Wednesday 17 July 2019

Protagonists v Antagonists

Feel free to laugh at this blog post if you want to, but it's a genuine thing I struggle with, so the answer and a way to remember the difference is what I'm asking for with this post. 

Protagonists and antagonists - they are both necessary in every story you write, I know that much, but are protagonists the main character and antagonists the supporting characters or are protagonists "goodies" and antagonists "baddies"?  What if the main character is a baddie?  Are they the Protagonist because they are the main character or the antagonist because they are a baddie??

Like I said, feel free to laugh.

From your belly if you must.

I promise it's a genuine question though, that I've struggled with since I started writing with the hope of one day being published... the other stories were purely an outpouring of creativity for nobody else's eyes but mine.

Leave me a comment and let me know what you think?  Please?

Tuesday 16 July 2019

Book Review: "Harry and the Dinosaurs Go to School" by Ian Whybrow

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ out of 5
This has just arrived and I love it!

Exactly what I wanted for my lil nephew! Dinosaurs and the very first day of school with no friends, which all children are worried about on their first day, especially if they don't have any friends from pre-school!

The main character gets anxious when his bucket of dinosaurs are left outside but he makes an incredibly shy new friend when Harry shows the boy who is shy where the toilets are.  They bond over Harry's dinosaurs riding the boy's digger et voila - a friendship is formed on the very first day!

The children in Harry's class start getting to know each other until one of Harry's dinosaurs lets out a big raaah which sends the classroom into chaos with all the childrens' pictures being blown everywhere.

It's also great that the pronounciations of each dinosaur is right at the front of the book as well as at the back... gets the reader out of a right pickle if they don't fluently know how to pronounce each type - I certainly don't!  lol  It's fun and helps children to start learning how to spell and pronounce new-to-them words without them even realising.

A must-buy for your little one who is about to start school!

Monday 15 July 2019

Book Review: "I Am Too Absolutely Small For School" by Lauren Child

⭐⭐⭐⭐ out of 5
I have to admit that I was feeling pretty sceptical about this book, purely because of the title.  I was thinking that the child would be fidgiting and picking their nose out of boredom before even opening the front cover.

I was wrong.

So wrong.

It's a great book that really does cover the entire first day at school and the normal worries that all children have about their first day.  Lauren Child handled it soooo well though... WTG Lauren!

It's a must-read for every child who is about to embark on their first day at school, just be prepared to answer the inevitable question about what 'absolutely' means is all lol.

Book Review: "Starting School" by Janet and Allan Ahlberg

⭐⭐⭐ out of 5
I had high hopes for this book after it started so well. 

The first few pages were about the first days and weeks in school which is exactly what I had hoped for, but then it sped on to show how the next three weeks go on three pages.  Hallowe'en is one sentence then it describes the feelings that everyone feels before the end of term and the Christmas play. 

It all feels a bit rushed to me... why not just concentrate on the children's first week in school instead of starting off so well then rushing through the rest of the term?

Sorry, but I feel this book only deserves three stars, which is a pity after it started so wonderfully.

Book Review: "Starting School" by Caryn Jenner & Arthur Robins

⭐⭐⭐⭐ out of 5

This is a good little picture book but it's not entirely about the first day or even the first week... it starts off that way but quickly drifts into the longer term... might only be a few weeks, but a week is a very long time to a young child when they don't know what to expect in a totally new situation.  If the book had concentrated soley on the first day then it would definitely have deserved top marks but I'm knocking the star off because it isn't totally about the first few days.

If your child is nervous about what to expect from school then definitely get this book for them, just don't expect it to be fully about their first day like I was thinking is all.

Book Review: "How Do Dinosaurs Go to School" by Jane Yolen & Mark Teague

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ out of 5
Love this picture book!

It takes the child through the entire day at school in a light-hearted and reassuring way.

If your child is about to start school and you're both scared about it, get this book to comfort and reassure you both.

I bought this for my lil nephew who is starting primary school in September and he loves dinosaurs, so I reckon he'll love this book... maybe have a read of the first page with the names of all of the dinosaurs to make sure you can pronounce them all before you share it with your child though... I can only pronounce the Diplodocus dinosaur lol  Maybe you could encourage your child to teach you how to pronounce each of them to send their self-confidence soaring?

A definite must-read for all those children who are starting Reception or Year 1 to help them feel more at ease on their first day!

