March 2008 Archives

Ten Best New Illustrators

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The UK's Best New Illustrators were revealed today by Children's Laureate Michael Rosen at the Children's Book Fair in Bologna.

The final ten represent the best rising talent in the field of illustration today, who demonstrate remarkable creative flair, artistic skill and boundless imagination in their work.

The UK's ten Best New Illustrators are:

Alexis Deacon
Polly Dunbar
Lisa Evans
Emily Gravett
Mini Grey
Oliver Jeffers
David Lucas
Catherine Rayner
Joel Stewart
Vicky White

David Roberts and Sam Lloyd were highly commended.

Shirley Hughes comments:
"The varied talents of these ten new illustrators represent the marvellous vitality of our profession. In an era in which we are bombarded by moving electronic imagery, looking at picture books is not only a vital part of learning to read but offers a lifelong pleasure in itself."

An exhibition of works by the ten Best New Illustrators will run at the Illustration Cupboard, Piccadilly, London from 17 April - 3 May.

Hans Christian Andersen Award Winners

The Hans Christian Andersen Jury of the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) announces that J�rg Schubiger (Switzerland) is the winner of the 2008 Hans Christian Andersen Author Award and Roberto Innocenti (Italy) is the winner of the 2008 Hans Christian Andersen Award for Illustration.

The Awards will be presented to the winners at the opening ceremony of IBBY's Congress in Copenhagen, Denmark on Sunday, 7 September 2008.

Where The Wild Things movie...

Where the Wild Things Are is being accused of scaring kids-- before it even gets released...

Publishers Weekly reviews

includes a review of Linda Newbery's Lost Boy

The Influence of a Feature Writer


Donald Sutherland

featured in The Observer by Carole Cadwalladr

I saw Donald Sutherland interviewed on Jonathan Ross on Friday night. It was midly entertaining, in an end-of-week kind of way. This interview in The Observer was much more effective, however, in communicating the personality of the man. One of the reasons why children's authors and illustrators remain low profile is that they are so rarely afforded the luxury of a feature interview. And when they are the subject of a feature in one of those highly laudable publications such as Books for Keeps it tends to be, by comparison with Cadwalldr's skillfully vivid rendition, earnestly bland. There are some exceptions. Which makes the loss of Dina Rabinovitch all the more tragic. Her profiles in The Guardian were exceptional in that they approached children's writers just as if they were any other part of the entertainment industry - in other words, as if they were actors or musicians. She was as good a profile writer as Cadwalldr (whose work I don't really know, but who certainly did a good job here). It is easy to be dismissive of the effect a good feature or profile can have. The writers, after all, are not reviewers, or critics, but mere journalists or hacks - so the argument goes.
To my mind, it's not more review space that children's books need, it's more interview and profile columns.

[Posted to provoke comment!]

Margaret Attwood on Anne of Green Gables from yesterday's Guardian review

The story of an orphaned, talkative, red-headed 11-year-old sent to a remote farm by mistake, Anne of Green Gables was an instant success in 1908 and, a century later, is still loved by girls from Canada to Japan. Margaret Atwood salutes a childhood classic....

Highly Recommended

There's another way of reading Anne of Green Gables, and that's to assume that the true central character is not Anne, but Marilla Cuthbert. Anne herself doesn't really change throughout the book. She grows taller, her hair turns from "carrots" to "a handsome auburn", her clothes get much prettier, due to the spirit of clothes competition she awakens in Marilla, she talks less, though more thoughtfully, but that's about it. As she herself says, she's still the same girl inside. Similarly, Matthew remains Matthew, and Anne's best chum Diana is equally static. Only Marilla unfolds into something unimaginable to us at the beginning of the book. Her growing love for Anne, and her growing ability to express that love - not Anne's duckling-to-swan act - is the real magic transformation. Anne is the catalyst who allows the crisp, rigid Marilla to finally express her long-buried softer human emotions. At the beginning of the book, it's Anne who does all the crying; by the end of it, much of this task has been transferred to Marilla. As Mrs Rachel Lynde says, "Marilla Cuthbert has got mellow. That's what."

