One elephant, one kakapo, one unlicensed teenage driver, one boy waiting for the world to end and a twelve-year-old girl with a very special gift.
Sal has always had an affinity with animals – especially the lost kind. But when two rare and endangered creatures appear out of nowhere, life takes a detour into strange and uncharted territory.
Join Sal, Bartholomew and Roy on a mind-boggling expedition into the secrets of the Animal Kingdom with only an invisible map of the human heart to guide them. (Unless, of course, you count the talking parrot.) What on Earth could possibly go wrong…?
Ah….I’ll let you in on a secret. A lot!
I’m so excited and nervous that The What on Earth Institute of Wonder is coming out on the 31st of August. If you adore animals and don’t mind a laugh, I reckon you’re going to love it. Well I hope you are. And there’s plenty of that in there too. Hope.
Stay tuned over the coming months for some sneak peaks and stories behind the story…
Congratulations to everyone who entered The Grandest Competition to design a new room for The Grandest Hotel on Earth. I was overwhelmed by the brilliant ideas for rooms and judging was very nearly impossible! Rooms where you get your own loyal tiger, rooms that are bright stars, rooms where you write and enter your own story, an ‘almost endless room’. All entries will be exhibited on the website as soon as I can get them up! But for now, here are the winners!
WINNER AGE 10+
Ester’s Fruit Room – WINNER
Everything in the “Fruit Room” is actual edible fruit. The walls are watermelon and the floor is strawberry. There is a strawberry bed with pears holding it up. Next to the bed is a beside table which is a pineapple with an actual orange lamp (although it doesn’t work that well and is completely broken when the guest takes a bite out of it). There is an apple rug with a big bite in it from the previous guest. There is a comfortable big banana chair with a strawberry table next to it with an apple, orange, grapes, pineapple and a pear on it ready to be eaten. In the room is Vincent and his pocket dog Min.
WINNERS AGE 8+
Hayley’s Sleeping Panda Room – WINNER
This room has a sleeping panda to comfort you, panda giving you a dance party when you walk in, bamboo for your pandas. A deluxe TV to watch. Last but not least a bathroom with a bamboo towel to save the environment.
Rosie’s Mythical Creatures Room – WINNER
You share a room with amazing ,cute, friendly mythical creatures. There is a hammock to sleep on and before you go to bed you can play with them. Also you can play with them in the morning!
Aiden’s Gravity Arcade Room – WINNER
A flying arcade
Harper’s Jinx Yourself Lucky Room – WINNER
In the Jinx Yourself Lucky Room it looks like a normal room but when you think negative the exact opposite happens.
Isla’s Underwater Room – RUNNER UP
This is the underwater room. The beds are seashells and Vincent is the one with the V on his blue shirt. There is also a Mermaid in the tank. A school of fish that are grey. One shark and dolphin staring at each other. A wrinkly blob fish which is floating in the water unhappily and 2 puffer fish. Finally, if you look closely you can see Vincent’s pocket dog Min!!!
Lisa’s The Infinity Cartoon Room
How this room works is that when you walk into the room there will be a robot with a big screen where you search a film or draw your own world then when you press the button on the robot then your world will be a reality.
Elliot’s Animalia Room
This room has different biomes. The biomes are rainforest, desert, mountains, snowy, ocean and they all lead to the castle of Animalia. When you walk inside the room you will be in the first biome, the rainforest. There is a hut in each biome. You have to find this hut, in this hut there is a bed and a back door. You go through the hut’s backdoor and you will appear in the next biome. You have to go through all the biomes to get to the castle. Once you reach the castle of Animalia this is the last place you need to be. You get your own huge room with gold all over the place, you can’t remove any of the gold or you get teleported back to the beginning and have to start again. The castle of Animalia guards the kingdom. The king is an animal, he has the ability to turn into other animals and can control any other animals. He has a special crown with a magical gem stone and if you get this crown you rule Animalia for the time you are living in this room. The crown only works in the kingdom of Animalia.
Christian’s Gaming Room
Like Gaming? Yes? Then it’s the PERFECT room for you! Sit in the nicest couch ever & play on the TV.
As soon as you walk into this amazing animal paradise you will also notice that there is a wonderful leopard print bed cover with a beautiful soft pig rug under your feet then you will see a stunning wallpaper full of palm trees and so much more!
Joshua’s Season’s Room
A room where you can choose the season and weather in the room
Brooke’s The Come to Life Room
In this room you can pick a book and the characters come to life in your room like the 3 bears come in your room and goldilocks.
