The Rocket Dog is Launched!

Today is the official launch date for Lucy and the Rocket Dog. 🚀🐶🎈🎊🎉

I’m not going to beat around the bush here. I think it would be an excellent thing if you all went and bought a copy.

If you like any of the following, there’s a chance you’ll like it: space, rockets, dogs, space-dogs, space-rabbits, love stories, Einstein, time dilation, girl scientists, jokes about philosophers, and unexpectedly happy endings.

This page has links for you to buy from evil and non-evil outlets, in the UK and US, according to your preference.

Lucy and the Rocket Dog — Coming Soon!

The advance reader’s copies of my children’s novel, Lucy and the Rocket Dog arrived in the post this morning, with illustrations by the exceptionally talented Monica Arnaldo, and they look absolutely stunning. The book is about a girl scientist, her dog, the theory of relativity, time dilation, space worms, friendship, loss and the here, there and everywhereness of space. It is due to be published by Knopf in the USA in the summer of 2017.

Book Review: The Snorgh and the Sailor at Christmas

So there I was, warming my toes by the fire in my little house, listening to the howl of the wind, when there was a knock, knock, knock! on the door. I put down my pen and went over to see who it was. ‘Writers don’t like visitors,’ I muttered to myself. ‘Particularly not when they are busy writing.’

But when I opened the door, I found it wasn’t a visitor. Instead it was the postman. And the postman handed me an envelope. I took the envelope and closed the door, then I went back to sit on my chair by the fire.

I opened the envelope and pulled out a book. And it was not just any old book. Instead it was a copy of the newly published picture book, ‘The Snorgh and the Sailor at Christmas’, a sequel to ‘The Snorgh and the Sailor.’

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There was a letter inside the envelope too, that said the book was written and illustrated by the amazingly talented members of class Primary 4D, from the Riverside Primary School in Falkirk. I looked at the map. The book had come a long way: miles and miles and miles, all the way from Scotland. I hadn’t realised that the Snorgh had travelled so far away.

The cover of this new book looked promising. It made me want to read on. So I opened up the book and discovered that since I’d last seen him, the Snorgh had come home from his adventures with the Sailor, and was living once again in his ugly little house. But the pictures also made me sad, because it was winter, and the Snorgh’s marsh looked very cold, and his nose was very red.

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Then I remembered that it was a couple of years since I had last called on the Snorgh, and I wondered how he was doing. I felt a bit guilty that I hadn’t gone to visit him for a while, and decided that I would do so this summer, when the weather was warmer.

I read on, and found that—to my dismay—the Snorgh seemed to have become even older and grumpier since I’d last seen him. But just as I was feeling very sorry for him, and wondering where the Sailor had gone, I turned the page, and there was a ‘Ho! Ho! Ho!’ at the Snorgh’s door.

It was the Sailor, back from his adventures. And I was surprised to find that he’d got himself a job since I last met him, delivering presents for Santa. He even had a proper Santa-hat and everything. But he’d clearly he’d bitten off more than he could chew and needed some help.

So the Snorgh and the Sailor set off again on another Great Journey, delivering presents for Christmas. And I’m not going to tell you exactly what happened, because that would ruin the surprise. But ‘The Snorgh and the Sailor at Christmas’ is a great sequel. It is exciting and funny and just a little bit sad, at least on the page where the Snorgh is lonely and has a very cold, red nose. And when you come to the end of the book, you will smile. Which means, in my opinion, that it must be a very good book indeed.

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All pictures © Class 4D, Riverside Primary School, Falkirk

PS You can buy the original Snorgh book here. I wrote it a few years back, and the great Thomas Docherty drew the pictures.

