How Roland Rolls, a new children’s book from Jim Carrey.
The book, aimed at ages 4-8, tells the story of a wave named Roland who’s afraid his life will be over on the day he hits the beach.
CATNIP’S WEIRDOS VS QUIMBOIDS LAUNCH
Author, Natasha Desborough
Catnip Publishing is one of the smaller names in the world of UK children’s books (it has no entry in Wikipedia). Nevertheless, they have some notable titles on their list: Victor Watson’s recent, well-regarded wartime novels Paradise Barn and The Deeping Secrets, Dominic Barker’s popular ‘Mickey Sharp’ crime series, as well as books by authors with long-standing reputations such as Lesley (now L. P.) Howarth, Joan Lingard, Berlie Doherty and Robert Westall.
They also have a strong list of Early Readers and Chapter Books, including the new series Roodica Rude by Margaret Ryan.
It’s a small team. Their website names Non Pratt as Editorial (it was a pleasure to meet her for the first time last night) and that’s about it. (She has recently been joined by Liz Bankes.) Sales, marketing and publicity are all handled by Bounce!
They have a great name and a great curly-tailed logo.
But in my view they underplay these two assets in their window to the world. Inexcusably, their website catnippublishing.co.uk is not properly responsive. The home page, for example on an iPad in portrait mode, overspills the right-hand margin, and other pages simply condense into the same multi-columned format seen on a large screen.
I hope someone is at work to improve things in this department. What’s needed is a complete make-over, because the current mix of muted red with sky-blue does not do it for me. Introducing white space would breathe fresh air into the design.
The A4 sized invitation to the launch of Weirdos vs Quimboids by Natasha Desborough was much more lively. Conceived as a spoof poster for a school disco, it shouted excitement. It helped that the venue was almost next-door to where my sister lives. So I put it in the diary, and I’m very pleased I did.
The weather was almost as warm as it had been on my previous London trip (the visit to Newham Bookshop) and before the actual launch party I was able to spend the afternoon browsing in Waterstones, Piccadilly, paying my first visit to Daunt Books (the Marylebone High Street branch), and dropping in on my sister for a cup of tea and a chat.
The Daunt idea of organising books by country certainly makes for interesting browsing. The atmosphere reminded me of what you get inside a French bookshop. A sense of quiet and retreat from the world outside. What struck me for the first time was the importance of a shop’s pay desk or counter when it comes to establishing this bookshop atmosphere.
It is too late now, most of the Waterstones refits having already been completed, but what I would have done had I been Daunt is remove those high pay-at-the-till counters that make book-buying an experience not unlike queuing up to buy clothes at Primark, and replace them with a lower-level, more open table/desktop surface.
I don’t know how many people received the party invitation. Those who did but couldn’t manage (or chose not) to attend missed an event that had a distinctive, noteworthy feel to it.
It was held downstairs at The Square Pig & Pen in Holborn, one of those bars that swarm every evening Monday through to Friday with twenty and thirty-somethings enjoying afterwork drinks. Usually at such a launch there will be half a dozen people I recognise, but not this time.
‘Non’ was quick to make me feel welcome, however. She may be Catnip’s commissioning editor (find out more about her job here: http://talltalesandshortstories.blogspot.co.uk/2011/06/interview-with-non-pratt-commissioning.html) but she also has to perform the schmoozing tasks that larger publishers can assign to their PR people. Non is very switched on. Catnip are really fortunate to have her at the helm.
She introduced me to two young bloggers – Bella @CheezyfeetBooks http://www.cheezyfeetbooks.blogspot.co.uk and Rhys @fictionthirst http://www.thirstforfiction.com (both still at school). I was already aware of Bella from her Twitter feed, but Rhys’s site is new to me. He’s a perceptive reviewer, writes really well, and is not afraid to be critical. Definitely worth bookmarking.