Arjun’s The Book Room
Once you enter this room you type a book on the type pad and the part of the story you would like to stay in. You can change the part of the story you want to stay in by going to the type pad and changing it. Also known as the “almost endless room”
Tom’s Skate Ramp Room
In the Skate Ramp Room you can skate the ramp whenever you want. It is not too steep but it is good and it still has a bed, a closet and a door.
Sean K’s Read Your Mind Room
In this room you’ll walk in and hear what the person that walks in with you is thinking. You can set it to read your mind or someone else’s.
Eadie’s Sleep Over Room
This is the sleepover room. It’s great for boys and girls included there is lollies and paper and pen. Also toilet and shower. Of course sleeping bags.
That’s it! Entries are now closed for the Grand Drawing Competition. Thank you to everyone who entered! The winner will be announced very shortly (Monday 27th July) and pocket dog despatched as soon as possible. All entries will also be displayed on the website. I can’t wait to show you the spectacular imaginations and talents of everyone who entered. Stay tuned!
A competition to design some new rooms for The Grandest Hotel on Earth!
Here’s what you need to do. Think up an idea for a new room. Draw it. Write a few lines telling me all about the room. And then email it to me: email@example.com
Entries close 15 July 2020. Due to that old corona virus, the deadline for entries is being extended until 22 JULY. (There’s a lot of uncertainty when schools will be back and some teachers have requested a little more time)
All drawings will be displayed in a gallery on the website. And the winner of the BEST NEW ROOM drawing will receive their VERY OWN POCKET DOG!! ( It will not be living I’m afraid. It will be stuffed. But it WILL fit in your pocket!!). The winner will be announced on Friday the 17th of July.
If you need a refresher of what rooms already exist at The Grand, you’ll need to reread Chapter 6!
Can’t WAIT to see all your drawings and ideas for rooms! Happy imagining everyone!
I got a lovely surprise in the mail the other day. A beautiful letter and a magnificent drawing from a girl called Rosie. Rosie said it was OK for me to share her picture. It’s a family portrait of everyone at The Grand. I think her likenesses of Rupert and Zelda are particularly wonderful. And how cute is Min!
Rosie suggested I write a sequel to Vincent. I often think about it. I guess I’ll just have to wait and see what happens. Rosie is a writer too. I’m looking forward to reading Rosie’s work one day.
Recently, I was sitting at my desk in a bit of a funk. I was having problems with a story.
I couldn’t seem to get it to work no matter what I tried. I hated everything I was writing. Maybe I don’t have any more stories, I worried. Fear curled up in the pit of my stomach like a sleeping snake. So I just kept on writing – anything! – trying not to disturb it.
Then one morning, early, while I was writing, writing, there was a scratchy kind of tapping noise at my office door.
I got up and opened it. And watched in disbelief as a strange bird walked in, climbed up onto my desk and plonked itself next to my keyboard.
I had never seen a bird like it.
It was as big as a duck with owlish eyes and mossy green feathers. And I don’t mean to be rude, but it was quite fat.
‘Well, since you seem to be all out of stories,’ said the strange bird, ‘how about you write one of mine?’
It can talk?
‘You better believe it,’ replied the bird. ‘And have I got a story for you.’
Well, I had to admit, I was intrigued. For a writer, that’s a good sign. So I inched towards my chair, trying not to go too close to the fat feathered creature, and sat down.
‘Ahem,’ I sorted of coughed, my hands hovering over the keyboard. ‘So..um.. what’s your name?’
‘Hector,’ said the bird, ‘And I am a kakapo. That’s K – A – K – A – P – O.’
I got a lovely email the other day. It was from a girl called Lila. I asked Lila if I could put it on my website because it’s like the best review ever. And she replied ‘That’s fine. I would love that. (smiley face)’
So here’s Lila’s lovely letter.
As soon as Ipickedupyourbook (the grandest hotel on earth)I could not put it down. Your writingis amazingly emotional, if you would have seen me reading you would have seen tears running down my cheeksor me laughing hysterically. A real joy to read. I could read it every second of the day.
