May 2004 Archives

Marsden Masterclass

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The Border Mail

"YOUNG aspiring writers had tough questions to put to author John Marsden at writing workshops in Albury on Saturday... ..."

Spiderman - The Novel

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The New York Times > Business > Media & Advertising > Superhero Books That Are More Than Cartoons

...Will Spider-Man's web still have the same force without pictures? Tune in next June when Marvel - the publicly held company that serves as home for Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk and the Wolverine - begins the regular publication of prose novels in addition to its comics. Marvel is developing Marvel Press, an imprint that will publish three lines of fiction aimed at grade school readers, young adults and adults...

ST Book Of The Week

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Times Online - Newspaper Edition

Sunday Times Children's Book Of The Week

by Ian Ogilvy

This is the kind of old-fashioned tale in which youngsters triumph by being courageous and clever, most grown-ups are kindly and everything works out well. And there's always a place in children's reading for that.

Children's Picks

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Times Online - Books

A selection of recommendations from children aged 7 - 13.

Future Reality

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Guardian Unlimited Books | Review | Back from the future

Diane Samuels reviews Useful Idiots by Jan Mark:

Useful Idiots is brimming with ideas. The vision of the future is neither dystopian nor utopian. It is engagingly realistic. Some things have improved. Others have not. People still have a quest for knowledge, are greedy, fearful, indulge in political intrigue and get on with their lives as best they can. It is written with a sharp eye to the present as the world of the reader is regarded through the telescope from centuries ahead. - New 'Potter' movie sneaks in spoilers for upcoming books

USA Today quotes Rowling, from an interview released by Warner Bros.:

"[The Dementors] are just as frightening as I imagined, just superb," she says. "One of the biggest themes in the book is Harry's conquering the dementors. And the dementors for me were about depression, and not just sadness. I think Alfonso's really done a great job on that, in showing what that can feel like and the circumstance in which you become vulnerable to that."

Jason & Kyra

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Best teacher to best-seller

Jason & Kyra by Dana Davidson
Piece about a US teacher's first novel:

In the fall of 2002 [Dana Davidson] signed a contract with Hyperion Books for Children. It published "Jason & Kyra" on its Jump at the Sun imprint -- a label aimed especially at young African-American readers. The imprint, begun in 1998, takes its name from the legendary Harlem Renaissance writer Zora Neale Hurston, whose mother encouraged her children to aim high -- "to jump at de sun." "It's just such an engaging romance, and you have two characters who are very likable," says Alessandra Balzer, executive editor of Hyperion. "It's very believable. It's hard to find a story with so much heart. Besides the romance, you really care about these two characters." Hyperion has expressed its faith in the book with several major promotions, placing prominent ads in the June issues of two popular teen magazines, YM and Teen Vogue, and including advance copies of the book in a gift bag for 600 teens who attended a New York City party given by MTV and YM magazine in March.

Scottish Book Awards

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King o the Midden could be crowned in book awards - The Herald

Scottish Arts Council Book of the Year Awards shortlist (to be announced June 24) includes the following children's titles:

King o the Midden - Edited by Matthew Fitt and James Robertson (Itchy Coo)
The Garbage King - Elizabeth Laird (MacMillan)
Fleshmarket - Nicola Morgan (Viking)

A COLLECTION of children's verse in old Scots has made this year's shortlist for the Scottish Arts Council (SAC) book of the year awards, it was announced yesterday. Other works to have made the list include two novels for adults, two children's novels and a volume of poetry. The traditional verse book, King o the Midden, edited by Matthew Fitt and James Robertson has been described as weird, revolting and downright daft... The children's book prize is ?5000 with ?10,000 for the winner of the book of the year. Those shortlisted will receive ?2000 each.

Chicago, Chicago

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Scholastic Launches Marketing Blitz for Fall Books at 2004 BookExpo America in Chicago

BEA will mark the launch of Scholastic's worldwide marketing campaign for acclaimed adult thriller writer P.B. Kerr and his first of three novels in his planned book series, Children of the Lamp. Kerr's first children's novel, Children of the Lamp: The Akhenaten Adventure tells the story of John and Philippa Gaunt, twelve-year-old twins who develop an extraordinary gift for making other people's wishes magically come true. Scholastic has acquired the worldwide English publishing rights for Children of the Lamp and will support the trilogy with a $250,000 United States and United Kingdom marketing campaign including an American tour in the fall. Film rights have been acquired by DreamWorks' top producer team Lorrie MacDonald and Walter Parkes. Kerr is traveling to Chicago from his home near London to "star" in Scholastic's main event -- its highly anticipated BEA breakfast on Saturday, June 5 -- and will be signing in Scholastic's booth #302-402 at 11 a.m. on Saturday.

