Rendunculous Dahl-inspired words from the Oxford Roald Dahl Competition

celebrating-roald-dahlWe would like to thank everyone who participated in the Oxford Roald Dahl Competition. The response was overwhelming – we received over 3000 entries – and all entries were very entertaining.
We took great pleasure in reading through the hopscotchy, phizz-whizzing and rendunculous Dahl-inspired words – there are no limits to a child’s imagination!
One school got in the Roald Dahl spirit and celebrated the end of term with a genuine ‘Roald Dahl Norwegian Breakfast’ and took delight in eating boiled potatoes, salmon, hard-boiled eggs and old-fashioned lollies.

Oxford Roald Dahl Competition winners

Congratulations to the following schools for their winning entries. Each of the winning schools have received a selection of fantastic fiction and an Oxford Roald Dahl Dictionary:

St Gabriel’s School, Traralgon, Victoria
You look sparkling and smell good.

Woodend Primary School, Woodend, Victoria
Gnob twizle
A very yuck lolly.

Williamstown North Primary School, Williamstown, Victoria
Fuzzle bottom
When someone is being bored and not wanting to do anything

Toukley Public School, Groken, New South Wales
When you dance while you’re thinking about what is for dinner.

Mitcham Primary School, Mitcham, Victoria
A menace or someone who is naughty. For example, “The flabbersquirt pranked his mum.”

St Maroun’s College, Dulwich Hill, New South Wales
Sumboloolumboloo [prounounced sum-boloo-lumb-oloo]
To eat food with your toe while picking your nose. For example, “One time while watching Barbie I sumboloolumboloo.”

Taroona High School, Taroona, Tasmania
To transform an extremely boring situation into an extremely fun one. For example, “He completely quinstocktottled that assembly.”

rd9780192736451Oxford Roald Dahl Dictionary
Illustrated by Quentin Blake, contributions by Susan Rennie & Roald Dahl

RRP $19.95
This is not an ordinary dictionary.

This is an extra-unusual dictionary full of everyday words and extraordinary inventions to inspire a lifelong love of reading, writing and language.

Oxford Roald Dahl Dictionary

rd9780192736451To mark the centenary of Roald Dahl’s birth this week we are publishing the Oxford Roald Dahl Dictionary. Books including Matilda, The BFG, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The Twits have inspired generations to play with language and make up words.

Some Dahlesque words for your everyday:

A word for the weekend…

Hopscotchy – adjective

If you feel hopscotchy, you feel happy and cheerful, as if you have drunk a whole bottle of frobscottle.

‘Whenever I is feeling a bit scrotty,’ the BFG said, ‘a few gollops of frobscottle is always making me hopscotchy again.’ – The BFG.

A term for those you know who let all their hair grow…

Hirsute – adjective

Hirsute is a very useful word to describe The Twits because it means hairy or untrimmed, so Mr Twit is hirsute and so is Mrs Twit’s unweeded garden.

A compliment…

Splendiferous – adjective

Splendid, marvelous.

‘Your grandad,’ he said, ‘my own dad, was a magnificent and splendiferous poacher. It was he who taught me all about it.’ – Danny the Champion of the World.

Did you know? The word splendiferous was not invented by Roald Dahl. It is an old word that was first used more than five hundred years ago. Another old word with the same meaning is splendacious.

A snack…

Snozzberry – noun snozzberries

A type of berry you can eat.

‘Lovely stuff, lickable wallpaper!’ cried Mr Wonka, rushing past. ‘It has pictures of fruits on it – bananas, apples, oranges, grapes, pineapples, strawberries, and snozzberries…’ – Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Oxford Roald Dahl Dictionary
From aardvark to zozimus, a real dictionary of everyday and extra-usual words.

Available now from all good bookstores.

Using humour to inspire young writers

Hey, want to hear a joke?
Novice pirates make terrible singers because they can’t hit the high seas. 
(Cue collective groan)

Sometimes humour can be in-your-face and silly (like the joke above), and other times it can be more subtle. Whether it’s a pun, a child’s knock-knock joke, a funny movie, or situation comedy on television, we all enjoy a good laugh. Given this natural human tendency to appreciate humour, how might we, as educators, leverage humour in our teaching?  This idea deserves further attention.

