I have also hand-colourised the castle plan in one book - making this particular copy a true one-of-a-kind.
If you'd like to see some of the designs in past doodled books, click here and here.
It was exciting to see JUSTIN THYME mentioned in the Sunday Times last week, (Culture Supplement 05/12/10). Nicolette Jones featured JT in her choice of the year's best children's books, saying "the story is remarkable" and describing it as the "curiosity of the year". Also listed in the 9 - 12 year-olds section were: Billionaire Boy by David Walliams, The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, Ghost Hunter by Michelle Paver, My Name is Mina by David Almond, Reckless by Cornelia Funke, and A Really Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson.
To read the JT segment, click here.
For those who don't know already, an ambigram is a word or phrase that can be looked at from more than one angle. (Ambi = Both / Gram = Word).
When I first discovered ambigrams, the artist side of me recognised at once that this was something I had to try. As I worked on the "Justin Thyme" logo, I realised that an ambigram would illustrate perfectly how there's more to this book than first meets the eye, (and more than one way of solving the mystery), so I decided to incorporate the logo into my dust-jacket design.
It's a design-concept that's certainly captivated target-age readers (many eager to try creating ambigrams of their own name) - and Book-sellers have found that displaying two copies together, side-by-side, with one upside-down, really catches people's attention.
I think I was perhaps fortunate with my choice of character name / book title; ambigrams are incredibly challenging - and designing one that's legible enough for a book cover is near impossible (unless your book is called something like "SWIMS"). I have managed a reasonably successful ambigram of "Eliza" - but most of the other characters simply don't work! It's fun trying, though. Why not have a go with your own name and let me know how you get on!
Justin’s time machine is a converted vintage Norton motorbike and sidecar. Actually, it’s the sidecar, (or chronopod), that contains all the time-travelling technology, while the bike just makes it easier to move through the three standard dimensions of space.
I‘m told that this splendid old Norton motorcycle and sidecar, (pictured above), will be on display outside the Cotswold Bookstore for the forthcoming booklaunch. I’m looking forward to seeing it; the bike looks pretty much as I imagined - although the sidecar is slightly different, (Justin’s pod is more egg-shaped and closed-in on top), but it is exactly the right colour.
Anyway, it’s similar enough to make me feel I should check beneath the seat to ensure the negative-energy generator and antigravity units have been wired in correctly!
Only two weeks to go before the official launch of "Justin Thyme" (at the Cotswold Bookstore, 2pm, Saturday September 11th).
I hear the books were delivered to the shop yesterday - and having seen this photograph of the enormous pile, I have to admit feeling slightly terrified! What if nobody turns up? What if Mrs Kof hasn't made enough shortbread? What if my time machine malfunctions? What if Eliza eats all the bananas?
Fortunately, over 275 copies have been pre-ordered ... so I'll be too busy to worry about Eliza.
Meanwhile, I'd better get practicing signature!
Max de Paragoni
Writing books for school-age readers is always a challenge. One aspect of this is the need to write characters, places, scenes etc., that will be easily and rapidly visualised - while often having to paint these mental pictures with a limited pallet of words.
This has to be balanced with the fact that teachers usually prefer their pupils to read books that will expand their vocabulary – yet young readers don’t want to be wading through a huge dictionary every time they happen upon an unfamiliar word. Rather than lose track of the story, most continue reading, and guess the definition from the context.
It struck me that the obvious solution was to include a mini-dictionary at the back of each book. Many books already include an appendix of technical terms or foreign words found in the narrative – so why not expand this to include all words in the story that are likely to challenge target-age readers.
This doesn’t mean I’ve inserted sesquipedalian* words into the book just for the sake of it. Rather, I’ve written using a level of vocabulary that, to me, feels right for the intended audience, and brings the story to life – yet without me worrying whether some of the youngest readers might feel out of their depth.
When I was a young reader myself, part of my enjoyment of books was learning new words and their meanings. Sharing this love of language is important to me, therefore “Justin Thyme” briefly defines more than 450 of the most challenging words in the story – all easily accessible in a mini-dictionary at the back of the book.
Although the publication date of "Justin Thyme" is October 4th 2010 - the JT book-launch will be on Saturday 11th September. This gives readers the chance to get copies three weeks ahead of the official release.
The launch will take place at: The Cotswold Bookstore, 20 High Street, Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire. If you can make it, please come along and say "hello!" I will be signing books from 2 pm onwards.
If you can't make it, but would still like a signed copy of JT1 - the nice people at the Cotswold Bookstore are willing to send you a copy post-free anywhere in the UK. To reserve yours, you can either email them at firstname.lastname@example.org - phone them on 01608 -625666, or write to the above address. Ordered copies will be signed on the day, then mailed out the following week.
I'll add more details here nearer the time.
It was nice to see "Justin Thyme" mentioned in last week's copy of the Bookseller magazine. It was listed in the Booksellers' Choice (Children's section) as one of the Panel's September choices - chosen by Jake Hope. Thank you!
A week or two before, JT also appeared on the magazine cover. This was unique as it was the first time the Bookseller had printed its title upsidedown (as well as the right way round) ... which really highlighted the JT ambigram perfectly.