Philip Pullman has been made a CBE in the New Year Honours.
December 2003 Archives
Lauren Child profile...
"The thing I can never understand is when people ask - and it's a very typical question I get asked - how can you write children's books when you don't have any children of your own?
And the answer is, because I was a child and I know how it feels to be a child... ..."
'Harry Potter' took the #2 slot in the top 10 Yahoo searches of 2003 (#1 was Kazaa, the filesharing program used by MP3 enthusiasts).
" Children's author Robert Munsch, famous for Love You Forever, The Paper Bag Princess and numerous other books, is the honorary celebrity chair of Family Literacy Day on Jan. 27..."
An ABC Canada Literacy Foundation interview...
Reuters | Latest Financial News / Full News Coverage
"Pascal Kamina, a copyrights lawyer representing the author, Franck Le Calvez, confirmed in a telephone interview Monday that the case -- claiming damages for breach of copyright and trademark and demanding that they withdraw "Nemo" books and merchandise from French shops -- will come up for hearing in a French court February 17... ..."
Also see entry for December 14...
"The re-release of "The Story of Little Black Sambo" by Brooklyn-based Handprint Books has angered some black critics, while drawing praise from the prestigious Kirkus Reviews...."
"This fresh, instructive, and upbeat guide to Harry Potter gives parents a wealth of useful and educational information for discussing the moral implications of this continuously popular series of books with their children...."
...although it is a rich, absorbing tale, The Blood Stone lacks the tightly plotted satisfactions of Coram Boy, says Amanda Craig...
"A French children's author is suing Disney, saying the international box-office hit Finding Nemo may have been lifted from his own work..."
Feature about Jacqueline Wilson tagged onto news report about a MORI poll into the reading habits of 11-18 yr. olds...
"The trend in children's books may be towards celebrity authors, or those whose work can be transformed into multi-million-pound fantasy films, but Jacqueline Wilson has found another way.
Her works sell by word of mouth, coupled with extensive book tours and library readings that have parents and children queueing round the block.... ..."
Review, in Spanish, of Neil Gaiman's Coraline, on the Argentine site, Imaginaria
"The best Christmas present in the world"
A short story by the children's laureate, Michael Morpurgo
In a highly recommended feature, Michael Shelden interviews the Paolini family [see current ACHUKA Choice]
"...you don't go to the Paolini house and just interview Christopher. The whole family gathers round the kitchen table and speaks in turn, answering my questions, correcting each other and asking questions of their own. Eragon - and the other two books in the Inheritance trilogy that will follow it - is a family business.
Young Adult novel chosen as #3 book of the year by Christianity Today Magazine:
"If you haven't heard about this novel, that may be because it was published as a Young Adult book..."
"His first novel, "Fanshawe," bombed. He plied his hand at children's books, many of which are classics today...
Self-immersion was his gift. After all, the country Hawthorne resided in was the past - his past - and that is where he is buried. With this superb biography, Brenda Wineapple fearlessly goes back there, and exhumes him from it."
Three pages of New York Times reviews, headed up with ANTONIO ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WORLD, GETTING SMALLER by Malachy Doyle & llustrated by Carll Cneut.
"In a charming reversal of Margaret Wise Brown's classic tale ''The Runaway Bunny,'' Doyle, an Irish author now living in Wales, writes winningly of homesickness and its only known cure: Mom and the comforts of home... "
"This captivating, slight, somewhat overpriced stocking-filler of a book has one outstanding merit for Philip Pullman's legion of readers. It answers, encouragingly, the question left hanging by the His Dark Materials trilogy... ..."
John Ezard reviews Lyra's Oxford by Philip Pullman
Philip Ardagh, Adele Geras and Jan Mark pick their favourite books of the year...
"Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" will be digitally re-mastered and released to IMAX theaters in addition to conventional theaters in June 2004.
A television adaptation, in thirteen 15-minute episodes, of The Ice Cream Machine by Julie Bertagna, will begin broadcasting on FIVE on Sunday 11th January at 11.00am.
The story is set on the mythical island of Innishnamona, off the West coast of Scotland and tells the story of the MacDonald family. Dad, Donald and children, Wayne and Wendy, buy a beat-up old ice cream van from car dealer Charlie Smythe. Wayne and Wendy soon discover that this van is no ordinary vehicle. The Ice Cream Machine has magical powers.
Five's Controller of Children's Programming, Nick Wilson, said: "The Ice Cream Machine is Five's first co-production with SMG and the Gaelic Broadcasting Committee. It's also Five's first original drama for younger children between 4 and 7 years old. Made in both Gaelic and English, young viewers will be enchanted."
The serial is produced by Beverley Morrison and directed by Paul Holmes.
"Children's books light up the holidays.."
"[Billy Connolly], who was recently presented a CBE at the Palace, is to star as Uncle Monty, alongside a star-cast that includes Jim Carrey, Meryl Streep and Jude Law..."
See also this Soctsman article:
"...Lyra?s Oxford is quite perfect in its way ? gripping, funny, and infused with the vitality of a master-storyteller ? and yet it is also no more than an amuse-gueule, a canap?, a crumb offered to an audience starving for a proper Christmas dinner...."
