May 2007 Archives

Kate Petty Obituary

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Kate Petty - Independent Online Edition > Obituaries

Kate Petty - obituary by Nick Tucker in The Indpependent

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Auckland Writers & Readers Festival: Voices from the crowd - 27 May 2007 - Book News and Reviews - NZ Herald

One of the verdicts on the Auckland Writers & readers Ferstival:

Philip Ardagh (children's author) was hysterically funny. He could be a stand-up comedian...

Out Of Love With Hay

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Battle of Hay-on-Wye: Authors accuse literary festival organisers of selling out - Independent Online Edition > Features

Some authors, it seems, are falling out of love with the Hay Festival, including sometimes children's author Terence Blacker:

Leading the charge is the novelist Margaret Drabble, who attended the first festival in 1988 but has vowed never to return. The author of 17 novels, two biographies, a television play and winner of the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize told The Independent on Sunday it had become too "celebrity conscious". "It's a pity," she said. "The whole thing has become a celebrity festival, not an author's festival. Of course there are some very fine writers there this year. But the whole thing of festivals has become about book sales and marketing, nothing to do with meeting readers. They argue that if they're selling your book then you don't get a fee. But I like to get a fee unless I choose to be a patron or a friend which I am to one or two small festivals. I don't want ?100K and I don't see why Bill Clinton did, and he's not an author." The author Terence Blacker, who has written numerous novels, said he was "bemused" by the reaction he received when he suggested giving a reading of his biography of the theatre impresario and author Willie Donaldson. "I've loved Hay in the past, as performer and audience," he said, "but this year my new biography of Willie Donaldson was rejected on the grounds that a reading from it could only work if it was 'glammed up a bit' - direct quote - with celebrity readers. I can't help feeling that something about the festival may have changed in some way and I'm sad that I'll never be glam enough for it."

Children's TV is social poison, says top novelist | UK News | The Observer

Pullman is concerned the damage done to children's television has gone too far to be corrected without more effort. 'The ideology of "profit before everything" in children's television is toxic,' he said. 'When young audiences are regarded as customers to be separated from their money as quickly and efficiently as possible, there is no chance for life-enhancing work to flourish.' ...

Fuse #8 Acquired

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A Fuse #8 Production: Have a Seat. I Have Something to Tell You.

The excellent US blog, Fuse #8, is to become part of the School Library Journal website. Its author will be paid an undeclared retainer to write at least three entries per week.

Rewarding Silence

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To read or not to read-Arts & Entertainment-Books-TimesOnline

Just caught up with this spirited piece in support of comics and other light reading from yesterday's Sunday Times.
What a star Michael Morpurgo is! If only he could have had longer in situ as Children's Laureate.

There is no more rewarding sound than the silence of 35 children hooked into a story, hanging on every word.

Just so. I was called away at short notice last week to join a Y5 residential visit when one of the accompanying teachers injured her ankle, and found myself reading to a class of children in their bedclothes, slippers and dressing gowns. The book I'd grabbed in a hurry on leaving the house turned out not to be the one I'd intended, so I ended up reading a story I wasn't familiar with - The Fate of Thomas P. Kanne by Brian Jacques from a collection 'Seven Strange and Ghostly Tales', a dark cautionary tale about a graffiti vandal. It was much longer than I realised and had to be continued on a second night but it evoked just the silent response described by Morpurgo above.

"The best teachers," Morpurgo says, "will love books for themselves and want to pass this on."

If only he were still Laureate, repeating this over and over at the highest levels, because it isn't getting through. The question most likely to discomfort newly qulaified teachers (and, even more sadly, sometimes more experienced teachers) when they come to interview is always one about what they would choose to read to a particular class of children.

Very Highly Recommended

(information from Andrea Deakin)

Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Illustrator's Award

Melanie Watt :Scaredy Squirrel : Kids Can Press

Scaredy Squirrel introduces us to a sympathetic little character who has so many fears that they prevent him from leaving the security of his home in a nut tree. Melanie Watt's visual humour is always sympathetic while being funny as she explores the little squirrel's dilemma. Scaredy's final courageous leap beyond his tree is accompanied by a flap that sends him from the confines of the book and his fear into the unknown.

