OUR GAGS – READ ABOUT THE GRANDMA EVERY HOUSEHOLD NEEDS

When I picked up Our Gags, by Catriona Hoy, I thought this is going to be a book full of jokes, but it wasn’t.

Our Gags in this instance are not pranks or puns – Our Gags is ‘our grandmother’ and even though this book isn’t full of jokes, it’s still hilarious.

Our Gags is in the Walker Stories series so its three small stories about the one person – Gags.

In the first story, The Gags Machine, “Our Gags” takes over the running of the house while Mum looks after the new baby.

Gags has it all under control – the housework, the cooking, the dress ups. Clearly, every household needs a Gags Machine.

In the second story, Gags Ahoy, Gags shows that she’s more than just a machine. She also loves to play. Gags is the troll under the bridge, she walks the plank and pretends to be sat on by an elephant – she’s even part of the pirate crew.

Finally, the reader is introduced to Gags on Holiday. Gags goes to the beach, she makes funny faces to distract the baby, she plays ball and makes a great audience for an impromptu show.

Gags is the sort of grandma that everyone loves – busy, funny and full of fun. Young readers will love hearing about her antics. Those who don’t have a grandma like Our Gags will definitely want one.

I love the action and imagery in this book.

“Hmph,” says Gags as she loads the washing machine. I help her chase the socks that have escaped into the hall.

This is a simple story brought to life by Catriona Hoy’s witty text and Annabelle Josse’s gorgeous black and white illustrations.

With three entertaining short stories designed to build reader confidence, The Walkers Stories are the ‘perfect first step into fiction’.

With it’s hilarious illustrations and heartwarming text, Our Gags is another great addition to the series.

WIN A COPY OF “OUR GAGS”

Enter the competition at Catriona Hoy’s blog today www.catrionahoy.blogspot.com

 

OUR GAGS – CATRIONA HOY’S NEW WALKER STORY

Catriona Hoy is the author of many much loved picture books including My Granddad Marches on Anzac Day, George and Ghost and Puggle. Her latest book, Our Gags is her first venture into longer works and it’s published by Walker Books.

Catriona has kindly allowed her main character, Caitlyn to visit Kids’ Book Capers today and tell us what makes her grandma (her Gag) so special.

EVERY CHILDREN’S STORY HAS A MEMORABLE CHILD AT THE CENTRE OF IT

Caitlyn, you are the main character in ‘Our Gags,’ tell us a little bit about yourself and your family.

Well, I’m about four years old and we just have a new baby in our family. Mum used to have lots of time to play with me but now she’s really busy with that new baby. Luckily, we have Gags to save us.She’s my grandma.

Some days there is a lot of mess around….and smells. Who would think that something so small could smell so bad! Gags comes around to help mum with the house but really she comes to play with me. She is really good at playing games.

Why do you call your grandma ‘Gags,’ is it because she is funny?

She is funny but that’s not why I call her Gags. Mum says, when I was little, I used to say ‘ma ma’ for Mum and ‘da da’ for Dad and ‘ga ga’ for Grandma. So I kept calling her Gaga, even when I was quite big. Now I am really grown up though, I call her Gags for short.

Are all the stories in the book true?

Most of them, especially in the first story. Mum wrote that one first. Gags is really good at cleaning things and she doesn’t like mess. She finds things that are lost, she can make play doh and she loves dressing up too. Gags is also really good at the playground because she plays billy goats gruff on the wobbly bridge. Mum pushes the pram but Gags and me are very busy having fun.

Even the dog in the book is our dog, Leisha. She is a labrador and she loves to eat and eat. She came on holiday with us when we took Gags.

And my Dad really loves the smell when he walks in the door when Gags has been visiting. It smells like cleaning and cooking! Dad doesn’t mind vacuuming but he likes it better when Gags does it!

At first, you don’t seem to find the new baby very interesting, what do you think now?

She was really boring at first. She just slept and ate but it was a lot of work. But then, she got more interesting and I could help feed her and change her nappy. Sometimes I play with her too and can give her a cuddle. She can be part of our games and get eaten by wild teddies and things.

What’s your favourite part of the book.

Hmm, I like the part where Gags is playing that she is being sat on by an elephant and a man comes along and thinks she is having a heart attack.

The author, Gags, Caitlyn (now 13) and that baby Kiera (now 10)

What does Gags think about her story?

Gags is a bit proud that she is in a book. She made mum change some bits though. Mum was trying to make a good story, so she made Gags get stuck in a slide at the playground. Gags didn’t like that so Mum had to change it. That’s why she put the elephant book in. Mum hopes Gags knows she loves her when she reads the book.

