…I’m back in thinking mode: brainstorming up some great projects to pitch while I gather steam for Book 3 in the TAKESHITA DEMONS trilogy.