December 2005 Archives

Penderwicks Author

| No Comments - Birdsall's secret: Listening like a kid

Feature about Jeanne Birdsall, author of The Penderwicks

US edition

The Penderwicks will be published in the UK by David Fickling Books, Summer 2006

Animal Tales Stamps

| No Comments News - UK - Royal Mail to deliver life of the Queen in special stamp series

Children's Book themed Royal Mail stamps will be available from January 10th:

The programme begins with the release of a set of stamps featuring animal characters from classic children's books. Quentin Blake's illustration of Roald Dahl's Enormous Crocodile, will appear along with The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Paddington Bear on 10 January as part of the Animal Tales issue.

An ANimal Tales presentation pack is available from the Royal Mail website:

Animal Tales Presentation Pack "People have been telling animal tales for as long as people have been telling stories. This tradition lives on in the world of children's books where the art of storytelling meets that of the illustrator." Roger McGough, taken from the Animal tales Presentation Pack. Containing all eight Animal Tales stamps, this Presentation Pack has been fully illustrated by Sara Fanelli. Since graduating from the Royal College of Art in London, Fanelli has worked as a freelance illustrator. Her portfolio includes work for The New York Times, Penguin Books, BBC Worldwide and a previous stamp illustration for Royal Mail's second Millennium Programme issue, Travellers Tales. The pack was written by acclaimed poet Roger McGough O.B.E. As one of Britain's best loved poets his poems on this pack are as timeless as the stamps themselves.

Lighting The Way

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Guardian Unlimited Books | By genre | Happily ever after

Readers of ACHUKAREVIEWS already know that DIna Rabinovitch thinks The Fairy Tales by Jan Pienkowski is the best collection of fairy tales of her time. In this Guardian piece she expands, at length, on why:

This is a book that children will want to read and touch, and from which they will absorb story-telling as if by osmosis. That is why it matters that such a collection as this exists. These retellings of folklore are the ABC of storytelling, and not to have a collection that can be cherished and can light the imagination is to miss out on the alphabet of creativity. Because there is a line to childhood that stretches back from today's kids with their backpacks traveling between two homes, through yesterday's evacuees, all the way to Hansel and Gretel dropping white pebbles along a path to light the way when grown-ups can't be trusted.

Novel Ban

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Who decides what kids can � and can�t � read? - U.S. News -

Who decides what kids can � and can�t � read?
Maryland educator reconsidering ban on praised novel for teenage girls

Article about the banning of The Earth, My Butt And Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler

Margaret Hodges, 94 - NYT Obit

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Famous Five Spoof

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Guardian Unlimited | Columnists | Lucy Mangan: The Famous Five - in their own words

Lucy Mangan - Famous Five speak out

Read to the end for full enjoyment ;)


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Guardian Unlimited Books | News | Famous Five tops poll

Result of poll to discover adults' favourite children's books:

People's choice

Top 10 books

1 Famous Five

2 Chronicles of Narnia

3 The Faraway Tree

4 The Hobbit

5 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

6 Black Beauty

7 Treasure Island

8 Biggles

9 Swallows and Amazons

10 Lord of the Rings


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Guardian Unlimited Books | By genre | Children's author of the month: Quentin Blake

Dina Rabinovitch talks to Quentin Blake, one of the UK's best-known and best-loved children's illustrators, about doodling while on the telephone, his relationship with Roald Dahl, and how he came to develop his inimitable style...


Lotte Klaver #36

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Lotte's sketchbook

One of Lotte's latest:

Lotte Klaver is a young Dutch illustrator. ACHUKA is featuring her work because we are convinced she has a bright future as an illustrator generally, and as an illustrator of children's books in particular.

Christine Pullein-Thompson

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Telegraph | News | Christine Pullein-Thompson

Christine Pullein-Thomson - Daily Telegraph Obituary

Christine Pullein-Thompson, who died on December 2 aged 80, was a prolific writer of children's books, mostly about horses; with her twin Diana and their elder sister Josephine, who wrote along the same lines, she rivalled Enid Blyton in the affections of young girls fond of ponies. Christine, the quietest of the three, was the most productive; she wrote more than 100 books, translated into 12 languages.

Christine Pullein-Thompson

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Christine Pullein-Thompson - Comment - Times Online

Christine Pullein-Thompson - [London] Times Obituary

Dinah's Picks

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Telegraph | Arts | From poetry to periods

Dinah Hall's roundup in the Sunday Telgraph (Dec 13) is now online:

Teen Fiction

8 - 11 Fiction

Picture Books

Biographer On BIographer

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The Globe and Mail: Meet Mr. Narnia

A review of The Narnian by Alan Jacobs:

eminently readable and thorough biography of Lewis
MICHAEL COREN, also a biographer of C. S. Lewis

High In The Clouds

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Guardian Unlimited Books | By genre | It took him years to write ...

