Archive for the tag “The Abominators”

Sam Hearn’s very funny illustrations

Sam Hearn is the illustrator of The Abominators and incredibly talented. He takes elements of the story and consistently adds value.

Here are a few of the fantastic illustrations from Book 3 – since it’s not out till July this is a sneak preview…

http://samhearn.blogspot.co.uk/2013_06_01_archive.html

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The joy of getting the advance copy through the post

The postman has just been. And look what he brought.

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The third book in the Abominators series! It’s such an exciting moment when you hold it in your hands for the first time, this culmination of hours and hours of dreaming, planning, writing, revising and then… here it is!

The first thing I see when I open it is the dedication to my dad (remember my ‘The Man Who Loved Stories’ post?)

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Then I look at all of the fantastic illustrations by Sam Hearn which have brought the story to life.

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After the excitement, my friend who had only recently popped in, came back to tell me she had just had a text to say she’d passed her PGCE! Her husband died very suddenly while she was doing the course, leaving her with their two teenage sons. This lady, with incredible determination, finished the course with only one term’s extension. There are not enough words to tell you how much I, and many others, admire her.

We shared a hug. There are no medals for everyday bravery and dignity in the face of what life can throw at us. But if there were, she would deserve the biggest, shiniest one going.

Wonderful Wychwood

After a fairly quiet half term week, I went with the family to the Wychwood Festival on Saturday, to promote ‘The Abominators’. I was in the Waterstone’s tent at 4.30pm, the last slot of the day.

Despite the late afternoon, ‘tired children’ factor I managed to draw in enough children not to be embarrassed. (My son Ben predicted “One child will come, and they will leave half way through”). The kids were lovely, and I hope they enjoyed themselves.

It was such a different experience to a school visit. It felt much more public, and I had to use a microphone. I had a few activities to make it more interactive than just me reading the book (the children each made up funny names for themselves, using prompt cards, there was a ‘yes/no’ quiz and finally we acted out a scene from the book, with one of the children playing Cecil Trumpington Potts). I noticed that I fell back on reading a second short extract, possibly out of panic at having to keep things going… afterwards I wasn’t sure if it had worked at all, but my husband and sons loyally assured me that I’d been fine.

It’s difficult being a natural introvert who has to ‘inhabit’ acting as extravert in order to do such events (it is very common for introverts to overcome shyness and to be able to become extravert for a short time in the name of a ’cause’ they believe in – in this case encouraging children to read and enjoy stories – and I would expect that the majority of authors fall into this category). One lady I spoke to before the event could not make it, but I saw her afterwards and she said she would be buying the book for her daughter. She told me ‘You were so polite and so apologetic when you handed me the bookmark, I didn’t imagine you were actually the author and going to do the talk!’. I explained to her that it surprised me, too. When I was very small and probably until I was about seven, I was painfully shy at school (not so much at home and with people I knew well, but going to school really traumatised me). After this, I came out of my shell and became more outgoing and sociable as I got older, although I’d always prefer a dinner party for six to a cocktail party with a hundred people all mingling. Part of me has never changed from my five year old, mute, self I suppose, so every time I do a talk I think to myself afterwards how far I’ve come.

The lovely Wychwood Waterstones team, and the two students who supported me in my talk were amazing, working so hard as the production line of authors passed through, each one talking and then signing. I noticed that their resident face painter was heroically working her way through a queue of children, and was told that she’d refused a break in order to keep all of the children happy.

After the talk all I wanted was to sit down somewhere, to be brought food and drink and left alone to recover and enjoy the music. Unfortunately the chairs were still in the car, and the boys decided they wanted to go home immediately (because everything was (according to them) ‘lame’) while Russ and I wanted to stay to see The Human League. So I was sitting on a thin blanket listening to persistent whining for half an hour. At last we got the chairs, and the boys accepted their fate – and discovered that there was actually loads for them to do.  I got myself something to eat and at last began to chill out.

