February 2012 Archives

Andy from A to Y | Momentum

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Andy From A to Y

Why Andy Griffiths decided to publish a digital-only book...

A Children's Guide To 1960s Edinburgh

It evokes a timeless and charming picture of Edinburgh. Now, 50 years after its publication, a celebrated children's travel guide to the capital is being reissued, writes Martyn McLaughlin

This Is Edinburgh by Miroslav Sasek

Author Interview: Matt Haig - The Yorker

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Matt Haig Interview

Matt Haig interviewed by The Yorker:

...you've also said that you never planned to find yourself writing a book for children - but you did and it became 'Shadow Forest'. You've since written another two. How difficult do you find crossing between child and adult fiction, and how do you handle the challenges of each?

I tend to do absolutely nothing different really, in terms of when I just used to write for adults, and now I alternate. I mean, it is different, writing for children. It's sort of easier in some ways, and it's more difficult in other ways. I think it depends on the idea. I mean, whether it's for adults or for children, it's all about the idea. Basically, I don't say 'ok this is a children's book, this is an adult's book', I just go with whatever's the strongest. Literally, about half my ideas are probably adult ideas, and half are more sort of fantastical children's ideas, so it works out as a good balance, at the moment.

Jan Berenstain Obit

The Guardian obituary, by Julia Eccleshare

remebering The Berenstains

As fans mourn the beloved children's book author, new details of her life surface -- including the fact that her iconic characters nearly weren't bears at all...

Agent Interview

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Agent Interview

Nicky Schmidt interviews literary agent Julia Churchill


Anthony Horowitz: Do we still need publishers?

I've always admired Anthony Horowitz's straight talking, and there are some good points in this piece...

With thanks to Zoe Toft (@playbythebook) for bringing it to my notice via Twitter.

Is it worth dressing up for World Book Day?"

The Guardian's Book Doctor, Julia Eccleshare, answers a resounding, "Yes!"

Jan Berenstain Dies

Jan Berenstain, who with her husband, Stan, wrote and illustrated the Berenstain Bears books that have charmed preschoolers and their parents for 50 years, has died. She was 88...

FIVEnFIVE With Sherry Ashworth

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FIVEnFIVE With Sherry Ashworth

Sherry Ashworth answers 5 questions about her new young adult novel, MENTAL, published as an ACHUKA(e)book, and 5 more general questions about her writing.

She also tells us what she's been reading, watching and listening to recently.

Fate Of Christchurch Cathedral Hangs In Balance

A year on from last February's eathquake in New Zealand - not to mention a continuous sequence of mini-quakes and earth tremors - there is much that remains shattered and unbalanced there beyond the shaken physical structures.

One of New Zealand's leading authors for children and young adults has written about this with marvellous skill and creativity in The Field, an ebook published by ACHUKAbooks just last month.

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Tomi Ungerer Profile

One of Joanna Carey's occasional and always worthwhile illustrator profiles...

Although they were first published decades ago, these beautiful, thought-provoking books have a timeless humour, appeal and relevance, and are accessible at all levels of understanding.

When he draws, Ungerer never uses an eraser, preferring to redraw something as often as 30 times to get it right, but without losing the spontaneity. He is rarely satisfied, and hates to look back at his work. Sure enough, when I am leafing through The Three Robbers with him, he seizes the touching picture of Tiffany gently cradled in the robber's arms, and finds fault with it. "That's not how I would do it now," he says with a rueful smile.

Brainpickings' A Brief History Of Children's Picturebooks

Highly Recommended piece from a highly recommended site.

Q & A With Chris Judge

CHRIS JUDGE, award-winning children's author and illustrator, on developing his own style and creating a loveable beast...

'The Lonely Beast' character is just a black blob

Yes, he's just a big black hairy shadow. It was a challenge because he has no facial features. Whatever he's doing - reading a book, eating a piece of cake - you have to convey what he's doing through his eyes. I made a dummy book called The Beast. I made 18 copies, at 20 quid a go. That pretty much wiped me out financially. I sent them out and the rejection letters came back. Then, out of the blue, Andersen Press in London got in touch to say they wanted to publish it.

