Friday, 23 July 2010


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.

Diana Oxgrampe

*Sesquipedalian: (of words and expressions). Long and unnecessarily complicated.

Sunday, 11 July 2010


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 - 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.

Gideon Paramax

Tuesday, 6 July 2010


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.

Paxman O'Gradie