SHINE is on the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize longlist

I am speechless. So happy. Thank you to The Guardian and to judging panel Gillian Cross, Frank Cottrell Boyce and Katherine Rundell (who happen to be some of my favourite authors).

I got an email the other day that I'd made it to the longlist of eight but to keep my mouth shut until Saturday when the Guardian planned to go public.

On Friday though, Philip 'the Beard' Ardagh tweeted this:

Such an act of unmitigated niceness! Hmm, I thought. Does he know something about the Guardian prize.

But the next day, Philip swore he had no idea!
When I saw the synopsis for Shine in the Guardian, I thought, wow, somebody really read the book. Here's a screenshot from the Guardian gallery of longlisters.

The medical condition which scars Rosa and leaves her without speech at birth is viewed with deep mistrust by the superstitious community in which she lives. To avoid their taunts she remains largely hidden at home from a world full of secrets and fears, with her head filled with half-remembered dreams. But, like any other 13-year-old, Rosa needs an independent life. Daringly beginning an online friend­ship, Rosa brings dangerous attention to herself, unleashing dark family secrets as she does so - but also setting herself joyfully free. Contemporary life and the spirit world are seamlessly interwoven in this skilful and poignant story about friendship, family and self-belief.

On the Saturday morning, I woke to my smartphone buzzing like a crazy bee on the bedside table.
And for the rest of the day, the phone didn't stop buzzing. Life really does happen on social media.

I've embedded some tweets below to give a taste of what my day has been like.

Now, people, take note that it's just the LONGlist. And also take note that the other long-listed books are absolutely fabulous, I'm just happy to be one of them.

Thank you for all the warmth and love you've pinged my way.

If you're a young person who likes writing book reviews, you MUST enter the Guardian Young Critic's Competition. Good luck!

The Strange Voice in the Woods by Candy, Mabel and Kathleen

Every year I go camping with a group of friends from my daughter's primary school days.

No, I'm not keen on sneezing in a field, carrying my dishes to a tap to be washed and walking in the dark of night to an outside loo in the middle of a field with scary shadows everywhere. But I am keen on my friends. So I try to go -- though sometimes, I don't sleep over because I'm not camperly like that.

This year, I was just a little bit broken (ankle problems) and I couldn't chase Kathleen and Mabel round and round and round the camp as I normally do. So I persuaded them to make a story with me. Here it is, scanned from my sketchbook, complete with all the smudges.

One day, two girls were walking in the woods when they heard a strange voice.
"HELLO, GIRLS!" the voice said.

The "Hello Girls" part has to be read in a sheep like voice. Mabel did the big writing at the top but the terrible handwriting is mine. Mabel and Kathleen each drew their own girls. At this point, I just wanted to scare them with my sheep voice. 

"What was that?"

Mabel began to draw the trees, and that gave me a sneaky idea. They also drew a river, but we forgot about the river later on. 

Suddenly, big drops of water fell from the sky.
"Oh no!" the girls said.

It began to rain a little bit and so we decided that big drops of water would fall from the sky. At this point our drawing was interrupted by lots of mummies and daddies returning from a walk in the woods.  

And then the trees began to move.
"What's going on?" the girls said.

I don't remember why Mabel and Kathleen disappeared. Maybe they were climbing on a dad or two or eating watermelons. But they were gone for a while so I drew the characters on this page and got the story heading for its conclusion.  

"NOTHING!" the giant sheep said.

Heh heh! I told Mabel and Kathleen to draw the girls from far away. When I added the sheep they were SO surprised!

(But what about the giant drops of water? What were they? Ew.)