April 2004 Archives

Edgar Winners

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The winner of the Best Young Adult and Best Juvenile categories in the Edgar Allan Poe Awards are:

Acceleration by Graham McNamee (YA)

Bernie Magruder & the Bats in the Belfry by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor (J)

See full list of nominees.

Wondrous Obilivion

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Guardian Unlimited Film | Features | Declarations of independence

The director, Paul Morrison, writes about his film 'Wondrous Oblivion'. Morrison has novelised his own screenplay. The book Wondrous Oblivion is published by Hodder Children's Books.

In my film, a Jewish father puts minding the shop before anything - wife, children, and especially his own needs for fun or recreation. His son's love of cricket is almost incomprehensible to him.

Ideal Age

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What exactly is a children's book?

If we are never too old for any good book, we can be too young, and this is where people make mistakes: competitive parents and teachers in particular, who want children to read above their age. But books are age-banded by publishers and reviewers not so much on the basis of stylistic difficulty but on emotional content. Few people consider the distinction. Jacqueline Wilson?s Girls In Love/In Trouble/Out Late/Under Pressure series, for instance, is aimed at teenagers with a not very advanced reading age; but the books are read ubiquitously by bright eight-year-olds perfectly able to cope with the language, even if the dating issues do not reflect their experience.

Nicolette Jones uses the announcement of the Carnegie shortlist as the occasion for an excellent meditation on the ideal age for reading particular books.

Highly recommended

Both the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals are awarded annually by CILIP (Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals). The 2003 winners will be announced at the British Library on Friday 9 July 2004.
For more information about the awards visit www.ckg.org.uk


Doubleday Age range: 7+
ISBN: 0385601360

Hutchinson Age range: 3+
ISBN: 0091768292

DEBI GLIORI Always and Forever
(Text by Alan Durant)
Doubleday Age range: 3+
ISBN: 038560503X

MINI GREY The Pea and the Princess
Red Fox Age range: 6+
ISBN: 0099432331

SHIRLEY HUGHES Ella?s Big Chance
The Bodley Head Age range: 6+
ISBN: 0370327659

DAVE McKEAN The Wolves in the Walls
(Text by Neil Gaiman)
Bloomsbury Age range: 9+
ISBN: 0747569533

BEE WILLEY Bob Robber and Dancing Jane
(Text by Andrew Matthews)
Jonathan Cape Age range: 7+
ISBN: 0224064657

Red Fox Age range: 5+
ISBN: 0099438623


DAVID ALMOND The Fire Eaters
Hodder Children?s Books Age range: 10+
ISBN: 0340773820

Bloomsbury Age range: 12+
ISBN: 0747563047

MARK HADDON The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time
David Fickling Books Age range: 13+
ISBN: 0099456761

Macmillan Age range: 10+
ISBN: 0330415026

Collins Age range: 10+
ISBN: 0007150067

David Fickling Books Age range: 13+
ISBN: 038560470X

G P Taylor's US Debut

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New York Daily News - Business - Success story for kids book

"I'm so excited," Taylor said yesterday of his U.S. debut. Speaking from his vicarage on the Yorkshire coast, he added, "It's America, after all, the market with the most discriminating book buyers in the world." The Anglican priest and father of three is due here May 7 on the Queen Mary 2 for appearances that include the "Today" show and Pat Robertson's "The 700 Club," on the Christian Broadcasting Network.

Guardian Unlimited | The Guardian | Author of the month

Dina Rabinovitch writes about Kevin Brooks in The Guardian's Author of the Month slot:

Brooks's first novel, Martyn Pig, won the Branford Boase award and was shortlisted for the Carnegie, and both his other novels, Lucas and Kissing the Rain, made several short-lists. His next novel, Candy, which is going to tell the truth about adolescent male love, is out this autumn.

See the recent ACHUKA interview.

Just Back From

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Just back from the first session of judging the Branford Boase first children's novel award, and what a thrillingly strong shortlist we've arrived at. Can't reveal it yet, but it will be released very shortly. There are six books on it. And, in a strong year when the number of submissions was over thirty (the highest ever), quite a few really good books didn't quite make it. It's a shortlist that would flatter any award, let alone a first novel award. The judges (Kevin Brooks, Sarah Wilkie, Lesley Agnew, Julia Eccleshare and me - chaired by Anne Marley) meet later in May to pick the winner.

We each had to take half a dozen of the submitted novels to the judging, which meant there was no room in my bag for unread ACHUKA reading, which I am inevitably much behind with. So I slipped into Smiths on Victoria station, had a quick scan of the adult fiction shelves, and selected I'm Not Scared by Niccolo Ammaniti, which comes with five pages of rave review clippings, and has been made into a movie. I didn't quite finish it on the train, but it is transfixing, once I had overcome my annoyance at frequent comma splices, which might be the fault of the translator, not the author.

