Matt Whyman’s top 10 unusual fictional families
From the Borrowers to the Baudelaires, Matt Whyman picks his favourite fictional families that aren’t all they first seem…
Egmont Press has acquired a new fantasy adventure series set in modern Japan for readers of 9+. Sword of Kuromori is by debut author Jason Rohan.
Stella Paskins, Fiction Publisher at Egmont Press, pre-empted World rights in a three-book, six-figure sum deal from Anne Clark at Anne Clark Literary Agency. The first title in the series will publish in May 2014 and will be a lead title on Egmont’s list.
“I am massively excited about Sword of Kuromori,” commented Stella Paskins. “Jason’s mix of page-turning action with smart dialogue and sparkling characters is brilliant. The fusion of hi-tech and ancient myth works really well and readers are going to devour this world of breathtaking battles and exotic monsters.”
Jason Rohan said, “As a long time admirer of Japanese culture, I’m honoured and thrilled to be bringing this rich and vibrant folklore to a wider audience. I’m also humbled by the faith that Stella and the Egmont team have placed in me by committing to three novels, and I can’t wait to see what ideas the design team come up with, given the wealth of source material.”
Jason Rohan has worked as a staff writer for Marvel Comics in New York and as an English teacher in Japan, where he lived for five years. He returned to the UK and now lives in West London with his wife and five children.
Publication of Shahana launches ‘Through My Eyes, a new Australian fiction series set in contemporary warzones:
Through My Eyes invites young readers to enter the fragile worlds of children living in contemporary war zones. Every day in an increasing number of countries, children are desperately trying to survive as their families and their whole way of life is destroyed by war. This new series is a tribute to such children and the themes of courage, determination, triumph and perseverance will inspire, challenge and engage young readers, creating greater cross cultural understanding and informed empathy.
Several stories set in the World Wars have been written for younger readers but very little has been published about more contemporary conflicts and those within Asian settings. War affects the old and the young, the rich and the poor, the boy or girl and these stories will appeal to all readers.
The idea for the series was principally inspired by the success of the Parvana series by Deborah Ellis and by my own extensive experience as a primary school teacher-librarian and English as a Second Language teacher. Having had the privilege of listening to the incredible experiences of children and war, I believe these life-changing situations are best told through stories that are character-driven but based on meticulous research and understanding of the issues each war-torn region raises. The continuing controversy surrounding Australia’s role in providing asylum for displaced peoples from the world’s war-zones, and the request by students for more books of this genre provided further context for the decision to create this series.
This is not a non-fiction series, but through the strong, character-driven story lines the readers will be aware of the specific time, place and military conflict. Individual stories on this theme have been written, but this will be the first time a series has been created that deals with a range of children’s experiences in war-torn countries.
—Lyn White, series editor
American author A.M. Homes has won the 2013 Women’s Prize for Fiction with her sixth novel May We Be Forgiven (Granta).
2013 marks the eighteenth year of the Women’s Prize for Fiction, known from 1996 to 2012 as the Orange Prize for Fiction, which celebrates excellence, originality and accessibility in women’s writing from throughout the world.
At an awards ceremony at the Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, London – hosted by Chair of the Women’s Prize for Fiction board, Kate Mosse – the 2013 Chair of Judges, Miranda Richardson, presented the author with the £30,000 prize and the ‘Bessie’, a limited edition bronze figurine. Both are anonymously endowed.
Miranda Richardson, Chair of Judges, said: “Our 2013 shortlist was exceptionally strong and our judges’ meeting was long and passionately argued, but in the end we agreed that May we be Forgiven is a dazzling, original, viscerally funny black comedy – a subversion of the American dream. This is a book we want to read again and give to our friends.”
Hot Key Books has acquired world rights in a YA psychological thriller by James Dawson, whose debut novel was published last year.
Editor-at-large Emma Matthewson bought Say Her Name and one other title from Jo Williamson at Antony Harwood.
