September 2009 Archives

DiscoveryBox Books

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Discovery Box

I remember being impressed a couple of years ago by a batch of of titles from Bayard Magazines, and I noticed recently the review copies are still being eagerly browsed in various book corners they were left in.

I have just been sent some samples of recent editions from the three "Box" publications: Discovery Box, Adventure Box and Story Box.

Once again it is Discovery Box which really makes the most immediate impression. [I shall take a closer look at the two other Box series on a separate occasion.]

Aimed at 9-12 yearolds, Discovery Box is produced in tall portrait format, on glossy magazine style paper, with eye-catching page designs and great colour illustrations.

As Simona Sideri, the series editor, says in a brief video on the above weblink, Discovery Box aims to provide homebased support to the subjects children learn at school.

Each edition has a good mix of cartoons, quizes and how-to-make-it pages, amongst the information content, and every issue is helpfully colour indexed by subject in the topright page corners.

Recommended for the browsing areas of KS2 libraries and classrooms.

Times Review

Wishing for Tomorrow by Hilary McKay (a sequel to A Little Princess)

Geraldine McCaughrean made a brave but doomed stab at a sequel to Peter Pan; this is another questionable enterprise. It's clever, sweet, lively and well-written -- but not, like its original, sublime. AMNDA CRAIG


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This book has done something important for me. And it has done it in a way so utterly and compellingly convincing that I shall henceforth consider Marcus Sedgwick a writer of the very highest order. I know others have long held him in that regard. I have admired some books of his, but none has registered that complete sense of satisfaction that you get when you read a book by a master of their trade. Let's be honest, few books do this completely. Two of my lodestars that I use when I have finished a book I have enjoyed are Robert Cormier and Sonya Hartnett. Yes, I think to myself, this book was good, but was it that good?

Well, I have to tell you that Revolver IS that good. And for the life of me I cannot imagine the conversation that must have gone on around the table between the judges of the Guardian Prize (to be announced on Thursday 8th October) that led to Sedgwick's book failing to make the crossing from longlist to shortlist. It is a shocking omission. This book should be on the shortlist of each and every fiction prize of the coming year, and that includes adult lists, because the story it tells is entirely unpatronising. If any book deserves to have 'crossover' success, it is this one. Fans of Cormac McCarthy, viewers of Deadwood alike will find familiar themes confronted with a moving, moral grandeur.

Marcus Sedgwick, you are the real deal. Revolver is a very fine achievement. A book that will stand the test of time as surely as one of the late stories of Tolstoy.

Deakin Newsletter - Summer 2009

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Back In Print

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Chrissie Gittins' first children's poetry collection 'Now You See Me, Now You ...' has been reprinted.

The book was shortlisted for the CLPE Poetry Award.

'Chrissie Gittins has a McGough-like flair for idiomatic surrealism,' I said, in TES.

'I like the warmth and immediacy of the poems. But I think The Shortest Days is my favourite - limpid and deceptively simple.' Helen Dunmore

The winner of the Baby Book Award:
Chick by Ed Vere (Puffin)

The winner of the Pre-School Award:
Oliver Who Travelled Far and Wide by Mara Bergman, illus. Nick Maland (Hodder Children's Books)

Best Emerging Illustrator:
Box of Tricks by Katie Cleminson (Jonathan Cape)

Booktrust Teenage Prize 2009 shortlist

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The Booktrust Teenage Prize 2009 shortlist is:

Auslander by Paul Dowswell (Bloomsbury)

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (Bloomsbury)

Ostrich Boys by Keith Gray (Definitions)

The Ant Colony by Jenny Valentine (HarperCollins)

The Vanishing of Katharina Linden by Helen Grant (Puffin)

The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness (Walker)

Judi James - Chair of Judges, comments:"Judging the Booktrust Teenage Prize has been a fascinating journey. The shortlisted books represent a diverse range of titles with one thing in common - they are all written by talented authors who should be celebrated! It is this remarkable quality of writing and storytelling that lures you into their extraordinary worlds, where gloriously authentic characters and intriguing events captivate."

The winning author will receive a cheque for £2,500 and a trophy at a ceremony in London on 18 November.

The Frances Lincoln Diverse Voices Children's Book Award

Frances Lincoln Limited, the award-winning publisher, and Seven Stories, the Centre for Children's Books, are proud to announce the second Diverse Voices Award in memory of Frances Lincoln (1945 - 2001), to encourage and promote diversity in children's fiction.

GUYS READ [revamped]

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GUYS READ website

Jon Scieszka on his newly redesigned website which aims to help boys become readers: "GUYS READ, The Website is new, fresh, improved. Less calories, no artificial flavors, way more book titles. And now you are here. This all looks so good because it has been designed by Sam Potts."

