January 2009 Archives

Bedlam Reviewed by Mal Peet

One of the many things I like about Ally Kennen's novels is that they are built around big, centralising metaphors but she doesn't overcrank them, nor resolve them. At the heart of Bedlam is the image of asylum, sanctuary. However, like our government's policy on asylum, it's a shambles. Kennen powerfully suggests that the real place of safety is within the generous hearts of the young. I'd like to think that she's right. MAL PEET

Matthew Parris rediscovers the joy of reading...

Two or three times a week before bed Mum read to my brother (16 months younger) and me; and when a sister then another brother came along, we older two still crowded round because even juvenile stories were fun when she did all the voices. I confess that as a 21-year-old undergraduate I cocked a sheepish ear when yet another sister and brother, not long arrived, snuggled up and Mum brought giants and witches and Mrs Tiggywinkle to life again.

There was Peter Pan too, and, later, those strange stories in The Water Babies by Charles Kingsley. In time she read Dickens: the whole of Great Expectations, Oliver Twist, then David Copperfield. Years later, and the moment Tony Blair strode on to the political stage, I recognised David Copperfield's faithless friend, the admired Steerforth, and steered clear...

Recommend reading full feature

Neil Gaiman Podcast Interview

Short podcast interview in which Neil Gaiman talks about blogging and twittering and other online matters...


The Full Lists

ALA's own site currently unresponsive...

Newbery Medal Winner 2009
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaimon

Caldecott Medal Winner 2009
The House In The Night illustrated by Beth Krommes

Michael Printz Award Winner
Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

Guantanamo Boy

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Hot on the heels of President Obama's pledge to close the prison and interrogation centre at Guantanamo Bay, Puffin Books are releasing a novel by Anna Perera, written in reaction to the discovery that not just adults but children have also been held at Guantanamo.

An author's note at the start of the book reads: "Although GUANTANAMO BOY is a work of fictin, it is inspired by real events. It remains a fact that children have been abducted and abused abnd held without charge in the name of justice in Guantanamo Bay and many secret prisons aroudn the world."

Missive From Another World

Some picture books arrive like missives from another world; small miracles of perfection that embolden a child to persist in mining the tunnels of their imagination, to find, for themselves, this better place. Peter Pavey's perfectly formed One Dragon's Dream (Walker Books, $15.95) is such a book. First published 30 years ago and a subsequent winner of the Children's Book Council of Australia Picture Book of the Year, it has languished out of print since 1988, until the good fairies at Walker Books included it in this year's additions to their classic Australian and New Zealand picture book collection... MEG SORENSON

Lauren Child Featire by Kate Muir

Deservedly featured many times before, it is always good to find a new piece about one of the indisputable stars of contemporary children's literature.

"The question that I must get asked the most, which I'm most dumbfounded about, is: 'How do you write for children when you don't have any children?'" Child scowls down into her Moomintroll coffee mug. At 39, she has a boyfriend, but no children so far. "Would you ask most writers that? Do you ask a crimewriter if he's committed any murders recently? Childhood: we've all been there." She continues: "Writing is all about observation. That's your job. I remember Alan Bennett saying writers are very cruel people because they are always looking for those little oddnesses. It's a kind of curiosity, that's what you have to have."

Joanna Carey Meets Illustrator, Oliver Jeffers

A conversation with Oliver Jeffers can be a bewilderingly multifaceted, lengthy, entertaining business, even when he's got one eye on the clock. Accompanied by an improbably huge suitcase that could have come straight out of one of his drawings, he's en route for New York and is awaiting a car to take him to the airport. An Irishman, he talks quietly but with an urgent intensity about his own work and that of other illustrators, about his passions and influences and about everything under the sun - from quantum mechanics, game theory and tidal waves to Chinese whispers, the ascent of man and the futility of human endeavour...

Children's column: translations matter

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BookBrunch Children's Column
by Nicolette Jones

Seymour Science

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Seymour Science Blog

Seymour Science is the blog of Seymour Simon, an award-winning author of 250 science books for children. The New York Times has called Simon "the Dean of Science Books for Children."

Very much worth adding to your blogroll, especially if you're a teacher.

Marsh Award Winner

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Sarah Ardizzone's translation from French of Toby Alone by Timothée de Fombelle, published by Walker Books, has won the 2009 Marsh Award for Children's Literature in Translation

The Award was presented last night at The English-Speaking Union, London, by Anthony Horowitz.

More information about the translator:

Falling In Love Unpredictable

Amanda Craig wirtes about The Times Boomks for Schools list:

I missed the first of Anthony Horowitz's Alex Rider novels out of sheer snootiness (James Bond for children?), couldn't initially get Darren Shan's Cirque du Freak and continue to be immune to both Skullduggery Pleasant and the Mr Gum books. Loads of kids love them, however, and yours may be among them. Falling in love with an author's work is never predictable, for either a child or an adult...

Never A Case Of Either Or

Like many authors and storytellers, illustrators and poets, I have been to many hundreds of schools, invited in to help engage children with books, to encourage them, to read stories, to help them to find their own voices as writers. I know the moment I walk into a school whether stories and poems are valued and loved by teachers and children alike. At St Joseph's Primary School in Muswell Hill, the teachers love books, and so do the children. It's the same at Charles Dickens Primary School in Southwark. There are thousands of schools like them, but sadly there are thousands that are not, schools where the library is still a few shelves in a corridor, where books are a low priority, where head teachers believe that all a love of books can do, is better done by a computer. It should never be a case of either, or. We need both: IT and a great library...

