Saturday, 31 March 2012

Heston Blumenthal - My Life in Books - Easy Living - May 2012

Love him or loathe him (I love him) you have to admit this chef/scientist has great taste in books - The Incredible Adventures of Professor Branestawm by Norman Hunter, Alice's Adventure in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. 


Keep on creating more marvellous dishes please Mr Blumenthal.


Easy Living - May 2012
(£2.50)


Friday, 30 March 2012

Choccywoccydoodah



I think if Willy Wonka ever branched out into retail this is what his shop would look like.

How cute are these sheep!



And take a look at this truly fabulous 'All You Need is Love' cake.


Go in to their London or Brighton stores and just feast your eyes on their treats (if you think your eyes can take it!). They've got an incredible Easter collection out at the moment.


London Cake Chocolaterie
30-32 Fouberts Place, Carnaby, W1F 7PS
01273 329462
Brighton Chocolaterie
24 Duke Street, Brighton BN1 1AG
01273 329462
Brighton Bar du Chocolat
27 Middle Street, Brighton BN1 1AL
01273 732232
 


Thursday, 29 March 2012

Archway Choir Concert for FSW Family Support Work Charity



Come and Spend a wonderful evening in the company of the Archway Choirs, performing for the benefit of FSW (Family Support Work Charity).

A programme of songs from three Choirs, Contemporary, Gospelish and Glee, plus some special collaborations.

Fully Licenced Bar in Hall - stocked with tipples for the grown ups but I'm sure there'll be plenty of pop drinks and juices for the tiddlers!

Tickets are £5 each and are available from:
The Archway, 1 Blatchington Rd, or The Archway Studio, 5 High St (mornings only)
Or call: 01323 897590

HUGE thank you to Giles Paley-Phillips for telling me about this.
Check out his beast of an awesome (and equally fearsome) book, The Fearsome Beastie.
(Click here to read my interview with Giles).


Wednesday, 28 March 2012

William Boyd at Book Slam & The Jungle Book



I had the great opportunity of seeing William Boyd yesterday at Book Slam - a literary club night in London. I advise anyone who loves books, poetry, music (or all three!) to go to one of its events held once a month either at The Tabernacle in Notting Hill or The Grand in Clapham Junction. Last night's event was held at The Grand. As well as hearing William Boyd read from his latest book Waiting for Sunrise and one of his short stories (in which he took on the persona of a 22 year old woman named Bethany), poetry came from Martin Figura and Ross Sutherland (who also hosted the evening). Music came from Jono Mccleery. I highly recommend you check these guys out. They're incredibly talented.

William Boyd is one of those writers who makes me want to become a writer. Listening to him read his own work has given me the bug to actually start writing and not just think about writing something myself. So I've started. I have three sentences down on a notebook so far. It's a start...a very small one but one nonetheless. Looking at William Boyd's website I can see I have a lot of catching up to do in terms of writing. One thing we do have in common is our love for The Jungle Book (first published in 1894) by Rudyard Kipling:

The first book I remember reading was The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling. It never fails to enchant. Empathy is the first emotional connection children have with literature and Scott Fitzgerald’s Basil Duke Lee stories are small masterworks of the adolescent life.

 
For more information on Book Slam click HERE.


Tuesday, 27 March 2012

The Maverick Shop is opening soon!


This Friday 30th March is the Grand Opening of The Maverick Shop, lots of beautiful products are available, including bespoke wooden toys, puzzles, greetings cards, calenders, and of course Maverick's excellent selection of children's picture books.

Please do drop by and you might grab yourself a bargain for Easter.

Monday, 26 March 2012

The Jelly That Wouldn't Wobble by Angela Mitchell


A party is not a party without a jelly. It's one of the dishes that has to be on the catering table along with pigs in blankets, chips and dip and of course the cake. jelly is yummy with a scoop or two (or three) of ice cream. The two desserts work so perfectly together. There are hundreds of flavours to mix and match - try banana jelly with peanut butter ice cream (sounds strange but it's delicious!) And of course the main fun of jelly is its ability to wibble wobble on the plate, in the bowl, on the spoon. Who needs a clown when you have jelly!



So in The Jelly That Wouldn't Wobble by Angela Mitchell I completely sympathise with Princess Lolly when her special jelly for her 89th birthday party (yes, you can still be a princess at 89 years of age) doesn't wobble. In fact it refuses to wobble!

