Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Crocodile in a fish pond

A reminder to remind you, if you needed reminding, that The Crocodolly is available worldwide with free shipping from Fishpond.com

The service Fishpond offer is excellent, with speedy delivery.

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Le Prix des Incorruptibles

I'm thrilled to pass on the exciting news that the French edition of The Octopuppy, published by Editions Père Fouettard as Entre Chien et Poulpe, has been short-listed for the French literary prize Les Incorruptibles.  It's a competition that runs every school year, in which children vote for their favourite picture book from a short-list of five. The Octopuppy has made the short-list for 2016-17 and the winner will be announced in June 2017.  It's one of the most famous awards in France for children’s literature, so this is lovely news.

Entre Chien et Poulpe @ Amazon.fr

Easter egg

An eggy bit from The Crocodolly.  Happy Easter!

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Octopuppy on stage

Here are some photos of a theatrical production of The Octopuppy which looks like fun, staged at the Jornada literary event in Campinas, São Paulo, Brazil. The event took place last year, but I've only just found out about it (all the latest hot news here, folks). I particularly like the design of Jarvis the Octopuppy, made from a novelty hat with tinsel tentacles.

The Octopuppy is published in Brazil by Editora Saber e Ler.

Friday, 1 January 2016

Happy New Year

Last chance today to enter the Goodreads giveaway for a chance to win a copy of The Crocodolly.

Enter the giveaway right HERE

Friday, 11 December 2015

WIN! A copy of The Crocodolly!

Between now and January 1st you can enter the Goodreads giveaway to win a first edition hardback copy of The Crocodolly! Signed by me unless you really insist that I don't.

Enter the giveaway HERE

What they've been saying ...

"This quirky book is a delight - surprising, hilarious and brilliantly executed from the front cover to the very back. British author/illustrator McKenna has perfectly matched flamboyant illustrations to the understated text and absurd story to delight young and old.  It is a joy and pleasure to come across a book that is fresh and funny and has so much to offer. It kept me hooked right to the perfect end!" -- Creative Kids Tales

"From the creative genius who gave us The Octopuppy, we now have The Crocodolly! I laughed through every page of this book. The minimal text lets the images do the talking, and the illustrations are simply sublime. The scenes, the expressions, the little details - all perfect. Even the endpapers are worth close inspection. Martin McKenna is now on my list of favourite authors. I like the way his mind works!" -- Kids Book Review

"Highly recommended. The story of Adelaide making sure that Ozzy's skills are put to good use is a delight and the digital illustrations certainly set the scene adding a level of brilliance to the tale. The images of Ozzy in the doll clothes are priceless and those of Adelaide trying vainly to fit in with her friends and their dolls most amusing. Readers will love Adelaide and her attempts at fitting in and will applaud her problem-solving skills at the end. A crocodile frocking up! What fun." -- Read Plus

"The Crocodolly by Martin McKenna is a fabulous book! The children absolutely love the story, but I just adore the underlying message. I would suggest this as a must read for little girls, but don’t stop at reading it to your girls. My boys loved this book, and let’s be real here. Not only do we want to raise strong females that smash stereotypes, we need to be raising young men who have a multi-dimensional view of genders and don’t box males or females into narrowly prescribed gender based roles."-- Caitlin's Happy Heart

 "A very mirthful picture book that is sure to entertain young readers with its comical plot and its endearing characters. A most entertaining book." -- Children's Book Council of Australia

"This bright, glossy, loud story, full of off-beat humour is great fun. The illustrations of the trail of destruction left by Ozzy the crocodile give subtle clues as to how Adelaide’s problem will eventually be solved. Young readers will enjoy the exploits of Adelaide as Ozzy stomps, squishes and rolls his way through the book." -- Buzz Words Magazine

One of these could be yours.

Friday, 6 November 2015

Storytime Crocodolly

Here's a little Crocodolly tableau set up by the lovely folk at the Storytime children's store in Whangarei, New Zealand.

Visit the Storytime store: http://www.storytime.net.nz/

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Squiggle & Curly Mark

From deep within my drawers comes this ancient doodle. It was an attempt to depict the characters of Squiggle and Curly Mark, a duo that my friend Gareth and I came up with amidst the endless amounts of other nonsense we were always inventing. Having consulted the dictionary for the definition of the word 'squiggle' for some reason that I forget, we found that it was described as 'a curly mark', and so this pair were born. I present them here, because in some ways they're an early precursor to Edgar and Jarvis in The Octopuppy.

Monday, 31 August 2015

Inside The Crocodolly

The Crocodolly is released tomorrow (available to buy now in the Scholastic store), and here's a look inside the book.

Adelaide, our little girl heroine, has a troubled past when it comes to pets.

So she takes drastic action to keep Ozzy, her new baby crocodile, a secret from the powers that be.

And it looks like she might just get away with it.

But Ozzy doesn't really help matters by growing to monstrous proportions.

Which leads to no end of bother!  What will become of poor old Ozzy?

An early review of The Crocodolly from The Children's Book Council of Australia.

Thursday, 20 August 2015

The Crocodolly

The Crocodolly is almost here. Well, it is here, but it's almost there too, and some other places.

Here's a photo of some advance copies which arrived today:

To set the scene a little bit, here's the blurb from the back of the book:

And, although these photos do a poor job of capturing the correct colours, here's the spine which I'm quite pleased with. I did all the cover design, with the support of the stupendous Patricia Howes at Omnibus Books:

More images of and from the book in the next few days. The Crocodolly is published by Scholastic and is released on the 1st September in Australia and New Zealand. It can be pre-ordered here and elsewhere.