100 Best Books

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Book industry veteran picks the top 100 titles for kids

Here to help is industry veteran Anita Silvey, whose new 100 Best Books for Children (Houghton Mifflin, 192 pages, $20) represents a 20th-century canon for kids. Silvey, former editor of The Horn Book magazine and an ex-honcho at Houghton Mifflin, talked to a couple thousand people about their childhood favorites -- then reread 1,000 contenders in six months...

Quiet Start & Update Delay

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There are two reasons why the start to ACHOCKABLOG's week has been rather quiet and why Mail List subscribers didn't receive an update on Monday. Firstly, a lack of reportworthy news items. Secondly, an impending deadline for reading this year's Branford Boase submissions (the first judging meeting is tomorrow).

ST Book Of The Week

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Times Online - Sunday Times

Sunday Times Children's Book Of The Week

Stratford Boys by Jan Mark

Here, as provided by Andrea Deakin (who has also added descriptive notes), is the shortlist for the 2004 Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People:

Kevin Major: Ann and Seamus (Groundwood Books)
an historical novel written in poetic form.
Alternating poems from Ann and Seamus( a fictional character) describe the wreck of an Irish immigrant ship and Ann's courage and strength as an oarsman which was responsible for saving more than 160 lives.

Brian Doyle: Boy O'Boy (Groundwood Books)
During the last days of World War 11 Martin lives a difficult life in a troubled home. He does, however, own a cat, enjoy a best friend, and live next door to a hero. More trouble lies ahead, for when he and Billy join the church choir the organist appears to become very attached to Martin.

Jean Little: Brothers Far from Home:The World War 1 Diary of Eliza Bates (Scholastic Books)
the World War 1 diary of Eliza. It has been two years since Hugo, her older brother, went away to war. Now brother Jack too has enlisted, and Eliza longs for her brothers' safe return.

Priscilla Galloway: The Courtesan's Daughter (Penguin Canada)
set in ancient Athens.
Phano is of age to marry, and content with Theo's courtship. Her father has always told her that her mother died in childbirth. He has remarried Nera,"the most famous courtesan in Corinth". Now Theo's opponents, sensing scandal, are trying to embarass the young man in an attempt to cripple his political career. Priscilla Galloway has based her novel on an actual recorded court case.

Ted Stenhopuse: A Dirty Deed (Kids Can Press)
Set in 1952 in a small Canadian town, "Dirty Deed" deals with deception
and prejudice. Will and Arthur, a Blackfoot Indian, face up to the town
evil-doer, Howe, as he persecutes a young Indian, Catface.

Teen Fiction

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In the Books section of Saturday's Telegraph, Justine Picardie and William Leith were given a page to review 'emotionally complex novels for adolescents':

Picardie reviewed Forbidden by Judy Waite ("foreboding mood of suspense"); Walking Naked by Alyssa Brugman ("sharply observed, with a tragedy at its heart"); Paradise End by Elizabeth Laird ("a galloping plot"); a new edition of Flambards by K. M. Peyton ("far more than a simple adolescent escapist fantasy"); and Boy2Girl by Terence Blacker ("a teenage book attmepting to move beyond gender stereotypes").

Leith reviewed Boy Kills Man by Matt Whyman ("excellent"); <i>Ruby Tanya by Robert Swindells ("a decent, well-turned story"); and The Dark Ground by Gillian Cross ("terrific... reminds me of William Golding's Pincher Martin)".

In Guardian Review

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Guardian Unlimited Books | Review | The voice of the nightingale

Adele Geras reviews In Hollow Lands by Sophie Masson:

Sophie Masson is an Australian writer of partly French descent who is becoming more and more widely read in this country, and with good reason. She writes a form of fantasy that is based firmly in folklore and the fairytale tradition. While her books may be read by any child who enjoys stories of other worlds bordering our own, the references to other times and places in her novels would stand up to scholarly scrutiny by any number of literary historians.

and Julia Eccleshare reviews three picture books

Canadian Review Page

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The Globe and Mail

A Canadian review page...

YA Gloom

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Publishing News - News Page

In the middle of this fascinating and detailed Bologna report from Graham Marks comes a dispiriting observation from Francesca Dow. Dispiriting, because if any publisher should be trying to establish YA fiction as a saleable 'category' in the UK it should be Puffin, with their massive marketing machine. Personally, I think Dow's wrong and that, as in other things, we are moving ever closer to the US model for YA fiction, with an increasingly sophisticated teenage readership that is hungry for novels in the YA mould. Dow and her team should be actively trying to find the next Aidan Chambers or Robert Westall, or another David Almond and Mark Haddon, not, as this comment suggests, deciding to put all their Puffin eggs in the 12-and-under basket. And if she thinks the 'Puffin Teenage Fiction' label is a turnoff, why not switch to using YA?