"I. SAY. THIS. JELLY. DOESN'T. WOBBLE!"
screeched the Princess hysterically.
She prodded the jelly again and again...
and again. It didn't wobble.

"I want my jelly to wobble!
Make it wobble!
WHY. WON'T. MY.
JELLY. WOBBLE?"
she stomped, a royal tear
rolling down her cheek.



The grumpy jelly (yes, jelly's can be grumpy) won't wobble because it doesn't want to be eaten. Which is fair enough I guess but the whole point of a jelly's existence is to be a scrumptious dessert for a fun feast. A jelly not wanting to be eaten is like a bee not wanting to make honey or a  Pipling from Waybuloo not wanting to do Yogo!

The cook, the guard and the party guests (from the oldest guest to the window cleaner) try to come up with ways to get the jelly to wobble. None of the ideas work and the jelly still refuses to wobble.

"I WON'T WOBBLE! I WON'T WOBBLE AND THAT'S
MY FINAL WORD!" screamed the jelly.

Princess Lolly turned the colour of a very ripe strawberry.
The cook turned white with worry.

Then the smallest guest pipes up with a suggestion that sounds genius. But will it work?

This is such a fantastic book. It's an absolutely hilarious debut book from Angela Mitchell, who also works as a Librarian (my dream job!). I love that the Princess is 89 years old but is still as spoilt as a child. Her birthday badge simply states "I rule!" The illustrations by Sarah Horne are wonderful and really bring to life this colourful and comical tale. Her characterisations are perfectly drawn and add to the whole slapstick spectacle. It really was a joy to read. Now I can't wait to tuck in to a bowl of glorious wibbly wobbly jelly. Let the party begin!

by Angela Mitchell
Illustrated by Sarah Horne
Published by Maverick Books
Published in May 2012



Sunday, 25 March 2012

Coco the Chick by Sloane Tanen

New York artist Sloane Tanen first came to my attention years ago when she was commissioned to do 'Chick' inside page of You magazine - the supplement that comes with The Mail on Sunday. 'Chick' was a series of dioramas (word of the day kids - definition: a 3D scene in which figures or objects are arranged in a naturalistic setting against a painted background). Here's an example:



...and another...


Charming aren't they, and incredibly funny! I was really sad when You stopped commissioning 'Chick'. It's Liz Jones who now has the back page. 

I love those little yellow chickens. They're made in China and have been around forever! I see them dotted around the place during Easter time. They're really cheap to buy and are great for decorating eggs, cakes or (like Sloane - really love that name) dioramas. 

Sloane has also created several books for adults and children using these yellow chickens. Coco is the star character in the children's books. It being nearing Easter I thought it'd be a good time to mention Sloane and her cute and comical chick creations that always make me chuckle.






Sloane Tanen's books are available to buy in bookshops and online.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Judith Kerr at Guardian Open Weekend

I'm at The Guardian Open Weekend event today and my first event was 'My Life and My Henry with Judith Kerr'.

She talked about When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit and then did a reading of My Henry. Wonderful day to start a Saturday morning.

Still haven 't mastered the art of iPhone blogging so I'll try and attach a picture later.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Mr Men & Little Miss T-Shirts

Selfridges & Co. is wonderful. Nobody can deny that. Even those people who absolutely detest shopping loves Selfridges. It has anyhthing and everything you need - books and bodyart (piercing and tattoo services - no really they do) to watches and wigs and all things in between like key cutting services, a pharmacy and even a personal gift gurus and style supervisors.

Please note, you can't buy a gift guru or style supervisor - these are human beings who, for a fee, offer very good advice on what you should or shouldn't buy or wear - think friendly Gok Wan rather than scary Trinny and Susannah. You won't be shoved in a cupboard full of mirrors in your all-together and made to confess that you've never felt loved or been told by anyone that you're beautiful.

On a recent shopping trip I spied these cute T-Shirts. Alas they don't do my size. I've said it before and I'll say it again - kids get all the fun stuff!

All Mr Men storybook t-shirts are £19.00
Made from 100% cotton
Click here to see the full range
(they also have amazing t-shirts with The Gruffalo and Mr Men and The Cat in the Hat baby-grows).

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Book Clutch Bags

I have fallen in love with clutch bags that look like books or have been made out of books. Michelle Williams accessorised her black and white H&M dress (which was stunning) at this year's BAFTA Awards with what looked like a copy of Arthur Miller's The Misfits. In fact it was an Olympia Le Tan clutch bag. She's also been snapped with A Catcher in the Rye bag by the same designer. Other actors such as Natalie Portman and Harry Potter star Clemence Poesy have been clutching on to classic copies.

