Fonix… or phonics?

Michael Gove has suggested that year one children be tested on their reading using words like ‘zort’ and ‘koob’. I like to think some subversive wag inserted ‘koob’ into the test. Perhaps they could add ‘werd’, too.  Anecdotal evidence suggests that advanced readers will fail this test, as they don’t recognise the words and feel shy of making a mistake. So, is phonics a Good Thing? Hoo nose? Ros Asquith, Lines cartoon, Phonics reeding test

 

Ros Asquith, Lines. Year 1 phonics test

Sum Reeding kahtoons, the Guardian, Ros Asquith.

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To blog or not to blog

Is blogging  useful? Creative? Time wasting?  Does it matter if no one but you ever reads it? Am pondering these questions but meanwhile, inspired by the awesome Sarah McIntyre, who blogs as she breathes , and Helena Pielichaty (ditto) here goes.  CWIG – the children’s book bit of the Society of Authors had a conference last weekend. Jane Ray was asked to talk and sweetly twisted my arm to join her. So here we are.

Jane Ray and Ros Asquith CWIG Conference

 

We were so nervous we barely slept and spent breakfast looking glumly at each other.

I said ‘Oh dear’. She said, ‘Oh dear’.

Then I said ‘Oh dear’. And she said, ‘Oh dear’.  And then I said, ‘Oh dear, oh dear” and she said ‘Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear”. And then I said, ‘Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear” and she said ‘Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear, oh dear”.(You can see why I get paid to write).

Nicola Smee kindly helped us to talk about our pictures and Sarah drew us…. (oh thank you Sarah, I drew you too)

Jane Ray and Ros Asquith by Sarah McIntyre

What else do I remember?

The poet Rachel Rooney making me feel it was ok not to blog, but to dream… here’s her beautiful first solo collection, which won the 2012 CLPE award

Young Bond author Charlie Higson on why men love James Bond ‘He has no wife, no responsibilities, lives in hotels, eats in restaurants and gets to kill people…’. Perfect.

Geraldine McCaughrean telling us she HATED ‘Peter Pan’ as a kid, and never would have got to write the sequel if she hadn’t won the chance in a competition. I entered that competition too… but then Geraldine is a genius…

John Dougherty singing Bye bye miss American pie, and showing a great video about Ed Vaizey. link to it on you tube, arf arf.

Kevin Crossley-Holland breaking into fluent anglo-saxon (and telling us he only read one book as a child)

Allan Ahlberg, who told us such sweet stories we all felt he’d lent us his soul for an hour… and here he is, magnificently captured by Sarah McIntyre.

So thanks to the CWIG panel of noble illustrators and writers for a thousand great chats with about a hundred damn fine women and thanks for letting me  doodle with Ted Dewan…

Ros Asquith, Ted Dewan, CWIG 2012

 

Read more about it and check out all the blogs on #CWIGConf2012,

 

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AGENTS, BLOGS, VALENTINES, ILLUSTRATORS, COMEDY NITES, ASYLUM….


FEBRUARY: What is there about February that is worth celebrating?

VALENTINE...love is a many splendoured thing by Ros Asquith

Cold…. Snow… and  Valentine’s Day… This year is Leap year, so on Feb 29th, we get a whole extra day. Perhaps time will stand still. Why not take the day off and see if anyone notices?

GREAT ILLUSTRATORS’ EVENING AT UNITED AGENTS…

On Feb 1st United Agents supremo Jodie Marsh herded a bunch of illustrators into her den for a showcase of work. What should we call a bunch of illustrators? A scribble? A line? A doodle? Anyway, everyone was happy and apparently massively talented. I was very taken with Ali Pye’s pictures for Edward Hardy’s ‘WHERE IS FRED?’ about a caterpillar in disguise… but I had to sneak off as Jane Ray had organised a charity exhibition Celebrating Asylum just round the corner, so I didn’t get to meet any publishers or talent scouts oh dear. You can see the artwork for that here -all proceeds to the St Mary Magdalene Centre for refugees and asylum seekers. And the excellent Sarah McIntyre has blogged about The United Agents jamboree HERE

 

 

Oh, and Piccadilly Press hosted a COMEDY NITE. Here’s me with Marilyn Monroe, I mean Jeanne Willis, and Ciaran Murtagh. Jeanne read some classic author/ illustrator emails which made publisher Brenda Gardner blush and Ciaran did some clever things with newspaper. They were both a lot funnier than me.

Jeanne Willis, Ciaran Murtagh, Ros Asquith at Piccadilly Press Comedy Nite.

