October 2004 Archives

One Missed

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I'm grateful to 'brillbex' for alerting me to the fact that I missed - before I went away - this Nick Tucker review (of teenage fiction) in The Independent from a fortnight ago...

Catching Up

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Just about to post a truncated Mail List update, not doing much more than pointing people to the dozen or so items blogged below. I'm sure there are a few things I've missed. If anyone spots significant omissions, let me know.
Mailing Monkey has submitted a superbly entertaining second installment, so watch out for that in the next day or two.
The hotel we stayed in in Glasgow had a broadband connection in each room, so I might well have been able to keep things updated had I taken a laptop with me, but although the notion of blogging while on the raod (a la Neil Gaiman and others) has always appealed, on balance I prefer to treat my rare trips away from base as a complete break from routine.
I've no idea yet what arrived in the post while I was away, as the Post Office was instructed to hold all packets back until tomorrow. I'm expecting a santasackful of stuff to be arriving in the morning.

Christmas Production

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Polka Theatre Press Release

Polka?s 25th Birthday season continues with a record-breaking Roald Dahl classic. At Christmas, Polka Theatre provides the perfect alternative to pantomimes, and this year is no exception. Continuing its 25th birthday season, Polka Theatre presents the much-loved Roald Dahl classic, James and the Giant Peach, adapted for the stage by David Wood OBE, recently described by The Times as ?the national children?s dramatist?. The show is the first time Polka has staged a Dahl story at Christmas, and James and the Giant Peach is currently breaking Box Office records. The story follows a young James Trotter who finds himself stuck living with his ghastly aunts ? Sponge and Spiker ? after his parents were gruesomely run down by a rhinoceros on Oxford Street! On receiving a gift from a mysterious man, however, James discovers a magical escape route when a single peach on the old, dead tree begins to grow to enormous proportions. So begins the trip of a lifetime, for both James and the young audience. Along the way, you?ll meet James? newfound insect chums, like Centipede, Earthworm and Ladybird, to name but a few. The show features brand new music, some technical wizardry, audience participation and plenty of laughs as Dahl?s wicked sense of humour is brought to life on stage. Directing the production is Polka?s Associate Director, Roman Stefanski, whose last Christmas show for Polka was the enchanting Cinderella in 2002. He is joined by designer Keith Baker (Young Europe, Boy, Just So) and composer Olly Fox, who also composed music for last year?s hit show, Stuart Little. As well as being one of the UK?s foremost producers of theatre for children, Polka Theatre is Britain?s first and only theatre venue dedicated to and purpose-built for young audiences. This Autumn, it celebrates 25 years of its unique building, where over 2 million of children have been introduced to the world of theatre. James and the Giant Peach is sponsored by City-based Tullett Liberty plc, one of the world?s largest firms of inter-dealer brokers. It marks the company?s nineteenth sponsorship of a Polka Theatre production.

For review tickets and all press enquiries, please contact
Rasheed Rahman on 020 8545 8328
or e-mail rasheed@polkatheatre.com
Laura Benson on 020 8545 8320 x348
or email laura@polkatheatre.com

Marsh Award Shortlist

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The Marsh Award for Children's Literature in Translation

The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke translated from German by Oliver Latsch (The Chicken House, 2004)
First published in Germany in 2000.
(Age: 9+)

The Shamer's Signet by Lene Kaaberbol translated from Danish by the author (Hodder Children?s Books, 2003)
First published in Denmark in 2001.
(Age: 9+)

Playing with Fire by Henning Mankell translated from Swedish by Anna Paterson (Allen & Unwin, 2002)
First published in Sweden in 2001.
(Age: 13+)

Eye of the Wolf by Daniel Pennac translated from French by Sarah Adams
(Walker Books, 2002)
First published in France in 1982.
(Age: 9+)

Kamo's Escape by Daniel Pennac translated from French by Sarah Adams
(Walker Books, 2004)
First published in France in 1992.
(Age: 9+)

The winner will be announced at a ceremony at The Arts Club on 20th January 2005. Aidan Chambers, internationally acclaimed author and President of the School Library Association, will present the award and a prize of ?1000 to the translator of the winning book.

