Phoenix: How I Got A Nintendo 3DS…

Swapna Haddow Halfway Round the World with the Haddows 6 Comments

Readers, Family Haddow is moving to New Zealand! That’s right! We’re packing up our fart sacks and heading to the Godzone. And you can read all about it in this new blog series…

Me: Today, I’m inviting my son, Phoenix, to the blog, as part of a series we’re calling Halfway Round the World with the Haddows, where we let you in on all that is going on with our big move to New Zealand in September. Welcome, Phoenix.

Phoenix: Thank you for having me, Mama.

Me: Today we are talking about us leaving the UK and setting up our new home in New Zealand. How are you feeling about it?

Phoenix: Before we start, I would like to let fans of my first comic ‘Zombie Cat’ know that my next two comics ‘Splat Zone’ and ‘The Dragon’ will be available for £1 each-

Me: Erm, excuse me. This is not eBay. This is my blog. We talk about my books.

Phoenix: And mine.

Me: No. Get your own blog.

Phoenix: I’ll just use yours.

Me [hard stare]: No.

Phoenix [mumbles]: OK, Mama.

Me: Back to New Zealand. How are you feeling?

Phoenix: I’m feeling quite nervous but excited. I’m nervous about moving and if I can fit all my stuff on the boat. But I’m excited because it’s a big adventure and we are going to have a really fun time and I’ve been promised a swimming pool, a treehouse and a Nintendo 3DS.

Me: Well, eventually you can get those things one day, in the future, perhaps…

Phoenix: That’s not what you said, when you needed my vote to move.

Me: I don’t actually remember promising those things.

Phoenix: You did promise. You have a bad memory. I remember these things.

Me: So anyway, what are you looking forward to the most when we get to New Zealand?

Phoenix: I’m really looking forward my swimming pool, my treehouse and my Nintendo 3DS and hopefully seeing the All Blacks play.

Me [ignores Phoenix’s remarks about a swimming pool, treehouse and Nintendo]: Why don’t you tell the folks reading this about where we are going?

Phoenix: We are going to Christchurch, which is on the South Island. I’ve never been before but my mummy and daddy went there ages ago for their honeymoon-

Me: It wasn’t our honeymoon.

Phoenix: Where was your honeymoon then?

Me: Cuba!

Phoenix: Oh. OK. So they went to New Zealand for no reason ages ago.

Phoenix leaves the room to go to the toilet.

Me: …

Me: …

Me: …

Me [makes cup of tea]: …

Me: …

Me: …

Me: [shouts at bathroom door]: Thank you Phoenix for your insights.

Only fifteen more sleeps until the epic journey to New Zealand begins, folks.

A Winter Surprise in One Snowy Night

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We might have just come through a heatwave and it might be raining today but I’m feeling all wintery this afternoon because I’ve got my mitts on an advanced copy of One Snowy Night, the latest wintery anthology of animal tales, published by Stripes Publishing.

Gorgeously illustrated throughout, in black and white, by the very talented Alison Edgson, there are ten stories in this collection, including A Winter Surprise by me! I’m so proud to see my work in this book, alongside legendary writers such as Holly Webb and Jeanne Willis.

Find out all about a squirrel called Jumbie and how he learns to accept the hand of friendship in A Winter Surprise, in One Snowy Night, when the book hits the bookshelves this October.

Dave Pigeon at Edinburgh International Book Festival

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I’m back from an incredible couple of days at Edinburgh International Book Festival, where Sheena and I were running our story-building and villain design workshop for the first time in bonnie Scotland.

Edinburgh did not disappoint. Despite the rain, we had an AMAZING time, catching up with fellow authors and illustrators and most of all, spending a wonderful couple of days with fellow book-lovers. Here are a couple of snaps from our adventure north:

Fan art by the super-talented Alma

That’s Sheena and I with super-poet Joe Coelho, outside the cafe where JK Rowling created Harry Potter. 

And that’s me and the legendary Frank Cottrell-Boyce

Thank you so much to the staff and volunteers who made our stay in Edinburgh so special.

Introducing Little Rabbit’s Big Surprise

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The wait is finally over and I can introduce Little Rabbit’s Big Surprise, my brand new book, illustrated by the immensely talented Alison Friend, publishing with Stripes in February 2019.

The Stripes team came to me late last year with their gorgeous Little Rabbit and asked if I would like to write her story as part of a new colour fiction range they were launching for emerging readers.

I fell head over heals for Little Rabbit and couldn’t believe my luck when I was paired with Alison. I’m a massive fan of her work and I can’t wait for you to see the book in the flesh because it is utterly gorgeous. For now, I shall leave you with this sneaky peek at the book:

Mean Cat gets her day at Roehampton Reads Festival

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I was flying solo today as Sheena was away but I felt right at home at Heathmere Primary School, where deputy headteacher, Ben Cooper, had organised the first ever Roehampton Reads Festival.

In honour of firsts, we started the session with a floss off, I decided to read from the first Dave Pigeon book and today, we let Mean Cat have her moment in the spotlight for the first time. After all, it must be hard for a cat who despises pigeons to star in a book, nay a series, about a pigeon.

The young illustrators and writers who joined me today helped write Mean Cat’s story using the fold-over technique.

One young writer would write the first part, fold the paper over so no one else could see it and then the next writer would write the next part and fold over and so on and so forth. Trust me, it made sense and it worked!

Thank you so much to everyone who came along and created amazing artwork and stories. And huge thanks to Ben, Heathmere Primary School and the Alligator’s Mouth for such a wonderful day.

Dave Pigeon (Racer!) is a Best New Children’s Books 2018

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It’s three in a row! I’m so happy to say that Dave Pigeon (Racer!) has made it into today’s ‘Best New Children’s Books’ supplement in The Guardian, following in the (pigeon) steps of book siblings Dave Pigeon and Dave Pigeon (Nuggets!).

The supplement, as ever, is packed full of brilliant new children’s books to celebrate Independent Bookshop Week so do grab a copy if you get a chance and definitely head down to your nearest independent bookshop and show them some love.


Dave Pigeon at William Patten Primary School

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Sheena and I visited William Patten Primary School with Stoke Newington Literary Festival, as part their fantastic Schools Day outreach. The programme aims to make sure every pupil at a primary school in Stoke Newington is invited to a free author event.

We met with over two hundred year 3 and year 4 pupils from William Patten Primary School, Grasmere Primary School and Betty Layward Primary School.

In addition to creating more than two hundred super villains, the pupils helped Sheena and I to create a brand new criminal mastermind, the wretched Stinky Pants, and a brand new story for Dave and Skipper. Our pigeon heroes had to escape the evil Stinky Pants from a swimming pool burger bar, whilst creating a humungous water wave to distract the pigeon-hungry villain.

Thank you so much to all the staff and pupils who joined us today and to Kate, Molly and Team Stoke Newington Bookshop for looking after us during our wonderful visit.