There's even a Lonely Beast iPad now, isn't there?

Yes, it's called the Alphabeast. I developed it with my brother Simon and our friend James Kelleher and it's based on the world of the Lonely Beast. I had been thinking about doing an ebook version of the story, but doing it this way allowed us to explore a different side of the character.

As well as a glowing review from 'The New York Times', the book also picked up Irish Children's Book of the Year. That must have been exciting.

It was amazing. I heard I was nominated but that I couldn't tell anyone. That was so difficult. They were all great authors, but to be nominated in the same category as Oliver Jeffers, in particular, was such an honour. He's probably the top children's book author.

Write Down Your Dreams

Andy Stanton, who wrote the acclaimed Mr Gum series and has been likened to Roald Dahl, said he woke in the middle of the night with the idea of a gingerbread man with electric muscles.

He recorded his thoughts on a piece of paper and the character appeared in his next book Mr Gum and the Biscuit Billionaire. Stanton shared his secrets with children at St Mary's primary school in Battersea after reading about the Evening Standard's literacy campaign.

Scottish Children's Book Award Winners

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Ross Collins, Ross MacKenzie and Nicola Morgan have been named as this year's winners of the 2011 SCOTTISH CHILDREN'S BOOK AWARDS, Scotland's largest Children's Book Prize (each winner receives £3,000 ) which is voted for exclusively by Scottish children themselves. The winners were announced today during a special ceremony at Edinburgh's Royal Lyceum Theatre, attended by 600 young people from all over Scotland.

Originally set up by the Scottish Arts Council in 1999, the Scottish Children's Book Awards are now run by Scottish Book Trust in partnership with Creative Scotland.

Record numbers of children took part in the voting, with over 23,000 children from all over Scotland voting for their favourite books - a staggering 42% more than last year - and over a quarter of all Scottish schools registering to take part. Votes were cast from every single Scottish education authority, from Dumfries and Galloway to Shetland, in schools, libraries and nurseries.

Award-winning author Ross Collins, based in Glasgow, won the Bookbug Readers Category (0-7 Years) for his picture book Dear Vampa (published by Hodder Children's Books). Ross said:

"I am delighted and honoured to win the Bookbug Readers Category of the Scottish Children's Book Awards 2011 for 'Dear Vampa'. I'd like to thank all the schools and children who participated this year. I only wish that I could bite each one of them personally."


Debut young-fiction author Ross MacKenzie, based in Renfrew, won the Younger Readers Category (8-11 Years) for his first novel, Zac and the Dream Pirates (published by Chicken House). He said: 

"I'm delighted (and stunned!) to hear that 'Zac and the Dream Pirates' has won the Younger Readers category of the Scottish Children's Book Awards 2011. Knowing that thousands of children across Scotland have enjoyed my book enough to vote for it is incredible. Perhaps it's fitting that the story is about dreams - I can't help thinking I'm going to wake from this one at any minute!"


Popular teenage fiction author Nicola Morgan, based in Edinburgh, won the Older Readers Category (12-16 Years) for Wasted (published by Walker). Nicola commented:

"I am overwhelmed and still can't quite believe it. 'Wasted' was a risky book to write, because it's unusual - well, ok, weird - and that meant it was really hard to predict whether readers would respond well. But the risk paid off and I'm utterly thrilled and incredibly grateful to all the readers who voted and the adults who worked so hard to organise the awards."

The total prize fund is £12,000, with the shortlisted authors and illustrators receiving £500 per book, and the winning authors and illustrators winning £3,000 per book at the award ceremony. 

2011 Scottish Children's Book Awards shortlists

Winners Announced tomorrow, February 23rd...