Stephanie Merritt takes a look at Paul McCartney's anti-capitalist children's book, High in the Clouds

Top Ten

| No Comments News - Features - Top teen countdown

My Top Ten Teen/YA reads, as published in The Sctosman today. The piece also includes full reviews of Clay by David Almond and The White Darkness by Geraldine McCaughrean.

TOP TEN 2005
1) Clay by David Almond (Hodder)
2) Tamar by Mal Peet (Walker Books)
3) Time Bomb by Nigel Hinton (Puffin)
4) Bloodsong by Melvin Burgess (Andersen Press)
5) Mudlark by John Sedden (Puffin Books)
6) The Wild by Matt Whyman (Hodder)
7) Candy by Kevin Brooks (Chicken House)
8) Face Value by Catherine Johnson (Oxford University Press)
9) Zoo by Graham Marks (Bloomsbury)
10) The Electric Telepath by Jan Mark (Definitions)

Attractive To Children

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Guardian Unlimited Books | Review | A question of belief

How did CS Lewis make his selection of Christian material so attractive to children? John Mullan investigates

Ursula Le Guin

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Guardian Unlimited Books | Review | The magician

Thirty years before Harry Potter, Ursula Le Guin was writing novels about a school for wizards. As well as good and evil, her fantasy worlds also address issues of race and gender

a feature in The Guardian by Maya Jaggi


Deakin December 2005

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Deakin Newsletter December 2005

Deakin Newsletter December 2005

Highly recommended

eLearning Winner

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NGfL: News

A website designed to encourage teenagers to read has been named as one of the seven winners of the eLearning Awards 2005 in which more than 30 European countries and more than 20 languages are represented. 'Personal demons' for pupils aged 12 to 15 years is a multimedia, interactive website designed to encourage teenagers to read, write and explore issues relating to writing a novel...

Personal Demons website

Minimoys Game

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Next Generation - Infogrames Snags Minimoys

Infogrames has annnounced it has signed a licensing agreement with EuropaCorp to publish games based on the Arthur and the Minimoys animated film....

Cornelia On A Stool

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Pacific Palisades ~ Palisadian-Post

Author Cornelia Funke Talks Dragons at Seven Arrows

a report on a Cornelia Funke event...

US Book Recall

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Advantage Publishers Children's Books Recalled reports:

Advantage Publishers Group is recalling about 41,000 children's books. If the clear plastic container is removed from the book's back cover or breaks, young children can access the beads in it. This poses a choking hazard to young children... The "Amazing Baby Look and Play" activity book has a yellow star on the cover. The "Amazing Baby Touch and Play" book has a brown bear on the cover. The activity books measure about 11-inches by 11-inches, and are for children ages 12 months to 24 months. .. The books were sold at national book chains, discount department stores, wholesalers and distributors, and membership warehouse clubs nationwide from May 2003 through November 2005... Consumers should immediately take these recalled activity and board books away from young children and contact the company for a replacement book.

Poetry Archive

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The Children's Poetry Archive is a satellite site attached to the main online Poetry Archive. It's a wonderful resource, containing scores of audiofiles.

Mary Poppins

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The New Yorker: Fact

Excellent feature in The New Yorker by Caitlin Flanagan. I'm grateful to Judy Zuckerman for bringing it to my attention. Very highly recommended!

...�Mary Poppins� advocates the kind of family life that Walt Disney had spent his career both chronicling and helping to foster on a national level: father at work, mother at home, children flourishing. It is tempting to imagine that in Travers he found a like-minded person, someone who embodied the virtues of conformity and traditionalism. Nothing could be further from the truth. Travers was a woman who never married, wore trousers when she felt like it, had a transformative and emotionally charged relationship with an older married man, and entered into a long-term live-in relationship with another woman...

Ottakars Shortlist

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Publishing News - News Page

The Boy In Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne (David Fickling)

Shakespeare�s Secret by Elise Broach (Walker)

The Quantum Prophecy by Michael Carroll (HarperCollins)

Gregor and the Rats of Underland by Suzanne Collins (Chicken House)

Jack Slater Monster Investigator by John Doghety (Young Corgi)

Ralf the Magic Rabbit by Adam Frost (Macmillan)

The Lottery by Beth Goobie (Faber)

The Diamond of Drury Lane by Julia Golding (Egmont)

North Child by Edith Pattou (Usborne)

Spymice by Heather Vogel Frederick (Penguin)

The winner will be announced on 26 January at a ceremony in Ottakar�s, Putney.

