July 2010 Archives

Guardian Summer Roundup

Julia Eccleshare recommends nine fiction titles for mixed ages, including

The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

Romance without any vampires makes a welcome change for teen readers. Not that death is entirely absent. When her gorgeous and successful older sister drops dead unexpectedly, Lennie has to learn to live again. Perhaps because of her passion for Wuthering Heights, she finds herself falling in love. How grief and love run side by side is sensitively and intensely explored in this energetic, poetic and warm-blooded novel. JULIA ECCLESHARE

Verily Anderson

Verily Anderson, children's author and family biographer has died aged 95. According to the Times obituary (to which I cannot link because of the pay-wall), the day before her death she was still working on the proofs of her latest book, a history of Herstmonceux Castle.

Wikipedia - Verity Anderson

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Mary Evans 1936-2010 - Archivist

In 2003 she achieved a lifelong ambition by acquiring the famous Thomas Fall collection of historical dog pictures, an addition that has proved immensely popular with publishers, especially in the US. Images from her unmatched collection of children's books now form a staple of the library's stock.

White Crow Trailer

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White Crow by Marcus Sedgwick

ACHUKA - Picture Book Picks

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Picture Book Picks

Most notable picture books of the year so far...

Eoin Colfer Webcast

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Eoin Colfer webcast....

One for Eoin Colfer fans... This was broadcast online as live webcast last Tuesday, but for the moment at least has been archived for fans who missed it...

Guardian Review

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Guardian Review

The Cardturner by Louis Sachar, reviewed by Frank Cottrell Boyce

As usual, exemplary reviewing from FBC... cunning enticement :)

The book feels like one long, deadpan dare, as though Sachar has made a bet with himself that he can make the most boring setting thrilling. The American cover even has the cheek to show a young man who has fallen asleep reading. Sachar has Alton admit that he couldn't finish Moby-Dick because he got bored with all the detail. The implication is that Sachar can do what Melville couldn't do. But can he? The genius of Sachar's prose is that it's so plain and unshowy you don't notice the daredevil artistry of his storytelling until it's too late. You don't know you've been cut in half until you try to walk away.

Reading his books is like being hustled in a card game by someone who seems straight-talking and modest but who turns out to be a virtuoso card sharp. So is The Cardturner one big bluff or is he really holding all the trumps? I don't want to spoil it for you but he does something towards the end of this book that I can't imagine anyone else even trying to get away with. As Uncle Lester might say, nicely played, Louis. FRANK COTTRELL BOYCE

Guardian Review

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Guardian review

An Elephant in the Garden by Michael Morpurgo
reviewed by Mal Peet

Morpurgo is a literary landmark, a national treasure. To suggest that his writing (as distinct from his story-telling) lacks thunder and sparkle, or even originality, is akin to complaining that Stonehenge has no roof. His plainness is deliberate and crafted. All the same, I find myself wishing that his language would occasionally stretch and challenge his loyal young readers. Sometimes, it seems to me, he sells himself short.

In this novel, which ends happily all round, the postwar resolutions, the fates of his characters, are dealt with not so much simply as perfunctorily. Its ending is scarcely more than "They all lived happily ever after". Morpurgo knows this, of course, and tells us so. As in some of his earlier novels, a young listener urges the story onward. "And? And? What happened? What happened after that?" To which the narrator replies: "Oh, a lot happened. A whole lifetime of happenings. But I think I shall keep it short. I am suddenly rather tired." Indeed. MAL PEET

Old Possum's Children's Poetry Competition 2010

Roger McGough is to chair the judging panel for a worldwide poetry competition for 7-11 year olds. The Competition is organised by the Children's Poetry Bookshelf, a poetry book club for young people run by the Poetry Book Society. To link with National Poetry Day on Thursday 7 October, children will be asked to write a poem in English on the theme of 'Home'.


Photo credit: Andy Hollingworth

Now in its fifth year, the competition is open to both individuals and schools.  Cash prizes of £250 for first prize, £100 for second and £50 for third will be awarded, along with books and CPB memberships, in two age groups, 7-8 year-olds and 9-11 year-olds. Entries will be accepted from Friday 10 September, up until the closing date of Friday 15 October. The winners will be announced at a gala celebration in London in December.

The Old Possum's Children's Poetry Competition will encourage children to write poems of their own and help teachers to bring poetry alive in the classroom. A teacher's guide to accompany the competition will be available to download from the Children's Poetry Bookshelf website (www.childrenspoetrybookshelf.co.uk <http://www.childrenspoetrybookshelf.co.uk/> ) from early September, along with further information about the competition.
Described by Carol Ann Duffy as 'the patron saint of poetry', chair of the judges Roger McGough is one of the UK's best-loved poets with over 50 collections of poetry for both adults and children to his name. The anthology The Mersey Sound, first published in 1967, showcased McGough's poems alongside those of Adrian Henri and Brian Patten and has since become one of the bestselling poetry anthologies of all time. Roger McGough was awarded the CBE for services to poetry in 2005 and continues to be a very active performance poet. With his poetry used widely in schools, children will be familiar with the wry humour and liveliness of his work. He has twice won the CLPE (previously the Signal) Award for the best children's poetry book and his most recent children's collection is Slapstick.
Roger McGough is joined by a distinguished panel who are passionate about children's poetry: the poet/guitarist James Carter, who travels widely giving poetry performances and workshops; Julia Eccleshare, writer, broadcaster, lecturer, Co-Director of the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education and the Guardian's Children's Books Editor; David Fickling, distinguished publisher of David Fickling Books, a Random House imprint for children's books; and Caroline Horn, Children's News Editor of The Bookseller and founder of the Reading Zone children's books website.            