Governor General Shortlist

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2004 Governor-General's Award for Children's Literature Shortlists:

Martine Leavitt - Heck Superhero (Red Deer Press)
Sharon McKay - Esther (Penguin Canada)
Kenneth Oppel - Airborn (HarperCollins)
Judd Palmer - The Wolf King (Raincoast Books)
Ange Zhang - Red Land:Yellow River (Groundwood Books)

Nicolas Debon - Dawn Watch (Groundwood Books)
Marie-Louise Gay - Stella, Princess of the Sky (Groundwood Books)
Stephane Jorisch - Jabberwocky (Kids Can Press)
Kim Le Fave - A Very Unusual Dog (Scholastic/North Winds Press)
Barbara Reid - Peg and the Yeti (HarperCollins)

New Fighting Fantasy

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Wizard Books press release:




Fighting Fantasy? was the children?s books phenomenon of the 1980s. Over 15 million copies were sold, and authors Ian Livingstone and Steve Jackson became heroes to hundreds of thousands of readers worldwide (mainly boys aged 8 ? 12). Fighting Fantasy gamebooks were the original interactive books in which YOU the reader were the hero. Misunderstood at first, there was some controversy in the media as parents were concerned that their children were too obsessed with role-playing. Now twenty years on there has been a resurgence in the genre. Wizard Books launched new editions in 2002 and have since sold over 800,000 books. Many thirty-something men still remember the excitement of Livingstone?s and Jackson?s adventures and are now buying them for their own children!


Now Wizard Books are to publish a brand new Fighting Fantasy? adventure, written by Ian Livingstone. It is called Eye of the Dragon and is his first new book in 10 years.

Old As Dracula

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Bradenton Herald | 10/31/2004 | R.L. Stine still gives us 'Goosebumps'

Recommended feature about R. L. Stine:

Stine's new series, "Mostly Ghostly" is the first series of books he has written with continuing characters. The series chronicles the escapades of Max Doyle, an ordinary middle-school-aged kid who discovers two child ghosts, Nicky and Tara, living in his bedroom.

J M Barrie by A S Byatt

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Guardian Unlimited Books | By genre | A child in time

A S Byatt on J M Barrie...



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Guardian Unlimited Books | By genre | Illustrated books: Oct 24

Kate Kellaway reviews a batch of piture books featuring father-son relationships...

Fogeyish Retreats

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Guardian Unlimited Books | By genre | Young adult fiction: Oct 24

Hephzibah Anderson, in last Sunday's Observer, was less than excited by a batch of recent 'crossover' novels, saying of Charmian Hussey's The Valley Of Secrets, for example: "The prose lacks sparkle, however. There is something stubbornly one-dimensional about its simplicity, something fogeyish about its reactionary retreat into a rural idyll."


Guardian Author Of The Month

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Guardian Unlimited Books | By genre | Author of the month: Meg Cabot

Dina Rabinovitch interviews Meg Cabot, author of The Princess Diaries:

"Although it was British publishers who first took on The Princess Diaries, the back current of Cabot's stories really make better sense to American sensibilities. She writes about girls, who, like herself, weren't cheerleader types, preferred black clothes to pristine Abercrombie and Fitch, and were into art, drama and music instead of schoolwork."

Soft At Heart

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Guardian Unlimited Books | Review | His master's voice

Nicola Morgan reviews Frozen Billy by Anne Fine:

"Frozen Billy is a charming story. The opening led me to expect something more sinister, but that may be my horror of wooden dolls that talk through clacking red mouths. If you share my fears, fear not - Frozen Billy is soft at heart."

Knowing Her Fairies

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Guardian Unlimited Books | Review | Hooray for the hearth-sprite

Jan Mark reviews Troll Fell by Katherine Langrish:

The trolls are fun, the children are brave, the villains hissable and the plot involving, but Langrish's talent lies with what the late Katherine Briggs would have included in the term "fairies".

Anoraks Getting It Right

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Times Online - Books

Amana Craig reviews Going Postal by Terry Pratchett:

Pratchett, contrary to what his detractors say, doesn?t offer escapism. His world, increasingly subtle and thoughtful, has become as allegorical and satirical as a painting by Bosch.

