Blog entry about Malcolm Saville, on 'Out Of The Crooked Timber'
January 2007 Archives
More Harry Horse reportage, ahead of the funeral later this week:
AS IF to emphasise the emotional distance at which Horne kept his family in his final months, they were among the last to know he was dead. The couple's deaths had already been reported in newspapers and on the internet, when, on Thursday, 11 January, two police officers finally knocked on the door of Christmas Hill. This Thursday, the family will arrive on Shetland for the funeral... ...
THE BATH FESTIVAL OF CHILDREN�S LITERATURE
21st-30th September, 2007
One of the biggest new literary festivals announced in recent years will take place in Bath this Autumn.
The Bath Festival of Children�s Literature will be a 10-day celebration of children�s books and reading. Its director, John McLay has already put together a programme that features some of the biggest and most creative names from the world of children�s publishing.
Headlining guests include :
� Jacqueline Wilson, the current Children�s Laureate, who was born in Bath.
� Eoin Colfer, author of Artemis Fowl (his only UK festival appearance of 2007).
� Anthony Horowitz, author of the Alex Rider novels. Stormbreaker, the first title in the series, was made into a film in 2006.
� Louise Rennison, popular teenage author and creator of the Georgia Nicholson books.
� Darren Shan, whose Cirque Du Freak and Demonata series for young horror fans have earned him a worldwide audience.
� Lauren Child, creator of BBC TV�s Charlie & Lola.
� Julia Donaldson, author of popular picture book The Gruffalo.
� Francesca Simon, author of the Horrid Henry series.
� Tony Ross, illustrator of Horrid Henry and author of the Little Princess books, now a cartoon series on TV.
� Garth Nix, Australian Fantasy author, his only UK festival appearance of 2007).
� Brian Jacques, author of the Redwall series � which celebrates its 30th Anniversary in 2007.
� Geraldine McCaughrean, author of the official Peter Pan sequel, Peter Pan in Scarlet.
� Joanne Harris, author of the book Chocolat, which became a film starring Johnny Depp. Her first book for children is published in Autumn 2007.
� Lucy Hawking, daughter of Stephen Hawking, who has collaborated with her father on a new children's book, also published in the Autumn.
"The festival is all about getting as many authors and illustrators - local, national and international - in front of as many children as possible,� says Bath-based International Literary Scout, John McLay. �We want to inspire, to entertain and to educate, but most of all to have fun."
Sunday Times Children's Book Of The Week
I Am A Cloud, I Can Blow Anywhere by Jonathan and Shirley Tullock
This moving and engrossing story is a tale of courage in the most extreme adversity... NICOLETTE JONES
from Amanda Craig's review of Monster Blood Tattoo: Foundling by D. M. Cornish:
D. M. Cornish�s debut, Monster Blood Tattoo, begins with maps to its Half-Continent and an abandoned boy called Rossamund in desperate need of a job. Illustrated by the author, it is a fantasy closer to Peake�s Gormenghast than the appalling Eragon, and suffers from an excess of somewhat stale inventiveness. An orphanage is a foundlingery, sailors are vinegaroons, a cup is a biggin and so on; there is an �Explicarium� at the end, with Appendices and yet more maps. Maddeningly, Cornish can really write, and his story gets off to an engaging start when not tripping over these idiotic extras...
Erica Wagner on Charlotte's Webb:
This is a story that looks into darkness and that, for all its joy, is never far from death. Death is what Wilbur must be saved from, but death waits, too, for the story�s unsentimental heroine, Charlotte...
Josh Lacey on the first volume Kai Meyer's unusual trilogy, The Flowing Queen, winner of the Marsh Award:
In this adventure story set in an alternative version of the 19th century, the Egyptians have conquered most of the known world and only plucky little Venice holds out. Mermaids pull boats up and down the canals. Stone lions fly overhead...
Curiously, the trilogy has already been published in the US under a different title and in a different translation. Anthea Bell, the translator of Egmont's edition, has won the Marsh Award twice already in its 10-year history and occupied two of the six places on this year's shortlist. That may be a sign of her skills as a translator or the lack of children's books in translation. Or both. She has previously translated Stefan Zweig, WG Sebald and every Asterix. Although Kai Meyer isn't quite in the same league, The Flowing Queen is enjoyable, inventive and full of imaginative details, and should please fantasy fans.
Anne Fine offically opens a new school library... [local news report]
Children�s Laureate Jacqueline Wilson has announced that debut author Tom Becker has won the Waterstone�s Children�s Book Prize for his novel Darkside, set in a dangerous parallel �secret� London where nightmares walk the streets.
