BOOKTOBERFEST GUEST BLOG: Books that have inspired me…. by Andrew Cranna, author of The Bloodhound Boys series

Author: Andrew Cranna

Author: Andrew Cranna

There have been many books that have inspired me to become an author/illustrator and compiling a list of just ten books was veeeeery difficult. Being a children’s writer, it’s children’s books that I’ve always enjoyed and found comfort in. Being a fairly reluctant reader as a child, I was always searching for books that combined expressive text with eye-catching illustrations. My love of children’s books has never waned and I still enjoy browsing through picture books and children’s literature as it always seems to transport me back to my happy childhood.

So here are 10 of my personal favourites. I’ve grown up with many of these titles while some I’ve only discovered in recent years … but all I love. Each book in its own way has contributed to my writing and drawing style.


1) The Muddleheaded Wombat by Ruth Park and illustrated by Noela Young9780732284374

One of my earliest memories is drooling over the pages of The Muddleheaded Wombat. The illustrations in the book would always astound me as a child and I would often wonder how Noela Young could possibly sketch such realistically magical images. I would carry this book with me everywhere I went and spend most weekends trying to copy Noela’s The Muddleheaded Wombat the best I could. I believe it’s this book that sparked my love of children’s books in the very beginning. I now have the great pleasure of working alongside Noela Young, illustrating stories for The School Magazine.

 


a-fish-out-of-water2) A Fish out of Water by Helen Palmer and illustrated by P.D. Eastman

A Fish out of Water is about a fish named Otto that’s fed too much and grows ridiculously out of control … and keeps growing! The story is based on a short tale by Helen Palmer’s husband, Dr Seuss. It’s classic storytelling, decorated with dazzling illustration work. I was always super-duper careful not to feed my pet goldfish too much fish food after reading this book.


3) Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendakwhere-the-wild-things-are

From the moment I read Where the Wild Things Are, I wanted to be Max … the dreamer, the adventurer all dressed up in his animal onesie. The way Sendak transforms Max’s bedroom into a wilderness filled with strange and fascinating creatures is remarkable.


4. Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes. Illustrated by Quentin Blake9780141350370

As a child, I thought poetry was boring until I discovered Revolting Rhymes by Roald Dahl. Revolting Rhymes is Dahl’s take on traditional nursery rhymes through twisted sarcasm and juicy humour. Quentin Blake’s sketchy illustration style complements this collection of dark poetry perfectly. The drawing of the Big Bad Wolf after he devoured two of the little pigs is a personal fave.


5. Gorga, the Space Monster – Choose Your Own Adventure by Edward Packard and illustrated by Paul Granger

Although many teachers from the 1980s may disagree, Choose Your Own Adventure books were viewed as quality AND essential reading by the kids of that generation. They were fun, easy to read, had cracking illustrations and gave the reader the power to choose how the story would end up. I remember trying to collect as many from the series as possible, and … I would always cheat. I’d read the endings first and work my way back … but at least I was reading! My favourite Choose Your Own Adventure book was Gorga, the Space Monster. Gorga was a cute and cuddly purple alien. But watch out … choose the wrong path and Gorga could accidently devour you in one breath! It was awesome!


97814052062806. Tintin – Explorers on the Moon By Herge

I guess people are either Asterix or Tintin fans. I’m definitely the latter. The Tintin series has been a phenomenal success over the years and the books have always been popular in the schools that I’ve attended as a student and now a teacher. Tintin books have timeless appeal with each page exploding with good old-fashioned action. The stories usually involve some kind of mystery that sends Tintin, Captain Haddock and Snowy the Dog off to every corner of the globe. These iconic characters constantly erupt with personality and flare and always seemed to be involved in a high speed car/plane/boat/motorcycle chase. Explorers on the Moon was the most enjoyable read for me from the series.


the-lost-thing7. The Lost Thing by Shaun Tan

I’m always amazed by the incredible creativity and imagination of Shaun Tan. His wonderfully strange stories are always complemented with just as unusual, but always breathtaking artwork. The Lost Thing picture book was later transformed into an animated short film, which won Shaun Tan an Academy Award. Each year at my school, I always make a point of showing every new class The Lost Thing film … it’s magical!


