June 2008 Archives

Ypulse Books

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Bookslut | History, with a Twist

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A Bookslut Review by Colleen Mondor, Chasing Ray blogger [see previous entry]

Here's a cutting from Chasing Ray, a books blog I hadn't been to before...

Carousel Issue 39 Summer 2008 print edition out now...
The website includes a News blog

Sunday Times Summer Roundup by Nicolette Jones

The Luxe by Anna Godbersen (Puffin £6.99) is sumptuous and glossy like the ball gown on its cover. It is Edith Wharton meets Desperate Housewives, a tale of convoluted relationships in New York society at the turn of the century. About rivalry in love and a mysterious death, it has just enough neatness of phrase to make it the better kind of schlock...

I haven't read this myself yet, but have dipped into it, and would agree with NJ in her reference to 'neatness of phrase'.

Tim Winton feature

He wrote 10 books in the 1980s, and it is striking how he still sees writing as both a pleasure and an economic necessity; for all his talk about bobbing in the surf, he hasn't got a lot of truck with artistic pretension. Failing to finish a book means having to "make up the income some other way", and in his 20s and 30s that simply wasn't an option. He had three desks, he once said, because "I couldn't afford to get stuck and give a project a week or two of mechanical diagnostics. So I'd have a kids' thing" - he's written six children's books - "a short story and a fiction thing [on the go], or two fiction things and a kids' thing and it was 'right, not working', just slide the chair over and go 'where was I?'"...

Philip Reeve - brief interview - Financial Times

The Incomparable Sonya Hartnett reviewed by Linda Newbery

Hartnett, who earlier this year won Sweden's Astrid Lindgren memorial award, has the keen eye and freshness of vision to make the most ordinary event spring off the page. The flames of a gas fire "jump up like can-can dancers". Peake, the dog, has "treacle-coloured eyes, and a spiky moustache of wet whiskers after rummaging in the grass". The rhythms of her prose ask to be read aloud, always a test of good writing. "How does one craft sturdy happiness out of something as important, as complicated, as unrepeatable and as easily damaged as a life?" Maddy wonders as a child. "Is love the answer, or freedom from love?" Can a busy life compensate for searing loss? It's a story that seems bigger than its generously spaced 192 pages, and the stylised illustrations by Jon McNaught - waders silhouetted on a shore, dolphins thronging in a yacht's wake, a cloud of butterflies - add to the sense of travelling through a world both familiar and strange.

Emily Gravett feature by Joanna Carey

In the attic studio she shows me her work, including the visual journal that not only secured her university place, but also provides her daughter with a vivid account of her early life. Loosely drawn, but full of observational - and symbolic - detail, the images chronicle every aspect of their years on the road. Very personal and moving, reflecting moments of hope, happiness and despair, they make it clear that drawing is Gravett's first form of communication, an entirely natural, unselfconscious activity...

Times Review form last Saturday (not always easy any more to locate review weblinks, as The Times search box is very unreliable)

Fairytales need to be handled with care to avoid descent into the twee - the worst being the ghastly Rainbow Fairy series, which no self-respecting child should touch with a bargepole. Spellbound is the opposite of this. Funny, clever, wise and charming, it's the kind of story that both girls and boys of 7+ will enjoy, and a pleasure to read aloud to younger ones of 5+. Being away with the fairies is not just a delight this summer, but something that will transform children for the better.

Lauren Child feature from last Sunday's Observer:

On 25 June [Lauren Child launched] a major campaign for Unesco, 'My Life Is a Story,' to help educate deprived children all over the world (profits from a new edition of her picture book That Pesky Rat will contribute). The idea is to encourage children to turn their lives into stories: 'It is about having a voice,' she says...

Portrait by Karen Robinson (different photo on webpage cf print edition)

Guardian Feature on Greenaway winner:

Andy Warhol made works using his own urine; Piero Manzoni famously canned his faeces for the sake of art; Chris Ofili has used elephant dung in his paintings. And now Emily Gravett, who [has] won the UK's most prestigious children's illustration award, has revealed that her winning book was produced with the aid of rats' urine.

