April 2009 Archives

You can call me Susie or Your Majesty

...She wrote "The Outsiders" at 16, and even at that age she said she knew that Pony Boy's story was over when the book ended. But it seems to go deeper for her. "I can't write it again. I'm not 16 anymore. I can't unknow what I know now."

The conversation wrapped on a strange note, when Smiley said that books written by adults for young adults were a kind of propaganda. It wasn't clear what it was propaganda for. Hinton seemed to agree and to imply that there was an optimism of youth that could not be recaptured by adults in a genuine way.


Patrick Ness Interview

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Patrick Ness Interview in Write Away

Another excellent in-depth Write Away interview, conducted by Noga Applebaum.

On the Laureates' Table

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Quentin Blake, Anne Fine, Michael Morpurgo, Jacqueline Wilson and Michael Rosen revealed their best children's books of all time on The Laureates' Table, a major promotion at Waterstone's, forming part of the 10th Anniversary celebrations for the Children's Laureate.

Classics dominate the lists, with only five of the 35 books having been published in the last twenty years.

Sarah Clarke, Waterstone's Children's Buying Manager, said: 'I'm sure it will be a surprise to many that the list does not include more recent bestsellers like J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter. But it's great to see the Laureates choosing some timeless greats like The Railway Children and Just So Stories and introducing them to a new generation of readers - that's what the laureates are all about'.

The 1930s emerges as the vintage decade for children's fiction, with seven titles making it onto the list, including Sword in the Stone by T.H. White, Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild and P.L. Travers's classic, Mary Poppins.

The most popular authors with two selections apiece are E. Nesbit for Five Children and It (chosen by Quentin Blake) and The Railway Children (chosen by Jacqueline Wilson); and Robert Louis Stevenson for A Child's Garden of Verses (chosen by Fine), and Treasure Island (chosen by Michael Morpurgo).

The Laureate's Table was inspired by Waterstone's successful Writer's Table, whose curators have included Sebastian Faulks, Philip Pullman and Nick Hornby. Each Laureate has chosen seven titles, which will be on display at selected Waterstone's stores and at Waterstones.com until June 3rd, with handwritten thoughts accompanying each one.

The full list of titles on The Laureates' Table is as follows:

Chosen by Quentin Blake:

1. Little Tim and the Brave Sea Captain by Edward Ardizzone (published 1936)

2. Queenie the Bantam by Bob Graham (1997)

3. The Box of Delights by John Masefield (1935)

4. Rose Blanche by Ian McEwan and Roberto Innocenti (1985)

5. Five Children and It by E. Nesbit (1902)

6. Snow White by Josephine Poole (1991)

7. Stuart Little by E.B. White (1945)

Chosen by Anne Fine:

8. The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken (1963)

9. Absolute Zero by Helen Cresswell (1978)

10. Just William by Richmal Crompton (1922)

11. Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson (2001)

12. Lavender's Blue by Kathleen Lines (1954)

13. A Child's Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson (1885)

14. Sword in the Stone by T.H. White (1938)

Chosen by Michael Morpurgo:

15. Five Go to Smuggler's Top by Enid Blyton (1945)

16. Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton (1939)

17. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens (1838)

18. Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling (1902)

19. A Book of Nonsense by Edward Lear (1846)

20. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson (1883)

21. The Happy Prince by Oscar Wilde (1888)

Chosen by Jacqueline Wilson:

22. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (1868-9)

23. A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett (1905)

24. What Katy Did by Susan Coolidge (1872)

25. The Family From One End Street by Eve Garnett (1937)

26. The Railway Children by E. Nesbit (1906)

27. Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild (1936)

28. Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers (1934)

Chosen by Michael Rosen:

29. Clown by Quentin Blake (1995)

30. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank (1947)

31. Emil and the Detectives by Erich Kästner (1928)

32. Not Now, Bernard by David McKee (1980)

33. Fairy Tales by Terry Jones (1981)

34. Mr Gum and the Dancing Bear by Andy Stanton (2008)

35. Daz 4 Zoe by Robert Swindells (1990)

Guardian Review

Season of Secrets by Sally Nicholls

Sally Nicholls's great challenge in this, her second book, is to graft a story of modern childhood on to one of myth and natural magic... KATHRYN HUGHES


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imagine, originally uploaded by slipper buddha.

by 'slipper buddha' on flickr

Who will be the next children's laureate?

This article from The Independent runs through some of the likely candidates...

Who would you nominate?