Honour Books

Barbara Reid: Fox Walked Alone: Scholastic Press
Julie Mostad: When You Were Small: Simply Read Books

Young Adult Book Award

William Bell: The Blue Helmet: Doubleday Canada

Lee has been caught breaking and entering, a job done for a local gang. He has only one chance to rehabilitate himself when he is sent to live with his Aunt Reena. Through her influence and those around him in the community Lee begins, slowly but styeadily, to take respondibility for his actions and move out more positively into the community.

Honour Books:

Hadley Dyer : Johnny Kellock Died Today : HarperCollins
Carrie Mac: The Droughtlanders : Orca Publishing

CLA Book of the Year for Children Award

Hadley Dyer: Johnny Kellock Died Today : HarperCollins

Honour Books:

Tim Wynne-Jones: Rex Zero and the End of the World: Groundwood Books
Deborah Ellis : I am a Taxi : Groundwood Books


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ACHUKA is not going to Hay for the Red House Children's Book Awards this year. Lovely as it was to be there last year in the end-of-festival heat (I hope, for the sake of those who are attending this year, the weather will look up as this week goes on, just as it did in 2006) and to be able to follow up the awards themselves with those brilliantly entertaining star appearances by Eoin Colfer and Daniel Handler (see our report from last year), it is, as I hinted might be the case at the time, partly the new venue's inaccessibility that has discouraged us from going. To attend the festival in any degree of comfort requires considerable pre-booking, with regard to accommodation, travel etc.
So, instead of clicking away with the ACHUKA camera in the tent at Hay, I'll be travelling a similar distance to get first sight of our second grandchild. Well, I did say the venue was only part of the reason for non-attendance this year ;)
Apologies then to the shortlisted authors and illustrators and eventual winners for the fact that coverage of the awards this year will be limited to a short blog entry and main page listing.

ST Book Of The Week

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Children�s book of the week-Arts & Entertainment-Books-TimesOnline

Sunday Times Children's Book Of The Week

The Deep by Helen Dunmore

Agent Interviewed

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Guardian Prize Longlist

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May 26: Guardian Children's Book Prize Shortlist | Review | Guardian Unlimited Books

The longlist for this year's Guardain Prize:

The Boyhood of Burglar Bill by Allan Ahlberg

Stoneheart by Charlie Fletcher

The Falconer's Knot by Mary Hoffman

Fearless by Tim Lott

The Penalty by Mal Peet

The Truth Sayer by Sally Prue

Mr Gum and the Biscuit Billionaire by Andy Stanton

Finding Violet Park by Jenny Valentine

The winner, who will receive a cheque for �1,500, will be announced in the Guardian on September 28.

This year's judges are Philip Reeve, who won last year with A Darkling Plain; Linda Newbery, winner of this year's Costa children's book of the year with Set in Stone; and Eleanor Updale, creator of the Montmorency novels.

Lloyd Alexander - NYT Obit

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Lloyd Alexander Obit

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Lloyd Alexander, 83; children's author wrote 'Prydain Chronicles' - Los Angeles Times

The American author, Lloyd Alexander, died last week...

LA Times obit

The author of more than 20 children's books, Alexander is probably best known for "The Prydain Chronicles," a five-book series he wrote in the 1960s.

Picture Book Award

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City Writer Vies For Book Prize (from Oxford Mail)

Oxford artist and writer Mini Grey is in the running for an innovative �1,000 prize for her children's picture book Traction Man Is Here. Children from 14 primary schools in Dundee will pick the winner of four books shortlisted for the City of Discovery Picture Book Award. Year 6 pupils will read the stories to younger children who have just started school, analyse their reactions and draw up reports. Both groups of youngsters will vote. The other contenders are Dan and Diesel by Charlotte Hudson & Lindsey Gardiner Dig the Dog by Alison Maloney & Maddy McClellan and I'm Special I'm Me by Ann Meek & Sarah Massini

The winner will be announced on Thursday, June 7.

Breasts In The Highland

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The Herald : Features: MAIN FEATURES

A Highland health board has enlisted the help of a well known children's author and illustrator, Mairi Hedderwick, to promote breastfeeding. Hedderwick, an outspoken proponent of the "breast is best" approach, had to battle with her publisher to include illustrations of the mums in her stories breastfeeding, but has done so repeatedly over the years. Now her pictures are to be used to promote the practice in the Highlands...

