Virginia Snowflakes and Tiny Tales

April 5th, 2014


I live in Los Angeles, where rain is treated the same way a blizzard might be treated in other parts of the country. But I recently found myself in SNOW and it was beautiful!

I was in Northern Virginia for some school events with Bookworm Central – kudos to Radhika and Laurie for being fabulous hosts and the whole Bookworm Central team and our fabulous lunch! I also had a great dinner with local librarians and Baker and Taylor, wholesaler to libraries which is doing a big promotion for the Humphrey books and their new, virtually indestructible Paw Prints binding. It was a business dinner that was pure pleasure. (Thanks to Penguin’s Mary Raymond and to Katie Tucker who was there live and in person!)

 

 

 

Me with team Bookworm Central!

 

The big event was live-streaming and taping Meet the Authors for Fairfax County, VA. But the show is not limited to Fairfax County.  Any school can be involved – and should be!

http://www.fcps.edu/fairfaxnetwork/mta/birney.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

      With Katie Tucker of Penguin  

             Baker & Taylor dinner

 

I worked in Hollywood as a writer and producer, but I’d never done the equivalent of a live TV show. Luckily, host Della Kidd and the whole staff made it incredibly easy and fun. It live-streamed that day, and streamed again a few days later. Eventually it will be in their video archives and on video on demand. Challenging but fun, with kids Skyping questions from Oklahoma and Oakland, CA … taped questions from kids …. and live phone-in calls. Great questions and it was LIVE.  (I think I already said that.) They also had a great pre-taped segment on writing with tips from a very smart hamster named Mr. Bibbles!  Funny, because Humphrey book 11, coming out in 2015, has a lot to do with writing! Stay tuned for more info and the link.

 

My other news is that Humphrey’s Tiny Tales, which have been in the UK for awhile, are coming to the US in late August! These are shorter, illustrated books and they’re being reillustrated by a fabulous artist I know and admire: the one and only Priscilla Burris!!! She is perfect for Humphrey – yay!!! Keep your eyes and ears open for more details. There are two coming out in August: My Really-Wheely Racing Day and My Playful Puppy Problem. This is such exciting news, Humphrey is spinning on his wheel for joy night and day!

On a personal note, I’m having neck surgery April 8 and may be off the internet for awhile but am looking forward to coming back stronger than ever.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy 10th Hamster-versary

March 4th, 2014

 

No one is more amazed than I am that Humphrey has been around for ten years. Ten years, ten books – the newest is Secrets According to Humphrey! And I’m doing revisions on book 11. So how do you celebrate ten years of Humphrey books? With a PARTY, of course! Sharon Hearn, owner of the iconic Children’s Book World in Los Angeles, hosted a Hamster-versary party on Saturday and it was wild! If you’re going to give a party, you need to give it all you’ve got – and Sharon certainly did. Balloons, banners, face-painting, crunchy hamster snacks, art activities – and then I did a presentation and we all did the happy hamster dance. Luckily, I was assisted by my granddaughter, Remy!

        

I was worried that no one would show up – Angelenos (that’s what we’re called) famously DON’T go out in the rain. To our defense, when I say “rain” don’t think “showers.” We don’t get a lot of rain, but when it comes, it comes all at once. As in torrential. That’s what we had last week. Saturday was a little better, though still rainy, and they predicted thunderstorms – which didn’t happen. (Thunderstorms are extremely rare in Southern California.)

Well, I was wrong about no one showing up – people were packed in there like sardines but they didn’t  complain. One fan even brought his hamster, Gerald, along. Luckily, he was in a cage. A more enthusiastic group (maybe 100 people – or more) came together and we SQUEAKed and BOINGed and had a GREAT-GREAT-GREAT time!

 

 

By the way, I said ten books in the U.S. but there are actually 12, including Humphrey’s Book of FUN-FUN-FUN and Humphrey’s World of Pets.

I’m sorry if you couldn’t make it to the Hamster-versary party. Maybe in ten years we’ll do it again!

 

 

 

Humphrey’s Little Secrets Revealed

February 5th, 2014

 

           

 

If you haven’t gotten the new book yet, here’s one of Humphrey’s Top Secret Scribbles that gives a hint about just one of the many secrets in the book:

There’s just one thing I want to know:

Which of my friends is about to go?

 

Eeek! Go? Who? Where? When?

Book 10 in the Humphrey series, Secrets According to Humphrey, is now out in the US and UK. Around the time it came out, I was writing revisions on Book 11, which will be out in 2015. I’m not sure I’m ready to share the title quite yet, but it was interesting for me to write because it deals with the writing process. And that gave me a lot to think about.

Writers are always working in strange time frames, writing Christmas books in the summer, writing summer books in the winter – we’re never quite in sync with real time. But then, we pretty much live in our imaginations so life is perpetual time travel. (I’m not complaining about that!) In the US, the Humphrey books first come out in hardcover. A year later, the book comes out in paperback, usually around the time the new hardcover comes out. In the UK, the books are only in paperback.