Macmillan Webcast

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Publishing News - News Page
Publishing News reports that:

MACMILLAN CHILDREN�S BOOKS will become the first children�s publisher to use webcasting as a communications tool when it launches I-News on 20 January...

Blake's Demoiselles

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Blake's cherubs tickle a French institution - Times 2 - Times Online

Quentin Blake was the first artist ever allowed to graffiti over the walls of the National Gallery, alongside Old Masters. When he was Children�s Laureate he selected 26 storytelling paintings for a show called Tell Me a Picture, and added his own embellishments. Now he�s done something similar in Paris. At the newly restored Petit Palais, just off the Champs Elys?, Blake was given carte blanche to choose 58 paintings and prints from among the 45,000 buried in the museum�s vaults, and to do his own drawings in the spaces between. The result is a captivating exhibition called Quentin Blake et les Demoiselles des Bords de Seine.

See also November 30 2005

Smarties Winner

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Author Overcomes Dyslexia To Win Nestl?hildren's Book Prize

Sally Gardner, who is severely dyslexic and only learnt to read at the age of fourteen, has won this year's Nestle Children's Book Prize for her book I, Coriander, a fantasy tale of murder, magic and romance set in 17th century London.

The award was made yestefay, December 14th, at the British Library.

The complete list of winners is as follows:

5 years and under:

Lost and Found by Oliver Jeffers, published by HarperCollins

The Dancing Tiger by Malachy Doyle, illustrated by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher, published by Simon and Schuster

Wolves by Emily Gravett, published by Macmillan

6-8 years:

The Whisperer by Nick Butterworth, published by HarperCollins

Corby Flood by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell, published by Doubleday

Michael Rosen's Sad Book by Michael Rosen, illustrated by Quentin Blake, published by Walker Books

9-11 years:

I, Coriander by Sally Gardner, published by Orion

The Scarecrow and his Servant by Philip Pullman, published by Doubleday

The Whispering Road by Livi Michael, published by Puffin

The adult judges for the 2005 prize were: Julia Eccleshare (chair), Channel 5's Kirsty Young, children's authors Mal Peet and Liz Pichon and journalist Helen Freeman. Children's votes decided the final placements.

Neil Gaiman Profile

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Telegraph | Arts | A writer's life: Neil Gaiman

There is a mythic quality to all Gaiman's work, and it works especially well in his children's books, counterpointed as it is by his very accurate sense of how children think. The eldest of three - he has two younger sisters - he has exactly reproduced the pattern in his own offspring. And that is exactly: not only does he have a son and two daughters himself, but his son is exactly one year, 11 months and five days older than his daughter - the identical gap between Neil and his sister. It smacks of myth; and the memory of experiencing that gap is brilliantly reproduced in The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish: the older brother's attempt to stifle the younger sister; her glee at watching him get into trouble. "I watched Mike and Holly," he chuckles, "and I just remembered it all so well myself."

Neil Gaiman profile, by Dina Rabinovitch, writing in the Telegraph.

Very Highly Recommended

Signed & Shortlisted

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CBBC Newsround | Win | Win: signed shortlisted books

The winners of the Nestl?hildren's Book Prize are announced at a big bash at the British Library on December 14th.

There's a chance to win signed copies of the shortlisted titles on this BBC Newsround page...

Christmas Books

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Christmas Books

Reviews of Christmas-themed books from the Washington Post

New Name New SPonsor

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Independent Online Edition > News

The Whitbread Book Awards (alongside the Booker, the best-known UK literary awards) are to get a new sponsor and a new name:

Whitbread has been synonymous with one of Britain's most prestigious literary prizes for more 34 years. But its association with the award for the country's most enjoyable reads doesn't fit its image any more, the leisure company said yesterday.

Close Call At Box Office

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'Narnia' takes in $67 million in first weekend - Dec. 11, 2005

"Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe" scored a much-needed box office hit for Walt Disney Co., taking in $67 million for the second-biggest debut ever in a weekend in December, according to an industry tracking firm report Sunday. "Narnia," based on the popular children's books by C.S. Lewis, fell just below the record $72.6 million three-day opening for 2003's "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King," but outpaced the first "Rings" film, "The Fellowship of the Ring," which grossed $47 million in 2001...

