Thursday, 5 May 2016

Classic Children's/YA: Tom Nicoll on James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl

My semi-regular classic children's feature has become a lot less regular recently, so I was delighted to get Tom Nicoll on board to talk about Roald Dahl's James and the Giant Peach, and the unusual friendships James forms. I'm really excited to read Tom's There's A Dragon In My... series, published by Stripes - especially as they're illustrated by Sarah Horne, who's a favourite of mine! 

James and the Giant Peach

Number of books: Standalone

Availability: Widely available in pretty much every format going apart from possibly cave paintings.

The Premise: James Henry Trotter loses his parents to a tragic rhinoceros accident and then has to live with his two horrible aunts. Lonely and abused, as kids often seem to be in Roald Dahl stories, he then meets an old man who gives him a bag of crystals. James accidentally drops the crystals on his aunts’ peach tree which causes the tree to spout a giant peach. Inside said peach, James meets a bunch of human-sized insects. One thing leads to another and they all end up crossing the Atlantic on the peach. As you do.

Why I Really Like It:  I devoured Roald Dahl books growing up. Terry Wogan used to say that he performed his radio shows to an audience of one and reading Dahl always felt similar, as if the books were written just for me. Now, I’ve since checked and it turns out Roald Dahl books are quite popular so he probably didn’t write them just for me. James and the Giant Peach was a particular favourite, and was written a full twenty-two years before I was even born, lending further evidence to the idea that it’s not all about me. I’ve always loved stories about unusual friendships. They’re a common theme in Roald Dahl stories but what I think I admire the most about them is the imaginative approaches Dahl takes to resolving the issue of his character’s loneliness. In James, you have a young orphan with no friends in the world. What’s the solution? That’s right: befriend some overgrown insects and emigrate to America on a huge piece of fruit. Of course that’s what you would do! Duh! I also love the fact that within the first few chapters you have parental deaths, child abuse and dodgy men in bushes giving kids bags of strange chemicals. Roald Dahl books are basically the intersection of a Venn diagram between Funny Children’s books and Misery Memoirs.

Who It Will Appeal To: We read this to my daughter when she was four and she seemed to enjoy it, though I think six and up is probably about right to get most of the jokes and general silliness contained within. And if Donald Trump becomes President and builds his huge wall, then you may want to read this book if you’re looking for alternative US migration strategies. Also, if both of your parents happened to have been eaten by an escaped rhinoceros then this book may be especially poignant to you.

Others By The Same Author: Matilda, Charlie and The Chocolate Factory, The BFG, The Twits, The Witches and lots more.

Tom Nicoll is the author of There’s a Dragon in My Dinner!, illustrated by Sarah Horne and There’s a Dragon in My Backpack! out this week. Look out for There’s a Dragon in My Toilet! coming later this year!  

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Recent Links Recap 26th April - 2nd May

Tickets are on sale for YA Shot! I'll be there, along with my amazing friend Grace - will you be joining us? And as well as a lot of amazing authors announced, the blogging/vlogging workshops this year look superb! Also you should check out Grace's #AskGracie blog post as it is AWESOME.

Speaking of bloggers, the UKYA Book Blogger awards are back, with the lovely Luna of Luna's Little Library taking over from fabulous Faye, who did an amazing job hosting last year!

It was a huge week for YA event announcements, with YA Shot's box office opening and YALC announcing their final authors - hugely excited that Alice Oseman, Lauren James, Lucy Ivison, Tom Ellen, Sophia Bennett, Keren David and Keris Stainton, amongst others, have been added to a stunning line-up! Also, the Harry Potter Party in conjunction with MuggleNet - definitely a highlight of last year! - will return.

Con or Bust, who help POC/nonwhite/BAME fans get to conventions, are holding an awesome auction at the moment.

