Quickbits - Nepal, Win a School Visit, Book Binge

By Candy Gourlay

Feel free to use this badge to help
raise funds for the Nepal Earthquake


Here, in the safety of my home in London, where the ground does not shake one bit and no invisible power is building up beneath the ground and no tsunamis of snow threaten to tumble down upon my head, it is hard to imagine what conditions are like for the survivors of last week's earthquake in Nepal.

I have heard that there might be an Authors for Nepal auction similar to Authors for the Philippines when our islands were struck by a super typhoon two years ago now. I will post here when I know more.

Meanwhile, please let the professionals get to work, our role is to raise funds to help our Nepali brethren back on their feet.

I made this badge - feel free to steal it and post it on your blog or social media. Thanks to Marina and Enrique on Flickr for making the image available on Creative Commons.

You can give to:
The Disasters Emergency Committee
The Red Cross here.


The Siobhan Dowd Trust donated a generous amount of money for two of the school visits I auctioned off at the Authors for the Philippines campaign. I fulfilled one of them last year -- a visit to a school in the Philippines.

The Trust is now offering the other school visit to UK schools. If you'd like me to visit your school, you can apply to the Siobhan Dowd Trust here. See you in the Autumn!


Now that my work is no longer in progress and is now being read by publishers (fingers crossed, everyone!), I should start writing my next book. But last week I found myself staring at the screen, reading, painting the masonry outside my house ... anything but getting on with the job at hand. I think it's a way of clearing my head of the book I had just finished so that I can focus on the next book.

Anyway, I had quite a reading binge -- mostly of Kate DiCamillo books. I discovered Kate when Shine was nominated for the Guardian Prize along with Kate's Flora and Ulysses last summer.

I read F&U and loved it. When I heard that my friend Yoko Tanaka illustrated Kate's The Magician's Elephant, the story of an elephant who magically appears in a village and changes a boy's fortunes, I HAD to read it.

One of Yoko's illustrations. Beautiful.

That was the beginning of the binge. When I finished the magical, lyrical Magician's Elephant (with Yoko's sad and beautiful drawings), I had to read another Kate DiCamillo IMMEDIATELY.

So I read The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane - about the adventures of a self absorbed rabbit who is lost at sea and how he learns to care.  Oh my. It was so meltingly warm and full of love, I had to read another one.

I read The Tale of Despereaux, about a mouse who falls in love with a princess. It made me feel even greedier for more DiCamillo.  I read her debut novel Because of Winn Dixie, about a stray dog who helps a girl make friends. I loved that too! More! More!

There's only one more novel left - The Tiger Rising. I stopped myself because if I read it now, there would be nothing left to read. So I'm saving it for later.

Instead I read Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel, about the aftermath of a pandemic. No, it's not a children's book, but older teens might enjoy it. It was gripping and beautifully written (I like beautifully written, plot isn't enough for me). You can read the review here if you'd like to try it. I couldn't put it down.

Because I'd been reading all those Kate DiCamillo books, Amazon has begun recommending a lot of award winning American middle grade books. Since I was resisting my last DiCamillo, I thought I'd dip into one of those recommended titles.

I'm now a third into The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart -- why  have I never heard of this book? It's brilliant so far and I think I can confidently recommend it even though I'm not yet finished!

I'm going to be busy writing again soon, which means less reading. Ah well. Till next book binge ...