8) My Place by Nadia Wheatley and illustrated by Donna Rawlinsmy-place

My Place is a very special book and one of its creators has played a very important role in my life. Not only is My Place one of the great Australian picture books about the nation’s ever changing landscape, but it is also one that changed my artistic landscape forever. In 2012, illustrator Donna Rawlins visited my school to talk about My Place (I’m a primary school art teacher). Donna spied some of my drawings hanging around the school. She took a fancy to one of them and asked me to meet with her colleagues at Walker Books Australia. From this meeting, The Bloodhound Boys was born and so was my career as a children’s author/illustrator. Whenever I see My Place in the library or being read by a student, I always think of Donna and this very special day. Thanks Donna!


the-dangerous-alphabet9. The Dangerous Alphabet by Neil Gaiman and Gris Grimly

The book’s blurb: “Two children, treasure map in hand, and their pet gazelle sneak past their father, out of the house, and into a world beneath the city, where monsters and pirates roam. Will they find treasure? Will they make it out alive?” A mixture of horror and spelling, The Dangerous Alphabet is lots of fun spooky fun, written by the mysterious Neil Gaiman and illustrated by the just as mysterious Gris Grimly. Both author and illustrator specialise in creepiness. Older primary school-aged kids would love this.


And a book I’m itching the read …

10. Hug Machine by Scott Campbellhug-machine

Scott Campbell’s new children’s book about ‘hugs’ looks fantastic. I’ve always been a huge fan of Campbell’s originality and humorous illustration work. The book trailer for Hug Machine (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RyRmZDyKPQU) is brilliant. If the book is anything like the trailer, Hug Machine should prove to be very popular.


the-monster-truck-tremor-dilemmaThe Monster Truck Tremor Dilemma (The Bloodhound Boys Series)

by Andrew Cranna

Deep under the Earth’s crust, Skull River City is experiencing unexplained earthquakes AND impending doom. But Rocky and Vince have a challenge of their own – competing in the Monster Truck Grand Prix. A roller-coaster ride full of twists and turns, this lethal race will lead the Bloodhound Boys way off track. Will these undead friends be able to follow the signs back home in time to stop the earthquakes?

About the Author

Andrew Cranna is an artist, educator and author who is currently based in Sydney NSW. Andrew’s cartoons and illustrations are loved by young people across the country and appear regularly in the pages of The School Magazine.

Grab a copy of The Monster Trick Tremor Dilemma here

 

Are you a winner of a Where’s Wally pack or 1 of 5 South Sydney Rabbitohs caps signed by John Sattler?

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In August we gave you the chance to enter our Kids Month Where’s Wally competition. We had 1 of 5 Where’s Wally packs valued at $175 RRP to giveaway! All you had to do to enter was find Wally on the website and buy a book from our Kids Month range.


And the lucky winners of a Where’s Wally pack are…

L.Randall, Ivanhoe East, VIC
M.Hakeem, Mortdale, NSW
E.Wells, Springwood, NSW
S.Mathews, Altona Meadows, VIC
D.Maloney, Noosaville, QLD


Glory Glory

In October we gave you the chance to enter our Glory, Glory competition. We had 1 of 5 South Sydney Rabbitohs caps signed by John Sattler to giveaway! All you had to do to enter was buy Souths Legend John Sattler’s memoir, Glory, Glory.


And the lucky winners of a South Sydney Rabbitohs cap signed by John Sattler are…

J.Coyle, Cronulla, NSW
J.Murphy, Chifley, NSW
J.Crump, Aberdare, NSW
T.Brown, Surry Hills,NSW
C.Lambert, Rouse Hill, NSW


Congratulations to the winners!
Not a winner? Don’t worry because Booktoberferst is on right now and we have over $13,000 worth of prizes to giveaway!

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Have you won a Barbie, Hot Wheels or My Little Pony pack? How about 2 signed copies of Gone Girl or six of Hilary Mantel’s best novels?

We love giving away stuff at Booktopia, and during September we had the following prizes up for grabs:

A Barbie, Hot Wheels or My Little Pony pack, 1 of 6 Hilary Mantel Collections and 2 (I REPEAT 2) copies of Gone Girl signed by Gillian Flynn !!!

See if you’re a winner below, and don’t forgot to check out our Booktoberfest page for more great prizes you could win.


Barbie-MedPromoBanner

A Barbie Prize Pack

Thanks to our friends at Five Mile Press, all you had to do to enter the draw to win a Barbie prize pack was buy any item from the Barbie series.