Consider how social humour is. Think about the last time you watched a funny movie or television show with someone. When something funny happens on screen we turn to the person beside us as if to say ‘did you get it?’ It’s almost as if sharing the joke or funny situation enhances its humour.  The same is true with children, especially with their reading. Think about when you were a child, and saw a group of other children huddled together around a book, laughing.  How did you respond to that situation? You probably wanted to know what was so funny!  We all want to know what’s so funny. We all want to be part of the joke. Humour is a social phenomenon.

I observed this firsthand when I researched how humorous children’s literature engages young readers.  My research revealed that humorous literature is a huge motivator for children to read. When they read humorous books, they want to read more in general, and more specifically they want to read books by that author or other funny authors.  Also, when they do read something funny, they want to share it with someone immediately, whether they are a friend, family member, or teacher. This has classroom implications for teachers around the globe, because humorous literature can reach both struggling and reluctant readers.

In a related research project, I found that humorous children’s literature also motivates young readers to become writers of humour.  This was more than just wanting to copy their favourite author’s style of writing, but a need to be creative and write funny stories as well.  That is why in my latest book there is an entire chapter discussing humorous texts and their value in the classroom, and what teachers can do to harness these texts in developing young writers.

Some tips to help promote writing using humorous texts:

  • Expand your definition of ‘genre’ to include humorous texts (comics, joke books, etc.).
  • Value and include comics in your classroom activities.
  • Read and learn about blended narratives (Zbaracki & Geringer 2014) such as the 13-Storey Treehouse.
  • Allow students to write their own comics, perhaps using technology, websites or apps, and read each other’s creations.
  • Use technology (such as the ‘Pun of the Day’ app) to encourage students to explore the multiple meanings of words.
  • Explore parodies of well-known fairy tales and nursery rhymes to inspire students to create their own parodies.

So, it’s important to remember that humour, in addition to being fun, has great benefits helping students in both reading and writing.   ‘Sigmund’, a grade five student in my research study summed it up best:

… all books kind of have some humour, and if you don’t, I’m not saying that you should put like all humour in the book, it’s just if you don’t it’ll be kind of dull, and it won’t … well, it’ll be like the cake without the icing.

He’s so right! Keep eating that cake with icing, and reading and writing those funny texts!

Matthew Zbaracki is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Education at Australia Catholic University (Melbourne) and the author of Writing Right with Text Types (2015).


Featured image credits:  [1] OUP 9780195519068; [2]Shutterstock ID 144699151


Oxford Festive Gift Guide for Kids

The festive season is fast approaching – have you organised your Christmas gifts yet? If not, don’t fret, we’ve got you covered! We have a range of wonderful books for kids, from beautiful picture books to award-winning literary fiction. We’ve handpicked some gift books that will capture the imagination of young boys and girls, and will inspire a lifelong love of reading. Don’t miss the special Christmas offer below!

Pugs of the Frozen North9780192734570
Hardback | RRP $17.95
For the pug-lovers, Pugs of the Frozen North is the exciting new adventure from Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre featuring Snow Trolls, Hungry Yetis and 66 pugs pulling a sled to the top of the world.



What a Wonderful World 9780192736918
Paperback | RRP $15.95
Inspired by one of the greatest songs of all time . . .
Follow one little boy on a wondrous journey through our beautiful world. A truly special book featuring the lyrics from What a Wonderful World, accompanied by a CD and beautiful illustrations from Tim Hopgood.

Short Christmas Stories
Paperback | RRP $11.95
Featuring over 40 short (very short!) Christmas tales drawn from gift-givers, folk tales and narrative jokes around the world; Short Christmas Stories is perfect for Advent bedtime stories and classroom activities.



9780192742957Super Happy Magic Forest

Paperback | RRP $13.95
The hilarious and epic journey of five brave heroes – a fairy, a unicorn, a faun, a gnome, and a mushroom – who must go on an epic quest to reclaim the Mystical Crystals of Life and save their home.


