The blog tour

Max Counts to a Million is on tour this week – a blog tour. What’s a blog tour, you may ask? It’s when a series of bloggers pass the baton from one to the next, taking it in turns to write about something. It gets you a series of perspectives on the same thing, a diversity of content from relevant enthusiasts.

In this case, it’s some of Britain’s finest teachers, librarians and children’s book champions.

I’ll round up all the links at the end of the week:

Thanks to everyone who took part, and for celebrating Max and Operation Million!

Out with The Book Fairies!

It’s coming up on two years since the beginning of the Covid-19 lockdown. To mark the occasion, on Wednesday 16th March, The Book Fairies hid copies of Max Counts to a Million around the country.

You know about the Book Fairies, right? They’re real and everything. Look, here is evidence of their activity:

Books were left in cafes, playgrounds, outside schools, at a swimming pool, a children’s hospital, and one in the capable hands of a statue in London.

I joined the fairies too, with copies left at the Luton bus interchange for children heading home on the bus after school.

If you love books and want to share them, you can be a book fairy too.

Win the book!

Two competitions you can enter to win a copy of Max Counts to a Million

  1. Over on the Nosy Crow Instagram, you can win a copy by following them and tagging your friends. You’ve got until 23rd March 2022 to do that.
  2. are offering an entire ‘Max bundle’ that includes the book, a rainbow neon light, Smarties and things. So that’s good. Closing date is 21st March.

Good luck!

In shops today

Max Counts to a Million is in shops from today. I went to check, and yep. There it is. On the table no less, alongside its sibling books also out this spring.

Published by Nosy Crow, it’s the story of a boy who counts to a million during lockdown. It’s funny, it’s moving, and it’s perfect for reading aloud and reflecting on all that we’ve been through in the last couple of years.

You can of course buy it online from all the usual places. I recommend buying it from an unusual place. Specifically, Zebedee’s Bookshop, which is run by my children.

Talking tar sands in Germany

An article of mine on Canada’s tar sands, used in a conversational English textbook for German high-schoolers. It’s in a book called Canada – Dreams and Realities, part of the Schwerpunktthema Abitur Englisch series.

Suggestions for using the article include an activity where the class are divided into representatives of either the oil industry, the Canadian government or the Canadian First Nations, for a mock debate.

christmas resources from lifewords

free-christmas-resources.pngThought I’d better give a little plug to some work stuff. Every summer I end up spending a fair chunk of time working on Christmas materials, which is always a little bit strange. The lifewords christmas site for 08 is here, and it’s looking good.

The basic idea is to supply free christmas resources for churches, so we’ve got powerpoints, audio downloads, posters, invites, a rather nifty advent devotional thing, and bunch of other stuff.

We’ve also got the little story booklet, A Little Story About Something Big, written by yours truly and illustrated by very talented Japanese artist Chinatsu Sunaga.

abandoned places

Everybody likes a good ruin, but the ones we usually value tend to be old, ancient civilisations, runied abbeys. But the 20th century has given us more abandoned places than any other, the cycles of innovation, industry and obsolesence leaving us with ruins in and around our cities, empty and crumbling, foreboding and locked away. I find such places fascinating.

So does Tim Edensor, my old university lecturer, who wrote a book on the subject.

His eloquent and thought provoking take on industrial ruins is online too, in writing and in photography, here and here.

“As spaces by the side of the road, ruins can be explored for effects that talk back to the quest to create an impossibly seamless urban fabric, to the uses to which history and heritage are put, to the extensive over-commodification of places and things, to middle-class aesthetics, and to broader tendencies to fix meanings in the service of power.”