Tasha Tudor

Obituary / The Independent - Nicholas Tucker

Tasha Tudor Obituary

Carnegie Greenaway Winners

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The CILIP Carnegie Medal 2008
Here Lies Arthur by Philip Reeve

The CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal 2008
Little Mouse's Big Book of Fears by Emily Gravett

At noon today Michael Portillo presented the 2008 CILIP Carnegie Medal to Philip Reeve for 'Here Lies Arthur' and the 2008 CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal to Emily Gravett for 'Little Mouse's Big Book of Fears'.

"I didn't believe it at first," says Reeve, "but as I got over the shock and it began to sink in, I felt totally honoured. It is very special to win the CILIP Carnegie Medal. It has such a history and I admire so many past winners' work it is quite humbling to be ranked alongside them."

Reeve already has three major book prizes to his credit. In 2001 his first novel 'Mortal Engines' was an instant success winning both the Nestle Smarties Gold Award (2002) and the Blue Peter Book of the Year (2003). 'A Darkling Plain' won the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize in 2006.

"'Here Lies Arthur' is an outstanding book, and deserving winner," says Tricia Adams, Chair of the 12 strong librarian judging panel. "Reeve's is a consistent story-telling voice that brings us a subtle and credible retelling of the King Arthur myth. It is both a page turning adventure story and a clever historical novel. It also has clear political resonance for our times, demonstrating humanity's need to sustain hope and optimism, and our tendency to favour myth over reality to achieve that end."

For the second time in three years, illustrator Emily Gravett has won the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal. Gravett, whose debut picture book, 'Wolves' won the 2005 CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal wins the 2008 award for her fourth book, 'Little Mouse's Big Book of Fears'.

Of this year's winning book, Tricia Adams, Chair of the CILIP Kate Greenaway judging panel comments: "Every time you read 'Little Mouse's Big Book of Fears' you discover something new: there's so much going on, so much to explore. The attention to detail is astounding. It's such a satisfying experience which incorporates smell, texture, humour and great imagination. The die-cut holes, and pull-out map are wonderfully novel features, but it's much more than just a novelty book: everything has a purpose and nothing is wasted. A book that not only works with lots of different age-groups, but also one that can be read, and re-read, and re-read again"

The Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Children's Book Awards are the UK's oldest and most prestigious awards for writing and illustration for young people. The Carnegie Medal celebrated its 70th Anniversary in 2007. Over the last seven decades it has come to be regarded as the arbiter of quality in writing for children and young people. Since 1937, the children's librarians who annually select the short list and winning title have recognised world class writers and frequently spotted fresh talent ahead of the market. Philip Reeve joins the list of past Medal winners that includes many of the greats of 20th and 21st century children's literature: Eleanor Farjeon, Anne Fine, Elizabeth Goudge, CS Lewis, Mary Norton, Noel Streatfeild, Philip Pullman and David Almond to name a few.

Although there is no cash reward, the Carnegie is regarded by many as the most prestigious acknowledgement of writing due to its unique judging process. Most of today's literary and book awards seek submissions from publishers and votes from the public. Not the CILIP Carnegie: the Medal's selection process is rooted in the professional expertise of librarians across the country who nominate titles for the long list. A panel of 12 children's librarian judges from the Youth Libraries Group then select the shortlist of up to eight titles and finally the winner.

Puffin Party Gallery

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Puffin Party


Francesca Dow showing guests the view from the 7th floor of Tate Modern, where Puffin held its summer party last night.

More photos from the event to follow.

Monsterology reviewed by Philip Ardagh

The conceit of the book is that it's a facsimile of one published in 1904 but - to my untrained eye at least - the illustrations of the fantastical beasts themselves do nothing to evoke the period. Whereas Pirateology looks wonderfully piratey whatever page you open it at, and Egyptology looks all things Egyptian and archaeological, Monsterology is neither one thing nor the other; and certainly not Edwardian. It's a fun book on a fun subject, but in a series where production values are extremely high, it's certainly not one of the finest...