Bookbug Readers Category (0-7 years)

The Loon on the Moon by Chae Strathie and Emily Golden
Dear Vampa by Ross Collins
Apple Pie ABC by Alison Murray

Younger Readers Category (8-11 years)

Zac and the Dream Pirates by Ross Mackenzie
Slightly Jones and the Case of the London Dragonfish by Joan Lennon
There's a Hamster in my Pocket by Franzeska G Ewart
Older Reader Category (12-16 years)

Prisoner of the Inquisition by Theresa Breslin
Wasted by Nicola Morgan
The Blackhope Enigma by Teresa Flavin



New Zealand Remembers

People across New Zealand have been holding memorial services to remember the 185 people who died in a powerful earthquake in Christchurch a year ago.

Two minutes silence were observed at 12:51 local time - the exact moment the 6.3-magnitude quake struck.

New Zealand author, Bill Nagelkerke's novella The Field, about a 12-year-old girl who begins to have visions of mary, Mother of God, is a story about the aftershock effect of this physically and psychologically unsettlling event.

A timely read!

James Riordan - Guardian Obit

The children's author and expert on Russian affairs, James Riordan, has died.

Several years ago, we arranged to meet for an interview in Arundel (chosen because it was halfway between his home in Portsmouth and mine in Sussex).

I picked him up at the train station, then we went to a small restaurant for conversation.

It was unlike any other meeting I have had with a children's author.

James Dawson On Writing Hollow Pikebr/>

Recommend the whole of this guest blog

The key ingredient that I felt was missing in the books I was reading was friendship. Lots of doomed romances and issues galore, but the protagonists rarely had a group of mates beyond the cursory best friend figure. When I was at school, my friends were the only reason not to skive, and, to be honest, romance didn't enter my head until I was a bit older. When I spoke to the girls I taught, they all agreed that friends were more important than boyfriends. With this is mind, I set out to write a story about the power of friendship.

I was so important to me that anything I write has a sense-of-humour. Laughter brings light to the darkest situations, and this is something I often find lacking in YA fiction. Lighten up kids...you're young! I also knew that I wanted there to be a murder-mystery. I love dark romance, but I also like a plot. I have always felt a good old-fashioned whodunit is the best reason to keep turning the page.

current Amazon price for paperback - just £2.99

Michael Rosen On An Exciting New Test

Michael Rosen at his satirical best ridicules the test asking children to read 'blurg' and 'skonk'

...the test also has some other kinds of words. These aren't words. They're just words that look like words. Words like 'blurg'. or 'Skonk'. If you're a reader, you'll read those. If you're not a reader you won't. Now some people have said that some little children taking the test will think that if there's a word they can read but doesn't make sense, they'll try to make it make sense.  Now that really doesn't make sense. Well at least not to me it doesn't.

So, a child who can read, might see 'blurg' and because it doesn't make sense, they'll try to turn it into a word that does....'blurt' or 'blurb' or something. Then they'll be wrong and score badly. You know what we say to this? Tough. (which incidentally is a 'tricky word' or a Red Word. It just depends which of the phonics schemes you buy thanks to us and our recommendations. Though it won't be us thanking you, it'll be the people who make the books. Jolly good for business. Jolly good for Britain. Well, not Britain actually, because this only applies to England. Which isn't Britain. Which is a shame I always think. It would be better if Wales and Scotland were England.).

But the good news is that we've been listening to what teachers have been telling us about this. So do you know what we're doing? We've hired an artist who imagines what a 'blurg' might look like and he draws a 'blurg'. There it is on the page next to the word 'blurg'. A bit like a Flannimal. Now isn't that fun?Now the child looks at 'blurg' and says to him or herself...'Ho ho ho, that must be a blurg'. Problem solved.

This is the sort of thing we do at the Department for Education. We hire people to do pictures of blurgs.

So, look, press on. The phonics test is very good. Any school that fails the phonics test will have to become an Academy. Which is a very tricky word indeed.

