July 2003 Archives

Summer Reading

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Telegraph | Arts

Telegraph reviews. If these are familiar, you will have read them in the print edition of the Telegraph. See July 19, Review Alert.

The Harry Factor

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'Potter' works magic for other authors

Tamora Pierce and Sharyn November comment on the Potter effect viz a viz fantasy...


'November also bristles at the charge that writers and publishers who write fantasy and science fiction books for kids are slumming. "We're always asked, 'When are you going to work on real books?' My stock answer is, 'Do you ask pediatricians when they're going to start treating real patients?' "

Beano OAP

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Guardian Unlimited | The Guardian | Bash Street, the Beano and me

Britain's favourite comic reached pensionable yesterday. In The Guardian, Leo Baxendale, creator of some of its most famous characters, recalled how the exploits of Dennis the Menace and co were dreamt up...

Robbery At Dawn


Most booklovers have mildly troubled consciences when they visit remaindered shops and see, for example, hardback copies of novels being sold for a fraction of the cost of the recently-issued paperback.
Whilst in the Canterbury branch of The Works this afternoon, I was particularly troubled (on Darren Shan's behalf and on behalf of booksellers trying to sell Shan's backlist at full price) to see Book 9 of the Shan Saga being sold for 99p. This title, published straight into paperback in February, finds itself remaindered just five months later. What a ridiculously narrow window this leaves the poor author for earning his well-deserved cut on the full cover price.
Without knowledge of Shan's contract with HarperCollins, it is difficult to comment, beyond making the obvious point that an author or agent should seek a contractual agreement on a minimum timelapse between initial publication and remaindering.

The Canterbury Art Gallery has been hosting the Beatrix Potter to Harry Potter exhibition of children's author portraits, so I was able to catch up with that again, having seen it previously in London. The exhibition runs in Catnerbury only for the remainder of this week, until AUgust 2nd.

Even Your...

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These must have been around on country walks for a while, but I hadn't noticed them before. Isn't that a bizarre (and redundant) use of the word 'Even'? The notice carries the logos of the RSPCA and NFU, so must have been well-vetted, but who on earth can think this a natural use of English?

I was out walking at East Dene yesterday evening, and not compiling the weekly ACHUKA Update, so subscribers will have looked in vain for an ACHUKA post this morning. Well, EVEN YOUR website editor needs the odd weekend off.

ST Children's Book of the Week

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Times Online

by Marcus Sedgwick

Nicolette Jones has some reservations about Sedgwick's latest novel, but nevertheless selects it as her Book of the Week.

Independent Ch-Bks Special

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Robert Hanks profiles Peter Dickinson in The Independent...
Shock-Headed Peter

Nicholas Tucker reviews older fiction

Christina Hardyment reviews junior fiction

Sally Williams reviews picture books

Mobile Phone Theft

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smh.com.au - The Sydney Morning Herald

John Marsden, Australian author of YA novels, comments on mobile phone theft among the young:

"...John Marsden, a former Melbourne teacher and bestselling children's author, believes the parental role is more complex. Marsden thinks many parents may inadvertently teach that some stealing doesn't count. "The kids seem to regard phones as items of currency where the normal rules don't apply. Maybe it is the same attitude adults have when they steal stuff from their employers or cheat on their taxes," he says..."

Alan Garner In The Buttery

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Poetry That Lies Beneath Our Feet

Alan Garner reviews a global history, After The Ice

"...In 1957, aged 22, I climbed up a steep field in Cheshire. A roofline appeared, and as more and more of the building was revealed, I believed less and less of what I saw. It was a timber framed medi?val hall of the purest form: solar and parlour, great hall, cross passage and service bay.

By 1957 it had slid down the social scale to be two agricultural tied cottages, one with a closing order on it. Together with an acre of garden it was for sale at ?510. I had 8 shillings and 3 pence to my name and no source of income. I am writing this now in the buttery... ..."

Alan Garner's next book is published in October. You can pre-order now:

Lynne Reid Banks' 2nd Chance

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Guardian Unlimited | The Guardian | My second chance

"...To assuage my sorrow and sense of loss, I wrote a children's book called Alice-by-Accident. It is the story of the child of a single mother. Although fictionalised, it was in essence our story: the tale of a little girl, born "by accident", and of her mother, and her grandmother..."

Doing It Interest

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Guardian Unlimited | The Guardian | Libby Brooks: Kiss and tell

Article that uses Melvin Burgess's Doing It as a reference point.

Series - The Basics

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Vicar Hits Jackpot

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Faber issued the following press release on Monday 21st July:

"Penguin Putnam Books (an imprint of The Penguin Group USA) has annnounced a major deal for the North American territories concluded in association with the Nancy Galt Literary Agency and the Caroline Sheldon Literary Agency. Nancy Paulsen, Publisher of Putnam Children's, has bought SHADOWMANCER and a further two books to be written by G.P.Taylor for a mid six-figure sum.Putnam plans to publish hardcover in May 2004, therafter in paperback under the Puffin/Firebird imprint."

