October 2009 Archives

New Noddy

The Times reports:

Bookshops are hoping that the first new Noddy book in more than 40 years, published today, will be a Christmas hit. Certainly Noddy and the Farmyard Muddle could not boast a better lineage. The book has been written by Sophie Smallwood, 39, the granddaughter of Enid Blyton, Noddy's creator. It is illustrated by Robert Tyndall, who has drawn Noddy since 1953...

Times Review

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Times Review

Tom Deveson reviews The Wild Things by Dave Eggers

Always an admirably candid reviewer, Deveson is not greatly impressed by this novelisation of the Sendak classic...

In a trick of reverse alchemy, Dave Eggers's latest novel transmutes pure gold into base metal. He has taken the 300 words of Where the Wild Things Are, Maurice Sendak's great picture book from 1963, and turned them into nearly 300 pages of trivial fiction. ... Adult irony is replaced by adolescent goofiness, subtle suggestion by clunky parallelism, endless wonder by cut-price Freud. Anyone who can write "the giant creatures were infant-like, almost cute, and at the same time, pathetic, tragic" has betrayed his readers, changing rough magic into wordy emptiness. TOM DEVESON

Guardian Review

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Guardian Review

Mal Peet reviews A Trick of the Dark by BR Collins

A Trick of the Dark is billed as a "supernatural thriller'. But Collins is a brave and ambitious writer, and this book is a rarer thing: a metaphysical thriller. It's about nothing less than the dualism that drives most religious and philosophical thinking. One of the two texts that underpin it is John Donne's sonnet "Death", in which death is personified, externalised, and rendered vincible. The other is Peter Pan. (It's a brilliantly incongruous coupling, and I wish I'd thought of it.) But Collins denies the reader both the solace of Donne's Christian bravado and the ironic jollity of Barrie's play. This is a very dark book, right up to, and including, its final pages. If, like me, you are claustrophobic, you will find some of the novel's more brilliant passages uneasy reading.

Making what are, essentially, spiritual events concrete and dramatic without resorting to allegory or mystical symbolism is, of course, fiendishly difficult. Collins succeeds, narrowly. My disbelief remained suspended, but only by its fingertips. It seems to me that there are two problems with the book. One is that we spend an awful lot of time inside the heads of the two young protagonists, and there is the danger that we become bloated on a surfeit of agonising. The other has to do with pitch. The novel begins with a situation so acrimonious, so terminally awful, that the teenagers' escape into the horror of the divided self doesn't seem much worse.

... [Collins will] be a truly great writer one of these days. This is a faltering yet confident step along the way. MAL PEET

Book corner | Lucy Mangan

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Book Corner - Lucy Mangan

I noticed my Blumes were ranged alongside my Gossip Girls and barely had I struggled to my feet before the shock of the contrast prostrated me again. GG - tales of Manhattan's most moneyed teenagers, which are essentially produced to a format by various guns-for-hire for multimedia conglomerate Alloy Entertainment - is as widely revered by teenage girls as Blume was in my day. The difference is that her stories focus on the real, lived teenage experience while the Gossip Girl books and the rest of Alloy's prolific output in effect writes exactly that out of the story. All is hard, shiny and affectless. Teenage readers need some messy truth in their reading lives, and a wise and witty author to guide them through it. There is no mess, truth, wit or wisdom in Gossip Girl. Encourage them to read Blume instead. LUCY MANGAN

Guardian Review

Scat by Carl Hiaasen reviewed by Josh Lacey

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal condemned Hiaasen for polluting young minds with ecological propaganda. In Scat, he even points his readers towards Edward Abbey's classic novel of eco-terrorism, The Monkey Wrench Gang. (I'd be fascinated to know if any of them actually read it; Scat's teenage protagonist does track down a copy, but falls asleep after a few pages.) Whatever your political alignment, you'll find nothing dreary or didactic about Hiaasen's writing; Scat is a funny and furiously fast- moving novel populated by engaging characters and fuelled by a strong sense of moral outrage. JOSH LACEY

Fitting Memorial

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Fitting Memorial

Some grumblers in the blogosphere, an aspect of the galaxy that didn't exist when Adams began the journey, will inevitably subject the posthumous ghostwriter to pedantic and resentful fury but, as someone who bought as a teenager that first Pan paperback, I feel that Eoin Colfer has achieved a perfectly calculated adaptation: a novel which serves as a fitting memorial but also has a life of its own. MARK LAWSON

Will Self on Roald Dahl

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Will Self On Roald Dah

I was once with Martin Amis when he was asked if he'd ever consider writing a children's book. He thought for a few moments before drawling: "I might . . . if I had brain damage." I don't take that view - for me a great children's book transcends the age group of its intended readership as completely as a great science fiction or detective novel transcends its genre. WILL SELF

A very highly recommended take on Roald Dahl...

Bartimaeus Prequel Announced

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Random House Children's Books (UK) has bought a new book to add to the bestselling Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud. The new and fourth Bartimaeus book will be a prequel, following Bartimaeus's adventures during his 5000 year career as a djinni. The deal for English language UK and Commonwealth rights was secured by Annie Eaton, fiction publisher at RHCB, and agented by Laura Cecil. The new book will publish simultaneously in the UK and the US (by Hyperion) in Autumn 2010.

Governor-General's Awards Shortlists

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Children's Literature-Text

Shelley Hrditschka : Sister Wife (Orca Book Publishers)

Sharon Jennings : Home Free (Second Story Press)

Caroline Pignat : Greener Grass: The Famine Years (Red Deer Press/ Fitzhenry and Whiteside)

Robin Stevenson : A Thousand Shades of Blue (Orca Book Publishers)

Tim Wynne-Jones : The Uninvited (Candlewick Press/ Random House)

Children's Literature- Illustration

Rachel Berman : text Tim Beiser: Bradley McGogg, the Very Fine Frog (Tundra Books)

Irene Luxbacher: test Andrew Larsen : The Imaginary Garden (Kids Can Press)

Jirina Marton: text Janet Russell : Bella's Tree (HarperCollins)

Luc Melanson: text Olivier Ka, translated Helen Mixter: My Great Big Mamma (Groundwood Books)

Ningeokuluk Teevee: translated Nina Manning-Toonoo: Alego (Groundwood Books)

Observer Review

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Observer Review

Hetty Feather by Jacqueline Wilson

The language is eight-year-old-friendly, the story weaves and ducks and there's an unforgettable scene when Hetty meets Madame Adeline, the circus performer she hopes may be her mother. Just occasionally, I mutinied against the animated stick-person feeling you get with Wilson's work. But the story gripped me completely, as it will its intended audience. KATE KELLAWAY

Times Review

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Times Review

Sci-fi / fantasy: the latest Hitchhiker's Guide and Terry Pratchett books reviewed by Lisa Tuttle

[see earlier blog entry from today for Cofler book link]

ST Book of the Week

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Sunday Times Book of the Week

oh, the vagaries of timesonline indexing - Nicolette Jones' ST slot so often omitted, this week online a day ahead of the print edition - not that David Benedictus will be pleased about that...

Return to the Hundred Acre Wood by David Benedictus with decorations by Mark Burgess

[Benedictus's] sequel adds nothing significant, despite an older Christopher Robin back from school with a bicycle, the introduction of cricket to the animals, and a newcomer: Lottie the Otter, who is sort of snobby and knowledgeable, though much less recognisable as a type than any character Milne ever invented. Even old friends are diluted: Rabbit is suddenly organised rather than officious; Eeyore makes less of an art of gloom. The mannerisms of Milne are not enough: they become tedious, in fact, despite flashes of wit. The meandering stories are neither moving nor funny, while Pooh's new hums lack that perfect Milne rhythm. NICOLETTE JONES

Mal Peet on winning the Guardian children's fiction prize

Alison Flood talks to Mal Peet about his prizewinning novel, Exposure

Eoin Colfer on writing Douglas Adams sequel...

I knew I was being cheeky saying yes to this project. Optimistic, even. But brave? Hardly brave. Brave is diving into a swollen river to rescue a photogenic child. Brave is admitting that yes, you did notice that woman who just sashayed past. But finishing someone else's sci-fi series, surely that shouldn't be classed as brave. It's not as if there's any actual danger, I thought at the time. I think a little differently now...

Write Away - Keith Gray

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Kaith Gray Interview

Another excellent full-length author inteview, conducted by Noga Applebaum for Write Away. In this interview Keith Gray talks to Applebaum about masculinity, friendship and the importance of story...

Highly Recommended

Mal Peet Wins Guardian Prize

A version of Othello which casts the Moor of Venice as a South American football star wins Mal Peet the 2009 Guardian children's fiction prize

Your inner child? Now that's scary...

Had to hunt around a bit for the link to this exchange between Anthony Horowitz and Charlie Higson, published in the Times last Saturday. Here it is at last, and well worth a read.

Necklace of Raindrops - Reissue


It is over 40 years since the original edition of Necklace of Raindrops by Joan Aiken first published, and to celebrate their reissue of this classic title (publishing in November), Jan Pieńkowski popped into the Random House Children's office to sign some copies.


Okido is a magazine for young children that is such a success it's going mainstream. And it's published by a family who put it together on their kitchen table...

