October 2003 Archives

Funke Feature

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Guardian feature about Cornelia Funke:

"I ask her how a German author writes without writing about the Holocaust. "I have been waiting for this question," she says slowly. "I am happy I have it finally."
Dina Rabinovitch

Same page includes an appreciation, by John Crace, of Biggles in the Baltic

PW Picks

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"Every month Publishers Weekly picks the books our editors feel are exceptional. Today we present the Editors' Picks of children's books for November."

Dahl Poem

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Letter to The Times about a redisscovered poem by Roald Dahl

ST Children's Book of the Week

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Sunday Times Children's Book of the Week

Lion Boy by Zizou Corder:

"The novel is set in the future, although the tone of the book is freshly contemporary — Isabel’s contribution, perhaps. Its weakness is that it really does feel like the first in a trilogy — it ends hopefully, but with no sense of closure." NICOLETTE JONES

The Various

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Jan Mark reviews The Various by Steve Augarde:

"For all that adults might find to admire in it, it is nevertheless a big, generous children's book. These days, the discovery that a work of fantasy is the first of a trilogy can chill the blood. Not this time." JAN MARK

Horowitz Down Under

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Man with the golden pen - www.smh.com.au

"[Anthony] Horowitz, best-selling children's author, is on tour. He has just grabbed half an hour in his hotel room to write chapter 12 of his next Alex Rider teen spy thriller, Scorpio, and he has come down to the foyer for the interview carrying the neatly typed manuscript in his hand - but he won't give away his new murder method just yet."

Vivien Alcok Obit II

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Vivien Alcock Obit.

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Vivien Alcock Obituary

Vivien Alcock, children's writer and wife of Leon Garfield, died Octiber 12th aged 79. This obituary appeared in the London Times.

Child's Play

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To Stars, Writing Books Looks Like Child's Play

"Once upon a time there was a land in love with fame and brand names. By and by, some famous brand-name people, holed up in their castles, discovered a new trade. They started writing books for children... ..."

Long NYT feature about celeb.s writing children's books.


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Telegraph | Arts | 'Oh, perispomenon!'

I've only just come across this review, by Michel Faber, of Alan Garner's Thursbitch:

"in a juvenile publishing scene currently dominated by the comfy nostalgia of Harry Potter, the amiable wisecrackery of Terry Pratchett, and movie tie-ins that might as well be sold in McDonald's, the kind of books that Garner once saw fit to write - disturbing, mind-expanding but still highly readable - are all too rare... "

Author Visit

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Objective: Reading teens - marionstar.com

Report of a school visit by Margaret Peterson Haddix, the author of Among The Hidden, Among The Betrayed and Running Out Of Time

No Time For Theatre

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BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Arts | Author backs children's theatre

Prize-winning children's author Philip Pullman has said that children are being denied the experience of theatre while at school... ...

See details about forthcoming production of His Dark Materials

Governor-General's Literary Awards

Children's Fiction
Sarah Ellis The Secret Lives of Orphan Jack (Groundwood Books)
Barbara Haworth-Attard Theories of Relativity (HarperCollins)
Glen Huser Stitches (Groundwood Books)
Kevin Major Ann and Seamus (Groundwood Books)
Judd Palmer The Maestro (Raincoast Books)

Nicolas Debon Four Pictures by Emily Carr (Groundwood Books)
Rob Gonsalves Imagine a Night (Simon and Schuster Canada)
Barbara Reid The Subway Mouse (North Winds Press, Scholastic)
Allen Sap The Song Within My Heart (Raincoast Books)
Ludmilla Zeman Sinbad's Secret (Tundra Books)


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On Wednesday 15th October there were two books launched. Kevin Crossley-Holland's King Of The Middle March (in chandeliered, club-fender splendour at the London Oratorium - see below) and Nadia Marks's Making
(at the brightly modern Hellenic Centre).