Times Review

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Amanda Craig reviews two cat titles...

Tabby McTat by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

As always with Donaldson there is a little twist in the tale, told in irrepressible, irresistible rhyming couplets. Scheffler's illustrations are even more colourful and charming than ever before, with the kind of detail and expressiveness that makes them lasting memories of buoyant optimism and joy. Absolutely purr-fect stuff. AMANDA CRAIG

Mrs Cockle's Cat by Philippa Pearce

...few children's books seem to take account of the important role that elderly people can play in the love of reading. This is one of the very best. It has the same old-fashioned, long-lasting magic as Mary Poppins; and it's also absolutely accurate about the real nature of cats. AMANDA CRAIG

Guardian Review

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Guardian review

The Bride's Farewell by Meg Rosoff reviewed by Mary Hoffman

Astrid Lindgren Award 2010

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Astrid Lindgren Award Nominees

a list of the 2010 nominees in alphabetical order...

BookBrunch Children's Column

"There is perhaps a moral issue here - should the unqualified benefits of reading be tainted by business interests (other than publishers' and booksellers')? Perhaps the answer is that if the product also promotes the book (as Marmite is doing), it is all to the good..." NICOLETTE JONES

Macmillan Acquisitions

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RETURN TO MUDDLE EARTH: After eight years and 150,000 copies, Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell have signed a deal with Macmillan Children's Books to revisit their comic fantasy, MUDDLE EARTH. Fiction Publishing Director Rebecca McNally acquired world rights from agent Philippa Milnes-Smith. The book will be published in October 2010. An animated series has been commissioned by CBBC for broadcast in 2010. McNally said 'I'm thrilled that we've persuaded Paul and Chris to don their comedy hats and return to the epically stinky world of Muddle Earth. It's time to unleash their brilliantly distinctive, boy-friendly, deranged comic fantasy on the world once more - I for one can't wait'

MCB has acquired three more books by CHANGELING author Steve Feasey from Catherine Pellegrino at RCW: books Four and Five in the Changeling strand, together with the launch title of a new series. Marketing Director Joanne Owen said, 'Steve's unique style of super-cool paranormal thriller - with a teenage werewolf at its heart - has already proved a roaring success and we're immensely excited about taking Changeling to even greater levels through 2010, and beyond, with a series of major consumer campaigns with real brand-building bite.'

Samantha Swinnerton and Rebecca McNally at MCB have acquired two books by debut author Sita Brahmachari. ARTICHOKE HEARTS is a novel about family, friends and losing someone you love. 'Sita has that rare gift for making you feel that her characters are your best friends - this is an incredibly touching, first-person, real-world novel, with a gloriously diverse London as its backdrop. I think she's going to be a very exciting and important writer,' said Publishing Director, Rebecca McNally. Brahmachari is a playwright, arts education practitioner and mother of three. Macmillan acquired world rights from Sophie Gorell Barnes at MBA.

True Crime - Penny Weekly Style

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Something Different

for lovers of True Crime:

As a schoolboy, Charles Dickens took a copy of The Terrific Register every week, and later recalled how it 'frightened my very wits out of my head, for the small charge of a penny weekly; which considering that there was an illustration to every number, in which there was always a pool of blood, and at least one body, was cheap.'
The selection from The History Press contains the most gruesome tales from this 185-year-old publication. Many of these tales have not appeared in print since Charles Dickens himself read them. Richly illustrated with original woodcuts, it will fascinate anyone with an interest in true crime.

Tales from the Terrific Register

The Book of Murder


The Book of Wonder

only suitable for older, bolder readers...!  

New Teen Titles Factifiles

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Authors with brief Factfiles included in Teen Titles 45:

Malcolm Rose
Sarwat Chadda
Chris Higgins
Julie Hearn
Liz Kessler
Sally Nicholls
Gillian Philip


. : : Roald Dahl Day : : .

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Melvin Burgess tells a story on Twitter

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Twitter Narrative

Since the end of August, Melvin Burgess has been developing a storyline in tweeted mini episodes.
I haven't been following closely thus far, but todays 'episodes' have been compellingly disturbing.
Worth a look.

Follow ACHUKA on twitter -

Timmy The Tug

Postwar London: art school graduate Jim Downer gives illustrations for a children's book to a friend he lives with, Ted Hughes, who promises to 'take a look'. The project seems to die, the friends move on. Now, more than 50 years later, the book - complete with Hughes's verse - is finally to be published. Alan Franks talks to the artist about this lost Hughes work, and the remarkable bohemian world that was their 18 Rugby Street home...