Jane Shiilling

...the more I think about it, the more it strikes me that the distinctly jejune quality of parliamentary debate could be vastly enriched by study of our great national treasury of children's literature...

Sophie Masson writes about creating book trailers on her blog.

Here's one she made herself:

Tania Vian-Smith Returns To Puffin

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Tania Vian-Smith has returned to Puffin, where she began her career in children's publishing as a Press Officer in 2003. She left Puffin in 2006 and moved to Egmont as a Senior Press Officer and the following year became their acting Publicity Manager.

At the start of this week she moved back to Puffin to take up a permanent role as Publicity Manager.

Prior to working in publishing, she was Head of English at Brentford School for Girls and then spent 2 years TEFL teaching in Barcelona.

ACHUKA is not a bit surprised to hear that Puffin have reappointed her in this role. I've said it before and it bears repeating... A good Press and Publicity team really does make a difference

Refugee Story - Newsround Feature

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On Monday (16th June) Gervelie returned to her primary school, St Thomas More School in Norwich, to talk to a group of year 6 pupils about what is like leaving home in hurry, and the difference between a refugee and an illegal immigrant.

The day was filmed by BBC's Newsround and BBC Radio 4's Go4 It made a special programme which will be broadcast on 22nd June.

Gervelie and authors Annemarie Young and Anthony Robinson talked about events in Gervelie's life and the book Gervelie's Journey, the first in a new series that tell the true stories of refugees. The books are published by Frances Lincoln.

Broadcast tomorrow, WEDNESDAY 18th JUNE:

Newsround: 0725 on BBC Two, 0825, 1555 and 1825 on the CBBC Channel and 1700 on BBC One - as well as on the Newsround website: www.bbc.co.uk/newsround

BBC Radio 4 Go4It - 22 June 2008 19.45 (details on the BBC website)

Science Award Winners

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The Royal Society Science Book Award winners were announced last night at an event compered by Newsround presenter Sonali Gudka, with the presentations made by Lord Rees.
The Junior Prize was won by The Usborne Big Book of Science Things To Make & Do by Rebecca Gilpin and Leonie Pratt.

The General (Adult) Prize was won by Six Degrees: Our Future On A Hotter Planet by Mark Lynas.

See more photos from this event here...

Deakin Newsletter June 2008

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Deakin Newsletter June 2008

Highly Recommended

Guardian Revieww

Frank Cottrell Boyce, reviewing The Knife Of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness (both Boyce and Ness are longlisted for the Guardian Prize) has this to say about Young Adult fiction, with referecne to the current controversy about agebanding:

...The rural setting, the presence of the river and the pursuit will make you think of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn or Night of the Hunter

If I have one quibble, it is that I think it should be sitting proudly on the shelf next to these books, rather than being hidden away in the "young adult" ghetto. There's been a lot of fury among authors recently about the proposal to "age-band" children's books, but in a way they're too late. The real disaster has already happened. It's called "young adult" fiction. It used to be the case that you moved on from children's fiction to adult fiction, from The Owl Service, maybe, to Catcher in the Rye. There were, of course, some adult authors who were more fashionable with teenage readers than others - Salinger, Vonnegut, Maya Angelou. But these were chosen by teenagers themselves from the vast world of books. Some time ago, someone saw that trend and turned it into a demographic. Fortunes were made but something crucial was lost. We have already ghettoised teenagers' tastes in music, in clothes and - God forgive us - in food. Can't we at least let them share our reading? Is there anything more depressing than the sight of a "young adult" bookshelf in the corner of the shop. It's the literary equivalent of the "kids' menu" - something that says "please don't bother the grown-ups". If To Kill a Mockingbird were published today, that's where it would be placed, among the chicken nuggets....

It's the penultimate two snetences of this quotoation from the review, surely, that cut home most tellingly.


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_-25, originally uploaded by achuka.