Margaret Clark

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Margaret Clark-Comment-Obituaries-TimesOnline

Margaret Clark, editor - Times obituary

also, Julia Eccleshare's obituary of Cark in The Guardian

ST Book Of The Week

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Sunday Times Children's Book Of The Week

Small Billy and the Midnight Star by Nette Hilton and Bruce Whatley

Since the recent redesign of The Times website, linking to children's book reviews has become more difficult. The latest children's books reviews are not being consistently listed in the reviews summary. A search for 'Nicolette Jones' normally locates the Book of the Week url, but is currently returning '0 results', as is a search for the 'Small Billy'. Previously, the Children's Book of the Week slot was always included in the full reviews listing.
If anyone knows of a better way to navigate through the new system, do let me know!

Have now find the direct link: Here it is...

Pieces Of Eight

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Ahoy there, me �earties-Arts & Entertainment-Books-Children-TimesOnline

In a review of half a dozen titles, Amanda Craig advises caution when selecting Pirates reading:

although some are treasures, not all are laden with pieces of eight...

Not Hanging About At Hanging Rock

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Review: Rift by Beverly Birch | Review | Guardian Unlimited Books

An admiring review of Rift by Bevelrly Birch. Marcus Sedgwick likes the way she "present(s) a strong and simple idea and do(es)n't hang about":

This is an intelligent piece of writing, one which brought back happy memories of Peter Dickinson's superb archaeological adventure A Bone from a Dry Sea. Birch, with the humility of a confident writer, pays her dues: she references Picnic at Hanging Rock at an appropriate moment, showing us that just because an idea has been explored once before does not mean it cannot also be taken in other, equally interesting directions.

Deakin Newsletter May 2007

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Deakin Newsletter May 2007

Much to ACHUKA's pleasure, Andrea Deakin's newsletter for May 2007 reverts to its former format.
Read especially the feature on Tundra Books' 40th anniversary.

This May Tundra Books is celebrating its 40th Anniversary. In 1967 May Cutler, an innovative lover of the arts and a Montreal-based writer and editor, founded a company devoted to creating the best possible books for Canadian children. By the time I had started reviewing, in March 1971, the company had already made its mark with the excellence of its production.

Branford Boase Shortlist

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Peters Bookselling Services

Another one that seems to have slipped past me:
The Branfrod Boase Shortlist

Gideon the Cutpurse by Linda Buckley-Archer, edited by Venetia Gosling, Simon & Schuster

A Swift Pure Cry by Siobhan Dowd, edited and published by David Fickling

Stoneheart by Charlie Fletcher, edited by Anne McNeil, published by Hodder

Beast by Ally Kennen, edited by Marion Lloyd, published by Marion Lloyd/Scholastic

The Awful Tale of Agatha Bilke by Sian Pattenden, edited by Aurea Carpenter, published by Short Books

You�re a bad man, Mr Gum by Andy Stanton, edited by Leah Thaxton, published by Egmont

Note of Madness by Tabitha Suzuma, edited by Charlie Sheppard, published by Random House

The judging panel included Nicolette Jones, writer and critic, Claudia Mody, fiction buyer for Waterstones, Annie Everall of Derbyshire Libraries and Frances Hardinge, who won last year for her debut novel, Fly by Night.

The winner will be announced at an award ceremony on Thursday, 28th June at Walker Books in London.

Bisto Winner

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This was announced Monday. Apologies for the delay:

Dublin born author, John Boyne won the Bisto Book of the Year �06/�07 for his book The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. The results of the seventeenth Bisto Book of the Year Awards were announced on Monday, 14 May 2007 at a ceremony in No.6 Kildare Street, Dublin.

John was presented with the newly commissioned Bisto Book of the Year Trophy and a cheque for E10,000 by Senator David Norris and Chairperson of the Judging Panel, Mary Shine Thompson.

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is John's first book written for children and tells the story of a nine year old boy struggling to understand what is happening around him in Auschwitz during World War II. The novel has been shortlisted for many literary awards including the British Books Awards.

This year�s Eil�s Dillon Award went to Siobhan Dowd, author of A Swift Pure Cry. Siobhan was presented with a specially commissioned glass sculpture and a cheque for E3,000.

