Monday, 14 March 2011

Welcome George and the Ghost

Hurray for new books!  Today is the last 'leg' of Catriona Hoy's book blog tour for her new picture book "George and the Ghost."

Welcome Catriona, what a pleasure to have guests on my blog and to share in the excitement of a new book for children.  Catriona is a writing friend, as well as Science teacher, mum and passionate author.

If you've missed past blog stops scroll down to the end of the page and take a journey to discover all about different aspects this picture book's creation.

But now let me introduce Catriona.

Ghost as a character almost has a parallel part as an imaginary friend also. Some children have imaginary friends in their childhood- did you ever have an imaginary friend?
Was this parallel in your mind as you wrote this picture book?

  I didn’t have an imaginary friend when I was little but I know my Mum did. She was an only child and had a little friend called ‘Toolie.’ I definitely saw the parallels, in fact, I just saw ghost as the expression of that imaginary friend…or Santa….or many of the things that children believe.

Do you think picture books, indeed any stories written for children have to have their roots planted in real events/ characters/ actions?

     Definitely not! How I loved climbing that Faraway Tree with Jo, Bessie and Fanny, lol! I was always wishing I could find ‘pop’ biscuits in the supermarket. However, having said that, in my own writing, it has usually been some event or series of situations in my life which has sparked that idea that becomes a book. 

You wrote this story while in the UK and indeed history is on the side of England- legends/mysteries/ghosts. Australian children's fiction is not so embedded in ghost stories- have you had any reaction from young readers about this content? 
   There are certainly more ghostie stories where I grew up in Scotland! There were water horses that could take you away, there were fairies that certainly weren’t cute things with wings, the devil might try to tempt you into a bargain….or what about those Brother’s Grimm. Some fairly gruesome stuff there.

I don’t think that children associate Ghost as a scary ghostie thing. Cassia has drawn him in a really friendly way…like that other friendly ghost! When I first saw Ghost, I wanted to pick him up and cuddle him, especially when he looked sad. Children can cope with aliens, talking animals etc and they aren’t particularly real either.

I have had some reaction from those with strictly religious backgrounds, saying that it is against their faith…and then I have had very positive reactions from others who are also people of strong faith. 

It's a fascinating question about what is real and what is not- In your book you write about concrete attributes like weight, photography, displacement- on the flip side we can't weigh sunlight but we can see its effects- so Ghost has an effect on George's life and this can be measured in terms of friendship. Can you comment on this?

   I love blog tours…people throw curly questions at you that you hadn’t thought of! Originally, I wanted to have some little facts or discussion points at the back of the book but these have ended up in the teacher’s notes that I have on line. The story is essentially about the difference between matter and energy, both of which are real but have to be measured in different ways. My thoughts were that Ghost, should he exist, would be energy…I didn’t want to close off any doors, I wanted to open up a discussion.
The word ‘real’ can be used in different ways. Sometimes ‘real’ is used to mean ‘true’ In this last instance George and Ghost’s friendship is true. It has stood up to some tough questioning.

From your teaching background do children have confusion about what is real and what isn't?

   I’m a secondary teacher and children learn about atoms and matter in year 8 ish. Physics and forces are really hard though. When we look at some of the new theories coming up like ‘string theory’, I have trouble believing in them myself. And black holes and the big bang theory…sometime fact is stranger than fiction.
In terms of what really young children believe, I can only comment as a mother. Children are constantly coming up with their own ideas of how the world is put together…’I can remember my own amazement when my mum told me that there wasn’t a lady at the water board, who sometimes made my shower go hotter …and that this same lady wasn’t really watching what came down the plug hole to see whether I had wee’ed in the shower!

And that leads onto ways children can measure what is real. Do you think readers will have a better understanding about what is real when they read your book?

Maybe not! I think there will be lots of questions. Certainly there are follow up experiments that they can do and talk about how you measure things. Volume of objects is always a good thing to do with displacement from water. They might talk about types of energy, or forces. They might talk about how you could measure a thought! The thing they are thinking about may be a real thing, or an imaginary thing…but we can measure brain activity …

But just maybe, it will simply stay as a story about friends, that they can revisit when they are older.

Is there anything else you'd like to add in conclusion? An aspect that hasn't been covered in the previous posts?

I think I’m fairly done here Lorraine! Whew, there’s been lots of questions in a few days. Thankyou for helping out with my blog tour. I’m going to have a nice cup of tea and cross my fingers and toes that people will like little George and Ghost. They are out there in the big wide world now and I’ve given them the best send off I can.

Oh, can I be cheeky and invite your readers to help me launch George and Ghost? It’s Sunday April 10 at Phoenix Park Library, East Malvern. 2.30pm. I’m going to try and prove I’m real!

Thanks again!

And thanks to you Catriona for answers to all those tricky questions about what is real, especially in such a ghostie book.  Its been a pleasure to host this last day on your book tour and I look forward to the launch in April. 

Here again are previous blog tour stops.  Settle back for some more enjoyable posts.
And to learn more about Catriona visit her website here.
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
Bell: From Hook To Book
Topic: Picture books: Here and Overseas.

Monday March 14
Lorraine Marwood: Words into Writing
Topic: What’s real anyway?


Dee White said...

Thanks Lorraine and Catriona,

I enjoyed the post. Your blog looks beautiful, Lorraine:)

Hope the 'actual' launch of George and Ghost goes well, Catriona:)

Chris said...

Congratulations on a great tour, Cat. I've thoroughly enjoyed following you around like a groupie.

Thanks for the fabulous topic and questions, Lorraine. Loved some of the responses too, especially what Catriona thought the lady at the water board could tell from the shower plughole.

Best wishes, Chris

Sheryl Gwyther said...

Congratulations on your new book, Cat! And thank you both for a very interesting interview. :P

Kat Apel said...

Lots of tricky Qs there Lorraine - well done. And well-met, Cat. Now you can relax (collapse in a heap) before getting ready for the 'real' launch. Enjoy! :)