A-Z of Shakespeare – F

 

Today’s Shakespearean word of the day is… foison

shakespeareAtoZ-F-foison

Pronounced foy-zun, foison means abundance.

In Macbeth, Macduff tells Malcolm that ‘Scotland hath foisons to fill up your will’ (Macbeth, 4.3.88) – an abundance of things to satisfy his greed.

Listen to the pronunciation of foison here

Shakespeare Dictionary _130

This definition is taken from the Oxford Illustrated Shakespeare Dictionary, a unique dictionary to unlock the mysteries of Shakespeare’s world, words and language, compiled by renowned English language expert David Crystal and Shakespearean actor and producer Ben Crystal.

A-Z of Shakespeare – E

 

Today’s Shakespearean Word of the Day is… exsufflicate

shakespeareAtoZ-E-exsufflicate

Exsufflicate is an adjective which means exaggerated or blown up out of all proportion.

Othello says he would never listen to ‘exsufflicate and blown surmises’ (Othello, 3.3.184)- ie. exaggerated theories.

Listen to the pronunciation of exsufflicate here

Shakespeare Dictionary _130

This definition is taken from the Oxford Illustrated Shakespeare Dictionary, a unique dictionary compiled by renowned English language expert David Crystal and Shakespearean actor and producer Ben Crystal to unlock the mysteries of Shakespeare’s world, words and language.

A-Z of Shakespeare – D

 

Today’s Shakespearean word of the day is… dudgeon

shakespeareAtoZ-D-dudgeon

Dudgeon means hilt or handle.

When Macbeth talks to his imaginary dagger, he says ‘on thy blade and dudgeon gouts of blood.’ (Macbeth, 2.1.46)

Listen to the pronunciation of dudgeon here

 

Shakespeare Dictionary _130This definition is taken from the Oxford Illustrated Shakespeare Dictionary, a unique dictionary compiled by renowned English language expert David Crystal and Shakespearean actor and producer Ben Crystal to unlock the mysteries of Shakespeare’s world, words and language.

A-Z of Shakespeare – C

 

Today’s Shakespearean word of the day is… consanguineous

shakespeareAtoZ-C-consangunieous

Consanguineous means related in blood.

In Twelfth Night, Sir Toby asks of Olivia ‘Am I not consanguineous? Am I not of her blood?’ (Twelfth Night, 2.3.69)

Listen to the pronunciation of consanguineous here

Shakespeare Dictionary _130
This definition is taken from the Oxford Illustrated Shakespeare Dictionary, a unique dictionary compiled by renowned English language expert David Crystal and Shakespearean actor and producer Ben Crystal to unlock the mysteries of Shakespeare’s world, words and language.

A-Z of Shakespeare – B

 

Today’s Shakespearean word of the day is… basilisk

shakespeareAtoZ-B-basilisk

This is the name of a very large cannon that could fire a cannon-ball of around 200 lb/90 kg.

There was a fashion in Shakespeare’s time to name a piece of artillery after a venomous reptile. A ‘basilisk’ was a mythical serpent that killed just by looking at someone. Other types of cannon, such as a ‘culverin’ and a ‘serpentine’ were also named after snakes.

Listen to the definition of basilisk here

Shakespeare Dictionary _130

This definition is taken from the Oxford Illustrated Shakespeare Dictionary, a unique dictionary compiled by renowned English language expert David Crystal and Shakespearean actor and producer Ben Crystal to unlock the mysteries of Shakespeare’s world, words and language.

A-Z of Shakespeare – A

Throughout April we will be bringing you an A-Z of Shakespearean words, taken from the brilliant Oxford Illustrated Shakespeare Dictionary. Every day we will be guiding you through some of the most interesting words and definitions from the dictionary, one letter at a time!

Today’s Shakespearean word of the day is….artificial

A- Artificial

Warning! Don’t read in the modern meaning of ‘not genuine.’

Artificial has two meanings in Shakespeare’s plays:

  • produced by the black arts, like ‘artificial sprites’ raised by Hecate’s magic in Macbeth
  • artistically skilful, like the ‘artificial gods’ of Helena and Hermia’s childhood needlework in A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Listen to the pronunciation of artificial here

 

Shakespeare Dictionary _130This definition is taken from the Oxford Illustrated Shakespeare Dictionary, a unique dictionary compiled by renowned English language expert David Crystal and Shakespearean actor and producer Ben Crystal to unlock the mysteries of Shakespeare’s world, words and language.