Was good to meet Maggie Humphreys from Ed’s Reading Room who has said some absurdly kind things about Alien Schoolboy here and all the other noble folk who braved a cold night out when they could have watched real comedy on TV. Ta very much to all.

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Farewell Ronald Searle 1920-2011

Another hero bites the dust. Ronald Searle, gargantuan satirist, ineffable draughtsman, survivor and brilliant chronicler of the notorious Burmese railway, has died aged 91.

St Trinian's 2012, Ros Asquith, Guardian.

Best known in the UK for Molesworth and St Trinians, Searle was an inspiration to Steve Bell, Posy Simmonds, Ralph Steadman, Gerald Scarfe and virtually everyone who picked up a pen to draw. No one has made me laugh more. Link to all the obituaries and tributes here.

Ronald Searle’s Esprit Creatif. Goodbye Clouds, Goodbye Sky.

 

 

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CHRISTMAS SEASON TO BE JOLLY

 

CHRISTMAS, how jolly, Ros Asquith, Guardian

You can see more of my Christmas cartoons here

And here is DORIS, the cleaner, celebrating on a similar theme:

DORIS with her jolly Christmas trolley or rather, basket -Ros Asquith

Meanwhile, Flowkwee, my ALIEN SCHOOLBOY, is having trouble with his winter clothes:

ALIEN SCHOOLBOY: Christams? What's that?

He think Father Christmas is a god -and doesn’t even seem to know what a jumper is:

 

Aliens don't wear jumpers (or underpants, come to that) -Ros Asquith

You can read The Alien Schoolboy’s  CHRISTMAS BLOG to find out more.

Alien Schoolboy's Christmas- Ros Asquith

Meanwhile, Happy Christmas and  Happy 2012.

 

See you next year with more drawings….

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ROALD DAHL, TOWER HAMLETS, PRIZES, LITERACY GALORE.

 No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,
 No comfortable feel in any member--
 No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
 No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds--
 November!

– Thomas Hood

My November was quite cheery, though. Nov 4th saw the launch of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Literacy  at House of Commons with MPs and a couple of  the cast of musical WICKED (who are supporting literacy through their involvement in Wicked Young Writers’ Award but who sadly did not have green faces) and How to Train Your Dragon author Cressida Cowell. The National Literacy Trust is a wonderful organisation dealing with all aspects of reading, This year they are doing cards by ‘Gruffalo” wunderkind Axel Scheffler, ‘Charlie and Lola” genius Lauren Child, and, erm, me. Mine is below and you can see the others on the NLT website,

Jonathan Douglas Director of the National Literacy Trust with Ros Aquith

 

 

 

Ros Asquith card for national literacy Trust GIFT OF READING

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Later that week Rory, aged 9, came to my Chocolate Factory exhibition and decided to do his birthday thank you letters as alien pictures. Here’s one:

Rory's alien masterpiece

Was very proud to be part of an art auction at the Halcyon Gallery, raising money for The Art Room -a pioneering Oxford based charity aimed at 5-16 yr olds who are having a hard time at school either as a result of specific learning difficulties or interrupted schooling.

The list of artists was awesome, including Jake and Dinos Chapman, Antony Gormley, Maggi Hambling, Patrick Hughes,  Paula Rego, Rachel Whiteread, the last children’s laureate Anthony Browne,set designer pare excellence Hildegard Bechtler and exquisite illustrator Jane Ray. Was shy to be in such company and vowed to make a better picture next time.

Really enjoyed the Roald Dahl Funny Prize which was won by Liz Pichon for‘The Brilliant World of Tom Gates’. The under 7 category was won by Cats Ahoy! by Peter Bently (who was also shortlisted in 2009 ), and illustrated by Jim Field. Excellent books, indeed. I seem to have got my picture taken with Philip ‘beardy’ Ardagh (who won the prize last year) and Terry Jones who, like me, was a loser.

Ros Asqutih and Philip Ardagh. Wierdy and Beardy.

RosAsquith and Terry Jones. Python meets alien.

 

Michael Rosen thought up the idea for the funny prize because funny books don’t get a look in on most award shortlists. So thank you Michael. You can see a video of him and the winners here.

 

 

The Tower Hamlets Book Award was won by Joe Layburn (pictured below,

right) for ‘Street Heroes’. And I was second with ‘Letters from an Alien Schoolboy’.

Here we are, judging the amazing school plays.