'My friend wants to shag your brother,' opens Marks's novel. However, Making Sense is a much gentler, subtler novel than this would suggest. Set in North London a few decades ago, the book is narrated by a 14 year-old Cypriot girl who has just been brought to England by her family. Coming to terms with the brash lack of manners symbolised by the opening exchange is one aspect of the girl's 'sentimental education', but this is no heavy-handed exploration of the immigration/prejudice theme. Based on the author's own experiences - Nadia Marks was born in Nicosia but grew up in North London - the book is an enjoyable evocation of being young and alive in an unfamiliar big city.

King of the Middle March

Making Sense

Observer Reviews

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The Observer | Review | Picture books: Oct 19

Picture book reviews by Kate Kellaway in The Observer

See also Kate Kellaway's enthusiastic review ("deserves a roar of approval") of Lion Boy by Zizou Corder.

And Kit Spring's Teenage Fiction reviews....

ST Children's Book of the Week

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Times Online - Sunday Times

Sunday Times Children's Book of the Week

The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud

"The narrative slips skilfully from first person to third and back and Bartimaeus's voice is laugh-out-loud sassy, while Nathaniel's story has an engaging poignancy as he tries to prove himself in a world in which he has always been despised." NICOLETTE JONES

A profile And Reviews

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The Scotsman - S2 Weekend - New look at death in the Old Town

This link leads to a profile of Nicola Morgan, author of Fleshmarket, and reviews of selected young adult fiction.

The profile is by David Robinson, The Scotsman's literary editor.

The reviews are by me.

Holes The Movie

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Guardian Unlimited | Arts Friday Review | Claire Armitstead on the Holes phenomenon

Louis Sachar's novel about a juvenile jail became a publishing sensation, winning praise from critics, children and parents alike. Now comes the movie, and the signs are just as good... ... says Claire Armitstead

Holes by Louis Sachar

Private Peaceful

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Guardian Unlimited Books | Review | Review: Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo

Michael Morpurgo's Private Peaceful enables Diane Samuels to explore distant memories of the first world war...

Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo

Oz Review Of Fire-Eaters

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The Fire-Eaters - www.smh.com.au

"This is a wonderful book, offering sustenance for times when the miraculous seems beyond reach. Another Carnegie Medal, perhaps?" asks Australian reviewer

Cat In The Hat Premiere

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Afrikaans HP

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Cape Argus - On my bedside table: Janie Oosthuysen

Janie Oosthuysen is responsible for making Harry Potter accessible to thousands of Afrikaans children, through her translations of the four books in the series. She's also the author of "about 14" children's books.

Tessa Krailing

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The children's author, Tessa Krailing, died on Monday October 13th after a long illness. She was the author of many Oxford Reading Tree titles and other early readers.

Lizzie Longbody Gets an Itch

2 Steves LIVE Today

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The 2 Steves (Steve Barlow & Steve Skidmore) are LIVE on THE BIG TOE SHOW on (digital) BBC Radio 7 TODAY Friday 17th Oct between 4 - 6pm.
If you don't have a digital radio, you can still listen in by logging on to:


Blume Book Challenged

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Hernando: Parent challenges children's library book

Deenie by Judy Blume

"A board member of the National Coalition Against Censorship, Blume expressed dismay with people who would rather take away materials than discuss tough issues with their children.
"You take a book away from a child it's, well, why? You need to explain why," she said. "It isn't a book about masturbation. It's a book about parental expectations. . . . When, when, when are we ever going to be done with this? Never, I guess."... ..."

Unfortunate Filming

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A series of fortunate events for author Daniel Handler, a.k.a. Lemony Snicket, including forthcoming film, fatherhood

"A Series of Unfortunate Events" has just begun filming in Los Angeles with Jim Carrey as Count Olaf, Jude Law as the narrator and Meryl Streep as the "frightful grammarian" Aunt Josephine..."

The start of filming of the Snicket series has occasioned another Daniel Handler profile - this a particularly good one.

Lemony Snicket Feature

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JS Online: Lemony Snicket's sticking to his story

"although "Basic Eight" was aimed at adults, it was set in a high school.
The manuscript had found its way to editors of children's books, and several asked if Handler was interested in writing a book for that market.
"I thought it was a terrible idea," Handler said. "But this one editor, Susan Rich, persisted, and to get her off my back as much as anything else, I said, 'I do have this idea, but I think you'll hate it. We'll meet in a bar, so once you hate it, we'll just have a drink and you won't have wasted any time talking to me.' "
They met, and he pitched his idea for mock Victorian novels for children. Very bad things would happen to three orphaned children.... ..."

