Monday, 23 April 2012

VIII pb tour off to a flying start

VIII in good company as  pb tour launches on St George's Day or Shakespeare's Birthday - Monday 23 April 2012

Despite driving rain and freezing cold winds, the enthusiasm and energy of over 100 year 8's at Thomas Knyvett College in Ashford, Middlesex gave Harriet Castor a great start for her pb tour which started today ... and will take in Hampton Court,  the Boleyn Festival, Ipswich, Oxford, Warwick, Bramhall and Manchester until early May.

With thanks to Rebecca, the events manager at the Staines branch of Waterstones, and on the day, Natalie Likness, Branch Manager as well as the librarian Madeleine Manning at the college was really keen to introduce authors to her year 8's in a bid to support the college's literacy drive.

Lively discussions and excellent questions ensured the 50 mins or so sped by before Harriet signed books and spoke to members of staff - all of whom said how much they had enjoyed the morning.

After a  quick coffee and a toastie, Harriet back on the train into London to find a quiet space to continue her work on book no. 2 and prepare for tomorrow's events at the Henrietta Barnett School in Hampstead Garden Suburb and Queen College in Harley Street.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Staff Templar Title Spots!

Even though it is pouring down in Dorking right now, there is still cause for celebration because it's Friday! #TGIF

The Templar Team have been busy snapping photos of our books as they appear in local bookshops and windows!

Emma Goldhawk, our Senior Fiction Editor, snapped VII in the window
of Wimbledon Village bookshop
   and on the shelf!
As well as Whisper sitting proudly on the middle shelf!

Laura Garrod, our UK Sale Administrator, 
spotted The Pirates Next Door at No.1 in the Kids Chart in Waterstones Cambridge

Jayne Roscoe, Press Officer, spotted Not Bad for a Bad Lad 
 in good company in Waterstones Piccadilly

and The Pirates Next Door

Tong Smith, Receptionist, snapped
 I Spy series in the Tate Modern bookshop
and Black Dog

Helen Boyle, Commissioning Fiction Editor, has been super eagle-eyed  
and spotted Not Bad for a Bad Lad in Waterstones Piccadilly

and Black Dog, Farther and Paul Thurby's The Alphabet

and Drake's Comprehensive Compendium of Dragonology

and Beat the Band in WHSmiths

and in Foyles

as well as VIII in Foyles 

and finally Your Not Scary Sid in Waterstones

Phheww! Quite a lot of good spots this week... I think Helen might have overtaken Jayne's early lead!

Christiane Dorion at Cambridge Wordfest

I was slightly apprehensive about Christiane Dorion's How the World Works appearance at the Cambridge Wordfest Spring Festival because it was on Friday 13th! I'm not normally superstitious but as soon as I arrived, I discovered that things had already started to go wrong: the books hadn't arrived. Despite the concern and obvious distress from the Festival organisers, Christiane emitted an aura of calm - she simply shrugged her shoulders and admitted her events are for her to meet and interact with her readers, not for any other reason.

However, catastrophe struck again whilst we were setting up the stage ready for Christiane's talk and we discovered one of her props, a fish bowl, had broken in transit. Despite her obvious disappointment, Christiane continued with a determined dexterity that was admirable, and explained rather than demonstrated her fish bowl experiment. Luckily it appeared our Friday 13th bad luck was not going to come in the traditional 'threes' and Christiane's talk went down a storm!

The room was positively vibrating with the excited buzz Christiane created among both children and their parents! The entire room was engaged as she led them through complicated tide cycles and carefully explained to one young member of the audience why we don't fall off the top of the world. The best moment for me was when Christiane was explaining the various theories surrounding global warming and scientists predictions for the future. She asked the children to vote which outcome they thought was most likely: 1, 2, 3 or 4. A lovely warm feeling of optimism swept through the room as nearly every child raised their hand to vote for option number 3: A different way.