Our whole family was at the book launch for our book and Gags was very happy!

(note: Caitlyn is now in year 8, her sister is in grade five and we still call grandma ‘Gags.’ We have a new labrador called Millie, who still likes to eat everything. Sadly, we have to do our own vaccuming now….but Gags still comes to visit.)

On Friday, we’ll be reviewing Our Gags here at Kids’ Book Capers.

WINNERS OF THE GEORGE AND GHOST COMPETITION ANNOUNCED!

CONGRATULATIONS TO THE WINNERS OF THE GEORGE AND GHOST COMPETITION!

A FREE COPY OF GEORGE AND GHOST IS COMING YOUR WAY

What an amazing standard of entries we had in our Kids’ Book Caper’s George and Ghost competition. Thanks so much to everyone who took the time to enter.

Competition judge and George and Ghost author, Catriona Hoy admits that she had a difficult time making her final choices because there were so many fabulous entries.

JUDGES COMMENTS

It really, really was sooooo hard to choose. I had to enlist the help of my thirteen year old daughter! She laughed too. She even laughed at the story about her thinking Dad came out of my tummy.

So, as they say, in no particular order, here are my choices…but I really had lots of other favourites.

THE WINNERS

1. Julie Murphy (Australia) for…what is it like inside a brick.

It was so left field and in the words of my daughter…’that’s just so random, Mum!’

2. Karen Tyrrell (Australia) for ‘what is time?’

I saw a whole documentary on the BBC for that one and boy is that a dooozy to answer…even for a physicist.

3. Vickie Laurie (Australia) why didn’t I get invited… because it was so poignant and brough back memories of my own daughter’s struggle for acceptance…and my own!

4. Kay Baillie (Australia) because I’m seeing those free range sausage rolls, roaming the hills, slurping on tomata sauce (or ketchup fro our US friends).

and last but not least

5. Breanna Glass (US), for setting Grandad on fire.

I loved so many of the others though and I wish I had copies to give you all. One thing it has made me appreciate though…how tough must it be to be a commissioning editor? Really, sometimes, it just comes down to how someone feels on the day.

Thank you all so much for entering and taking part in my blog tour. I hope those of you who won will love your copies of George and Ghost and those who didn’t, look out for it in bookstores or libraries.

Finally…perhaps I’ll do it all again next month…when ‘Our Gags,’ comes out.

Thanks again to everyone who followed the blog tour and entered the competition. Congratulations to all our winners. I will be contacting you by email to tell you how you can collect your prize from Catriona.

KEEP WATCHING FOR MORE GREAT BLOG TOURS AND COMPETITIONS AT KIDS’ BOOK CAPERS – MORE OPPORTUNITIES TO WIN GREAT BOOKS!

Next Week – Grim & Grimmer author, Ian Irvine starts his tour here – more great prizes to be won.

ENTER HERE TO WIN A COPY OF GEORGE AND GHOST

ABOUT GEORGE AND GHOST

George and Ghost is a book about a little boy and his special friend.

One day George decides he doesn’t believe in Ghost anymore and the onus is now on Ghost to prove that he exists.

George and Ghost delves into the world of what’s real and what’s not and does it matter anyway. A great book for children of an age when books should be encouraging their imagination to flourish. George and Ghost shows them that it’s okay for them to see the world in a different way to others.

This is a beautiful book for young children with themes of friendship, trust and perceptions. I also like the science themes explored in this book. Catriona Hoy who is a secondary school science teacher has cleverly woven some interesting detail and science experiments into this story for younger readers in a way that will amaze and engage them.

I loved that this book doesn’t tell you what to think or how you should believe. The ending is left up to the imagination and interpretation of the reader.

The text is very active and carries the reader along, but there are also clever insights into what George is thinking and feeling.

Cassia Thomas has done the stunning illustrations for this book. Her beautiful child friendly pictures will allay anyone’s fears that ghosts are too scary a topic for this age group. Like George, ghost is simply gorgeous. He is a gentle funny friend – the kind you’d want to take home as company for your young child.

HOW TO WIN A COPY OF GEORGE AND GHOST!

In George and Ghost, George questions his friendship with Ghost, and asks Ghost to prove that he is real.

Think of a hard to answer question that you asked as a child or a hard to answer question that your child or a child you know, has asked of you? The five hardest questions (as judged by George and Ghost author, Catriona Hoy) will win a copy of Catriona’s fabulous new book.

*  *  * PLEASE READ! HOW TO ENTER THE COMPETITION *   *   *

To be in the running to win one of the five copies of George and Ghost, THIS IS WHAT YOU NEED TO DO:

1. Write your “hard to answer” question in the comments section at the end of this post.

2.  Next to your entry, write your country of origin.

3.   Submit your entry before 12 midnight Sunday 12th March, Australian time.

FIVE entries will be winners

Catriona is visiting all these great locations on her blog tour.