NYT Cartoon

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This NYT cartoon imagines J K Rowling deciding to become a pop diva like Madonna.

Tres amusing.

The Observer | Magazine | This much I know

"This much I know"

Shirley Hughes, children's illustrator and writer, 76, London... ...

Lion Boy III - The Launch Party

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The launch party for Lion Boy by Zizou Corder was held at the Puffin offices in The Strand on Wednesday 8th October.

In a period when most promotional energies seem to be going into books for older readers, it is good to see a genuine children's book, aimed at 7-11 year olds, receiving celebrity treatment.

Lion Boy is a compelling adventure featuring circus acts and the main character's ability to speak to cats.

It has to be said though that the book starts poorly. The opening sentence repeats the word 'up' in a manner which is both verbally and typographically discordant. A stretch of dialogue on p29 is so clumsily written (a Y6 child could improve it in a trice), I almost stopped reading there and then. But the mother-daughter concoction does have narrative drive and stylistically the book improves as it is carried along by the adventure which, this being a trilogy, ends dangling the reader in the air.

Lion Boy launch party, October 2003

Full gallery in the extended entry...

The Observer | International | Teenager's fantasy dragon burns up the bestseller list

"Eragon, a fantasy novel written by Christopher Paolini, sits at number three on the New York Times bestseller list for children's books, out-selling all but the most recent of the Harry Potter adventures.
That bare fact is impressive enough, but behind it lies one of the most extraordinary publishing stories of the year, of a book which began as a 15-year-old's attempt to entertain himself and was published and marketed by the author and his family before being discovered by one of America's best comic novelists. It was later sold to a major publishing house for a reported advance of $400,000... ..."

ST Children's Book of The Week

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Times Online - Sunday Times

Sunday Times Children's Book of the Week

Dragonology: The Complete Book of Dragons by Ernest Drake

"This elaborate spoof purports to be a facsimile of a rare book from 1896 - a study of the natural history of dragons...."

Smarties Shortlist

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5 and under
Tadpole?s Promise by Jeanne Willis, ill. by Tony Ross (Andersen Press)
Two Frogs by Chris Wormell (Jonathan Cape)
The Witch?s Children and the Queen by Ursula Jones, ill. by Russell Ayto (Orchard)

6 - 8
The Countess?s Calamity by Sally Gardner (Bloomsbury)
The Last Castaways by Harry Horse (Puffin)
Varjak Paw by S F Said (David Fickling)

The Fire-Eaters by David Almond (Hodder)
The Various by Steve Augarde (David Fickling)
Montmorency by Eleanor Updale (Scholastic)

The 2003 Nestl? Smarties Book Prize will be awarded at a ceremony on 1st December at the British Library, the UK's national library.

Some further commentary can be found on the Booktrusted website.....

Publishing News - Frankfurt Book Fair 2003 News Page

"Rookie agent has majors bidding for slush-pile novel..."

Lion Boy II

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Guardian Unlimited Books | Review | Roaring along

Adele Geras reviews Lion Boy by Zizou Corder

"Corder writes well enough and has enough humour and liveliness to carry the story along at a cracking pace and with several excellent jokes. Easily the funniest are Fred van Deelen's scale-drawings on every map, which made me laugh out loud..."

Front Row

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BBC - Radio 4 - Arts and Drama - Front Row - Children's Book Week

"To mark children's books week Front Row looks at new trends in publishing for young people. David Almond, Caroline Royds and Michael Rosen gave their recommendations to Francine Stock..."

Young Spitfire

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Telegraph | News | Forget the namby-pamby girly stuff, here are ripping yarns for real chaps

plus a bbc.co.uk page

News of a new boys-only imprint, Young Spitfire:

"...Our criteria is that we want bloody good reads." Of Harry Potter, Elliott said: "It's typical of modern children's books in which there is a boy and a girl and the girl is as good as the boy. Just William [which features the unattractive Violet Elizabeth Bott as the only girl of substance] is a much better read for boys.