What do people think of the current spate of prequels, viz Before Green Gables by Budge Wilson?

The Pearce Lecture

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Philippa Pearce Memorial Lecture

On 11th September 2008, at Homerton College, Cambridge - an institution with which she was always happy to be involved - the inaugural lecture will take the form of a direct tribute to Philippa Pearce's work. Subsequent lectures will range more widely, over the works of others, but will tend to reflect her own wide-ranging literary interests in, for example, the short story, the ghost story, the picture book and, of course, the novel.

This Afternoon, 3pm BBC1


Major 90-minute dramatisation of David Almond's Clay

on BBC1 at 3pm...

Can't watch it live? Record it, or watch it during the coming week on iplayer

with her head in the clouds

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with her head in the clouds, originally uploaded by panta rhei.

Isn't this a beautiful photo?

[of a girl reading The Dark Is Rising by Susan Cooper]



The commenting feature has been tried and tested and I can confirm that it is now fully functional. If you are unable to comment, please read the following carefully:

No anonymous comments are permitted on ACHOCKABLOG. If you wish to comment you have to sign in. You will be prompted to do this when you try and add a comment. If you already have user accounts with any of the following, the blog will accept your user and password details:

  • Typekey

  • Vox

  • LiveJournal

If you don't, you will need to sign up directly with the Achuka Blog.
After you have filled in the registration form, you will be sent an email. You have to respond to the email before your user details become active. This is common practice, and prevents spammers signing up with dummy email addresses.

I will receive email notification every time a new person signs up to the blog, so I hope my inbox will fill up with some of those over the next few days.

I am going to make a special point of posting comment-worthy blog posts during the coming week, so that we can really see if the system is working properly or not.

Sunday Times Easter Roundup

inadvertently missed at weekend...
apologies to Nicolette (Jones) and you

Simon & Schuster Acquire

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Simon & Schuster UK Ltd today announced the joint UK and US acquisition of a new fantasy trilogy aimed at young adults from d�but author, Sarah Rees Brennan.

The deal, which is for US and UK rights, including audio, was negotiated by Ingrid Selberg, Publishing Director of Simon & Schuster UK Ltd, Karen Wojtyla, Executive Editor of Margaret K. McElderry Books, and Kristin Nelson of Nelson Literary Agency, LLC.

Ingrid Selberg, Publishing Director, comments "Sarah Rees Brennan is an amazing new talent and we are thrilled to add her to our list of stunning d�but authors. The Demon's Lexicon is a compelling tale, full of mystery, passion and danger, set in the dark shadows of contemporary London. Fans of Stephanie Meyer, Holly Black and Cassandra Clare will welcome this new voice."

The first book in the series will publish in the UK in paperback, summer of 2009, followed by Book 2 in 2010 and Book 3 in 2011.

Sarah Rees Brennan was born and raised in Ireland. She has lived and worked in New York and London but she has now returned to Ireland to write and use as a home base for her future adventures. Visit Sarah online at

Although The Demon's Lexicon will be her first novel, the Irish author already has a large fan base for her writing, and has developed a wide audience through her popular blog,, where she writes movie parodies, book reviews, original stories and fan fiction, and has over four thousand registered visitors.