The announcement was made at a central London Awards ceremony earlier today.
Harry Horse - Guardian obituary, wirtten by Alan Taylor
The winner of the Marsh Award, announced last night was Anthea Bell for her translation of The Flowing Queen by Kai Meyer
Philip Pullman, the author of the trilogy, His Dark Materials, is to be given the Freedom of Oxford.
The author, who has published over twenty books, will receive the rare honour in a ceremony at the Town Hall in Oxford tomorrow, Wednesday 24 January 2007.
The Lord Mayor, Councillor Jim Campbell, says: �Oxford has an astonishingly rich tradition of children's story telling, and Philip Pullman is a worthy successor to Lewis Carroll and C S Lewis. �His Dark Materials is one of the finest imaginative works in English. While it creates and explores new worlds and new systems its roots are in Oxford and we are pleased to be able to confer the freedom of the city on someone who has given so much enjoyment to children, and adults, all over the world.�
Philip, who lives in Cumnor, says: �I am delighted and honoured to receive the Freedom of Oxford, the city which has been the inspiration for a great deal of my work. Oxford is a city that�s steeped in storytelling. It�s a place where the past and the present jostle each other on the pavement, and while of course that�s true of many cities in Britain, Oxford does seem to have a few extra dimensions in some strange way. I am immensely gratified that the city I�ve made my home has found my work worth rewarding, and very proud to receive an honour whose history goes back to the craftsmen and merchants of the Middle Ages, and which is held by a few very distinguished people of today.�
Mary Stolz died mid-December. Death notices just beginning to appear:
Mary Stolz, a noted author for children and adolescents whose novels earned critical praise for the seriousness with which they took the problems of young people, died on Dec. 15 at her home in Longboat Key, Fla. She was 86.
Kevin Brooks is one of the nominees for the Edgar Awards (a US prize organised by the Mystery Writers of America in memory of Edgar Allan Poe):
Best Young Adult
The Road of the Dead by Kevin Brooks (Scholastic - The Chicken House)
The Christopher Killer by Alane Ferguson (Penguin YR - Sleuth/Viking)
Crunch Time by Mariah Fredericks (Simon & Schuster - Richard Jackson Books/Atheneum)
Buried by Robin Merrow MacCready (Penguin YR - Dutton Children's Books)
The Night My Sister Went Missing by Carol Plum-Ucci (Harcourt Children's Books)
Gilda Joyce: The Ladies of the Lake by Jennifer Allison (Penguin Young Readers - Sleuth/Dutton)
The Stolen Sapphire: A Samantha Mystery by Sarah Masters Buckey (American Girl Publishing)
Room One: A Mystery or Two by Andrew Clements (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers)
The Bloodwater Mysteries: Snatched by Pete Hautman & Mary Logue (Penguin Young Readers - Sleuth/Putnam)
The Case of the Missing Marquess: An Enola Holmes Mystery by Nancy Springer (Penguin Young Readers - Philomel/Sleuth)
Julie Bertagan has criticised the decision by Scottish local authorities to ban ice slides in the playground:
Children's author Julie Bertagna, whose book Bungee Hero focuses on a boy overcoming his fears, said: "It's another example of too much health and safety. Too much wrapping children in cotton-wool will lead to a generation of unimaginative and fearful adults. "Children have to be allowed to take a certain number of risks and get the occasional cut or bruise. I'm a parent myself and I constantly need to fight against the urge to be over-protective. I used to make slides and used old tea trays so they would be extra slippery."
Bertagna's next major novel, Zenith, is published next month.
Sunday Times Children's Book Of The Week
The Saddest King by Chris Wormell
The tone is lively, cheerful and surprising, even though the book considers grief and how to deal with it, because it sanctions feelings that are appropriate to events. NICOLETTE JONES
Kathryn Hughes recommends The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Volume 1: The Pox Party by MT Anderson
...anyone prepared to keep faith with the demands that Anderson makes of his readers is due a huge reward. The language may be chilly but it has a swell of elegance that carries you along like a clipper...
Amanda Craig is hooked from the first sentence of The Black Book Of Secrets by F. E. Higgins:
IN THE ETERNAL BATTLE of children�s books versus computer games, nothing beats a cracking start. If you find a first sentence such as: �When I opened my eyes I knew that nothing in my miserable life prior to that moment could possibly be as bad as what was about to happen,� in F. E. Higgins�s The Black Book of Secrets, you know that you are in for a terrific read.