Also, it was amazing to see the YA community rally around Vee to get them to BEA! Vee, a non-binary teen who tweets as @findmereading and founded the exceptional Gay YA, set up a GoFundMe to try and raise money to get to the convention after circumstances changed. Vee is a carer for their mother which has made it difficult for them to get a job, but the work they've put into Gay YA is absolutely incredible and I'm so glad that people have seen how important they, and the site, are to the community and responded by donating so much. Check out Vee's thank you post here.

There's a fantastic Guardian piece by Holly Smale on why children's and YA books need darkness AND light. And a superb piece on whether it's normal to have sex when you don't want to on the Mail website from Holly Bourne. Plus, I loved this Non Pratt post on Author Allsorts talking about 'show don't tell'. Plus a fabulous author spotlight/interview with Meredith Russo, author of the WONDERFUL If I Was Your Girl, on Dahlia Adler's LGBTQ Reads.  Also on LGBTQ Reads, the first Around The Blogosqueer, with the wonderful Lauren James! And loving Dahlia's Storify of her 'editing without much time' tips. Plus really awesome contemporary recommendations here from Lying About Last Summer author Sue Wallman on my friend Debbie's brilliant Snuggling on the Sofa blog!

The Pride and Prejudice colouring book from Little Tiger looks gorgeous! Do you want to win it? Check out fabulous competitions hosted by Stacey at Pretty Books, and by Maximum Pop

There's still time to sign up for the TommyvsCancer blog tour in June, to support Tommy Donbavand.

I love this Bustle piece on Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda, (rightly!) calling it the one YA novel every Hufflepuff should read.

I was SO THRILLED to interview Maggie Stiefvater to hear about The Raven King, released last week!

Sci-fi fans, don't miss Jeff Norton's Star Pressed! I haven't read yet, but it sounds very cool, and is on Wattpad in its entirety.

Away from books, a brilliant Frankie Boyle piece on the importance of the NHS in the Guardian. Also on health, a must-read Safe Space post by Laura on antidepressants and how much they've helped her. As well, on Safe Space, a really stunning post from Jess on reclaiming herself, one strand at a time - about her new haircut, and recovering from an abusive relationship.

I don't tend to watch videos that often on YouTube, but this from Jen Campbell on ableism and minority representation is hugely important.

And a final reminder, we'll be packing up Illumicrate soon ready to send out! If you want a May box, subscribe now - don't wait - there weren't many left last time I checked! (And that was a couple of days ago.)

Any other fantastic posts over the last week or so that I've missed? Let me know in the comments!

Monday, 25 April 2016

Recent Links Recap - 17th-25th April

Viv and Faye, along with a load of other bloggers and authors, have set up a blog tour to support Tommy Donbavand, who was diagnosed with cancer last month. Check out his blog and head over to Serendipity Reviews for details of the blog tour - what a fantastic cause!

Time-sensitive one - there's a week left to bid on a full ms critique or sensitivity critique from Justina Ireland, founder of Writing In The Margins and fantastic author, in this amazing Refugee Benefit auction.

I am SUPER thrilled that today, at Teens on Moon Lane, I got to interview Maggie Stiefvater! Also on there recently, I did my favourite books for aspiring detectives.

And I took part in Heidi Heilig's blog tour, as she told me about two places that inspired the BRILLIANT The Girl From Everywhere.  Last Thursday, we got a great 5-4-3-2-1 from Brian Conaghan!

On this blog, I got seven fabulous people to help me write about the quarter-finalists in the #80s90skidsTV vote! (One of those quarter-finalists is Knightmare - the Den Of Geek piece on Knightmare's Top Ten Quest Characters was fantastic!)

I loved Chelley's awesome #6degrees post last week and Sarah Forbes's this past Saturday!

Non-bookish, but amazing news - Lin-Manuel Miranda's Hamilton won the Pulitzer!! Speaking of Hamilton, great piece by Caroline O'Donoghue for The Pool about the show. And to bring it back to books, great post from author Lou Morgan on what writers can learn from Hamilton and Matilda!  In addition, I LOVED this post by Gillian on YA books she wants to see turned into musicals! YES PLEASE. (Especially Simon Vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda!)