The Bisto Book of the Year Awards Shortlist

The Alchemyst by Michael Scott

The Black Book of Secrets by FE Higgins

Discover Art by Jessica O'Donnell

Gaiscioch na Beilte Uaine le Caitriona Nic Sheain agus Andrew Whitson

The Last of the High Kings by Kate Thompson

The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd

The Thing With Finn by Tom Kelly

Titanic 2020 by Colin Bateman

The Way Back Home by Oliver Jeffers

Wilderness by Roddy Doyle

Darren Shan ~ charity auction

Darren Shan writes in a newsletter to his subscribers:

Charity organisation Autism Speaks has set up an auction on ebay, in which many authors are giving fans the chance to buy a place in one of their future books. I was honoured to be approached by them, and had no hesitation in agreeing to take part. In my auction, the winner's name will appear in Book 8 of The Demonata in October 2008 -- the character will have quite a good part, and will even enjoy a death scene -- that's right, the winner will get to be KILLED OFF in a Darren Shan book!!!! Alternatively I'll give the winner the chance to have their name appear in Hell's Horizon (my second D B Shan book) in March 2009 if they prefer. The link to the auction is at the top and bottom of this email. You can also check out the rest of the auction line-up by clicking on this link:

The auction will run from March 23rd to April 2nd. This will be a unique opportunity for one lucky winner to have their name immortalised in a Darren Shan book forever!! All proceeds from the auction will go to Autism Speaks, a charity which seeks to help research the causes of autism.

Blog Format, Comments & Registration

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The blog is sticking with one of Movabletype's default formats for the time being, because comments and registration is working - we think.
It would be good if a few of you could try leaving a test comment, so that we know everytrhing's OK. Once sure of that, the blog will start to look like the rest of the site again, and indeed, in line with a previous announcement, gradually take over from the main page as the route into the site.

Scotsman Spring Roundup by Kathryn Ross

Too hung up about authorship?

Joanne Harris, who wrote Chocolat and is now writing for children, said that it would be "depressing beyond anything" if Price wins on April 9. "If this is an award for people who write books then it should be open only to people who write books, not to somebody who lends their name to a book, or who would have written a book if they had time but didn't."

... ...
However, the current Children's Laureate has leapt to Price's defence. Michael Rosen said that Roald Dahl was a rarity among children's writers in producing books that were purely his own work. "We get too hung up about authorship. None of us writes a book entirely on our own. We get help from editors, or ideas might come from conversations with our families, or children. The issue is whether the book's good, not who has written it. If Jordan or any of her helpers have written a very good book then absolutely good luck to them."

What do you think?

Full shortlist:
That's Not My Penguin Fiona Watt
Horrid Henry and the Abominable Snowman Francesca Simon
Katie Price's Perfect Ponies Katie Price
Born to Run Michael Morpurgo
Kiss Jacqueline Wilson

Philip Pullman interviewed in The Times

"I want a big audience, partly because the more readers you get the more money you get. And if you want a big audience you have to write clearly and tell a story people are interested in." With this in mind, he has stuck to his preferred storytelling device in his latest work: the omniscient narrator. He most admires "the great 19th-century novelists", has little time for the tricksy subversions practised by highbrow modernists and denies there is much nourishment to be gained from exploring "the endless ways of saying things"...

Times Book review by Amanda Craig

At 104 pages long, Once Upon a Time in the North is both a compelling adventure and the kind of philosophical game familiar from the author's shorter novels (I Was A Rat!, Count Karlstein and Clockwork). There are bills of lading, extracts from Lee's half-destroyed book on The Elements of Aerial Navigation, a fallacious newspaper report and a board game at the back about getting your balloon as close to the Pole without being "sucked into a terrible and certain death in the Polar Maelstrom". Compared with the epic Miltonic grandeur of His Dark Materials we get more of a Blake poem... ...

Puffin Acquisition

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Lindsey Heaven, Senior Fiction Editor at Puffin Books, has acquired UK and Commonwealth rights to The Devil's Kiss by Sarwat Chadda from Sarah Davies of the Greenhouse Literary Agency. North American and Canadian rights were snapped up simultaneously by Hyperion in "a major six-figure deal".

The Devil's Kiss is described as "a dark, supernatural thriller following the life of fifteen-year-old Bill SanGreal who is thrust into the modern-day remnant of the Knights Templar by her father, the Grandmaster. Billi's life, as the first-ever Templar girl, is a disciplined, brutal round of weapon's practice, demon killing and occult lore and she yearns for the freedom of a normal life - frustratingly unattainable for a secret warrior sworn to defeat the Unholy."