Book review: "Don't Go to School" by Maire Zepf

⭐⭐⭐ out of 5

I'm guessing this is an American book rather than a British one because it's "mommy" instead of "mummy" throughout which might confuse the children listening to the story.

It also makes it sound like the child will be playing all day instead of learning things so it might make the child assume that they will be painting and drawing and running around and listening to stories all day, which will give them a huge shock when they are expected to sit down and behave and learn things that they've never even heard of before, let alone tried.

I appreciate that the author wanted to make school seem fun and full of play which it might be in America but, IME, in the UK the children are expected to learn from 9am to 3.30pm with only an hour at lunch and two fifteen minute play-times a day, which weren't even mentioned in this book.

Maybe it's a first day at NURSERY school that this book was aimed at rather than Primary school which I was hoping for.

Saturday 13 July 2019

Book Review: "Glub & Charlie and the Trolls" by Olive Sharke and Arthur Sharke

⭐ out of 5
Oh dear me.

This is supposed to be a chapter book for 7-10 year olds.

It doesn't have a single chapter in it, it's way too short and there are 45 words in the first half of the book alone that there is no way a child would read and the word "surreptitiously" on the very first page would make them put the book down and never pick it up again.  Had you even heard the word "surreptitiously" when you were 7 years old?  Did you know what it meant by 10 years old?  I know I certainly didn't!

I'm feeling especially generous with this, but there are 99 words that a child would either not know how to pronounce/read at best and/or not even understand or have heard of at worst.

The authors seem to have written the book without even thinking about which words they knew, read and understood even as a ten year old, let alone as a seven year old!

Don't believe me?

Here's the list:
fantastic chemistry
beduveted horizontal
truffle detection
stubbornly remained
eventually succeed
Canine Gazette

We are only 50% of the way through the entire book here, but hopefully you're starting to see what I mean.  Let's get on with the second half's words:

beautifully groomed
felled tree
straining and whining towards
complicated, especially

See what I mean?

It's all very well wanting to stretch a child's vocabulary, but almost 100 words in only 54 pages including the cover and copyright page and adverts for their other books at the back.  That's almost two words per page on average!  There were a few pages without any of those words on, but there were usually at least two of those words, usually more, per page.

If your child has a strong reading ability, big vocabulary and loves looking words up in a dictionary, then they might get on OK with this book, but most children won't even make it to the second page.  Sorry.

Book review: Glub's Schooldays by Arthur Sharke and Olive Sharke

⭐⭐ out of 5

This is a disappointing book, that's not very well thought out with the numbers and graphics.  A five year old is only just starting to learn what numbers look like (so 1, 2, 3, 4) so being suddenly being thrown into the spellings of the numbers (one, two, three, four) would confuse them at best.

I like the rhyming but the graphics above need to be a lot better to encourage and support a child who is only just starting to recognise basic letters and very short words (you, me, mummy, daddy etc).  It's a good idea, in theory, just far too advanced for the child who is only just starting to learn to read.  It would have been better as a picture book and pre-school instead of school but the images would need to be a lot better for that.

I know from experience how disappointing it is to be rejected time and time again from publishers, but the authors have given up and published something that really isn't up to publishing industry standards unfortunately.

Sunday 7 July 2019

March Hamilton open submission windows start tomorrow!

March Hamilton are starting their open submission windows tomorrow, so if you're BAME then you've only got 12 hours to put the absolute finishing touches to your covering letter, synopsis and submission (it's different depending on whether you're subbing under 10k words or MG/YA) ready to send off.

Good luck to you all!  😄

Friday 5 July 2019

Just renewed my SCBWI membership for another year

Been a SCBWI member since 2011 and I've just renewed for another year.  They've added something new to the renewals this year though... you can renew for up to 3 years at a discounted price instead of just the single year last year!  Can't afford to do that this year, but if I'm re-awarded PIP then I'll put £15 a month aside so that I've got enough for the 3 year renewal next year then put a fiver a month aside to cover it three years later.

It's expensive but soooo worth it, I reckon.

Thursday 4 July 2019

If you were a member back in Spring this year...

...if you'd joined before Spring this year, you would have had several additional weeks to prepare for this, but March Hamilton have several open submission windows again this year starting in 4 days time, so get them manuscripts polished and your synopsis gleaming ready for the most appropriate one for you!

Good luck to you all and don't forget about where you heard about it first when you're rich and famous!  👍👌👍