Friday, 22 June 2012

Sky Hawk, White Dolphin, blogs and more...

Apologies.. I said I'd keep up with my blog and already three months have zipped by and I haven't written a thing. In fairness, it has been a busy few months. I used to think being a writer meant being holed up in a room scribbling away or tapping on a computer on your lonesome, never to see the light of day. However, I've been out and about having a great time visiting schools, festivals and the Birmingham Good Reads and the Oxford Bookfeast, meeting loads of readers. There's also been that small matter of finishing the first draft of book 3 as well!
Yet once again, I'm in awe of people who keep up with their blogs and have something interesting to say on a daily basis. In fact, I have been a guest blogger on other sites and have had a few things to say.... you can read them here...

Guest Blogs and Interviews...

Why rural settings are relevant...

What is it about animal stories?..

Interview with We Sat Down...

Sky Hawk awards...

I've been thrilled that Sky Hawk has won some awards. When a book wins, it's not just the author who has brought the book into the world but a whole team of people. At a school recently, one child asked how many people it takes to write a book. This is a really good question. It is the author who comes up with idea and writes the book, but the author has been inspired along the way by so many people. Then, when the final draft of the manuscript is ready, it takes a whole publishing team to create the book...editors, design team, sales and marketing, publicity people, publishing reps, book sellers etc etc. So when a book wins, it's really an acknowledgement of that whole process and it couldn't have been done by the author alone.

Newton Maracso Green Earth Book Award for Wild Wings (US edition of Sky Hawk)

I was delighted to hear that Wild Wings won the Newton Marasco Green Earth Book Award for children's fiction.
The ethos of the award is about bringing science and the arts together, and using the power of story to teach people about our natural environment and the responsibility we all have to protect it. This really resonates with me, having a background in science before becoming a writer. 

Leeds Book Awards

I had a FANTASTIC day in Leeds with children and librarians and teachers and the the authors Janet Foxley, Harriet Goodwin and Jane Johnson. The award ceremony was held at the Carriageworks Theatre and the theatre was pack full with pupils from many different schools and was hosted by the fab Dave Cryer.
Different schools had been chosen to dramatise a section of each nominated book. As authors, it was wonderful to see pupils get on stage and act out their version of our stories. For Sky Hawk, a pendant necklace was passed along a line of children telling the story, which really showed how the pendant in the story connected all the characters.

It was great to see so many children fired up by books, talking about books, what they liked and what they didn't like. I spoke to some children who said that the award scheme had got them reading books they might never have considered reading. It inspired them to talk about books and the subject matter of the books too. This was made possible by the librarians and a huge team of volunteers who are passionate about getting books out there to children and into schools.

My only regret ... there were no politicians to witness the huge amount of enthusiasm for books and how schemes and awards like this can really get children reading and instil a love of books within them, and to see what a huge catastrophe and loss it would be to lose our libraries and librarians.

Heart of Hawick Children's Book Award

I was also HUGELY delighted to hear Sky Hawk had won the Heart of Hawick Award. Unfortunately this award ceremony was on then same day as the Leeds award. It would have been lovely to have visited Hawick and met pupils from the schools. 

It was a huge honour to have been chosen for this award. Pupils from different schools had created an incredible stop-motion animation trailer for Sky Hawk. I hope to be able to link it somehow because it is truly amazing! As a lover of stop-motion videos myself I can see that much time and work had been put into this. The combination of collage stop-motion, music and voice-overs make this a brilliant piece of art! There are some talented children in and around Hawick!!!

Image of wood sculpture award to follow...

Launch of Gwalch y Nen

The Welsh edition of Sky Hawk was officially launched at the Youth Eisteddfod in Caernarfon, N Wales. I was told this is the biggest youth festival in Europe and on arriving at the site, I could believe it was true. Set against the backdrop of the mountains, the tented festival looked like something from Arthurian legend (except from the row upon row of cars).

RSPB Glaslyn osprey people were there to talk about their ospreys and the welsh artist, Luned Rhys Parri was on hand to help the children create a fabulous osprey mural. 