It’s Time for Halloween Magic with Winnie the Witch!

Halloween will soon be upon us – the perfect time to organise a Winnie the Witch Halloween Party!

Or, if you’re a big Winnie and Wilbur fan and are looking for fun, creative activities about your favourite characters, then look no further.  Download this great new party pack, full of great Winnie and Wilbur games and crafts suitable for schools, bookshops, libraries or home use, including: draw your own spell, make your own pop-up cards and finger puppets and a Winnie the Witch quick draw challenge!

Plus, you’ll find lots more Winnie fun, as well as dressing up ideas (in the Play area) at www.winnie-the-witch.com.

Happy Halloween everybody!

The brand new Winnie the Witch adventure, Winnie’s Haunted House is out now.

165520-ml-1374932

Baddies are Best: My Top Three Supervillains of All Time

Ben Davis, YA author by day and superhero extraordinaire by night, shares his top three super villains of all time in celebration of his new series, Danny Dread.

Greetings! I’m Ben Davis – author, citizen, eater of pies – and I am here today to talk to you about my latest book, Danny Dread. It’s the swashbuckling story of a useless supervillain and his twelve year old son, who secretly wants to be a superhero.

I'm sure he'll grow out of it

I’m sure he’ll grow out of it.

Despite the embarrassing photo above, I’ve always been drawn to the baddies. When I was a kid in the playground, I would play the villain. I was the best at it. Kids would say, ‘Ben, you can be Silencio the Evil Wizard. His special power is sitting on his own in the corner quietly and not bothering us for the entire lunch break.’ And do you know something? I totally nailed it. Every single time.

Anyway, to celebrate the publication of Danny Dread, I have decided to share with you my all-time top three supervillains.

  1. The Penguin

Yeah, I could have gone for the Joker, but come on, that would be too obvious. Plus, Penguin is my favourite Batman villain. I think it’s because he does dangerous stuff and doesn’t care about the consequences.

I mean, look, he's opening an umbrella indoors. What next, walking under ladders?

I mean, look, he’s opening an umbrella indoors. What next, walking under ladders?

Another reason why he makes my top three is that he’s a psychotic criminal named after a completely harmless animal.

d3

Well, mostly harmless.

  1. My so-called best friend, Fat Barry

That’s right, Fat Barry – you are the second biggest supervillain of all time. How does it feel? You can’t say it hasn’t been a long time coming. I mean, remember my last birthday, when you got me NOTHING? Well, not nothing, it was just a scrap book filled with these really old photos of us when we were kids, but still, I bet it hardly cost you a thing. And after I got you that £5 Nandos voucher for your birthday, as well. Well, this year, you can forget it. This is your present, you evil, evil man.

  1. Dad Dread

Yeah, I’ve put my own character in at number one. Want to make something of it? Now you might be thinking that that is an incredibly boastful thing to do, and I’m only doing it so I can write ‘named best supervillain of all time by Oxford University’ on publicity materials, but hear me out.

DOWN WITH CAMBRIDGE!

DOWN WITH CAMBRIDGE!

Larry “Dad” Dread is the son of the fearsome Phileas Dread, world conqueror and now, head in a jar. Larry has spent his life trying to live up to his father’s reputation to no avail. His failed schemes have included kidnapping Donald Duck, and brainwashing all of the world’s sharks. With the latter, he failed to take into account the fact that their tiny fish brains meant that they would quickly forget that they had been brainwashed. And that is when they started to get bitey.

The book sees Larry take on a dastardly new assistant, and soon, his dreams of world domination are within his grasp. Only one person has the ability to stop him – and he is much closer to home than he thinks.

Hi!

Hi!

That is all from me – I will now return to my secret lair* to hatch some evil schemes of my own.** Goodbye!

* shed.

** hide all the stuff I “borrowed” from my so-called best friend, Fat Barry.

Danny Dread is out now.

