Monday, 27 February 2012

Robin Hood 2012

I am starting an exciting project in Nottingham tomorrow. I'll be working with four children at a primary school to write a modern version of Robin Hood.

The school won a competition to help me write the book - and to help the illustrator, James Innerdale, to illustrate it.

I am really looking forward to it.

The final book will be given to thousands of children in Nottingham in July. It is part of their excellent Nottingham Year of Reading scheme, that I have been involved with all year.

I am looking through various Robin Hood books tonight to think about what we could do with the story. But I expect the children will have excellent ideas that we can use to write something really exciting.

There is only one rule I have to follow. I'm not allowed to put the bit about Robin Hood really being from Yorkshire in the book.


Saturday, 25 February 2012

Fair Trade Fortnight

It's Fair Trade Fortnight: two weeks in which we can celebrate how buying fair trade products makes a difference to farmers around the world.

I went to Ghana to research my children's novel, Off Side. It is the story of a boy who is the son of a cocoa farmer. He is a great footballer and is taken to Europe to sign for a big team.

I travelled to Ghana to get my facts right. I wanted to see youth football in Ghana and I wanted to see what cocoa bean farming was like.

Divine - who make Dubble Bars too - were very generous and showed me round.  I learned a lot about the differences between fair and unfair trade. I met farmers and their children and I saw the schools and other facilities that had been built with the extra few pence we spend on each fair trade chocolate bar.

It makes a MASSIVE difference.

I'm touring several schools in the next fortnight to talk about how I researched the book and how Fair Trade chocolate does make such a difference.

I will not eat any of the several hundred Dubble Bars I have in the boot of my car.

Ed Miliband is a Leeds Fan

A photo of a famous person within three metres of a dumpbin of my books.
I was in Doncaster yesterday, helping to launch the Doncaster Book Awards. We were all at Waterstone's, as you can see by the branding behind... yes, it's Ed Miliband.

I was keen to meet Ed because I'd heard a rumour about him. I wanted to see if it was true. When I asked the children there who supported Doncaster, several hands went up. When I asked who supported Leeds, mine, Ed's and a couple of others went up.

It's true: Ed Miliband is a Leeds fan.

In the eighties, we used to sing Stefan Edberg is a Leeds fan at Elland Road. I wonder if a new song could take off?

The launch was great and there are some fantastic books on the shortlist. Not mine. The award has been going for a long time and is well-established as one of the best, I think.

Ed Miliband was very nice. He spoke about his love of libraries and how parents reading with their children is a good thing.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

This is the cover to the second Squad book, White Fear, due out in October. I received it today. I love it. What do you think?

Also, the cover of book one - Black Op - due in May.

Friday, 10 February 2012

What I am going to do this half term

... gasp.

That was a full on half-term. Sixty-nine Football Reading games in twenty-five days. From Cumbria to Sussex.

I'm home at last. Hurray! And I've done all the little bits of admin I needed to do. I've even renewed my library books.

Now four days off before a tour of seven Lincolnshire libraries later next week.

In these four days, I will:

* watch my daughter dance
* read The Hunger Games (loving it so far)
* go to see that chipmunk film
* watch Leeds United beat Brighton (in theory)
* take my wife (and daughter) out for a surprise Valentine's treat
I'm 'in training' for a 'race' on 17 March in Cumbria. The Carmel Sticky Toffee Pudding 10K. When I say 'in training' I mean I am running twice a week. When I say 'race' I mean running with lots of other people... or behind lots of other people.

But I love it. It makes me extremely happy.

And it starts now. In the Pennine snow.

Have a great half term everyone.
* do two fell runs (slowly)

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Ghana for the African Nations'

I want Ghana to win the African Nation's Cup.

There's a young man I email in Ghana. He lives in a town called Tamale in the Northern Region.

I got to know him around the time I went to research my book, Off Side, which is about fair trade and young footballers being exploited.

I asked him if he was enjoying the African Nations' Cup.

He said that he and his family could neither watch it nor listen to it, because they don't have a TV, radio or electricity.

So my family sent his family this wind-up radio. I posted it today.

It should arrive in five to seven days, meaning he will have it in time for the semi-finals.

That's why I want Ghana to win.

Come on Ghana!