More Smart Than Heart

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Times Online - Sunday Times

Sunday Times Children's Book Of The Week

Children Of The Lamp: The Akhenaten Adventure by P. B. Kerr

"ingenious, but with perhaps more smart than heart" NICOLETTE JONES

Away From Base

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Forgive the hiatus, both in blog entries and Mail List update. I'm away from base...

Turning Point

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Saturday November 27th, Nottingham

A one day conference devoted to the subject of teenage/YA writing will consist of a series of discussions including What Is Young Adult Fiction? The condition of the ?issue? novel, Reviewing and promoting YAF and The Future. There will be a keynote speech from Melvin Burgess, the author of Junk and Doing It. The other writers speaking will be David Belbin, Kevin Brooks, Anne Cassidy, Keith Gray, Graham Marks, Nicola Morgan, Beverley Naidoo and Bali Rai. Academic Alison Waller, Publicist Justin Somper, Guardian Children?s Books editor and David Fickling (publisher and editor of Mark Haddon and Philip Pullman) will also be bringing their perspective to the day. Many other writers ? some very distinguished - have booked as delegates and will speak from the floor.

Full price tickets are ?35 plus ?6.12 VAT. Students in full time education pay ?25 plus ?4.37 VAT. Prices include lunch. Turning Point is aimed at those writing and promoting YAF , rather than its core audience, so tickets are not on sale to under 18s.

Conference admin/press ticket enquiries ? Simon Dawes simon.dawes@ntu.ac.uk Tel. 0115 8483273

Further comment/interview requests ? David Belbin david.belbin@ntu.ac.uk

Canadian Award Winner

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The Norma Fleck Award recognizes outstanding non-fiction books for young people. The $10,000 award is the largest of its kind in Canadian Children's Literature.

2004 Norma Fleck Award Winner
Val Ross for The Road to There (Tundra Books)

Andrea Deakin writes:
Val Ross is a well-known and respected journalist who has won a National Newspaper Award. She is the deputy comment editor at "The Globe and Mail". This is her first book.
"The Road to There: Mapmakers and their Stories" introduces children to several mapmakers and reflects on how their characters and the times influenced the way they worked. There is Cheng Ho, a Fifteenth Century Chinese admiral whose travels were suddenly limited by a change in government; slaves on the run who were guided by specially-pieced quilts; Henry the Navigator, the Portuguese prince who had a passion for exploration, Lewis and Clark, Captain Cook, and a woman who mapped the streets of London. Ms. Ross writes of fraudsters who changed maps for gain; present investigators who who try and to map the ocean floor, and those who practice aerial photography, mapping not only the present, but also the past.
The book contains reproductions of contemporary maps, illustrations, and photographs and ends with a chapter by chapter bibliography.
"The Road to There" is also the 2003 winner of the Mr. Christie Book Award Seal; included in VOYA's ninth annual Nonfiction Honor List and
shorlisted for the Children's Literature Roundtable Information Book of the Year.

Sonya Hartnett

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The Silver Donkey - Reviews - www.theage.com.au

Hartnett is one of the finest writers of fiction in this country. Her dark and catastrophic novels such as Sleeping Dogs and Of a Boy, for which she won The Age book of the year award, are written for anyone who has eyes to see and ears to listen to the tumult and sadness in the world. It is ludicrous that she has been burdened with the label of writing for the "young adult" market. The Silver Donkey , however, is a genuine children's book, not that this will stop readers of any age from enjoying it... ...

Here In Harlem

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New York Post Online Edition: entertainment

Short interview with Walter Dean Myers, on the occasion of publication of his new book, Here In Harlem, a collection of poems about his hometown.

Peer Review

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Guardian Unlimited Books | Review | Squaring up to the Troubles

Keith Gray reviews Alan Gibbons:

At a time when many writers for young people are determined to play down "issues" in their fiction, Gibbons seems to relish hitting them head on. His thrillers are guaranteed to keep the reader flipping the pages, but also to make them tackle subjects they may initially have shied away from.