Guardian Prize Shortlist

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Juila Eccleshare writes: "Four stunning titles have been shortlisted for the 2009 Guardian children's fiction prize, reflecting both the breadth of writing for children and young adults and an optimism about the power of story to inform and guide."
Of the books lost from the longlist, the most surprising departure is Marcus Sedgwick's Revolver.
The four shortlisted books are:

Solace of the Road by Siobhan Dowd

Then by Morris Gleitzman

Exposure by Mal Peet

Nation by Terry Pratchett

Times Review

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Amanda Craig reviews...

Z-Rex by Steve Cole

Break A Dragon's Heart by Cressida Cowell

Roald Dahl Feature
to tie in with announcement of the shortlist for The Roald Dahl Funny Prize (made earlier this week), and with Roald Dahl Day (tomorrow - Spetember 13th).

Canadian Award Shortlists

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TD Canadian Children's Literature Award

Death in the Air
(The Boy Sherlock Holmes, His Second Case)

Shane Peacock : Published by Tundra Books

Alma Fullerton : Fitzhenry and Whiteside

Shin-chi's Canoe
Nicola L.Campbell: Illustrated: Kim Le Fave : Groundwood Books

Thing Thing
Cary Fagan : illustrated Nicolas Debon : Tundra Books

Word Nerd
Susin Nielsen : Tundra Books

Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award

Chicken, Pig, Cow
written and illustrated: Ruth Ohi : Annick Press

It's Moving Day
Pamela Hickman: illustrated Geraldo Valerio
Kids Can Press

Hazel Hutchins and Gail Herbert: illustrated Dusan Petricic
Annick Press

Shin-chi's Canoe
Nicola I. Campbell : illustrated Kim LeFave
Groundwood Books

Thing Thing
Cary Fagan: Illustrated Nicholas Debon
Tundra Books

Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children's Non-Fiction

The Bite of the Mango
Mariatu Kamara with Susan McClelland
Annick Press

Inuksuk Journey: An Artist at the Top of the World
Written and illustrated: Mary Wallace
Maple Tree Press

No Girls allowed: Tales of Daring Women Dressed as Men fior Love, Freedom and Adventure
Susah Hughes: Illustrated Willow Dawson
Kids Can Press

One Hen: How One Small Loan Can Make a Difference
Katie Smith Milway: illustrated Eugenie Fernandez
Kids Can Press

Royal Murder: The Deadly Intrigue of Ten Sovereigns
Elizabeth MacLeod:
Annick Press

Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People

Ancient Ocean Blues
Jack Mitchell
Tundra Books

Apprentice's Masterpiece: A Story of Mediaeval Spain
Melanie Little
Annick Press

Child of Dandelions
Shenaaz Nanjj
Second Story Press

Greener Grass: The Famine Years
Caroline Pignat
Red Deer Press

The Landing
John Ibbotson
KIds Can Press

information gratefully received from Andrea Deakin

Roald Dahl Funny Prize Shortlists

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The Roald Dahl Funny Prize was founded in 2008 by Michael Rosen as part of his Children's Laureateship. It is the first prize of its kind; founded to honour those books that simply make children laugh. The winner of each category will receive £2,500, which will be presented at an awards ceremony in London on 10 November.
The judging panel comprised the comedian Bill Bailey; author, founder and Chair Michael Rosen; author and illustrator Mini Grey; author Louise Rennison; and author and winner of the Roald Dahl Funny Prize 2008 Andy Stanton.

The Funniest Book for Children Aged Six and Under

The Great Dog Bottom Swap by Peter Bently, illus. Mei Matsuoka (Andersen Press)

Octopus Socktopus by Nick Sharratt (Alison Green Books)

Elephant Joe is a Spaceman! by David Wojtowycz (Alison Green Books)

Crocodiles Are the Best Animals of All! by Sean Taylor, illus. Hannah Shaw (Frances Lincoln)

Mr Pusskins Best in Show by Sam Lloyd (Orchard Books)

The Pencil by Allan Ahlberg, illus. Bruce Ingman (Walker Books)

The Funniest Book for Children Aged Seven to Fourteen

The Galloping Ghost by Hilda Offen (Catnip Publishing)

Eating Things on Sticks by Anne Fine, illus. Kate Aldous (Doubleday)

Grubtown Tales: Stinking Rich and Just Plain Stinky by Philip Ardagh, illus. Jim Paillot (Faber and Faber)

The Boy in the Dress by David Walliams, illus. Quentin Blake (HarperCollins)

Purple Class and the Half-Eaten Sweater by Sean Taylor, illus. Helen Bate (Frances Lincoln)

Ribblestrop by Andy Mulligan (Simon & Schuster)