Carnegie & Greenaway Shortlists


CILIP Carnegie Medal Shortlist 2009

Boyce, Frank Cottrell Cosmic
Macmillan (Age range: 8+)
ISBN: 9781405054645

Brooks, Kevin Black Rabbit Summer
Puffin (Age range: 14+)
ISBN: 9780141381459

Colfer, Eoin Airman
Puffin (Age range: 9+)
ISBN: 9780141383354

Dowd, Siobhan Bog Child
David Fickling Books (Age range: 12+)
ISBN: 9780385614269

Gray, Keith Ostrich Boys
Definitions (Age range: 12+)
ISBN: 9780099456575

Ness, Patrick The Knife of Never Letting Go
Walker (Age range: 14+)
ISBN: 9781406310252

Thompson, Kate Creature of the Night
Bodley Head (Age range: 14+)
ISBN: 9780370329291

CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal Shortlist 2009

Barrett, Angela (text by Paul Gallico) The Snow Goose
Hutchinson (Age range: 10+)

Craste, Marc (text by Helen Ward) Varmints
Templar (Age range: 7+)

Docherty, Thomas Little Boat
Templar (Age range: 3+)

Graham, Bob How to Heal a Broken Wing
Walker (Age range: 3+)

Jeffers, Oliver The Way Back Home
Harper Collins (Age range: 3+)

McKean, Dave (text by David Almond) The Savage
Walker (Age range: 10+)

Rayner, Catherine Harris Finds His Feet
Little Tiger Press (Age range: 3+)

Wormell, Chris Molly and the Night Monster
Jonathan Cape (Age range: 3+)

The winners will be announced on Thursday 25 June at a special award ceremony, taking place at BAFTA HQ in central London.

The Missing - Book One FOUND

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Margaret Peterson Haddix
March 2009 (f.p. US 2008)

Excellent start to a new sequence of titles from Peterson-Haddix. Difficult to review without spoilers, because it's important that readers take the start of the book at (relative) face value.

A mystery plane arrives at an airport. The only passengers are thirty-six babies.

Thirteen years later, two adopted friends receive threatening anonymous messages and, with the help of one boy's sister, set out to investigate.

It's absolutely gripping and written in an easy unobtrusive style that ends each short chapter on a cliffhanger.

Eventually, as the complicated explanation of the thirty-six babies on the plane and where they came from is revealed, readers will have the philosophical lobes of their brain exercised as well as experiencing the adrenalin rush of the exciting narrative.

How stupid to slap 11+ on the back jacket, as if there aren't plenty of 9/10 year olds capable of enjoying it.

Helen Grant
April 2009

"My life might have been so different, had I not been known as the girl whose grandmother exploded."
Many a novel has opened brilliantly and promisingly only to disappoint - it would, I suggest, be difficult to gainsay the brilliance and the promise of this particular opening sentence - but not one single moment of disappointment, not one wavering of tone, not one narrative misjudgment awaits the reader in this impressively assured debut novel.
After the grandmother has duly exploded (not spontaneous combustion, as one reviewer misleadingly referred to it, but the result of dousing herself with hairspray and then imperiously insisting on striking the Advent candle match) Pia, the narrator, is ostracised at school. Only one person is prepared to sit next to her, Stefan (Pia's name for him is StinkStefan), a loner who sees this as an opportunity to secure a friendship with someone rejected by the rest.

The novel is set in Bad Munstereifel, a real place, a small spa town in the west of Germany. When a girl goes missing soon after the death by combustion of the grandmother, Pia feels herself the centre of a whispering campaign suggesting that she carries a curse with her.

Pia is not a native German. Her mother is from England. The relationship between Pia's parents becomes increasingly fraught as the novel develops, with the mother continuously making caustic remarks about the small mindedness of the town, and clearly wanting to return to England.

In this climate, Pia and Stefan become close and increasingly daring in their desire to solve the case of the missing children. The tone set by the exploding grandmother - a tone of sardonic relish - is maintained for two thirds of the novel, with Grant's choice of phrasing and use of dialogue exquisitely entertaining, and allowing the reader to take a somewhat detached view of events, as if watching a film. And then, hold on tight, turn those pages with increasing speed, feel yourself there, right there with Pia and Stephan in what proves to be a perilous predicament.

This is truly a book that leaves you gasping with admiration and nervous exhaustion at the end. It is, quite simply, a triumph and Grant is clearly a writer of abundant talent and promise. I feel frustrated that, as of yet, there is nothing else by her to read. But in due course there will be, and I am certain it will be every bit as good as this.

Times Review

The Silver Blade by Sally Gardner, reviewed by Amanda Craig, who thinks it "by far the best British book for children I have read this year". Hence a more substantial blockquote than usual...