Anne Canning, Andrea Reece, Ros Asquith, Jo Humphreys-Davis and Joe Layburn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lots of schools  took part,  performing fantastic plays and films about the shortlisted books, so it was a really special event. Globe School won with a very funny staging of the first scene of Alien Schoolboy, complete with alien masks, a spaceship and a walking ice cream poster. Hope to get the video soon. Thanks to all of the schools for putting so much effort and imagination into our humble books and especially to Manorfield Primary where I had a terrific time with Year six who all drew some spectacular aliens. I hate to agree with OFSTED (see cartoon below), but Manorfield really is an outstanding school.

 

Ros Asquith Cartoon, Guardian Education

 

 

 

 

Here's me signing books at Tower Hamlets

Here’s me on the left, signing books at Tower Hamlets. I think the books were written by me, but I’ve signed books by plenty of different authors n the past. What do you do? Someone wants an author’s signature on their book, so why not? However I did draw the line when some wag suggested I sign a biography of Princess Diana.

Good Heavens.

 

The Guardian has put up a gallery of pictures from “Letters from an Alien Schoolboy’

That’s quite enough about prizes, ed. Actually, that’s too much about prizes.

 

 

 

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AWARDS, EXHIBITIONS, ALIENS SIGHTED IN CHELTENHAM, FAMILIES

 

The Guardian has put up a gallery of pictures from “Letters from an Alien Schoolboy’

But  Earthlings are documenting Aliens everywhere. Here’s a sinister one I found lurking about at the Cheltenham Literary festival.  Could it be by Imogen? I wouldn’t like to meet NEGOMI on a dark night….

NEGOMI: Alien invades Cheltenham

I’m thrilled ‘THE GREAT BIG BOOK OF FAMILIES’ by Mary Hoffman, illustrated by me, has won the under 7s category in The School Library Association’s first ever Information Book Award. Chris Brown, Chair of the judges, said, “This Award is the only children’s books award to focus solely on Information Books. It is a celebration of the fantastic skills being applied in the creation of the very best of such books for our young readers. ‘

Jayne Gould said  “Families come in all shapes and sizes, as ‘THE GREAT BIG BOOK OF FAMILIES’ demonstrates with warmth and humour…. it is a book which can be used across the primary age range. For example, my school has used it for several weeks’ worth of work with Year 4 pupils on the diversity of family life.” How kind.

Ros Asquith and Mary Hoffman

Jonathan and Marilyn Baillie, Adrian Dingle, Ros Asquith and Mary Hoffman

Winners were: Under 7sThe Great Big Book of Families by Mary Hoffman, illus Ros Asquith. Frances Lincoln ISBN 9781845079994

7-12Animals at the Edge by Jonathan and Marilyn Baillie. Franklin Watts ISBN 9780749694814

12-16How to Make a Universe with 92 Ingredients by Adrian Dingle. Scholastic ISBN 9781407117911

Overall WinnerHow to Make a Universe with 92 Ingredients by Adrian Dingle.

 

 

And I have an exhibition of cartoons this weekend, Nov 12th and 13th at THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY, in Wood Green. It’s a chance to see the work of 100 (Yes! One HUNDRED) Artists. Here’s the info:

 

All welcome!

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JUST IMAGINE and HALLOWEEN

Charming young Earthlings enjoying ‘Letters from an Alien Schoolboy’ and ‘Cosmic Custard’

I really enjoyed my visit to the warm and welcoming Just Imagine Story Centre in Chelmsford . It’s a beautiful shop, brimming with wonderful books and exquisite dressing up clothes, too. Downstairs is a spooky dungeon, so it’s a terrific place to drop by, browse and play. I talked to some highly intelligent young Earthlings who all drew magnificent aliens. Then I bored on for hours to some very polite (and talented) adult Earthlings about my life as a Guardian cartoonist and authorene. They all stayed awake and even laughed occasionally. That’s because the shop’s delightful owner, Nikki Gamble, was tickling them with an ostrich feather attached to her little toe. You can’t see Nikki’s feather, but since everyone in Just Imagine has a smile on their face, I KNOW it’s there. Thanks so much Nikki and all of the Children’s Illustrators Group.