Clemence Poesy clutching Olympia Le Tan's
La Belle et La Bete bag (Beauty & the Beast)

Now, I was all set to bag (ha ha!) one of these coveted accessories for myself. I was ready - really ready - I had my debit card out and everything. I knew the bag I wanted, The Complete Poems by Emily Dickinson (I relate to the shy, reclusive poet!) If you haven't read her poems do so now - they're perfectly short but intense pieces of art.


The clutch bag I will never have!

Anyway, what stopped me from hitting the 'Buy' button was the price - just a smidgen under £1000. Now I appreciate the time and quality that goes into the bag. I'm not going to judge the price of it. I suspect many of you will think (and a part of me would have to agree with you) that it is quite a significant amount for a small (very small) clutch bag. I'm the kind of girl who needs a bag that will fit my entire life in it if necessary so I didn't buy the clutch bag. My swift calculations determined that it would take me roughly ten months to save up for one. That's a long time and there really are other things I could be buying in that time that would be far more useful like a new pair of glasses for example or a car.





So, I'm looking for the next best thing and I came across a very talented artist on Etsy.com who makes hand embroidered bags and artwork. All I know about her is that her name is Dita Felici (click on her name to read her Etsy profile). I have fallen in love with the Antoine de Saint ExupĂ©ry Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince) bag (above) - click here for more details on the bag. The prices are still quite high (around £500 give or take a couple of quid) but that's a bit more reasonable and the detailing is incredible. her charming creations take around 30 hours to make.




I have yet to make the plunge into my pocket to make a payment, but I am seriously contemplating saving up for either this bag or the Willy Wonka chocolate bar bag which comes with a "golden ticket" coin purse. Click here for more details on the bag. I should have one by September so check in with me then. I'll either be clutching one of these or cruising around in my classic mini or skipping around with the delight of sight with a new pair of specs.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Stylist Magazine celebrates the 30th birthday of Puffin Classics


Click here for Stylist's 50 favourite nostalgic reads from their childhood.
Are there any you think are missing? I'm very happy to see Peter Pan and The Wizard of Oz on the list but I do think The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster should have been mentioned too.


Tuesday, 20 March 2012

The Children's Media Conference - 4, 5, 6 July 2012



I'm super excited about this summer event. The UK's ultimate annual meeting place for the children's content industry will take place in Sheffield.

And as a nod to the proximity of the Olympic and Paralympic Games the Conference theme in 2012 will be “Ahead of the Game”

Last year I was fortunate to be part of the CMC Bloggers team. This year, and all being, I'll be on the Blog team again alongside other children's media enthusiasts. I made some incredible friends, rubbed shoulders with people from CBBC, CITV, Disney, Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, Blue Zoo, Nosy Crow, penguin Books, Walker Books...!

Sign up to the email bulletin at www.thechidlrensmediaconference.com and be the first to know when the CMC's great value Early Bird pass goes on sale

The 2012 Early Bird rate is £210 + VAT, saving you £75 +VAT on the full rate.

Follow, join and chat to CMC at:
Twitter: @childmediaconf
LinkedIn: the children's media conference
Facebook: the children's media conference
Email: contact@thechildrensmediaconference.com
Website: http://www.thechildren'smedia/ conference.com

See you there!

Monday, 19 March 2012

Fortnum & Mason - Gifts for children that gladden my heart!

Nursery Rhyme Biscuits - Pop Goes the Weasel
(£9.95)

Nursery Rhyme Biscuits - Old MacDonald Had A Farm
(£9.95)

Nursery Rhyme Biscuits - How Much is That Doggie in the Window
(£9.95)
Okay, I know £9.95 seems a bit steep for a tin of biscuits. But think about the musical box you get to keep after you've gobbled up the contents! Every time you open the lid you'll get a musical rendition of your favoured nursery rhyme (mine's Pop Goes the Weasel). The delicious buttery biscuits are made with sweet heather honey (yum!) and are stamped with animal shapes and the Fortnum & Mason logo.

Famed for their Hampers, Fortnum and Mason even have one for children.Yours for just £40 - well you do get a basket for life!

The Children's Hamper
(£40)


Sunday, 18 March 2012

Five of the best mums in children's literature

Happy Mother's Day to all you fantastic mums!