And the lucky winner is:

D.V. Niekerk, Condell Park, NSW


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A Hot Wheels Pack

Thanks to our friends at Five Mile Press, all you had to do to enter the draw to win a Hot Wheels prize pack was buy any item from the Hot Wheels series.                                      “

And the lucky winner is:

G.Allan-Voets, Bondi Junction, NSW


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A My Little Pony Pack

Thanks to our friends at Five Mile Press, all you had to do to enter the draw to win a My Little Pony prize pack was buy any item from the My Little Pony series.

And the lucky winner is:

K.Podolak, Newtown, QLD


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The Hilary Mantel Collection

Thanks to our friends at HarperCollins Australia, all you had to do to enter the draw to win 1 of 6 Hilary Mantel Collections was buy The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher!

And the lucky winners are:

R.Williams, Dee Why, NSW
M.Anderson, Australind, WA
S.Campbell, South Fremantle, WA
K.Erskine-Wyse, Wooloowin, QLD
S.Webbe, Nashua, NSW
H.Austin, North Epping, NSW

 


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2 Copies of Gone Girl Signed by Gillian Flynn

Thanks to our friends at Hachette, all you had to do to enter the draw to win 1 of 2 copies of Gone Girl signed by Gillian Flynn was buy the film tie-in edition!

And the lucky winners are:

J.Afonso, Beechboro, WA
A.Merrill, Kawana, QLD

 


Congratulations to the winners!
For your chance to enter a Booktopia Competition click here

Win tickets to an exclusive party with Skulduggery Pleasant’s Derek Landy!

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Thanks to our friends at HarperCollins Australia, we’re giving you the chance to attend an exclusive party with one of the world’s biggest selling authors, Derek Landy!

Derek Landy’s Skulduggery Pleasant series has sold over 17 million copies in 33 countries, and comes to its thrilling conclusion in this month’s The Dying of the Light.

For your chance to meet Derek, order any book in the Skulduggery Pleasant series by October 7th and you could win a ticket to this exclusive party! Tickets are non-transferrable, allowing entry for a fan, a friend and a parent/guardian.

The party will be held on October 13th in Sydney, with pizza, soft drink, a popcorn cart, photobooth, exclusive goody bags, temporary tattoo artists, a fortune teller, and music specially chosen by Derek! Please note that flights and accommodation are not included.

Don’t miss out on this once in a lifetime chance to meet one of the most popular children’s authors of all-time!

Click here to go to the Skulduggery Pleasant series

Derek Landy

Click here to go to the Skulduggery Pleasant series

the-dying-of-the-light-order-now-for-your-chance-to-win-The Dying of the Light

by Derek Landy

The FINAL shocking, heart-wrenching book in the jaw-droppingly stupendous Skulduggery Pleasant series. Valkerie. Darquesse. Stephanie. The world ain’t big enough for the three of them. The end will come…

The War of the Sanctuaries has been won, but it was not without its casualties. Following the loss of Valkyrie Cain, Skulduggery Pleasant must use any and all means to track down and stop Darquesse before she turns the world into a charred, lifeless cinder. And so he draws together a team of soldiers, monster hunters, killers, criminals…and Valkyrie’s own murderous reflection.

The war may be over, but the final battle is about to begin. And not everyone gets out of here alive…

Click here to go to the Skulduggery Pleasant series

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Were you a winner during our Kids Month celebrations?

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In August we gave you the chance to enter our Kids Month promotions! Lots and lots of goodies were up for grabs!


And the lucky winners are…

The Peppa Pig Competition - S. Moors, Mosman Park, WA

The Walker Picture Book Showcase Competition – E. Serisier, New Farm, QLD

Clementine Rose Competition - Y. Tanuwidjaja, Melbourne, VIC

Slaves of Socorro Competition – M. Mahmood, Williams Landing, VIC

The DK Non-Fiction Range Competition – B.Duffy, Conder, ACT

The Diary of a Wimpy Kid Competition – S. M. Lambert, Oyster Bay, NSW

Silver Shadows  Competition – M. Morley, Mordialloc, VIC

*The winners of the Where’s Wally Competition will be announced as soon as possible.


Congratulations to the winners!
For your chance to enter a Booktopia Competition click here

David Mackintosh, author of Lucky, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

David Mackintosh

author of Lucky, Marshall Armstrong is New to Our School and more

Ten Terrifying Questions
____________

1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?

I was born in Belfast NI, but left there before I was one year old. I grew up in Brisbane, and went to Griffith University to do a bachelor of visual arts. I didn’t return to Belfast until I was 25.

2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?

Twelve: I wanted to be a porter in a big hotel, carrying people’s suitcases to their room. I liked the idea of being useful, and I like hotels because they are self-contained worlds where people act differently.