"The US regards teen fiction - upper YA - as a growth area, but it's not really a category in the UK," said Puffin's Francesca Dow, "and I can't see us creating one, not with the way bookselling works and the fact that the audience don't want to buy anything labelled 'teenage'."

US AUthor Dies

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The Charleston Gazette - APNews

Mary Rodd Furbee, an author of children's books and writing teacher at West Virginia University's journalism school, has died after a long illness. She was 49.

Outrageous Women Of The American Frontier by Mary Rodd Furbee

More Flavia

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CNN.com - She's a bestselling author -- at 15 - Apr 22, 2004

"Flavia Bujor's European hit now in America..."
CNN report


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Newhouse A1

"Dick and Jane, the children's book characters who taught an estimated 85 million children from the 1930s through the 1960s how to read, are back in print, and nostalgia-crazed baby boomers are scooping up the titles as fast as they are being released... ..."

Gaiman Audio

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Neil Gaiman

From his online journal:

Thursday April 22 - I recorded a spoken word CD for Harper Collins which is currently called "The Neil Gaiman Audio Collection" although I hope that by the time it comes out it'll be called something more along the lines of "Two Goldfish, an Enormous Number of Wolves and One Tiger". On the CD are readings of: THE DAY I SWAPPED MY DAD FOR TWO GOLDFISH [UK pub. Oct04], THE WOLVES IN THE WALLS, CINNAMON and the poem CRAZY HAIR.

Avi Feature

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pressconnects.com | 04/22/04 | Lifestyle Story

Author Avi finds stories in history... ...

Shanville Monthly

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Darren Shan Monthly 46

Includes a report of Shan's Thailand visit and itinerary for his imminent US tour.

Flavia Bujor

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Newsday.com - AP Entertainment

15-Year-Old Author Writes Best-Seller:

a syndicated article about Flavia Bujor

Laceration Hazard

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abc7news.com: Children's Books Recalled

Nearly half-a-million children's books are being recalled in the US because they pose a laceration hazard... ...

Squealing Scrolls

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Tails to make you squeal

Not noticed from Saturday's Times, until now, Amanda Craig's enthusiastic review of The Pig Scrolls by Paul Shipton and Helping Hercules by Francesca Simon.

"the most inspired comedy to come along since the Artemis Fowl series... Shipton?s book is a triumph. The jokes crackle like grilled bacon, the plot is juicy and the book will teach your child more about Ancient Greece than a dozen textbooks." AMANDA CRAIG

"Simon?s gloriously funny Helping Hercules has been reissued with sparky new illustrations by Tony Ross." AMANDA CRAIG

Solo Riddell

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Macmillan Children's Books have anoounced that they are to be the 'new creative home' for Chris Riddell. In a major deal, concluded at last week's international Bologna Book Fair, Macmillan Children's Books acquired world rights in five new books to be both written and illustrated by Chris Riddell.

Read the rest of the Press Release...

Belfast Telegraph

Online interview with Belfast author Derek Kielty:

"I entered the Downtown Radio/Eason's short story competition and won my section with Fussy Felicity and Grotty Griselda. You can read it and others on my interactive children's website, www.keilty.btinternet.co. uk. Then I was taken on by Philippa Milnes-Smith of London literary agency LAW Ltd. She used to be a publisher and was head of Penguin Puffin books. She pitched my Back Up The Beanstalk title to Rena Dardis at The Children's Press and that was my first to go into print."

Nebula Award For Gaiman

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Locus Online News: Nebula Awards Winners

Neil Gaiman's Coraline has won a Nebula Award for best novella. The awards were announced at a banquet Saturday evening, April 17, in Seattle, Washington.

Pushing The Envelope

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DenverPost.com - BOOKS

"The latest crop of young adult novels will pop a few gray hairs on the heads of parents who leaf through their sons' and daughters' recreational reading material... ..."

ST Book Of The Week

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Times Online - Sunday Times

Sunday Times Children's Book Of The Week

Wriggle And Roar by Julia Donaldson & Nick Sharratt

"This book will animate, engage and stimulate babies and have nursery classes jumping about with noisy enthusiasm." NICOLETTE JONES

Opinion - William Mayne

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Opinion Page

Highly recommended:
Peni Griffin, in her latest Opinion Column for ACHUKA, focuses on William Mayne...

You too have evil in you - maybe not in your heart, maybe not in your mind - maybe in your hands or mouth or eyes. It comes with being human. Call it original sin, if you're religious; call it evolutionary baggage, if you're not. But you and I and J.K. Rowling are only better than William Mayne if we work at it; if we take note of our temptations and weaknesses, whatever they are, and resist them, consciously.