Sarah Davies and Lindsey Heaven discovered Sarwat Chadda whilst judging the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators' (SCBWI) 'Undiscovered Voices' writing competition in Autumn 2007 Lindsey Heaven says, 'This is Darren Shan meets The Da Vinci Code; a dark thriller shot through with real history and legend that will appeal to both boys and girls. Full of drama, passion and pace, The Devil's Kiss is an utterly original supernatural thriller from a stylish, powerful and cinematic new voice in teen writing.'
Sarwat Chadda was brought up a Muslim and is married to a vicar's daughter. He says his home life 'curiously reflects the ongoing conflict between Islam and Christianity, especially when it comes to whose turn it is to do the dishes.' He was raised on stories of Saladin, Richard the Lion-heart and the Crusades, viewed from both sides, and cut his authorial teeth writing his own role-playing scenarios. He is an engineer and lives in London.

The Devil's Kiss by Sarwat Chadda will be published by Puffin with a major
PR and marketing campaign in Spring 2009.

Tolkien memorabilia sale

A treasure trove of JRR Tolkien memorabilia fetched tens of thousands of pounds when it went under the hammer today.

Lots included the last known photograph of the famous Oxford author.

The picture, auctioned by Bonhams in London, was taken by the fantasy writer's grandson Michael, on August 9, 1973.

The auction also offered the ultimate prize for Tolkien fans - a copy of the 1937 first edition of The Hobbit, inscribed by Tolkien to his friend Elaine Griffiths.

The book was sold to a telephone bidder for �60,000 - twice the pre-sale estimate and a world record for a signed copy of The Hobbit.

... ...

UKLA Shortlist

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UKLA Children's Book Award Shortlist

The United Kingdom Literacy Association has announced the shortlist for its 2008 Children's Book Award. Two awards - one for a picture book and one for fiction - will be made.

The award is given to honour writers whose use of language has a powerful impact on the reader. It is unique amongst children book awards in that the shortlist is decided by teachers. This year 66 books were submitted by publishers, and teachers from Liverpool and Croydon read and shared books, before voting to produce the shortlist.

The two prize winners of this year's award will be announced on July 12th at UKLA's 44th International conference, to be held at Liverpool Hope University, July 11th-13th.

Picture Book Shortlist
The Cow that Laid an Egg - Andy Cutbill & Russell Ayto
The Way Back Home - Oliver Jeffers
A Long Way Home - Elizabeth Baguley & Jane Chapman
Eliza and the Moonchild - Emma Chichester Clark
Stuck in the Mud - Jane Clarke & Garry Parsons
Penguin - Polly Dunbar

Fiction Shortlist
Here Lies Arthur - Philip Reeve.
Give me Shelter - Ed.Tony Bradman
Uncle Montague's Tales of Terror - Chris Priestley
Anna Hibiscus - Atinuke
My Dad's a Birdman - David Almond
Tamburlaine's Elephants - Geraldine McCaughrean
The Bower Bird - Ann Kelly
The Story Spinner told by Phil McDermott

Philip Pullman - Yorkshire Post

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Philip Pullman interviewed...

As a famous writer, Pullman is often asked for advice by aspiring novelists. "The advice people are often given is study the markets, I say do exactly the opposite. What the market has been saying for the last 10 years is 'we want another Harry Potter', but no one was saying 'where's the first Harry Potter book?' The only person who was thinking about that was JK Rowling.

"So write what you want to write, because people don't know what they want to read. It's like politicians asking focus groups what they should be doing. If you're in politics you should know what you want to do."

Reading Agency Vacancy

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Children's and Young People's Project Manager

The Reading Agency is looking for an experienced Project Manager, who will be responsible for the partnership between 8 children's publishers and the UK library network and will also project manage the development of the new young people's website.

