Malorie Blackman, author of the bestselling Noughts and Crosses series, hopes her appointment as the first black Children’s Laureate will help encourage children from a diverse background to read more.
Ms Blackman, who replaces outgoing laureate Julia Donaldson, was presented with the medal and a £15,000 bursary cheque in King’s Place in London today. She told The Independent: “I feel really excited and just a tad daunted. I can’t wait to get cracking.”
The prolific author of child and teenage fiction will use the platform to call on infant and primary school teachers to spend at least 10 minutes every day on storytelling.
“I’d like to ensure every child of a primary school age has a library card. Where the parents haven’t got one for their child, the schools will step in and make sure they have one,” she added.
Author Malorie Blackman is announced as the new children’s laureate, taking over from Julia Donaldson for the next two years. Three competition winners ask her questions submitted to the Guardian’s children’s books site, including what she intends to do as laureate; how to encourage reading; how to avoid writers’ block; and her recipe for a brilliant book
Go to the link to watch the 8-minute video.
And, Hooray for Malorie!
The UK’s outgoing Children’s Laureate:
BRITAIN’S failure to value children’s literature may be an indication that Britons do not value their children, according to Julia Donaldson, the outgoing children’s laureate.
In an interview with The Sunday Times, Donaldson, whose best-known book The Gruffalo has sold millions of copies worldwide, said: “Children’s literature deserves the same respect as adult literature.
“I do feel very strongly in this country that not much store is set by children’s books by the media.
“Is it because we don’t value children? Yes, that does seem likely. In other countries it’s a very different story.”
Although children’s books account for nearly a quarter of all book sales in Britain, Donaldson, whose term of office ends on Tuesday, said less than a fiftieth of review space in printed newspapers was dedicated to them.
Please note the longlist spreads across two separate HTML pages.
These are Australian awards.
The Inky Awards are for teen literature, voted for online by the readers of insideadog.com.au, and named after the site’s wonder-dog, Inky. There are two awards: the Gold Inky for an Australian book, and the Silver Inky for an international book.
What is the future for bookshops? And indeed for books? This is a commonly asked question – and a particularly relevant one for me, since I own a bookshop and I write books. I ask it again this week because I have just read that Stephen King, an ebook pioneer 10 years ago, has released his new novel in physical format only, because he wants to get people back into bookstores rather than online.
when it comes to bookshops versus Amazon, bookshops are in an impossible position. Our staff are knowledgeable, charming and brilliant. The shop is beautiful, and we sell proper cakes and coffee. What happens? People lounge around and chat and browse for a couple of hours, spend £2.50, then buy books online they have researched in our shop.
Why? Because they are so much cheaper. Why are they cheaper? Because in 1997, in a fit of free-market liberalism, we did away with the Net Book Agreement, which had prohibited booksellers from discounting. It was a pleasingly guild-like system, one that is still used today by lawyers, doctors and drugs companies – those professional groups that still look after their own.
One problem in all this is that publishers no longer seem to like books. They think of themselves as groovy Californian libertarian tech-heads. I winced when I read that the chairman of Penguin said that books could change in the future and be filled “with cool stuff”. I think “cool stuff” as a phrase should be banned if you are the head of a venerable English publishing company. [my emphasis]
Publishing CEOs have two main tasks: reducing costs and maximising revenues. Hence, they impoverish their staff and writers. And to do the latter, they lick the bottoms of Amazon, WH Smith and Tesco while ignoring independents. Here is a very depressing quote from the head of Bloomsbury: “Fewer books are being sold through high-street shops as ebook sales are continuing to grow. However, there will be a place for the physical book for many more years albeit mainly sold online.”
For our part, we have tried to inject life into the literary scene by running a non-stop programme of events and courses. These are pretty well attended but the combined sales of books and events barely cover our basic costs. So we feel that we are slaving away, enriching other people. On the upside, our online sales are increasing. That leads us to conclude that the sensible option would be to operate from a warehouse on a Swindon industrial estate rather than a groovy boutique in west London. But where’s the romance in that?
More from man-of-the-moment, Matt Haig, in his final BookTrust blog post, in which he runs though some different ways in which books could be made more popular. I’ve only quoted his final exhortation, so follow the link to get the full post…
– Remember that books aren’t going anywhere. E-books won’t replace books, they will become them (electronic paper is on its way). Your Kindle will look old-fashioned in ten years but a book won’t. Stop worrying. Words and stories and narrative and novels are here to stay. Books are maps. They will remain the best way we have of exploring our imaginations and finding thoughts and emotions buried like treasure inside us. Never, for one moment, dismiss or mock or belittle or doubt the world-shaking human power of a book.
Have you read any good books in translation recently?
We’re always looking out for titles to recommend on our In Translation picks page…
Winner of the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize. “A wonderful novel. Wise and generous to a fault of all our human failings and frailties” (Lloyd Jones, author of Mister Pip).
Just when you think that children’s books are getting better than ever, something like this comes along: Judith Kerr’s Creatures: A Celebration of Her Life and Work. The book is published on Thursday to mark the 90th birthday of the beloved children’s writer and illustrator, and it contains 176 large, beautiful pages of nostalgia for anyone who has been a child in the past half century.
The book is a form of autobiography, in which Kerr’s drawings from all ages illustrate her life story. It begins with a story about drawing a tulip in her German kindergarten and a sketch of a typical family outside a typical house. But it is not a typical sketch: the little girl, “Ich”, appears to be lighting a bonfire and the little boy has found a bunny rabbit under a holly bush. “I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to draw,” she writes.
Urgle by Meaghan McIsaac, reviewed by Tony Bradman
Too much of Urgle’s world is left unexplained. We know the Mothers abandon boy babies and not baby girls, and that’s an incendiary scenario, with a question at the heart of it that needs to be answered. But McIsaac does nothing with it: we never find out why the Mothers behave in this way, so the story is left unresolved despite a hectic series of rescues and escapes. I feel a sequel coming on, but that’s not such an exciting prospect as it could have been.
In the context of this review, it’s worth reading Bradman’s take on reviewing and criticism:
Michael Grant gives a good interview.
Here’s another one, from a fortnight ago, which I stumbled on while trying to find a link to today’s Guardian Review children’s book, if there is one…
You have to remember my relationship with characters is different to the readers. From my point of view they’re like employees, they work for me. They’re employees that I like hanging out with after work. I try to think of myself as a benevolent employer, although I kill them occasionally (laughs). There’s a little bit of killing.
I used to work at that place and now I work at other places, but I have very fond memories of it. I could see myself sitting down with them – as soon as they get to legal age – and hanging out. It’d be fun to catch up on old times with them.