G.P.Taylor's next novel, to be called Wormwood, will be published by Faber in June 2004.

Sizzling Summer Party

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Walker Books' Sizzling Summer Party, held in Ranelagh Gardens, Chelsea, in the middle of a heatwave (Tuesday July 15th) was a stunning affair, with some 500 guests. The ACHUKA camera was kept busy - so busy that I failed to chat with Anne Fine, Alan Durant, Bob Graham and many others I was keen to speak with. Anne Marley good-naturedly accosted me to let me know that there would be one man on the Carnegie/Greenaway judging panel next year, and that he would be over-representing librarians by some xy%.
I arrived with a limping James Berry. Apparently he recently fell offstage while doing a reading. (Thought that only happened to rock stars.) And the ever-convivial Laurence Anholt waxed lyrical about the latest Glastonbury. He's one of the stalwarts that have attended every year since the festival began. It was good to come across Walker's Stella Gurney across the chocolate fountain (she's in the spotted dress in the picture) and recollect a merry lunchtime threesome (well, no, not that kind) with Jessica Cowley, three years ago, just before Jessica returned to Canada where she apparently now holds a senior position in a broadcasting company.
David Lloyd, the Mad English Man in the Hat, delivered another of his impenetrably poetic speeches (this one was all about St Swithen). An agent told me that Walker Books are very resistant to paying large advances, so it's actually some of Lloyd's powerdressed counterparts that are the 6-figure-touting crazy crowd. God preserve the Man in The Hat, I say.

Review Alert

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I can't find any online links to these reviews (they eventually went online some ten days later - see July 31 "Summer Reading"), but there is a page of Summer Reading selections for children in The Daily Telegraph, Saturday July 19th:

Justine Picardie reviews
The Fire Eaters by David Almond
Something In The Air by Jan Mark

Lloyd Evans reviews
Hands Up! by Paul Magrs
The Hostile Hotel by Lemony Snicket

Helen Brown reviews
The Sands of Time by Michael Hoeye
The Eternit Code by Eoin Colfer

How To Deal

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TEENHOLLYWOOD.COM - Hang out with the stars!

Review of movie based on two novels by Sarah Dessen...

Dishing It On Disher

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It's always the quiet ones ... - smh.com.au

Rare profile of Australian author Garry Disher...

Dead Days

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Guardian Unlimited Books | Review | Through a lens darkly

Philip Ardagh reviews The Book Of Dead Days by Marcus Sedgwick

"The Book of Dead Days is somewhat like a Stephen Elboz novel for the older reader; A Kind of Magic with edge..."

Tagboard Exchanges

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Back from the TES Summer party - at which it struck me (listening to him speak) that Ted Wragg is in many respects the John Peel of education - to find the Tagboard once again alive with realtime exchanges - and, what's more, apparently genuine ones.

Proper Fuss

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Guardian Unlimited Books | By genre | Author of the month: Sharon Creech

Dina Rabinovitch's Guardian profile of Carnegie-winning Sharon Creech contains several trenchant comments..

"In the US, hotel staff would know that a medal-winner was staying, married alias or no. We may have Harry Potter, but Americans know how to make a proper fuss....

"While the Carnegie merited a brief news item last week on Radio 4's Today programme, winning the Newbery changed Creech's life...

"It is yet another of the graces of children's fiction in Britain, that when it is so very strong - and possibly too challenging for the tastes of judges requiring unanimity - an American who found her voice in a small British village has this year won the UK crown. "

Hot & Hectic

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Hot & hectic week - Last night out to Walker's Sizzling Summer Party - (don't expect to see pics of this wonderful event this side of Friday) - tonight video-ing school production of Alice, The Musical - early morning putting a dozen self-assembly boxes together for the collection of Ofsted evidence - colleagues extremely sceptical that it will all fit - tomorrow back to London for TES Summer party 'celebrating Ted Wragg's retirement from Exeter University) - delighted to see (at last!) the ACHUKA TagBoard being used for a proper realtime exchange: between maisy and tom talking about 'when isla meets luke meets isla' by rhian tracey - then I checked maisy and tom's IP addresses and found they were posting from the same machine - makes me wonder if this is a little example of creative marketing :-)

The Virtual Book Tour

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KevinSmokler.com--Virtual Book Tour

An idea that might work for children's books?
WHat do you think?

Summer Reading Selections

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Times Online

Nicolette Jones' summer roundup in the Sunday Times...