Kate Wilson On The Siobhan Trust

Kate Wilson writes about the Siobhan Trust on the Nosy Crow blog:

The Siobhan Dowd Trust exists to fund any person or groups that:

*Take stories to children and young people without stories;
*Bring the joy of reading and books to children and young people deprived of access to books and of the opportunity to read;
*Fund and support disadvantaged young readers where there is no funding or support.

Finding it not so easy to stumble on good children's books in the Kindle store?
Here's your chance to acquire a great story for free.
ACHUKAbooks' latest publication The Baby Universe is on 24hr offer.
Get it here...

Likewise, the fabulous 5-starr eviewed YA novel Mental by Sherry Ashworth.
Get it here...

And The Field is 99c/75p
Get it here...

Fill up with good reading for the week ahead!

Red House Children's Book Award 2012

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Red House Children's Book Award 2012

The winner of the 2012 Red House Children's Book Award is Patrick Ness, together with the illustrator Jim Kay, for A Monster Calls, their reworking of an idea sown by the late Siobhan Dowd.

A link to more photos here...
You will need to click that link and refresh your page to see the slideshow below...

Just like the BAFTAs, every award worth its salt needs a jovial compere...

Michael Morpurgo, 2011's winner, making a stagey entrance, giving the proceedings some essential gravitas

Here he is explaining that for an author a book is like a baby, nine months or more in gestation, and painful to release...

Chris Wormell, winner of the Younger Children category for Scruffy Bear and the Six White Mice, was asked to show the audience how he reacted to the email telling him he had been shortlisted.... Dare I say this is not something future shortlisted author/illustrators are going to look forward to having to do? ;)

One thing that, on reflection, was absent from the two-hour award ceremony (and that was always a key feature when the event was held at Kensington Roof Gardens) was any satisfying evocation of what each of the books was like and/or about. This used to be achieved via readings from the children's reviews, but in such a plush venue as the Queen Elizabeth Hall could probably be better done by videoclips on the backscreen. It is doubtful whether any of the adults or children attending on paid tickets had read all of the books, and will have gone away from the event with no clear idea of what the books were about, and therefore little inducement to go out and read them.

The Baby Universe - It Could be BIG...

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The Baby Universe

When Jim's grandmother asks him to look after something she calls a 'Baby Universe' he doesn't know what to think. Can it really be what she says? And what about her claim that an alien will be coming to collect it? Jim soon finds himself wishing he'd never got involved. And then things take a turn for the worse. Much worse...

ACHUKAbooks' third title, a children's book for readers 8+, is both an exciting sci-fi adventure and a story told with a great deal of charm.

Tim Johnstone wrote his first novel when he was 7 (he is somewhat older than that now). He was inspired to write The Baby Universe by happy times spent sharing books with his own children.

Guardian Review

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Guardian Review

This Is Not Forgiveness by Celia Rees, reviewed by Tony Bradman

Despite generally disliking teen fiction written in the first-person present tense, Tony Bradman recommends Celia Rees's latest novel:

"a genuine slice of early 21st-century teen life" TONY BRADMAN

Collca - Non-Fiction Digital Publishing

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Collca - Non-Fiction Digital Publishing

Collca is a digital publisher specialising in short non-fiction titles for Apple platforms.

Its terms and way of working are very similar to ACHUKAbooks', with the exception of their minimum term:

You assign all publishing rights of the content to us for a minimum of 5 years.

ACHUKabooks asks authors to agree to an initial term of just 12 months' exclusivity.

We are also more than happy to accept non-fiction submissions.

Digital prequels

The success of 99c promotional campaigns by self-published authors has persuaded traditional publishers to try and entice readers with low-priced digital 'prequels'.
Read all about it in this fascinating piece...