"Violet Elizabeth Bott was a whingeing, snivelling sneak who was always frightened. That is how I would like the girls to be."

William Steig Obit.s

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Eleanor Farjeon Award

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The 2003 Eleanor Farjeon Award winner is:

Miriam Hodgson


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Times Review

Overlooked last Saturday, this joint review by Amanda Craig of The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud and Lionboy by Zizou Corder, both books expensively acquired and heavily marketed.

"Stroud?s sinister world is imagined in baroque and energetic detail, Corder?s in brighter, simpler colours. Though Rowling need not lose any sleep over either, both deserve their good fortune."

Lionboy has its formal launch at the Puffin offices this evening.

Blue Peter Shortlist

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The shortlisted titles are:

The Book I Couldn?t Put Down
Cool! by Michael Morpurgo (Collins)
The Dark Horse by Marcus Sedgwick (Orion)
Firesong by William Nicholson (Egmont)
Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve (Scholastic)
Secrets by Jacqueline Wilson (Random House Children?s Books)

The Best Book with Facts in it
Microlife by David Burnie (Dorling Kindersley)
One Small Suitcase by Barry Turner (Puffin)
Pirate Diary by Richard Pratt and Chris Riddell (Walker Books)
True Polar Stories by Paul Dowswell (Usborne Books)
Who was David Livingstone by Amanda Mitchison (Short Books)

The Best Illustrated Book to Read Aloud
Kipper?s A to Z by Mick Inkpen (Hodder Children?s Books)
Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler (Macmillan Children?s Books)
That Pesky Rat by Lauren Child (Orchard Books)
Slow Loris by Alexis Deacon (Random House Children?s Books)
Words to Whisper, Words to Shout compiled by Michaela Morgan, illustrated by Chloe Cheese (Chrysalis Books)

The shortlist, from which the Young Judges select their category winners and the overall Blue Peter Book of the Year, was selected by a group of adult judges: James Naughtie, journalist and broadcaster; Elizabeth Attenborough, former editor and publisher, now Children?s Book Consultant and Co-ordinator of the Talk to your Baby Campaign; Steve Hocking, Blue Peter editor; and Nicky Singer, winner of the Blue Peter Book of the Year 2002.

Nine young judges from all over the UK aged between 6 and 14 years will now read the 15 shortlisted books to decide on the category winners and the overall Blue Peter Book of the Year. The young judges were chosen from 10,000 entries for a competition run by Blue Peter during the summer.

The Government Line

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Guardian Unlimited Politics | Special Reports | David Miliband: enjoyment and literacy can go together

David Miliband, school standards minister, responds to Philip Pullman's criticism of current teaching methodology...

Who makes more sense to you?

Cricinfo Facelift


Wisden CricInfo

Freddie Flintoff has to miss the Bangladesh Tests :-(
Finding this news on the CricInfo site I also discovered that Cricinfo, like Achuka, has had a redesign, and very good it looks too BUT it spawns popup ads, which I find infinitely more irritating that onpage ads. ACHUKA will never host popups unless they form part of a really ingenious publisher marketing campaign.

I enjoyed the recent cricket sequence in Garth Nix's Lirael. Anyone have a favourite children's books cricket episode they'd like to mention in the Comments slot?


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Archie just wandered in and proceeded to throw up on the carpet. I was in midst of signing my tax return and writing a cheque for the accountant. Shouting for P. (cleansing carpets of catsick is her department, disposing of rodent remains mine) I scared Archie into one of the awkward spaces between book towers, so that P. had to perform acrobatics to reach him.
Now, having cleared his stomach of nausea, he's unusually keen to pick a fight with Woody. I'm keen to get back into David Klass's The Braves, which I'm reading for The Scotsman...

Another William

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William C. Morris, HarperCollins Vice President, Dies at 74

William C. Morris, Vice President and Director of Library Promotion at HarperCollins Children's Books [US], died of cancer on September 29, 2003 at his home in Manhattan. He was 74 years old.

New York Times obit.

Steig Obit.