William Mayne Effect

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Guardian Unlimited | Columnists | The author abused children: should we read his books?

Catherine Bennett, in The Guardian, considers the impact on publishers of William Mayne's conviction:

Walker books is withdrawing its Mayne titles from bookshops, Jonathan Cape has "postponed" a book called Emily Goes to Market, which should have been published this month and Hodder Children's Books has put "on hold" one novel due out next year, and, according to Charles Nettleton, managing director, will assess the response from its customers in school, bookshops and libraries, before issuing further reprints. "We are trying not to make any judgments," he says. "If we find that nobody is ordering his books any more, it makes it pointless to publish".

Author Of The Month

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Guardian Unlimited Books | By genre | Author of the month: Louise Rennison

The Guardian's Children's Author of the Month, profiled in yesterday's paper, was Louise Rennison. Dina Rabinovitch emphasised the level of Rennison's success in the States:

While teenagers - and adults - here have picked up speech mannerisms from TV series like Friends (ever used the phrase "Duh?"), no US book has influenced British readers with its language in the way Rennison's slang has affected Americans.

A recent bargain on ACHUKA Auctions was a signed and numbered UK proof of It's Ok I'm Wearing Really Big Knickers! Further Confessions Of Georgia Nicolson, snapped up for under ?6! Look out for further Rennison proofs, to be listed shortly.

Art For Children

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An article from yesterday's Times, by Michael Glover, discussing an exhibition of art for children, 'A Child's Play, Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt, till July 18:

Surprisingly, this is the first major survey in Europe of art made for children. Look for scholarship on this subject and you won%u2019t find any. Its chronology runs from the early 1900s to the end of the 20th century, and it begins in Vienna, where educational reforms and attitudes towards children in places of learning were becoming of crucial importance. In the first section are toys - fantastical animals, soldiers, a doll's house - with an educational bias and a fine sense of aesthetic values.

Sun Interview III

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The Sun Newspaper Online - UK's biggest selling newspaper

Tom Felton explains how playing Hogwarts villain Draco Malfoy has changed his life...

Teen Top Ten

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Favorite teen books

Teen readers across the US voted for their favorite books for the 'Teens' Top Ten', sponsored by The Young Adult Library Services Association, a division of the American Library Association.

Herbie Brennan's Faerie Wars tops the list...

Association | eG weekly | Invasion games

Having frist been selected as the Sunday Times Children's Book of the Week, Andrew Billen's 'Short Book' biography of Samuel Johnson has now been mention in by Lindsey Fraser in The Guardian. The Tuesday book review is rather more hidden than it used to be in the paper, and even on the weblink, you'll need to scroll down before you get to the review.

Billen's evocation of the physical man is so effective that his tales of Johnson's perambulations through Britain have an almost cinematic quality.

See entry for May 23, for bookjacket and link.

News: Exclusive photos from the red carpet premiere of 'Harry Potter' 3

Exclusive photos from the red carpet premiere of 'Harry Potter' 3 from HPANA:

These are very high-quality and well worth a look if you're a film fan.

The Sun Newspaper Online - UK's biggest selling newspaper

Rupert Grint reveals the unusual tactic he used to win his role as Harry's best friend. News - Latest News - JK Rowling Launches Website as Harry Puts Spell on Big Apple

Harry Potter author JK Rowling has launched a personal website which gives fans unprecedented access to the fiercely private writer's life and work.

The homepage of features her untidy desk, complete with a spider running across the screen, and has links to pages of news, family snaps and hints about the plot of the sixth Harry Potter book.

Hermione Granger Interview

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The Sun Newspaper Online - UK's biggest selling newspaper

The Sun interviews Emily Watson, teenage actress who plays Hermione Granger in the Potter movies.

Potter Premiere

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News report on Potter premiere

Azkaban Movie Review

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MSNBC - Lightning Strikes

Newsweek review:

"The 'Harry Potter' books have finally gotten the wondrous movie they deserve. 'The Prisoner of Azkaban' boasts a brand-new director and a bold new vision...."