Podcast Highlighting Robert Munsch Visit Now Posted
Harrry Horse remembered, in a feature from the Scottish newspaper, The Herald
Obituary: Harry Horse
by Colin Galbraith, posted on the Scruffy Dog Review Blog
Kirsten Grant has asked us to clarify what Puffin mean by the term 'webraiding' as used in their plans to promote the new novel by Kevin Brooks. She tells ACHUKA, "When we use the term 'web raiding', we mean that we will be engaging opinion formers of influential blogs and web communities. We will be giving them extra tools and assets so that they can help us launch the campaign and get the word of mouth on the book going. So, the bloggers themselves will be discussing the title and adding credibility - it's not us spreading hype ourselves."
Justin Renard, in charge of the campaign, adds: "Achuka has a point with regard to the 'trendiness' of webraiding, as it has been used by a number of corporations that are seeking a quick boost to sales. But successful campaigns from the likes of the hit TV series LOST and Heroes, and the cult film Donnie Darko, are evidence that when a company or agency takes the time to contact opinion makers in key markets and give them something to really engage with, that the market will take heed. For Being specifically, we have created a website to host an online discussion that will launch in the next few weeks (about 6 weeks ahead of publication), and we feel strongly that the story is both powerful and engaging enough that readers will be glad we made this discussion space available for them.
A few key schools and reading groups have been invited to be the premiere posters on the site, so that they can expand their reading discussions beyond the walls and interact with like-minded students in other parts of the country... ...
Puffin has been careful to leave the opinion-making in the hands of the public. When the books hit shelves in March, we are hopeful that there will be enough discussion in the virtual ether to keep the debate raging onward! Kevin Brooks will also be participating in the site - popping in unexpectedly to add further ideas and comments to keep the debate going."
Now downloads in pdf format...
Top Ten Children�s Books Sold on eBay - December 2006
Sunday Times Children's Book Of The Week
Rubies In The Snow by Kate Hubbard
engrossing fictionalised diary of Anastasia Romanov, the doomed daughter of Tsar Nicholas NICOLETTE JONES
Puffin are set to give Being, Kevin Brooks' first novel for them (published March 1st) a massive, integrated PR campaign, the details of which are detailed on the back page of proof copies, recently distributed to reviewers.
In addition to a microsite - www.whatisrobert.co.uk - there will apparently be a 'massive push on fan-fiction websites' and 'webraiding' on popular teenage blogs. This kind of promotion has its risks, particularly because the Young Adult aduience has a pretty good nose for hype. As long ago as 2004, one gaming forum poster observed:
webraiding forums was initially pretty effective when not everybody was doing it. However, it is a real low hanging fruit because you need only a handful of posters full day to clutter all the influential forums with hype. Then the challenge is for these people to create a credible personality with postings relating to other topics than the product at hand. However, these days most people I've spoken to - even the companies known to facilitate this type of activity - consider fake posting too risky. The probability of getting caught is pretty big and then the PR damage is enormous. It's not worth it.
The campaign will also be linked to the launch of an online magazine written by and for teenagers which is set to focus on Being.
I met my TES editor,
Diane Samuels finds The Silver Donkey by Sonya Hartnett both exquisitely produced ("So delightful an artefact is the book itself") and exquisitely written:
Hartnett uses space as eloquently as she uses words. Her writing effortlessly touches on themes of great complexity without a hint of gravitas. Each character is vividly evoked with brushstrokes as light and clean as the illustrations. This is literature that bristles (sic) with images...
A useful linear narrative, but
This is the first full-length biography that has been written of [Beatrix] Potter, so it is a shame that it should be such a dull one. Where Potter had an exquisite sense of how language works, Lear has none. Thus Potter's famous "picture letters" in which she tried out new stories are leadenly described as "often quite amusing". A minor character has "striking rather than beautiful features". For the last third of the book Lear seems to give up entirely on trying to pattern her narrative and descends instead into the kind of plodding prose associated with a "round robin" Christmas letter
says Kathryn Hughes of A Life In Nature by Linda Lear
Philippa Pearce, who died last month, produced more than 30 books, but will be most remembered for the children�s novel Tom�s Midnight Garden, which won the 1959 Carnegie Medal... ...
Margaret reynolds writes about this children's classic.
Is the Holocaust a fitting subject for children's books?
asks Dina Rabinovitch
Richard Horne, known to children's publishing as Harry Horse, was found dead at his home on Burra Isle yesterday. He had died alongside his wife in an apparent suicide pact.
On The Guardian's books blog, Adele Geras, one of the Costa judges, defends the winning title against accusations that its subject matter is too mature for children...