Sara Fanelli

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Guardian Unlimited Books | Review | Dynamic doodles

A treat! Not to be missed...
Joanna Carey profiles Sara Fanelli.

With nine books so far, Fanelli's originality has brought a breath of fresh air to the world of picture books. Even in her first book, Button (1994), it was clear that her work doesn't have its roots in the British traditions that have shaped so many of our finest illustrators. With an off-beat humour and an inventive approach to everything from page design and typography to choice of materials, she has the kind of vision you might associate with illustrators such as the Czech Kveta Pacovska or Wolf Erlbruch in Germany, or the American Lane Smith (of Stinky Cheese Man fame).

Sara Fanelli's latest book, Pinocchio


The X-rated additions to the lid, which was based on an illustration by Kate Greenaway, the early 20th-century children's illustrator, went unnoticed for years, until a vigilant shopworker spotted them. Production was halted immediately, but thousands of the tins had been sold.
One of the few remaining examples will be auctioned next week after being found in a collection built by a West Country aristocrat.

NYT Reviews

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Nottingham Childrens Book Award

Very belatedly, the results of the 2004 Nottingham Children's Book Awards...

The 10 books shortlisted for the Lancashire Children's Book of the Year Award, as selected by 13/14 yr olds, are as follows:

Blinded by the Light
Sherry Ashworth

Tim Bowler

Keith Gray

Blue Moon
Julia Green

The Curious Incident
of the Dog in the Night-Time
Mark Haddon

Eagle Strike
Anthony Horowitz

Another Me
Catherine MacPhail
Transplant Malcolm Rose

No Angels
Robert Swindells

Chris Wooding

To celebrate the award's 18th anniversary there are plans for web-casting the winning presentations.

Boy-Man To Grown-Man

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The ABCs of better reading

A report of a talk given by Jim Trelease, the author of a New York Times bestseller The Read Aloud Handbook.

Some clips from the article:

"The parent is the most important professor [a] kid is ever going to meet..."

Trelease cited a study called "Meaningful Differences in the Everyday Experience of Young American Children," in which researchers observed healthy families in different economic classes. After years of collecting data, they were able to calculate the cumulative number of words spoken in front of these families' children.

What they found was that, by the age of 4, children in professional families had heard, cumulatively, 45 million words. Children in working-class families had heard 26 million words, and children in poverty-level families had heard 13 million words.

In other words, by the time these 4-year-olds enter kindergarten together, the professional-class kid has been exposed to 32 million more words than the kid living in poverty.

The father who only finds time to take his kid to the ballgame is a "boy-man," he said. But the father who also finds time to take his kid to the bookshelf is a "grown man."

"I think Harry Potter is the best thing to happen to children's books," perhaps in the history of children's books, he said. The books aren't sophisticated literature, but they are page-turners. Kids love them the same way adults love John Grisham or Danielle Steele.

Ultimately, good children's literature is like good adult literature. There needs to be "conflict. Something has to happen in the story," said Trelease.

CBCA Book of the Year Awards - Shortlist 2004

2004 Book of the Year: Older Readers
NOTE: These books are for mature readers

Gardner, Scot Burning Eddy Pan, Pan Macmillan Australia, 2003
Marchetta, Melina Saving Francesca Viking, Penguin Books Australia, 2003
Metzenthen, David Boys of Blood & Bone Penguin Books Australia, 2003
Moloney, James Black Taxi Angus&Robertson, HarperCollinsPublishers Australia, 2003
Murray, Martine How to Make a Bird Allen & Unwin, 2003
Nix, Garth Mister Monday
(Keys to the Kingdom, Book. 1) Allen & Unwin, 2003


2004 Book of the Year: Younger Readers

Base, Graeme TruckDogs: A novel in four bites Viking, Penguin Books Australia, 2003
Herrick, Steven
Illus. Magerl, Caroline Do-Wrong Ron Allen & Unwin, 2003
Millard, Glenda
Illus. Magerl, Caroline The Naming of Tishkin Silk ABC Books, 2003
Starke, Ruth Stella by the Sea Aussie Chomps, Puffin, Penguin Books Australia, 2003
Stephens, Michael Mudlark Angus&Robertson, HarperCollinsPublishers Australia, 2003
Wilkinson, Carole Dragonkeeper Black Dog Books, 2003


2004 Book of the Year: Early Childhood

Allen, Pamela Grandpa and Thomas Viking, Penguin Books Australia, 2003
Barbalet, Margaret
Illus. Andrew McLean Reggie, Queen of the Street Viking, Penguin Books Australia, 2003
Cox, Tania
Illus. David Miller Snap! Went Chester Hodder Children?s, Hodder Headline Australia, 2003
Gleeson, Libby
Illus. Ann James Shutting the Chooks In Scholastic Press, Scholastic Australia, 2003
Wild, Margaret
Illus. David Legge Baby Boomsticks ABC Books, 2003
Wild, Margaret
Illus. Ann James Little Humpty Little Hare, 2003