This week, Minotaur Books published "Brotherhood," the first of three digital short stories starring Robin Monarch. The 99-cent e-books will be released every three months leading up to the publication of Mr. Sullivan's novel "Rogue."

and, more significantly:

Other publishers are testing the tactic as well. This week, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers announced it will publish a trilogy by young-adult author Brittany Geragotelis, who has built a massive online following with her self-published paranormal novel "Life's a Witch." Simon & Schuster, which paid a six-figure sum for the three books, will release "Life's a Witch" in print in the fall of 2013, as book two of the trilogy. But first, it will release a digital prequel--titled "What the Spell?"--in three 99-cent e-book installments, beginning this fall. The prequels take place a year earlier and introduce key characters in "Life's a Witch," which tells the story of Hadley Bishop, a teenage descendant of a woman executed during the Salem witch trials.


Q & A with Tuck Everlasting Author, Natalie Babbitt

The Moon Over High Street, is the latest novel by Natalie Babbitt, whose previous books include Tuck Everlasting and Knee-Knock Rise. Publishers Weekly's Bookshelf talked with the author, who also lived in Ohio as a child, about her new novel, due from Scholastic's Michael di Capua Books, in March.

Digital publisher claims right to children's book | Long Island Press

An interesting case:

A digital publisher being sued by HarperCollins over an electronic edition of Jean Craighead George's award-winning "Julie of the Wolves".

... 92-year-old George said that since e-books did not exist 40 years ago, she could not have possibly granted digital rights.

100 Greatest Books For Kids

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100 Greatest Books For Kids

according to Scholastic.com

Charlote's Web comes in at #1

Alsion Flood comments, on her Guardian blog:

It's an American list, so there's lots of US titles I know only vaguely, if at all, but I'm pleased to see Anne of Green Gables riding high (Gilbert was one of my first literary crushes). Ditto to The Phantom Tollbooth (although shouldn't it be higher than 23rd? Given that it is one of the best children's books ever?) and to Judy Blume's Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret, an essential read for teenage girls, I'd say. I'd also forgotten entirely about Robert C O'Brien's Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, which comes in 78th, and will be tracking down a copy for a re-read as soon as possible.

But part of the fun in these book-ranking projects is complaining about what was missed out, so - if we ignore the Brits and focus on the Americans - where is Laura Ingalls Wilder? Where's Tom Sawyer? The Wizard of Oz? Z for Zachariah? The list, says Nick Friedman, the magazine's editor in chief, is aimed at "generating controversy and conversation", and obviously it isn't possible to include everything. But does The Adventures of Captain Underpants ("You can't have a greatest kids' books list without some kind of underpants," says the magazine) really trump the Little House books? And Matilda is only 41st? I'm not so sure.

Long Interview With James Daunt

Fascinating and lengthy interview with Waterstones' James Daunt.

Roger Tagholm asks Daunt, amongst other things, about his plans to sell ebooks in Waterstones.
ACHUKA is watching this development closely.
Although I have undertaken to sell the first season of ACHUKAbooks titles exclusively on Amazon's Kindle store, to take advantage of its Kindle Direct programme, our business plan for a year down the road is certainly to make the ACHUKAbooks list more widely available.
I like the fact that Kindle books can be read on a wide variety of platforms (unlike ibooks) but I dislike the fact that they can only be bought through Amazon.
I wish Daunt would make it easier for a site such as ACHUKA to to include Waterstones buy-me links. This currently still has to be done via a third party, rather than directly via the Waterstones website. If I were Daunt I would be earnestly trying to replicate the Amazon affiliate model.

8 Downsides To Ebooks

Couldn't resist this...

e.g. #4. Book Burnings Will Have Less Visual Impact

Author Shares His Ebooks Sales Data

Some enlightening data, graphs and commentary in this link, which once again mentions knock-on impact of free download days.

Which is why we shall shortly be giving Sherry Ashworth's Mental its first FREE 24hr promotion.

But it's not expensive anyway. It just got is first 5-star review. It deserves many more...

Ten Days Left To Nominate

Children's Books Ireland is calling on you to

5-star Review On Amazon For Mental

Fascinating read- I couldn't put it down!