More Canadian Awards

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Ruth Schwartz Awards 2004

Picture Books
Barbara Reid: The Subway Mouse (North Winds Press/Scholastic Canada)

Brian Doyle: Boy O'Boy (Groundwood Books)*
*this novel is also shortlisted for the Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction

Canadian Award

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Elizabeth Mrazik-Cleaver Picture Book Award 2004 ( IBBY Canada)

Where's Pup illustrated by Pierre Pratt, text by Dayle Ann Dodds:
Tundra Books

A little clown searches through the circus grounds looking for his
puppy. His enquiries are answered by a series of brightly coloured
circus characters and animals until a surprise pull-out page shows the
pup practising his balance routine.

Sheldon Oberman Obit.

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Obit. notice by Andrea Deakin:

Sheldon Oberman, the Winnipeg writer, has died at the age of 54. He studied English Literature at the University of Winnipeg and the University of Jerusalem, and began his writing career in the 70's. From that time he taught drama and English, travelling as a storyteller across North America.Amongst other works he wrote a dozen children's books, winning the Leipzig International Book Fair silver medal in 1991 for "The Lion in the Lake". His best known and loved book,"The Always Prayer Shawl", was a study of the importance of tradition. It won the National Jewish Book Award. During travels in the Northwest Territories, Sheldon Oberman met Tookoome, an Inuit elder and storyteller. The two bonded, linked by the stortelling tradition, even though Tookoome spoke no English. The elder's daughter, however, could translate and asked Oberman to write a book so that Tookoome's life and stories should not be lost. "The Shaman's Nephew:A Life in the Far North" was short-listed for the Governor-General's Award in 2000, and won the Norma Fleck Award that year.

US Award For Almond

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2004 Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards announced

David Almond has won one of the 2004 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award with The Fire-Eaters.

ST Book of the Week

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Sunday Times Children's Book of the Week

SAM JOHNSON: The Wonderful Word Doctor
by Andrew Billen

Andrew Billen?s 90-page account of Dr Johnson, is an excellent example of how facts can make good stories. Billen does not presume to tell us what Johnson thought or felt (except as he wrote it himself) but does report what he did and said and looked like, according to his own and contemporary reports. NICOLETTE JONES

Peer Review

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Guardian Unlimited Books | Review | Get Shorty

Keith Gray reviews Boy Kills Man by Matt Whyman

Keith Gray starts his review: "Perhaps the greatest paradox for any young person's novelist is that first you have to please the adults. It's the parents, librarians and teachers who are the gate-keepers..." I think you can overplay that argument. Especially in terms of Young Adult books, as opposed to children's books; but even there, the degree to which children's own tastes override adult preferences can be witnessed over and over again if you eavesdrop in the children's section of any bookshop. Aiming to please the adults is definitely not something I would recommend to any children's author.

Gray fears that the subject matter, the provocative book jacket and title, and the age of its protagonists will somehow lead those 'gatekeepers' to block the book from its readership. What does he mean? Does he imagine that it will actually be banned? That librarians will decide not to shelve it but hide it behind the counter; that booksellers will refuse to sell it? That parents will confiscate it if they find their children reading it?

"For a slim volume with this kind of subject matter the story does seem slow in places and not as focused as it could be..." That was not my impression. It's not a gung-ho, episodic action adventure, and (for me) the book's pace seemed perfectly modulated to its subject matter.

Gray's review is broadly positive. "Ignore the appalling title, and inside there is a powerful, affecting novel about lost youth and a sharp evocation of one boy's terrible passage from innocence to experience." Gray is clearly intimating that the book's title is appallingly bad and ill-judged. If the title is 'appalling' it is intentionally so. We are supposed to be appalled by the notion of a boy killing a man.

"Admittedly it's difficult to know which age-group the book was written for..." Not that difficult, surely, unless, as Gray does, you take an overvalued generalisation "Children are aspiring readers - they prefer to read about characters older than themselves..." and apply it to this book with an absurd disregard for common-sense. Gray's argument seeems to be that because the protagonists are 12 years old, no one over that age will want to read it, and that those gatekeepers won't want younger readers of about 10 going anywhere near it. Gray knows perfectly well that Whyman is writing for the same audience as he himself addresses in his young adult fiction.

In the end Gray recommends the book on the basis of its 'issue'. "Why would any right-minded person want to hush an open debate about the dangers of guns in today's society? It's set in Medell?n, but it could quite easily be Manchester."

No, it couldn't.