I also had a good chat with Latvian Leva from the Bounce team, who left before I could take her photo. She was so enthusiastic and is a big fan of Barry Cunningham (who came up in our conversation by way of Kevin Brooks). Many of the guests were friends and contacts of the author, so that the occasion had the mellow vibe of a private party.
From a promotional point of view I presume both publisher and author would ideally have liked more librarians and booksellers present. However, Matt Imrie of Teen Librarian fame, was there, and managed to write his blog report of the event on the train home.
So, what of the book?
It’s a YA confessional in the Louise Rennison mould. I liked it. It’s lively and well-paced. Each section ends with an END OF WEEK ACHIEVEMENT TABLE, giving scores for Shame Level, Guitar Practice, School Work, Party Invitations and Snogs. Devices such as these are often used in too arbitrary a way in books of this nature, but here the technique is properly wedded to the narrative structure in a way that helps underline the humour.
And the book is genuinely funny. When I heard that there is to be a sequel (some time in 2014) I immediately asked if the parents (a pair of hilarious hippie extremists into things like naked moon dancing) will also be in the next book. The answer, pleasingly, was yes.
The book’s jacket – a vibrant mix of black, pink and yellow – designed by Vicky Barker will help it stand out when it arrives in Teen/YA sections. I guess it’s down to teen bloggers like Bella and Rhys to let us know what the intended audience actually think of it.
Faber & Faber Makes Its Marque and Launches 2014 Spring List
is staying …
The Word Marque:
but he current italic font didn’t work well online, so producing a word-marque that would both complement the colophon and have a strong presence on its own became a key priority.
Using an ampersand visually brings the two ‘Fabers’ closer together. The re-introduction of the ampersand allowed us to create a more effective, unified and recognisable word marque.
For inspiration we turned to elegant art-deco fonts that were created around the time of Faber & Faber’s inception in the 1920s: those with a ‘modern Deco’ feel, a strong visual reference to what has made us a unique publisher for nearly a century.
We have selected a colour palette for use across print and digital, inspired by historic editions in the Faber archive collection.
Bloomsbury children’s sales director Phil Earle is to join newly independent David Fickling Books as sales and marketing director.
The new appointment will be effective from January 2014.
Earle joined Bloomsbury last year, and was formerly at Simon and Schuster and before that at Random House. He is also himself a published author.
DFB founder David Fickling, who previously worked alongside Earle at Random House, said: “From our point of view, Phil is the perfect combination of author and industry expert, reflecting the dual insights and inspiration of others in our team. His relevant market knowledge and his strong customer relationships fully match our belief in working very closely with all our partners to create excellent books.”
To be performed live at Carnegie Hall in October (Monday 21st)
What happens when a pair of music professionals set out to create a CD to share with their kids? In the case of composer Luna Pearl Woolf and soprano Lisa Delan, they enlist author Cornelia Funke, actor Jeremy Irons, and Mirada Studios to help them turn their vision into a multimedia storybook and interactive iPad app. The result is Angel Heart, a CD in mini-hardcover packaging being released September 24 by Oxingale Records. An app is set to follow in early 2014.
On the recording, an original Funke story narrated by Irons is woven throughout a collection of songs, both traditional and new, and a score composed by Woolf. The central tale stars a girl who embarks on a nighttime quest with an angel who helps heal her broken heart.
On the basis of a three-sentence proposal, HarperCollins has signed Katherine Applegate, who won this year’s Newbery Medal for The One and Only Ivan, for a middle-grade trilogy that will begin with Endling, likely in 2016. Tara Weikum, v-p and editorial director of HarperCollins Children’s Books, acquired North American rights to the three books in a deal brokered by Elena Giovinazzo of Pippin Properties. The agent, who has represented Applegate for a year and a half, was as intrigued as the author was when she read the definition of “endling,” which appears on Wikipedia: “One of the proposed names for an individual animal that is the last of its species or subspecies.”