Sally - Where's Spot? by Eric Hill (1980)


Sally keeps her cool while she spends much of her time in Where's Spot? opening cupboard doors and lifting basket lids when look for her mischievous son. She's celebrated in another book, Spot Loves His Mum (2006).

Mrs Josephine Rabbit - The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter (1902)


It's not easy raising children, especially boys and in particular those named Peter who have the naughty habit of sneaking into Mr McGregor's Garden to gorge on his vegetables. In The Tale of Peter Rabbit Peter's mother sends the exhausted and ill Peter to bed and doses him with chamomile tea. The chamomile tea will of course heal sick Peter but for those people who don't like chamomile tea (aka me) this seems like a very just punishment especially as Peter's three sisters, Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottontail (who have been good little bunnies) dine on milk, bread and blackberries for supper.

Mrs Rosie Ruggles - The Family from One End Street by Eve Garnett (1937)


Considered one of the most important books in Children's Literature by CILIP in 2007 Eve Garnett's book was considered innovative and groundbreaking when it was first published for its portrayal of a working-class family. As well as being a devoted mother to seven children Rosie is also a washerwoman. Life is hard but the Ruggles have a happy family life where they all look after each other.

Grandmother - The Witches by Roald Dahl (1983) 


Okay, not officially a mother but just as wonderful and deserving of a mention. Luke is looked after by his grandmother after his parents are killed in a freak accident. They have a very close bond, and she's the one who educates him on how to spot a witch. For your information here are the signs:

- They're bald so thy have to wear wigs which gives them wig-rash so they often scratch there heads when they think nobody is looking. 
- They have clawed fingers so they must wear gloves all the year round
- Their feet are plain square stumps (no toes)
- Their spit is bright blue which leaves a bluish tint on their teeth
- Their eyes have colour-changing pupils

Mrs Darling - Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie (1904, play; 191, novel)


Mrs Darling is a loving wife to George and mother to Wendy, John and Michael but she doesn't always show it. She's described as having a kiss on the right corner of her mouth which neither her husband or children can get hold of. Like all the characters in the story, there's an underlying complexity to her which makes her all the more fascinating. Even though she's hardly in the book, her role as a mother is acknowledged as highly important. 

Saturday, 17 March 2012

The High Street by Alice Melvin

Sally is on the High Street. She has a list of 10 items she needs to buy including a Persian rug and a stripy jug. Following Sally from the sweet shop to the florist, readers can open the flaps of the book to see what’s going on inside each of the shops she visits.

Should those wild animals be upstairs in the pet shop? Will the plates fall off the wall in Mr Kumar’s China Shop? Can Sally find everything on her list? The combination of Alice Melvin’s charming illustrations and delightful rhyming verses ensure The High Street is destined to be a children’s classic. 


The High Street by Alice Melvin
(published by Tate)

I feel very nostalgic over my local high street and incredibly lucky that most of the shops that were there while I was growing up are still there today. There's the family butcher, Hilton & Family, Wenzel's the Baker (another family chain that's doing incredibly well and has shops all over the Middlesex/NW London area), and The New Leaf Bookshop, one of the best independent bookshops ever. Sadly, some shops have disappeared like The Pinner Village Jewellers. The Florist, Heaven on Earth, has recently announced they are relocating due to the rise in rent. The handbag shop, Amici, will soon be closing down and the premises will be taken up by restaurant chain, Carluccio's. I have to admit the high street that was once described as "vibrant" has lost it's lustre over the years due to the recession and greedy landlords (no point in mincing words here landlords  - you have become very greedy and incredibly nasty in the process!). 


Image from: The Library Mice Blog


Keep on fighting all you independent shops in Pinner. I'll continue to be a loyal customer to you all. And Harrow Council I really have to ask - how many coffee shops and chain restaurants do we really need in Pinner? A Cafe Rouge and a Carluccio's right next door to each other and Pizza Express right opposite Prezzo with a Zizzi's a few doors down?! How about a nice simple tea room or an antique shop instead please? 


The High Street by Alice Melvin
Published by: Tate Publishing
(RRP: £9.99)

Friday, 16 March 2012

tBk magazine

Issue 35 of tBk magazine

I've just found out about this amazing magazine. tBk magazine is specifically aimed at 8-12 year olds in schools, libraries or reading groups and is published with the intention of promoting great books to keen readers wherever they are. Each issue is packed full of articles about books, authors and illustrators and much much more.