School Librarian of the Year 2009

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Photo provided by Nicky Potter [not taken by ACHUKA]

Lucy Bakewell of Hill West Primary School in Sutton Coldfield was announced earlier today theSchool Librarian of the Year 2009, and presented with her award by Anne Cassidy, award-winning author of Looking for JJ. Ginette Doyle, Chair of the judging panel, who had visited many librarians around the UK shortlisted from those nominated by their colleagues this year, said: 'Primary schools are vital in inspiring children to read and reading is so important in the development of children, expanding their imagination, their knowledge, their vocabulary. They also are the places where children begin to learn to learn, where information skills are first taught, creating individuals competent in finding information. Few primary schools can afford to have a librarian and many rely on dedicated individuals, such as Lucy to run their libraries. Lucy inspires her pupils to love books and reading and she inspires the adults around her. Hill West School is an example of a marvellous school where reading and books are central to learning, much of which is down to Lucy. We feel that it is really important to raise the profile of good primary school library practice, to demonstrate that with the right person in place wonderful things can be achieved.'

Lucy responded: 'I am ecstatic and honoured to be given this award for something I love doing. I have the best job in the world and it's a joy to spend time the library. I feel passionate about making the library a space that children feel is their own and am delighted to receive the honour for the children and for the school. It is exceptionally important that a primary school has won for the first time. It is vital to enthuse and engage children in books and reading from an early age.'

The work of three other exceptional school librarians on the Honour List was also celebrated.
• Barbara Band - The Emmbrook School, Wokingham
• Lynne Varley - Sponne Community Technology College, Towcester
• Joy Wassell-Timms - Parrs Wood High School, Didsbury

From left to right
Joy Wassell-Timms - Parrs Wood High School, Didsbury
Lucy Bakewell of Hill West Primary School in Sutton Coldfield - SCHOOL LIBRARIAN OF THE YEAR 2009
Barbara Band - The Emmbrook School, Wokingham
Lynne Varley - Sponne Community Technology College, Towcester

The Award, created in 2004, aims to recognise the excellent work that is carried out in school libraries every day.

Photograph from left to right
Ingrid Hopson - SLA School Librarian of the Year 2007
Tricia Adams - Director School Library Association (SLA)
Geoff Dubber - Chair SLA
Anne Robinson - SLA School Librarian of the Year 2005
Alyx Price - Scholastic (sponsor)
Anne Cassidy - author and guest speaker
Nikki Heath- SLA School Librarian of the Year 2008
Elaine McQuade - Scholastic (sponsor)
Ginette Doyle - Chair SLYA Panel
Alasdair Darroch - Softlink Europe (sponsor)
Lucy Haire - Learn.co.uk, The Guardian (sponsor)
Miranda McKearney - President SLA/The Reading Agency
Seated - the four School Librarians on the SLA School Librarian of the Year 2009 Honour List
Joy Wassell-Timms - Parrs Wood High School, Didsbury
Lucy Bakewell of Hill West Primary School in Sutton Coldfield - SCHOOL LIBRARIAN OF THE YEAR 2009
Barbara Band - The Emmbrook School, Wokingham
Lynne Varley - Sponne Community Technology College, Towcester

Photo credit:
Philip Paul Photography

Online Writer In Residence

Scottish Book Trust welcomes Catherine Forde as their latest virtual writer in residence, following Keith Gray's residency last year. Between now and March Cathy will have a new writing task on the first Monday of every month.

You can read about Cathy's tasks and watch her explaining them on her video podcasts.

Highly recommended.

Guardian review

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Guardian Review

Philip Ardagh reviews The Enemy by Charlie Higson

The enemy in Charlie Higson's new series of children's books, beginning with The Enemy, aren't zombies in the truest sense. They aren't dead. But, that minor detail aside, they exhibit many traditional zombie characteristics: they look as though they're falling to bits, are shabbily dressed, not too bright, amble about in disorganised groups, are genuinely frightening, and they eat children. You see, in Higson's post-apocalyptic London, it's the adults who have been affected by some dreadful something, and the children - who are unaffected - are their prey. PHILIP ARDAGH

The Northern Children's Book Festival 2009

• The biggest children's book festival in Europe.

• Two weeks of events over the North-East each November.

• 12 local authorities participate in the festival.

• 33 authors / illustrators taking part in events with schools and libraries 9th-20th November 2009

• 12 authors / illustrators at the Gala Day 21st November at Stockton Riverside College.

• Around 20,000 children will benefit from the fortnight of fun sessions.

• An exciting bookshop selling books by authors involved in the festival giving children an opportunity to have their very own signed copies.

• 3,000 plus expected to attend the 26th Gala Day.

Check the webiste for more details of this November fesitval.

- hells belles competition -

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Hells Belles Competition

You can win a copy of Paul Magrs' new Brenda & Effie black comedy on his own website :)

Must be worth a try...

About this Archive

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

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