Intrigued by the word, Applegate dashed off a brief, vague book proposal based on it, and sent it to her agent, who liked the idea. “This is the first time I’ve made a deal based on such a short description,” Giovinazzo said. “We were looking for a new home for Katherine at HarperCollins, since her editor, Anne Hoppe, had left to join Clarion in January, and we decided Tara would be a wonderful match for her. Since we hadn’t yet lined up a project for the two of them, this was a great idea to pitch to Tara. And lo and behold, she liked it.” Though the agent declined to specify the terms of the deal, she noted, “It was a significant deal befitting a Newbery-winning author who also has an incredibly successful commercial track.”
Rebecca Davies summarises (in 25 points) some of the advice/information conveyed during last weekend’s Nosy Crow conference… I’ve picked out points #23 and #24, but it’s worth reading them all:
23. To get into the top 5,000 best-selling children’s books in the UK, you need to sell around 100 copies of you book a week. That said, booksellers like to champion good books, and will be happy if a book sells 1,200 in total if it’s an author they’re really passionate about – another good reason to do events in bookshops and get the booksellers on your side.
24. Only 2 per cent of UK e-book sales this year were of books for children, so if you’re considering e-publishing a children’s book, it might be worth waiting until the market picks up (which hopefully it will!)
I haven’t found many references in the media to what was immediately apparent to me when the introduction of free school meals was announced last week – the conflict with the government’s other policy of funding a Pupil Premium based on a family’s eligibility to claim a Free School Meal.
But here’s a report on how things are working out in Tower Hamlets, where free school meals have already been introduced, and lo and behold, it’s a problem:
Tower Hamlets has discovered one major problem: that parents whose children are eligible for free school meals no longer have the push to register to receive them, since the meals are free anyway. But free school meal eligibility is also used by central government as a measure to distribute the “pupil premium” – additional payments made directly to schools for each pupil who qualifies.Since the pupil premium is now worth £900 a year – soon to rise to £1,300 a year – parents eligible for free school meals who fail to register will hurt the school that would otherwise have received the extra support.This case – of one government flagship policy colliding with another – needs urgent attention before next years national rollout.”Thats critical, how the new arrangement is brought in by the government has got to be easy for schools to administer, because we dont want to lose that pupil premium funding – it would be stupid if we did,” says Fagan.
Flying Eye Books, an imprint of Nobrow Press, produce illustrated books of distinction and quality. These are books that glory in their hard-copy printedness. They look, feel and smell great. Printed with vegetable based inks, they have a distinctive matt appearance.
I have three of them on my desk this morning to bring to your attention.
First up is Pongo by Jesse Hodgson, a recent graduate in Illustration form the University of West England. This is her debut picture book.
An orangutan sets out in search of the sun. The narrative may be slight, but the impact of the Rousseau-like artwork more than compensates. The book is compellingly designed – from the outside with its tactile orange titling and a green canvas spine, into the title page that (discounting the endpaper) is the only place whitespace is to be found in the book, on to the first darkly captivating double spread, where we find Pongo peeping enderaingly through the leaves of the rainforest. Highly recommended.
Next up is Triassic Terrors by Isaac Lenkiewicz, an illustrator who self-publishes his own comics. [The text is by Alex Spiro with Nick Crumpton as ‘consultant palaeontologist’]
Here he has produced a high-quality activity book about dinosaurs. There’s a removable game board and numerous places to write/draw inside the book and otherwise interact with it. A lot to do, a lot to learn.
And thirdly, Hilda and The Midnight Giant, a picture-book-sized graphic novel by Luke Pearson, a cover-designer and comic book artist.
Hilda is a little girl with the uncanny ability to befriend even the most peculiar of houseguests. But when an army of little creatures bombard her living room with stones and eviction notices, she has to think twice before making the acquaintance of these diminutive creatures. After sunset, even stranger things start happening. Who is the giant who only appears at midnight, and why is Hilda the only person who can see him? Under duress and in growing fear of losing her beloved family home, Hilda sets off an adventure to secure her birth right and find out who, if he even exists, is the mysterious Midnight Giant.
As with the previous two titles, the book is very pleasingly designed and produced.
Click to buy: