September 2003 Archives

Pullman Attacks Testing Regime

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Guardian Unlimited Politics | Special Reports | Tests are making children hate books, warns Pullman

"The award-winning children's author Philip Pullman today launches a broadside against the government's "brutal" school testing regime, warning that it is creating a generation of children who hate reading and "feel nothing but hostility for literature".

"Writing in Guardian Education, the author of the acclaimed His Dark Materials trilogy attacks a lack of focus on enjoyment in the teaching of reading and writing. Drilling to meet the demands of tests makes children's writing "empty, conventional and worthless", he says."

Read Pullman's article...

Bipolar PB

| No Comments - 'Mommy' tackles an adult topic

An article about Sometimes My Mommy Gets Angry, a picture book about bipolar disorder, written by Bebe Moore Campbell and illustrated by E. B. King, previous winner of the Coretta Scott King Award...

"Campbell's picture book explores a world rarely seen in children's literature. The heroine is a little girl named Annie whose mother struggles with bipolar disorder..."

Paralysing Toto

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Guardian Unlimited Books | Review | The bear facts

Another review (this one by Simon Callow) of
The Life and Works of Alfred Bestall: Illustrator of Rupert Bear by Caroline G Bott

"[Bott] was his god-daughter and the book is intended as a loving memorial. The narrative is skimpy, however; his unremarkable letters are paralysingly quoted in toto and there is no attempt at either analysis or evocation. But the man none the less compels..."

ST Children's Book of the Week

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Times Online - Sunday Times

Voyages Through Time: The Biginning by Peter Ackroyd

Escape From Earth

"...not just sound-bite snacks for short attention spans, but unfolding feasts that leave you with a sense of wonder that, in the mind-boggling span of the universe, you are there at all to read them." NICOLETTE JONES, ST

SphyHigh Series


SpyHigh Episode 1: The Frankenstein Factory by A.J. Butcher

Series titles are not often reviewed in the print press, so the author of SpyHigh will be pleased to discover an online recommendation for the the first two title in the series:

"There are hints of romance, lots of gadgetry to keep the boys interested and a nicely paced plot. With potentially intriguing character traits in the characters that promise some revealing moments in later novels the book sets up the series well."

The most recent title is #4, The Paranoia Plot

Watch Your Mouth

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Guardian Unlimited Books | Review | Hatred and self-hatred

This page of short reviews includes one of Watch Your Mouth, an adult novel by Danial Handler a.k.a Lemony Snicket:

"Handler's pyrotechnics take in crumbling prosthetic bones, a season of anti-semitic operas and an indefatigable golem..."

A Lapidary Gloss

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Guardian Unlimited Books | Review | Review: The Fire-Eaters by David Almond

Jan Mark reviews David Almond's The Fire Eaters

"...beautifully written, and polished to a lapidary gloss. It reads less like a novel than a memoir, reserved and distant, a record of events so skilfully arranged that everything shows to advantage. Everyone is invested with dignity, the most commonplace remark is rendered poetic. There are heroes, villains and martyrs, but no idiots."

What message, one wonders, is to be drawn from the timing of this review (less than a week ahead of the public announcement of the winner of The Guardian Children's Fiction Award, for which Almond's book is one of the four shortlisted titles)?

Snicket Movie

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Everybody must get 'Stones'

"According to the Massachusetts Film Bureau, production on "Lemony Snicket" based on a series of children's books and starring Jim Carrey, will begin in Marblehead the end of October..."

Canadian Book Recall

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Simon & Schuster Announces Recall of Children's Books

"Simon & Schuster Canada is voluntarily recalling about 1000 copies of the children's board book DORA THE EXPLORER: Whose Birthday Is It? The book is manufactured with a plastic replica balloon that can detach, posing a choking hazard to young children... ..."

Joyce Dunbar And The Broken Bollards

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EveningNews24: News

"Last October, the Evening News reported how city children's author Joyce Dunbar had had her porch destroyed twice in one year by cars mounting the pavement. Norwich City Council responded to her complaints by fitting the bollards... Mrs Dunbar said she was pleased with the improvements but wished drivers were more responsible."

Boyd Tonkin On Madonna

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HP for Fashionistas

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New York City - Harry Potter Ads Reach Out to Older, Hipper Readers

"There are some pretty stylish things in Harry Potter -- invisibility cloaks, i.e., the only item that goes with everything in a girl's closet," the caption reads.

"That's just one of the fabulous reasons so many fashionistas are totally cool with being seen toting Harry Potter."