Smiley Smiley

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Philip Kerr on tour in America...:

...nothing prepared me for the rigours of a three-week tour of the United States, as a first-time children's author. Three weeks without uttering a single profanity and without once getting drunk; three weeks of politeness and diplomacy that would have exhausted Kofi Annan.

The first thing I noticed about Scholastic, who specialise in publishing children's books (they publish JK Rowling in America) is how nice they all are. How nice and how enthusiastic. Such a pleasant change from the glum old world of adult publishing where booksellers moan about point of sale (or more likely the lack of it), and editors and marketing people regard you with shifty indifference - as if it must have been someone else's bright idea to have you read to several rows of empty seats and a lost dog at some dismal bookshop in St Albans. Everyone in children's books is smiling.

Inconsolable Lemony

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Lemony Snicket's The Grim Grotto Surpasses 1.1 Million Copies Sold

From a New York newswire:

HarperCollins Children's Books announced [yesterday] that in its first month on sale, A Series of Unfortunate Events Book the Eleventh: The Grim Grotto (on sale: Sept. 21, 2004) has sold 1.1 million copies in the U.S. Furthermore, the book has topped the bestsellers lists of the New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal, in some cases besting Dr. Phil, Jon Stewart and even Stephen King. Snicket is purportedly "inconsolable" and "hiding in a corner."

The Printer's Devil

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The Printer's Devil - not its original title, as we learnt at tonight's launch dinner - is a rewarding, historical, London-set adventure in the tradition of Joan Aiken. What I particularly like about the book is that it is pitched fairly and squarely at the 8-11 audience. It is good to have a substantial, quality children's novel that you can recommend unreservedly to primary age children without worrying that it is only suitable for the very oldest or most literate amongst them. In that connection it was revealing to hear the author unashamedly admitting that it was Enid Blyton who first engaged him as a young boy, before he moved on to Aiken and Leon Garfield. Another likeable characteristic of the book is its willingness to embrace elements that more cautious authors might have rejected as too cliched. The dog, Lash, leaps to mind.

As a first novel, The Printer's Devil is impressive. The plot twists in its second half did begin to leave me reeling and - perhaps this is because of my own gender - I resented the major revelation when it came, and still fail to see the point of it, other than a fear (on the part of the author? the publisher? the sellers?) that the book might have insufficiently wide appeal without it. Unfortunately, I was sitting too far down the dinner table to ask the author himself about this, and had to leave to catch a train before the dessert musical chairs. But I very much enjoyed sitting next to a red-shirted Justin Somper, who was on fine form, sharing off-the-record stories about author events, and giving me a little advance news of his forthcoming 'punchy' short fiction pirate-vampires sequence, sheduled to begin appearing early next summer.

Jill Slotover (Financial Times) informed me, apropos of a discussion about marketing & publicity 'extras', she had received a bunch of roses earlier in the day, along with a proof of Hilary McKay's next book. Texting home from the train, I found that no such bouquet had, as yet, been left at ACHUKA's door.

Earlier, I had arrived at Smiths, by chance, with Dinah Hall of the Sunday Telegraph. As we walked through pounding bars in search of the private dining room, she remarked, "Aren't you glad not to be young any more?" And then, both admiring David Frankland's cover art, she wondered, "Do you think that's because it makes us nostalgic for books we remember?" During the short dinner speeches the pounding from the neighbouring bars became increasingly insistent, and posed the question, "Is there still an audience for this kind of novel (a book that could have been written in 1964, 1954 even, as easily as 2004)? We shall see. The book has already gone into a second printing but that, I suspect, is mostly the result of speculative interest from bookdealers and collectors, rather than from a genuine rush of early sales.

Beatrix Potter, Private Eye

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New mystery fiction features writers' 'firsts'

Susan Wittig Albert's The Tale of Hill Top Farm is her first in a planned series featuring children's book author Beatrix Potter as an amateur sleuth.

Film News

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Charlotte's plan - Film - www.theage.com.au

Greendale, in rural Victoria, has been chosen by Paramount Pictures as the location for a major Hollywood movie - Charlotte's Web... ... The latest Charlotte's Web is scheduled for a 2006 release and will be directed by Gary Winick with actors yet to be cast.