The grittiest of the winners is the children's book, Set in Stone, written like a Victorian melodrama by Linda Newbery. It is the account of a tutor hired to teach the daughters of a wealthy hermit who reigns over a profoundly unhappy household. The tutor eventually discovers that incest is at the root of the misery. Books for the category should be for children aged between 8 and 14 and critics say that Set in Stone should not be read by under-14s. Adele Geras, one of the judges, said: "It is not in your face and there are no scenes of incest. It only comes out at the end in a very subtle way. "It is a very fine book but I would say that it is for the upper age range. However, I think that a younger child would be bored and give up before it got to any incest."
Other shortlisted children's books were
Clay by David Almond
The Diamond of Drury Lane by Julia Golding
Just in Case by Meg Rosoff
Handmade Films have announced plans to bring Eloise, star of a hugely popular series of children's books, to the big screen.
Nigel Cole ('Calendar Girls', 'Saving Grace') has been drafted in to direct the first of a proposed series of films, which will be entitled 'Eloise in Paris'.
Due to large numbers of bookshops asking for signed copies of Sebastian Darke, Philip Caveney (author of adult fiction) has been hard at work signing over 4,000 copies of the just-released hardback of his first children's book....
Philip tells ACHUKA how, three days after he'd made the biggest deal of his life, he received a rejection letter from an agent telling him that the book had no chance of publication.
Read the mini-interview...
Sunday Times Children's Book Of The Week
The Black Book Of Secrets by F E Higgins
this clever, atmospheric debut, about kindness and cruelty, with its richly drawn and sometimes grotesque characters, its mysteries, its magic and its surprising climax, is a piece of perfectly constructed, old-fashioned storytelling of the most compelling kind... NICOLETTE JONES
Marcus Sedgwick, in a pleasingly anecdotal review of Song for Eloise by Leigh Sauerwein, reveals himself to be a fellow fan of short novels:
Bookshops are fuller than ever these days of fat tomes that waste words as if they were easy to come by, only encouraging the reader to glide as quickly as possible through their verbiage. Song for Eloise, meanwhile, takes its rightful place in my fantasy shop. It's just over there, under the sign Short Books: Read Slowly.
Philip Ardagh, in effusive mood, after reading The Book Thief by Markus Zusack:
Unsettling, thought-provoking, life-affirming, triumphant and tragic, this is a novel of breathtaking scope, masterfully told. It is an important piece of work, but also a wonderful page-turner. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
I am currently reading this book myself. I'm only a quarter the way through it at the moment, and at this stage feel far more ambivalent about it. In particular, I'm not comfortable [because that's the sort of reader I am] with Zusack's teasing, tantalising approach to storytelling. We shall see.
Alfred Noyes�s poem The Highwayman is part of many children�s education, even today. Its romantic sense of doom, its repeated rhythms and the drama of its betrayed lovers are unforgettable, and Nicola Morgan has had the excellent idea of creating a historical novel, The Highwayman�s Footsteps, inspired by it.
Amanda Craig on Nicola Morgan's new novel, and, in the same review, on Charlie Higson's second Young Bond novel, Double Or Die, which she prefers to the first.
One of the finest children's writers of her generation...
Apologies - I missed this Guardian Obituary of Philippa Pearce, published on Tuesday.
Between our new blogs and our upcoming webcasts you're bound to start the new year off with a reading bang! It's all here on Reading Rockets...
The website Reading Rockets has introduced some new features for 2007. It already has a useful library of podcast author interviews.
The Anholts' website was redesigned and relaunched at the end of 2006 and includes this Blog by Laurence.
The paperback edition of "Slawter" (featuring a cool glow-in-the-dark cover) officially goes on sale in the UK and Ireland on January 3rd...
Darren Shan reports, in the latest edition of Shanville Monthly. He also tells us that later in January his UK publishers are re-decorating 120 telephone boxes around the London area to look like this:
ACHUKA now has its own wikipedia!
Those of you familiar with the Wikipedia.org will know what to find - an online encyclopaedia compiled by its users.
I've started things off with a few entries from our old Profiles section (a listing of titles and reviews that proved too unwieldy to maintain). I'll continue copying these entries across as opportunities arise, but really ACHUKAwiki is down to YOU.
We have another major site innovation to announce in the next few days. And, who knows, 2007 may even herald in that long-awaited second podcast ;))
Happy New Year to everyone. And special regards to all the authors and illustrators who regularly login to ACHUKA - now you can watch the ACHUKAwiki to see if someone's started an entry about you, or even put in the info yourself.
The regular eLetter updates will begin again shortly, in a somewhat sleeker format, more friendly for reading by handhelds and mobile phones (a clue here to our next announcement).