This week I received the grandest drawing. It’s by a nine-year-old girl called Taleea. After reading Vincentand The Grandest Hotel on Earth with her mum, she drew this magnificent picture of Florence and Vincent having breakfast (with a giraffe of course!). Florence looks SO incredibly grand and Taleea’s attention to detail is astounding. Note the musical emerald footwear, Vincent’s name above the top pocket of his uniform. And the gorgeous painting on the wall of the hotel itself, the snowcapped Mabombo Ranges soaring into the night sky behind it. Just breathtaking. Thank you so much Taleea for letting me exhibit your beautiful drawing on my website. Perhaps one day you might like to be a children’s book illustrator and you can officially illustrate my books! Wouldn’t that be grand!
There are pianos and elephants at The Grandest Hotel on Earth. And the new book I’m writing has them too!
Elephants are the most majestic creatures. They fill me with awe and wonder. When I came across Paul Barton and his piano playing for elephants, I was captivated. I have watched his clips on YouTube many times over.
I particularly love this one.
Peter the elephant’s love of music is undeniable. The music delights him. He has to move his body and he has to woop and holler. (His mate seems to be having a pretty good time too!) I think Peter feels exactly the same things I feel when I listen to music that I like.
Vincent has finally hit the shelves! It’s been great criss-crossing the city visiting bookstores and hearing what people think of the book! We also had a launch party with smoking sodas and whatever-flavour-you-think-of-balls….Weirdly most people thought they tasted like cheese and bacon. It’s funny how our imaginations desert us at the most inopportune times. Anyway, here’s a few reviews and photos….I’ll be signing books this Saturday 20 July, 10am at Lindfield Learning Hub. Come along if you’re in that neck of the woods…
“This is absolutely GRAND! I adored it. What a wonderful read!”
“… so alive with magic and wonder … simply impossible to resist. This is a charming and surprisingly moving delight for readers aged eight and older seeking more of Nevermoor’s capriciousness, with all the sensitivity of Kate DiCamillo’s best. Four stars.”
“..an epic and addictive adventure for junior readers. This is a book-world to fall into headfirst, dream about when you aren’t reading and fantasise about long after you’ve come to the end… This is a book that is destined to become a treasured favourite in so many homes and I predict lots of people are going to be talking about it.”
“This is a delightful read for 8 plus readers that has heart and is smart. Quirky. Full of great imagery. Echoes of Dahl and the work of filmmaker Wes Anderson. Lisa Nicol is an Aussie writer to watch!”
The Grandest Hotel on Earth has a new sign! Unfortunately it was erected after the book was written so it doesn’t feature on the cover. But it’s up now. Imagine at night when there’s nothing but the stars and the moon and the hotel sign floating in the night sky. Must look incredibly Grand!
Even without the sign I think the cover of Vincent looks beautiful. The hotel was drawn by the wonderfully talented Nancy Liang and the cover was designed by Rachel Lawston. Nancy also animates her illustrations. Here’s an animated version of The Grandest Hotel on Earth.
I was so excited after I read the first review of Vincent I started swearing like his potty-mouthed sister Rose.
I wanted to share it with the world!
But my Dad always told me there’s nothing worse than people who blow their own trumpet. Blowing your own trumpet means boasting about yourself. So I feel a bit conflicted sharing this review. Like I’m showing off (which clearly I am). But I’m just so thrilled that somebody liked the book!
So sorry Dad. Cover your ears and pass me that horn!
You know it’s been too long between posts when you can’t remember how to log in to your own website. Which could be good for security. Say if someone dangled me by my feet over a cliff and yelled “tell me the password to your website or it’s all over baby!” I could honestly reply “Well I’d genuinely love to help you but I can’t remember.” Might get me out of that sticky situation.
I’m beyond excited about my new book Vincent and The Grandest Hotel on Earth coming out on 2 July! You won’t believe this place. It really is wilder than the African savanna, more fantastical that Disneyland and more magical than Shangri-La. Can I just say pocket dogs and sloths…and wait till you hear about the rooms….
Stop the presses! (Do we still have presses these days?)
Today I witnessed an event that will surely go down in history.
Today I spotted the first ever book week Dr Boogaloo!
I had restrain myself from popping balloons and throwing children up into the air and screaming ‘Yippee! A book week Boogaloo! It’s a book week Dr Boogaloo!!!!’
The book week Dr Boogaloo -otherwise known as Beau! – had on a shiny silver suit and round glasses (which unfortunately don’t appear in the picture so you’ll just have to take my word for that). He looked like a brand new pencil. Just like Dr Boogaloo!
Here’s Beau and me…
..and here’s another friend I made at lunch.
Beau you made me one very happy author today!!