SOR and MOT (that's me and Tom, using our alien names)

Meanwhile, Flowkwee, the Alien Schoolboy himself, has shown me his blog about HALLOWEEN but although he thinks he’s so clever, he can’t even spell it right. here’s what he’s written, but you may be able see it on his very own website

http://www.alienschoolboy.co.uk/

GREETINGS EARTHLINGS

I have been informed of a curious Earthling ceremony  called ‘Hallo Ian’ that occurs once every Earth Year on OCTOBER  31st . I don’t know who this ‘Ian’ person is, but you have to say hallo to him anyway if you want to play. You also have to have a fat orange vegetable called a ‘pumpkin’ dressed up to look like a person. Younglings  dress themselves in odd ‘costumes’ called ‘witches’ or ‘ghosts’ and make noises like ‘woo woo’ and bang on doors shouting ‘trickortreat’. Grown ups then open the doors of their dwellings  and give the little savages sweeties!  Sometimes the grown ups give out smaller orange vegetables called ‘tangerines’ but if they do, the younglings are very rude and go ‘yuk’, even though these little vegetables are much better for their chewing blades. As you know if you have read my excellent ‘books’, I have grown very fond of an Earth sweety called ‘chocolate’, so I am going to join my new school friends in their ‘Hallo Ian’ games this year. They say the point is to look scary, but between you and me my friends look like bin liners in bandages. I am going to take off my Earthling disguise and go as myself this year. That should get us lots of sweeties. I love the nice crunchy ‘wrappers’.

Look out for me, I’ll be looking like this.

Here I am with my pet, Pluke

Maybe I’ll come to YOUR house.

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THE BIG DRAW

Busy week for me, because I really like just sitting around dreaming. Or quietly drawing. But I wish everybody would draw more, so that’s why I mosied along to The Guardian newspaper’s  BIG DRAW last Saturday. Here is just one  of the many many wonderful ALIENS YOU CREATED. (Hope to add more later)

 

Joshua drew this alien that works if you turn it upside down…… One way it’s called OH and the other, HO.

Oh ho!

 

 

Over 350 people took part in masses of activities including drawing cartoon strips, hang out your washing, mono printing, waves will bring your dreams, alien invasion, ideas and expressions, taking a line for a walk, Halloween cards, imagination planning, alien squiggles (that was me), stencilling books, geometric images, random post, fantastic creature collage, using the lightbox to create cartoons and caricatures and drawing music. There was also a range of talks from Posy Simmonds, Martin Rowson, Chris Riddell, Judith Walker and Kevin Whitney

Artists and illustrators involved included Caroline Holden, Marie-Helene Jeeves, Geoff Thompson, Alex Leadbeater, Otto, Steven Appleby, Ros Asquith, (oh, that’s me) Mary Pullen, Michael Challenger, Joanne Ayre, Lawrence Zeegen, Geoff Grandfield, Sally Kindberg, David Page, Jane German, Kipper Williams and Jim Sillavan.

And big thanks to all of you who said such kind things about my humble aliens. Remember to book early next year and get everyone you know DRAWING. Read more here:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/gnmeducationcentre/cartoon-and-art-family-day

I also visited two fabulous schools in Grantham: Harlaxton Primary (hooray) and St Mary’s (Hurrah). Hope to get some pictures of the wonderful aliens the children drew.

AND I have two exhibitions, one at the Karamel Club with Matthew Green and Mark Oliver http://www.karamelclub.co.uk/

and one at Muswell Hill Library with Jane Ray and Kathy Henderson which is 80 years old on October 15th. Now for a nap. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

 

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COMICS, PIRATES AND PRINCESSES

How does the amazing Sarah McIntyre http://www.jabberworks.co.uk/books.php ever get time to draw? Two weeks ago she hosted a great comics event at the Society of Authors

From left to right it’s Sarah McIntyre, comics creator Andi Watson, Walker Books commissioning editor Lizzie Spratt, creator John Aggs, creator Sally Kindberg, The Phoenix Comic editor Will Fickling, creator Patrice Aggs and moderator (and all-round comics expert) Paul Gravett.

Lerryn Korda, comics creator and me, cartoonist Ros Asquith with Gary and Patrice.Keep an eye on the Comica website for loads more excellent events.

Then  just last week Sarah launched launched her second Princess Spaghetti book, a piratey adventure written by Gillian Rogerson, ‘You Can’t Scare a Princess!’

THEN she drew zombie pirates against the clock. Here are all the illustrators who joined in, including me.

From the left, Philip reeve, Sarah McIntyre, Ellen Lindner, Woodrow Phoenix, me, David O’Connell, Alexis Deacon, Gary and Alex Milway.

OK, my dinosaur pirate does look more like a dragon but it was supposed to be T-Rex….

 

And here’s my lovely agent Jodie Marsh (right) and her lovely assistant Lucy Simmonds. They are always smiling despite being nagged into the ground by wretched authors like myself.

I nicked all these pics from Sarah’s amazing blog http://jabberworks.livejournal.com but she has done so many different things since then that you might not be able to find them any more. Memo to self. Go to a pirate party once a year at least.  AAAR Jim lad. I called myself Jim until I was seven, so it must be in my blood.

 

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