Danny Dread

Ben2

Ben Davis studied English at University, which was quite easy because he was already fluent in that. Since then, he has written jokes for everything from radio shows to greeting cards and fulfilled a lifelong ambition by writing books for young adults. He now lives in Tamworth with his wife and his wimpy dog.

The A-Z of Railhead. K is for K-Bahn….

We are very excited to host a guest post from master storyteller Philip Reeve as part of his A-Z of Railhead tour!

K is for K-Bahn

Railhead

When I realised that interstellar trains were going to be at the heart of Railhead, one of the first things I did was look up teleportation, in the hope of finding some nifty way that a train could be flipped from one side of the galaxy to another. One of the first things I stumbled across was the concept of Kwisatz Haderech, or ‘the shortening of the way’. This is a concept from Jewish mysticism. Certain very enlightened rabbis, it was believed, were able to transport themselves supernaturally from one place to another…

 

To science fiction fans, Kwisatz Haderach has another connotation, because it’s one of the names given to the messiah figure in Frank Herbert’s classic space opera Dune. “I can’t use that,” I thought, “because everybody will think it’s a reference to Dune…” But after exactly 0.5 seconds of serious thought I decided I didn’t care: I liked the sound of those words; they were too good not to use. And the initial K seemed useful. I knew that in German-speaking cities there are often railway lines called the U-bahn and the S-bahn. My interstellar empire would be linked by the K-bahn, whose trains would go through K-gates and flash across a dimension called K-space to reach their far destinations.
 

Railhead is brought to you by the letter K…

 

Gnomes, unicorns, and bare-chested, goat-legged men: welcome to Super Happy Magic Forest

Debut picture book author and illustrator Matty Long shares his love of fantasy and bringing brand new magical worlds to life in his first picture book, Super Happy Magic Forest.

Super Happy Magic Forest is a tale of brave heroes, fearsome enemies, epic landscapes and sweet, sweet fig rolls. The idea came about a couple of years ago when I was struggling to think of a project that I could work on and take to the Bologna Children’s Book Fair to show to publishers. I began filling sketchbook pages with gnomes, unicorns, and bare-chested, goat-legged men. Or ‘fauns’ as I guess they’re more commonly known. And then I was drawing fairies, bunnies, trees with faces. It wasn’t until I drew the words SUPER HAPPY MAGIC FOREST in a mushroom that I suddenly had a home for these creatures, and the thought that I may actually have an idea worth developing. There were a few times when I dismissed it all as too outlandish and not sensible enough (It isn’t). But that was half the fun! It was useless to resist.

Picture 1

I have always been a huge fan of fantasy. There is unlimited potential in worlds filled with magic, monsters, good and evil. And there are no rules! Penguins can be warriors. Mushrooms can talk. Goblins don’t HAVE to be bad.

Picture 2

One of my favourite parts of making Super Happy Magic Forest was designing the detailed locations that the Heroes have to fight their way through. It is a great opportunity to really make their world come alive. On some of these pages there are prompts to look for certain items or creatures. It’s a device that hopefully acts as another level of engagement while ensuring the reader sticks around a little longer to take in everything that’s going on.

picture 3

I’ve always appreciated detail, and images that reward you for taking the time to really look at them and uncover their secrets – Martin Handford’s Where’s Wally? books are a great example.

As much as I adore fantasy, I can’t deny that there is also a degree of silliness to fairies and unicorns, and in some of the overblown cliché’s within the genre: A dark lord rising. Items of great unimaginable power. Brave heroes of virtue and courage. It’s a lot of fun to play around with these conventions, and while the main worded narrative pays tribute to them, often the pictures tell a slightly different story.

Picture 4

I really hope that Super Happy Magic Forest can introduce readers to the world of fantasy and can give them at least some of the pleasure that I’ve taken from it over the years.

picture 5

Super Happy Magic Forest is out now.

SHMF front cover 300dpi

Matty Long April 2015

Matty Long has a First Class Degree in Illustration from Southampton Solent University and a Master’s Degree in Children’s Book Illustration from Anglia Ruskin University (Cambridge School of Art). He graduated from Anglia Ruskin in 2011 and has since been working at a bookshop in his home town of Cambridge, developing picture-book ideas in his spare time.

Matty is twenty-seven years old. Super Happy Magic Forest is his debut picture book. He’s currently working on the sequel!

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