Thursday, 19 December 2013

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Friday, 29 November 2013

My creative edge

My creative edge
#mycreativeedge showcases the work of creative businesses and new talent from the West of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Vásterbotten (Sweden) and Northern Finland.

I was really excited to discover one of my illustrations (third on top row) on the back of the promotional card the other day. Thanks people!  my creative edge

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Mad Cap in Paris

Centre Culturel Irlandais 

Juliette Saumande and I joined forces to bring our Super Hero D.I.Y workshop to lots of children in Paris (it was really tiresome! but someone had to do it.) Yes, we visited Juliette's home town and endured all sorts of hardship. I blame it on 'Little Island' personally, they're the ones responsible for organising it. Paris-in spring time-such torture!

Many thanks to the Irish Cultural Centre ( #CentreCulturelIrlandais ) for being the perfect hosts. I don't think I've ever experienced such a trouble free, seamless trip (probably because I didn't organise anything.) Everything flowed all week-end long and we had an absolute ball! Thanks to everyone who made that possible esp. Alexandra Zuddas and the wonderful Sheila Pratschke.

Special thanks to Siobhan Parkinson who lifted my heart on a grey day in November and who sent us to Paris instead of herself (luckily she had another engagement in France on the same day and couldn't make it.)

What better way to experience Paris than with a Parisian! Juliette was the perfect tour guide (told you everything was perfect!) We swept around the city, where i enjoyed snippets of history and lapped up the sights. We rummaged in book shops (where some of Juliette's beautiful books were discovered - what a gal!)

Walking through the Luxemborg gardens at 10.30am we came across some fantastic musicians from the Loreto College. Thinking they were Irish, we ended up talking to their teacher who explained they were from Manchester and had only got into Paris at 3 am that same morning. Amazing to see them singing and playing their hearts out. Well done guys!

We had a truly splendid room for our bi-lingual workshop ( take note we only expect places like this in the future) and were delighted to meet such a wonderful mix of children originally from America, England and Ireland, including: Ida the Glider, Flower girl and Electricity man. There were a few budding authors who took their time constructing stories and enjoyed the mechanics of writing and of course, the super-hero ID cards went down a treat. All in all another very successful work-shop. 

The sun shone, the food was good, the company better. Paris in the Springtime... there's a reason why songs are written about it!

N.B We saw an entire street of students queuing to get into... a library!

I visited the Luxemborg Gardens on Sunday morning at - everyone was running, I felt silly not running.


Juliette and visitors

Tuam written on the building

Loretto College, Manchester

Cloughanover National School

World Book Day 2013

Great things are happening at our neighbouring school in #Cloughanover (a lovely rural school with 70 pupils). World Book Day celebrations were held on March 9th and I was honoured to facilitate workshops throughout the day. As part of their qualification for the School's 'Green Flag' award, they all chose to walk to School dressed as their favourite book characters!

It's always so interesting to hear why a child has chosen a particular character and what appeal a book might have. Nanny McPhee, Pippi Long-stocking, Horrid Henry, Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter, The sleepover club, Peter Rabbit and all the Superheroes featured today and the children were encouraged to talk about their characters, why they liked the books, and award them marks out of ten. We learnt a lot about each other, including the discovery of a recently penned sci-fi book, JimBob written by a 6th class pupil. 
The super-hero I.D cards went down well with the older classes and the live storytelling with puppets and illustration went down well with the infant classes. A wonderful day! and I left Cloughanover with a lovely fuzzy feeling having got to know a few more people in our community.

Thanks everyone!


World Book Day 2013

Dubray Books, Galway

I had an absolute ball at Dubray Books, shop street, Galway yesterday. Mary Esther Judy is one of those amazingly passionate people,who makes one feel excited about all the possibilites waiting to be discovered. She reads everything, is totally up to date with the latest offerings and has a breadth of knowledge which is astounding and generous. We love and appreciate her.

Mercy Primary School

What a super bunch of ladies. We had alot of fun and we still managed to make some superhero I.D badges, even though we had a small bit of space on the book shop floor. Lovely questions including,"What inspires you?" answer "Children because they have the best imaginations, are alot of fun and believe in magic!"
"I don't believe in magic!" replied one girl... oh and unpredictable. Thanks for a lovely outing Dubray Books and only 20 mins down the road. Couldn't be better!