Really fantastic YA Interrobang piece by Julie Daly about asexual representation in YA.

I also loved Gaby Hinsliff's piece for The Pool on reverse mentoring.

Brilliant Safe Space posts from Faye on wonderful things in her life right now, Debbie on running and guest poster Hayley on being diagnosed with Myasthenia Gravis, nicknamed the Rag Doll disease

Superb posts, as ever, from Caitlin on Pain vs Pills: The Difficulty in Finding a Balance and Rediscovering Manchester, in which she talks about the fab afternoon we had when I visited her! 

There's a fantastic (although REALLY difficult - or maybe I'm just rubbish at it?) quiz on Shakespeare over at Caboodle! 

I've heard so many great things about IW Gregorio's None of the Above, which I need to read SOON. It's superb news that it's got a TV deal

I don't date, and reading Louise O'Neill's column makes me sooo happy this is the case! 

I loved The Book Addicted Girl's post on why you should be reading Leigh Bardugo's fantastic Grishaverse books

I can't decide who I want to win the YA Book Prize - so many amazing books are shortlisted! But I am VERY happy that there'll be a special award to Melvin Burgess to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the publication of the outstanding Junk. On the subject of Junk, there's a great Guardian post here on ten fantastic quotes from the book. 

It is just six weeks or so until If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo hits UK shelves - I can't wait!! I love Usborne's UK cover, but the US cover - with trans model Kira Conley on - is also amazing. Really brilliant interview about modelling with Kira here

Reminder that you can enter Stacey's fabulous colouring competition, as part of the #2016ClassicsChallenge, and win one of Little Tiger's gorgeous Pride and Prejudice colouring books!

Another reminder - we'll be packing Illumicrate up the weekend after next for subscribers! I THINK there are a handful of boxes left - don't miss out, sign up now!

Sunday, 24 April 2016

#80s90skidsTV - The Quarter-Finals

The #80s90skidsTV tournament continues, and we have our final 8! Before voting, I thought you might like a reminder of the shows, so I asked some big fans to tell us a bit about why they thought you should vote for them!

Byker Grove - Peter Bunzl

When I was in my first year at college I shared a house with a girl from Newcastle who’d been an extra on Byker Grove. She told me how the guy who played Jeff would jam on the piano between takes for everyone. I remember when PJ - or was it Duncan, whichever one was played by Ant, not Dec - got shot with a paintball gun and spent the rest of the series going unconvincingly blind.

Of course the rapport between Ant and Dec led to a ready-to-rumble pop career, and light entertainment gigs on SM:TV, Saturday Night Takeaway, and various other shows – where would ITV Saturday night would be without the Grove? But it begat much more than Ant and Dec persuading celebrities to eat kangaroo anus. Many performers came up through the show, including Jill Halfpenny, Chalie Hunnam, Donna Air, Andrew Hayden-Smith. It gave breaks to writers of Doctor Who, Life on Mars, Eastenders, and to Oscar winning director Tom Hooper.

The storyline that sticks in my mind from 25 years of the show, though, was the gay kiss between Noddy and Gary. It was only a peck on the cheek, but it was what it meant that was so significant. Noddy was the first gay character to come out on Children’s TV. At the time, I was still a teenage, just, and really related to what Noddy was going through because I was feeling all the same feelings.

This was before Queer As Folk or Metrosexuality, or any of those grown up TV shows that talked about being gay, and it was pretty controversial. The Sun called for the programme makers to be sacked. Despite the BBC’s support, I think the storyline was cut short. I remember feeling disappointed with how the show failed to focus on what happened to Noddy after he came out. But, for those few episodes, to see a gay teen represented in a real way like that in a kids TV drama was unprecedented. Even if he was called Noddy Fishwick! And, despite some dodgy acting, Byker Grove was truly brave for that and for the many other difficult storylines it tackled. So I feel it deserves to win this prestigious - if slightly random - twitter poll…

The Demon Headmaster - me, Jim

The Demon Headmaster was one of the creepiest and most exciting series of the 1980s/1990s, and as a big fan of the first few books, I can still remember being thrilled to hear it was being adapted for TV. As ever with an adaptation of a much-loved book, there was a slight worry - could they possibly pull it off? Could they cast someone who would live up to the title role, one of the most chilling bad guys imaginable?

