Beautiful illustrations of nocturnal creatures, imaginary friends and frustrated vampires bring these children’s stories to life, write Emma Dunn and Sarah Mallon
Former Doctor Who star David Tennant will lead the voice cast of animated special The Highway Rat, coming to BBC1 this Christmas.
Tennant will be voicing the rat bandit, a character created in the bestselling children’s book of the same name, written by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. He’ll be joined by Rob Brydon (as the narrator), The Night Manager’s Tom Hollander (Squirrel), Love Actually’s Nina Sosanya (Duck), and Harry Potter’s Frances de le Tour (Rabbit).
Children’s author Jacqueline Wilson will be Blue Peter’s first ever guest editor, taking the reins on the show later this month.
On 19th October, the writer of Tracy Beaker, Lola Rose, The Suitcase Kid and many more will replace the show’s usual editor Ewan Vinnicombe.Need a bit of sunshine in your life?
Wilson will be the first of a series of guest editors taken on by Blue Peter in the 12 months leading up to its 60th anniversary in October 2018.Blue Peter will also be celebrating the landmark by creating a Gold Badge walkway next to the Blue Peter garden at MediaCityUK in Salford.
Faber Children’s has acquired a “seductive and spine-tinglingly brilliant” French YA novel on the basis of a short translation extract.
The book, Songe à la Douceur by Clementine Beauvais, was originally published by French publishing house Sarbacane last year and will be translated by Sam Taylor. Its UK publication date is currently pitched for next July when it will be titled In Paris with You, after the James Fenton poem of the same name.
Alice Swan Faber editorial director, told The Bookseller: “It’s the first novel I’ve bought in translation. I would never normally acquire a novel without reading it. But I shared the manuscript with French-speaking colleagues and their response was so overwhelmingly positive that it felt worth the risk. I was nervous to read the translation, but it was an incredible reading experience – and thrilling to know that we’d already bought the book.”
The translator has said, “It’s a lyrical, intelligent, sexy, romantic and very funny novel about life and love in the 21st century, and it was both the most difficult and most enjoyable translation I’ve ever done.”
Beauvais is the co-host of the “Kid You Not” podcast on children’s literature and her books have previously been published by Hachette Children’s Group and Bloomsbury.
As authors hit out at the inclusion of star names on the World Book Day shortlist, Ed Power examines whether TV and music personalities are hampering unknown writers’ chances…
“All of my children’s books are attempts to tap into what I believe to be children’s, and to some extent human beings’, fantasies. My first book, The Parent Agency, about a world in which children can choose their own parents, came about when my son said, ‘why doesn’t Harry Potter just run away from the Dursleys and find better parents?’ After that I decided all my children’s books should be wish fulfilment in different ways. I act out the wish, and then things go wrong.”
On the release of her new picture book, the acclaimed New Zealand writer (creator Hairy Maclary) and illustrator talks to the Guardian blog about animal antics and her favourite children’s books:
Does the rise of technology used by young children concern you at all. How can a simple picture book ever compete?
A good picture book has the power to pull children away from devices. I guess that’s the modern-day challenge for the writer-illustrator. Reading is essential and it’s thrilling to see children enjoying a print book. Children are fascinated by illustration, not just the story, and are very observant. The picture book fulfils this fascination. They all draw, which is wonderful.
Children often have the notion that producing a picture book is quick and easy. I can tell you it’s not. It takes me up to a year to produce one book. They can’t be whipped up, and telling children that I do up to 25 drafts to get the text right often stumps them.
As a very small, independent bookshop the success of our business relies on our skill as booksellers. If we tried to compete with WHSmiths over the road we would fail; most of the books on display there are heavily discounted mass-market fiction, or celebrity-endorsed publications like cookbooks, celebrity biographies and vloggers’ promotions. To thrive on the high street we need to know our books very well, and we do. We go out of our way to find books to encourage readers, to promote the work of writers and illustrators who we think are the most interesting and talented ones, to provide parents, teachers and school librarians with books that help them cater for all sorts of kids’ needs, both emotional and entertainment.
We also know our adult fiction shelves well enough to be able to support dozen of local book groups’ reading – these people want to be kept on their toes and to be challenged, the latest promo in WHSmiths or Sainbury’s really is not what they are looking for. When World Book Day comes around we buy (bookshops have to pay for the WBD books – they don’t just arrive free of charge) the selection of books chosen and then, basically, we give them away. It isn’t a huge amount of money to buy the books, in fact it costs us more as a business to exchange that World Book Day token for £1 off another book than it does to give away the chosen books for free. Nevertheless, generally speaking this does seem to bring people in to the shop during that period. It is difficult to tell if it is hugely effective as a support for high street bookshops, but that isn’t its main aim anyway. However, when we are confronted with a list of books that actually flies directly against everything we are trying to accomplish as a local indie shop, there seems little point in joining in. Generally speaking we don’t keep celebrity books in the shop, because our customers can walk 20 yards over the square and get them at less than half price in WHSmiths, or order them online for even less. These are not books, they are marketing exercises that are disguised as books. So why would we as a small bookshop with skilled booksellers who already work hard to promote reading in schools, to support new readers, to have close links with our county libraries, and to encourage parents to let their kids explore widely, be helped at all in our task by taking the backwards step of offering kids a celebrity marketing tool instead of a book by an author whose other work we can then talk about with great enthusiasm? World Book Day normally gets this right – there have been some fabulous writers involved in previous years. But this year’s book selection, as a display, is just embarrassing.
The 10 books selected to be £1 World Book Day promotion titles received harsh criticism from the likes of David Almond and Philip Pullman.
Comments made online made their way into mainstream reporting by the Telegraph:
Top children’s authors have hit out at World Book Day for picking £1 titles by a “clutch of celebrities” for next year’s event.
In a post online David Almond, author of Skellig, wrote that “the nation’s children are being shortchanged” by the decision to include four celebrity names among the ten chosen books.
Mr Almond added that “authors and illustrators are being scorned” by the selection, which includes books by comedians, TV presenters and former musicians.
Kirsten Grant, World Book Day director, has been forced to defend the list, saying:
“There are lots of hugely loved authors and brands on the list, from Mr Men to Paddington, to the Oi! series, as well as fabulous newer stars like Pamela Butchart – and yes, there are celebrity writers on the list (who have written their own books), but if they are the catalyst to encouraging a non-reader to pick up a book and start a nationwide conversation about reading, then everyone will be better off.”
The selection is chosen from books submitted by publishers by the charity alongside a panel of booksellers including Waterstones, WH Smith and supermarkets.
“The aim is to create a list of ten books that will appeal to the widest number of children possible, ensuring there is a representative list with something that will appeal to all ages and stages.
In the event’s inaugural year there was only one featured title, an anthology. For a while there were just 4 titles, each aimed at a different age demographic. Grant’s quoted comments do not address one of the main criticisms of the list, namely that there is nothing there for YA / older secondary school students.
When all is said and done, the £1 tokens do not have to be exchanged for any of the 10 books. The £1 can be used towards the cost of any book at all.