What I’m Looking Forward To in 2016  (January 7, 2016)  To whom it may concern (which includes anyone who ...    Breakfast with Dr. Seuss  (July 29, 2015)  This week a strange, unexpected, and rather wonder ...    Manchester Children’s Book Festival and the Importance of Children’s Poetry  (June 29, 2015)  Question: Are you reading this in North West Engl ...    This is What the “Essence” of Reading Sounds Like  (May 26, 2015)  Earlier this month, I took an incredible, whirlwin ...    On Authors for Indies Day, Please Support Your Local Bookshop!  (April 21, 2015)  Saturday, the 2nd of May is Canada’s first ...    An Interesting Time for Train Travel in the UK and Japan  (April 12, 2015)  You might file this under Things In Which Only I&# ...    Spock, Science Fiction, and Me  (February 28, 2015)  The death of Leonard Nimoy was sad news. There ar ...    The Creature Department Nominated for the 2015 Silver Birch Award  (January 19, 2015)  Happy 2015, everybody. The year has started well f ...    The Wonder of the Webcam: Tips for Virtual School Visits  (January 12, 2015)  Because I live in London, England and much of my ...    Out Today: The Creature Department, GOBBLED BY GHORKS  (November 13, 2014)  NEWS! NEWS! Today is the day the sequel to The Cre ...    The Vancouver Writers Festival, 21-23 Oct  (September 15, 2014)  Good news everyone! Next month, I’ll be appe ...    Nagasaki, Japan: My Favourite Bits  (August 18, 2014)  It’s been quite a while since my last post. I ...    Enchantium Gas is Real (Tell Me Something I Didn’t Know)  (May 8, 2014)  This morning I read an article about a “qu ...    Canadian-UK Young Adult Literary Salon  (April 12, 2014)  On 7 May 2014, the Canadian High Commission is hos ...    Happy World Read Aloud Day!  (March 5, 2014)  The first Wednesday of March is World Read Aloud ...   
VOL. Sat 13 Feb 2016

Manchester Children's Book Festival and the Importance of Children's Poetry

Question: Are you reading this in North West England? If so, please consider coming out to say hello this weekend, 4-5 July 2015. I'll be in Manchester for the Manchester Children's Book Festival, where I'll appear with the wonderful Mandy Coe, award-winning author of the collection, If You Could See Laughter, and editor of the beautiful, eye-opening anthology, Let In The Stars. Mandy is a vocal advocate for children's poetry, arguing it ought to be taken more seriously, especially at a time when it's availability is on a sad decline—a fact recently lamented by none other than Roger McGough. As such, this weekend's festivities couldn't come at a better time. Both Saturday and

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This is What the Essence of Reading Sounds Like

Earlier this month, I took an incredible, whirlwind trip to Canada. It was fortuitous, exciting, inspiring, bittersweet—all the things a voyage across the ocean ought to be. Here's why: 1. Fortuitous: At the beginning of 2015, if you had asked me if I would be in Canada by spring, I would have answered, "Unlikely." But that changed when a few disparate stars lined up. Notably, The Creature Department was nominated for the Silver Birch award, and then I found out my father, whom I don't see much, would be in Toronto at precisely the same time. So...I hopped on a plane. 2. Exciting: The Forest of Reading children's book festival is always exciting! In my very unscientific study

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On Authors for Indies Day, Please Support Your Local Bookshop!

Saturday, the 2nd of May is Canada's first ever Authors for Indies Day, when authors will celebrate independent booksellers—by visiting them in person, giving readings, perhaps even hand-selling a book or two. The concept is simple. Independent booksellers face many challenges. The trend of the embattled indie is ubiquitous, observed not only in Canada, but also in the UK and the US. It only stands to reason that authors lend their support. We not only rely on booksellers to sell our wares, but we also rely on them to foster and buttress a literate society. As for me, I'm very fortunate because I'll be in Toronto for the Forest of Reading Children's Book Festival and Authors f

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What I'm Looking Forward To in 2016

To whom it may concern (which includes anyone who consciously experiences the passage of time): Happy New Year! With some welcome holiday downtime, Machiko and I celebrated with some baking (and punning). Our logic went like this: In Western Europe, the winter holidays have a strong association with gingerbread. In Japan, the biggest celebration in December is New Years, when most people make a visit to their local Shinto shrine. The Japanese word for shrine is "jinja" (神社). Jinja...ginger...see where this is going? If not, all is revealed in the following video:   2016 ought to be an eventful and interesting year. Here're some things I'm looking forward to. January: E

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Breakfast with Dr. Seuss

This week a strange, unexpected, and rather wonderful thing happened. I appeared on television. And I have Dr. Seuss to thank. It happened like this... In 2013, a nearly complete manuscript by the famous American children's poet, who died in 1991, was found by his wife, tucked neatly in a box and hidden away in his home. It was a book called What Pet Should I Get? and starred the same boy and girl from his most famous work for early readers, One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish. Flash forward two years to yesterday and the book was at last hitting bookshelves across North America. BBC Breakfast, BBC One's morning chat show, were looking for someone to talk about the good Dr.'

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An Interesting Time for Train Travel in the UK and Japan

You might file this under Things In Which Only I'm Interested, but if you're a bit of a train-geek like me, then by all means read on. I wouldn't call myself a genuine trainspotter because a) I'm not, and b) trainspotting as a serious hobby is probably taking it a bit far, but now and again I do spot small but significant junctions of train news. Junctions. See what I did there? Train-geek! This past month marked the ends of two iconic passenger trains, one on each side of the east and west extremes of Eurasia. First, there was the retiring of British Rail's hallowed and quite wonderful Intercity 125. Much ink was spilled over its impending replacement by the Hitachi Class 800.

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“A wonderful coming-of-age story”

“A feast for the imagination”

“Ought to enchant readers, whether they are fashion plates or reprobates”