Outspoken Sendak

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Speaking at a graduation ceremony in Baltimore yesterday, Maurice Sendak was highly critical of the Bush administration:

Sendak drew a parallel between untruthful parents and the administration of President Bush, whom he criticized sharply. There is a "cloud of dishonesty that hangs over this country that makes me sick," Sendak said to rousing applause. "I've never felt as low a pitch as I feel now."
Even though he didn't deliver a typical address, Sendak closed with an upbeat message. "Let the wild revolution start. Go get 'em. Go get 'em," he said as the graduates again applauded.

SF Film Option

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Sci Fi Wire -- The News Service of the Sci Fi Channel

"Paramount has bought film rights to the trilogy of SF children's books Aliens for Breakfast, ... Lunch & Dinner, Variety reported. Steve Carpenter will adapt the first book in the series, Aliens for Breakfast, which was written by Jonathan Etra and Stephanie Spinner..."

[slow-loading page-link - be patient!]

Purple Suit

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Tis the season of summer parties, when publishers gather their authors and illustrators together in the presence of booksellers, buyers and reviewers. It's going to be hard for any event to match last night's gathering, at least in terms of weather and venue.
The top floor of the Covent Garden Opera House was an inspired venue for this gathering of Scholastic talent. In the picture gallery you'll be able to spot Philip Pullman, Celia Rees, Philip Reeve, Philip Kerr, Mary Hooper, Kaye Umansky - to name just a few.
And the man in the purple suit - Richard Scrivener - who, after experimenting with a little crooning beside the piano, revealed that it was his wedding suit. Last year, I commented, after the launch of the first Montmorency title ('Ellie' Updale was there too) that Scrivener's speech was one of the best I'd heard at a launch event. Last night's wasn't a great speech, but it was a good one, and all the better for being tightly scripted.

Enjoy the pictures...

and the clips 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6

Author Support

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ic NorthWales - Top writers pitch in to help centre

Various authors are supporting the National Writers' Centre for Wales this summer by providing courses for no fee:

Children's author Jan Mark from Oxford, a frequent visitor to Toe Newydd, offered to teach a course and donate her fee to the centre's development fund appeal. Jan said: "I've been tutoring there for years. I suggested the idea might catch on and it has"

Piano Man Book

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Billy Joel signs book deal

Billy Joel has agreed to write two children's books for Scholastic, the U.S. publisher of the "Harry Potter" novels. The first book, "Goodnight My Angel," will be published in September. The picture book will be based on a song of the same name that came out in 1993, as Joel and supermodel Christie Brinkley were divorcing. Joel wrote the song for their daughter, Alexa Ray, who was 7 years old.

Watch Live

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Watch the Lancashire Children's Book of the Year Award presentations on your PC in a live webcast broadcast today at 2.30pm UK time:

Award homepage

Live webcast

Taken To Task

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Anita Silvey taken to task for omitting popular fiction from her 100 Best Books For Children:

I'd venture a guess that there isn't a 7-year-old boy in America who hasn't opened "Captain Underpants," providing his parents let him. It certainly has been a staple at my house. Much as I cringe at the potty humor that gets repeated ad nauseam by my boys after reading the graphic (in more ways than one) novels, there is one important point critics forget - it gets kids reading. SAM MCMANIS

Oui-Oui Wins!

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BBC NEWS | Entertainment | TV and Radio | French parents approve of Noddy

Enid Blyton's famous children's character Noddy has been voted parents' favourite in a poll in France. Noddy - or "Oui-Oui" as he is known in France - beat Babar the Elephant and Asterix in the poll of parents of toddlers by marketing firm Logistix.

Syd Hoff obit.

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The New York Times > Books > Syd Hoff, 91, Who Illustrated a Boy's Ride on a Dinosaur, Dies

Syd Hoff, a prolific children's book author, illustrator and cartoonist for The New Yorker who was best known for "Danny and the Dinosaur," an enduring best seller for beginning readers, died on Wednesday at his home in Miami Beach. He was 91.


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Guardian Unlimited | The Guardian | Making of children's books

This splendidly acidic piece by Nicholas Lezard was published in The Guardian way back on May 5th, but for some reason it escaped me at the time, and I have only just come across it.

I would like to name and shame Diane Redmond, author, if that is the word, of Scoop Saves the Day, one in a series of Bob the Builder books published by the most cynical arm of the BBC. Ms Redmond knows she has written a work of pure dreck which goes on for about as long as Hamlet, and so her name only appears in minuscule print on the back cover. Well, she can run, but she can't hide. If ever there was a candidate for book-burning, this is it, but even I am not mean enough to do that.