Eighteen: I still wanted to be a porter in a big hotel. But I decided I’d also like to be an engineer, so I went to night school and got a job in a drawing office during the day.
Thirty: I wanted to continue illustrating and designing so I could do some more travelling.

3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?

That I’d always have beautiful long hair.

Author David Mackintosh

4. What were three works of art – book or painting or piece of music, etc – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced your own development as a writer?

Grimble by Clement Freud / A Boy Named Sue written by Shel Silverstein / Danse Macabre by Camille Saint-Saens.

It’s hard to isolate all the things that one is influenced by, but I do like these three. A common thread is the determined individual. Grimble was the funniest book ever and I wish I was him. I loved the mood of the boy named Sue forever searching for the man who gave him that awful name, and the Devil getting up to no good at nightfall when everyone else is being righteous always made me feel good.

5. Considering the innumerable artistic avenues open to you, why did you choose to write a novel?

I don’t think there were many artistic avenues open to me because I can’t paint, play an instrument well or act. I can draw well enough to tell a story in pictures and that’s good for me. Growing up I looked at a lot of illustrated texts: comics, comic strip annuals, newspaper editorial illustrations, New Yorker magazine panel cartoons, Popular Mechanics magazines and much more. I have always been hooked on words and pictures, and I’m naturally drawn to them. My favourite was American MAD Magazines which I collected for years before they began publishing a local version which was just awful. I may not have understood the humour so well as a little kid, but the editorial tone was evident and the relationship between the pictures and words always fascinated me. I wanted to become a cartoonist and sit at a desk in an office building drawing and inking cartoons. Writing books was a natural progression.

 

6. Please tell us about your latest novel…

Lucky is a picture book about a boy who misinterprets something his mother says and has his unrealistic expectations dashed as a result. In the process, he finds that he has other reasons to feel lucky. It’s seen from the perspective of the boy and his little brother Leo, who is the eternal optimist and the one who plants the seeds of his downfall, be it accidentally. The cover has a pineapple on the front cover which is a symbol of good fortune in China apparently. However, I didn’t know that when I did my book and the pineapple is included for a plot reason. So I see this as extra lucky.

Grab a copy of Lucky here

7. What do you hope people take away with them after reading your work?

I don’t expect anything from the reader other than the time it may take them to read the book and look at the pictures. That’s enough for me. What they make of it is for them to decide, but I suppose I hope they can appreciate someone’s point of view, and enjoy the humour.

where-the-sidewalk-ends8. Whom do you most admire in the realm of writing and why?

Here are just some: Joseph Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Shel Silverstein, Peter Carey, Lauren Child, and Mark Hellinger. After reading/listening to them they make me want to have a go at writing something too.

9. Many artists set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?

To do one picture book per year for as long as I am able.

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Just sit down and write something and don’t be afraid to make mistakes and to put them right again.

David, thank you for playing.

Grab a copy of Lucky here

Lincoln Peirce, author of the Big Nate series, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Lincoln Peirce

author of Big Nate in the Zone, the Big Nate series and more

Ten Terrifying Questions
____________

1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?

I was born in Ames, Iowa, but by the time I was six months old my family had moved to Durham, New Hampshire. So I consider Durham my hometown – that’s where I lived until I went off to college at age 17. I attended Colby College in Waterville, Maine, where I studied art and art history. Then I moved to New York City, and I earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in Drawing & Painting from Brooklyn College.

2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?

I decided in third grade that I wanted to be a cartoonist like my hero, Charles Schulz of “Peanuts” fame. I loved all types of comics, but newspaper comic strips were my favourite. I’d read a quote from Schulz that went something like this: to be a cartoonist, yeu need to be a good writer, not a great writer, and a good artist, not a great artist. I thought that sounded like me, and I spent a lot of time creating my own comics as I grew up. So at 12 and 18, my goal was exactly the same: to create my own nationally syndicated comic strip. By age 26, I’d reached my goal.

3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?

It’s not easy to remember just how I looked at the world when I was eighteen; that was 32 years ago. But I’m sure I was like a lot of young people who have some growing up to do: I thought the very small part of the world I inhabited was

lincoln

Author Lincoln Pierce

the most important part, and I believed my own life was more significant than it really was.

4. What were three works of art – book or painting or piece of music, etc – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced your own development as a writer?

