Ian Whybrow

…coming soon…

29th Nov . Twonnet. A shorter definition

November 29, 2012 - Filed under: Blog - Leave a comment

An English poem (originally for users of Twitter) comprising no more than 140 characters and spaces and no less than 131. (Portmanteau word combining Twitter and sonnet)

It has no set number of lines, but should scan and rhyme regularly. It may employ abbreviations but should be punctuated correctly.


Twonnet 6. Oedipus.

Wired and awake @ 5,

All Jocasta could contrive

Was the fact that pater’s status

Sometimes rhymes with “hardly matters”.

Before a new word can be taken seriously by the OED it has to be put to use – for about 10 years. So go on, have a go … and please let me see what you’ve written.

News has arrived from Hodder of a Chinese deal for Jump in and All Change. Wasn’t expecting that.

Have just finished a new Harry text and sent it off to Puffin. That’ll be a surprise for them, too.

The Twonnet

November 28, 2012 - Filed under: Blog - Leave a comment

Twitter can accommodate Haikus and other short verse-forms, of course but I felt the need for something English or at least, European. Hence the “twonnet”.

A portmanteau word for sonnet and twitter, the twonnet has its own rules. Since Gerard Manley Hopkins invented the Curtal Sonnet (with 10.5 lines) I reckon I’m allowed to invent a sonnet form of less than 14 lines and to dispense with iambic pentameter and the usual rhyming schemes. The point about a sonnet is to express an idea as elegantly and pithily as possible within a pleasingly confined space. Twitter creates the space, so here are the rules.

The title – Twonnet – may be reduced to Tt (Unless you give it a title, it will not be obvious that you are writing a twonnet, so an abbreviation may prove useful)

The twonnet is confined to 140 characters including spaces.

Ideally it should use all 140 characters and spaces – with no less than 131.

It must scan and rhyme consistently and accurately.

Any number of rhyming lines is allowable.

Clear abbreviations are allowable.

A perfect twonnet should be accurately punctuated.

Nov 28 Stamp Stamp Twonnet and Swank

November 28, 2012 - Filed under: Blog - Leave a comment

My daughter Lucy rang to congratulate me on the Christmas stamps from “The Christmas Bear” and reminded me that when she was playing Juliet for the RSC at Stratford, she was pictured on a stamp. That is worth swanking about, one feels: the work of two Whybrows flying about on envelopes. So one does.

Then my friend Les emailed to wonder why I’m not credited on the first day covers. Rather peeved, I checked. Axel Scheffler, who designed the stamps, is credited but there‘s no mention of me as the author of the book whose illustrations inspired the stamps. Once Macmillan got on to the fact that their instructions for the copy had been ignored, at least they were able to persuade Buckingham Covers to alter the website copy so that I get a mention there; which is better than a poke in the eye with a turkey twizzler. The stamps are a charitable venture, organised by Royal Mail, so it would be churlish and Scrooge-like of me to demand withdrawal of permission. And besides, the door is wide open and the horse has bolted. Ho hum.

A shame – but the covers look great.

While I’m in the mood to boast, I must mention how chuffed I am to have come up with a new verse form for Tweeters.

Nov 27th STOP PRESS!!!

November 27, 2012 - Filed under: Blog - Leave a comment

Just checked online and the consensus seems to be that Thor Heyerdahl was deathly afraid of water as a child and could barely swim before the age of 22. Phew. No feet of clay there, then. And by the way, a Google search finds Twonnette – but no Twonnet. Cor. Maybe I am the Onlie Begetter after all…

Nov 27 Enter The Twonnet

November 27, 2012 - Filed under: Blog - Leave a comment

Twitter is crying out for a poetic form and HUZZAH! I have cracked it. Move over, you Haikus!

Twonnet One

Tho not the 1st, the 1st by name

The twonnet-form I hearby claim.

Confined by all the rules of tweet

Short It is & rather sweet

Blust! I left in a capital “I” on “It’s”. Too excited, see? And it’s missing proper punctuation – but blow that; it’s not bad. Be interesting to see if there are any pretenders to invention of this fine and English form. Hard to believe that no-one among a zillionTweeters has thought of it before, though.

A buzz on the bell and there stands the postman with a vast parcel.




It contains expensive chocs from a grateful stranger for whom I gave some thought to a bunch of picture books she asked me to look at for her. Well there’s lovely!


Nov 26 Heyerdahl Plunges

November 27, 2012 - Filed under: Blog - Leave a comment

Potted up the last of the tulips yesterday and am now wondering whether it’s too late. We’ll see. Be nice to think that SOMETHING I’ve cherished and nurtured will blossom in the spring.


Alarmed to discover that Thor Heyerdahl took “a refreshing plunge in the swimming pool” when visiting the office manager for the Fred Olsen Line in New York just after WW2. (The Kon-Tiki Expedition, 1950 English ed, p 26) A plunge? Does that mean he could swim after all? They told us at the Maritime Museum in Oslo earlier this year – and he rose dramatically in our estimation as a daring-deeder – that he couldn’t. Swim or not, he was still fairly hairy-chested, I suppose, but now I shall have to make some enquiries. Did he take a swim, or did her merely have a splash in that pool?