The Wind in the Willows
Paperback | RRP $17.95
Take to the road with Mr Toad!
With stunning illustrations from David Roberts, this is a glorious picture book edition of The Wind in the Willows. This is the perfect book to introduce a really young audience to Mole, Ratty, Badger and, of course, Mr Toad.


Special offer for Christmas
20% off and free delivery*
Discount code: xmas15
To take advantage of this special offer, visit the Oxford University Press website and enter the discount code xmas15 at the checkout.

*Online offer only available to Australian customers. New Zealand customers free call 0800 442 502 or email to receive the same discount on the NZ price. Offer only on selected titles above. The discount cannot be combined with any other offers. Offer expires 31st December 2015.

Pippi Longstocking Colouring-in Competition

Last month Oxford University Press held a colouring-in competition to celebrate 70 years of the irrepressible Pippi Longstocking.

Every day we received a new parcel of pictures, and by closing date we had more than 600 entries from primary school students across Australia. There were many inventive entries that colourfully captured the characters from Astrid Lindgren’s tales, including Pippi (of course) as well as her friends, the mischievous monkey Mr. Nilsson and neighbours Tommy and Annika.

Choosing a winner was tough, so we hosted an office morning tea where everyone could vote for their favourites. After much deliberation, four winners were chosen:

1st - Thomas

In first place: Thomas – Year 5/6

2nd - Mitchell

In second place: Mitchell – Year 4









In third place: Iris - Year 4/5

In third place:
Iris – Year 4/5

In fourth place: Alice

In fourth place:








Each winner will receive a limited edition print for their class, featuring Pippi Longstocking and signed by illustrator Lauren Child.

Other highly commended entries were:


Runner up: Iris – Year 3/4

Runner up: Rebecca - Age 11

Runner up:
Rebecca – Age 11

Runner up: Riley - Age 9

Runner up:
Riley – Age 9














Thank you to all the schools who entered, it was clear that a lot of creativity and effort went into making these beautiful pictures.

Adventures in the Frozen North

Our books are all about different characters and different places, but they all have one thing in common: they are about ADVENTURES. And we have adventures while we’re making them. As you can see below, we’re ready for anything. Our latest outfits are designed for travelling to the Arctic, where the latest book, Pugs of the Frozen North, is set. If you’ll read it, you’ll find that all sorts of adventures lie in wait there, from hungry krakens to tasty snow-noodles which might turn you into a yeti…

Frozen North costumes

Some of Sarah’s relatives have a house in Alaska, in a small town called Seldovia. That inspired the town of Snowdovia, which is the starting point for an extremely adventurous sled-race to the North Pole in Pugs of the Frozen North. The picture in blue below is the one that appears in the finished book, and the others show how Sarah developed it from a very simple sketch, to a rough sketch, and then the finished pen-and-ink drawing.

Sarah's drawings

Sometimes, to save Sarah some time, Philip does the rough drawing and then Sarah finishes it in her own style. Here’s a yeti rough by Sarah, and a kraken rough by Philip. (You can check through the book and see if you can spot the other pages which Philip drew the rough for, but we’re not telling!) Making a book together is quite an adventure in itself.
Sarah's drawings 2

When we’re not busy writing and drawing we try to have real adventures, too. Sometimes they have to be quite small adventures. When Sarah is working too hard to go off exploring, she stays in her studio and explores strange new flavours by doing the #MYSTERYDRINK CHALLENGE, in which she tastes strange soft drinks so that the rest of us don’t have to. She says that so far, most of them have been Quite Nice. She hasn’t found any that have turned her into a yeti yet, but if one does, we’re prepared.

Mystery drink

Yeti repellent

Sometimes we find time to go on big adventures, too. This summer, Philip’s family went to stay with stay with Sarah’s family in the USA. Here we are hiking in the Cascade Mountains. Who knows what future book ideas that will spark off? (As you can see, the hike was a bit too much for Philip’s son Sam…).


hiking 2

We came back to England to start our next adventure – touring all over the country to tell people about Pugs of the Frozen North. You can find a list of the events we’ll be doing in England. And if you want to know how to draw your own pug, here’s Sarah’s step-by-step guide.

Happy adventures!

