November 2009 Archives

Deakin Newsletter November-December 2009

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Andrea Deakin Dewlsetter November-December 2009

a full and richly informative edition, as always

Desperately Seeking Sendak

Spike Jonze and Dave Eggers relive the cold winter's day when they went to visit famously prickly writer Maurice Sendak, to talk about filming Where the Wild Things Are...

Book corner - Lucy Mangan

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Lucy Mangan, Book Corner - Endshelf

The Book corner brief was to write in the main about books I had known and loved as a child, which of course meant that I didn't do any justice at all to anything written after about 1990, and of course I can't even hope to start now. But I have to rave about just a few of the most recent ones - Celia Rees' Witch Child, based on the Salem trials and as psychologically acute an account of moral panic as you could hope to read and a fine weapon with which to arm any child in the battle against all its modern forms, Mary Hooper's historical fiction, and Hilary McKay's sequel to my beloved Frances Hodgson Burnett's A Little Princess, which I approached warily but which turned out to be wonderful. And the Chaos Walking trilogy (the third part is due out in May next year, and I honestly don't know how I'm going to wait that long) by Patrick Ness, which I would press urgently on anyone, anyone at all, but particularly on any reluctant readers among older boys. If it doesn't break down their resistance within the first 10 pages, I want to know. It is extraordinary. LUCY MANGAN

Guardian Review

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Guardian Review

Salem Brownstone by John Harris Dunning, reviewed by SF Said

Salem Brownstone is the first graphic novel to be published by Walker Books. It comes acclaimed by all sorts of stars, including the late film-maker Anthony Minghella and comics master Alan Moore, who seldom gives endorsements. It also comes backed by a short film on YouTube and a popular Facebook campaign; it's very much a thing of the moment, which is quite an achievement for a work of Victorian-noir. SF SAID

Day By Day By Me

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Day By Day By me

The National Centre for Young People with Epilepsy (NCYPE) has produced a freely available diary for children who suffer from seizures, with front cover designed by Tracey Beaker illustrator, Nick Sharratt.

Children with epilepsy have a fantastic new seizure diary filled with fun activities. A parent who attended one of the NCYPE's Childhood Epilepsy Information Service Conferences in 2008 spotted a gap in the market and helped the NCYPE team create this diary especially for youngsters aged 5-10. This is believed to be the first one of its kind in the UK.

The diary has space for recording seizures in a fun way - a vital help to doctors in diagnosing and managing epilepsy. It is full of pictures and cartoons donated by over 50 famous children's illustrators including Lauren Child, Axel Scheffler and Aardman Animations.

Thanks to the support of sanofi aventis, it is available free of charge by calling 01342 832243 ext. 296 or by emailing

Anne Fine, whose sister is an Epilepsy Nurse Specialist, and who helped out in assembling the diary explained to ACHUKA:

So few children with epilepsy get access to the sort of people like my sister who are good at allaying their fears, answering questions, persuading them to take their medication and chart seizures, etc, in the way they need. A lot of the parents aren't really in a position to keep up on all this either. The diary is filled with information and encouragement in a very accessible and attractive format. It will take a huge amount of the pressure off parents to nag the children to keep safe, take meds, etc, and makes the children feel so much more mainstream.

Amanda Craig's Christmas Roundup

includes a recommendation for Inkys silver winner, The Hunger Games [see previous post]

The Inkys - Winning Titles

The 2009 Golden Inky Winner is...

The winner of the 2009 Silver Inky is...

Full Set of Costa Shortlisted Titles

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Costa Children's Shortlist

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Costa Children's Shortlist

Shortlist for the Costa Children's Book Award

Siobhan Dowd - Solace of the Road

Mary Hoffman - Troubadour

Patrick Ness - The Ask and the Answer (Chaos Walking: Book Two)

Anna Perera - Guantanamo Boy

John Fardell, Lari Don and Keith Gray have been named as this year's winners for the 2009 Royal Mail Awards, Scotland's largest children's Book Prize which is voted for exclusively by Scottish children themselves.

Author/Illustrator John Fardell won the Early Years category (0-7) for his first picture book Manfred the Baddie (Quercus).