Took a call from my editor at Hodder and discussed the next in the Books for Boys series. Magic Town want me to press on with more Shrinky Kid stories. So that’s good.

Nov 25. Appointed

November 25, 2012 - Filed under: Blog - Leave a comment

Woke to the sound of wind over NW London, thinking it was Monday. The discussion about the rejection by the laity of an agreement to ordain women bishops on Radio 4 seemed to go on, even beyond porridge-stirring time. Oddly, no sign of Jim Naughty or John Humphrys. The discussion trailed back on itself. They were filling in time. It dawned: this is “Sunday”, normally a reason for fiddling through the channels to Radio 3. PLeeeeze give us women bishops. Anything to stop the C of E maundering on.

Am in the middle (slow reader) of “Bring Up the Bodies”. Much more exciting when Master Secretary Cromwell took orders from the Lord’s Anointed. Too much backchat and vvvwwwoop! … another one for the chop. Hmm. Only one “ n” in “anointed”.

“Unhousled, disappointed, unaneled” Discuss (30 minutes). Those were the days, eh? Proper A Levels, no course-work, spelling counts.

My friend Alan, the one who cooked supper for us on Friday, very generously gave me a present of a first(English) edition (1950) of The Kon-Tiki Expedition. Last time I saw him, we were reminiscing about the copies of the book that seemed always to be around the house in our childhood, mine in Kent and his in Berks. Having visited the Maritime Museum in Oslo and seen the balsa raft in Octover, Ann and I were full of excitement about the experience. (“Did you realise that Heyerdahl couldn’t even SWIM?”) My memory of the book – is of a children’s paperback with lots of black and red line drawings. Alan’s hardback gift is nothing like what I remember. A false memory? Nevertheless, I am thrilled and couldn’t wait to finish “Bring Up the Bodies” before I started it. I am, you could say, the opposite of all those women bishops waiting to hop out of cupboards. I am … appointed.

Nov 24th Marcher Country

November 25, 2012 - Filed under: Blog - Leave a comment

Our necessary journey to Herefordshire on Wednesday was through lashing rain and on flooded roads. The road between Gloucester and Newent was impassable and several vehicles lay stranded in deep water, half submerged, warning lights blinking like hippos’ eyes for the attentions of a man with a tractor.

A warmer, brighter day on Friday allowed a pleasant drive south from where we were staying into Hereford to shop. The sun continued and I spent two pleasant afternoon hours in the greenhouse tending to the vine. Miraculously, though most of the grapes that remained were wizened or rat-grey with mildew, one or two had only just ripened. Cold and bursting with juice, they were a delicious surprise.

Bob the Builder came round to help with some repairs. “Picked up my winnings from the Weobley Show,” he announces, grinning in the shy way he has, almost as if he’s gripping a small nail between his teeth. “Top carrots, potaters, parsnips and beetroot.” “Well done!” I say. “How much?” He dips his hand into his pocket. Four coins. Six pound fifty.

Tonight, after supper with old friends, we stepped from log-fire warmth out into a starlit frost that took your breath away.

Warnings of 15 hours of rain tomorrow and increasingly high winds have decided us. We shall scuttle back to the Smoke tomorrow to ‘scape drowning.

Nov 21st. Awesome Animals

November 22, 2012 - Filed under: Blog - Leave a comment

Gave a final check to the new editions of “Where’s Tim’s Ted” and “Tim’s Ted and the Pirates”.   Both looking great, especially now that they’re re-sized and give a bit more scope to Russell Ayto’s wonderful illustrations.  Also tweaked two of the Harry books for inclusion as beginner-readers for the Ladybird series.  Some of the rhythm and subtext of the original is lost in pursuit of opportunities for repetition and simplicity but I like the idea of children coming to familiar ground as they face the challenge of self-propelled reading.

Pleased to hear from my agent that Puffin is working hard on a new look for the Harry picture books and that new opportunities for novelty books are in the offing.

The Harper Collins team has been busy promoting the Meerkat Madness series, among other Awesome Animals, with a cod-documentary about the hazards of research in the wild in pursuit of stories. Particularly brave of Jean Willis, I thought, to swallow a herring to demonstrate one of the effects of working with penguins.  Here’s the You-tube action.

Nov 18th. Sunday Fuzz Buzz

November 22, 2012 - Filed under: Blog - Leave a comment

Alarmed this Sunday morning by a police helicopter, I was moved to trochees.  Something to twitter about, anyway.

Gentle tintinnabulation

Used to rouse our sleeping nation;

Helicopter’s fuzzy buzzing

Was this morning’s mad muezzin.


Hmm. I blame GMH. 

Anyway, the sun doth arise and make merry the skies, and I’ve just dis-enveloped a statement for Irish PLR receipts this year, so that’s cheered me up.  I am most grateful. Interesting that the Hodder Books for Boys series is taken out more than most and that, as we guessed when thinking about titles for additional books, “A Footballer Called Flip” was borrowed most often.