July 2008 Archives

Mary Hoffman feature

Thanks to L Lee Lowe...
see below

Driving Me Nuts

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The Times website is driving me nuts...
It used to be so easy to locate online versions of book reviews and features.
Now it is very hit-and-miss.
There was a very good feature about Mary Hoffman on Saturday.
But it's not listed on the timesonline's book section.
And doing a search by subject (hoffman) author (craig) or title (veteran in her prime) throws up no result!
I've been experiencing this difficulty for a while now, and have complained about it here once before.
So if anyone is clever enough to retrieve the url for this Mary Hoffman feature, please let me have it, as a comment or an email.
Thanks in advance.

Latter To The Times with many signatories

A powerful lobby of leading authors and educationists accuse the Government today of setting children up for failure...

The news report links to the actual letter. You will need to scroll through several pages to read the list of signatories.

Richard Kidd - Guardian Obituary

Main obit. by Andy Balman; supplementary by Julia Eccleshare

Richard Kidd Drowns In Philippines

The painter and children's author Richard Kidd, who created the lobster chef Monsieur Thermidor, died at the weekend while swimming at a popular tourist site in the Philippines. The police said he was overpowered by strong currents beneath the Dunsulan falls in Bataan province, west of the capital Manila...

Such a shame. ACHUKA greatly admired his young adventure fiction, such as The Giant Goldfish Robbery

Seven Stories

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Seven Stories has reached the finals of the National Lottery Awards 2008.

The second and final round of public voting takes place from 21st July until 8th August.

Visit www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk/awards and click on Best Education project to cast your vote or call 0845 386 8088.

Winners and runners up will be announced during a live Awards show on BBC1 on 30th August. Each category winner will receive £2000.

Every vote counts!

Epoj Colfer is touring with his one-man live show diring August again, to help promote the new Artemis Fowl title, Artemis Fowl And The Time Paradox

Harry Horse: colour supplement feature

The truth about what Harry Horse did to his wife is only just emerging. Here, revealed for the first time, is the horrific ending to their fairy-tale romance... ...

Feature from last week's Sunday Times colour supplement (July 13)

Guardian's Summer Roundup by Julia Eccleshare

Daily Telegraph Reviews

The link is to the Young Adult reviews in last weekend's Telegraph children's special coverage. The page includes links to the other reviews: picture books, adventure fiction, historical fiction, fantasy and audiobooks.

I couldn't agree more with Vivien Hamilton, reviewer of the teenage fiction titles: "The best of the books in this often awkward category is the extraordinary, exquisitely written The Ghost's Child (Walker Books, £6.99) by the award-winning Australian novelist Sonya Hartnett."

I shall be adding a 5-chick review of this title to the ACHUKA reviews section myself.

Deakin Newsletter Summer 2008

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Deakin Newsletter, Summer 2008

Highly Recommended

Southwark Book Award Winner

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Southwark Book Award

ACHUKA is sent details of so many regional awards it's hard to keep up.
We try and report as many was we can.

I recommend this award's website. It's very good indeed. Created by the same designers behind the Doncaster Book Award site.

Opinion Piece by Jake Hope

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Opinion Piece by Jake Hope

The strength of Philip Reeve's writing has always been its ability to distinguish degrees of difference existing between 'North' and 'South' on the moral compass. Challenging concepts of 'good' and 'evil' through an awareness of the complexity of motivation and choice that present circumstances allow makes for multi-faceted fiction of the highest order. What a genuine pleasure therefore to see these achievements given due and formal recognition recently through the award of the prestigious Carnegie medal to Reeve.

Celebrating its 70th anniversary last year, the Carnegie medal has played an important role in providing focus and advocacy for a diverse range and style of children's book. Its winners share an ability to convey the messages of their time, to encapsulate thoughts and opinions and to highlight systems of belief that introduce readers to a worldview capable of holding in balance complexity, convention and apparent contradiction.

How disillusioning therefore that Reeve should use the vantage point the award provided to promulgate a set of misinformation about a proposal that threatens the future reach and extent of children's literature as a form capable of speaking about and around childhood, substituting this instead with a reductive set of values and assumptions based solely around a child's age. [ http://www.thebookseller.com/in-depth/trade-profiles/61871-reeve-a-proper-writer-at-last.html ]

On Suitability: The New Yorker

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New Yorker Article

In a long and riveting and highly recommended article in the New Yorker about the opposition to E. B. White's first children's book, Stuart Little, Katherine White (the aurthor's wife and a regular children's book reviewer) is quoted as follows:

It has always seemed to us that boys and girls who are worth their salt begin at twelve or thirteen to read, with a brilliant indiscrimination, every book they can lay their hands on. In the welter, they manage to read some good ones. A girl of twelve may take up Jane Austen, a boy Dickens; and you wonder how writers of juveniles have the brass to compete in this field, blithely announcing their works as "suitable for the child of twelve to fourteen." Their implication is that everything else is distinctly unsuitable. Well, who knows? Suitability isn't so simple...