The closing date for applications is 5pm on Wednesday 19 March 2008.
Interviews will be held in London on Tuesday 8 April 2008.

Punsishing The Publisher - Guardian blog

Of Interest

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Punishing The Publisher, Guardian blog

Temporary Blog Format

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Excuse the temporary blog format.
Necessary disruption in order to get Comments working again :)

Bebo Promotion

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Bebo Page for Sugarcoated

Bebo is being used to help virally promote the latest teen title from Catherine Forde, Sugarcoated

Brian Wildsmith exhibition

currently showing at The Illustration Cupboard

The artist will be at the gallery on Wednesday 19th March 2pm

Deakin Newsletter March 2008

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Andrea Deakin's monthly newsletter

As always, highly recommended!

NY Times book review

NY Times review of Unwind by Neal Shusterman

Telegraph review

The Other Book by Philip Womack, reviewed by Artemis Cooper

this is an impressive debut for a writer going into a very crowded field. It's too early to say whether Bloomsbury have found the next You Know Who in Womack, but they should nurture his talent and edit him better (the word "malevolent", applied to Mrs Phipps, appeared with exasperating frequency).

NY Times book review

Smash! Crash! by Jon Scieszka

Guardian Review

A warmly intelligent and appreciative review from Chris Riddell of The Art Of William Steig

The huge success of the Shrek movies has, perhaps, obscured the reputation of the man who created the cheerfully repulsive ogre.

With the slick, knowing movies in mind, it is refreshing to thumb through the pages of The Art of William Steig and appreciate the wit, freshness and breadth of his work...

Easter Roundup - The Times

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Easter Roundup by Amanda Craig, in The Times, mentioning:

The Odd Egg by Emily Gravett
Chicky Chicky Chook Chook by Cathy Maclennan
Fine As We Are by Algy Craig Hall
Gallop! by Rufus Butler Seder
Little Boat by Thomas Docherty
Ice Road: The Wickit Chronicles by Joan Lennon
Philippa Fisher's Fairy Godsister by Liz Kessler
The King of the Copper Mountains by Paul Biegel
Lee Raven, Boy Thief by Zizou Corder
A Nest of Vipers by Catherine Johnson
Hazel's Phantasmagoria by Leander Deeny
Resistance and Dogfight by Craig Simpson
Broken Glass by Sally Grindley
Dragon Moon by Carole Wilkinson
The Bone Magician by F.E. Higgins
Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd
Broken Soup by Jenny Valentine
Shadow Web by N.M. Browne
The Amazing Mind of Alice Makin by Alan Shea
The Savage by David Almond

Puffin Website Relaunch

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Puffin Books has relaunched its website,

Anna Rafferty, Online Marketing Director for Penguin, says, 'Puffin was the first children's publisher to launch its own website in 1997, leading the way in a new era of technology. The 'worldwide web' has changed dramatically since the late 90s however and as a publisher always at the forefront of digital media (Penguin was the first publisher to launch a teen online book community, in 2007) we want to be the most dynamic and inviting website that young internet explorers expect today.'

Designed for children, but with plenty to offer an adult visitor as well, Puffin's brand new website now offers:
� A character gallery on the homepage linking through to dedicated websites where visitors can enter the world of their favourite book character from Artemis Fowl to Angelina Ballerina
� A faceted search facility which allows visitors to search by format, age range, subject or category eg classics or picture books
� A dedicated section for authors and illustrators featuring exclusive interviews, biographies, extracts and photographs
� The official Puffin blog. News and views from the people behind the scenes at Puffin, from the copyeditor to the sales rep. Also to feature guest authors from time to time
� Podcasts free to download including recordings from such children's book luminaries as Quentin Blake, Eoin Colfer, Meg Rosoff, Darren Shan, Louise Rennison and Jonathan Stroud
� The Puffin playground - ecards, quizzes, competition and games
� A 'grown ups' zone where teachers can find classroom activities, recommended reading lists and useful web links and where parents can get invaluable advice on all matters regarding books and reading direct from the experts

