Seven things you need to know about the books on the Blue Peter shortlist

Published on: 25 Chwefror 2016 Author: Sophie Offord

In just a week's time, we'll know who's won the Blue Peter Book Awards - and some amazing stories and fact-books are out to win the top prize.

Refresh your memory by taking a look at the authors in the running for the Blue Peter Children's Book Prize.

There is now just a week before we count up the votes from schools around the country - and announce the winners on live TV.

In the meantime, we're going to let you into seven secrets about the books on the shortlist.

But shhh! Keep them between yourselves!

1. Some people get stung by insects for a living

Some people get stung by insects for a living

During FactFeed research, writer Penelope Arlon discovered a man called Justin Schmidt. This crazy entomologist allowed insects to sting him, to work out which was the most painful.

She told us: 'He described the sensations so beautifully that I felt compelled to contact him to ask him if I could include them word for word. He was delighted and confirmed that the bullet ant sting was indeed "like fire-walking over flaming charcoal with a 3-inch nail in your heel". Ouch!'

 

2. Squirrels can be spies in Iran

Squirrels can be spies in Iran

A few facts didn't make the The Epic Book of Epicness. Adam only had 112 pages, so there wasn't space for everything. For example, did you know that 14 squirrels were arrested for spying in Iran, in 2007? The government said they were carrying listening devices.

Or that there's a pianist called Lubomyr Melnyk, who once played 19 notes on his piano in ONE SECOND?

 

3. There's a word you can spell almost any way you want

There's a word you can spell almost any way you want

The word 'pzazz' appears on page 35 of The Silly Book of Weird and Wacky Words. It's one of Andy Seed's favourite words (it means 'sparkle and style'), but it has four acceptable spellings. Yes, FOUR.

So, if you ever get it in a spelling test, you'll be right if you put pizazz, pizzazz, pazazz or pzazz. Andy chose the last one because it's the only word which starts with 'pz'!

 

4. You are a better swimmer than Lara Williamson

You are a better swimmer than Lara Williamson

The Boy Who Sailed the Ocean in an Armchair is full of references to water. But the one thing Lara Williamson wishes she could do, and can't, is swim.

She says: 'When I look into the water, I always imagine diving in - but then I remember I can't swim and I might just drown, and then I tell myself to step away from the edge. In the book, I used my thoughts and feelings about water in a scene with Billy. One day I really must learn to swim.'

 

5. Poor book designers never get any credit

Poor book designers never get any credit

For The Silly Book of Weird and Wacky Words, a very clever designer called Claire made Andy Seed's words and Scott Garrett's illustrations work well together (and they really do).

So here's some credit for Claire and all the other book designers of the world!

 

6. It's fun making up names for your villains

It's fun making up names for your villains

The villain in The Nowhere Emporium, Vindictus Sharpe, was originally going to be called Sylvain DeVille.

However, the surname is a bit too similar to a very famous villain. (Clue: she does NOT like small white puppy dogs with black spots.)

 

7. It's easier than you think to kidnap a penguin

It's easier than you think to kidnap a penguin

The story in The Astounding Broccoli Boy about someone stealing a penguin from the zoo - 'because it looked sad' - is actually true. A boy in Frank Cottrell-Boyce's class did it.

The teacher counted the class's heads as they got off the bus. She counted the penguin before she noticed it was a penguin.

Important note: Contrary to popular belief, Penguins don't like buses - and will be happier if they're left in the zoos with their friends, food and access to water.

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