Once Christiane had finished her talk, she invited the audience to ask her some questions. And wow! There were some seriously intelligent and eloquently asked questions - even from the youngest members of the audience! Christiane answered every question clearly and enthusiastically - it was evident her belief that children shouldn't be patronised with explanations but should have complicated concepts explained clearly to them has some merit to it - the whole audience were engaged, both young and old!

After the Q&A there was just enough time for Christiane to meet her young fans and sign their books - one young boy simply told her 'I think your books are great'. It was fantastic to see so many children excited by science and it was clear Christiane had inspired many young minds.

Despite the hiccups, Christiane behaved like a true professional and I think everyone learnt a lot - I know I did!

By Annie Godfrey, digital marketing intern.

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Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Templar at Federation of Children's Books Conference by Jayne Roscoe, Press Officer

Off to Bradfield College near Reading on Friday for a weekend of books, chatting about books, seeing other publisher's books and occasionally reading a book at the annual gathering of members of the FCBG.

What an unexpected surprise when I drew up with a car full of reading proofs/finished copies/post cards, posters and choccie biscuits to be met by a team of volunteers all happy and able to heave boxes to my stand.

Delighted when Jessica Dean arrived (muttering about a short cut that turned out not to be so) and we got the stand up and running in no time at all.  Lots of hello's and how are you's from delegates have a wander around.
Lots of interest in Katherine Roberts' trilogy as well as the Michael Gerard Bauer books.  Questions about the next titles from Stephanie Burgis and Teresa Flavin.

As ever Templar picture books drew admiring comments with one teacher - teaching philosophy to children spending ages noting down Hans and Matilda, Pirates Next Door and Silly Doggy.

A very pleasant Friday evening spent with Walker and Bounce friends at the hotel, where a 70's/80's and 90's themed evening was well under way when we checked in.  Felt slightly under-dressed when a Madonna look-alike swept past.

On Saturday the always gracious and charming Jamila Gavin appeared for her double act with Sita Brahmachari (Artichoke Hearts) for two wonderful seminars on Childhood Words.  Both delighted the audience with stories of their duel heritage and search for identity.

The gala evening followed with drinks and a meal (not self-service this time) and ended with a rather odd speech by Charlie Higson about his twitter account.

The conference as ever was about librarians and teacher's love of children's books and the ways in which they use them to promote reading - one teacher told me how she uses FaRTHER in her sensory room for children with learning difficulties.  Amazing.

Special thanks to Annie for her great showcard - Templar was by far the most inventive with the conference theme "Worlds within Words".

Friday, 13 April 2012

Gallop Away with The Pony Detectives on Grand National Weekend!

Debut fiction author Belinda Rapley tells all about her fab new pony series, her horsey heritage and the time she nearly killed a national treasure with a carrot…

I’m one excited author right now! I’ve dreamt of being published since I wrote my first full-length story aged 15, while upstairs in my bedroom, pretending to revise for my GCSEs. That story was about ponies and not much has changed between then and now – I’m still pony-mad and I’m still writing about them, too! The only difference now is that my dream’s finally come true – Templar have just published my debut fiction series, The Pony Detectives – and they look fab!