2004 Picture Book of the Year
NOTE: Some of these books may be for mature readers

Blackwood, Freya
Text John Heffernan Two Summers Scholastic Press, Scholastic Australia, 2003
Curtis, Neil
Text Joan Grant Cat and Fish Lothian Books, 2003
James, Ann
Text Libby Gleeson Shutting the Chooks In Scholastic Press, Scholastic Australia, 2003
King, Stephen Michael Milli, Jack and the Dancing Cat Allen & Unwin, 2003
McLean, Andrew
Margaret Barbalet Reggie, Queen of the Street Viking, Penguin Books Australia, 2003
Thompson, Colin The Violin Man Hodder Children?s, Hodder Headline Australia, 2003


2004 Eve Pownall Award for Information Books

Carlyon, Patrick The Gallipoli Story Penguin Books Australia, 2003
Dale, Kim Bush Babies Lothian Books, 2003
Malbunka, Mary When I Was Little Like You Allen & Unwin, 2003
Morecroft, Richard & Mackay, Alison
Illus. Karen Lloyd-Diviny Zoo Album ABC Books, 2003
Nicholls, Christine Art, History, Place Working Title Press, 2003
Nicholson, John Animal Architects Allen & Unwin, 2003

Publishing News - News Page

"THE BIG NEWS at the opening of the Bologna Children's Book Fair this week was that Shadowmancer author G P Taylor has signed a substantial, multi-book, five-year deal with Faber, jointly with Penguin Young Readers Group in the US - which gets North American rights," reports Publishing News

Collins 5-Figure Acquisition

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Gillie Russell, Editorial Director of Fiction at HarperCollins Children?s Books, has acquired two action-packed books by first time novelist, 23 year-old, Joe Craig, about a character called Jimmy Coates.

A 5 figure sum was paid for a two book deal. The first book, Jimmy Coates: KILLER, will publish in paperback in April 2005 and is aimed at the 9-12 boys? adventure story market.

Joe Craig says, "I'm amazed and excited to be signing up with HarperCollins. The enthusiasm from the HarperCollins team won me over immediately. I stumbled out of university 18 months ago, slightly embarrassed about wanting to be a writer, but the idea for this story wouldn't go away. I can't believe how quick the whole process has been. I sent a synopsis to Sarah Manson to find out whether it was worth pursuing my writing; she became my agent, and here I am, less than a year later with a dream book deal!"

Agent, Sarah Manson adds, "I was delighted that HarperCollins immediately recognised the exciting potential of this title and of Joe Craig as a promising new author."

Garth Nix Aurealis Treble

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Garth Nix has triumphed at the prestigious Aurealis Awards for fiction, winning awards in 3 of the 5 categories. The Awards recognise the achievements of Australian science fiction, fantasy and horror writers and were presented at a special ceremony in Perth earlier this week.

Abhorsen, the third book in Nix?s Old Kingdom trilogy, was the Winner of the Fantasy Category and Joint Winner (with Dragonkeeper by Carole Wilkinson) of the Young Adult category. Abhorsen was published in UK a fortnight ago by HarperCollins Children?s Books. It is the 2nd best-selling Children's hardback fiction title this week.

Mister Monday, the first in his exciting Keys To The Kingdom series, which published in UK in January by HarperCollins Children?s Books, was voted Winner of the Children?s (8-12) category. Grim Tuesday, the second book in the series, comes out in June.

Michael Morpurgo Castaway

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BBC Radio 4 - Factual - Desert Island Discs -Michael Morpurgo

Sue Lawley's castaway on Radio4's Desert Island Discs this week is the widely respected children?s author and the current Children?s Laureate Michael Morpurgo.
The website lists his choices. The prgramme was first broadcast on Sunday and is repeated tomorrow at 9am.

Who Reads What

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CBS News | 'Who Reads What?' List Out | April 14, 2004?18:12:58

Laura Bush joins actors, writers and a former British prime minister in pitching her favorite books for America's annual "Who Reads What?" list, out in time for National Library Week...

R.L. Stine, author of the "Goosebumps" series, called Ray Bradbury's "Dandelion Wine" his favorite.

As for Ken Follett, classic children's author Beatrix Potter caught his attention with "The Story of a Fierce, Bad Rabbit." Follett called it "the shortest thriller ever written." The tale of good and evil features an innocent bunny, a bad bunny and a hunter.

"In just 142 words it has suspense, crime, gunplay, and retributive justice," Follett wrote.


