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Friday, 24 February 2012

The Scottish Children's Book Awards Ceremony

Well, it arrived at last - the Scottish Children's Book Awards Ceremony, held at the Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh yesterday.

Unfortunately, I didn't win but it has all been such a great experience that I FEEL like a winner - and yesterday's ceremony was the icing on the cake! It was really good fun from start to finish ...

Here I am at the first signing session of the day, with Nicky Morgan and Joan Lennon.

Nicky won the 12-16 category for her wonderful book 'Wasted' and Joan, like me, was worthy runner-up in the intermediate category with her brilliantly wacky 'Slightly Jones' book, 'The Case of the London Dragonfish' which I've just finished reading.

Our category was won by Ross Mackenzie for his 'Zac and the Dream Pirates', and I personally found Ross's acceptance speech particularly honest and moving.

There were, of course, hundreds of children, whipped up into near-hysteria by all the exciting onstage happenings - 'magic' being the theme, we had people appearing out of boxes and real fireworks - but they were really well-behaved and absolutely lovely and it was good to see the winners of the review competition receive their prizes too.

My editor at Frances Lincoln, Emily Sharret, had flown up from London to be at the ceremony, and it was great to have time to chat because usually when we meet we're busy editing!.

My friend Moira Kinniburgh took this photo of Emily and me having a well-deserved glass of champagne at the end of the afternoon.

Possibly the Very Best Bit of the entire day was the champagne and profiteroles actually. I must say, as well as tirelessly championing authors and promoting reading throughout the country, the Scottish Book Trust does a very nice line in cakes.

I even had my very own photographer for the day, in the quite delectable shape of Jamie Heitler, Joan's son.

Here's Jamie, patiently listening to my advice about posing for photoshoots. This advice (to 'smise', which means 'smile with the eyes') is gleaned from my favourite TV programme, 'America's Next Top Model', and comes from no less a person than Tyra Banks.

Keep smising, Jamie - and thanks!

Friday, 10 February 2012

A Tree for Sadler's Wells ...

Should you ever want to make an artificial snow-covered hazel tree in February, take it from me - you'll have your work cut out.

The shops that, during the summer months, stock any number of plastic plants and shrubs (why on earth in summer, when you've got real ones then?) run right out of them after the holly and ivy of Christmas, and there is a very, very paltry selection left.

So, after a frustrating afternoon trailing round depressingly empty shelves, all I could find (and was grateful to find too!) was THIS beautiful creation ... don't ask me what it's meant to be, but once it was de-petalled and de-leafed, the stems weren't bad and, several hours later, a bunch of them was transformed into this ...

... which, though I've seen more robust trees, will hopefully work under stage lighting - and it EVEN has hazelnuts (they're the middle bit of the flowers painted brown).

Let's hope it, and the mouse from The Gruffalo's Child, breaks a leg!

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

The Gruffalo's Child

Today I've been making props for Julia and Malcolm Donaldson's performance of The Gruffalo's Child. 

They're performing this 'Singalong Show' in Sadler's Wells at the week end, and it was felt that the existing props (which I made several years ago and which have been well and truly used!) could do with a Radical Makeover.

This is the mouse puppet which is used to cast the scary shadow which terrifies the Gruffalo's child. I'm making a slightly bigger one this time round.

Tomorrow I need to shop around for a suitable 'hazel tree' and then paint it wintry white.But at least I've managed to get the 'snow' for the base of the tree tonight - a single flat white sheet from Tesco.

It's all in a day's work, I suppose!