Also, Sarah Johnson's roundup from Saturday's Times:

NYT Phoenix Review

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'Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix': Nobody Expects the Inquisition

John Leonard's conclusion to his long, appreciative New York Times review of Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix:
"''Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix'' is rich and satisfying in almost every respect. It also delivers a genuine apocalyptic shiver, as dated as Daniel in the Old Testament and Revelation in the New, or the Dead Sea Scrolls and the poems of Blake. Mortal peril! Every troubled age embodies its own worst fears in some equivalent of devil worship and demonic possession; of succubi, incubi, Gog, Moloch, Minotaur and Caliban; of dark nights, judgment days, lakes of fire and hellhounds, wet nuggies, mad jigs and erotic contraband. Magic went away awhile after Hiroshima, in favor of radiation mutants like Godzilla and cold-war science fictions about triffids, pods, blobs and body snatchers, about man-eating dandelions, meteoric slimeballs, bloodsucking carrots and collectivized Bolshevik killer ants. Which were followed soon enough by a conspiracy of satanic day-care child molesters. We long, like Harry, for a Dumbledore. We need the comradeship of Hermione and Ron. But we will have to grow up alone."

Jan Mark Reviews Peter Dickinson

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Guardian Unlimited Books | Review | Burning desire

"Dickinson is in his element - one of them, at any rate. Recently it was water, this time it is fire, particularly the fires of Mount Etna...
"There are echoes of Malcolm Lowry's short story "The Element Follows You Around, Sir!" in Uncle Giorgio

Bob Graham's Gift To Refugees

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Guardian Unlimited | The Guardian | Children's book winner gives ?5,000 to refugees

"Bob Graham announced that he was giving support groups the money he received for winning the coveted Kate Greenaway medal..."

Extract from acceptance speech:
"I have used the opportunity in my book to turn this trend on its head in a minute way and to actually welcome a stranger or two, (even if they are only as big as a finger, because it occurs to me that if this STRANGER DANGER? fear is left to progress down the years and become cumulative, it can turn in to national xenophobia.

"Then we have events such as this (at the very time I was writing my book in Somerset,) The Australian government refused to rescue 438 mostly Afghan people, in fear of their lives at sea (among them, 21 families with 43 children,) fleeing oppression and wanting no more than a better life. And when they eventually did allow these traumatised people to land, the government incarcerated, them, whole families for years behind razor wire. Against all human decency..."

Also, see this bbc.co.uk profile...

Another Big Deal

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Publishers Weekly | Reed Business Information

"Another big children's deal was for six books, hardcover and paperback rights, by bestselling YA author Lurlene McDaniel..."

NYT Reviews

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'Trudi & Pia' and Other Children's Books

New York Times children's books reviews...
+ this page....

Double Nap

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This was my Carnegie/Greenaway [see below] prediction, made for the TES in April:

Sharon Creech RUBY HOLLER
I suspect that this is the book the judges will consider to be most perfect or, put another way, will find least fault with

My own preference from the shortlist is Kevin Brooks for MARTYN PIG, although in a way I would rather he wins next year with LUCAS

A winner needs fairly unanimous agreement, and I sense there may be dissenters from Nick Sharrat and Lauren Child, so my money's on

I wanted SLOW LORIS to make the shortlist. But in its absence, I'd like to see Lauren Child win again for WHO'S AFRAID OF THE BIG BAD BOOK, only included on the list after much passionate discussion. My second choice would be Helen Ward.

Greenaway Winner

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Carnegie Winner

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R. L. Stine's Sitter


CBS News | 'Sitter' Not For Kids | July 10, 2003?12:25:13

"Children's author R.L. Stine, famous for his Goosebumps series, is now branching out to write novels for the young twenty-something generation..."

Get Well Soon

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EDP24 News

Children's author and illustrator Shirley Hughes should have attended the day too but had to cancel due to ill health.

Pullman Sets Time Quiz

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Guardian Unlimited | The Guardian | The prize quiz

The Guardian prize quiz as set by Philip Pullman
Wednesday July 9, 2003

Kathleen Raine - 3 Obits

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Guardian Unlimited Books | Review | Forests of the night

How compelling, in a week when ACHUKA features a Hawthornesque young adult novel about a monomaniac miniatirist as its ACHUKA CHOICE, to find this unanticipated article by Simon Schama about Nathaniel Hawthorne... ...

Highly Recommended

No Thesis

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Guardian Unlimited Books | Review | Subversion in the enchanted forest

Michael Rosen reviews Boys and Girls Forever: Reflections on Children's Classics by Alison Lurie

"...Boys and Girls Forever has no thesis. It is a collection of reviews of and introductions to books dubbed "classics" by her publisher. It includes examinations of two non-fiction books about children's play, children's book illustrations and the meaning of enchanted forests and secret gardens. In other words, if you're prepared to be less inclined than Lurie's editors to hunt in the woods for a unifying project, then no harm will befall you. But it does mean that you have to take the meaty with the slight, the well-researched with the impressionistic..."