From the emails I get, I can tell that lots of fans are very impatient for the next book to come out. But one a year is fine for me … and there have been other books that take up time, such as the Tiny Tales series in the UK. These are shorter, slightly younger books with illustrations. Why aren’t these books available in the US? So many fans ask that question. They were actually contracted for by Penguin before they were written and published by my London publisher, Faber & Faber.

But things are happening in the US … so hold on to your hats and I’ll let you know what’s happening soon. Let’s just say I’m very HAPPY-HAPPY-HAPPY about the way things are going!

For ardent fans in the US, I have to recommend Humphrey’s new-ish activity book: HUMPHREY’S BOOK OF FUN-FUN-FUN. All kinds of games and jokes based on all the Humphrey books. (I love puzzles, so I’m a big fan of this book myself.) And there’s a very comprehensive pet care book, HUMPHREY’S WORLD OF PETS. For anyone who loves all kinds of animals, it’s a fun book packed with really great information on caring for everything from rodents, dogs and cats to way more exotic animals. But it’s also filled with fun facts and jokes as well.

And I have a tiny window of opportunity to write something other than Humphrey. I know Humphrey fans would prefer that I only write about their favorite hamster … but I need to do some other writing for my own mental health … and to keep Humphrey fresh. Because one of the secrets behind the Humphrey books is keeping the pace manageable.

 

 

 

The Secret is (Almost) Out!

December 8th, 2013

It’s finally time to share a secret: Book 10 in the Humphrey series, Secrets According to Humphrey, will be released in the U.S. on January 2, 2014! That means that diehard Humphrey fans will have to save a bit o’ holiday cash!

I have a real thing about secrets.  I believe that secrets are always revealed in the end – and there are secrets flying around Room 26 like crazy! The theme of ancient Egypt was inspired by someone at Penguin (who?) who suggested it at a large party that included marketing, art and sales people. Thank you, anonymous person! Humphrey makes a great pharaoh!

           

Even though Secrets comes out after the  holidays, there are plenty of books available for gift-giving ! First of all, there’s Winter According to Humphrey, which was published in paperback in October! (Christmas According to Humphrey in the UK)

Also in the UK is a fun new activity book, Humphrey’s Book of Christmas Fun! A perfect stocking stuffer!

 

     

And there are two books that had been published in the UK by Faber and now have been released in the US by Penguin. Humphrey’s Book of FUN-FUN-FUN combines an activity book with puzzles and mazes and a joke book! Humphrey’s World of Pets is an extremely comprehensive pet care guide. If you’re getting a holiday pet, you need to know how to take care of it or you could be facing a real disaster, sorry to say.

 

Secrets According to Humphrey comes out in the UK on February 6. I think it’s interesting how similar (and fantastic) both covers are. That’s not always the case.

 

In case you’re still looking for another Humphrey book in the UK, this has recently been released: a compendium of previously-published Humphrey’s Tiny Tales and a BRAND-NEW ONE, probably my favorite: My Mixed-Up Magic Trick. Who doesn’t love a bit of magic?

So have a HAPPY-HAPPY-HAPPY Humphrey holiday! If I haven’t posted recently, it’s because: I’M WRITING ANOTHER HUMPHREY BOOK! And the U.S. has loads of new books to look forward to… but that’s still a secret!

Wishing you all a magical holiday season and a hamster-rific New Year!  xxoo

THREE BOOK LAUNCH in the U.S.

October 3rd, 2013

Sooooo many Americans have asked, “Why can’t we buy those other Humphrey books here?” They were referring to books that were originally published only in the UK. So I’m HAPPY-HAPPY-HAPPY to announce that the activity book, HUMPHREY’S BOOK OF FUN-FUN-FUN and the comprehensive pet care guide, HUMPHREY’S WORLD OF PETS, are now available in the U.S. Whoopeee!

 

More good news: WINTER ACCORDING TO HUMPHREY is now out in paperback. All this on the same day!

HUMPHREY’S BOOK OF FUN-FUN-FUN is chock full of jokes, puzzles, mazes, drawing activities and just plain fun.

HUMPHREY’S WORLD OF PETS gives detailed information on the care of all kinds of pets, from dogs, cats, hamsters of course, gerbils, mice, rats, rabbits, chinchillas, fish and exotic pets as well. If you love pets, have pets, would like a pet are planning to get a pet, this book has it all. But that’s not all – there are also jokes and activities and amazing pet facts and stories.

WINTER ACCORDING TO HUMPHREY, which was released in hardcover in the U.S. last year, covers the excitement and confusion in Room 26 as the class prepares for a holiday musical performance. There’s music and dancing and of course, the star of the show: Humphrey! (This book is called Christmas According to Humphrey in the UK.)

 

And I know it’s early to talk about he holidays, but HUMPHREY’S BOOK OF CHRISTMAS FUN was just published in the UK – a really fun holiday-themed activity book.

All in all, I’d say this was a HAMSTER-IFFIC day!