No, suitability is not so simple. Tell it to the agebranders.

I'm very grateful to both grk-author Josh Lacey and Judy Zuckerman of the Brooklyn Public Library for pointing me to this excellent article.

Both Parties Satisfied...

Kate Thompson is a multi-award-winning author whose work fiercely divides readers. There are those who devour her every word and those who are puzzled by her popularity. Creature of the Night should, however, more than satisfy both parties...

I'm not quite sure what Kate Thompson will make of that! Is Philip Ardagh suggesting Creature Of The Night will continue to puzzle those mystified by the author's popularity or, as I think more likely, does he think it will win them over at last.

Roman Mysteries, Season Two

Season Two of The Roman Mysteries started this Tuesday on BBC1 and will be repeated each Sunday evening on CBBC...

See the link to Caroline Larence's own blog for more details.

Branford Boase Winner

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Before I Die by Jenny Downham, edited by David Fickling and published by David Fickling Books, has won the Branford Boase Award, awarded for an outstanding debut novel for children.

For David Fickling, it is two winners in a row, with A Swift Pure Cry by Siobhan Dowd having taken the prize last year.



Finding Violet Park by Jenny Valentine, edited by Stella Paskins at Harper Collins, was Highly Commended.

Philip Pullman presented Jenny Downham with her award (a cheque for £1000 and a hand crafted silver-inlaid box) at the ceremony, hosted by Walker Books.

Philip Pullman observed of the winner: "Before I Die is a truly remarkable book, and one that shows that as well as being able to pick authors of startling and undeniable talent, David Fickling has lost none of the enormous tact and skill that makes him such a fine editor. I very much look forward to seeing what Jenny Downham goes on to write next - as well, of course, as seeing what David Fickling discovers!"

David Fickling's response was, "Winning The Branford Boase once was a great honour. Winning it twice in a row, this time with Jenny, has left me nearly speechless. I love this award because it recognises the finest of our new writers for young children and in my view is chosen by people I deeply respect according to criteria which my own publishing heart responds to (if publishers can be said to have a heart!)."

Other books on the shortlist were:

Anna Hibiscus by Atinuke, edited by Averil Whitehouse and published by Walker


Nathan Fox by L Brittney, edited by Rachel Denwood and published by Macmillan


Waves by Sharon Dogar, edited by Barry Cunningham and published by Chicken House


Door of No Return by Sarah Mussi, edited by Beverly Birch and published by Hodder


Publishers give new pledge on age banding

As the storm over age guidance on children's book covers continues, the Publishers' Association has issued a short statement aimed at reassuring concerned authors. It includes a pledge that there is "no question of age guidance being added to a book without full consultation with the author"...

I am disappointed not to have made it up to London for this evening's presentation of the Branford Boase Award (for reasons of weather & work), because I hoped to speak to Philip Pullman who was due to be at the event.

Pullman issued a strongly worded message to all signatories of the notoagebanding.org statment, summarising the meeting at which the Publishers' Association statement was thrashed out:

Simon Juden [Chief Executive of the Publishers' Association] opened by acknowledging in guarded and cautious terms that the presentation of this matter from their side had perhaps not been ideal, but that he and the publishers were very anxious to stress that their intention had never been to impose age-guidance (that is the term they prefer to use) on authors without full consultation, and that he thought it would be a good idea to take some of the emotion out of the discussion and simply deal with the facts.

I replied that I'd rather call it passion, and that I'd rather it stayed in, thank you very much, because the sheer volume and intensity of the anger caused by the proposal was entirely part of what we wanted to express. I went on to ask various questions about the research - full details of which had only reached me the evening before on my return from a conference in Sweden, so I had only the morning of the 3rd to digest several hundred pages. But what struck me very forcibly was that not once in all those pages was it acknowledged that authors and illustrators had a point of view that might be worth listening to; and in particular that not once were the concerns of teachers about the effect of printed age-figures on children, which have since been very vividly and cogently expressed, even considered...

It was particulalrly about the impact of agebanding - the publishers prefer to call it age-guidance [lol]; I prefer to call it branding - on school classrooms, school libraries and parental attitudes to reading that I would have welcomed ten minutes of Pullman's time.

The end of this short Guardin reporting of the PA statement release is worrying enough:

For the Publishers Association, Children's Book Group secretary Kate Bostock conceded that one new book, Keith Gray's Ostrich Boys, had already been published with a teen logo by Random House against the author's wishes. "It was a dreadful in-house mistake," she said, "but that's the only author affected"...

How many more 'dreadful inhouse mistakes' are there likely to be?