See more photos from Barrington Stoke's 10th Anniversary party

Publishers Association Response

A PA response to the unprecedented protest by children's authors against proposals to age-band books was printed in The Guardian yesterday.

And a very feeble, muddled and deeply worrying explanation it is...

Yes, there will always be children "whose reading age will be a couple of years ahead or behind the number of birthdays they've celebrated". However, age guidance isn't actually about reading age - it is about content and the appropriate interest level for children..

argues Simon Juden. Well, isn't that rather difficult to judge? And, particularly in terms of teen and young adult fiction, isn't this going to veer very close to censorship?

...We don't want a child not to be bought a book as a present because the adult doesn't know where to start. Nor do we want to put a child off reading for life by a book that they can't cope with. Age guidance is simply another way to get children into the world of reading

If it's not about reading age, and all about "content and appropriate interest level" who on earth is going to decide what the difference between 7+, 9+ and 11+ is going to be in this regard?

Philip Pullman made a very fine distinction in last Saturday's Guardian between a bookseller's advice or a reviewer's opinion that a book would be suitable for 9+, and having that imprinted on the very cover of the book, as if the publisher and author are jointly saying 8-year-olds pick up this book at your peril.

Authors and illustrators assembling in the courtyard of the Oktober gallery for a group photo, at Barrington Stoke's 10th birthday celebrations last night.
More photos to follow.

Barrington Stoke's mission is to help children enjoy reading.

For a decade Barrington Stoke has published accessible and unpatronising short books for children who are dyslexic, struggling to read, or simply reluctant to sit down with a book.

The stories are by some of the best children's authors working today. Each book is read before publication by struggling readers of the right age, so that the final book is both accessible and a good read. There's nothing on the stylish covers (especially in recent years) to suggest that the books are for less fluent readers.

So it isn't surprising that top authors and artists mingled with consultants (readers who had worked on their books) at the 10th birthday celebrations.

Sonia Raphael, Managing Director spoke about the many touching letters they received form parents, teachers and children telling them how finding Barrington Stoke had made a difference to their lives.

"From the mother who wrote in with such glee that she had just had to tell her son off for reading under the covers with a torch, she never thought she would ever see him reading a book let alone when he shouldn't have been .. . To the 15 year old who wrote 'this is the best book I have ever read - in fact it is the only book I have ever read by myself.'... We are so privileged to be able to make such a difference and whilst we know Barrington Stoke is special, we have only been successful because of all the people who have believed in and supported what we were trying to do."

3 way illustrator interview...

Jacob Hope interviews Chris Riddell, Nick Ward and Chris Mould

Booked Up: > Booklist

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Booked Up Booklist

Booktrust has announced that over two million free books will be given to every reception-aged pupil and Year 7 pupil in England by Christmas 2008.

The Booktime programme for reception-aged pupils (4-5 years old) and Booked Up programme for Year 7 pupils (aged 11-12), are both run by the independent national charity Booktrust, with the aim of encouraging reading for pleasure. The programmes are supported by the DCSF (Department for Children, Schools and Families) with an allocation of over £4m, making both programmes free to all participating schools.

The Booktime programme, which is run in association with education and publishing company Pearson, will this year give a copy of Harry and the Dinosaurs go to School by Ian Whybrow, illustrated by Adrian Reynolds. The packs will also contain a guidance booklet for parents and carers to encourage sharing books with children.

For the first time, free poetry anthologies will be given to both age groups in England. Reception-aged pupils will get a special abridged edition of The Puffin Book of Fantastic First Poems, while Year 7 pupils will be able to choose a copy of Read Me and Laugh: A Funny Poem for Every Day of the Year (Macmillan).

The Booked Up programme allows each child to make their own choice of book from a selection of 12 titles. The programme encourages Year 7 pupils to read independently and aims to maintain the development of reading levels between Years 6 and 7 as children make the difficult transition from primary to secondary education.