Young Adult Library Space

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Teen sections are changing

An interesting US piece on 'teen library' design...


Proud Pratchett

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Terry Pratchett interview, from the Sunday Times:

?Look at this,? he says, gesturing to a lectern that holds an ancient tome from Discworld?s university of magic. Light sparkles along its edges and pulses beneath the parchment pages. It is a gift from his publisher on the 21st anniversary of Discworld this year.

Terry Pratchett proudly shows his interviewer the book and lectern presented to him at a recent London event (see entry for September 29th)

Happy Ending?

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Lemony left out

Handler's editor at HarperCollins Children's Books, Susan Rich, says she and the author aren't eager to damage "the integrity" of the series by keeping it going beyond its scheduled life expectancy of 13 books.

Feature about Daniel Handler


Book Review

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LeGuin returns to young adult fiction with 'Gifts'

A review of Gifts, the new YA book by Ursula LeGuin.

11,000 Years Lost

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Amazon Shop - 11,000 Years Lost - Book

Peni Griffin's new book - available now

ST Book Of The Week

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Times Online - Sunday Times

Sunday Times Children's Book Of The Week

The Little Gentleman by Philippa Pearce

Typically for Pearce, this is not only a story of page-turning compulsiveness, written with elegance and wisdom, but is also rich in history. Pearce?s powers certainly have not lessened. NICOLETTE JONES

see entry for October 15th for pictures of launch event


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Times Online - Books
Amanda Craig's latest review in The Times includes recommendation for The Golem's Eye by Jonathan Stroud ["The alternating perspectives between three central characters add depth, detail and humour to the action-packed thrills."]

and for Children of the Lamp by P. B. Kerr ["pure action-packed fun of a kind any child of 9+ will revel in."]

But the review's lead title is a book first published in 1937: My Friend Mr Leakey by J. B. S. Haldane, recently reprinted by Jane Nissen Books. Craig calls it "one of the funniest books yet written for children".

Moving Meditation

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Guardian Unlimited Books | Review | Light at the end of the tunnel

Jan Mark reviews Philippa Pearce's new book:

a deeply moving meditation on the transience and mutability of childhood, the necessity - indeed, the desirability - of death at the end of a natural span, and on the painful truth that the highest expression of love is not to possess but to relinquish.

see also entry for October 15th...

Alan Garner

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Guardian Unlimited Books | By genre | England's time lord

Long feature about Alan Garner.

Not to be missed!

Jacqueline Wilson Interview

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Christina Patterson of The Independent talks to Jacqueline Wilson about both the positive and negative aspects of popularity...

It's just as well she likes it because there's no going back. Her five-hour signing in Weston-super-Mare was practically skiving. In Bournemouth this year, Wilson signed books for eight hours "without a loo break", a feat that's set to enter the Guinness Book of Records. It's hard to think of any other writer who has made such efforts to satisfy the needs of her fans. "All the time I'm signing," she says, "I'll talk to the child, ask their name, chat a bit. You don't stand in the queue all that time just to have your book signed and for it to be a 'next'."

The Little Gentleman

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Puffin held a celebration party last night, in honour of Philippa Pearce, who has just published The Little Gentleman, her first full-length fiction for twenty years. Illustrated by Patrick Benson, who could not be at the event, it is a wonderfully written story about a girl's friendship with a mole, who has been given the power of speech and the mixed blessing of immortality. The author, now in her eighties, stayed late at the party, signing books for guests.

Philippa Pearce speaking...


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BBC NEWS | UK | England | North Yorkshire | Author burns original manuscripts

Best-selling children's novelist, GP Taylor has accidentally burnt three of his original manuscripts while clearing his house before moving... ...