The magazine's editor, Helen Boyle, has years of experience in the children's book publishing business. She started out in the marketing department of Hodder Children's Books and is currently a commissioning editor for Templar Publishing. You can read more about Helen on her blog, My Reading Pile.

Published quarterly, in March/June/September and December, the latest issue (No. 36) is out now. You can order your copy from Peters Booksellers here and also from the newbooks online shop here.

Issue 34 of tBt magazine

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Looking for job that's got that extra (terrestrial) factor?


Click here for more information, terms and conditions.

I am Number Four - the first book in 'Lorien Legacies' by Pittacus Lore is available to buy now.

The next book in the series, The Rise of Nine, will be out in August 2012.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Horrible Histories - Bafta Kids' Vote



History was not my strongest subject at school. In fact I'd put it directly under Mathematics on my "Top Subjects I Hated at School" list. (and underneath that would be P.E.). History was an unloved subject mainly because I had VERY boring teachers who had VERY boring voices that droned on for an agonising 50 minutes (sometimes a double torturing 1 hour and 40 minutes!). The only History lessons I look back at with fond memories are those with my local Librarian, Ms Davis, who introduced Horrible Histories. Vile Victorians, Awesome Egyptians, and Groovy Greeks were my favourite books.

The BBC TV show is brilliant - hilarious rather than horrible! Check it out here if you haven't seen it before. If you have seen every episode already (like me), loved them all (like me) and want to know more about the making of the series (like me!) take a look at some interviews, exclusive to Bafta Kids' Vote here.

Click here to see the full range of books in the Horrible Histories series which also includes activity books, aannuals, and handbooks.




Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Foyle Young Poets of the Year Competition

The Foyle Young Poets of the Year: Poster artwork by James Brown

Now here's a competition that's worth entering for all you budding young poets out there.

The Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award offers the opportunity for poets aged 11-17 to kick-start their writing career. For 15 years the competition has presented the world with some of today's most exciting new voices which includes former Foyle Winner Helen Mort who'll be on the judging panel this year along with acclaimed Costa Award winning poet, Christopher Reid.

Last year, the competition attracted a staggering 7,215 entries, and the quality of the poems was impressively high. The award is a fantastic opportunity for young poets from all over the world to showcase their talent. Previous winners have come from as far away as New Zealand, Malaysia and the USA.

The top 15 poets will be published in an anthology which will go out to more than 20,000 people worldwide in March 2013. Two prizes are given out to the overall winners of the award. The 14-17 year olds get the chance to attend a week-long residential writing course at The Hurst in Shropshire. The 11-14 year olds will will have the honour of receiving a visit from a professional poet to their school, follwoed by distance mentoring.

"Entering the Foyle Young Poets of the Year ompetition was one of the best things I've ever done; judging it is a dream I didn't think would come true. It proves what a good idea dreaming is! I'm looking forward to reading poems that move, surprise, intrigue and inspire me, poems that pull away my chair while I'm not looking." - Former Foyle Winner and 2012 judge, Helen Mort

The competition is open to submissions NOW.
Deadline for Submissions is 31st July 2012

Rules of the competition and how to apply
1.You must be in the 11-17 age range.
2. You must be able to write in English.
3. You can enter online at http://www.foyleyoungpoets.org/
4. Request an entry form by writing to: Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award, 22 Betterton Street, London, WC2H 9BX
5. You can also request an entry form by emailing: fyp@poetrysociety.org.uk
6. Poets can enter more than one poem, of any length, on any theme.
7. Whether you've been writing for years or just days you need to have a passionate engagement with words, and wonder.

The Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award 2012 is supported by the Foyle Foundation, and is FREE to enter.

Monday, 12 March 2012

A Kooky Toon Q&A with: Samantha Hale - author of Sparkle's Song


Where is home?
Los Angeles, CA

What are you thinking right now?
That I hope I give you some good answers!

What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Feeling centered and calm. Feeling like everything I need comes from within me and not from other people or career success.

What makes you laugh out loud?
My two best friends.

What makes you cry?
Boys is the first thing that comes to mind. Ha.

What do you love the most about music (you can list as much as you want!)?
The way it can take an emotion and put it into a sound. The way it can make your entire body tingle all over.

What do you consider to be the greatest musical invention?
Good question. Wow I have no idea how to answer that. Maybe the ability to record it… so that people from all over the world can be brought together by a piece of music.

What was the first piece music you heard?
It may have been something from a Disney movie. I wish I knew for sure!