Lari Don won the Younger Readers category (8-11) for her first book First Aid for Fairies and Other Fabled Beasts (Floris Books).

Keith Gray won the Older Readers category (12-16) for the acclaimed Ostrich Boys (Random House).

They will each receive £3,000.

Anna Gibbons, Children's Programme Manager at Scottish Book Trust commented:
"These awards have been our biggest ever with nearly 30,000 children in every area of Scotland taking part, including reluctant readers and those with visual or physical impairments. Thousands of young readers have read, debated, reviewed and most of all enjoyed a selection of the best Scottish children's books of the year - we're really proud of their achievement."

ACHUKA Gifts Picks - New Page added...

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Governor-General's Awards:

Children's Literature: Text

English: Caroline Pignat - Greener Grass: The Famine Years (Red Deer Press/ Fitzhenry and Whiteside)
French: Herve Bouchard - Harvey (Les Editions de la Pasteque)

Children's Literature: Illustration
English : Jirina Marton - Bella's Tree : text Jane Russell (Groundwood Books)
French: Janice Nadeau - Harvey text Herve Bouchard (Les Editions de las Pasteque)

This is the first time First one book ( in the French list) has won both text and illustration awards.

TD Canadian Children's Literature award
Nicola I. Campbell, illustrated Kim Le Fave - Shin-Chi's Canoe (Groundwood Books)

Book corner | Finn Family Moomintroll

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Book Corner - Finn Family Moomintroll

Lucy Mangan brought her excellent "building a brilliant children's library" feature to a close yesterday by selecting one of Tove Jansson's Moomintroll titles:

The Moomin books (there are nine in all) are full of subtle humour, wisdom, compassion and melancholy and the attraction they held for me as a child has only grown with the years. Moominland and its methodical inhabitants form an oasis of calm and clarity in a world that frequently threatens to overwhelm us. Just as the Moomins are always ready to curl up in a warm patch and snuggle down for a restorative snooze, so too should we all, children and adults, with their still, sweet stories. LUCY MANGAN

for Lucy Mangan's previous selections, click here...

Guardian Review

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Guardian Review

Two Good Thieves by Daniel Finn (aka Will Gatti)

Baz and Demi are vivid and appealing characters, a boyish girl who can't help telling the truth and a swaggering, self-confident boy who is ready to take on anyone. As the forces ranged against them grow larger and more violent, and the two children have to fight harder to stay alive, they reveal themselves to be intelligent, resourceful, loyal, compassionate - and perhaps even good. JOSH LACEY

Neil Gaiman Wins Booktrust Teenage Prize

Neil Gaiman has won the Booktrust Teenage Prize

see the other shortlisted books

Michelle Paver Feature

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Michelle Paver feature

Excellent feature by Damian Whitworth

She has never run with the pack. For a year, at the age of 10, she was bullied at school. "I had a disastrously short haircut so they called me Cave Boy. It was a year of utter misery." Eventually her chief tormentor left but the experience informed the character of the outsider Torak. She also realised "that I could live in books and get through. I just ignored everybody else. The imaginary world became my support".

As a teenager "I wasn't happy. No big reason -- I was just an overweight, spotty teenager." She devoured Norse and Greek myths, then the classics. "I was clever. I was reading Dostoevsky and my schoolfriends weren't. So I was thinking 'you are idiots' and my parents were idiots because they watched television."

At Oxford, where she achieved a first in biochemistry, she had "a lovely time but I didn't really make any friends and I didn't really want them. I enjoyed the work but I didn't go to any lectures. I spent most of my time trying to write novels. I was totally non-social. At Oxford you can do that -- I wasn't the weirdest one by any means."

Louise Cooper obituary

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Louise Cooper

Guardian obituary...

Louise Cooper was prolific author of children's and adult ficiton.

The obituary writer, Emily Thomas, was the editor of many of her Young Adult fantasy novel.s

The Indpendent's 50 best winter reads

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50 best Winter Reads

This selection from The Indpendent includes choices by Joe Craig...

The online version is not, however, very browser friendly...