Happy Belated World Book Day

Yesterday was World Book Day, and somewhere in the misty north of England, there were Snorgh-related activities afoot at Seven Stories, the National Centre for Children’s Books (see the gallery of the Snorgh’s world travels here). But meanwhile I was back down in the Midlands working through a rather long to-do list. However, because I felt it necessary to celebrate World Book Day by idling with some book or other, this morning I belatedly took an hour or so to start reading Daniel Pennac’s truly lovely The Rights of the Reader. Read more

In Oldham

Well, I’m back in Leicester after a fantastic two days in Oldham, where I was at the 2013 Brilliant Books award. And the whole thing has been enormous fun. We writers and illustrators were all looked after incredibly well (the legendary Oldham Cheese Pie lived up to the whispered rumours), and it was a pleasure to meet teachers, librarians, schoolchildren and parents and see such enthusiasm for writing and literature, as well as to get to know some of my fellow-writers better.

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Knowledge and Friendship at the End of the World

The following post was first published on the old version of WillBuckingham.com. From time to time, I’ll be republishing essays that disappeared from my old website when I switched over from Textpattern to WordPress a year or so back. The post had its origins in a paper that I gave at a conference on the apocalypse in literature at Westminster University in 2011.

When it comes to the ways that we think about the apocalypse, we are often inclined to moralise the end of the world. From Noah’s flood, to zombie apocalypses caused by the hubris of scientists, to the various kinds of environmental disasters that may or may not face us, our stories about the end of the world often have the distinct air of moral retribution for past misdemeanours. But there are certain kinds of apocalypse – amongst which can be numbered apocalypse by comet – that have nothing to do with blame and responsibility, nothing to do with how virtuous we are or not. These are endings that simply are, or at least that might be. Read more

In Praise of the Moomins

I am writing this somewhere on the ferry between Stockholm and Turku; and as I look out of the window at the grey sea and the rocky little outcrops of Åland, I find it all seems strangely familiar, as if I have seen it somewhere before. And, in a way, I have; because these are the seas that I navigated again and again in my childhood imagination, in the company of Moominpappa and Moomintroll and Snufkin, whilst reading those incomparably strange and wonderful [amazon_link id=”0140306099″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]children’s books[/amazon_link] by Tove Jansson.

These are the seas with islands so small and remote and strange that they might seem like bits of fly-dirt on the map; seas where chilly and lonely Grokes pursue distant boats with paraffin lamps at the head of the mast, glowing in the night; tiny harbours where small, solitary creatures crawl secretly underneath the tarpaulins of tied-up boats, to fall asleep and dream. And it feels like a pilgrimage of sorts to come here, and to watch out at the cormorants scudding over the waves, and to look across the countless islands towards the distant horizon. Read more

Snorghs, Sailors, Philosophy and Mood

With apologies for cross-posting from my personal website; but I’m very pleased to have received this morning two copies of the Spring Issue of Interdisciplinary Humanities journal, which includes my essay on “What the Snorgh Taught me about Emmanuel Levinas”. It’s a fairly personal essay/paper about the questions around children’s literature, creative writing, research and philosophy. The paper started out when I began to realise that the process of writing my children’s book, [amazon_link id=”1407116525″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]The Snorgh and the Sailor[/amazon_link] was (whatever Martin Amis might say about children’s literature) one that fed back into my philosophical writing, opening up new questions and lines of inquiry.

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Philosophy, children’s literature and the question of branding

A couple of months ago, my children’s book, [amazon_link id=”1407116525″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]The Snorgh and the Sailor[/amazon_link], was published. It has been one of the most demanding and delightful projects I’ve ever been involved in. Who would have thought that eight hundred words would require quite so much redrafting?

I fell into children’s literature somewhat by mistake, after becoming friends with the illustrator Thomas Docherty. Tom is a wonderful artist, and a lovely man; but when we decided to have a go at working together, I can remember feeling a little apprehensive. Part of the reason was that I was not sure I could write for this age group. Another part of the reason was that I was a writer who spent his time working on philosophy and novels for adults, and I couldn’t really see how writing children’s books fitted in. Read more

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