Snicket's Slippery Slope

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For young readers craving scary, Snicket's latest is hairier than Harry

"Mary Alice Spiegel, children's librarian at the Cleve J. Fredricksen Library in Camp Hill, says she knows kids love the books "because they're not usually on the shelves." Seventeen copies of "The Slippery Slope" have been reserved at both the Camp Hill and East Pennsboro locations. "

+ see this article Tracking Lemony Snicket

ST Children's Book of the Week

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Times Online - Sunday Times

Predator's Gold by Philip Reeve

"This inventive fantasy involves rich characters including a smug bestselling writer of a fake explorer?s memoirs, a tribe of lost boys trained as burglars and manipulated by a Faginesque sadist, dangerous experiments in resurrection that create murderous monsters, nail-biting pursuits, terrible punishments and violent battles. It is also insightful about human emotions ?- from love and parental loss to what it feels like to kill another person." NICOLETTE JONES, ST

Moral Madonna

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NYT Children's Books In Brief

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Bookshelf: Children's Books in Brief

Includes a short notice of The Wolves In The Walls by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean

Neil Gaiman's Journal remains the most compelling of online author diaries/blogs.

Ardagh Reviews McNish

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Guardian Unlimited Books | Review | Review: The Silver Child by Cliff McNish

Philip Ardagh reviews the new book by Cliff McNish in Saturday's Guardian Review:

"The Silver Child is an odd book, one in which words often seem deliberately and wonderfully incongruous. It's also thought-provoking, heart-warming, not too long and, in its current form, has a remarkable cover that seems to change colour when the mood takes it. What more can I tell you?"

Pungent Bestseller

| No Comments - Hit farting dog book based on N.B. pooch

"Walter, The Farting Dog has blasted to the top of the New York Times bestseller list for illustrated children's books, reviving fond memories of the real Walter in the New Brunswick capital where he spent his life, much of it surrounded by a near-toxic cloud..."

Return of the Sandman

| No Comments - Gaiman and Dream return

"Now the book world is anticipating the return after seven years of Gaiman's most famous character, the Sandman, the tormented Dream King who rules the world of our nightmares but who can find no rest of his own..."

Rupert Biography

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Guardian Unlimited Books | By genre | A red sweater day

I buy so many weekend papers it's sometimes midweek before I get to some of the sections, so it was only late last night that I came across this review of The Life and Works of Alfred Bestall: Illustrator of Rupert Bear by Caroline G. Bott in The Observer:

[save 30%]

"Bott, who is Bestall's goddaughter and inherited the vast majority of his early work ('You will have to have a huge bonfire,' he told her, unassuming to the last) has done a diligent job. She has logged every available detail of his 93 years on the planet; she has included long extracts from his journals; and she has produced a 35-page appendix listing every single piece of art he ever produced, plus fee. The truth is, however, that AEB's life (the 'E', wonderfully, is for Edmeades) was quiet almost to the point of inaudibility..."

Cormier Still Controversial

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Robert Cormier's novels are still causing controversy. Here's an article about someone calling for the withdrawal of We All Fall down from an American High School curriculum.


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"The brand management group Chorion, which has owned and managed the rights to Enid Blyton's output since 1996, has announced a deal giving Five the first rights to participate in the production of any new television programmes..."

Madonna - A Review I

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"Madonna has explained that she was driven to write these stories because when she came to read to her son Rocco, she found that children's books were all about princes and princesses and happy endings, and never about anybody "struggling for things". She must have got them from an antique shop. Children's literature today, even for the very young, majors on broken families, inner-city deprivation, handicap, and bereavement, as every parent knows."

Madonna Launch III

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Telegraph | News | Once upon a time there was a pop star . . .

Lengthy report, with full-length picture of Madonna at the event.

Madonna Launch II

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The Scotsman - Entertainment - Madonna launch

"Guests who attended the tea party, many of whom had brought their own children, included author Martin Amis, designer Linda Barker, chef Gary Rhodes and Nigella Lawson... ..."

Madonna Launch

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BBC NEWS | Madonna's book set to hit shops

"Many of the star's celebrity friends and their children are expected to be at the party in Kensington, West London, on Sunday..."

The guestlist didn't include ACHUKA - not that we particularly expected it to, although I'm not going to pretend it would have been good to get to see Madonna up close and that I wasn't quietly hoping an invitation would slip through the ACHUKA door :-)
Nor have I set sight on the book yet.