Lotte Klaver #35

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Lotte's sketchbook

One of Lotte's latest:

Lotte Klaver is a young Dutch illustrator. ACHUKA is featuring her work because we are convinced she has a bright future as an illustrator generally, and as an illustrator of children's books in particular.

Fun And Fear

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The Observer | Review | Books of the year: teenage fiction

Geraldine Bedell, in The Observer, praises the new novels by Frank Cottrell Boyce and David Almond.

ST Roundup

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All wrapped up for Christmas - Sunday Times - Times Online

I'm not quite sure how I omitted Nicolette Jones's end-of-year roundup in the Sunday Times last week, but here it is a week late.

Her recommendations for older readers include one for the new book by Patrick Cave, who is now contributing to achukareviews:

Challenging for young adults is the sequel to Sharp North, Patrick Cave�s futuristic fantasy. Blown Away (Simon & Schuster �12.99)about concerns danger and desire in a world of cloning and conflict, wasted by global warming. It keeps readers guessing as three separate narratives reach a satisfying connectedness in a story that is hip, sophisticated and compulsive.

For Those Already In Love

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Books - reviews and literary news from The Times and The Sunday Times

Amanda Craig reviews Inkspell by Cornelia Funke:

Inkspell isn�t a book to recommend to every child. It is a novel of complex ideas, for a reader already in love with literature....

Never Takes Off

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Guardian Unlimited Books | Review | Review: The Innocent's Story by Nicky Singer

Diane Samuels finds that Nicky Singer's new novel, The Innocent's Story, never takes off:

The many passages describing the firing of the synapses of the brain become repetitive. The result is a stilted and claustrophobic atmosphere that makes reading the first hundred pages a chore. The second hundred pages become more intriguing, especially towards the end, but the story never quite takes off or carries the reader with it... I longed for relief from so many passages of prosaic point-raising and of being told flatly what was happening rather than being allowed to experience it with the characters...

Beguilingly Convincing

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Guardian Unlimited Books | Review | Review: Flush by Carl Hiaasen

Frank Cottrell Boyce reviews Flush by Carl Hiaasen

...You don't come across many political novels these days and when you do, you're often glad that there aren't more of them. But Hiaasen has somehow pulled it off, and I've been enviously trying to figure out his secret. The plot is tight and nippy, with a couple of good twists at the end. All of the characters are beguilingly convincing.... ...

Manga Objection

| No Comments - News - Adult-Themed Comics At Library Shock Parents

Parents of a girl in Orange County, Fla., were shocked to discover that a comic book featuring adult-themed topics, like swinging and drugged and raped girls, was checked out by the 11-year-old at a library, according to a Local 6 News report. The controversial Japanese comic book is part of a series that can be found in the young adult collection at the Orange County Library's Southeast Branch. Local 6 News reported that the comic titled "Peach Girl" is about a young girl drugged by her friends and then set up to be raped.

Miriam Hodgson Obit.

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Guardian Unlimited Books | Obituaries | Miriam Hodgson

I must have missed (see Dec7) at the time this Guardian obit. (by Julia Eccleshare) for Miriam Hodgson.

Stan Bernenstain Guardina Obit.

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Guardian Unlimited Books | Obituaries | Obituary: Stan Berenstain

Stan Bernenstain - Guardian obit. (Julia Eccleshare)

Stan Bernestain Times Obit.

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Stan Berenstain - Comment - Times Online

Sten Berenstain - (London) Times obit.

Lotte Klaver #34

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Lotte's sketchbook

One of Lotte's latest:

Lotte Klaver is a young Dutch illustrator. ACHUKA is featuring her work because we are convinced she has a bright future as an illustrator generally, and as an illustrator of children's books in particular.

Wow Factor Winner

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Is Belfast Mum Next J K rowling?

Sarah Wray fended off competition from 3,500 would-be writers to land a publishing contract for a children's book.

Sarah Wray is excited about her book deal

The Finaghy woman scooped top prize in the WOW Factor writing competition launched by Waterstone's and Faber and Faber.

Her manuscript, The Forbidden Room, will be published next September and promoted in stores throughout UK and Ireland.

Lotte Klaver #33

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Lotte's sketchbook

Lotte's latest:

Lotte Klaver is a young Dutch illustrator. ACHUKA is featuring her work because we are convinced she has a bright future as an illustrator generally, and as an illustrator of children's books in particular.

Horrid Henry

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Guardian Unlimited Books | By genre | Even his teddy bear avoids him ...