There’s no doubt the single biggest influence on me as a writer and a cartoonist has been Charles Schulz’s “Peanuts.” I read it obsessively as a child, and I absorbed the rhythm of writing dialogue to fit neatly into four little panels. I loved many other comic strips as well, especially great ones from the past like “Krazy Kat,” “Polly And Her Pals,” “Thimble Theater starring Popeye,” “Li’l Abner,” and “Pogo,” to name a few. But “Peanuts” was my Rosetta Stone.

I would also point to Charlotte’s Web, written by E.B. White and illustrated by Garth Williams, as a hugely inspiring work of art. I think it is the most perfect marriage of text and artwork in all of children’s literature. It also felt personally significant to me because it painted a picture of a world I recognized. It’s a farm story, and I come from a farm family. My mother grew up on a dairy farm in upstate New York, and during my teenage years, I worked on a farm after school and on weekends.

Last but not least is a book I first read as a sixth or seventh grader, and have read many times since: Banner In The Sky, by James Ramsey Ullman. It’s a mountain climbing story, and a quite old-fashioned one. I’m not sure how many children nowadays would be interested in it. But I was fascinated. The book, which takes place in Switzerland in the 1860’s, tells the story of Rudi Matt, a young man who dreams of being the first climber to reach the summit of the Citadel, the mountain on which his father was killed. He fails to make it to the top himself, but Rudi’s selflessness and courage save the life of a rival climber and enable his friends to summit the mountain. The message of the book – that a mountain guide must put the safety of his colleagues ahead of his own aspirations – was one that made a major impression on me.

5. Considering the innumerable artistic avenues open to you, why did you choose to write a novel?

I didn’t really choose to write a novel. I’d been writing and drawing my comic strip, “Big Nate,” for about 18 years. It appeared in a couple hundred newspapers and, although I certainly wasn’t getting rich, I was managing to eke out a living as a professional cartoonist. Then along came the opportunity to write “hybrid” books – novels featuring Big Nate that are a combination of text and comics.

I’d never written a book before, but I’d spent nearly two decades creating jokes and storylines for Nate and the other characters from the comic strip. So I was reasonably confident that if I could write a good story that lasted four panels, I could also write one that lasted a couple hundred pages. And as things turned out, I’ve really enjoyed it. There are things you can do in a novel that you’d never be able to do in a four-panel comic strip. The possibilities are nearly endless.

6. Please tell us about your latest novel…

Big Nate In The Zone is the sixth book in the series, and it focuses on Nate’s shifting fortunes. He has a string of incredibly bad luck (including an embarrassing moment involving his band, Enslave The Mollusk), followed by an improbable run of GOOD luck.

A few supporting characters play major roles: Artur, Nate’s friendly rival; Chad, his sidekick whose crush on a classmate could lead to heartache; and Marcus, an alpha male with whom Nate makes a potentially costly wager.

Grab a copy of Big Nate in the Zone here

7. What do you hope people take away with them after reading your work?

My goal is always the same: to create books that children will think are fun to read.

8. Whom do you most admire in the realm of writing and why?

Some of my favourite writers are cartoonists and/or graphic novelists. Ben Katchor, in his long-form comic strip “Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer,” has created a world that is simultaneously familiar and bizarre. Chris Ware writes and draws about the inner lives of lonely, often desperate people, and his innovations in the world of sequential narrative have been ground-breaking. His most recent project, “Building Stories,” is a masterpiece.

I also love reading non-fiction, particularly American history. Some of my favourites over the years have been Robert Caro’s The Power Broker, Isabel Wilkerson’s The Warmth of Other Suns, and David Finkel’s The Good Soldiers and Thank You For Your Service. There are also two writers whose work I always admire in newspapers and magazines: Elizabeth Kolbert and James Carroll.

9. Many artists set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?

thank-you-for-your-service

Click here to grab a copy

I’m fortunate enough to have achieved my childhood dream of seeing my comic strip syndicated. Beyond that, the only goals I have concern the health and happiness of my family and friends.

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

It’s usually aspiring cartoonists, rather than aspiring writers, who seek me out for advice. Young cartoonists are often over-focused on the importance of artwork in comics. My own opinion is that being a good writer is a far more important skill than being able to draw well. A great-looking comic book with beautiful illustrations will fall flat if the story isn’t engaging. But if a story has memorable characters and crisp dialogue, even stick-figure drawings might suffice. So I always advise people to make sure they write every single day. Writing is really no different than playing a musical instrument: you improve with practice.

Lincoln, thank you for playing.

Grab a copy of Big Nate in the Zone here

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