 My pony obsession started on a holiday in Cornwall. My parents thought a hack would provide a nice diversion, little knowing that my first ride on Annie, a chestnut pony, would spark a lifelong love of all things horsey. I went on to become a riding instructor, study for a diploma in Horse Studies and complete a graduate scheme with the British Horseracing Board.
My grandmother instilled my love of racing in me from an early age – she tried to pass on her complex, failsafe methods of picking winners based on form and going, but I was more interested in watching the gleaming, iron-fit horses as they powered over the hugest of fences. I went on to work in a racing yard in Yorkshire as part of my diploma and it’s been my most enjoyable job to date. While working there, I rode a mixture of batty horses, including one that would spin at the start of the gallops, one that bucked like crazy all the way up and one that raced back to the yard faster than she ever went up the gallops.
Jump racing’s my absolute favourite though and my hero growing up was Desert Orchid. I remember him winning his Gold Cup in the mud as I prepared for my GCSEs (it’s a wonder I passed any of them!). So, when I got the opportunity to greet the mighty Dessie many years later, I leapt at the chance. I prepared well, selecting the choicest, plumpest and longest carrots to treat him with. I got to the track where he was parading and was ushered over to his horse box. Janice, his groom, told me that I could step up and meet the national treasure.
Dessie was awesome, impressive and very interested in my carrots. I offered him the first, vast one, wondering if I should, perhaps, have chopped them up. But no, he had teeth, didn’t he? Convinced he’d do the decent thing and bite it in half, I held the carrot out; it was swiftly hoovered up. Taken by surprise by how much was disappearing in one go, I gripped onto the end as valiantly as I could – but before I knew it, my fingers were in danger of being chomped; I had no choice but to let the carrot go. I waited for a crunch – nothing. The longest silence filled the horse box. Dessie’s eyes almost popped out. My eyes almost popped out. Was my carrot about to be responsible for Desert Orchid’s untimely demise? Should I run, hide, or open his jaws and attempt to retrieve the carrot? What if Janice reappeared? How could I explain why my hands were rooting around in his mouth? Then, just as I was running out of options, an almighty crunch echoed around Dessie’s head. I let out a long sigh of relief – he had survived my oversized carrot – I offered up a small prayer, and left the remaining treats firmly in my pocket.
I’m really excited about the Grand National this weekend – who knows, another Dessie might emerge from the field and race into the nation’s hearts. If it does happen, and you ever get to meet him, remember one simple lesson: chop your carrots...

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Rachel Bright: Finding a happy place

A bite-size guide to the happy life of The Bright Side from Rachel Bright, the creator of four new fabulous gift books

There aren’t many problems in life, which can’t be made smaller by laughing. If you can see the funny side and try not to take life to seriously – whatever the ups and downs on your road, you’ll find it’s not long before it’s almost all ups. If you can make that paradigm shift in your perspective to the positive – in any given situation - you hold the key to happiness in your hands. I feel pretty lucky that I can make this philosophy my living in creating The Bright Side.

The first card I ever printed for the range came quite by accident. I was in a small room in the university where I was studying for a Masters in printmaking – and I discovered drawers and drawers – floor to ceiling – of wooden and lead letterpress type. I was like a kid in a candy store (*read typography nerd in a type room*). I just started hand-printing things with them – things I’d written and things that fell out of my head… ‘You make my heart go boom’ was the first phrase to come out and I just thought, ‘you know - that would make a great valentines card’. It was really that simple. I can barely believe that 3 years on, over 3.5 million people, and counting, all over the world, have sent a bright side card to someone they care about. That was what it was all about for me – spreading the love – I just never guessed it would spread so far.

These new Bright Side books have given a whole new voice to what has become a way of being for me. A practising of the art of positivity. They were so much fun to work on. I love to ponder and philosophise and in these - I wanted to create some mini-rays of sunshine for the soul – a buffet of bite-size philosophy which makes you smile and feel like you can take on anything. One of my favourite things is to write little mantras and manifestos – sort of pledges to go forth and squeeze the best out of life – and every book has a big helping of these. I think the universal truths of being – the things which make us truly joyful - are deeply ingrained in our psyche, but everyday busy life can sort of squish them out of you when you’re all grown up with a million things to do and it all gets a bit serious – but it only takes a little nudge to remember your playful side has been there all along. I initially started writing the bright side form of these little nudge- reminders for myself – it’s a privilege to be able to share them with so many other people now.

I get my best ideas for cards, gifts or books, when I’m actually expressing something to a friend or to my family –trying to find a way of telling them why I think they’re so brilliant – or say happy birthday – or express a big enough thank you – or say how excited I am about their success – whatever the occasion it’s the truest words spoken by or to me that ring the best bells in my mind. You can never force that sort of thing when you’re brainstorming– you just have to stick out your creative diving rod and hope that it wobbles. And as long as it keeps on wobbling – I’ll have a smile on my face.

Visit Rachel's website, or follow @look_brightside to find out more.

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