The Andersen Jury of the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) has announced that Martin Waddell (Ireland) is the winner of the 2004 Hans Christian Andersen Author Award and Max Velthuijs (The Netherlands) is the winner of the 2004 Hans Christian Andersen Award for Illustration.

Channel4 BookBox Page
Teacher Resource File
'Writer To Reader' - ALAN Review
Jubilee Books Interview

Andersen website profile
Bibliographical info.
Dutch page, with photo

Love Poem To Grandchild

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Billy Crystal 'love poem' hits bookstores. 14/04/2004. ABC News Online

US comedian Billy Crystal has joined the ranks of celebrities peddling children's books with the debut of I Already Know I Love You, a book he wrote as a "love poem" to his first grandchild.

Chris Crutcher

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Author's poignant books 'get kids who don't want to read to read'

Recommended - interview with Chris Crutcher

'When I spoke to him from his home in Spokane, Wash., Crutcher sounded relaxed, smart, irreverent and witty - pretty much the way he sounds in his latest book, King of the Mild Frontier: An Ill-Advised Autobiography. '

Miss America And The Bunnies

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Entertainment News Article | Reuters.com

"Miss Missouri, Shandi Finnessey, a 25-year-old graduate student who has published a children's book, was crowned Miss USA at the 52nd annual pageant on Monday. Finnessey succeeds former Miss Massachusetts, Susie Castillo, and will compete for the Miss Universe crown on June 1 in Quito, Ecuador."

Her children's book, The Furrtails, is a moral fable about rabbits.

Jacqueline Wilson in Welsh

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ic Wales - Top author's books adapted for Welsh-speaking children

Two Jacqueline Wilson books are now available in Welsh. Publishers Gwasg Gomer have released Pecyn Bwyd y Deinosor (The Dinosaur's Packed Lunch) and Yr Anghenfil Dweud Straeon (The Monster Story-teller) for children aged between five and seven.

Indian Festival

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The Hindu : Book fair for young readers

Information about 'Wonderland', a week-long children's book festival... ...

Observer Reviews

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The Observer's Easter children's books reviews:

Picture Books



Easter Surprise

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Times Online - Sunday Times

Nicolette Jones's Easter roundup in The Sunday Times contains few surprises or titles I haven't considered myself, apart from this one, which I have had in my daybag for several weeks, awaiting a spare hour on a train. Lack of recent trips to London means that the book is still unread. It won't stay that way for long...:

Steven Herrick's The Simple Gift (Egmont ?4.99) is a remarkable work for young adults written as a series of free-verse poems. It is about a 15-year-old boy who leaves home for a hobo life, finds companionship, the consummation of first love and a home in a deserted train carriage. This is a small gem with wide appeal. [NICOLETTE JONES]

Puzzling Appeal

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Celebrating the big fat fantasy

Joint review of Cornelia Funke's The Thief Lord and Inkheart by a reviewer who is somehat perplexed by their popularity...

The great popularity of [The Thief Lord] with children is something of a mystery. It is very slow to get started (usually a death sentence in itself with the digital generation), the fantasy element doesn't appear until the last 75 pages, there's little emotional involvement, and the rest of the story meanders as much as the winding canals of Venice.

The Union Line

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Guardian Unlimited Books | By genre | B is for bestseller

Not to be missed... Mark Haddon on the perceived difference between writing for adults and writing for children

The other question I find myself having to answer at least once a week is: 'What's the difference between writing for children and writing for adults?' I generally take the union line. There is no real difference. Writing for children is bloody difficult; books for children are as complex as their adult counterparts and they should therefore be accorded the same respect. Most children's writers do the same. And rightly so. Despite His Dark Materials at the National, Jacqueline Wilson being crowned Queen of Library Lending and the continuing global reach of Hogwarts, the job still sits in many people's minds somewhere between reporting for the local paper and doing watercolours of cats.



The truth, however, is more complex than the union line.

Carl Comments

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Bradenton Herald | 04/11/2004 | Author Carl Hiassen set to speak at library lunch

This feature about Carl Hiassen includes comments about his writing of children's books...

"I was just writing it for my stepson, who was at the appropriate age at the time and for the other kids in the family. It was selfishly for them," Hiaasen said with a chuckle. "Now, there's pressure. I'm in the middle of another (children's book), and it's like, 'Oh, God, I got to step up to the plate.' "

Gail Carson Levine

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They told her she had no talent. Now her first book is a major motion picture

Feature about Gail Carson Levine, author of Ella Enchanted, now a feature-length movie:

Go to the Miramax Ella Enchanted movie site...

Sammy Keyes Author Feature

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Getting inside kids' hearts

A feature about Wendelin Van Draanen, author of the Sammy Keyes series...