"When it comes to cars [Zephaniah] is an enthusiastic fan of British heritage. He is the proud owner of a Triumph TR7 and has owned every version of the classic British sports car from the TR3 onwards. Then there is the Triumph motorbike, an old Morris Oxford and a 1400cc Escort for knocking round town. All are a deep maroon: ?Red is dread,? he says (?dread? being a Rasta term of approbration). "
"Chorion, the media firm behind Toytown taxi driver Noddy, says it hopes to finalise a deal before the end of the year to add the Mr Men characters to its portfolio of children's icons..."
'But do you know what I really couldn't get along with?' he asks. 'Van Morrison! Couldn't stand it! Just terribly crude and, oh God, just miserable.' ...
...Karen Breen, children's book editor at Kirkus, says, "The story is just such a wonderful story and it needed to be rehabilitated, I guess the word would be. And the art in it is extraordinary." When told of the negative reactions from Poussaint and others, Breen says, "It could be entirely possible that I am wrongheaded about this." ...
After a day spent trawling shops in Brighton trying to find CDs by Paul Westerberg in response to a Christmas request, I sat in front of Road Trip on BBC1, listlessly turning pages in the day's papers, until I came across this:
?You can?t write for children,? he says. ?There?s no such thing. It?s a financial industry, made up. People say, what?s it like to be a children ?s book writer? And I don?t know. I do seem to do it. That?s what I do: but not because I think children are wonderful and I want to save the world ? like I am the Mother Teresa of children! Except there?s something in me that?s intuitively tuned in. I?ve never stopped being there. In the children?s book form, which seems innocuous enough, I can burrow in like a bug and do all I want to do, hidden by the form. It?s a great hiding place. You can do all the guerrilla warfare you like. And I did from the beginning.?
"Lyra?s Oxford is quite perfect in its way ? gripping, funny, and infused with the vitality of a master-storyteller ? and yet it is also no more than an amuse-gueule, a canap?, a crumb offered to an audience starving for a proper Christmas dinner..."
In The Scotsman's seasonal round up Kathryn Ross selects best reads for toddlers up to 12 yr olds, and I pick my Top Ten Teenage Novels of the Year.
"What makes this book so unusual is the way Jonathan Stroud has upended the various traditions he draws on..."
Diana Wynne Jones on The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud.
Here's a recommendation from Sonya Hartnett to read Ursula Dubosarsky.
"No children's author in Australia writes as gracefully as Ursula Dubosarsky, and Abyssinia (Viking) is a fine example of her delicate, gem-like work. The book reads like an enigmatic dream, full of reflections, mysteries, twists and turns. A novel for younger teenagers (particularly girls) who are clever enough to deal with something unusual..."
Unfortunately, the book recommended is not available in the UK, but anyone who has not read Dubosarsky is missing one of the unique voices of contemporary literature. So why not give this one a try:
"ANNE WOOD, founder of Ragdoll Productions and creator of the Teletubbies insists she really has no idea what her company is worth... ..."
A feature by Ray Snoddy, The Times Media Editor
An interview feature by Dina Rabinovitch:
"I saw the first preview, playing to a packed Olivier Theatre. It is a beautiful production, the daemons of the novels criss-crossing the stage with shafts of light, tissue paper creations lit from the inside.
Afterwards, people filed out past the tired-looking man in red socks, sitting with his wife. Pullman looked emotionally stunned, his face showing the impact of watching his words brought to life with the full might of the Olivier's huge chunks of stage which can be raised and lowered and wheeled round at the director's will... ..."
"Nick Hytner's big two-part epic, His Dark Materials, has hit technical difficulties...
Hytner canceled two previews of Part One last week, and has now moved the first preview of Part Two from Dec.13 to the next night. The Dec. 20 press night has been spirited to Jan. 3...."
"Potentially lucrative British and American publishing rights for The Kazillion Wish (Allen & Unwin, $13.95) have been picked up by Chicken House Books, a British company owned by Barry Cunningham."
This Antonia Forest obit. is by Julia Eccleshare...
Kevin's entry for December 8th over on the excellent Collected Miscellany blog was an extended review of The Amulet of Smarkand by Jonathan Stroud
"I recently picked up a young adult fantasy book entitled The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud (billing itself as The Bartimaeus Trilogy Part One). Strolling through the bookstore like an alcoholic through the brewery district, the book's cover caught my eye. The plot seemed interesting and I was going on vacation soon . . . So I ended up buying it (one of the useful things about having a book blog is that you can always rationalize your purchases by telling yourself that it will make a good review). So in order to assuage my guilt for buying so many books when I haven't read half the ones I own, here is my review."
A report from New Zealand about the world's first animated 3D children's pop-up "book".
New Zealand's favourite poet to lead judging panel for children's book awards 2004...
The doctor, poet and children?s author Glenn Colquhoun has been named convenor for the 2004 New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults. Colquhoun is joined on the panel by author and literary agent, Barbara Else and librarian and children?s book specialist Lorraine Orman, to judge the best of children?s books published in New Zealand in 2003.