Three CBI Bisto Honour Awards (E2,000 & framed certificate) were also presented to:
Oliver Jeffers, author and illustrator of The Incredible Book Eating Boy, �il�s N� Dhuibhne for Hurlamaboc and Siobh�n Parkinson for Something Invisible.

Also shortlisted for this year�s awards were
Jon Berkely for The Palace of Laughter
Eoin Colfer for Artemis Fowl & the Lost Colony
illustrator P.J. Lynch for A Christmas Carol
Colm�n � Raghallaigh for An T�in
and Kate Thompson for The Fourth Horseman.

New Editor For Young Writer

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Following receipt of an Arts Council grant, Kate Jones, magazine founder, has appointed someone to take over as editor of Young Writer. Clare Pollard is a 28 year old poet and playright. She also teaches creative writing for the Arvon Foundation.

CLPE Poetry Award

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Here is the shortlist for the 2007 CLPE Poetry Award:

Chrissie Gittins: I Don�t Want an Avocado for an Uncle, illustrated by Kev Adamson, Rabbit Hole Publications �5.99 9780954328818

Julie Johnstone (editor): The Thing That Mattered Most. Scottish Poems for Children, illustrated by Iain McIntosh, Scottish PoetryLibrary/Black & White Publishing �6.99 9781845020958

Tony Mitton: My Hat and All That, illustrated by Sue Heap, Corgi �3.99 9780440867258

Gaby Morgan (editor): Fairy Poems, illustrated by Matilda Harrison, Macmillan �5.99 97840508558

Jackie Morris (compiler and illustrator): The Barefoot Book of Classic Poems, Barefoot Books �14.99 9781905236558

John Siddique: Don�t Wear It On Your Head, Don�t Stick It Down Your Pants, Peepal Tree Press �4.95 9781845230562

The judges are Ian McMillan and Fiona Waters, and the judging panel is chaired by Margaret Meek Spencer.

The winner will be announced at a ceremony at CLPE on Wednesday June 13th 2007.

The CLPE Poetry Award, for a book of poetry for children, was launched by the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education in 2003. Previous winners have included John Agard, Grace Nichols and Roger McGough. The Award is sponsored by Mr and Mrs Pye�s Charitable Foundation.

NZ Post Book Awards

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Best New Zealand Children's Books Announced

The overall winner was The Illustrated History of the South Pacific by Marcia Stenson, which was named the book of the year, as well as the best non-fiction book.

The junior fiction category was won by Thor's Tale by Janice Marriott. Her book tells the story of a meeting between a boy on a Norwegian whaling station on the sub-Antarctic island of South Georgia, and the crew of the British exploration ship Endurance.

Kiss Kiss Yuck Yuck by Kyle Mewburn, won the award for best picture book and the children's choice award. It was illustrated by Ali Teo and John O'Reilly.

The best first book was The Three Fishing Brother Gruff, a re-working of the three billy goats gruff story, by Ben Galbraith.

New Safe Place For Kevin Brooks

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On the 22nd April Puffin had to lock the What Is Robert/being forum and prevent any new posts or discussion. This was because the forum had been hit by a wave of spam.

We now hear that a decision has been taken to hand over administration of the forum to "a much bigger website with higher technical ability". is a dedicated science fiction/ fantasy fiction website with many forums in which to discuss literature. Kevin Brooks will now have his own section on that site:

This means that when users click on the forum link of they will be redirected to the specific Kevin Brooks area. In this area they will be able to post as usual and hopefully resume their previous discussions.


Alan Johnson, Secretary of State for Education and Skills, has invited every maintained secondary school in England to choose 20 free books for their library as part of a �600,000 initiative to encourage more teenage boys to read for pleasure.

Schools will be able to select the books from a new �Boys Into Books� list commissioned by the Department for Education and Skills and created by the School Library Association (SLA). It has put together a collection that incorporates classic novels with action, adventure, fantasy, crime, horror and sports titles, as well as fact-based books, history and humour.

[Press release continues, with info. about of titles on the list]

Science Book Winner 2007

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Royal Society Science Book Junior Winner

Can you feel the force?, by Richard Hammond, published by Dorling Kindersley

The President of the Royal Society, Martin Rees announced these titles as the Winners of the Junior Prize and the General Prize respectively, at an award ceremony held last night at the Royal Society in London.