ST Book Of The Week

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Sunday Times Children's Book of the Week

The Enemy by Charlie Higson

...Set in London, from Archway Pool and the Holloway Road Waitrose to Buckingham Palace and the Tower of London, it follows a band of children trying to survive under repeated attack from slow-witted, drooling, cannibal adults. It is great at adrenaline-inducing conflict, and as yucky as could be wished for. Written in a pacey vernacular, with such phrases as "well dead" and "bare evil" (ie, "really evil"), it is just the thing for youngsters who enjoy Fungus the Bogeyman, the London Dungeon and World of Warcraft computer games and are getting a taste for horror films... NICOLETTE JONES

Pablo Bernasconi

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The excellent event (Fridrik Erlings in conversation with Nick Tucker - see earlier blog entry) organised by OutsideIn at the Icelandic Embassy this week reminded me how disappointed I had been not to be able to attend a similar event with Argentinean author and illustrator Pablo Bernasconi at the end of August.
Bernasconi is pictured above during his UK visit taking part in OutsideIn's 'Reading Round the World' programme. He visited St Martin's Garden Primary School in Bath where the children created their own collage artwork.

Times Review

...this is the most charming, funny, captivating new author to have come along since ... well, I don't know when. Imagine Dodie Smith's I Capture the Castle mixed with a dash of Louise Rennison, Meg Cabot and Audrey Hepburn's Funny Face, but with something real that breaks your heart. AMANDA CRAIG

Guardian Review

Sedgwick was brought up as a pacifist, yet he admits to being fascinated by the power and beauty of a Colt revolver. He tried one out while researching this book, which also took him to some very cold places and included taking Swedish lessons. Apart from an excursion into Venice with Kiss of Death, most of his books have been set in northern climes, and he writes with the economy and spareness of a Norse saga. MARY HOFFMAN

Look out for ACHUKA's own review of this book - appearing shortly.

The children's book character Horrid Henry will soon be appearing on two million branded packs of Marmite (250g jars). With individual 'Horrid' and 'Perfect' labels, featuring Tony Ross's illustrations, Horrid Henry and Perfect Peter vividly capture the love it/hate it appeal of Marmite.

Each special Horrid Henry Marmite pack will contain a code for a free audio book download, from There are five book downloads available, each written by Francesca Simon and read by Miranda Richardson: Horrid Henry, Horrid Henry's Underpants, Horrid Henry's Stink Bomb, Horrid Henry and the Football Fiend and Horrid Henry Robs the Bank. The promotion has been funded by Unilever, Reading For Life and Orion Publishing.

Cheryl Calverley, marketing manager for Marmite said: "Marmite is very excited to team up with Reading for Life, and the Horrid Henry stories in particular have a great resonance with Marmite fans. Whether you think Marmite is horrid (like Henry) or perfect (like Peter) audio-books are a great way to keep you kids out of mischief."

Joanna Rose, Brand Manager at Orion said, "We are delighted to be working with Marmite and Reading for Life in a way that perfectly encapsulates Horrid Henry's great sense of fun."

See the special Horrid Henry Marmite site at

Right Words 2009

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Right Words 2009

is a competition for students from around Britain to produce a piece of writing inspired by the issue of Child Soldiers.

The Right Words competition is being run by members of the Human Rights Watch with the support of The Literacy Consultancy

Fridrik Erlings In Conversation

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Icelandic author, Fridrik Erlings (published by Meadowside Children's Books in the UK) was in conversation last night with Nick Tucker at the Icelandic Embassy, in front of an invited adult audience.
The event had been organised by Outside In, an organisation previously lauded on ACHUKA for the work it does to promote worldwide literature (in translation) to the UK audience.
Alexandra Strick from Outside In introduced the author and interviewer:

The Icelandic author was accompanied by his English editor, Lucy.

Nick Tucker's questioning attempted to pick out a conflict (which he perceived) between making overseas literature specific to its place, and making it generalised enough for an international audience. He wondered what compromises in translation had to be made. The audience chuckled at one point when Lucy stepped in to explain that at times the food had to be made less 'sparse'. There were other incidental changes also. But what was most interesting in this particular instance of translation was that both Benjamin Dove and Fish In The Sky had been translated by the author himself, who explained that he had welcomed the opportunity to do some 're-writing', an opportunity which most authors would love to have.

This led Nick Tucker to wonder whether there could ever be a literal word-for-word translation of the original, at which point questions and observations from the audience extended this particular discussion.

Erlings' most recent book is Fish IN The Sky:

Outside In Website
Meadowside Children's Books

A booklet acquired at the embassy giving biographical and bibliographical details about aurthors:

About this Archive

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

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