And can I say your classmates were awesome too.(I’d mention them all by name but I forgot to get their parent’s permission. You know who you are guys!!) We even invented a new drink – SPROKE! (Sorry kids! I’ve already trademarked it. First in best dressed, you know how these things go. Got to be quick! Insert winking emoji because I can’t work out how to yet…)
What a great day! Thanks to CBCA Lunch with the Stars. The roast chicken was tops!
Dr Boogaloo and The Girl Who Lost Her Laughter is being adapted for the stage as a musical by the frighteningly talented Yve Blake and Alice Chance.
gotta love a girl who can pull off a koala-do
I’m trying not to get too excited because these things take time. And you should never count your musicals before the curtains part on opening night. But it’s hard not to get excited when you’ve heard the songs Yve and Alice have written. They’re beautiful and funny and moving too…
As a writer, hearing your characters turned into songs is completely magical.
And wait till you hear their ideas for Leonard! I have a feeling Leonard is going to love the limelight. He loves an audience, as you know!
Boy oh boy. It’s been a while. Forgive me for not posting but I’ve been out and about with Dr Boogaloo and The Girl Who Lost Her Laughter. And so much has happened, I’m not sure where to start!
Perhaps we’ll go back to Russ The Story Bus. Now THAT was fun. Russ the Story Bus is part of the SWF Festival of Moving Stories. It’s a big bus that travels round the countryside visiting schools and giving out brand new free books. I got to go cherry picking in Young – where I also ate too many prunes! Very NOT wise when you have long bus trips ahead. Sorry Mr Cheeseman. Mr Cheeseman was my driver! Luckily for me, Mr Cheeseman did not mind a prune himself so we made good company.
Mr Cheeseman likes BIG things.
He’s a very happy fellow and taking his picture with REALLY BIG things makes him even happier. Note to self – only ever go on long road trips with very jolly people. So much fun!
Here’s Mr Cheeseman with a GIGANTIC tennis racquet in Barellan. Barellan is a tiny town where Aussie champion tennis player Evonne Goolagong grew up. (We made a special detour just to visit the gigantic racquet and we were very nearly late to school!)
And here’s a gigantic dog we saw in Yass! That’s a normal size dog next to him. You can just see the top of his head. I think Mr Cheeseman was too scared to stand next to this dog. Which was very sensible!
We also visited a gigantic guitar which made Mr Cheeseman as happy as a banjo player.
I love road trips. There’s something relaxing about being in transit. Going somewhere feels good.
And as well as seeking out GIGANTIC things, we did squeeze in a few school visits. The kids were so smart. It always blows me away how creative and clever kids are. We listened to different pieces of music and came up with ideas for stories and characters. Music is great for getting your magical thinking all fired up. Lots of writers use music to kickstart their imagination. If you get stuck with your creative writing you should try it.
Shoutout to Hay Public School, St Mary’s Primary School, Cootamundra Public School, Young Public School, Young North Public School and Yass Public School. Thanks for having us! We had the best time!
It’s almost 2 October, the day Dr Boogaloo and The Girl Who Lost Her Laughter hits the shelves.
But what has got me almost more excited, chuffed even (I have always wanted to use the word chuffed) is something they call in the publishing world, a SHELF WOBBLER.
Now when I received the email from my publisher about said SHELF WOBBLER, I had no idea what a SHELF WOBBLER was!
At first I thought it must be some device that caused the shelf to wobble, which in turn caused my book to fall off the shelf whenever someone walked past. The person walking past would then pick up my book believing they had in fact caused it to fall off the shelf. ‘Ingenious! That should help sell a few more books,’ I thought to myself.
But it turns out I was wrong. That’s not what a SHELF WOBBLER is. Then I thought perhaps a SHELF WOBBLER is some sort of weird insect thingy found in book shops that lived on shelves and had a wobbly kind of walk.
When I googled ‘insects + habitat = book shop’ it came up blank.
So then, despite the risk of looking like a total potato head, I just had to phone the publisher because I’d wasted a whole morning trying to figure out WHAT exactly a SHELF WOBBLER was!
Well, would you believe it, a SHELF WOBBLER, doesn’t wobble shelves at all. A SHELF WOBBLER, hangs off a shelf and wobbles. Its job is to attract your attention. It’s supposed to sort of say, “Hey, look over here, this book is a ripper!’
Here’s my SHELF WOBBLER. Unfortunately it’s a real world SHELF WOBBLER and not an online SHELF WOBBLER so it doesn’t wobble at all online. If you’re on an Ipad just jiggle it around and it should do a pretty good impersonation of a real life SHELF WOBBLER.