The Junior Prize is given to the best book written for young people aged up to 14 years old.

Can you feel the force? uses physics to answer questions such as, �can you lie on a bed of nails?, �what�s inside an atom?� and �can you walk on custard?�. It also provides an accessible and entertaining introduction to some of the great scientists, such as Newton and Galileo, and outlines simple experiments to try at home.

Commenting on Can you feel the Force?, Anna aged 13 and one of the Junior Judges said: �It was good because it had unusual facts that you wouldn�t know from science lessons.�

Andrew aged 11 said: �The illustrations were good but my favourite bit was the way of walking on custard.�

Adele aged 11 said: �I didn�t vote for it just because Richard Hammond wrote it, it truly was the best.�

Eleanor Updale, chair of the junior judging panels said: �This instantly appealing book traces the roots of physics to the dawn of civilization, but concentrates on the way physical forces are at work in all our lives today. With clear illustrations, practical experiments, and well-paced text, it makes an interest in science look like fun � and above all, normal.�

The other books short listed for this year�s Junior prize were:

� How nearly everything was invented by the brainwaves devised and illustrated by Ralph and Lisa Lazar, and written by Jilly MacLeod.

� It�s true! Space turns you into spaghetti by Heather Catchpole and Vanessa Woods (Allen and Unwin)

� KFK Natural Disasters by Andrew Langley (Kingfisher Knowledge)

� My Body Book by Mick Manning and Brita Granstr�m (Franklin Watts)

� Science Investigations: Electricity by John Farndon (Wayland)

Back Pages Gem

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Oenone Crossley-Holland takes her dad to school | eG weekly |

Although I frequently fall behind with newspaper reading, I never throw a copy away without at least giving each page a good scan, even if it takes me weeks to get to it. Case in point being this account from April 17th of a visit by Kevin Crossley-Holland to the school where his daughter teaches.

All sorts of ideas were challenged when our teacher columnist Oenone Crossley-Holland took her author dad to school

Kevin Crossley-Holland and Oenone Crossley-Holland

ST Book Of The Week

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Children�s book of the week-Arts & Entertainment-Books-TimesOnline

Sunday Times Children's Book Of The Week

The Wave Runners by Kai Meyer tran. Anthea Bell

The book ends on a cliffhanger that is in no way a conclusion, the tone is deliberately inconsistent and episodes unfold with a certain formlessness, but any Captain Jack fan already seduced by adventure on the high seas will enjoy this drama of cannon fire, magic spells and tongue-in-cheek dialogue. NICOLETTE JONES


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Did you know?-Arts & Entertainment-Books-Children-TimesOnline

Titles-by-kiddie-committee ... What do YOU reckon?


Foot In Both Worlds

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On the crest of her wave-Arts & Entertainment-Books-Children-TimesOnline

Profile of adult and children's author Helen Dunmore by Amanda Craig, with reference to Dunmore's latest children's title, The Deep

It's All Ecological Now

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After the flood | By genre | Guardian Unlimited Books

Mary Hoffman reviews Zenith by Julie Bertagna

Readers will be avid for the final book. While they wait, till next year, they can ponder the little next-generation vignettes that form an epilogue to Zenith. All may not be quite as it seems.

Bath Festival Sponsors

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John McLay, director of the inaugural Bath Festival of Children�s Literature, taking place between 21st-30th September 2007, has announced two major headline sponsors.

The Daily Telegraph will be the national media and title sponsor for the festival. Waterstone�s are on board as headline sponsor and will handle book sales throughout the 10-day series of events for children, young adults and families.

The Daily Telegraph Bath Festival of Children�s Literature has lined up many of the biggest names in children�s publishing. Festival confirmations so far include present Children�s Laureate Jacqueline Wilson, Eoin Colfer, Lauren Child, Anthony Horowitz, Allan Ahlberg, Louise Rennison, Garth Nix, Darren Shan, Julia Donaldson, Francesca Simon, Geraldine McCaughrean, Martin Brown, Cathy Cassidy, David Almond, Jenny Nimmo, Philip Reeve and Joanne Harris.

New US Agency

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Working Partners have announced the creation of a new literary agency based in the USA, to be headed up by Sarah Davies, currently Publishing Director of Macmillan Children�s Books. The agency will focus on children�s fiction and will start trading in early autumn this year. Sarah will be based in Washington DC. Plans regarding the UK are to be announced in due course.