ST Book Of The Week

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Times Online - Newspaper Edition

Sunday Times Children's Book of the Week

The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo is written conspiratorially, as if a storyteller were recounting the tale, so it suits reading aloud. Its short sentences and paragraphs, and pacey action, also motivate children to read for themselves. It is complemented by skilled, shadowy illustrations that are a tad scary for sensitive seven-year-olds. NICOLETTE JONES

"Insanely funny about the appalling way rich kids are brought up, this spunky British trio knock the Lemony Snicket siblings into a cocked hat, says Amanda Craig..."

Craig was impressed by Sam Llewellyn's Little Darlings, and also by The Fish In Room 11 by Heather Dyer.

But Craig's review, in yesterday's Times, had been sloppily served by the paper's copyeditors, who wrongly give (or do not correct) a definite article at the start of Llewellyn's title ('The Little Darlings') and then attribute an illustration extracted from The Fish In Room 11 to 'Heather Dyer's The Tale of Emily Winsnap', having carelessly misunderstood a passing reference to Liz Kessler's mermaid novel, correctly attributed in Craig's trademark Read On box.

The Cat's Elbows

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Guardian Unlimited Books | Review | By the Bat's Earpiece!

Jan Mark reviews Piratica by Tanith Lee

There are real human stories being played out amid the mayhem, genuine excitement and some memorable characters, notably the ex-slave Ebad Vooms; the whole thing delivered in a kind of parallel English that contrives to be elegant and out of kilter at the same time. On recent evidence, pirate stories look like being the next big thing. If so, may they all be as much fun as this one, by the Cat's Elbows!

NZ Book MArket

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Entertainment News - Tough world, tiny market for NZ books

The New Zealand book market is small but fiercely competitive. It is so small that most books will have a print run of only about 3000, earning around $5000 for their authors and making it impossible for most to make a living from writing...

NYT PB Reviews

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The New York Times > Books > Sunday Book Review > Cat and Mouse Games

New York Times picture book reviews, including
Tiny's Big Adventure by Martin Waddell

Until about 20 years ago, full-color picture books were rare because they were so expensive to print. That is why most children's books were illustrated in black and white. When there was color it was prepared on handmade overlays. All that has changed...

NYT Fiction Reviews

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The New York Times > Books > Sunday Book Review > Children's Books in Brief

Children's Books in Brief...

includes an enthusiastic US review of Lion Boy by Zizou Corder

The New York Times > Books > Sunday Book Review > As Cats Can

A New York Times review of two books about cats:

Gobble, Gobble, Slip, Slop by Meilo Slo

Hepcat by William Bramhall

STORYTELLERS have given human speech to hundreds of animal species (including some extinct ones), making heroes and heroines of rabbits, pigs, monkeys, bears, badgers, elephants, aardvarks and mice, to name just a small zooful. Two stories featuring cats, those most domesticated of animals, take to extremes such particular human foibles as insatiable hunger and stage fright. These cats behave ridiculously, but there's something familiar about their actions.

ACHUKA Auctions

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ACHUKA's Ebay page is a week old. The response has been good, but with several of the Auctions reaching their deadline this weekend, there are still bargains to be had.

It's ACHUKA policy to list everything at a very low first-bid price, with no reserve, allowing items to find their own value.

The current bid on our first STAR Auction, an Artemis Fowl proof copy, is just over ?30. Elsewhere on Ebay, another Fowl proof, has reached ?143.10. See for yourself.

A recent addition to the listings is a signed first edition UK hardback of Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve, a title that dealers can ask anything between 250 and 300 dollars for. So far there has been only one opening bid - ?4.99! [Correction as of 7.24 am - 2 bids] Watch this space!

There have been quite a few hits, but no bids yet, on this... Perhaps people are just 'watching'.

Abebooks showcases recent findings: Used book sales are soaring online

A report on the healthy online second-hand book market.

Two areas of rising demand for used books are children's books and textbooks. Adults are purchasing the books they read as children to give to their own children. Since over 95% of all books ever published are now out of print, the main source for these books is with used, rare and out-of-print book sellers online.

Stockport Shortlist

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The shortlists - arranged in 'key stages' from Early Years through to Key Stage 4 - have been announced.