By The Eyeballs

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Sunday Tmes feature about Anthony Horowitz...

Short NYT Obit. Notice

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ST Children's Book of the Week

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Orion Summer Party

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Orion held its summer party at The House of St Barnabas-in-Soho last Wednesday. ACHUKA was pleased to see Orion keeping up the tradition of having real food available - a long buffet table full of sandwiches, salad and fruit.
Somehow or other we didn't get to speak with Kevin Crossley-Holland, who also evaded the ACHUKA camera-eye, but it was particularly good to meet Graham Gardner for the first time. Gardner has a five-book deal with Orion and has given up all other commitments to concentrate on writing. John Brindley and Cliff McNish shared scary tales of school visits (lower secondary audiences were agreed to be the toughest crowd to please); Caroline Lawrence was in her Roman costume and parading the cover design for her next Roman Mysteries title; Kaye Umansky talked to ACHUKA about her eight years as a teacher; Polly Nolan charmingly struggled to remember titles she had worked on at Macmillan; Fiona Kennedy introduced us to Orion's latest signing - an author of adult books whose outline for a sequence of six historical novels produced something of a bidding war (although the author's agent preferred the term 'negotiation') with Orion coming out on top; Marcus Sedgwick smoothly schmoozed in that walk-tall way that comes from being i) a good head taller than anyone else in the room and ii) consistently shortlisted by recent award judges; Rowan Stanfield, Orion's publicist, spoke of her irritation at seeing hordes of adults reading Harry Potter on the train up and down from Brighton each day; while John McLay, before taking his specs off for the camerashot below, gave us his considered viewpoint on The Order of the Phoenix (some pluses, some minuses):

Guardian Prize Longlist

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Guardian Unlimited Books | Special Reports | guardianchildrensprize2003

This year's judges are: children's laureate Michael Morpurgo, Philip Ardagh, creator of the bestselling Eddie Dickens trilogy, and Malorie Blackman, author of Pig-Heart Boy . The panel is chaired by Julia Eccleshare, Guardian children's books editor.

The shortlist for this year's prize will be published in September and the winner will be announced on October 4.

The Fire-Eaters by David Almond (Hodder, ?10.99)

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon (David Fickling, ?10.99)

Lucas by Kevin Brooks (Chicken House, ?12.99)

The Book of Dead Days by Marcus Sedgwick (Orion, ?8.99)

The Speed of the Dark by Alex Shearer (Macmillan, ?9.99)

Bad Alice by Jean Ure (Hodder, ?5.99)

Where in the World by Simon French (Little Hare Books, ?5.99)

Malarkey by Keith Gray (Red Fox, ?4.99)

Catherine Fisher

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ic Wales - Fear factor

Useful feature about Catherine Fisher...

Catherine Fisher's website is at www.geocities.com/catherinefisheruk

Summer Selection

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Birchbark House Continued

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Publishers Weekly | Reed Business Information

"Bestselling and award-winning novelist Louise Erdrich has signed an extensive deal with HarperCollins Children's Books to write no fewer than eight titles for the division, with the first of them to appear in spring 2005."

Joan Lowery Nixon Obit. #2

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Who's The Princess?


Buffalo News - KiD BiTS

"...(Kate Brian is a pen name for an author who "has written many young adult novels under a different name." Could it be Meg Cabot, of "Princess Diaries" fame?) "

Caldecott Winner Death

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Robert McCloskey, 88, of 'Make Way for Ducklings,' Is Dead

"Robert McCloskey, the writer and illustrator whose classic children's books - among them "Make Way for Ducklings" and "Blueberries for Sal" - captivated generations of young readers and their parents, died yesterday on Deer Isle, Maine. He was 88."

Hometown Obit.

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Houston Chronicle - Death Notices

Joan Lowery Nixon obit.

Belbin Blog

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David Belbin

UK young adult author has launched a blog-style website which includes a "blow-by-blow account of my visit to this year's Glastonbury festival..."

BookTrust Teenage Shortlist

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The eight shortlisited titles for the new Booktrust Teenage Prize are:
The Dungeon by Lynne Reid Banks (Harper Collins)

Lucas by Kevin Brooks (The Chicken House)

Doing It by Melvin Burgess (Andersen)

Caught in the Crossfire by Alan Gibbons (Orion)

The Edge by Alan Gibbons (Orion)

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon (David Fickling Books)

Malarkey by Keith Gray (Red Fox)

Doll by Nicky Singer (Harper Collins)

Judging the prize are: Julia Eccleshare (Chair) - Children's Book Editor of The Guardian; Catherine Johnson - Author;
Jo Klaces - English teacher; Tim Cross - co-founder of cool-reads.co.uk; and Julie Fernandez - TV actress and presenter.

The result of the judges' decision will be announced at a special event in central London in early November 2003. The winning author receives a cheque for ?1000.

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