iHARRY REVIEW

iHarry is a hilarious new children’s book by Australian author, Laurine Croasdale.

It hardly seems fair. Harry’s dad designs mobile phones and Harry must be the only kid on the planet who’s not allowed to have one.

So when Dad is bedridden for a week after an accident on Harry’s skateboard, Harry makes the most of it. Dad has invented an amazing new phone. Surely it wouldn’t hurt to borrow it and take it to school just for one day would it?

At first things start out great! The phone seems like the best invention ever.

“It does his exam, plays his favourite songlist and orders pizza – but it has one MAJOR flaw. He can’t take it off. And that’s when the trouble starts…

When the school principal is sent a text saying her stories are boring, Harry is not going to admit that his super phone was responsible.

Then when the school bully, Bozo steals the phone, it seems things can’t get any worse.

Finally, Harry gets the phone back but it has been ground into the dirt by Bozo. How is Harry going to explain this one to Dad?

iHarry has plenty of tension and excitement to keep readers turning the page. The subject matter is topical and imaginative and the first person point of view brings the reader into the heart of the story.

I’m sure that lots of young readers will relate to Harry’s situation where doing something a bit risky turns badly wrong. They will enjoy the fun technology and what kid wouldn’t dream about having a phone that does their exams and pretty much anything they want it to do – even ask their class ‘crush’ out on a date?

iHarry is a fast-paced, easy to read contemporary story. The characters are well developed and believable and the Harry’s dilemma will appeal to its upper primary school readers; many of whom are desperate to have their own mobile phone.

The colourful and quirky cover illustration is by Heath McKenzie. iHarry is published by Penguin Group’s Puffin Books in their Aussie Chomp series.

 

MEET LAURINE CROASDALE

Today at Kids’ book Capers, we’re talking with Australian Children’s author, Laurine Croasdale, about her writing journey and the inspiration behind her new Aussie Chomp, iHarry Laurine has published around fifteen books in a range of genres and topics.

ABOUT LAURINE *

Laurine started by selling ideas for non-fiction for kids, such as game books and activity books like the Play School Party Book and then she started writing fiction.

What do you enjoy most about being a writer?

The moment when you have a great idea and you can’t wait to start getting words on the page.

What is the hardest thing about being a writer?

Making yourself write when you really don’t want to. Usually that’s the editing/rewriting process on very little sleep.

What were you in a past life (if anything) before you became a writer?

I’d love to think that I was a painter.

What is your greatest writing achievement?

Writing a book about bushfires that swept through the street where I grew up. Half the street got burnt down and the whole street was devastated. In the months after I collected everyone’s stories and put them into my book Red Golf Balls. My ‘street family’ loved it and over the years have always given me lots of support. They also put the book in the street ‘archive’ with some other key memorabilia they collected. It is wonderful being able to give people a voice.

What are you working on at the moment?

I have three projects on the go and am writing like an ipod on shuffle.

(Love that description, Laurine. That’s pretty much how I work.)

Do you have any tips for new writers?

Have fun, take heart – there is always room for a good story.

Do your books have any consistent themes/symbols/locations. If so, what are they?

I often write about people who are outsiders and people who refuse to take responsibility for their actions. I like writing books that make me laugh and hopefully make the readers laugh too. Laughter is such a gift!

Anything else of interest you might like to tell our blog readers?

Writing has been a brilliant part of my life. Not only has it presented me with a puzzle that I have spent most of my life trying to unravel but it has brought me into contact with some amazing people, places and situations. Publication is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the rewards and benefits of putting pen to paper.

ABOUT iHarry

What inspired you to write this book?

My son. He never gets off his mobile phone!

What’s it about?

iHarry is about a boy who ‘borrows’ his Dad’s futuristic prototype mobile phone and takes it to school. For a while it’s a dream come true but one day he discovers that it is stuck to his ear and his life goes into freefall.

What age groups is it for?

Upper primary.

Why will kids like it?

The kids I know who have read iHarry think it is fun and funny. It’s about the age group when most kids are desperate to have a mobile phone but have to wait until high school so it taps into their wish list and makes them think ‘what if’.