Monday March 7

Claire Saxby:  Let’s Have Words

Topic: Art vs Science

Tuesday March 8

Rebecca Newman: Alphabet Soup Magazine’s Soup Blog

Topic: Does a picture book need editing?

Wednesday March 9

Trevor Cairney : Literacy, Families and Learning

Topic: The Writing Journey

Thursday March 10 (Official Release Day!)

Robyn Opie: Writing Children’s Books With Robyn Opie

Topic: Writing George and Ghost

Friday March 11

Dee White: Kid’s Book Capers : Boomerang Books

Topic: Ghosts…Do You Believe? And…a review!

Saturday March 12

Chris Bell: From Hook To Book

Topic: Picture books: Here and Overseas.

Monday March 14

Lorraine Marwood: Words into Writing

Topic: What’s real anyway?

GEORGE AND GHOST AUTHOR CATRIONA HOY TALKS ABOUT GHOSTS

Catriona Hoy is visiting today as part of her blog tour to celebrate the launch of her beautiful new picture book, George and Ghost. She’s going to be talking about ghosts in general and about the special Ghost in her new book, which has been beautifully illustrated by Cassia Thomas.

I asked Catriona some spooky questions

Do you believe in ghosts?

I certainly believe there are ‘presences,’ and that there are more things on heaven and earth than we have the wherewithal to understand. I feel sometimes that special people who have passed on keep an eye on me and that’s a comfort. I would love to be ‘fey’ and that might seem to contradict my science background but it doesn’t really. I think that the boundaries of science are continually expanding and the more we know, the more we know we don’t know!

What’s the scariest ghost story that’s ever been told to you?

I’m actually not very good with ghost stories. I never watch horror films as I get too scared, I like to think of the dark as comforting rather than scary. I did however go out once with a boy whose mother was a spiritualist. She believed that their house was full of spirits and I always felt uncomfortable when I was in the shower…I used to wonder whether old Uncle Fred could see me. Of course I’m sure if Uncle Fred was there, he’d be much too civilised to watch me in the shower!

Have you ever met a ghost? If not, would you like to?

No, I haven’t met a ghost. I did love travelling through England and Scotland though, where there were so many ghosty and haunted places. One of the local pubs claimed it’s own ghost and I even booked friends in to stay the night there. Sadly, I think the noise of the Trivia Night chased it away!  I still hope to meet a nice, benevolent ghost one day.

If you met a ghost what would you say to it?

It depends…I might be really, really scared! It might be…’arrrggghhh.’ Or I might ask if it knew my Dad or my father-in law and ask if they were doing okay, ask it to give my mother-in law a big kiss and whether great auntie May missed having a cigarette or a whisky!

Why is this ghost important to George?

Although I’ve emphasised the ‘hidden science’ in George and Ghost, essentially it’s a story about friendship. Ghost is George’s friend and he is sent away, for reasons which may seem justified but really aren’t. I think children will relate to the friendship, loss and renewal of friendship. It’s also a metaphor for that slipping away of childhood things, those questions like ‘is Santa real?’.

Is George and Ghost based on something that really happened or is the story straight from your imagination?

George and Ghost came from my imagination but having said that, there were a lot of influences on me at that time, including where I was living and what my own children were up to. When we first moved to England, we had a loft where we found little bits and pieces that previous people had left behing. We found a note from a little boy and for a little while pretended he lived up there. Maybe that’s where the idea came from.

What made you write about a ghost?

Essentially, Ghost is just a best friend, rather than a ghost. Sure, he can fly through the window and he’s a bit different but when he snuggles down with George in bed on that last page, he’s as cute as any other sleepy little kid. George and Ghost isn’t a ghost story, it’s a friendship story. I know my own Mum had an imaginary friend when she was young, and an only child. True friends come when we need them.

Thanks, Catriona for talking ghosts with us and telling us about your new book.

Don’t forget to enter the competition on this blog to win one of five copies of Catriona Hoy and Cassia Thomas’ new picture book!

HOW TO WIN A FREE COPY OF GEORGE AND GHOST!

George questions his friendship with Ghost, and asks Ghost to prove that he is real.

Think of a hard to answer question that you asked as a child or a hard to answer question that your child or a child you know, has asked of you? The five hardest questions (as judged by George and Ghost author, Catriona Hoy) will win a copy of Catriona’s fabulous new book.

To be in the running to win one of the five copies of George and Ghost, write your “hard to answer” question in the comments section at the end of this post.