The new Booked Up book list:
Arctic Hero - Catherine Johnson (Barrington Stoke)
Heartbeat - Sharon Creech (Bloomsbury)
H.I.V.E. - Mark Walden (Bloomsbury)
Skulduggery Pleasant - Derek Landy (HarperCollins Children's Books)
The Garbage King - Elizabeth Laird (Macmillan Children's Books)
The Black Book of Secrets - FE Higgins (Macmillan Children's Books)
Scarlett - Cathy Cassidy (Puffin)
Football Detective: Foul Play - Tom Palmer (Puffin)
The London Eye Mystery - Siobhan Dowd (David Fickling Books)
Kiss Of Death - Malcolm Rose (Usborne Publishing)
Why Eating Bogeys Is Good for You - Mitchell Symons (Doubleday)
Read Me and Laugh: A Funny Poem for Every Day of the Year - Gaby Morgan (Macmillan)

Picture Book Option for Pupils with Additional Needs:
The Adventures of Robin Hood - Marcia Williams (Walker Books)

Allan Ahlberg Profile - The Telgraph

Superb feature about Allan Ahlberg by Nicolette Jones, writing in The Telegraph a few days ago.
[I so often miss Telegraph features and rely on people pointing them out to me. This is definitley one not to be missed.]

ST Book Of The Week

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Sunday Times Children's Book Of The Week

Cosmic by Frank Cottrell Boyce

Cottrell Boyce has a gift for suspending disbelief, for laugh-out-loud comedy, especially about the relationship between parents and children and how "grownupness is wasted on grown-ups", and for constructing a story concisely and compellingly. "Cosmic" is Liam's favourite term of approval. It applies to this book... NICOLETTE JONES

insideadog Writer In Residence

is currently Jenny Valentine, author of the Guardian Award-winning Finding Violet Park and Broken Soup.

Allan Ahlberg's 70th Birthday

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Allan Ahlberg opening one of his presents (an Eric Ravilious print) and blowing out the last candle on his cake at his 70th birthday party co-hosted by Puffin and Walker Books, and held on Puffin's 10th floor.

More pictures from the event viewable , at my Flickr account, or view a slideshow.

The Knife That Killed Me by Anthony McGowan reviewed by Philip Ardagh

...there are no boring bits. Tension is piled upon tension and, ironically, it's the don't-forget-the-knife-that-kills-me that gets in the way. The main meat of the story is so well told that we don't need the death-foretold hanging over us. And, when it comes, there is the twist. McGowan is a wonderful writer, and this is a gripping and tragically topical story of one boy's spiral into knife-crime but, although it was the title that first drew me in, I rather wish he hadn't ended up being constrained by it.

Frank Cottrell Boyce Interview

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Frank Cottrell Bouce Interviewed by Amanda Craig:

There is no doubt that Cosmic is the best novel he's written yet, not only in combining a pitch-perfect narrative voice and a gut-twisting plot, but in its emotional subtext. It will make a great film...

"The best novel about fathers ever is To Kill a Mockingbird," Cottrell Boyce says. "You think your father is some bumbling old man, and you discover he's Atticus, he's the hero-dad. Liam knows his dad will bail him out. You never feel like you're doing a great job, you think you've got to be flawless, but the most you can do is to be generous and loving and just there."

Vampirates Website Revamped

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Revamped Vampirates Website

"New features include Justin's blog, competitions, Crew Confidential & much more - sign up to become a Vampirates VIP for exclusive content..."

Exclusive content includes access to the Blog.

Author Protest Picks Up Steam

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Author Protest Picks Up Steam

The Bookseller online today carried a report about the mounting wave of protest and cries of alarm over the issue of agebanding.

The list of those protesting against the proposed age banding of children's books is headed by the names of four Children's Laureates, including the present one. The host of highly esteemed authors and illustrators on the rest of the list must at least make those responsible for proposing the idea question the way they have gone about its introduction. The list is growing daily. The voices of authors supporting agebanding are few and far between.