For the rest, Bostock said, "well over half of the books being published this autumn will have age guidance, but all of them have agreement from the authors."

But how graciously and willingly has such agreement been given? I know of signatories of the petition who have confided to me that when asked by their publishers if they were ok about having the 'guidance' on their books didn't object because, like most authors still building a reputation, they are desperate to keep on the right side of their editors and inhouse team.

East Sussex Primary Schools Book Award Winner

Lauren St John was declared the winner last week of the East Sussex Primary Schools Book Award.

See the weblink for the other shortlisted titles.

and the sequels:

Fantastic Resource

Scottish Book Trust's (virtual) Writer In Residence, Keith Gray, has produced five video tutorials on how to write a great story.
Together they represent a a really valuable, free online resource for would-be authors of any age, and indeed for teachers.

Highlands Book Award

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Highland Children's Book Awards 2008
voted by young readers in the Highlands


Back Row Left to Right: Lynsey Stein Organiser, Stephanie Hoyle
Principal Schools Librarian, Heather Dyer (The Boy in the Biscuit Tin),
James Jauncey (The Witness), Tanya Landman (Apache) and Tony Bradman
(Tom's Dragon Trouble)
Front Row Left to Right: Jackie Morris (The Snow Leopard and winner of the Picture Book Category) and Pauline Francis (The
Raven Queen and winner of the 12+ category).


The winner of the top prize for the Picture Book category was Jackie Morris with The Snow Leopard.

Winner of the 8+ category was Chris Riddel with Ottoline and the Yellow Cat

The 12+ award went to Pauline Francis with Raven Queen


The Book Awards are organised by The Highland Council's Library Service with sponsorship from wind farm operators Falck Renewables and ANTA Pottery.
As well as a number of the short listed authors, attending the event were 142 pupils from 45 primary and secondary schools across the Highlands that had taken part.

Books on the 2008 short list were:

12+ category:
• The Witness by James Jauncey
• Apache by Tanya Landman
• Raven Queen by Pauline Francis
• Crusade by Elizabeth Laird
• Berserk by Ally Kennen

8+ category:
• Tom's Dragon Trouble by Tony Bradman
• Boy in the Biscuit Tin by Heather Dyer
• Ottoline and the Yellow Cat by Chris Riddell
• Born To Run by Michael Morpurgo
• The Kick Off by Dan Freedman

Picture Book category:

• Wendel's Workshop by Chris Riddell
• The Snow Leopard by Jackie Morris
• The Railway Children by Alan Marks
• A Dog Called Rod by Tim Hopgood
• A Present for Freddie Small by Nick Butterworth & Michael Evans

Frank Cottrell Boyce gives some suggestions for summer:

for me, the ultimate summer thriller has to be Philippa Pearce's Minnow on the Say (OUP, £5.99/£5.69). It's an adventure story about two boys using a canoe to search for a lost treasure on the canals and backwaters of their town. It's brilliantly plotted, surprisingly emotional, and held together by a verse puzzle that keeps you guessing to the very end.An epic of childhood freedoms - ad hoc picnics, tree climbing, and time-wasting. The other book that captures that freedom is The Far Distant Oxus (republished by Fidra Books next month, £12/£10.80). It is set during a riding holiday on Exmoor, and my children loved not only the story but also the fact that it was written by two teenage girls - Katharine Hull and Pamela Whitlock - while they were on just such a holiday...

The Far Distant Oxus

Article by David Robinson, Books Editor for The Scotsman

TODAY, award-winning Edinburgh-based writer Keith Gray launches his latest novel, Ostrich Boys. Like any writer, he is aiming for as wide a readership as possible, from children aged around 11 or 12 to adults.

To his dismay, his publishers have insisted that the cover exclude most of these readers with just one word. "Teens", it proclaims in print - not even on a removable sticker.

"Would those queues for Harry Potter have been so long if the books had had a 'Teens' sticker?" he asks. "Younger readers wouldn't have bothered with it and neither would most of the grown-ups.

"The whole age-banding thing is a nonsense, and I'm very pleased JK Rowling is supporting the campaign against it."

Poetry Award Winner

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The Centre for Literacy in Primary Education has announced the winner of the CLPE Poetry Award for 2008...

Jackie Kay: Red, Cherry Red, illustrated by Rob Ryan,
Bloomsbury £6.99 9780747589792

The presentation was made at the South Bank Centre earlier today by Ian McMillan.
Jackie Kay was interviewed afterwards by Michael Rosen, the Children's Laureate.

The CLPE Poetry Award honours excellence in poetry written for children. It is presented annually for a book of poetry published in the proceeding year. Previous winners include Roger McGough, John Agard and Grace Nichols.
The judges of the award this year were Ian McMillan, Fiona Waters and last year's winner Julie Johnstone, chaired by Margaret Meek Spencer.

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