Sarah Davies has had a long career in children�s publishing, having spent several years at HarperCollins and Transworld before moving to Macmillan Children�s Books in 1994. In 2004 she became Publishing Director of MCB, with editorial responsibility for the whole children�s list, which comprises fiction - including the Young Picador teen imprint - picture books and gift books, non-fiction and poetry, and the Campbell novelty books imprint. Sarah has maintained her particular involvement in fiction and has worked with many leading authors, including Meg Cabot, Judy Blume and Sarah Mlynowski in the US, and Gwyneth Rees, Julia Donaldson, Geri Halliwell, Julie Burchill and Julie Bertagna in the UK - as well as acquiring and helping to build many new writers on both sides of the Atlantic.

Working Partners has had considerable success as a packager of children�s fiction and has sold series to nearly every US and UK children�s publisher.

Sarah Davies says: �I have long admired Working Partners for their entrepreneurial spirit and incredible commercial track record. To be asked to set up a business in the USA for them � and to find and nurture talent from its grass-roots � is a really thrilling opportunity.�

Chris Snowdon, Managing Director of Working Partners, says: �Sarah will be leaving Macmillan at the end of July 2007 and will join Working Partners in September prior to her move to the USA in October. We are over the moon and extremely excited that Sarah has chosen to make her next career move with WP.�

Giving Us Ideas

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A Fuse #8 Production

You will have noticed that ACHOCKABLOG has been a bit thin on launch events and party picture galleries so far in 2007. This recent post from fusenumber8's blog gives us an idea for the next event we do attend.


# of Males in Attendance: 2 (this is actually quite high)
Outdoor Temperature: 60 degrees or so
# of Agents: 2
# of Cards I Received: 2
Librarians: 6(?)
Total Number of Attendees: Dunno. Could have been 30. 30 sounds right, right? Let's say 30.
Hot Shoes of Children's Literature: Don't remember her name, but there was a pair of black leather boots on one of the Queens librarians (memory foggy) that probably took the cake.

Bologna About Books?

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Animation World Magazine

Bologna Book Fair - from an animation/licensing angle.


10 Years Of The Freak

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Shanville Monthly 82

Bit late posting the link to the latest Shanville Monthly, and therefore have just missed, by a day, a significant anniversary:

January 2010 will mark the tenth anniversary of when "Cirque Du Freak" first saw print. But I started work on the book two and a half years before that, on May 8th, 1997 to be precise!!! That means on this coming Tuesday, May 8th, 2007 it will be TEN YEARS since the actual conception and birth of "Cirque Du Freak"

ST Book Of The Week

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Children�s book of the week-Arts & Entertainment-Books-TimesOnline

Sunday Times Children's Book Of The Week

Verdigris Deep by Brances Hardynge

Nicolette Jones salutes 'genius':

What makes this book really remarkable... is the word-by-word, phrase-by-phrase, writerly care in finding the mot juste, the perfect metaphor, striking image, or resonant nuance. A woman looks at a child �absently as if to see whether she had been delivered the right package�; the feeling of being watched is like �dead leaves down the back of your jumper�; supermarket trolleys have �far too much body language for objects with no heads or limbs�. Genius.

Lots Of Chracterless Fun

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Among the unbrellas | Review | Guardian Unlimited Books

Josh Lacey finds Un Lun Dun by China Mieville fun but lacking in characterisation:

for science-fiction fans who don't mind the lack of characterisation, Un Lun Dun should provide lots of fun.

Techno For teens

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SLA - School Librarian of the Year Award

The School Librarian Of The Year Honour List will be announced today by Michael Morpurgo at the Tower of London, with the winner selected later in the month.

Jacqueline Wilson Fanclub

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Publisher Random House Children's Books has launched the Jacqueline Wilson online fan club, developed by UK digital content and design agency Prism Entertainment.

Wilson is best known for The Story of Tracy Beaker, which has been adapted into a highly successful television series for CBBC.

The new site,, allows Wilson fans to 'social network' in a safe environment with their peers and discuss the topical issues that her books reflect, as well as submit reviews, play games and receive free downloads.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from May 2007 listed from newest to oldest.

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