Young Adult Recommendation

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Chronicles Part 1 by Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan's eagerly-awaited first volume of autobiography is mainly about his early days in New York City, as a young folksinger just arrived from the MidWest. Strikes me it would make great teen reading. School librarians should stock several copies - as should they also of the new edition of his Lyrics:

ST Book Of The Week

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Times Online - Sunday Times

Sunday Times Children's Book Of The Week
Not The End Of The World by Geraldine McCaughrean

This extraordinary novel imagines the ?reality? of Noah?s Ark: what it would be like to be saved while your neighbours and friends drown around you. It evokes the grief, loss and cruelty of the almost complete destruction of mankind, as well as the grimness of a floating zoo... ...NICOLETTE JONES

Israeli Review

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Haaretz - Israel News - Magic from a block of wood

An Israeli review of a new version of Pinnochio: "Harpatkaotav shel Pinokio" ("The Adventures of Pinocchio") by Carlo Collodi, Penguin, $19.99 [translated into Hebrew from the Italian with an afterword by Anat Spitzen, illustrations by Uri Ashi, Carmel Publishing House, 432 pages, NIS 94]... ...

It could be that English children's books are better than others. It could be that the 20th century, at least at its beginning, did well by children. The talk of misery and making the child miserable became two different things. "Winnie the Pooh" or "The Wind in the Willows" are genuinely fine literature. Yet nevertheless, the father and the mother who read to their children are all too often faced with too easy a choice, "what we ourselves read." No wonder, then, that the most popular children's books among adults, according to The Guardian at least, are the children's books of Enid Blyton, the author of "The Famous Five," which became "The Secret Seven."

Guardian Unlimited Books | Special Reports | Love, loss and loyalty

Julia Eccleshare on the winner of the 2004 Guardian Children's Fiction prize, Meg Rosoff..

Nesbit Profile

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Guardian Unlimited Books | By genre | The accidental realist

The accidental realist

Edith Nesbit rejected Victorian silliness about childhood and conjured magical worlds that were as solid and chaotic as everyday life. Natasha Walter celebrates a 'genuine Bohemian' in The Guardian...

Boys' Reading

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Guardian Unlimited | The Guardian | Talents of underachieving boys identified in survey

Government policies to help underachieving boys who fall behind in reading and writing at primary school have been influenced by misleading stereotypes which label them reluctant, resistant or weak and even unteachable, a new report claims today.

Dublin Festival

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Childrens Book Festival 2004 - childrens' book festival Dublin - kids events in Dublin

The Irish Children's Book Festival 2004 will be launched on October 13th....


Moving Out

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Guardian Unlimited | Arts features | Off the shelf

Guardian Author of the month: Jacqueline Wilson

More than a week old (I can't think why I failed to blog it at the time) but - as you would expect of Davina Rabinovitch's monthly profiles - superbly, revealingly and slightly disturbingly worth reading.

Life As We Know It

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BostonHerald.com - the Edge: Lust for `life': ABC scores with drama about sex-obsessed teens

The TV adaptation of Melvin Burgess's Doing It hits US smallscreens tonight... ...

Depending on your memories of high school, ABC's new drama ``life as we know it,'' premiering tonight at 9 on WCVB (Ch. 5), is either one of the most honest or most troubling small-screen depictions of teen angst.

Given that we're talking about high school, maybe it's both.

Based on British author Melvin Burgess' controversial young adult novel ``Doing It,'' ``life'' focuses on boys obsessed with sex. In the show's most daring move, the girls also are obsessed with sex and finding ways to enjoy it on their own terms without guilt or shame.

See New York Times review...

Blue Peter Shortlists

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The shortlisted titles for the Blue Peter Book Awards are:

The Book I Couldn?t Put Down
Fat Boy Swim by Catherine Forde (Egmont)
The Garbage King by Elizabeth Laird (Macmillan)
Montmorency by Eleanor Updale (Scholastic)
Stealing Stacey by Lynne Reid Banks (Collins)
When Mum Threw Out the Telly by E F Smith (Orchard Books)

The Best Book with Facts in it
Brilliant Brits: Shakespeare written and illustrated by Richard Brassey (Orion)
Who is Emily Davison? by Claudia Fitzherbert (Short Books)
I Spy: Shapes in Art by Lucy Micklethwaite (Collins)
Journey into the Arctic by Bryan and Cherry Alexander (OUP)
The Ultimate Book Guide edited by Daniel Hahn (A and C Black)