Dawson’s Hollow Pike was published last year, and his first non-fiction book Being a Boy, a guide to puberty for boys, is publishing in September 2013 by Hot Key Books’ sister imprint Red Lemon Press.
Say Her Name will be published in May 2014.
Not my paper of choice, but Martin Chilton, Culture Editor for the Telegraph Online, writes some good pieces and his coverage yesterday of Malorie Blackman’s appointment as Children’s Laureate was a good example.
When we spoke at the Telegraph Hay Festival last week, she joked that she remembers when the cry “there’s a black person on the telly” would have had her family running down the stairs to check out this rare phenomenon. “There were so few black role models on TV. That’s why I loathe Gone With The Wind. In the 1970s TV shows black people were often just slaves or criminals.”
One exception was Nichelle Nichol, who played Lieutenant Uhura aboard the USS Enterprise in Star Trek. Blackman relates, with great respect, the story of how Nichol was treated badly and wanted to leave the series but was persuaded to stay so she could continue presenting a strong image of a black officer. The man who persuaded her was Martin Luther King. Blackman, incidentally, has remained a Star Trek fanatic (she has a replica uniform and raves about Benedict Cumberbatch in the new film).
As well as being extremely well-read – 15,000 books are crammed throughout her home – she has a popular touch and exudes a natural empathy with children and teenagers. This sense of knowing how difficult life can be for teenagers is also what makes her such an interesting choice for Laureate.
She has no time for the “demonisation” of young people and describes the lack of youth facilities and poor employment prospects for many teenagers as “scandalous”. Blackman will not be a quiet Laureate.
2013 Boston Globe–Horn Book Awards for Excellence in Children’s Literature
These were announced at the end of last week. Apologies for missing them at the time. Here is video of the presentation, with Roger Sutton of the Horn Book and novelist Rebecca Stead.
PICTURE BOOK AWARD WINNER:
Building Our House written and illustrated by Jonathan Bean (Farrar Straus and Giroux, an imprint of Macmillan)
Drawing on childhood memories from his own family’s house construction, Bean creates an engaging story as well as a glimpse into a warm family setting. A little girl narrates, and her childlike voice provides an immediacy that removes any hint of nostalgia. She relates her contributions not as they are but as she perceives them in all their exaggerated glory; illustrations tell a different tale.
FICTION AWARD WINNER:
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell (St. Martin’s Griffin, an imprint of Macmillan)
It’s the start of a new school year in 1986 Omaha when sophomores Eleanor and Park meet for the first time on the bus. They are an unusual pair: she’s the new girl in town, an ostracized, bullied “big girl” with bright red curly hair, freckles, and an odd wardrobe; he’s a skinny half-Korean townie who mostly wears black and tries to stay out of the spotlight. But as they sit together on the school bus every day, an intimacy gradually develops between them.
Electric Ben: The Amazing Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin written and illustrated by Robert Byrd (Dial Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Penguin Group)
With a jacket showing Benjamin Franklin as a cross between a mad scientist and a superhero standing amid wild lightning bolts and surrounded by all manner of electrical devices, this book shimmers with excitement, begging to be read. Byrd divides Franklin’s life into seventeen often whimsically labeled double-page spreads, highlighting his scientific, literary, and political endeavors in a fresh new way.
A specially commissioned animation to celebrate the choice of Malorie Blackman as the new Children’s Laureate 2103-15
The 51-year-old author of the Noughts & Crosses teenage book series vowed to use her two-year tenure to “bang the drum” for diversity, saying it was vital for young people to learn about different cultures.
“Children will go with any story as long as its good but white adults sometimes think that if a black child’s on the cover it is perhaps not for them,” she said.
“Books teach children to see the world through the eyes of others and empathise with others. It’s about the story.”
Blackman, a London-born author whose parents came to Britain from Barbados, said there was a distinct lack of black and Asian children in picture books.
She said that when she was younger, she never once read a book that featured a black child, which left her feeling “totally invisible”.