I did a virtual launch via a Literature Live! video conference to 450 kids and we had a lot of fun coming up with ideas for phones and phone apps and what we could do with them.

Can you tell me about the main character and what you like/dislike about him/her?

Harry is the main character. He is a decent guy and normally never does anything wrong so when he is tempted by the phone and takes it to school it goes against his moral code. He stuffs up, gets in trouble, fights with his friends and Dad, and bumbles his way through trying to sort it all out. He is like most kids you meet, a mix of fun, good will, mischief and WHOAAARH! Moments. It’s the WHOAARH! moment that brings him undone!

Are there any teacher’s notes, associated activities with the book?

Yes, I have some brilliant teacher’s notes and am happy to send them to teachers if they want to email me l_croasdale*at*hotmail*dot*com. There are things to make and invent as well as questions about the social etiquette of mobile phones and their place in the public arena. In 2016 everyone on the planet will have access to a mobile phone network. The use and reliance on mobile phones has grown like lantana but there seem to be no parameters on how to use them appropriately. I hope iHarry makes kids and teachers start talking about that.

Is there something that sets this book apart from others?

iHarry is a fun adventure for both girls and boys, asks a few moral and social questions and provides a few laughs along the way.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

I had fun dreaming up a mobile phone and apps that hadn’t been invented yet. It made me laugh when I wrote it and that’s always a bonus.

What was the hardest thing about writing this book?

There wasn’t really a hard part to it. I know, pathetic isn’t it? It would be much better to say I bled from the eyeballs but sometimes stories go your way and this is one of them.

(I’m really glad this story didn’t make you bleed from the eyeballs, Laurine:)

Laurine is available for classroom workshops and visits and more about her is available from the Literature Live website

Laurine also has her own website at www.laurinecroasdale.com

The pic is of Laurine at Berkelouw Books.

A friend told me that iHarry was No4 on their top ten selling books and I had to go and check that my mother had been in buying them all!

For a review of iHarry, come back to Kids’ Book Capers on Friday. Look forward to seeing you here.

 

THE MAGIC OF POND MAGIC

Today we’re pleased to welcome debut author, Angela Sunde to Kids’ Book Capers. Angela is stopping here on a blog tour with her new book, Pond Magic and she’s going to be chatting with us about her life as a writer and where her ideas come from.

Hi Dee,

It’s so nice to be here on the Kids Book Capers blog. Thanks for inviting me.

Angela, how did you become a writer?

I have always been a storyteller. As a German teacher for many years my students would often ask me to tell them stories of my travels. These little anecdotes took on a life of their own as we moved the furniture around and pulled out the finger puppets or dress-ups.

Then, when travelling through Europe for six months with my own children in 2006, my colourful, descriptive and action-packed emails of our day to day adventures drew a dedicated following of readers.  Even years later friends still tell me how sorry they were when the emails stopped.

What do you enjoy most about being a writer?

I love working for myself and I don’t find it lonely at all. In fact I feel more connected to my writing peers than in any other job I’ve had. The friendships I’ve made have been the best part.

What is the hardest thing about being a writer?

The hardest thing is having to wear so many hats: webdesigner, blogger, publicist, marketer, accountant and event organiser.  Writing is the fun part.

What is your greatest writing achievement?

The publication of Pond Magic as an Aussie Chomp with Penguin Australia is definitely a dream come true for me. I am very proud of this story and there is nothing I would change about it.

Where do your ideas come from?

Over the last few years I have become more observant of the people around me. I’d say most of my ideas come from personal experience; either my own childhood or the children in my family. I keep a notebook of ideas and often a story idea will come to me when I am free writing.

Where did the idea for Pond Magic come from?

I was asked to write a story for a fantasy anthology. I didn’t feel very confident as I’d never thought of myself as a fantasy writer, so I looked for help. Morris Gleitzman had given a talk at the CYA conference a few years ago and he’d shared with us the ‘secret’ of a successful story.

That secret was to give your character a problem and start your story with the problem. So I gave my character, Lily Padd, the problem of burping uncontrollably.