The Independent on Sunday carried 2 pages of children's books reviews. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to locate an online link.
Bess Roman reviewed picture books; Suzi Feay 'crossover fiction'; and Brandon Robshaw general fiction. Robshaw gives Julie Bertagna's The Colour of Chocolate a thumbs-up, after its unseemly bashing in The Guardian last week, and shares our enthuasiasm for two other ACHUKA favourites - The Lastling by Philip Gross ("I've read few adult books this year which are as haunting, as well-written and offer as much food for thought") and I Is Someone Else by Patrick Cooper ("a wonderful novel, written in a style as lucid and compelling as that of Patricia Highsmith").
I'll try and remember to add the url for these reviews when they're added to The Independent's online site.
Nicolette Jones, the Sunday Times Children's Book of the Week reviewer, picks the best children's books of the year for all ages...
See also Amanda Craig's impressively extensive roundup from Saturday's Times:
Further recommendations can be found on the Amanda Craig website...
Mem Fox is a passionate advocate of reading aloud to children:
"I'd like the police always to have children's books with them in their police cars to read aloud to children whenever they suddenly find themselves in traumatic situations. I'd like every nurse in children's hospitals to have books at their workstations ready to read aloud to children in distress, or to those who just can't sleep..."
Reading Magic - How Your Child Can Learn To Read Before School - And Other Read Aloud Miracles, the book that inspired Australian Opposition Leader Mark Latham's new child literacy program.
"THE auction this coming Wednesday of seven first editions of Harry Potter books - and more crucially their sale estimates - shows the strength of the market in children%u2019s books..."
The playwright Tony Kushner celebrates an old friend
"Maurice Sendak and I have been good friends for a decade... ..."
Jeff Brown, Children's Writer Who Created 'Flat Stanley' Series, Dies at 77
"Joanna Carey salutes the enduringly robust art of Raymond Briggs... ..."
Jeff Brown, author and creator of the highly popular Flat Stanley series, died on Dec. 3, 2003 of a heart attack in New York City at the age of 77.
Read the Press Release in full...
"...the latest hopeful is Janey Jones. The Edinburgh author has just written and published her first book in a series of four for young girls. The endearing and traditional-looking book, Princess Poppy's Party, has been written for four to 12-year-olds and is about a young girl called Poppy who is excited about her fifth birthday. But in a bid to teach Poppy the art of patience, her family and friends pretend to forget it is her birthday before surprising her with a huge party and those sought after gifts..."
Charles Spencer reviews Skellig at the Young Vic
for the Daily Telegraph
"Mercifully, there are only about four songs, and one of them, for a chorus of arthritic pensioners on zimmer frames, cheekily nicked from Mel Brooks's stage version of The Producers, is both funny and unexpectedly touching. Elsewhere, Nunn is true to the splendid spirit of the original, adapted for the stage by Almond himself..."
"The Centre for the Children's Book, which uses its collection of original manuscripts and illustrations to encourage creativity in young people, will announce [today] that it has raised ?6m to create a new home in Newcastle upon Tyne..."
The priemiere of the stage version of David Almond's Skellig is today. It is showing at London's Young Vic until Jan 31st.
Another Independent article that slipped my notice at the weekend. Nicholas Tucker writes about Philip Pullman...
"Benjamin Zephaniah: Too black, too strong - and still too radical for many..."
This profile of the poet appeared in The Indpendent at the weekend.
Norman Geras calls this letter (in The Guardian 01.12.03) by Michael Rosen 'objectionable stuff' over on the ever-stimulating Normblog...
Smarties Book Award Winners
5 & Under - THE WITCH'S CHILDREN AND THE QUEEN by Ursula Jones, illustrated by Russell Ayto
6-8 - VARJAK PAW by SF Said, illustrated by Dave McKean
9-11 - THE FIRE-EATERS by David Almond
5 & Under - TADPOLE'S PROMISE by Jeanne Willis, illustrated by Tony Ross
6-8 - THE LAST CASTAWAYS by Harry Horse
9-11 - MONTMORENCY by Eleanor Updale
5 & Under - TWO FROGS by Chris Wormell
6-8 - THE COUNTESS'S CALAMITY by Sally Gardner
9-11 - THE VARIOUS by Steve Augarde
KIDS' CLUB AWARD WINNER
THE COUNTESS'S CALAMITY by Sally Gardner
See this report in Daily Telegraph for reaction from S F Said
Cornelia Funke, interviewed in the US
"Hoping to capitalize on the still-strong interest in the series, Scholastic, which published the "Goosebumps" books, is re-releasing 25 of the bestselling titles in the series. Each book will have a first re-printing of 125,000 copies..."
Stine's most recetn book, a teen thriller called Dangerous Girls, tells the story of twin sisters whose summer camp experience get scary when a handsome fellow counselor turns out to be a vampire...
Maurice Sendak interviewed about his new book Brundibar
"I don't believe in children's books. I did it because this was the form that pulled me or drove me, not because I had a passion for children. . . . I have very little respect for books that are written -- quote -- for children."