YES, they could - and they definitely did! While Frances Amey and the rest of the children were fine in their parts, it was Terrence Hardman as the headmaster himself who stood out. Perfectly capturing the subtle menace which was so essential to the character, he radiated evil intent whenever he removed his glasses ready to hypnotise an innocent child.

As for the plots, and the scripts - they were excellent, but what else could you expect from a pairing of two of the best children's authors of the late 20th century? Helen Cresswell adapted from Gillian Cross's books, and managed to capture the spirit of the novels perfectly. In addition, as it lasted for just the three series (we'll gloss over a rather ill-advised pantomime), it never had the chance to get boring.

There were many truly wonderful TV shows of the 1980s and 1990s, but this is a lost gem - I wish the BBC would add it to their store! It definitely deserves your vote.

Dogtanian and the Three Muskehounds - Chelley

Dogtanian and the Three Muskehounds is one of the earliest ever memories I have of my childhood. 

This show was, and still is, the best! An alternate telling of The Three Musketeers with the characters as awesome cartoon dogs.  Set in the 17th century the story follows a young Dogtanian who travels to Paris in order to become one of the King Louis XIII of France's musketeers. From the high pitched opening of the catchy theme song that would have you singing along for days (and which makes your tummy flip and feel all nostalgic when you here it today – what a theme tune) to the loveable, brave Dogtanian who could chop an apple to pieces in the air with his sword and who’s cheeks flushed red every time the sweet Juliet was around.  This show captured my heart! 

I cheered when Porthos, Athos and Aramis drew their swords ready for battle. I did not want any harm to come to the King and Queen. I laughed at Dogtanian’s funny mousey companion Pip and lazy horse Sandy. I cowered in fear at the moustached bad guys and at the evil red robed Cardinal Richelieu and was transfixed to the screen by the mesmerising mystery of Milady. I even dreamt of being the beautiful sweet Juliet in her gorgeous pink dress (yes I know she was a dog!).
All of these characters are so unique and memorable.  I think anyone would see and recognise a picture of Dogtanian with his huge, bright, red hat complete with yellow feather, his white collared red tunic and little red boots jumping in to save the day. Dogtanian was a triumph winning numerous awards and its strength and the love people have for it is still evident today.  I was able to share my love of Dogtanian with my eleven-year-old son and now he loves it just as much as me.  It is also getting a new CGI movie to be released in 2016 for Dogtanian's 30th anniversary!  That in itself proves how good this show was. I was and still am to this day completely invested in these characters, their friendships, loyalty and bravery.  What good morals to be taught as a child growing up watching this show.

I felt part of them.  Of their story.  Like they were all old friends. 

One For All And All For One!

Grange Hill - Emma

After you'd schlepped home for school late in the afternoon, the only school you wanted hear about post 3.15pm was Grange Hill. The antics in this inner city comprehensive had us all hooked. Parents were wary of it, the kids' next door were banned from watching it.

Grange Hill was compulsive viewing.

Why? Grange Hill broke the mould. It bravely jumped head first in to huge story lines - drinking, bullying, drugs, affairs with teachers. It contained an addictive realism that hadn't previously been seen in kids TV.

Set in an inner London comprehensive the kids were working class characters, relatable and realistic with the teachers becoming just as memorable the pupils.

Alongside the attention grabbing storylines it featured kids being, well, kids. Bunking off at lunchtime, trying to get out of PE and that school newspaper that always spread a bit of gossip. They even attempted a school sit-in at one point, leading us all to wonder if we could pull it off in our own schools.

The characters, both pupils and teachers, were incredibly memorable. Grange Hill led to spin off shows (Tucker's Luck) and various attempts at official reunions/where are they now type features, such was our fondness for them..