YA's Second Golden Age

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Newsweek Artical Aobut Young Adult Fiction

"This is the second golden age for young-adult books," says David Levithan, an acclaimed author of several young-adult novels ("Wide Awake," "Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist") and executive editorial director at Scholastic Inc., the world's largest publisher and distributor of books for kids and teens. In just the past few years, Scholastic and many other publishers of young-adult (also known as YA) fiction have seen "amazing success," says Levithan, who calls this the "most exciting time for young-adult literature since the late 1960s and 1970s when 'The Chocolate War' [by Robert Cormier] and 'Forever' [by Judy Blume] were published."

Highly Recommended

Link found in latest Shanville Monthly

"I have refused point-blank to allow age branding be put on my books, and will fight tooth and nail to keep it off. I advise all other children's writers to do the same.."

Read Darren Shan's full response to the post below by clicking the Comment link, then add your own views here on this Blog.

If you are opposed to age banding, you may wish to have your name added to the already long list of notable people who have also openly disavowed the proposed enforcement of age categorisation:


Jon Scieszka interviewed...

Are Books Too Static For Gaming Generation?

Catching up on the press after a couple of days away I came upon this piece in TechnologyGuardian (Thursday supplement)

[Books] are snapshots of information at a single point in time, where stories are created and navigated from the point of view of one person. Social media has changed the nature of information gathering and production, and multiplayer games have re-inspired collaborative play. Static media which insists on remaining static is on its way to becoming a curiosity.

ST Book Of The Week

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Sunday Times Children's Book Of The Week

Rees's novels have a Keira Knightley approach to history: glamorous, courageous, post-feminist young heroines in fancy dress engage in derring-do and challenge men's preconceptions, while simultaneously breaking hearts. That's the quibble about Sovay. Authentic it ain't, but it is a compulsive, rollicking read full of colour and facts (some racy) about a feisty highwaywoman in 18th-century England, and about France in the worst days of the Terror. NICOLETTE JONES

Keith Gray reviews Spud

the perfect book for 13-year-old boys. They will appreciate the authenticity of Spud's perspective, while the diary-entry chapters are short enough to be read during the animated intervals of Grand Theft Auto IV. For all its many merits, Adrian Mole is hindsight fiction. A reader can't help but feel they're looking back on a teenage boy's woes and laughing at Adrian. The very special thing John van de Ruit has done is look forward from a teenager's perspective and laugh right along with him. KEITH GRAY

The Power Of The Old Stories

I have several times here mentioned the pleasure I get each week from The Guardian's REVIEW section, and my appreciation of the way in which (notwithstanding my reservations about the way children's and young adult novels are reviewed) it is edited and assembled. The photographic feature on Writers' Rooms (this week a historical figure, George Bernard Shaw - the room described by Michael Holroyd, the photo taken by Eanon McCabe) is a regular pleasure. This week the long lead piece was an essay by Ian McEwan that rather brilliantly delineates the failure of modern secularism to create an 'overarching narrative'. As I read it my mind went back to Melville's great unread poem, Clarel, an epic enterprise that addressed this selfsame issue...

Our secular and scientific culture has not replaced or even challenged these mutually incompatible, supernatural thought systems. Scientific method, scepticism, or rationality in general, has yet to find an overarching narrative of sufficient power, simplicity, and wide appeal to compete with the old stories that give meaning to people's lives. Natural selection is a powerful, elegant, and economic explicator of life on earth in all its diversity, and perhaps it contains the seeds of a rival creation myth that would have the added power of being true - but it awaits its inspired synthesiser, its poet, its Milton...

I cite this piece mainly for the quality of thought and writing it contains, rather than for any explicit relevance for children's literature, although there is some ground, I suppose, for arguing that Philip Pullman in His Dark Materials has come as close as anyone to being an "inspired synthesiser".

Graphic Macbeth

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Graphic Novel Version of Macbeth reviewed by Amanda Craig, The Times:

Each frame is action-packed, with dizzying perspectives, dramatic shadows hatching characters' faces and a restrained palette of red, purple and yellow emphasising the menace and gloom of moral corruption. Figures clutch their throats, Macbeth soliloquises in thought bubble, and the cadaverous, red-eyed witches are simply terrifying...

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