View the press release...

Branford Boase Shortlist

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Here is the incredibly strong and varied shortlist for the Branford Boase first novel award:

The Various by Steve Augarde (David Fickling)
editor: David Fickling

Inventing Elliot by Graham Gardner (Orion)
editor: Fiona Kennedy

Follow Me Down by Julie Hearn (Oxford)
editor: Liz Cross

Fish by L. S. Matthews (Hodder)
editor: Rachel >Wade

Keeper by Mal Peet (Walker)
editor: Paul Harrison

Montmorency by Eleanor Updale (Scholastic)
editor: Kirsten Skidmore

Read the full Press Release...

Sales Disappointment

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New York City - Books

Barbara Marcus, publisher of Scholastic Children's Book Group, which releases the Potter books in the United States, said she was disappointed by the impact of J.K. Rowling's fantasy series on the overall market.

"People thought Harry might have changed kids' reading habits," she said. "It's happened to a small degree, but not to the level we've hoped."

Children's TV

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One for the little movers and shakers - TvRadio -

Australian article about British programme maker Anne Wood:

[Wood] worries that the frequent putdowns of children's television are devaluing what the industry is doing, and that less money will be allocated, thus reducing quality. As a former publisher, Wood again uses a comparison between books to flesh out her point. "If you write a children's book you require huge amounts of imagination but you do not require huge amounts of very expensive technology to do it with," she says.

Lindsey Likes

| No Comments | No TrackBacks | eG weekly | The best maths tuition on the web

Lindsey Fraser, in The Guardian, likes Mister Seahorse, the new title by Eric Carle. [You'll have to scroll down to reach the book review]

"Carle's trademark artwork is enhanced by acetate overlays behind which the fish are camouflaged in an effect that is very beautiful." LINDSEY FRASER

Boomerang On Ilkley Moor

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BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Boomerangs a 'British invention'

...Children's author Terry Deary claims the famous "Swastika Stone" on Ilkley Moor in West Yorkshire proves the boomerang was invented in the UK.

Pinkwater Audio Link

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NPR : Children's Book: 'And Here's to You!'

Audio link (including full reading of picture book text) to:

Weekend Edition's ambassador to the world of children's literature, Daniel Pinkwater, brings in a new kids' book, called And Here's to You! by David Elliott.

Songwriter's Store

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Nashville bookstore a wonder

An article about a Nashville bookstore run by US songwriter Fred Koller

Koller said he started the bookstore with 12 children's books. He now stocks more than 5,000 children's books.

STUFF : ENTERTAINMENT : BOOKS - STORY : New Zealand's leading news and information website

Too much sex? Too many drugs? Too much rock'n'roll? No genre kicks up as much fuss as young adult fiction. With the New Zealand Post Book Awards announced next week, Iain Sharp looks at recent controversies.

Brief Q & A

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Author lists best kids' books - The Register-Guard, Eugene, Oregon, USA

Author lists best kids' books

A brief Q&A feature with Anita Silvey, author of 100 Best Books for Children:

ST Book Of The Week

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Times Online - Newspaper Edition

Sunday Times Children's Book Of The Week

by Heather Dyer

This optimistic little fantasy for young readers, with its lightly executed line drawings, is refreshing and breezy, rather like the sea air.

New Cut

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A new article has been added to the 'Cuttings' list in the right-hand sidebar.
A compelling article by Ariel Dorfman on the subject of torture.

Pullman Science

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The Times

Debate: Human nature: Universally acknowledged
by Celia Dodd
Philip Pullman talks about his atheism, passion for science, view of consciousness and this extraordinary business of living...

As an adjunct to this article, for those who have it to hand, it is worth picking up the latest copy of Books for Keeps, in which The Science Of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials by Maryand John Gribbin is given the lowest possible rating of one star!

Older Filth

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Guardian Unlimited Books | Review | Diary: May 8

An interesting report about the way Penguin are targeting the paperback of Doing It by Melvin Burgess at young men in their twenties rather than teenagers, following feedback from focus groups that male readers "wouldn't have read it at 15, but now, at 24, there was an embarrassing recognition factor."

Doing It has received a big marketing makeover. The cover, which used to feature a condom bearing the words "Doing It", is now a sexy picture of a young girl slipping off her underwear. The advance copy promises a "major advertising campaign in lads' mags, on national radio and in clubs and bars across the country". [Publishing director, Tony] Lacey is pleased with advance response; the first print run is 28,000 copies, all destined for the adult sections of book stores. The book has acquired a subtitle: "Do you remember the first time?" - and Fine is quoted on the back: "Filth, whichever way you look at it."