Latest UK title
Sammy Keyes And The Hoolywood Mummy

Information from the article about the next Sammy Keyes title and a new series aimed at boys:

"'Shredderman No. 1: Secret Identity' was just released. There are four books in the series. They'll all be out [in the US] by May of next year. They're aimed at second- through fifth-grade boys. It's not that they don't appeal to girls. But they're aimed at helping . . . boys to become independent readers.

The next Sammy Keyes book is due out in the fall -- 'Sammy Keyes and the Psycho Kitty Queen'. I'm working on the final stages of that now. I'm also working on a spin-off idea from the Shredderman book... ..."

Australian Travers

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The Australian: There's something about Mary [April 10, 2004]

Highly recommended - detailed biographical article about the Australian background of P. L. Travers:

"[Mary Poppins] is one of the most popular characters in children's fiction, yet few readers know that her creator, Travers, was Queensland-born Helen Lyndon Goff. "I think I was born saying, 'Get me out of here,"' Travers once said of Australia. Perhaps because of her unhappy childhood, she obscured her heritage.
Now, whether she'd like it or not, Australia is reclaiming Travers and 2004 looks set to be the year of Mary Poppins. A memorial to Travers was erected in Sydney's Ashfield near her former home last month; Mary Poppins the stage musical, a Cameron Mackintosh-Disney production, premieres in London in December; and the ABC is screening a new documentary on Travers, The Shadow of Mary Poppins, later this month... ..."

Rosen On Seuss

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Guardian Unlimited Books | By genre | How Johnny learned to read

Highly recommended - Michael Rosen discusses the appeal of Dr Seuss...

"It's difficult to say why Seuss books haven't become quite the cult here that they are in the US. Perhaps it's the comic-book quality of the drawings or the fronting up of something moral in the midst of the lunacy; our nursery rhyme tradition is bereft of this tone... ..."

Young James Bond Flak

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CBn - Latest News - 007 Fans Take Aim at IFP's 'Young James Bond' Concept

"James Bond fans have their Walther PPKs out and are talking aim at Ian Fleming Publications who announced Monday that they will be launching a new series of James Bond books featuring the promiscuous, fast-driving, hard-drinking, licensed to kill super secret agent as a 13-year-old solving mysteries along side his fellow Eton classmates in the 1930s. The books will be written by BBC comedy writer and thriller novelist Charlie Higson... ..."

British Book Awards

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Guardian Unlimited | The Guardian | Award for Beckham's fast-selling life story

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon won the children's book of the year and the literary fiction awards.

The British Book Awards are nominated and judged by a panel of 400 publishers, wholesalers and booksellers, followed by a telephone vote from the public.
[Full list of nominations and winners.]

The awards, also known as The Nibbies, were presented last night and, for the first time, will be shown on Channel 4 on 9 April, hosted by television presenters Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan.

Anna The Animal Activist

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Telegraph | Arts | Black Beauty' was protest literature

Dark Horse: A Life of Anna Sewell
Adrienne E. Gavin

A biography of Anna Sewell reviewed in the Telegraph:

"...it seems clear that Sewell's novel should be regarded as a work of protest literature, the forerunner less of Lassie or the novels of Christine Pullein-Thompson than of today's animal-rights activism and anti-hunting lobby."

Peerless Lit

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The Mercury: Kind word for kids' literature quality [07apr04]

"THE quality of children's literature in Australia is peerless, says a man who is steeped in the subject... ..."


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Following the link that we ran on ACHUKA's front page for a couple of weeks, the 2 Steves submitted a report about their Outernet series to the elearningeuropa site that was offering a free trip to the Bologna Book Fair - and won.

But the free trip being for just one person, they had to toss for it, and Steve Skidmore won. Tough one Steve B; enjoy the trip Steve S.


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"Once upon a time, a struggling author wrote a book inspired by a little-known folk tale. Five years on, she's sold a million, won every award going, and has Hollywood at her feet. Oliver Bennett reveals how The Gruffalo became the biggest beast in children's fiction..."

Recommended feature about Julia Donaldson and the runaway success of The Gruffalo...

Teenage Bond

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Charlie Higson, Fast Show writer, is to publish two novels about a teenaged James Bond. The first 'young' James Bond novel will be published by Puffin with rights acquired from Ian Fleming Publications Ltd in March 2005

Read the full Puffin Press Release:

Daniel Handler Gets Serious

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Daniel Handler has spoken out against attempts to restrict artistic expression in educational establishments, after a teacher was dismissed and a student expelled from a San Franciscan Academy for writing a violent short story.

Read this background article and then read Handler's call to rally support, as quoted on Neil Gaiman's journal (Sunday April 4).

Teen Casting

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The Daily Telegraph | Too shy even to say G'day

"Emily Browning will star opposite Jim Carrey, Meryl Streep and Jude Law in the upcoming film adaptation of the popular children's book series, Lemony Snicket's A Series Of Unfortunate Events..."


