Michael Rosen sums up where the UK education system is at… Grainy video, but worth your time.
The illustrations of renowned childrens author Maurice Sendak, who would have turned 85 on Monday is the subject of Googles latest doodle.The doodle is an animation of the illustrations contained in some of his best-selling books such as Where the Wild Things Are, which has sold around 17 million copies worldwide, mostly in the US.Mysterious creatures are seen dancing around in a bizarre set of colourful outfits.
A long profile of the new Children’s Laureate, by Susanna Rustin, in which Malorie Blackman pledges to pay more attention to teenagers than her predecessors
"I think younger children have been incredibly well served by the laureates we’ve had, but maybe teenagers haven’t had as much of a look-in, so I’m looking forward to redressing the balance," she said.
A considered piece in The Scotsman on the topic of celbrity-authored children’s books:
Donaldson, one of the country’s bestselling authors and the third most borrowed writer from the UK’s libraries last year, is not surprised Lampard struggled. “Writing for children is not easy. In some ways children are probably harder to please than adults and there are so many excellent children’s writers out there who in terms of style, plot and characterisation are just as good as any writer for adults. Maybe if there was more serious coverage and analysis of children’s books by expert reviewers, instead of just the little round-ups you usually get in the papers which mention plots lines or just say (something such as) ‘buy this book if your son likes football,’ then it might be taken more seriously. People wouldn’t think it was so easy. That’s not to say that just because someone is famous they can’t necessarily write a good children’s book. David Walliams is a great example, but he (was already) a script-writer and not just a celebrity who’s asked to write a book,” she concludes.
Walliams’ stories certainly seem to have captured the hearts of the literati as well as those of small children across the land. “His books now sell phenomenally well, from Ratburger to Mr Stink and The Boy in the Dress, and win prizes too,” says Charlotte Williams, who reports on children’s news for The Bookseller magazine. “I think that Walliams’ success shows that titles by a celebrity can work best when they are authentic and quirky, rather than being treated as being seen to be a means to boost a celebrity’s profile.”
But Williams recognises there’s a growing demand within the industry for celebrity authors for financial reasons above all else. “There has been a real trend towards celebrity publishing over recent years, and I think publishers always keep one eye open for sports or showbiz stars that might appeal to children or their parents. If the fit is right, then the potential for sales is huge,” she says. “Also, as the retail environment has got tougher for books, publishers are looking for more ways to connect authors and readers themselves. If the author is already well known, with lots of followers on social media and a natural performer at school or festival events, then that can be a big help.”
In The Independent’s Friday Book Design Blog, Jonathan Gibbs features Yellow Cab Quartet by Olivia Laing and speaks with Anna Fewster, the book’s printer:
Design can be more than simply effective, it can be beautiful in its own right, and that’s what this is.
Yellow Cab Quartet is a limited edition book work collaboration between writer Olivia Laing and illustrator/printer Anna Fewster. As a book, it’s slender – just four short ‘vignettes’ about American writers taking journeys in New York cabs, together with nine monotype print illustrations. As an object, it’s exquisite: the texture of the paper, that seems to give the text and image it carries so much more life than what you might find in your average book; the minimal debossing on the cover; the hand stitching of the pages. But all of that exquisiteness feeds straight back into its bookness – the loveliness of the design is there to make you appreciate the words and pictures, not to be cooed over for its own sake.
Good to see the new Laureate’s role and words being listened to and taken seriously from the off.
In this interesting piece, Howard Jacobson considers two of Malorie Blackman’s statements:
The first is: “I still remember feeling I was totally invisible in the world of literature.” And the second: “I understand you need to learn about Henry VIII, but when I was young I wanted to learn about something that felt more relevant.”
Jacobson politely but convincingly picks these statements apart to reveal a profound disagreement.
As announced on Julia Churchill’s Twitter feed last night, the literary agency A M Heath, is launching a new prize, the Irish Children’s Prize. The following details are straight from Julia Churchill’s post on the A M Heath blog:
This year A. M. Heath are launching their Irish Children’s Prize. We are looking for a new standout voice in children’s fiction.
The Irish Children’s Prize will be judged by Julia Churchill, children’s book agent at A. M. Heath, and David Maybury of Brown Bag Films, Penguin Children’s Books and Inis Magazine editor.
Says Julia Churchill: David and I love all sorts of writing for children. The winner could be a 200 word picture book, a sophisticated YA novel, a 9-12 stand-alone, or a young chapter series. I’m looking for a strong voice, a character to love, and a concept that feels fresh. If you’re writing for children, we’d love to see your work.
I represent some brilliant Irish talent already, including Sarah Crossan, author of Carnegie shortlisted THE WEIGHT OF WATER and winner of the Eilís Dillon award, and with this prize I’m looking to help break out an Irish writing star of the future.
Says David Maybury: There’s so much happening in Ireland’s creative industries with our international best-selling authors and illustrators, award-winning animators and growing games industry. I’m looking for an idea that could lead to anything, and anywhere. Characters with a story that tickle the hairs on the back of your neck and a strong genuine voice that will capture readers of any age.
The A. M. Heath Irish Children’s Prize is open to un-agented writers living in the Republic of Ireland and writing children’s or young adult fiction in English.
To get a good sense of the voice, concept and where the character is headed, we’d like to see the first 5,000 words PLUS a short description of the book (a few lines) AND a one page outline that shows the spine of the story. Please send this as a Word doc attachment to firstname.lastname@example.org
If you’re submitting a picture book (or shorter fiction that comes in under 5,000 words), then please send the complete text.
Entrants will receive an acknowledgement on receipt of script, but only shortlisted candidates will be contacted.
Submissions open on June 6th and will close on October 17th.
The shortlist will be announced on October 25th, and the winner will be announced on October 31st at the CBI Children’s Book Festival in Dublin.
The winner will be awarded a prize of €1,000. Three runners up will receive a bundle of children’s books written by Irish writers.
A. M. Heath is running the prize in order to support new Irish writing talent, and to find a debut star. We will offer representation if we find an author, or authors, whose writing we love.
via Irish Children’s Prize | A.M.Heath.
Emily Thomas, Hot Key books, interviewed by Addy Farmer
Addy What marks Hot Key out as different/special?
Emily An independent spirit! We have the style and the individual author care that smaller boutique houses offer, and we have a digital presence that is the envy of the industry. Our online networking through social media and through encouraging our authors, our readers and our booksellers to blog makes us stand out in terms of reaching out to our readers. We are dedicated to spreading the word. All that and the fact that we are the proud inventors of the Hot Key Ring: a unique guide to content, perfect for adult purchasers and for readers themselves and something that completely avoids age banding which, given the variety of reading ability within an age group is not necessarily helpful at all when choosing a book!
The Independent Launches A Children’s Books Blog
Rebecca Davies has announced that she will be posting items regularly to a children’s books blog on The Independent. Her announcement includes a call for review suggestions…
Welcome to the Independent’s brand new children’s book blog! If you’re 16 or under and love a good story, then you’ve come to the right place. If you’re a parent, teacher or anyone else with an interest in children’s reading, this is for you too. And if you’re an aspiring children’s writer or illustrator, there’ll be plenty for you as well – including the chance to see your work reviewed in this blog.
If you’re looking for a good children’s book to get stuck into, check back once a week for my ‘recommended reads’. I’ll be covering new releases and old favourites, including picture books, adventure stories, teen fiction and much, much more. I might even go all modern and review the odd storytelling app.
Once a month I’ll reserve my recommendation slot for a brilliant children’s book that I feel hasn’t been getting the attention it deserves.