Is it just me, or do the legs on this cover look either dangerously pre-teen or anorexic?

Rags To Riches

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Guardian Unlimited Books | Review | Sugar and spice

Natasha Walter reviews a biography of Frances Hodgson Burnett:

Frances Hodgson Burnett: The Unpredictable Life Of The Author Of The Secret Garden by Gretchen H. Gerzina

[Burnett's] great fame brought with it drawbacks too; it is quite salutary to realise that it is not only in our times that writers are hounded by journalists to expose their private lives. Her divorce in 1898 made front page news, her ex-husband was harassed for his thoughts on the breakup, and the New York Times and the Washington Post used it as the basis for speculation on how her success and "advanced ideas" on women had contributed to her marital failure.

Boy 2 Girl

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Guardian Unlimited Books | By genre | Gender blender

Philip Ardagh reviews Boy 2 Girl by Terence Blacker in The Guardian:

There's a laugh-or-your-money-back guarantee with Boy 2 Girl, the latest children's book from Terence Blacker, probably best known in children's circles for his Ms Wiz series for younger readers. I wish there hadn't been. The guarantee, that is. Boy 2 Girl is a very enjoyable read, but the "if this book did not make you laugh" promise steered me down the wrong path. I was expecting something written simply for laughs. What I got - and was very pleased to get - was something far more thought-provoking.

Philip Ardagh has recently given ACHUKA an interview update.
Read it now.

Open Ending

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Her ending won some, lost some

Lois Lowry speaks about audience reaction to her open-ended novel, The Giver

Lois Lowry's "The Giver" is one of the most popular and important young-adult books of the last decade. It won the Newbery Medal in 1994 and has been compared with George Orwell's "1984." It's attracted an adult audience and been chosen several times for "one community-one book" events... It also has an ambiguous conclusion. Many readers weren't happy that everything wasn't clearly resolved, and they let Lowry know it.

The English 4-11 Awards
for the Best Children's Illustrated Books of 2003

The English 4-11 Awards for the Best Children's Illustrated Books of 2003


Key Stage 1 Fiction

Bill in a China Shop
Katie McAllister Weaver & Tim Raglin

Key Stage 1 Non-Fiction

Woolly Jumper, The Story of Wool
Meredith Hooper & Katharine McEwen
(Walker Books)

Key Stage 2 Fiction

The Wolves in the Walls
Neil Gaiman & Dave McKean

Key Stage 2 Non-Fiction

The Usborne Introduction to Art
Rosie Dickins & Mari Griffith

The presentations take place next week, at the English Association Annual General Meeting on Wednesday 12 May, 2004, held at The British Academy, 10 Carlton House Terrace, London, 5.00pm


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Mystery Novelist to Write Children's Book (

Another adult author adds children's books to their repertoire:

James Patterson, author of best-selling mysteries, including the Alex Cross series, is publishing a picture book this autumn.
SantaKid [pre-order], will be Patterson's first children's picture book. It will be published by Little Brown and Michael Garland is to be the illustrator...'

Christian Coarseness

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Weekly book reviews and literary analysis from the Times Literary Supplement

A N Wilson reviews C. S. Lewis's Collected Letters Vol. II in the Times Literary Supplement...

The letters convey a man who by many standards was trying to be good and, which is more unusual, succeeding. But there is a tremendous coarseness here. I do not just refer to the Lewis who spent Christmas Day 1931, his first Christmas as a converted Christian, describing the ghastly-sounding 'binge' held at the end of the previous term (ie, a drunken all-male dinner going on until the small hours) with all the words of a bawdy rhyme written out. I mean that even when he is describing delicate things, such as the effect on the soul of beautiful landscape or the fall of a poetic line, the coarseness remains. It is what made him, as a Christian apologist and as a children's writer, a bestseller; but it does not make the effect of reading over a thousand pages of his letters an especially ennobling one.

De Lima - Luanda

| No Comments | No TrackBacks Angola: Cremilda De Lima Releases Children's Book

"Children's book writer Cremilda de Lima will release in the first fortnight of June, in Luanda, the book called "O maboque m?gico e outras est?rias (the wild magic fruit and other stories)", informed a source from the editor..."

Photo Journey

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Five Film?