The Best Illustrated Book to Read Aloud
Atticus the Storyteller?s 100 Greek Myths by Lucy Coates, illustrated by Anthony Lewis (Orion)
Man on the Moon written and illustrated by Simon Bartram (Templar)
Quiet! written by Paul Bright, illustrated by Guy Parker Rees (Little Tiger Press)
The Smartest Giant in Town written by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Axel Scheffler
The Woman Who Won Things written by Allan Ahlberg, illustrated by Katharine McEwen (Walker Books)

The Judging Panel
Elizabeth Attenborough - Formerly Publishing Director, Puffin Books, now Children?s - Book Consultant
Liz Barker - Current Blue Peter presenter
Lucy Lethbridge - Journalist, writer and previous winner of a Blue Peter - Book Award for Ada Lovelace (Short Books)
Richard Marson- Editor, Blue Peter
Nick Sharratt - Illustrator and previous winner of the Blue Peter Book of the Year with Eat Your Peas! (Red Fox)

The Judging Process
The group of adult judges decide on a shortlist from which the Young Judges select their category winners and the overall Blue Peter Book of the Year.

Buzz Buzz Bzzzzz

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[Press release from a small independent publisher, Crowswing Books]

Waterstone's have reserved the entire first print run of Sean Wright's teenage-adult crossover book, THE TWISTED ROOT OF JAARFINDOR.

In an exclusive deal, Waterstone's will sell the paperback JAARFINDOR in every one of their UK stores as part of their Xmas promotion. The book, which retails for ?5.99, will be featured as a special 3 for the price of 2 promotion and given a prominent position in the front of store Gift Bay for the Xmas market.

Tipped by Hatchard's children buyer, Lucy Masters, to be THE only small press book to read this Christmas, JAARFINOR hits shelves on 30th October.

[Read the rest of the Press Release]

What's The Story

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I said I was behind with my trawl through the weekend press. And I have only just reached FTWeekend, the Arts and Books supplement of the Financial Times.
In it is a fantastically entertaining and near-the-knuckle feature about authors' school visits - a sequence of authors' own witty and scarily honest thoughts on the said subject.
The feature is online, but you have to take out a hefty FT subscription to view it.

So, a few snippets:

PHILIP PULLMAN: ...what really happens and what the teacher would like us to tell the children: the latter being a description of the writing process that uncannily resembles the literacy guidelines the teacher has to follow (plan, draft, edit, revise ...) I used to do that, but it was too depressing.

ANTHONY HOROWITZ: ...It's a strange phenomenon, anyway. There are dozens of authors and illustrators out there, descending on schools all over the country in the guise of slightly sinister travelling salesmen or party entertainers. I've never been quite sure who actually benefits... ...

MICHAEL ROSEN: The best sessions are where...[I confess this extraction is somewhat cruel] the school makes what is almost a shrine to Michael Rosen, with photos, quotes, my life story, what I like to eat and, on occasion, even a photo of Arsenal FC.

LOUISE RENNISON: I eschew school visits with a firm hand...

"I sent in my invoice. I hope that you got it."
"Ah... Er, there's a problem I'm afraid we forgot it. Wait for eight months and we'll happily pay.
Let's not talk about money. Let's just have a good day!"

Very Highly recommended.

Jan Brett Feature

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ic Wales - Like children, book event is growing

Swansea's children's literature festival...

Real Fantasies

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Education news?& resources at the Times Educational Supplement

Published a week ago, but now online, my TES review of some recent fantasies...

In the latest issue of TES, Adele Geras reviews poetry anthologies...

Hard Copy

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No online link for this, but worth checking out:

PUBLISHING NEWS - in the latest issue Graham Marks "looks at how three independent spirits in children's publishing have succeeded by creating boutique lists" - the three are Klaus Flugge (Andersen Press), David Fickling (David Fickling Books) and Barry Cunningham (The Chicken House) and there are some good quotes from Philip Pullman and Philippa Dickinson.

P.S. Am behind in my trawl of the weekend press so there may be a belated link or two to come.