The Art Book

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Book One published 2005

Book Two published 2007

Will we get a Book Three in 2009? I hope so. These first two were superb. Amanda Renshaw's unstuffy text coupled with the uncluttered design is guaranteed to turn children into inquisitive viewers of paintings.
Both titles very highly recommended.

I particularlly like the way Renshaw helps children 'read' Valsquez's 'Las Meninas' (in Book One) and Fragonard's 'The Swing' in Book wo.

No Enthusiasm

Fairly amusing...

It's meant to be a joy for parents and children, the way they splish- splosh through the puddles, then yimp-yomp through the mud, then swish-swash through the grass, but seriously, it goes on for ever. It's totally witless. If you skip the boring bits, you are immediately at the end...

Away With The Fairies
belated link to Amanda Craig's review from The Times, Saturday January 10 - the quote is from an introductory paragraph:

There is a long history of fine fiction involving fairy abductions, some of which parents will need to buy second-hand. Antonia Barber's exquisite picture book for 5+, Catkin (illustrated by the great P.J. Lynch), is shamefully out of print, as is a lost classic by William Croft Dickinson called Borrobil (7+), which shares many of The Hobbit's best features. More recently, the subject got a teen make-over with Melissa Marr's sinister and compelling Wicked Lovely, Sally Prue's Cold Tom, and the riotously funny fairies of Eoin Colfer's Artemis Fowl series. If Stephenie Meyer has made vampires friendlier in Twilight, then these authors have definitely made fairyland darker and more disturbing...

Waterslain Angels - achukareview

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Set in Norfolk in 1955 this children's novel, both beautifully and poetically written ("poppies white as talcum powder and pink as peardrops and scarlet as new blood" in the opening paragraph) and tightly plotted from one daring escapade to the next, is a thrilling and evocative read.

Ten-year-old Annie and eleven-year-old Sandy (just returned to England from America with his mother) take it upon themselves to try and discover a set of carved angels missing from the church for hundreds of years.

The freedom allowed ten and eleven-year-olds in the 1950s allows Crossley-Holland to write episode aftger episode of reckless daring. One particularly vivid scene has them climbing the church tower and being attacked by a swarm of bees.

The dialogue is marvellously clipped and unbloated. When the adults are involved the reader is made party to remarks that cleverly create, brushstroke after brushstroke, a backstory going back a decade, when American GI's were stationed in the region. The other backstory reverberates across centuries from the time when the angels were first carved to the time when they were taken or hidden away and on to the present time of their attempted recovery.

The characters in the novel are presented at the front of the book as a cast list. I could think of nothing more pleasing than a television serialisation of this wonderfully well-modulated story.

see this 5-chick review on the achukareviews blog

Hundreds of people took to the streets in protest at proposals to close down several of Wirral's libraries, arts centres and sports centres...

Children's author Alan Gibbons was amongst those marching. He said, "He said: "Forty-eight percent of the British people use libraries on a regular basis - more than go to football or to cinemas put together.
"And it might not appear exciting and pizzazz and all the rest of it, but actually it's something that is precious to people."

More On the Newbery...

by Susan Patron, author of The Higher Power of Lucky, winner of last year's medal

Quite Simply, Stunning

Children's fiction of the past 30 years has been laced with sub-Tolkienian whimsy - all those quest narratives set in northern European winterscapes, prefaced with elaborate maps and a long list of characters with Norse names. Heroes of the Valley has a map, and it's certainly jolly cold, and the names could well be Norse, but there the similarities to cookie-cutter fantasy end. Written out of a deeply felt world, and with a taut, disciplined voice that knows its Sir Gawain and the Green Knight as well as its Harry Potter, Jonathan Stroud's new book is, quite simply, stunning. KATHRYN HUGHES

Newbery Medal - Lost Luster?

Interesting piece written by Karen MacPherson, the children's/teen librarian at the Takoma Park, Md., Library, quoting Leonard Marcus, Anita Silvey etc.

Costa Winners Video

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Includes footage of an interview with Michelle Magorian, winner of the Costa Children's Book Award

Shanville Monthly 102

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Costa Book Awards 2008 - Winner

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2008 Costa Children's Book Award Winner

Michelle Magorian is the 2008 Costa Children's Book Award Winner for Just Henry.

Breakfast In Bed: Final Chapter

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from Rowan Stanfield's blog

A past Publicity officer for Frances Lincoln and Orion children's books bids the publishing world farewell...

All Change At Armadillo Magazine

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Mother & Daughter Interview

Mary Hoffman is standing down as editor of Armadillo Online. It is not clear who will be taking her place.
Here she and her daughter Rhiannon Lassiter (who has been the technical adviser on the magazine) interview one another.

Picture Book Casualty

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HarperCollins has followed the US publisher Berkley and pulled Herman Rosenblat's memoir The Angel at the Fence, recently revealed to be an invented story.

A children's book by Laurie Friedman titled Angel Girl, due to be published here in March and based on the Rosenblat story, has been cancelled by Walker, as well as by its US publisher Lerner.

New Hitch-Hiker

Eoin Colfer explains his decision to write a sequel to The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy...

January used to be a quiet month for children's books. The conventional deluge, as in all genres, was in the autumn, in the hope of grabbing a share of the Christmas market. High-selling paperbacks, humour books and light reads came out in the early summer, for holiday reading. Non-fiction was big in August/September for back-to-school. And the spring was busy, with an eye to the Easter-round-ups. But increasingly in recent years January has come in like a lion. It is perceived to be a time of year that gives significant new titles a chance, and takes advantage of Book Token business, while big names are no longer held back.

This year, for instance, the month is graced by some of our finest children's writers.... NICOLETTE JONES

BookBrunch Children's Column - Read On

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from January 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

December 2008 is the previous archive.

February 2009 is the next archive.

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