Richmal Crompton: Times feature by Matthew Dennison

Dennison writes:

In all she wrote 41 adult novels and nine collections of short stories -- only one of these 50 titles remains in print. Family Roundabout describes two matriarchs who adopt opposing approaches to the upbringing of their five children. One is controlling and domineering, the other easygoing to the point of feyness. As increasingly becomes apparent, the secret of successful motherhood has eluded both. Nicola Beauman, of Persephone, who reissued the novel, selected it from Crompton's adult ouput for its unusual theme.

William Brown, archetype of those tree-swinging, yelling children who failed to disturb Miss Swinton, was born in Home Magazine in February 1919. His creator was a 28-year-old classics teacher from Lancashire. At her death 50 years later, Crompton was midway through a new William story. Today the name of author and juvenile desperado remain synonymous. The perennially eleven-year-old William Brown casts a lengthy shadow over Crompton's life and continues to dominate her posthumous reputation. To a fellow novelist who asked about her domestic situation, Crompton confided: "I am probably the last surviving example of the Victorian professional aunt." Crompton had made a career out of children. The Just William books made her a household name and a very wealthy woman -- but she had no children of her own, only nieces and nephews...

Special 90th-birthday editions of More William, William Again and William at War are published by Macmillan.

Guardian Review

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Guardian Reivew

Troubadour by Mary Hoffman reviewed by Linda Buckley-Archer

Hoffman has written an enthralling and well-paced tale whose conclusion is at once unexpected, poignant and satisfying. Troubadour is not a joyous story but it is a compelling one. LINDA BUCKLEY-ARCHER

I Am Not The Father In This Novel, says David Yelland

from a Guardian report:

Promoting the book at an event this week, Yelland said: "I am not the father in this novel - he is the man I nearly was. Like him, I fell victim to alcohol. There came a time when it controlled me and came close to destroying me...

Outdoor Reading

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, originally uploaded by RemiL.

photo by Remi Lagoin

from a Press Release circulated yesterday:


The award winning authors David Almond, and author/illustrator Michael Foreman have been nominated for the top prize in international children's literature. The Hans Christian Andersen Awards are given biennially to a living author and illustrator whose complete works have made a lasting contribution to children's literature. The award is given by the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) and David Almond and Michael Foreman have been nominated by the British Section. Nominations have also been received from more than 50 other national sections.

The announcement of the winners will be made at the Bologna Children's Book Fair in March 2010 and the Awards will be presented later that year at the IBBY World Congress in Santiago de Compostela. Her Majesty Queen Margrethe ll of Denmark is Patron of these Awards.


David Almond and Michael Foreman will be talking about their work and signing copies of their books on Thursday 3rd December at the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education, Webber Street, London SE1 8QW (near Waterloo station) starting at 6.30 for 7pm.

Tickets (incl. glass of wine): £10/ £7 for IBBY members and concessions. Contact John Dunne 023 8069 3000/ email:

Roald Dahl Funny Prize

A "disgusting and horrible" story of a smelly man in an oddball town, Philip Ardagh's Grubtown Tales: Stinking Rich and Just Plain Stinky, has won the Roald Dahl funny prize.

Children's Classics Not For Everyone...

Leonard Marcus is this country's premier children's literature historian, author of 20 books, a sought-after museum consultant, curator and frequent commentator/guest on national television shows.

He's also a man of humor and affability, which was obvious during a phone interview from his home in Brooklyn when he talked about how his professional and personal lives sort of collided after the birth 17 years ago of his son, Jacob.

"I had spent 10 years writing a biography of Margaret Wise Brown," he recalled. "My son was born the week the book was published, and I thought, 'Now I have someone to read "Goodnight Moon" to.' When Jacob was 6 or 9 months old, I gave it a try, and it was obvious he was bored by this book. Of all the children to have, I had one that didn't like 'Goodnight Moon.' It was a wonderful thing for someone like me, who reviews books, to realize that not every classic is for every child."

Top Anglican children's author converts to Rome

from The Observer:

A bestselling author and Anglican priest has launched an outspoken attack on the Church of England and revealed that he is converting to Catholicism.