Great lines are still quotable to this day, 'I'm just trying to help Rolaaaaaand', 'You boy!' ... And just in case you are still in any doubt - those credits. How can you fail to listen to those credits, complete with cartoon visuals, without a huge wave of nostalgia washing over you?!

Knightmare - Kirsty

Enter Stranger and Vote Knightmare for best #80s90skidsTV

For book lovers Knightmare was the perfect children’s TV programme. A group of adventurers on a quest through orc, troll and monster infested dungeons where they control the story, and very often got themselves killed. And us, a group of Watchers, who know that we’d do a better job. When you watched them, were you shouting at them and slapping your head in disbelief at their inability to grasp things quick enough? Treguard the Dungeon Master certainly seemed to have a distinct lack of patience with some of the groups. His sarcasm reminds me of the narrator on Come Dine with Me.

In essence Knightmare was a freaky trust walk where one Dungeoneer, blinded by the Helmet of Justice, was led through the dungeons by three friends known as advisors. Through a magic mirror they could see what was going on and led their Dungeoneer across disappearing walkways and helped them answer the wall monsters’ riddles. They were the ones who could see the discombobulated heads and evil beings whilst the Dungeoneer casually took miniscule steps as time run out. ‘One quarter step to the right…walk forward quickly, quicker, just run….’

This programme certainly got my heart racing, especially when the life force meter starting stripping down to the bone and eyeballs with the heartbeat sound rushing them on to find food or race to the next chamber.

I never played Dungeons and Dragons but this blue-screen enabled programme is as close to a real life version as many of us got. Along the way the Dungeoneer collected food, scrolls, spells and objects in their knapsack that would help them complete later tasks. They were limited to the amount they could carry so difficult decisions had to be made, and often regretted later.

There were ‘people’ they interacted with that they had to help, that helped them, or that sent them on the wrong track. One of my favourites was Pickle the elf – Treguard’s helper.

There were eight seasons of Knightmare shown originally on Children’s ITV from Sept 7th 1987 – Nov 11th 1994, and the show is rated 8.6/10 on Only eight teams ever defeated Knightmare Castle – but we know we’d have been one of the winning teams right? After all we read books and books make you clever.

So make the right choice, vote Knightmare and watch the winning teams on You Tube starting here

The Queen's Nose - Maia Moore

It’s the show that made a generation of kids secretly rub the nose on every 50p they found - admit it, you know you did it. Perhaps, like me, you secretly thought that if you could just find the right one, you’d get wishes granted just like Harmony. And even if they were the kind of tricksy wishes that could backfire on you, you knew it’d be worth it.

Three reasons you should vote for The Queen’s Nose:

Harmony Parker
Now that is one awesome protagonist. Harmony is a bit of a tomboy, an animal lover and one sassy girl to boot. What more can you ask for in your leading lady? While she may start off as a bit bratty, she develops a lot throughout the series. And any girl with a sister can relate to Harmony’s love-hate relationship with Melody - best friends one moment and sworn enemies the next.

It’s also a book!
For those of who are part of the wonderful bookish community online, you may remember The Queen’s Nose book too, by prolific children’s writer Dick King-Smith. The first three series were pretty faithful to the book (we’ll forget about the revived series where it went a bit off the wall…) So even if you can’t watch the series now (there’s no DVD available - trust me, I tried!) you can still read the book and relive the magic.

A well portrayed message
A children’s series wouldn’t be complete without some valuable lessons to teach. The Queen’s Nose manages this while still remaining fun to watch. Without being too preachy, we get the classic ‘be careful what you wish for’ storyline as Harmony learns to use her wishes wisely. By the end of the series, she’s learnt that selfish wishes for materialistic things not only often go wrong, but have no real value. She also learns the value of family, as her antics with her wishes put her and her family in some sticky situations that ultimately bring them closer together.