A Cage Fight

CHILDREN'S author Paul Jennings said watching the distress his grandson showed, seeing him locked in a cage, drilled home the seriousness of conditions for asylum seekers in Australia.

ST Book Of The Week

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Times Online - Sunday Times

Sunday Times Children's Book of the Week

Apocalypse by Tim Bowler

Vivid, frightening and tender, this dark and stimulating allegory has the merit of asking as many questions as it gives answers, yet still reaches a proper resolution. NICOLETTE JONES

Another Adult In Waiting

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The Alien Online - Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror News, Reviews, Articles and more...

Adult Fantasy/SF author James Lovegrove is planning to write a YA novel:

I've written a synopsis for a Young Adult book, and I'm waiting to hear from an editor as to whether that's a "go" project.

Odo Hirsch

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A curious future without wizards - Books - www.theage.com.au

A rare feature article about Odo Hirsch.

Hirsch is a slight, guarded man dressed in bank manager weekend clothes - crisp jeans, polo, blazer. His youthful, sober face is partially hidden behind a well-trimmed five o'clock beard. He's never been an easygoing interview subject and is quite secretive about his personal life. But the strangest thing about Odo Hirsch is that he exists at all. The name is a pseudonym, pulled out of the ether in the late '90s by an expatriate Australian doctor working in an English hospital.

Highly recommended

Fantastic Magic

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The Real Winner

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"And the Debate Winner Is: Lemony Snicket" by John?Armor

I heard three men speak this week with apparent passion about subjects of great interest. Each of them was trying to be accepted as honest and clear in his speech. Two of them are obvious: George Bush and John Kerry, who took part in the first Presidential Debate of 2004 in Miami on Thursday. Almost all of you either saw the debate, read the transcripts afterward, or saw coverage of it. But to my view, the most honest, the most effective speaker, was the third man, Lemony Snicket, who appeared at a book signing at a Barnes and Noble north of Atlanta on Monday night.

Skeletons On Set

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Guardian Unlimited Books | Review | Lassie, come home!

Call me hypersensitive, tell me that it's me reading the stereotypes into the book and not Leonard writing them, but I felt I was in bed with some very old skeletons here.
MICHAEL ROSEN reviewing A Coyote's In The House by Elmore Leonard

I enjoyed Leonard's book without being unsettled by the observations that Rosen makes in this perceptively allusive review. But that's exactly what an intelligent well-written review should do - alert readers to the faultlines in a book that make it fall short of perfection. All books have these faultlines, so the question always has to be 'How many are there and how fundamental are they?'.
The Guardian should persuade Rosen to become its resident children's book reviewer.


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New Storefront

ACHUKA launches a new storefront...

Our new storefront is launched today, which allows you to do all your Amazon shopping without leaving the ACHUKA website until you are ready for checkout. You have the option of shopping from the UK, US or German branches of Amazon.

ACHUKASTORE has been designed as a discrete area of the ACHUKA website, so that those who do not use Amazon for their purchases can ignore it. ACHUKA's own featured items pages will continue.

ACHUKASTORE is in the early stages of development. We look forward to feedback and suggestions for improving the shopping experience.

When you're in the store and wish to return to the main ACHUKA site, just click ACHUKACHICK...


Funke On A Roll

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Scholastic Goes Back to Press on Cornelia Funke's Latest Novel

Scholastic US announced yesterday that it was going back to press for 100,000 more copies of Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke, bringing the total to 250,000 copies in print. Scholastic released the book in last month with an initial print run of 150,000 copies.
It is just two short years since Funke's debut in America, and there are already 2,000,000 copies of her books in print in the U.S. and Canada.
Scholastic is supporting Dragon Rider with a $150,000 marketing campaign including distributing thousands of advanced reading copies, a national print and radio advertising campaign and a national publicity campaign.
Funke will be touring to New York, Chicago and Los Angeles in October, as well as Boston where she will be a speaker at the New England Booksellers Association regional convention and Detroit where she will speak at the Great Lakes Booksellers Association regional convention. Funke will also be doing a live web chat on October 5 at 1 p.m. EDT. at

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