GP Taylor, whose children's book Shadowmancer became an international bestseller and is being turned into a film, accused the church of sinking "into a liberal pit that was no earthly use and offered no hope, no love and no grace".

Writing in the Yorkshire Post, Taylor said the decision had been "heart-breaking". He concluded: "Like so many other Anglicans, I am at that place where I feel I must desert a sinking ship."

Guardian Review

Michael Morpurgo's latest children's novel reviewed by Linda Newbery

The former children's laureate has the happy knack of speaking to both child and adult readers, and of his vast body of work some of the most successful novels (Kensuke's Kingdom, War Horse, The Butterfly Lion) are those exploring bonds between humans and animals. With its emphasis on animal instincts and social behaviour, Running Wild, part epic adventure, part plea for threatened habitats, will surely rank alongside his best-loved books. LINDA NEWBERY

Enchanted Hunters reviewed by A. S. Byatt

This is a grown-up book for grown-up people who haven't forgotten being childhood readers. It satisfies imagination and curiosity, revisiting things you suddenly remember clearly, telling you new things you didn't know. A. S. BYATT

Jeanette Winterson interviewed

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Jeanette Winterson Interviewed

After decades of creating fiction, Jeanette Winterson found herself too depressed to write before the idea for her latest children's stories provided salvation. She talks to Nicolette Jones about her goddaughters, stern mother and making peace with the past...

Perform-a-Poem Website Launch

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Perform-a-Poem Website Launched At Last

The Perform-a-Poem website was launched today. Always intended to be part of Michael Rosen's vision for his laureateship, it has taken until now to actually come to life.

It's a really exciting concept. Site development has been carried out by BookTrust. The video sharing can at this stage only be directly participated in by schools within the London Grid for Learning, but the short performance videos that will begin to appear on the site should inspire schools all over the country to raise the profile of poetry in the classroom.

How Not to Run a Literary Festival

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How Not To Run A Literary Festival

Really excellent blog entry by Amanda Craig pointing up some fundamental courtesies and organisational requirements from an author's point of view.

Required reading...

Blue Peter Book Awards Shortlist 2010

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The 2010 Blue Peter Book Awards Shortlist is:

Best Book With Facts:

  • Usborne Lift-the-flap Picture Atlas - Alex Frith & Kate Leake (Usborne)

  • Tail-End Charlie - Mick Manning & Brita Granstrom (Francis Lincoln Children's Books)

  • Why Eating Bogeys is Good for You - Mitchell Symons (Red Fox)

Book I Couldn't Put Down:

  • Cosmic - Frank Cottrell Boyce (Macmillan)

  • The Boy Who Fell Down Exit 43 - Harriet Goodwin (Stripes)

  • Frozen in Time - Ali Sparkes (Oxford)

Most Fun Story with Pictures:

  • Peter the Penguin Pioneer - Daren King (Quercus)

  • Spells - Emily Gravett (Macmillan)

  • Dinkin Dings and the Frightening Things - Guy Bass & Pete Williamson (Stripes)

The panel of adult judges comprised Tim Levell, Editor of Blue Peter (Chair), children's librarian Debra Conway and author Matt Haig, who won the ultimate accolade of Blue Peter Book of the Year in 2009 with his novel Shadow Forest.

The final nine books will now be judged by a selection of young Blue Peter viewers. They will decide both the winners in each category, and the overall winner of Blue Peter Book of the Year 2010. The Book Awards show will be broadcast on Blue Peter in March 2010 to coincide with World Book Day. An extract from each of the nine shortlisted titles will be dramatised for the show.

ST Book of the Week

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Sunday Times Children's Book of the Week

The Battle of the Sun by Jeanette Winterson

This is not a book to dash through. It is one to read slowly or aloud, in order to explore its complexity. The city's transformation, for example, is a satirical lesson about value (which does not lie in material things); and the "battle of the sun" of the title is a both a literal battle, and a daily fight to be master of oneself. NICOLETTE JONES

Guardian Review

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Guardian Review

New and Collected Poems for Children by Carol Ann Duffy. reviewed by Michael Rosen

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