Sabrina The Teenage Witch - Amy

Sabrina the Teenage Witch is undoubtedly the greatest kids’ TV show of the nineties, spanning seven seasons (163 episodes!), several movies and an animated spinoff series. Everyone I knew watched it (even when we were ‘too old’ and pretended we didn’t) and there were many excellent reasons for that.

For me personally, it was all in the timing. I was at the oh so awkward age of twelve when the show started and it got me at just the right age. As a character, Sabrina was fun and had friends but at the same time she wasn’t the most popular kid and she made all kinds of (often hilarious) mistakes. Let’s face it, I wanted to be Sabrina – the magical powers and cute boyfriend wouldn’t have hurt either.

Another great part of the show was the family aspect. So many shows that I watched at the time (and now) had either absent or terrible families. Sabrina had two crazy/ supportive/ magical aunts and a wisecracking cat (“I’m a cat. I’m curious. So kill me.”)

I also really loved the magic! What teenager didn’t want to rewind that really embarrassing thing they did or accidentally turn a bully into a pineapple?

Looking back on it now, Sabrina was a gateway show for Buffy (my all time favourite). In both of them, dealing with monsters and supernatural abilities was representative of being a teenager.

Sabrina was the defining coming of age show for me and my favourite of the 1990s. It deserves to be crowned as the greatest 80s/ 90s kids’ TV show!

Thundercats - Martin Stewart

Thundercats is a thirty-year-old masterpiece—a mish-mash of the solidly brilliant and the charmingly naff. Its heroes are lantern-jawed simpletons, its villains veer erratically from terrifying to quaint. Those humanoid alien cats produced more episodes than the Transformers, and are the purest distillation of that quintessentially 80s cartoon idiom. They must win.

Of course a plot hole beats, like a giant heart, at the core of the origin story: why did Lion-o age and develop giant muscles in suspended animation while the rest (even the other children) remained unchanged? And why did Jaga sacrifice himself by piloting the escape ship alone—only to stick the autopilot on anyway as he was dying? 

I'll tell you why: so we could have a badass hero who was risk-taking naïveté wrapped in muscle with a handy spirit guide. That's storytelling gold. 

This is a show that wears its heart on its sleeve. Who could fail to love the straightforwardness of the characters' names? “They're cats, there's a tiger and a cheetah and a panther... let's call them Tygra, Cheetarah and Panthro.” Good job, guys. (See also the monkey and jackal villains—Monkian and Jackalman—for more of this tip-top work.) It also has a Jar-Jar equivalent in Snarf, and the Sword of Omens is a big, shiny Dues ex Machina. 

Glorious. This naff charm is easily enough to secure the win. But let's not forget the brilliance: that unbeatable theme song, which you are definitely humming right now; the Sword of Omens; that incredibly quotable call to arms; the genuinely terrifying antagonist (Mumm-ra the Ever Living—and his little dog, Ma-Mutt); the cool, thunder-based vocabulary (Thunderian, Thundera, Thunder-tank); the greatest cartoon mechanic ever, Panthro; and the unrepeatably 80's moral codas, complete with fourth-wall breaks as the characters dispense wisdom and instruction directly into the audience's astonished face (“Yes. Rules are there to be obeyed—otherwise, they're just words”).

Thundercats is surely next in the House of Pain that is Michael Bay's studio, following the Transformers and Teenage Mutant Hero/Ninja Turtles to become another insipid big screen boom-fest. 

And before that happens we should take a moment to cherish the original cartoon, with all its brilliant, charming naffness.

Thunder, Thunder, Thunder, Thundercats... Ho!

Cast your votes on Twitter tomorrow, from roughly 8:00am, and don't miss the semi-finals on Tuesday and the final on Wednesday! Search for hashtag #80s90skidsTV.

Saturday, 23 April 2016

#6Degrees - The Jungle Book to... (Guest post by Sarah Forbes)

The #6degrees feature continues today, with Sarah Forbes, author of the Elspeth Hart series posting her six choices. I need to read the Elspeth Hart books ASAP - I've heard great things about Sarah's writing, and they're gorgeously illustrated by James Brown! They're published by Stripes Publishing, with most recent book Elspeth Hart and the Magnificent Rescue being released earlier this month.