Half way up Tryfan

Osprey Mural
Gwalch y Nen launch

Launch of White Dolphin

May was an incredibly exciting month as it was also the launch of White Dolphin. Oxford University Press took me on a two week book tour of the South West. It was fantastic to revisit Cornwall and we started the tour in St Ives...a seaside town of perpetual turquoise waters. No wonder it has attracted artists over the centuries and even has its own Tate gallery.
From schools in St Ives, we visited schools in Newquay and Plymouth, taking our life-sized inflatable young dolphin with us!
We also visited schools and libraries in Sherborne and Bath and Cheltenham.

St Ives...turquoise waters despite the stormy sky

Probably the best railway station in the world!

Cheltenham Waterstones had created the most amazing White Dolphin cakes for their regular reading group and it was great to have a chat over coffee and cakes. Mmmm!

Then it was time to dash back to Waterstones in Bath for the official launch of White Dolphin. I'm embarrassed to say that I was late for my own launch...but it was great to see so many friends and family there.

A little about the inspiration behind White Dolphin....

Although White Dolphin is a story about a dolphin, it is a also story about the fragility of our oceans and how we need to protect and conserve our oceans for the future of our planet and our own future. Underwater habitats are globally threatened from overfishing, pollution and acidification. However, it is difficult to bring all this into one story, so I chose to focus on a girl, Kara, who lives with her father in a Cornish fishing village, and how the bay in the reef of her home town is under threat from commercial dredging for shellfish. Dredging involves dragging chains along the seabed, ripping up corals, sponges and destroying delicate ecosystems in the process. Habitats which have taken centuries to grow can be reduced to rubble and dead-zones within minutes. Even now, the government is dragging its feet over the decision to create Marine Protected Areas around the UK.

Sir David Attenborough has appealed to the Government in  plea to save our seas.

 Sir David, who is vice president of the Wildlife Trusts, said: "Charles Rothschild and his colleagues identified some of our finest wildlife sites in 1915, most of which are, or would now be, national nature reserves.
"Nearly a century on, we have the first countrywide list of marine sites needing protection, this time based on much more science – costing over £8m to draw up. I urge the Government to designate the full list of 127 sites now, for day by day the wildlife in these sites is being destroyed and damaged. Time is running out for us to save our fragile seas."

But White Dolphin is also about hope too, and what can be done to protect not only our marine life but also the livelihoods of those who depend upon the sea. 

Squirrel question cards at Plymouth school, drawn by one of the pupils. 


Mmmmm! too!

I've been chuffed by some White Dolphin reviews; 

'A beautifully-told, nail-biting tale that will inspire and empower anyone who reads it'
Kate Humble, BBCTV presenter and RSPB president
'A wonderful story. Utterly captivating. The interplay with the natural world is magical'
Nicholas Crane, presenter of BBC TV's Coast
'[Gill Lewis has] excelled herself with White Dolphin, another moving and inspirational tale which is also a gripping action thriller...gracefully written and intense - you can almost feel the salty air brushing your face'
Martin Chilton, The Daily Telegraph
'A lyrical, emotive, engrossing adventure'
Nicolette Jones, The Sunday Times (Children's Book of the Week)
'LIke the author's debut, this wonderfully written and unforgettable novel will pull at the heart-strings'
Julia Eccleshare, Love Reading 4 Kids
'A beautiful read with a fast paced plot and ends with an uplifting message of environmental survival and hope'
We Love This Book
'An addictive page-turner'
Lucy Pedden, Bliss Magazine
'Exciting yet sensitive, tender and thought-provoking...a carefully-crafted tale of nature, friendship and the importance of protecting our environment'
'A thrilling and thought-provoking tale that will captivate young readers'
Red House Book Blog
'Beautifully-written and utterly absorbing'
The Bookbag
'An incredible story that's utterly captivating from start to finish'
The Kooky Toon Book Corner


Anonymous said...

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