Hen Houses and Happiness

The Nosy Crow conference on Saturday was filled with the useful and unexpected. It made me realise that I didn’t know what I don’t know.

It also offered huge relief to the true bookworms, who love everything about the traditional, shamelessly old-fashioned, real book, even if it doesn’t fit in your bag and gives you severe shoulder strain when you lug it around. Is it a peculiar to be attached to the smell of a printed book?

A few years back, I looked on with horror at a YouTube clip which showed a delightful boy working an iPad better than I could myself. At that point I cried a bit inside and resigned myself to a bleak future, akin to Farenheit 451 in which all books are burnt and swiftly forgotten, in favour of lightweight technological marvels.

So I almost sighed aloud with relief when I heard that even in 2013, e-books form less than 5% of the children’s book market. There is still hope!

My favourite part of Saturday’s event was the panel of three Nosy Crow authors who made the journey from the slushpile to getting their work sold internationally. Helen Peters was a particular inspiration as she told us about how she’d given up on a piece of work, tucked the manuscript under her bed, only to revisit it years later following advice from a friend. The result was The Secret Hen House Theatre which I’ve just finished reading – a great, unpredictable story which really captures the childhood imagination.

Hannah is a unique heroine, one that you want to befriend and learn from at the same time. And then there’s the importance of smell again. You really sense it as you read – the mud, manure, and the magic. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a warm-hearted page turner. And you don’t necessarily have to be 8-12 years old.DSC00581

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