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Adele Geras's review of Stratford Boys by Jan Mark from the Review section of The Guardian yesterday:
Guardian Review

"Am-dram frustrations and mishaps abound, but you never forget how magical the theatre can be. For anyone who does know their Shakespeare, echoes from the plays are scattered everywhere. Anyone who doesn't couldn't wish for a better way to get acquainted with young Will. This is a hugely enjoyable and dazzlingly clever novel."

ST Children's Book of the Week

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Times Online - Sunday Times

Indigo's Star by Hilary McKay

"Great jokes, irresistible characters and emotional conviction make this skilled and delightfully whimsical book unmissable." NICOLETTE JONES, ST

10 Most Challenged

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Publishers Weekly | Reed Business Information

ALA's List of Ten Most Challenged Children's Books...

Gladiator's Secret

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Young Reviewers

| No Comments | eG weekly | Well read

Claire Armistead reports on the comments made about books on the Guardian longlist, by readers who entered the paper's children's book reviewing competition.

Recommended reading.

Canadian Christie's Awards

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Pullman in East Anglia

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EDP24 News

"A "celebrity A-list" of authors led by Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison was yesterday announced as coming to Norwich for the University of East Anglia's International Literary Festival..."

includes Philip Pullman

Author Feature

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For her, writing comes naturally |

Profile of Jean Craighead George, author of Julie of the Wolves

Death Of An Agent

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Marilyn E. Marlow, 75, Agent for Writers of Children's Books, Dies

NYT Obit. of agent who represented the likes of S. E. Hinton and Robert Cormier.

ST Children's Book of the Week

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Times Online - Sunday Times

Ryland's Footsteps by Sally Prue

"...a dramatic adventure in a powerfully imagined setting, which follows youngsters through dangers involving a drifting raft, a shark attack, an armed uprising, fire, earthquake and paternal bad moods."

Guardian Shortlist

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Three titles have been dropped from the Guardian Longlist, leaving a shortlist
of four. Simon French, Keith Gray, Marcus Sedgwick and Jean Ure were the omitted authors.
The four remaining titles are:

Molly Moon

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There was a big celeb-style profile of Georgia Byng in The Telegraph Magazine, Saturday 6th September, to tie in with publication of her second Molly Moon book, Molly Moon Stops The World.

Grass For His Pillow

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Grass For His Pillow by Lian Hearn, the follow-up to Across The Nightingale Floor, was reviewed in the Telegraph by Charlotte Moore on Saturday.

"...Emotionally and intellectually the book is shallow, the characterisation so slight as to be hardly there at all. But it is redeemed by the spare, clean, unpretentious prose, and by the smoothness and delicacy with which the gfigures move through the elegantly delineated landscape..." [Charlotte Moore, Telegraph Sep 6 2003]


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Times Review by Amanda Craig
of Stratford Boys by Jan Mark:
"...You can read it because it makes vivid a hundred details about life in Tudor England, or you can read it because it brims with the love of our greatest writer, and doesn?t treat him too reverently. Either way, it is a joy."

Guardian Reviews

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Follow Me Down
Follow Me Down by Julie Hearn reviewed by Jan Mark:
"Writing as vital and evocative as this can stand alone without a supernatural crutch to prop it up."

Sisterland by Linda Newbery reviewed bu Diane Samuels:
"Linda Newbery might have done better to focus more heavily on the intricacies of the present than let herself get quite so entangled with the particulars of the past."

Three Novels
Three more novels -- Ryland's Footsteps by Sally Prue ("challenging stuff"); Small Gains by KM Peyton ("a wonderfully romantic story told by a feisty teenage girl"); and The Braves by David Klass ("a gripping account of the churning complexities of adolescence") -- reviewed more briefly by Julia Eccleshare.

Kate diCamillo


Pioneer Press | 09/03/2003 | Local author's book features unlikely hero

Good profile of US author...

"Kate DiCamillo, the Minneapolis author of 'Winn-Dixie' fame, is back with a fairy tale featuring an unlikely hero..."

Tale of Despereaux to be published by Walker UK May 2004

Keep The Jacket On

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Telegraph | News | Proof that you can judge a book by its cover

"Throwing away the dust jacket of a novel or children's book could be the most expensive mistake the owner has made, according to a survey..."

Potter v Potter

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Guardian Unlimited | The Guardian | Potter leads, but not Harry

"A guide to Britain's most valuable books published today shows that first editions of JK Rowling have some way to go before eclipsing Beatrix Potter..."


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Phew! Made the self-imposed deadline (6pm), more or less - though we were still deleting old files as new ones were uploaded. Must wait now to see what the reaction is. No messages on the TagBoard yet, so too early to say.

New leadpage

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This page is an archive of entries from September 2003 listed from newest to oldest.

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