Catriona is visiting all these great locations on her blog tour.

Monday March 7

Claire Saxby:  Let’s Have Words

Topic: Art vs Science

Tuesday March 8

Rebecca Newman: Alphabet Soup Magazine’s Soup Blog

Topic: Does a picture book need editing?

Wednesday March 9

Trevor Cairney : Literacy, Families and Learning

Topic: The Writing Journey

Thursday March 10 (Official Release Day!)

Robyn Opie: Writing Children’s Books With Robyn Opie

Topic: Writing George and Ghost

Friday March 11

Dee White: Kid’s Book Capers : Boomerang Books

Topic: Ghosts…Do You Believe? And…a review!

Saturday March 12

Chris Bell: From Hook To Book

Topic: Picture books: Here and Overseas.

Monday March 14

Lorraine Marwood: Words into Writing

Topic: What’s real anyway?

WIN GEORGE AND GHOST THIS WEEK AT KIDS’ BOOK CAPERS

This week, Catriona Hoy is visiting Kids’ Book Capers on her blog tour to celebrate the launch of her new picture book, George and Ghost.

On Friday she will be giving away FIVE copies of George and Ghost to our readers.

HOW TO WIN

For the competition you will need to think of a hard question that a child you know has asked or that you asked as a child.

On FRIDAY, come back here and we’ll tell you how to enter.

Five difficult questions will win a copy of Catriona’s beautiful new book.

Footnote: As we are celebrating the Australian release of George and Ghost,  the author has advised me that four of the five copies will be awarded to Australian Readers.

Don’t forget to come back to Kids’ Book Capers on FRIDAY to read all about George and Ghost and enter the competition.

FRIDAY BOOK FEATURE – PUGGLE AND HIS CREATOR

Picture book author Catriona Hoy has always loved writing.

I wrote lots of bad poetry as a teenager, filled with angst, and dreamt of being a songwriter. I didn’t’ see writing as a career though and did a science degree at university. I did a lot of writing as a teacher, designing units etc which was probably good training. But it was a bottle of red wine and a conversation with a friend which began …’if you had your life over, what would you be?’ She’d wanted to be an artist and I’d wanted to be a writer. She’s now just put on her first exhibition of textile art and it is stunning.

My friend gave me the courage to try my hand at writing picture books. I had my share of rejections and made cringeworthy mistakes but at each bump in the road, I kept going. Thankfully my book The Music Tree landed on the right editors desk at the right time and went on to become a CBC notable book for  2006.

What inspired you to write Puggle?

I visited the home of some wildlife carers a few years ago. It was a great experience as every room of their house held baby animals or injured animals being nursed back to health. These wildlife carers were volunteers and cared for and fed the animals until they were strong enough to be released. It was their sheer dedication that inspired me. My children got to feed a baby wallaby from a bottle, hold snakes and squashed flies to baby birds.

What’s it about?

Puggle is the story of one of the animals living in this amazing home in the bush. A puggle is the name for a baby echidna.  Because they are so slow, echidnas are in danger when they cross roads. Puggle’s mother had been killed accidentally but Puggle had been saved and brought around to the home of these wildlife carers. He lived in a woolen beanie when I visited him. The story is about how he learns the skills necessary to survive before he can return to the wild. There are some other lovely animals in there too.

What appealed to you about Puggle?

For me, it was the sheer vulnerability of Puggle when I first met him, like most babies. He was pale, grey and completely helpless. I thought he looked a bit like a chicken fillet with the skin on…same texture! And of course I loved the name. When Sue told me his name was ‘Puggle’ and that he actually was a ‘Puggle’ my eyes lit up and the idea for the story took root. I kept in touch with Helen and Sue, his carers, to find out how Puggle progressed and there was that little bit of tension about whether or not he would grow up and become strong and healthy enough to return to the wild.

On my website www.catrionahoy.com.au/htm/puggle I have also listed a number of websites which link to information which can be used by classes as part of research work, including the Pelican Bay Echidna Research Centre on Kangaroo Island.

Even better, there are some great pictures of Puggle, starting from the day he first arrived up until he was fully grown and ready to return to the wild.

How did the pictures fit in with your idea of the book?

I think Andrew Plant’s illustrations are fantastic. He has a real love of animals and the bush and his zoology training means that all the drawings are realistic. However, this doesn’t mean they aren’t also incredibly cute. I was overseas when I saw the proofs for the book and they made me feel incredibly homesick. I swear I could smell gum trees and dry dusty bark and leaves coming from the page. The colours too were also so, well, Australian!

More about Puggle is available on Catriona’s website www.catrionahoy.com.au/htm/puggle