Reeve & McIntyre


Philip Reeve wrote his first story at the tender age of five about spaceman called Spike and his dog Spook. He is now best known for his Mortal Engines quartet but is also a talented illustrator and has illustrated several titles in the Horrible Histories series.
You can find out more about Philip’s books here:
Sarah McIntyre once applied for a job as a ship’s rigger, intending to run away to sea, but instead, she found herself studying illustration at Camberwell College of Arts and graduated in 2007. She has since become a writer and illustrator of children’s books, picture books and comics.
She also blogs prolifically, and aims to post on her blog every day:

Originally posted on the Oxford Children’s Books Voices

Puppy Academy or Dr Kittycat?

Here at Oxford we share a love for many things – books, baking, cheese and our beloved pets. Many desks are decorated with pictures of our furry best friends, and in honour of two new series from our Children’s division, we asked the staff a very important question:

Are you team Puppy Academy or team Dr Kittycat?

How would you vote? Click on the pictures to learn more about the pets at Oxford.
Puppy Academy: Star on Stormy Mountain



Dr Kittycat is ready to rescue Daisy the kitten

Super Happy Magic Forest: a review


Super Happy Magic Forest Cover Spread

This month we are anticipating the release of an exciting and epic adventure in the Super Happy Magic Forest. To celebrate this super happy magic release,  Stephanie, age 6, reviewed the book and told us about her favourite characters.
SMHF Review_Stephanie6_Page_1_cropped

  1. What score would you give this book out of 5?
    1 = throw it away
    2 = it was ok
    3 = I might read it again if bored
    4 = I liked it a lot
    5 = it’s awesome and I want to read it again 
  2. Who was your favourite character?
    Trevor and denise*.
  3. Why were they your favourite?
    I like trevor because he is funny. I like Denise* because she is pretty.
  4. Can you draw a picture of your favourite character? SMHF Review_Stephanie6_Page_2_croppedSMHF Review_Stephanie6_Page_3_cropped
  5. What was your favourite part of the story?
    When oldoak gets put in a place where evryone there is evil it is a fair place for him.
  6. Do you have a favourite illustration?
    I liked the SUPER CREEPY haunted forest because when I look at it, it makes me feel brave.SMHF Review_Stephanie6_Page_4_cropped
  7. Is there a part of the story you don’t like?
  8. Would you like to read another epic adventure with these characters?

*Denise is called Dennis in the book.

9780192742957Super Happy Magic Forest

Oxford is joint winner at the 2015 Environment Award for Children’s Literature

Each year, the Wilderness Society awards outstanding children’s books that promote a love of nature, and a sense of caring and responsibility for the environment. This year, Our Class Tiger, one of our Oxford Literacy Independent titles, was joint winner in the non-fiction category for the 2015 Environment Award for Children’s Literature. In celebration, we chat to author Aleesha Darlison about her inspiration and key messages behind the book.

9780195589726Non-fiction category
Our Class Tiger
Aleesah Darlison

What was the inspiration for Our Class Tiger, why feature a tiger?

I adore tigers. They’re beautiful, powerful, spell-binding creatures – and unfortunately they’re becoming increasingly rare. Although children and adults alike are fascinated by them, most people probably don’t know a lot about them. So when the publisher at Oxford University Press asked me to write a story that featured a tiger, I was very excited. Writing this book was the perfect way to teach children important facts about tigers and also to highlight ways we can help save them. Our Class Tiger is a narrative non-fiction story so it engages young readers with an entertaining story while at the same time imparting key information, making the book perfect for use in the classroom.

Do you work with endangered animals, why choose a topic like this?
I have a great interest in and passion for animals, their welfare and protection. And I love books and writing. Being an author, I get to combine these two great loves to create stories about all sorts of animals. Many of my books feature endangered animals and while I haven’t been lucky enough to work with them on a daily basis, I have presented educational sessions at zoos and wildlife parks to help highlight the plight of those animals in danger and what we can do to save them. Books like Our Class Tiger are important so young children can learn to understand, appreciate, love and protect endangered animals. They need our help to survive.

What was the key message you wanted to share with the children reading Our Class Tiger?
An important part of the book is trying to impress upon children how crucial it is to help save tigers and how small things they do can help these beautiful creatures in big ways. No matter how old you are or where you live, you can make a difference.