Mad Cap's blog

Presentation Primary School, Terenure

What a fantasic day and what a wonderful school!

There are great things happening at Presentation Primary School and not just Book Week, which is in full swing (Larry O'Loughlan? was visiting the school at the same time as us yesterday.)

There's vibrant child centred artwork, which isn't purely about display but about expression and enjoyment of the materials, bursting out of every wall you look at. Whenever I see that, no matter what the condition the rest of the school's in, it's clearly evident that there are dedicated teachers, nurturing the pupils creativity. As a result, the school's vibrant and the pupils are very happy. There's over 600 girls attending PPS, so it's a tall order.

Mad Cap's blog

Chop Chop Mad Cap had already been introduced to most of the children, so they had a good notion of the tone of it and already knew some of the characters. Most of them are illustrated in the book but Scrum (a v.fat cat) and Gloria (a neon- tights wearing teenager) are not, so there was great scope to read/hear the descriptions and create their own versions.

As always, we had great craic with the children, who always ask very funny questions and we learn't a good bit about them and each other too!

- Juliette performed a v.brief tap dancing demo (might have to be encouraged another time!)
- Five girls from one class each have a french mother. What are the odds?
- It's astounding just how intelligent seven yr.olds can be. Did you know the word validate and it's meaning at the same age? I'm sure i didn't.

All in all a great day. To enhance it further the sun shone ( we've forgotten what it looks like here in Galway.) We had an excellent lunch at the café opposite and we have buzzing synapses. Not bad for a day's work. It was well worth getting on that dawn train in the dark.

Dublin Book Festival 2012

Central library Dublin - Nov 17th

Juliette and I had the pleasure of meeting 28 fantastc girls and their two teachers from Geoge's Hill, Presentation School, Dublin yesterday morning. Vivid imaginations were let loose and we were treated to the delightful creations: 'Kettle Head', 'Black Cat Crazy Hair' and 'Captain Poop!' We've been so lucky to date with very well behaved and entertaining children at every single event and yesterday was no exception. 

Siobhan Parkinson (our publisher) and wearer of so many hats, graced us with her presence, which added an extra dimension to our workshop and gave the children another insight into the 'World of Books.' All in all a super morning and as always, so glad I went along ( especially for all those hugs!)

Meet the Authors - Baboró 2012

Meet the Authors - Town Hall Studio, Galway - Oct.20th 2012

I'm not going to give a blow by blow account of the event but merely highlight a few gems which surfaced during the conversation because that's what it was, a chat rather than a pre-prepared stilted interview. Trish Forde who has a genuine interest and passion for Children's literature allowed a free flowing conversation, asking questions which were relevant and related to each other throughout. It takes great skill as a chairperson to listen intently, decipher information and allow a natural flow to occur and she did this with great ease.

Steve Hartley, Trish Forde, Polly and Joyce Dunbar

Joyce Dunbar has written over 90 books but because she's worked with different illustrators, doesn't have a particular style which we can identify her with. She explained that she's been under the radar for years and that Polly's success as an author/illustrator has in turn, highlighlighted her own work.

She spoke of being authentic as an author, to write from the soul, rather than in a prescriptive way which is often a demand of writer's by publishing houses. She spoke of how some of her unpublished work lay untouched for 15 years or more as they were either unfinished or not of their time. Most writers can  certainly identify with this.

She also described how her latest book Puss Jekyll, Cat Hyde came about and how for the first time, she was allowed to explore some of the darker sides of life. Having read it since the week-end, I can only describe it as a literary gem. So seldom, has sophisticated language been used to such a degree in picture books. Cat, You Better Come Home, by Garrison Keilor, whilst distinctly different has a similar air. Joyce spoke of picture books as three dimensional structures, rather like a piece of sculpture where an entire world is captured within its pages.

Polly Dunbar  

David Maybury's interview with Polly for Inis magazine -'Polly and friends' captures perfectly everything she conveyed during the evening and would be well worth reading. inis

Polly and Joyce Dunbar enthralling the audience at #CharlieByrne's book shop - Oct. 21st 2012

What an absolutely blissful way to spend a Sunday morning!

Joyce and Polly's books are so familiar to our children, Penguin and Tell me something happy before I go to sleep are two particular favourites. How amazing to just saunter along to our favourite bookshop and see this mother and daughter read and illustrate their fabulous tales.