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MacArthur Genius List

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Guardian Unlimited | World Latest | List of 2003 MacArthur Foundation Fellows

The list of 24 fellows announced by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, each of whom will receive $500,000 over five years, includes a children's author (Angela Johonson) and an author/illustrator (Peter Sis):

ST Children's Book of the Week

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Times Online - Sunday Times

Sunday Times Children's Book of the Week:

Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo

Arts Council Plan

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theBookseller.com - Arts Council builds children's b

"The Arts Council is to develop a new children's literature strategy encompassing all areas of children's books, from bookselling and publishing to teacher training and book promotion. A consultation paper was launched by the Arts Council this week. The consultation period will last to 14th November [see below], and the final recommendations will be announced on 4th December..."

The Arts Council Press Release

Download the consultation paper, From looking glass to spyglass...
Conspicuously missing from this consultation paper is any mention of the role of websites in the promotion of children's books and reading. You can be sure that ACHUKA will make this a central theme of our response to the paper. Page 7 observes generally: "Children?s literature promotion is a vast and active field in which valuable work often takes place in a rather fragmented and piecemeal way." No more so than online!

William Steig Death

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CNN.com - 'Shrek' author dead at 95 - Oct. 4, 2003

"William Steig, a prolific illustrator for The New Yorker known as the "King of Cartoons" for his award-winning, best-selling children's books including "Shrek," has died. He was 95..."

Guardian Children's Literature Special

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Guardian Unlimited Books | By genre | Amazing stories


Includes comment from Michael Morpurgo on the Guardian Fiction Award shortlist: "The shortlist we had arrived at was strong. All were for older readers. Sadly there was in this instance a lack of fine novels for younger children. However, I do feel strongly that novels for younger children should appear more often in our shortlists. It would be a great shame if the children's book world were to neglect the best in younger novels in the same way the adult book world has neglected the best of children's fiction."

And enough review coverage to fill your weekend.

Guardian Winner Interviewed

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Guardian Unlimited Books | Review | Plots, puzzles and a punctured poodle

The winner of this year's Guardian award is The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Claire Armitstead talks to the author, Mark Haddon



All during October 2003, the Young Adult Reading Group on www.readerville.com, will be hosting a discussion of Malorie Blackman?s NOUGHTS AND CROSSES, a tale of two young people whose friendship reaches across a perilous racial divide. Malorie Blackman will be dropping by to respond to participants? questions and comments, so it should be a particularly exciting discussion for fans of her work.

For anyone who?s interested, the discussion starts at this URL [you will need to register]:


Malorie Blackman was one of the judges for the Guardian Children's Fiction Award...

Guardian Winner

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Mark Haddon has won the Guardian Children's Fiction Award, judged this year by Michael Morpurgo, Malorie Blackman and Philip Ardagh, and chaired by Julia Eccleshare. The prize was announced at an Award Party held in The Newsroom, Thursday October 2nd. Accepting the prize (to accompany the cheque Claire Armitstead, Guardian literary editor, presented Haddon with a red toy car with a prime number for its registration plate), Haddon paid moving tribute to his wife, recently injured in a cycling accident while 28 weeks pregnant.

The Curous Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by
Mark Haddon

Mary Hoffman Chosen

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First Lady reveals love for British children?s book

"LAURA BUSH, librarian, mother and America?s First Lady, emerged as a fan of one of Britain?s unsung writers of books for children yesterday when she listed Amazing Grace among her five must-read books for youngsters.
Mrs Bush chose the work of the author Mary Hoffman in a speech in which she also chided parents for letting their children watch too much television and criticised the lack of funding available to libraries... ..."

Precious Amulet

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CBBC Newsround | UK | Kids' author makes millions from latest book

"A children's author has made millions from his latest book, The Amulet of Samarkand, and it's not even in the shops yet."

Short feature about Jonathan Stroud, whose book is launched today at a jacket-and-tie event at the Carlton Club.


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Robert Munsch Appointed Honorary Chair of Family Literacy Day 2004

ABC CANADA Literacy Foundation has announced
that Robert Munsch, one of Canada's best-selling children's authorhs, has been re-appointed
Honorary Chair for Family Literacy Day in 2004.

About this Archive

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

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