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In Dinah Hall's latest roundup of children's books for The Sunday Telegraph she reviews fifteen titles, ranging from picture books for the young through to teenage fiction. She will have read many times more than this before making her final selection. The fact that reviewers of children's books are called upon to review multiple titles in this way is both limiting (each book can only be given a paragraph or less) and empowering (the reviewer is left to make the final decision of what is included in the review).
In preparing this particular roundup, Hall disliked one title so much, she has been moved to issue a warning: "Pulling Princes by Tyne O'Connell is a repellent piece of fiction, albeit mildly amusing in parts, about an American girl at an elite boarding school learning to fit in with Sloaney It-girls." The title is seen as indicative of "the teen equivalent of chick-lit - a sort of toxic version of Angela Brazil." However, Hall is impressed by Gossip Girl, "a far superior example of the genre" and "cleverly done".
I am rather ashamed to say that I have not yet read Aleutian Sparrow by Karen Hesse, and will do so now, based on Hall's enthausiasm - "a small miracle of a book that makes most novels look like a waste of words."

Scotsman YA Reviews

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Scotsman.com News - News Archive - Gunman in the shadows

Teenage fiction reviews...

You have to register with the site to read The Scotsman's online content - but registration is free and painless.

Sunday Herald Reviews

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The kids are all write - [Sunday Herald]

Lindsey Fraser reviews the best new children's books to hit the shelves in time for the Easter school break...

ST Book of the Week

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Times Online - Sunday Times

Sunday Times Children's Book Of The Week

The Puddleman by Raymond Briggs

"Once again, as with The Snowman and Father Christmas, Briggs places magic in the context of the everyday, and both amuses and moves us. Puddles will never be the same again...." NICOLETTE JONES

Sales Table

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Guardian Unlimited Books | By genre | Fastselling children's books for 2003

There are few surprises in this table of 'fastselling children's books for 2003' compiled by The Guardian.

Recommended: More interesting is Alex Hamilton's commentary, which includes quotes from David Fickling - "I've almost become a terrorist, blowing up educational warehouses full of endless project books, and books that have had every last drop of imagination and excitement squeezed out of them" and Richard Scrivener - "Publishers are being sent a synopsis and told 'We need your offer by six o'clock, and we're looking for a six-figure advance.' People worry whether this is the next big hit - can they afford to let it go? But I think it'll blow itself out."

FT Reviews

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The Financial Times published it Easter roundup of children's books (reviewed by Jill SLotover) in its weekend magazine, Saturday April 3rd. The online version of these reviews is sadly restricted to subscribers.

Horowitz Hour

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Times Online - Books

Amanda Craig interviews Anthony Horowitz for The Times.
Highly recommended.

"...he has been signed up for $1 million to write a new fantasy series currently titled Raven's Gate which he describes as 'Stephen King for kids'.

... ...

I?m taking a break for a year to write the Raven?s Gate books. I?m signed up until the year 2010, which is crazy..."

See also, in the same edition of The Times, Craig's review of Basilisk by N. M. Browne and The Conquerors by David McKee.

Colonial Girl

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Guardian Unlimited Books | Review | Daughter of empire

Diana Samuels reviews Other Echoes by Adele Geras (a previous ACHUKA CHoice title) in The Guardian:

"The beauty of the book is its subtlety and the insightful way in which the bigger picture of the after-effects of war and the colonial experience are interwoven into the portrait of a growing girl... ..."

IBBY WOlrd Message

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The Circle of the Greek Children's Book

"The sponsor for 2004 ICBD is the Greek Section of IBBY, in cooperation with the National Book Center . The writer Angeliki Varella has prepared the message to the children of the world and the illustrator Nicholas Andrikopoulos has designed the poster...."

Independent Reviews III

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Nick Tucker reviews 12+ fiction

Independent Reviews II

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Christina Hardyment reviews 8-12 fiction in The Independent...

Independent Reviews I

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Sally Williams reviews picture books in The Independent...

Chubby Chebi

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CONTEXT - This Week in Arts and Ideas from The Moscow Times

"It should come as no surprise that Japan, the country that fell for Hello Kitty, has also warmed to Cheburashka, a cuddly, furry animal dreamed up by Soviet children's author Eduard Uspensky... ..."

Updated Fairy Tales

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Brent Hartinger Interview

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Authorlink-Insights-Linda-Johns-on-Children's-Book-Authors and Editors-April 2004

Recommended interview with Brent Hartinger, author of YA novels Geography Club and The Last Chance Texaco.

2 Japanese Reviews

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The Japan Times Online

2 reviews from Japan...

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This page is an archive of entries from April 2004 listed from newest to oldest.

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