I must have people-watched for hours. There was this large lady in a polka dot dress whose arms were so sunburned that she looked as if she’d been dipped in a vat of boiling water, but she still sat in the sun. There were some men dressed as Elvis, hailing each other delightedly as they strutted around. There was the mum who stood perfectly still, until her favourite band started and she began to gyrate energetically, moving her hips from side to side and throwing her arms about in unusual patterns, periodically doing little skips. She motioned to her ten year old daughter to join her. Her daughter looked horrified and at one point tried to get her mother to stop. Her mother listened politely, and then continued dancing, more wildly than ever. There was a group of young lads who were promoting some go karting I think. Anyway they were off duty and getting into the beer, some of them downing it from a hose pipe and funnel contraption. One of them was particularly drunk and he was waving a large flag about dangerously. He was so unaware that he was flapping it in people’s faces. At one point he kept swiping it over the head of this man who was in a wheelchair. I walked up and told him to watch his flag and explained about the man he’d annoyed. He didn’t take it in and continued as before, even after a security guard warned him too. He could have jabbed someone through the throat. Luckily one of his friends seemed to notice the danger and kept an eye on him.

I went to the Singing Tent where there was community singing, anyone could join in. I joined in with the song ‘Something Inside So Strong’, everybody sounded so good! We were all strangers but we were smiling at each other. I’ll definitely do more of that at the next festival I go to. One woman was singing away, and wiping tears from her eyes. I wondered what her story was, what she’s had to overcome in her life.

I bumped into the lovely Philip Ardagh, with his wife and son. I am a big fan and follow him on Twitter where he sometimes (to my delight) retweets my (hopefully witty) comments. His son took a photo with us together and I hope I never see it because I just know how small and wide I will have looked beside the incredibly tall Mr Ardagh!

The performance from Caravan Palace was an absolute joy to watch. I only knew their most famous hit, but every song was just as good. The band were young and cool and good looking and talented. The lead singer reminded me of the lead singer of Texas to look at, she was cheeky and confident and attractive – it was so good to see such a confident, beautiful woman on stage. She was dancing and jumping around all over the place and yet found the breath to do these incredible vocals. I think every man there was a little in love with her by the end of the set.

The finale of the evening on the main stage was The Human League. I couldn’t believe it, to my delight it was the very same female vocalists who joined the band in 1980. They are both now around 50 years old, and what attitude and chutzpa and glamour they brought to the stage. I enjoyed it so much more and felt a hundred times more warmly towards the band than I would have if they’d been shunted out (like Carol Vorderman in Countdown) in favour of younger women. Hearing the band reminded me how many hits they had, and what a part of my growing up their music was. I also loved Heaven 17, and of course one of the original members of The Human League founded Heaven 17.

I love the (true) story that Phil Oakey had to find backing singers fast when the band line up changed, and he and his then girlfriend found the girls in a disco when the girls (who were best friends) were still school age. They had both been hoping to go to university, but that chance encounter in a Sheffield nightclub literally changed their lives. Now it’s over 30 years later, they are business partners in the band, they are still performing and looking amazing and although there must have been hard times when record companies were fickle along the way and times were tough, what adventures they’ve had.

The videos on the giant screen behind the band as they performed were very creative. One showed politician’s faces morphing into each other. Others were stunning graphics, another was scenes from the film ‘Metropolis’.

When they sang their last song of the encore, ‘Together in Electric Dreams’ (which I know was not strictly originally a Human League song but a Phil Oakey collaboration) I looked around at all the other people there of our generation, there with their children, reliving their youth. As I looked at the families around me, with the words ‘We’ll always be together’ ringing out into the night, I felt a wave of joy mixed with a sadness. I’m afraid that I’m now at the age where lyrics like that are incredibly poignant.

Wychwood was wonderful and I’d recommend it for families who want a relaxed festival which is not scarily huge in scale yet offers a lot. A big thank you to Waterstones Cirencester for inviting me.

Tomorrow… Chatterbooks in Aylesbury!

Thank you to the reviewers

Online book reviewers are fantastic because they take the time to write something that will be helpful to others. I love the ‘Amazon Vine’ scheme, where the Vine reviewers are objective peer reviewers. I can rest assure that it is not the author’s auntie who is giving a book five stars, but somebody unbiased. This I like.