How did you develop the original idea into a story?

Once armed with a character and a problem, I asked myself a lot of questions using a mind map: What’s making her burp? What are the embarrassing consequences for her? What if other symptoms start to appear making it worse? What if she’s turning into a frog?

Was it a fun process?

Absolutely! I spent a lot of time laughing as things went from bizarre to ridiculous.

What did you enjoy the most about seeing the story unfold?

As I followed my scene plan the most enjoyable aspect of watching the story unfold was getting to know the characters and watching them interact as they developed into strong individuals.

What was the hardest part about going from initial idea to finished story?

The most difficult part was choosing which of the many solutions would save Lily and stop her turning into a frog. Even as I was half way through writing the story, I didn’t know exactly how it would end.

Do you think that being an illustrator as well helps you visualize ideas and characters?

Perhaps. I see the story in my head like a movie and the characters walk through the scenes in full colour.  I see everything three dimensionally, even house plans.

After you came up with the initial idea, did you do things like drink French champagne and catch tadpoles to help you get into the mood of the story?

Oh dear, my secret is out! Actually we had not long ago returned from our trip to Europe and I had been captivated by the medieval walled city of Carcassonne, France, so of course in the story the French exchange student, Rainier, comes from there. It is also a winegrowing district as the climate of Languedoc is fairly moderate.

Then this year, by coincidence, I discovered a French sparkling (champagne) from the same Languedoc region called ‘Lily Pad Pink’ and … the winery itself is called the Arrogant Frog. I know, unbelievable. Even the blurb on the back label says: “Try a taste and discover what a prince this frog can be!”

So of course that is the champagne served at Pond Magic’s book launch.

Can you tell us what your story is about and why you love it?

It’s about a twelve-year-old girl called Lily Padd who can’t stop burping. Fitting in at school is hard enough for most kids without the added embarrassment of webbed toes and skin that’s turning green! And so Lily fears she is turning into a frog.

To make things worse a French exchange student, Rainier, moves into her bedroom, forcing her to share with her little sisters, and Lily’s best friend, Maureen, thinks he’s gorgeous. As Lily side-steps Rainier’s attempts to be friends, her intolerance of him and all things French escalates into a series of laugh-out-loud situations.

I love Pond Magic. It is hilarious, but it also has a deeper more serious layer beneath the humour. As the plot progresses Lily’s character develops from an intolerant, self-obsessed tween to an accepting, tolerant friend with a better understanding of different cultures and a positive attitude towards other languages. The inter-cultural exchanges throughout the story highlight what is happening in schools everywhere when an exchange student arrives.

The value of this experience is what I wanted to express as the underlying theme of Pond Magic. I think the story successfully delivers this theme without being didactic and at the same time engages the reader in a rollicking good yarn.

I had a lovely time. Thanks so much for having me.

Thanks for visiting, Angela. You can  catch Angela on tour at these great blogs:

21st October – Stories Are Light – Sandy Fussell –
Review
http://www.sandyfussell.blogspot.com

22nd October – Write and Read with Dale – Dale Harcombe
Review and Developing a Character
http://www.livejournal.com/users/orangedale/

23rd October – Sally Murphy’s Writing for Children Blog
Getting Published for the First Time
http://sallymurphy.blogspot.com

24th October – Cat Up Over – Catriona Hoy
What Girls Read
http://catrionahoy.blogspot.com

24th October – Kids Book Review
Review of Pond Magic
www.kids-book-review.blogspot.com

26th October – Tuesday Writing Tips – Dee White
Writing to this Length
http://deescribewriting.wordpress.com

27th October – Kids’ Book Capers – Boomerang Books
Review and Where Story Ideas Come From

28th October – Kids Book Review
The Aussie Chomp Format
www.kids-book-review.blogspot.com

29th October – Tales I Tell – Mabel Kaplan
Promoting your First Book & Planning a Book Launch
http://belka37.blogspot.com

30th October – SherylGwyther4Kids
Once upon a time in a far away place…
http://sherylgwyther4kids.wordpress.com/