Gardner occupies a unique place in children's literature, which The Silver Blade assures. In 2005 she made the leap from picture books to novels, producing the prize-winning I, Coriander, comparable to both Pan's Labyrinth and Angela Carter's The Bloody Chamber. It was a striking fusion of Puritan political history and Gothic fairytale. Here, the influence of Carter is even more pronounced, in that the resonance of traditional fantasy is woven into a first-rate suspense novel addressing the issues of the French Revolution and its "indomitable killing machine ... as blind to the innocent as it is to the guilty".

As in Dickens's A Tale of Two Cities, the tension between the cruel steel and frail flesh is heightened by ardent love. Sido's reunion with her lover has everything in its way, from class to murder. Yann, "a tightrope walker over the Valley of Death", is an appealing hero and his magical abilities inevitably set him up for an ultimate trial of strength and will, with Sido's life at stake. With its reversals, surprises, scholarship and dramatic details of an era so soaked in blood that the Seine ran red, The Silver Blade is historical fiction at its height. No reader, old or young, could resist its passion, told in crystalline prose and peopled with characters as engaging as the dwarf Tetu, bear-like Didier and the venal Mr Tull. It is by far the best British book for children I have read this year. AMANDA CRAIG

Deakin Newsletter March-April 2009

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Deakin Newsletter March-April 2009

Andrea Deakin's (now bi-monthly) newsletter

Guardian Review

Gone by Michael Grant, reviewed by Mal Peet

Gone comes across the Atlantic on a tsunami of rave reviews, most of them posted on websites by teenagers. That's a result, and you really can't argue with it. Grant left me wondering if it might be possible to marry the reductive conventions of the game console to real writing. Maybe the next volume (Gone threatens to become a trilogy, at least) will provide the glimpse of an answer. The volume two "taster" attached to this book suggests levels of nastiness almost worthy of Dante. MAL PEET

Oberver Reviews Roundup

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8 - 12 Years reviewed by Stephanie Merritt

12 - 16 Years reviewed by Lisa O'Kelley

Picture Books, 2-up reviewed by Kate Kellaway

Guardian Review

The Ant Colony by Jenny Valentine, reviewed by Mary Hoffman

Times Review

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Times Review

The Vanishing of Katharina Linden by Helen Grant

Wildthorn by Jane England

Jane Yolen Interviewed

Jane Yolen interviewed on the subject of her poetry.

Award for Caroline Lawrence

Last weekend Caroline Lawrence received the Classical Association Award 2009 for helping to make the Classics more accessible and popular to the public with her Roman Mysteries series.
Very well deserved too, we say.
The link takes you to her Blog entry about the award ceremony in Glasgow.
And you can read more about the Classical Association conference here - a Times blog entry by classicist Mary Beard, including this comment about the Award winner: "The other highlight of the conference came at dinner after the Seaford lecture. It was the presentation of the Classical Association prize (for enhancing the public understanding of Classics) to Caroline Lawrence, author of the brilliant series of Roman Mysteries for kids (Famous Five go to Pompeii, as she jokingly and far too self-deprecatingly put it)."

The ten members of the Hans Christian Andersen Award Jury 2010 are as follows:

 Ernie Bond Professor of Children's and Young Adult Literature at Salisbury University, Maryland, USA.
 Karen Coeman Master of Art in History and publisher in Mexico City, Mexico.
 Nadia El Kholy Professor and Chair of the Department of English Language and Literature, faculty of Arts at Cairo University, Egypt.
 María Jesús Gil professional consultant for publishing houses, Madrid, Spain.
 Jan Hansson Director of the Swedish Institute fro Children's Books, Stockholm, Sweden.
 Annemie Leysen a lecturer, reviewer, critic and publicist from Heverlee, Belgium.
 Darja Mazi-Leskovar Associate Professor at the FERI, Media Communication Institute, Univeristy of Maribor, Slovenia.
 Alicia Salvi a professor of language and literature and an expert on children's literature at the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina.
 Helene Schär former director of the Baobab Children's Book Fund and editor of the Baobab series, Basel, Switzerland.
 Regina Zilberman is a children's literature specialist and former director of the Instituto Estadual do Livro, Porto Alegre, Brazil.

The candidates for the 2010 Awards will be presented shortly and the shortlist will be disseminated immediately following the Jury meeting. The winners will be announced at the IBBY Press Conference at the Bologna Children's Book Fair on Monday, 22 March 2010.

Write Away - Matt Whyman

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Write Away Interviews Matt Whyman

A very interesting, very fully-answered piece.
On Twitter, Whyman observed: "Journalist called it a 'retrospective'. Feel about 108 years old."