Sunday, 16 August 2015

The octopus genome and the evolution of cephalopod neural and morphological novelties

Octopuses have been called 'the most intelligent invertebrate', with a host of complex behaviours, and a nervous system comparable in size to that of mammals but organized in a very different manner. It had been hypothesized that, as in vertebrates, whole-genome duplication contributed to the evolution of this complex nervous system. Caroline Albertin et al. have sequenced the genome and multiple transcriptomes of the California two-spot octopus (Octopus bimaculoides) and find no evidence for such duplications but there are large-scale genome rearrangements closely associated with octopus-specific transposable elements. The core developmental and neuronal gene repertoire turns out to be broadly similar to that of other invertebrates, apart from expansions in two gene families formerly thought to be uniquely expanded in vertebrates — the protocadherins (cell-adhesion molecules that regulate neural development) and the C2H2 superfamily of zinc-finger transcription factors.

The octopus genome and the evolution of cephalopod neural and morphological novelties

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Reviews roundup

Some recent reviews for The Octopuppy.

Booklist starred review June 1, 2015 issue
Edgar is eager for a puppy, but when he gets a yellow box deceptively decorated with dog bones, he’s disgruntled to discover there’s not a canine in the package but a goggle-eyed, eight-legged cephalopod named Jarvis. Jarvis’ enthusiasm for Edgar is stunning—he emerges from his box with confetti and ribbons and regales his new owner with masterful tricks, such as wearing all the shoes in the house and holding lots of ice-cream cones at once. Edgar is dead set on a dog, though, and it’s not until Jarvis follows his command to sit that he’s satisfied, and it’s off to the dog show. Can Jarvis obey like the doggie Edgar wants him to be? (Spoiler alert: no.) It takes a while, but Edgar eventually learns to value Jarvis for what he is—a brilliant creature who looks boffo in a tux and is better than any puppy. McKenna’s hilarious illustrations and uproarious page turns capture a fantastic array of cartoonish emotions, from Edgar’s furrowed-brow fury and head-hanging regret to Jarvis’ charmingly oblivious attempts to impress, all of which are obvious enough that young ones who haven’t mastered reading yet will still be able to follow along. Kiddos will chuckle over Jarvis’ antics, and they’ll be heartwarmed when Edgar finally appreciates his octopal. Superb laugh-a-minute absurdity.
Review by Sarah Hunter

Granite Media
This is one of the most wonderful books I have read in a long time! Edgar wants a puppy for his birthday, but instead he gets Jarvis, an octopus. Edgar is sorely disappointed and proceeds to train Jarvis to be a dog. Though Jarvis tries, he can’t be the dog Edgar wants him to be. In the end, Edgar learns that Jarvis is pretty fantastic just the way he is and is the perfect pet. The story has a sweet message and I wouldn’t be surprised to see this book up for a Caldecott award next year. Rating: ★★★★★ (5 stars)
Review by Teresa Edmunds, Westbrook Elementary Media Center

Portland Book Review
In Martin McKenna’s The Octopuppy, young Edgar dreams of having a dog. However, he is gifted a pet octopus instead! Edgar is not quite willing to give up on his dream and makes every effort to train Jarvis to behave like a dog. Jarvis is very intelligent, and tends to follow commands in his own unique way, much to Edgar’s chagrin. Eventually deciding he is a failure at being a dog, Jarvis runs away. It takes Jarvis’ absence to strike home to Edgar that Jarvis was not a dog, and Edgar should not have been trying to make him behave like one. Edgar begins searching all over for Jarvis, but will Jarvis hear his heartfelt apology?
The book is colorful, and has very cute illustrations that children and adults will fall in love with. There is some surprisingly morbid humor tucked inside the images as well that children will likely not notice, but may cause a chuckle from adults. For example, when Jarvis runs away he flushes himself down a toilet – something typically reserved for disposing of waste and the occasional fish funeral – and even leaves behind a farewell note. There is also a scene during Edgar’s search for Jarvis where he holds up a missing poster to a butcher standing in front of a pile of fish.
An incredibly quirky children’s book, The Octopuppy teaches children the importance of respecting the uniqueness of others, and that it isn’t always a bad thing to not have your expectations met. If you didn’t think cephalopods were cute before, The Octopuppy may change your mind! Rating: ★★★★★ (5 stars)
Review by Whitney Smyth
Most kids want a pet. Usually a dog or a cat. And Edgar is no exception with wanting a dog. Instead, he gets Jarvis, an Octopuppy. He cannot play dead, or lay down like normal dogs. No, Jarvis has to always go overboard. But Edgar still tries to take Jarvis to the dog show. But when Jarvis being Jarvis makes Edgar say something, Jarvis runs away. But soon, Edgar learns a very important lesson. The Octopuppy was a fun book to read. Martin McKenna's quirky text and readable illustrations make this a fun anytime adventure.  Review by Jeanette

Cartoony silliness captures an all-too-familiar childhood dilemma--you want one thing but get another. In "Octopuppy", McKenna's Jarvis (the eclectic octopus) is the very epitome of this NOT THE PUPPY I WANTED phenomenon. Well-placed microexpressions balance Jarvis' wild eccentricities to create one of the weirdest, best-composed picture books of the year. Review by Aubrey Restifo

Book Picks hosted by Joe Donahue, review by Suzanna Hermans from Oblong Books & Music