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Kelpies Prize Shortlist

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Edinburgh-based publisher Floris Books has announced the shortlist for its annual Scottish children's fiction competition, the Kelpies Prize.
The Kelpies Prize looks for previously unpublished works of fiction, set in contemporary Scotland and suitable for children aged 8--12. 

The 2010 shortlist is:
The Angel Ashariel by Ritske Rensma
Operation Bonobo by Elizabeth Spalton
Red Fever by Caroline Clough

The winner of the Kelpies Prize 2010 will be announced at a ceremony at the Edinburgh International Book Festival on Thursday 19 August 2010. The winning author will receive a £2,000 cash prize and have their book published in the Kelpies imprint before the end of the year.

This year, the prize will be presented by Scottish children's author, Gill Arbuthnott.
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2010 Prime Minister's Literary Awards

No, nothing to do with David Cameron. These are Australian awards.

And more good news for Branford Boase winner, Lucy Christopher, who is shortlisted in the Young Adult section....

Branford Boase Award winner

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Branford Boase Award

Stolen by Lucy Christopher, edited by Imogen Cooper and published by Chicken House, has won the 2010 Branford Boase Award, which is given each year to the most outstanding work of fiction for children by a first time novelist.

More photos
- not taken by me. Regrettably, I was unable to attend the event.

read Aloud Competition Launched

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HarperCollins Children's books is launching a competition for readers of all ages to recite their favourite rhyme rattling verse from Dr. Seuss.
In a new initiative to build confidence in beginning readers and encourage learning and imagination across all age groups, the 'Read Aloud' competition invites readers from all over the world to bring to life some of the zaniest characters in children's
literature. Participants are asked to film themselves reciting an extract from their favourite Dr. Seuss book in true Seuss-fashion - imaginative, creative and entirely unique.
The competition will be hosted online at www.seussreadaloud.com where participants can chose from one in five Dr. Seuss books to read from, including Fox in Socks and the classic The Cat in the Hat. Visitors to the site will also be able to watch sample videos, download extracts from their favourite Seuss stories, and print-out props to use creatively in their videos.
Videos will be put to public vote and from those the Dr. Seuss Grand Judging Panel will select one grand-prize winner who will win an extraordinary family vacation to Universal Orlando® Resort - where they will be able to see their favourite Dr. Seuss characters come to life at Seuss Landing™! Other winners will receive an array of Seuss prizes, including original prints from Chase Art, stovepipe hats, plush toys and carry-all bags.
The competition closes on 31st October 2010. For full competition details, terms and conditions or to get voting, visit www.seussreadaloud.com.
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Michael Morpurgo

Excellent self-penned profile, in which Morpurgo reveals how important his friends and associates have been and how (nearly) significant the result of the 1980's Whitbread Award was for him...

I'd not been shortlisted before, and so was hugely excited on the day we went up to London for the award ceremony. War Horse didn't win. I returned on the night sleeper feeling rather low, and wondering if I could ever sit down and write a book again. The next morning I found myself as usual milking the cows with a dozen children. They'd all heard, and were sad for me. I put the best brave face on it, but it wasn't easy. The phone rang during breakfast. It was Ted saying he thought we should go fishing together, and perhaps go on to Bideford for tea. The Whitbread prize was not mentioned all day. Then, over tea, Ted leaned towards me and said: "About last night. We watched it on Channel 4. It doesn't matter, Michael. It's all a lot of nonsense anyway. You wrote a fine book. And you'll write a finer one."

I'm not sure I ever have, but without the lift those words gave me, I do wonder if I'd have gone on writing at all...

Observer Children's Book of the Month

iBoy by Kevin Brooks
selected and reviewed by Geraldine Brennan

Guardian Review

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Guardian Review

Marcus Sedgwick reviews The Last Summer Of The Death Warriors by Francisco X Stork

Sedgwick struggles to identify the American tone in this novel, and in doing so fails to draw attention to the fact that the author is Mexican born, and his subjects usually Hispanic. Although I haven't yet read this book, I can't help but feel that its tone must be somewhat different from "American teenage fiction" in general...

There's something about American teenage fiction that I can't quite put my finger on... ...There is a particularly American voice, or at least, there's something about the voice of many of the American young adult titles I've read recently, which The Last Summer of the Death Warriors shares... MARCUS SEDGWICK

The Glass Demon - achukareviews

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The Glass Demon by Helen Grant

5 goldchick review

Sonya Hartnett Interviewed (2 years old)

Just stumbled on this interview with one of ACHUKA's favourite authors, Sonya Hartnett.

From Ann Giles' Bookwitch blog, posted June 2008, it includes several candid style photos of the author, including one of her trainers - at least I assume they are the author's trainers and not the interviewer's.

Deakin Newsletter, July-August

Andrea Deakin has been such a generous supporter of ACHUKA over the years, regulalrly supplying me with information about Canadian awards and frequently sending me titles that she knows I will be interested in seeing, or younger family members will enjoy, that I was very disappointed to discover today her recent visit to London passed by without an opportunity for us to meet.

As ever, I commend the latest issue of her 'newsletter'.

Guardian Review

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Guardian Review

The Fool's Girl by Celia Rees, reviewed by Josh Lacey

"packed with wonderfully evocative details of Elizabethan London and Warwickshire... JOSH LACEY

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