Over to you, Sarah!

1. The Jungle Book is by Rudyard Kipling, who spent his early years in India, before being sent to England where was initially miserable. This brings me straight to one of my favourite children’s books, The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Nobody does ‘miserable coming from India to England’ like Mary Lennox.

2. Mary in The Secret Garden is an orphan, friendless and unhappy, until she discovers the joys of an overgrown walled garden in the grounds of Misselthwaite Manor…

3. Another orphan who finds magic in a new place is Daniel, the hero of Ross Mackenzie’s The Nowhere Emporium. (I’m a teeny bit biased as I bought this book for Floris when I was editing there, but Ross is a super writer. Seek it out!)

4. The magical world of performance and ‘freaks’ leads me straight to Wild Boy by Rob Lloyd Jones, set in the dark underworld of Victorian London. (I also LOVE the cover art for this book. Quick high-five to the design team at Walker!)

5. Keeping with the dark and mysterious, but moving on to an adult novel: I recommend Sarah Waters’ The Little Stranger – a creepy gothic novel set in the 1940s, in a rambling, once-great house. (I’m a sucker for a book set in a rambling, once-great house.)

6. And from one sinister big house to another, and my final stop: I leave you with the stunning debut novel by Jenni Fagan, The Panopticon. It’s about a teenage girl in a young offenders’ institution, and it’s gritty and tough and brilliant. Not for the faint-hearted, but probably one of the finest debut novels I’ve ever read.

Have you done a #6Degrees post this month? Remember to link it up to my post from April 2nd

Sunday, 17 April 2016

#80s90skidsTV - The Tournament Entries

I am REALLY excited to kick off the #80s90skidsTV tournament on Twitter this morning with the first four votes in the first round of this knockout tournament! Over the weekend, dozens of people have nominated their favourite children's shows from the two decades. The 36 shows which got 4 or more nominations have made it through to the voting stages. There are some big omissions - no He-Man, Chronicles of Narnia or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - but check out the 36 shows which DID make it through, with links to Wikipedia in case you need to refresh your memory before voting.

Mysterious Cities of Gold (12 nominations) - French-Japanese animated series, 1982-1983 (followed by sequel series 2012-2013)

Dogtanian and the Three Muskehounds (11) - Spanish-Japanese animated series, 1985     

Press Gang (8) - British drama series, 1989-1993
Round The Twist (8) - Australian fantasy series, 1989-2001

SuperTed (7) - British animated series, 1983-1985
Wild House (7) - British comedy series, 1997-1999

The Demon Headmaster (6) - British drama series, 1996-1998
The Famous Five (6) - British mystery series, 1995-1997
Knightmare (6) - British game show, 1987-1994
The Raccoons (6) - Canadian animated series, 1985-1992

Aquila (5) - British sci-fi series, 1997-1998
Arthur (5) - Canadian-American animated series, 1996 onwards
Byker Grove (5) - British drama series, 1989-2006
DangerMouse (5) - British animated series ,1981-1992

Eerie, Indiana (5) - American fantasy series, 1991-1993
Fun House (5) - British game show, 1989-1999
Grange Hill (5) - British drama, 1978-2008
Gummi Bears (5) - American animated series, 1985-1991

The Queen's Nose (5) - British comedy, 1995-2003
See How They Run (5) - British-Australian drama series, 1999
Thundercats (5) - British fantasy series, 1985-1989
The Trap Door (5) - British animated series, 1984-1986

Ulysses 31 (5) - French-Japanese animated series, 1981-1982
Woof! (5) - British drama series, 1989-1997
Worzel Gummidge (5) - British sitcom, 1979-1981
The Worst Witch (5) - British comedy series, 1998-2001

Around The World with Willy Fog (4) - Spanish-Japanese animated series, 1985
The Box of Delights (4) - British fantasy series, 1984
Count Duckula (4) - British animated series, 1988-1993
Duck Tales (4) - American animated series, 1987-1990
Jem (also known as Jem and the Holograms) (4) - American animated series, 1985-1988