ST Book Of The Week

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Sunday Times Children's Book of the Week

The Bone Magician by F E Higgins

The rich vocabulary - "unguent", "peregrinating", "dolichocephalic" - does not detract from the forward drive of the plot, and Higgins has wry, dark, witty turns of phrase. Peopled with bizarre and splendidly named characters (such as Deodonatus Snoad), this book asks to be read aloud, so adults can share the pleasure. NICOLETTE JONES

Review: Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd

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Guardian Review - Meg Rosoff reviews Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd

One of the joys of this book is its willingness to confront big themes. Within a fast-paced drama that any 14-year-old can enjoy, Bog Child explores political conflict, personal heroism, human frailty, love and death. As a writer, Dowd appears to be incapable of a jarring phrase or a lazy metaphor. Her sentences sing; each note resonates with an urgent humanity of the sort that cannot be faked. Bog Child sparkles with optimism and a deep passion for living. Love falls from it in particles, like snow. MEG ROSOFF, Guardian Review

The Siobhan Dowd Trust will be launched on Wednesday, and aims to help disadvantaged children improve their reading and writing skills: details at

Times Online

The Bone Machine by F. E. Higgins reviewed by Amanda Craig

Brighton Children's Book Festival

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Brighton Children's Book Festival

19th-20th April 2008

Just received a post from festival director Laura Atkins flagging up this admirable website, which includes online booking for events.

Enjoyment Of Poetry On Decline

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NFER Reading Survey - report from The Independent:

A survey by NFER (published to to coincide with World Book Day) has found that children are watching television less. It also suggests the steady decline in the popularity of reading over the past few years has been halted. Two bits of good news for everyone connected with children's books, then.

But the same report includes concerning data about poetry. One of ACHUKA's missions during Michael Rosen's tenure of the children's laureateship will be playing as big a part as possible in making poetry just as popular as it was a few years ago. It is a very significant element of the new ACHUKA gameplan.

The survey of 4,500 children shows that only 55 per cent prefer watching TV to reading - compared with 62 per cent in a similar survey four years ago. It also reveals that the decline in popularity of reading amongst the same age group has been halted, with nearly 70 per cent of nine-year-olds and 60 per cent of 11-year-olds saying they enjoy reading stories - almost the same percentage as four years previously. However, the halt in the decline follows a major slide in enjoyment of reading between 1999 and 2003. "Children's enjoyment of reading has stopped declining sharply," the report says. "Their attitudes have held steady over the four-year period." But the survey does show poetry reading is on the decline amongst both boys and girls, with only 52 per cent of nine-year-olds enjoying it compared with 68 per cent eight years ago - and 43 per cent of 11-year-olds compared with 58 per cent.
[ACHUKA's emphasis]

World Book Day

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Teenagers are increasingly being allowed to drink alcohol, stay out late and sleep over at their boyfriend or girlfriend's house, according to the survey for Random House Children's Books.

Interview with Jane Blonde author...

Jill Marshall, 42, was born in Manchester. She was director of training and development at telecommunications group NTL before moving to Auckland, New Zealand, to write children's books. She lives with her 11-year-old daughter Katie. Her latest book "The Perfect Spylet" is published on Thursday, World Book Day.

Guardian Review - Higson on Brooks

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Charlie Higson reviews Kevin Brooks....

Brooks is terrifically good at mapping out the teenage world that takes place in the scrubby corners of our world, on the banks of the canal, up behind the disused factory, in someone's back garden. It's a world of casual sex, text messaging, random violence and drinking till you puke. But in Brooks's hands it's also shot through with a hallucinatory weirdness and sense of magic that when the story's over you can't be sure was entirely caused by the spiked drinks.

Puffin Classics

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Puffin Classics

Times feature about the new set of 12 Puffin classics, with new illustrations and introductions from the likes of Melvin Birgess and Eoin Colfer.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from March 2008 listed from newest to oldest.

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