What is your favourite spread in the book?
That’s a very difficult question to answer! The designer and illustrator have done a superb job bringing the story of Our Class Tiger to life. Every spread is interesting and eye-catching and, of course, Berhaga, the tiger cub in the story, looks magnificent in the photos. If I had to choose one, it’s at the start (Page 4 and 5) where Rose Carter, the little girl from class 3M, introduces the story and tells everyone that her class is adopting a tiger. The picture of Rose is accompanied by a gorgeous photo of a tiger cub with his pink, curly tongue sticking out – that photo is used on the front cover too. It’s irresistible.

Do you have any more fun facts to share about our endangered friends?
A group of tigers is called a ‘streak’ or an ‘ambush’. Oh, and tigers can jump over five metres in length and swim up to six kilometres. That sure beats me hands – or should I say, paws – down.

Aleesah Darlison is a multi-published, award-winning Australian children’s author. She has written over twenty books for children including picture books, chapter books and novels/series. Aleesah has won numerous awards for her writing including an Australian Society of Authors (ASA) mentorship. Aleesah travels throughout Australia and overseas delivering talks and workshops to children and adults at preschools, schools, libraries, literary festivals and writers’ centres.

Children’s literature quiz: answers

The wait is over, the answers to our children’s literature quiz are here. Find out if you’re a children’s literature expert or whether you need to scrub up on your knowledge, by checking the answers below:

  1.  When was The Very Hungry Caterpillar first published?
    ANSWER:  A counting book by Eric Carle in 1969, this was one of the most enduringly popular children’s books of all time, with sales to date topping 30 million copies.
  2. ‘Once upon a time…’ is a formulation that has been used for the beginning of many traditional stories for how long?
    ANSWER:Over 6 centuries. It tends to be used at the beginning of stories which for the most part, see the hero and/or heroine ‘live happily ever after’ at the other end.
  3.  True or false. Beauty and the Beast is a fairy story that first appeared in English in 1757, in a translation from a French narrative.
    ANSWER: True, the story was adopted into English folklore as part of the Enlightenment desire to teach children about the virtues of good behaviour through narrative.
  4. What children’s book did author Roald Dahl not write?
    ANSWER: The Enormous Egg is a novel by the American author Oliver Butterworth (1915-90).
  5. Author Beatrix Potter of the ‘Peter Rabbit’ series of books kept which of the following as a pet?
    ANSWER: Potter often smuggled live creatures back to her home, including at various times a hare, several rabbits, mice, a tortoise, a rat and a hedgehog. She had a rabbit named Peter, a hedgehog named Mrs Tiggy and a white rat named Sammy.
  6. Which children’s book does this quote belong ‘To die will be an awfully big adventure’:
    ANSWER:  This quote originally comes from a version of Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie.
  7. The character Hush, from the Australian picture book Possum Magic, didn’t begin her life as a possum, what animal was she originally?
    ANSWER: Hush began life as a mouse and over half the book was illustrated when it was decided to strengthen the Australian theme and make her a possum.
  8. The first draft of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was titled what?
    ANSWER: The Emerald City. This was allegedly altered  because of a superstition that it is unlucky to publish a book with a jewel in the title.
  9.  Paul Jennings was the first writer to sell how many copies of his book in Australia?
    ANSWER: The British-born Australian author had the distinction of being the first writer to sell one million copies in Australia.
  10.  Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was an expansion of Alice’s Adventures Underground, which begun as an impromptu tale told to ten-year-old Alice Liddell.
    ANSWER: True, the tale was told to Alice and her sisters Lorina and Edith, daughters of the Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, during a boat trip on 4 July 1862.

Oxford-Companion-to-Childrens-LiteratureAll information has been taken from the new edition of The Oxford Companion to Children’s Literature. This accessible A to Z is the first place to look for information about the authors, illustrators, printers, publishers, educationalists, and others who have influenced the development of children’s literature, as well as the stories and characters at their centre. Written both to entertain and to instruct, this highly acclaimed Companion is a reference work that no one interested in the world of children’s books should be without.