It dealt with sensitive matters in such a different way and the ending was brilliant and it made me very excited to see what would happen.

I would really recommend this book to my friends, I think it is suitable for 11+ as the issues are dealt with very sensitively. The novel is very well written and a great purchase- I couldn't be happier with it. RACHEL LEVY

Pan Macmillan AUS Launches Digital Only List

reported by WA Today

Pan Macmillan has become the first major book publisher in Australia to launch a digital-only list. An initial 22 e-books will be available on its Momentum site with new titles under $10 and previously published titles under $5. The first releases include new books by bestselling Australian authors Andy Griffiths and Greig Beck plus a debut novel by Indian writer Mini Nair.

World Book Day LIVE

from a Press Release:

A show-stopping line-up of authors and illustrators are uniting for the country's first online children's book festival on World Book Day 2012 (Thursday 1st March). Jacqueline Wilson, Eoin Colfer, Cressida Cowell, Derek Landy and Children's Laureate Julia Donaldson, are just some of the best-loved authors taking part in a series of fun performances for the 'Biggest Book Show on Earth' as it is streamed to the nation's homes, schools, bookshops and libraries live from London's Southbank.

Also taking to the stage to show off the wonders of children's books are top illustrators including Axel Scheffler, Lydia Monks and Nick Sharratt as well as actor Bertie Carvel who plays Miss Trunchbull in the Royal Shakespeare Company's production of Roald Dahl's Matilda The Musical. The event will be compered by former Blue Peter presenter Andy Akinwolere.

Taking part couldn't be easier - simply visit www.worldbookday.com to register for free and check your technical set-up before the big day

Foyles Ebookstore And App

FOYLES has joined forces with txtr, a German ebook platform, to launch a new ebook shop and app.
Foyles's new ebook shop offers more than 200,000 titles and a free app, which is available on both Android and iOS devices.

Sacary Tales

from the Telegraph:

One third of parents said their children have been left in tears after hearing the gruesome details of Little Red Riding Hood. And nearly half of mothers and fathers refuse to read Rumplestiltskin to their kids as the themes of the story are kidnapping and execution. Similarly, Goldilocks and the Three Bears was also a tale likely to be left on the book shelf as parents felt it condones stealing. The survey of 2,000 adults was commissioned to mark the launch of the hit US drama GRIMM, which starts tonight at 9pm on Watch

Mental by Sherry Ashworth - The First Review, & A Lesson Learned

Strong 4-star review on Amazon for Mental.
The reviewer calls the book "impressive" and I'm sure this will be the reaction of other readers, so we look forward to more responses and reviews.

But hey, Bill and I like the indented left-hand margin as used in The Field, and I intend using it again for shorter books.
Oh, and as Sarah knows, she was sent an early reviewers' copy of The Field, which did contain a small number of typos (no grammar errors) that were corrected in the edition eventually published to Kindle.
ACHUKA has learnt its lesson. The digital publishing world has no concept of 'uncorrected proof copy', so we will only be distributing exact replicas of the published Kindle ACHUKAbook in future - as we did in the case of Mental.

If you are a reviewer, and would like to be on ACHUKAbooks' reviewers mailing list, please write to kindleATachuka.co.uk.
Authors considering publishing with ACHUKAbooks should read our FAQ, and then submit to the same address.

Nicky Singer - Guest Blogger For Foyles

Children's author Nicky Singer, author of the Blue Peter Book of the Year Feather Boy, faced a whole new set of challenges when the National Theatre asked her to write her first play....

Island runs from Wednesday 15th to Saturday 25th February at the Cottesloe Theatre.
Nicky's latest book is The Flask.

< ahref="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/13/arts/13iht-design13.html">The Printed Book: A Visual History

Exhibition recommended by the New York Times

Anyone who wishes to be reminded of quite how beguiling old-fashioned books can be should visit "The Printed Book: A Visual History," an exhibition running through May 13 at the Special Collections department of the University of Amsterdam. Drawn from the university's book collection, which is among the world's finest, the exhibition traces the evolution of book design through some of the most compellingly designed books of the last 500 years.