Irish Book Awards - Voting Page

The Dublin Airport Authority Irish Children's Book of the Year - Jnr
Oliver Jeffers

Roddy Doyle

Benji Bennett

Kate Thompson

The Dublin Airport Authority Irish Children's Book of the Year - Snr
Michael Scott

Judi Curtin

Derek Landy

Celine Kiernan

James Patterson's ReadKiddoRead.com

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It was an Observer magazine colour supplement article about the best-selling author James Patterson (haven't read any of his books, but he came across as well-sorted OK guy) that led me to this site, one that I certainly should have been more aware of before!

Excellent user-friendly site design. Useful as the UK's Ultimate Book Guides are, I can't help but feel a site like this would be more suited to the needs and habits of today's families.

ACHUKA gives ReadKiddoread a big thumbs up.

Life With Lisa by Sybil Burr

Burr's book was first published in 1958 but, despite being - as the opening lines alone, I think, show - a deft, funny and vividly-rendered account of a year in the life of a natural Optimist if not Beauty, it has failed to endure in the collective consciousness. I have met few others who have read it, and I have found no mention of it in any history of children's books. LUCY MANGAN

As an Amazon search will reveal, therew was a sequel, Leave It To Lisa.

The book was apparently adapted for Radio 4 in 2003 (five episodes, 8 September-12 September).

A quick check of my own sources corroborates Lucy Mangan's assertion that the book has so far gone unmentioned in the standard reference works. If any ACHUKA readers know better, please add the details in a comment.

Times Easter Round-up Of Children's Books

... the best of all remains Suzanne Collins's The Hunger Games (Scholastic, £6.99), with its moving, vivid and consistently well-written dystopian adventure about the ultimate Reality TV game in which two teenagers from each district are released into an arena full of natural and unnatural dangers and must kill each other to survive - and entertain their audience. With its unforgettable heroine, Katniss, using her skills as a hunter and trapper but failing to notice true love, this is an outstanding book for both genders that grips like a man-trap. AMNDA CRAIG

Sunday Times Children's Book of the Week

The Barefoot Book of Earth Tales by Dawn Casey and Anne Wilson

This attractive book marries ancient wisdom with modern environmentalism, collecting seven tales from around the world and telling us how to take care of the earth. NICOLETTE JONES

GBBA Winners 2009

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Nibbies Children's Winner

WHSmith Children's Book of the Year:
Breaking Dawn - Stephenie Meyer Atom

The full shortlist:

Dinosaurs Love Underpants Claire Freedman & Ben Cort (Simon & Schuster)
Horrid Henry Robs the Bank Francesca Simon (Orion)
Captain Underpants & the Preposterous Plight Dav Pilkey (Scholastic)
Artemis Fowl & the Time Paradox Eoin Colfer (Puffin)
Breaking Dawn Stephenie Meyer (Atom)
The Tales of Beedle the Bard J.K. Rowling (Bloomsbury)

Skellig On Sky

Link takes you to a page of promotional videos for the televised adaptation of Skellig, to be screened on Sky at Easter.

Paul Jennings Feature

Long highly-recommended feature about author Paul Jennings, occasioned by AUstralian publication of a new Young Adult novel by him called The Nest - not yet released in the UK.

The Scotsman - Review Roundup

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Footballers' Selections

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Footballers Choose Books...

The choices of the 20 players (one from each club) selected as "reading stars" are eclectic - ranging from children's books to the classics. Interestingly, eight of the teams selected their goalkeepers as the person most likely to devote time to helping children with their reading....

Here are the ones who chose children's books. [For full list, click link.]:

(Aston Villa) Brad Friedel: Stick Man by Julia Donaldson

(Bolton) Jussi Jaaskelainen: How To Speak Dragonese by Cressida Cowell

(Liverpool) Jamie Carragher: War Horse by Michael Morpurgo

(Man Utd) Wayne Rooney: Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J K Rowling

(Newcastle) Steven Taylor: Friendly Matches by Allan Ahlberg

(West Bromwich Albion) Chris Brunt: James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl

Guardian Review

Ribblestrop by Andy Mulligan

Ribblestrop is disgracefully dangerous high-octane fun of the highest order: an outrageous delight. PHILIP ARDAGH

BookBrunch Children's Column

In this week's piece, Nicolete Jones discusses teenage reading, noting that The Vanishing of Katharina Linden by Helen Grant (the book I am currently reading) - although edited and marketed by the (Puffin) children's books department - has been published under the Penguin logo, so that it need not be shelved in children's sections.


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Latest updates from the Argentinian children's books website/blog

About this Archive

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

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