One of my favourite Facebook pages is Rare and Strange Instruments. Basically it’s a collection of videos of the strangest instruments you’ve ever seen. A lot of them are homemade. The people who make them are musical inventors!
Like for instance, did you know you could make a bass guitar out of a couple of balloons?
Apparently you can! Check this out…
I bet you didn’t know toy cats could hold a tune either….
This guy must be a regular at The Boogaloo Family Clinic of Musical Cures!
I need a glass of water after watching that!
Well twang a banjo! some people can make music with just about anything!!
When it comes to Dexi’s hands, I’m afraid we’re talking really big. Take a look.
Yep. Those are some BIG hands! And along with those big hands come some pretty big problems. No wonder Dexi wears boots! Tying up shoelaces would be very tricky I imagine. I wonder if you can guess what’s gone on here?
This conversation happens at around 3.30pm each day as my children arrive home from school & want to be fed.
‘Sure’ I yell through the yellow door, ‘there’s apples, nuts, bread….’
‘Yeah, but is there anything to eat?’ comes the reply.
It’s my eldest son. He’s fussy. Real fussy. And if it ain’t got sugar, it doesn’t classify as afternoon tea.
Behind that yellow door is my office. I painted it yellow as a salute to my most favourite author – Roald Dahl. He had a writing hut at the bottom of his garden and his door was painted yellow. The yellow door inspires me and reminds me of Roald Dahl every day. I’m so lucky to have a place where I can write. Roald Dahl put it nicely when asked about his writing hut:
You become a different person, you are no longer an ordinary fellow who walks around and looks after his children and eats meals and does silly things, you go into a completely different world.
Here’s a picture of his writing hut where he wrote Matilda and Charlie and The Chocolate Factory.
When Roald Dahl opened his yellow door and went inside, he was able to imagine entirely different worlds. Maybe the yellow door helped with the passage from one world into the next. I was once told yellow was an illusion we all shared. I’ve no idea where I heard it but it’s stuck with me. Whether it’s true or not or makes sense doesn’t matter to me. I just love the idea of an illusion we all share. Something imagined that we imagine together. A lot like reading a book.
p.s In truth all colours are an illusion. It is our brains that see colours, not our eyes. Colours are not real at all. What is real is light!!
Well, this happened. To a girl called Blue. And unless you’re familiar with musical iBikes and banjos that make you weep, you’ll never believe what took place next! Come on a strange and fantastical adventure to The Boogaloo Family Clinic of Musical Cures and discover a world you’ve never heard of, before but deep down in your soul, always knew existed.
Here it is folks! The hardback edition!
Here’s what it says on the back cover
Enchanting, timeless and surprising – this extraordinary novel will touch the hearts (and ears) of children and adults alike.
Dr Boogaloo was no ordinary doctor. Not at all like the one you might visit if you had a sore tummy. No, Dr Boogaloo was a very different type of doctor. He treated folks who suffered from rather unusual complaints. And how did he treat them? Why, with the most powerful medicine known to mankind . . . Music!
Blue was no ordinary girl. For starters, her name was Blue. But what was truly extraordinary about Blue was the fact that she hadn’t laughed for 712 days. Not a hee hee, a ho ho or even a tiny tee hee.
According to Dr Boogaloo, music can cure anything. (Of course, you need the right dose of the right music. No point listening to a jive if you’re in need of some boogie-woogie, and you can’t just substitute a toot for a blow!) But no laughter was definitely a case for alarm.
Can Dr Boogaloo compose a cure before Blue loses her laughter forever?
A big thank you to Daniel Gray-Barnett for the illustrations. An iBike is no easy draw!
IN STORES OCTOBER 2
“A hilariously sad tale of laughter, friendship and the magic of music.”
Everything she does leads to absolute chaos. But one day she meets some extraordinary animals and suddenly life doesn’t seem so gloomy…
Probably my most favourite thing about this book are the illustrations. They are paintings by the multi-talented Lucy Culliton. One of Australia’s greatest painters. Lucy loves to paint animals. She has a farm full of them. She has more pets than anyone I’ve ever met. You can tell how much Lucy loves animals from her paintings. When Lucy agreed to paint Dexi I was thrilled. It’s such an honour to have my work alongside hers. Here’s a sneak peak at some of the chaos poor old Dexi whips up…
And a dip at the pool made for battering seas,
tossing children like corks
into neighbourhood trees,
“A wonderful heart-warming tale of difference and happiness.”