He's young, he's extremely naughty and his books sell almost as fast as Harry Potter's. What makes Horrid Henry so fascinating for children? Dina Rabinovitch talks to his creator, Francesca Simon...

Highly Recommended feature

Miriam Hodgson Obit.

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Miriam Hodgson - Comment - Times Online

I was shocked to discover, from this Times obituary, that the esteemed children's books editor Miriam Hodgson had died on November 14th, aged 66. I first met Miriam in the late 1990s, soon after ACHUKA had been established. Cally Poplak had introduced me to her at a Paula Danziger event and the three of us arranged to have lunch together. The genuineness of the commitment, both of the older and the younger woman, to their authors and to their young readership was a tremendous encouragement to me then, just setting out to play my part in promoting the best in children's and young adult books, and a continuing inspiration to me now.

Brilliant editor of children's books with a rare ability to befriend her authors

GREAT EDITORS are rarely praised enough. They labour with sharpened pencils in the back rooms of literature, while their authors accept the bouquets.

Miriam Hodgson was one of the most brilliant editors that the world of children�s books has seen...

Teenage Fiction

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Independent Online Edition > Features

Brandon Robshaw's review of teenage fiction in The Independent...

Carl Hiaasen's Flush "there's a repetiveness about the narration, a stressing of points that the reader already knows, which becomes irritating after a while"

Andy McNab's Payback "The style seldom rises above the competent, but it doesn't need to for this genre of book - it works entirely on gripping plot and authenticity."

Melvin Burgess's Bloodsong "It's a dirty, messy, sticky read. "

David Almond's Clay " weird, haunting novel for teenagers, the kind of novel Graham Greene might have produced if he'd written for this age-group."

Helen Dunmore's Ingo "all wildly implausible, but so gracefully written that one suspends disbelief not just willingly but eagerly."

Adele Geras's Ithaka "I found something to irritate me on every page."

and Geraldine McCaughrean's The White Darkness "This is a literary novel of superb technique, and has more real excitement than any amount of shoot-'em-up action stories. The White Darkness is as good as it gets. "

Toynbee On Narnia

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A Huge Event

| 1 Comment

350 Years of What the Kids Heard - New York Times

New York Times piece on 2471pp-long Norton Anthology of Children's Literature

It's a huge event, a real arrival of children's literature in academic studies," said John Cech, director of the Center for Children's Literature and Culture at the University of Florida in Gainesville. Although the academic study of children's literature is an exploding field, there are only a handful of Ph.D. programs in children's literature in English departments. One purpose of the anthology, said Mr. Zipes, is to encourage departments to add courses.

Guardian Diary

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Guardian Unlimited Books | Review | Diary: Dec 3

This week's Guardian diary goes:

...To a corner of South Kensington that is forever France for the 8th Institut Fran?s youth festival of books, talks and films...

Gift Grab

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Books - reviews and literary news from The Times and The Sunday Times

Brief rounduip recommendations in The Times

Lurie On Lewis

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Guardian Unlimited Books | By genre | His dark materials

Alison Lurie on the fairytale that has divided children and adults alike...

Alsion Lurie examines some of the objections to C. S. Lewis's world.

Kropp Rights Sold

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Coming Soon! - Latest News

Warner Bros. Pictures has bought the film rights to Rick Yancey's young-adult novel The Extraordinary Adventures of Alfred Kropp [recently published in the UK by Bloomsbury] and set it up with Akiva Goldsman's Weed Road Pictures.

Teenage Illustrator

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News Letter - Emily Drawing On Her Youthful Talent

Alfred and the Pirates - Irving Finkel, Emily Donegan (Illustrator)

When Roald Dahl's former right-hand man Quentin Blake describes you as "a real talent", it would be hard not to get carried away. Especially when you're just 15, as in the case of Bangor schoolgirl Emily Donegan, who will be signing copes of the first book for which she has provided the illustrations in her hometown. Amazingly, the teenager started working on the artwork for Alfred and the Pirates, the latest children's book by British Museum curator Irving Finkel, when she was only 12... ...

Peter Sis

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Scripps Howard News Service

Short feature about Peter Sis:

Over the years, Sis, 56, has won numerous awards for his illustrations, including two Caldecott Honors: in 1997, for "Starry Messenger: Galileo Galilei," and, in 1999, for "Tibet: Through the Red Box." His recent books range from picture-book biographies for older readers like "The Tree of Life: A Book Depicting the Life of Charles Darwin, Naturalist, Geologist and Thinker" to "Fire Truck," "Madlenka's Dog" and other playful volumes for preschoolers.

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