Maid Marian and her Merry Men (4) - British sitcom, 1989-1994
Moondial (4) - British drama series, 1988
Old Bear Stories (4) - British stop frame animated series, 1993-1997
Raggy Dolls (4) - British animated series, 1986-1994
Sabrina The Teenage Witch (4) - American sitcom, 1996-2003

Recent Links Recap 11th - 16th April

The most awesome news of the week has to be either the launch of Dahlia Adler's stunning - which already looks like a must-visit site - or the announcement that TV rights to Louise O'Neill's incredibly powerful Asking For It have been sold.

And other great news, Debi Gliori's Night Shift, a picture book for older readers on depression, has sold to Hot Key and Katherine Locke's time-travel YA The Girl With The Red Balloon, in which a 16-year-old ends up in East Berlin in 1988, sold to Albert Whitman!

Really superb video here from Louise about how exercise has helped her mental health, talking about the Couch to 5k app which I know a few of my friends have found to be fantastic!

And a fantastic post from Caitlin here, 'In Defence of Prescription Painkillers'.

This 'digital horror story' on 'How an internet mapping glitch turned a random Kansas farm into a digital hell' is terrifying - but it's great to see that the journalist has hopefully made things better for the people who live in the farm in question.

And a heartbreaking piece about Lily Allen being stalked, and the lack of support from the police.

Also a really outstanding piece from Louise O'Neill on how misguided people are when they conflate anorexia with vanity.

This, from Nita Tyndall, on loving North Carolina but the recent legislation breaking her heart, is really moving.

I love Erica's blog about bookshops, The Bookshop Around The Corner. She's looking for guest posts for #YourBookshops - if you're interested in taking part, take a look!

Paste have a great list of the top 10 YA releases in April - it's US-based so not sure what's coming out here, but When We Collided already is and is BRILLIANT, and I'm hoping to get my hands on The Haters by Jesse Andrews as I loved Me, Earl and the Dying Girl.

Speaking of When We Collided, author Emery Lord wrote a fabulous list of her top five books with a beach setting for Chelle's excellent Tales of Yesterday blog!

And talking of Chelle, she was guest posting on here yesterday as part of #6degrees.

Another guest post on this blog, Sophia Bennett celebrated Love Song's release with a 5-4-3-2-1.

Also on this blog, I finally wrote my stage/screen/bookish events recap for February! As ever, Debbie is way ahead of me, and has got HER March recap up.

With lots of amazing authors announced for YALC, I gave some reading recommendations for the ones I've read over at Teens on Moon Lane! And Julianne's putting together a Goodreads list of YA books from all the authors appearing.

Over on the Story Snug, there's a brilliant post about fairy tales by Nibbles The Book Monster author Emma Yarlett!

I've just started The Raven King and, as expected, it's AMAZING! I'm really tempted by one of these awesome #SaveGansey T-shirts. Prior to starting this fourth book, I read through Maggie Stiefvater's own fantastic recaps for The Recaptains of the first three books in the quartet!

The Reading Well For Young People scheme which has just launched, with a list of books to help teenagers with mental health issues, looks excellent. And some more great recommendations for YA novels dealing with mental health from Jess Hearts Books.

This flowchart on when authors should respond to negative reviews is BRILLIANT.

Maximum Pop recapped last week's brilliant #ChatClassics!

I'll be heading over to Daphne's house in a few weeks with some of our friends to help pack May's Illumicrate boxes! Have you subscribed yet? Get in now while there's still some left!

My friend Jen (author of The Crooked Sixpence which is coming in a few months and which you'll LOVE!) has a new website!

Really fantastic post from Gav on why seeing live performances is a must for GCSE drama students!

And a superb piece from Kaleb Horton on MTV paying tribute to legendary country singer Merle Haggard.

What have been your favourite posts of the week? Leave me a comment if there's any you want to share with me!