I have been absolutely blown away by the reviews which have come in since the publication of The Abominators this February which include three from Amazon Vine reviewers. Thank you SO MUCH to those who have taken the trouble.  Here are the selection of reviews which are currently on Amazon.

From my 7yr old: Best book ever!, 14 April 2013

By HJL

My 7 year old twin girls adore this book. They’ve read it 6 times and find it hilarious. They love the character Cecil and his extremely funny ways. One of those gems of a book that gets real belly laughs.

My grandson enjoyed this almost as much as I did!, 13 April 2013

By Mr Gumby (Amazon Vine top 500 Reviewer)

This is a thoroughly entertaining book, eminently readable by its target age range and great fun. It’s `rude’ enough to offer a guilty appeal without going too far. I thought my grandson was going to wet himself, laughing hysterically at times!

The book has many interesting characters and is nicely illustrated. It should appeal to just about all 7-11-year-old boys and many girls as well.

Looking forward very much to the next one.

Hilarious read, 4 April 2013

By Rob Smith (Amazon Vine Top 500 Reviewer)

I got this for my 9 year old boy, he has read lots of similar books such asGenius Ideas (Mostly) (Tom Gates) and also the Diary of a Wimpy Kid (Book 1), but he doesn’t like the books that have that comic look text to them where the text is at all sorts of angles and there are speech bubbles with daft scribbled drawings, wimpy kid has loads.

The Abominators has proper text and layout, much better, the drawing are fun and don’t take away from the reading.

My little lad loved the book, thought it was funny and had a smile on his face as he was reading.

Loved the characters Mucker, Boogster, Cheesy and Bob, and of course Cecil Trumpington-Potts

Hilarious read, reminded me in some ways of me reading some early Tom sharpe books that made me laugh out loud.

funny wunny woo!, 30 Mar 2013

By Chloe Leckie

I would highly recommend any books by this author! She has a wicked sense of humour that will make you laugh out loud! Looking forward to the next books!

Panty Wantylicious!!, 29 Mar 2013

By Ali Griff

I read this book to my boys, aged 11 and 9 over the course of two evenings (we couldn’t put it down!). It is a hilarious family read with a wicked sense of humour that appeals on many levels. Both boys have re-read it, the oldest simply because it was so entertaining and the youngest, who struggles with reading, was motivated to get from one funny antic to the next! Very much looking forward to the next instalment.

Laugh out loud!, 21 Feb 2013

By Andy Ding

Brilliant!- both my boys loved reading this book and when I took a look it even had me laughing out loud. Perfect for kids aged 7 – 10 who like cheeky humour.

We can’t wait for the next one.

Hilarious, 18 Jan 2013

By Vicki Cole

As a headteacher of a primary school, I’ve just read this book to see whether it would inspire and encourage boys of 7+ to read. It will! We will be puttifng some copies in school and look forward to the publication of the next two in the series.

A book that will be more appreciated by kids than by their parents!, 5 April 2013

By Sara Durston (Amazon Vine Reviewer)

The Abominators are a gang of four primary school kids who enjoy causing mischief, whether flicking bogies across the classroom, pouring vegetable oil over the floor to make the teachers slip over or filling the school toilets with strawberry jelly. They aren’t interested in making new friends, especially the previously privileged but now poor, Cecil Trumpington-Potts and his `babyish’ way of talking. Sadly (for them) Cecil has other ideas and is prepared to do whatever it takes to join the gang and so his initiation begins!

I liked this book, the illustrations are great and it has a good vocabulary. As I’m the parent of an `exuberant’ child, I am slightly concerned that this book might give him ideas but I can also see that it’s just the kind of book and just the level of naughtiness and humour that kids find hysterical!

Perhaps this is a good book for reluctant readers, especially as it is the start of a new series. Good fun.

It’s never too late to help me to spread the word about this new series for ages 6-11 by posting a review on the Waterstones, WH Smith or Amazon websites, or just by spreading the word if you enjoyed the book. Or email me your review and I will publish it on my website (www.jennysmithonline.com)

Here is the link to the above reviews on Amazon. Thanks again, all!

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