Who do you consider to be your inspirational figure/mentor?
I have so many people I admire…Tori Amos for her strength and power. Imogen Heap for her creativity and kindness. One of my first acting teachers, Heidi Helen Davis, for  having one of the deepest most beautiful souls I have ever worked with.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
“One step at a time.”

When and where were you happiest?
I am happiest when I am filming. Wherever it is. I am in that moment.

What are your favourite names?
Jocelyn, Stella, Jack, and Finn.

What sound or noise do you love?
The wind.

What sounds or noise do you dislike?
Ambulance sirens.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
Curse words unfortunately. Ha!

What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?
That the first film I made (after having not gone to film school) was broadcast on television and had some of my favorite musicians in it.

What is your biggest regret?
Not always being honest about my feelings when I feel someone has wronged me.

Which ability (either realistic or supernatural) would you most like to have?
I would love to be able to fly. Who wouldn’t?!

What is your most treasured possession?
My photo albums. I love seeing memories right in front of me that I can hold in my hands.

What is your favourite occupation.
Documentary filmmaker. 

Who are your favourite children’s authors?
R.L. Stine because even as a child I liked the scary books with ghosts and monsters.

Who is your favourite hero/heroine of children’s fiction?
Um, I might be a bit biased but I would have to say Sparkle ;)

What is your musical motto?
Good music is music that makes you FEEL something. No matter what it is.

Sparkle's Song by Samantha Hale
Illustrated by Mariana Ruiz Johnson
Published by Maverick Books
Published: February 2012
(RRP: £11.99 - hardback)
[This book is now available in paperback with the RRP of £7.99]

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Sparkle's Song Blog Tour - My Post

Earlier this year I was given the wonderful opportunity to review an amazing book published by Maverick Books. The book was Sparkle's Song by Samantha Hale. I re-read the book yesterday eveninga dn like the first reading I shed tears over this beautiful story. Here's my original review. My thoughts and feelings of the book have only been enhanced.


The Kooky Toon Book Corner
Review of Sparkle's Song
Written by Samantha Hale
Illustrated by Mariana Ruiz Johnson


Image from: Maverick Books

I haven't read a picture book that's made me cry in ages, until yesterday evening when I read Sparkle's Song by American author, Samantha Hale. This truly is a beautiful book which deals with loss, love and the magic of music.

Image from: Maverick Books
Eight-year-old Sparkle is loved very much by her parents. But one tragic day her parents never come home. Her mother's sister, Aunt Millicent, says they've gone to heaven and that Sparkle must come to live with her. Sparkle moves away from all her friends and feels very alone, especially as Aunt Millicent has forbidden any laughter, music or singing:

It was very different at Aunt Millicent’s house. Sparkle’s home had
always been filled with laughter and singing and music. It was completely
silent at Aunt Millicent’s. No noise was allowed – no singing, no
dancing, no music. 

Without the comfort of music to help her remember happier times, Sparkle can't wait to escape and play outside. It[s not long before she hears the trees goingSwish! Swoosh! and the gentle sound of music - a violin.... The music is coming from the forest, and as Sparkle draws nearer and nearer to the edge, the music grows louder. She hears a drum, a guitar and a piano. She goes further into the woods in search of the beautiful music but soon finds herself lost. She meets a songbird and a group of talking musical instruments who tell her the reason why Aunt Millicent has banned music. 

Image from: Maverick Books
Sparkle's Song is an enchanting tale and one that will make grown ups (like me) shed a tear. The author, Samantha Hale is a film maker who directed Map the Music - a film about the power music has over people. I delighted over the fantastic element of the musical instruments being "alive". Just think about it for a second - a piano, guitar, tuba, banjo, whatever does come to life when played and can trigger the most overwhelming emotions and surface the most treasured memories. 

The beautiful illustrations by Mariana Ruiz Johnson makes the book a wonderful gift to give to any child and one that will be cherished for years. I can't wait to see copies on bookshop shelves and window displays.

Sparkle's Song by Samantha Hale
Illustrated by Mariana Ruiz Johnson
Published by Maverick Books
Published: February 2012
(RRP: £11.99 - hardback)
[This book is now available in paperback with the RRP of £7.99]


Samantha is currently working on her second film which is about the connection between music and love. Below is a small Youtube clip about it. Again, I get a tiny tear when the girl near the end holds up a handwritten sign that says "I love that music is unconditional" - such a beautiful and true statement. 

Click on the link to watch the Youtube clip: Map the Music 2: Trailer 1