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"Plans to create a new television series or film - and d merchandising - based on the 21 books of the Famous Five sequence are being considered by Chorion, the intellectual property rights group that owns Blyton's other famous creation, Noddy..."

Do The Wild Shake

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Telegraph | Arts | Culture quake: Where The Wild Things Are

Will Hodgkinson on art that shook up the world. This week he considers Maurice Sendak's children's classic

More Mayne

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A selection of news reports, the day after William Mayne's sentencing.

The Guardian



The Sun News - Latest News - Author Jailed on Child Sex Charges

William Mayne has been sentenced to two and a half years in jail. But he wishes to retract his 'guilty' plea, claiming it was made under duress, and has vowed to clear his name.

Mayne, a divorcee, issued a statement after sentencing through his solicitor Mark Harrison saying he intended to appeal as his guilty pleas had been entered while he was "under huge stress and pressure".

Mr Harrison added: "He will endeavour to withdraw the convictions, clear his name and restore his professional and personal reputation."

Kiwi YA

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STUFF : ENTERTAINMENT : BOOKS - STORY : New Zealand's leading news and information website

The dark side of a New Zealand adolescence - bullying, sexuality, self-mutilation, depression, family break-ups, suicide, violence - may be undeniable parts of teenage lives, but they're not problems that children's writers have traditionally tackled. A new crop of Kiwi writers, however, are exploring such issues, hoping to catch the attention of their young readers by writing about what seems real for them.


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New York City - Books

A review of REMEMBER: The Journey to School Integration by Toni Morrison:

"Published to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the landmark Brown v. Board of Education United States Supreme Court decision that ended "separate but equal" schooling, Morrison's book uses gorgeous, disturbing and eloquent archival photos to draw readers into a turbulent era."

Topica Upgrade

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I have received notification of a scheduled upgrade to ACHUKA's Topica account. It means that the next Mail List dispatch is likely to be delayed.

Here - from his Journal - is what Neil Gaiman thinks of Dave McKean's chances of winning the Greenaway medal:

I just read the Greenaway shortlist and while all the other books get described in glowing, heartwarming and entirely positive terms, The Wolves in the Walls seems to have troubled the person writing the descriptions no end. It is, we learn, "a scary, strange but highly imaginative picture book .... highly unsettling". Oh well. I don't know what the UK bookies odds on the Greenaway are (although I found the odds on the Orange with no problems), but I suspect that Dave will not be the odds-on favourite.

Actually, Neil, I shouldn't set too great store by those resumes. They're not written by the judges.

Sneak Peak

| No Comments | No TrackBacks - The Truth About Forever

This is an extract from Sarah Dessen's new novel, The Truth About Forever...

Evil Afoot

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Times Online - Books

Amanda Craig begins her review of Abhorsen by Garth Nix and Montomorency On The Rocks by Elizabeth Updale (from yesterday's Times) by asking "Where does evil come from? If adult fiction rarely asks this, children's fiction never fails to, and shows it as external, imposed upon innocense."
Rather a bold generalisation, that ;-)

Of Abhorsen, she says: "Though at times the plot makes it feel too much like a computer game, the evocative prose and strong sense of character lift Abhorsen into a thrillingly complex, metaphysical adventure that oozes menace and mystery."

In Updale's sequel to her first Montmorency book, she "excels at catching the nature of male friendship, period details and keeping her plot rattling along between London and the Hebrides. But something of the atmospheric strangeness of the first is missing. It has become a little too close to an adult novel."

ST Book Of The Week

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Times Online - Sunday Times

Sunday Times Children's Book Of The Week

AL CAPONE DOES MY SHIRTS by Gennifer Choldenko

"This engaging tale develops its characters subtly and skilfully and has an improbable but enjoyable ending involving Capone as the deus ex machina." NICOLETTE JONES

Mr Men Join Noddy

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Guardian Unlimited | The Guardian | Chorion captures Mr Men

"Chorion, the company that owns the rights to Agatha Christie's works as well as Noddy, yesterday announced a long-awaited ?28m deal to take control of Mr Men from the family of their late creator, Roger Hargreaves..."

Perfect Capture

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Guardian Unlimited Books | Review | Mind games

Nicola Morgan writes about Rachel Klein's The Moth Diaries in a review that perfectly captures the book's heady, psychotic claustrophobia.

Both the book and the review are highly recommended.

3 in brief by Julia Eccleshare

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