It’s official: Sons are bad for your health

Posted on Mar 26, 2013 in Zookeeping

So, the hot news in evolutionary biology is that women with sons die earlier than women with daughters. Nature, which I read all the time (when I’m not following links tweeted by @zooarchaeologis), reported that each son born shortens a woman’s life by 34 weeks. I have three boys, so that’s nearly TWO YEARS of […]

Say it with flour

Posted on Mar 10, 2013 in Zookeeping

There were Mother’s Day cards to collect at preschool pick-up. They’d asked every child to answer the question ‘I love my Mummy because…’ and stuck the answers to hand-painted pictures. I got a preview of other kids’ answers as my four-year-old’s keyworker flicked through the pile: I love my Mummy because… “She tickles me and […]

World Book Day costume for mischief makers!

Posted on Mar 6, 2013 in Writing, Zookeeping

I wrote a piece for Guardian Children’s Books for World Book Day on 7 March. Click here to read it on the Guardian website! Red Riding Hood and Cinderella are huddling at the bus stop. Horrid Henry is hanging around the school gates. The playground is packed with Gruffalos. It can only be World Book […]

A Catalogue of Library Misadventures

Posted on Feb 9, 2013 in Writing

February is #lovelibraries month! To celebrate, I’ve put together a catalogue of my best library memories. Organized using the Dewey Decimal Classification, of course. 781.53 Music in specific settings You’re a ten-year-old boy. You quite like a bookish girl in your class. Unfortunately, she’s too bookish to seal the deal during kiss chase. What to […]

Boy oh boy oh boy

Posted on Jan 14, 2013 in Zookeeping

Happy news: this week saw the publication of MOB Rule, a book that celebrates life as a mother of boys. Like the author, I’m besotted with my bunch. But I know that most passers-by are not thinking ‘lucky you’ as I stride past, towing three trainee men. I know this because so many have taken […]

A spoonful of salt helps the offal puree go down… and other retro parenting advice

Posted on Dec 5, 2012 in Zookeeping

I’ve been reading my parents’ parenting manuals recently. It’s astonishing how much has changed in 33 years. Many 1970s child development experts advised the exact opposite to their modern equivalents. Haven’t taught your child to read before s/he is three? You’ve missed your chance, bozo, is the message of Teach Your Baby to Read (Glenn […]

How not to get published

Posted on Nov 9, 2012 in Writing

Telling writers how to get published is a boon industry. More than 4 million web pages offer advice on writing the all-important query letter. They’ve left out some important points though. Here are my own top tips, collated during my years as a commissioning editor. True stories, people. The opening gambit Do not start by […]

I don’t suppose you have a copy of Fly Fishing…

Posted on Oct 23, 2012 in Writing, Zookeeping

Last week we hit Cornwall’s beaches for a summer holiday. Postponed to autumn because we suspected a holiday might not be very relaxing with three children under four. As it turns out, that long-awaited fourth birthday was not a marked transition towards adulthood, turning oldest chimp into useful third pair of hands. Instead, his chimpacity […]

Battle of the adjectives

Posted on Aug 7, 2012 in Zookeeping

My lucky, lucky sisters are on grown up gap years, spending 2012 travelling the world. Great timing on their part, as they are several continents away just as my desperation for a babysitter peaks. Still, I get occasional updates to break up the domestic slog. ‘Just been hang gliding over Rio’. ‘Survived the parachute jump! […]

Making cutting-edge science accessible

Posted on Jul 27, 2012 in Books

Raintree’s Sci-Hi series is an excellent KS3/middle school resource. It tackles cutting-edge science using simple language, without shying away from challenging concepts such as ethics. It was great to delve into topics last studied during my degree, for my titles on cloning and stem cell research. Favourite fact: Antithrombin is a protein needed by patients […]

Setting an example

Posted on Jul 26, 2012 in Zookeeping

The moment I saw this Post-it Quote on my son’s nursery wall was the moment I realized he has no idea I work from home while he’s at nursery. Cue an explanation that I write books for children to read, and plenty of references to Mummy working on the computer. A few months on, I’m […]

When Will the Sun Go Out?

Posted on Jul 24, 2012 in Books

My first book for Pearson Bug Club: When Will the Sun Go Out? and other strange solar system science (Pearson, 2012). Great fun to write (the remit: ‘be as funny as possible’) and the insides look gorgeous. Favourite fact from the book: Anyone who spots a new asteroid is allowed to name it! First you […]

A Time Traveller’s Guide to the Future

Posted on Jul 24, 2012 in Books

I‘ll begin at the beginning, with my first 2012 title, A Time Traveller’s Guide to the Future (Collins). Publisher’s blurb: Take a closer look at the amazing changes the future may hold, including robopets, space tourism and locust burgers, as well as the wider impact of our future life on the climate and extinction of […]