Nature losing Out To Manmade World

Treehugger.com reports

...a new study published in the journal Sociological Inquiry is showing that children are becoming increasingly isolated from nature, which is evident from its depiction in children's books. An analysis of the 296 Caldecott Medal Award Winners from 1938-2008, found that overtime depictions of nature show up half as much as depictions of manmade environments. This listing of esteemed children's classics show that before 1960 depictions of the natural world and depictions of the manmade world were about equal.

New York Times Review of Caroline Lawrence's Cowboy Story

This is a fabulous review, both in the sense of being glowingly favourable to the author and the book, and also in the sense of being a perceptive piece of reviewing...

Lawrence's framework makes for a curious, clever and very funny kind of unreliable narration. A preternaturally calm and serious narrator tells an exceptionally lively story. A recluse who hates novelty is deluged with it. A loner who has difficulty understanding people must make sense of "Gamblers, Gunmen & Lawyers" and a reporter named Sam Clemens. P. K.'s sense of propriety and his sexual obliviousness allow Lawrence to sidestep potential pitfalls in writing what she has likened to " 'Deadwood' for children": people curse "in language unfit for publication"; lewd references go unnoticed; and P. K. races in and out of bordellos, saloons and opium dens without losing his innocence. PRISCILLA GILMAN

Guardian Exclusive: Brian Selznick's Only UK Interview Ahead of the Oscars

Highly Recommended

Brian Selznick interviewed by Ed Vulliamy

The fact that Selznick has achieved his success as a monochrome line illustrator working painstakingly in pencil on a tiny scale - "my drawings are 3in x 5in, and magnified" - makes it all the more extraordinary in an age swamped by computerised phantasmagoria and gimmickry. ... As the son of a children's author -illustrator [Shirley Hughes] myself, I have to ask Selznick about technique.These are remarkable drawings of vivid characters and raw, intimate emotion which develop slowly over hundreds of pages against backdrops of urban landscapes or vast spaces of sky, storms and emptiness; they are achieved by painstaking cross-hatching, which, in Hugo Cabret, recall fin-de-siècle etching and, in Wonderstruck, are evocative of American precisionist artists enthralled by industrialisation. And, of course, they echo the early movies.

"I work on this very small scale with an HB pencil," he explains, "often with a magnifying glass. Part of what I was doing was to get the tone of black and white early French film. There was this richness in the textures of early cinema" - conveyed on paper by the magnification and cross-hatching. "It's a way to achieve a certain kind of shading I want. I like drawing light, but of course to do that, you are drawing darkness. I've always cross-hatched: I have a copy I did of a Leonardo angel when I was 10, and it's all proto-cross-hatching," he laughs.

The ACHUKAbooks weekend promotion lasts until midnight US Pacific time, or 8am Sunday morning UK time.

So plenty of time to get a FREE copy of Bill Nagelkerke's The Field, or to get the fantastic, just-published Mental by Sherry Ashworth for just 75p or 90cents.

In this video Shoo Rayner expresses disbelief at the antiquated system of applying for ISBN numbers, but not before he has declared iBooks Author the way to go for picture book creators, as opposed to Kindle Format 8...

Interview: Bookbag Talks To Daylinght Saving Author

A Bookbag interview with Edward Hogan, author of Daylight Saving

Paddington Bear Inspired By Evacuees

from the BBC

Paddington Bear may have emerged in 1958 but much of his character was developed from memories of life immediately before and during World War II, according to the bear's creator author Michael Bond...

Seni Glaister of The Book People Feature

Long feature about Seni Glaister, Ted Smar's business partner.

Highly Recommended

Guardian Review II

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Guardian Review

The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan, reviewed by Marcus Sedgwick

The Brides of Rollrock Island was originally published in an Australian collection of novellas, under the title "Sea-Hearts". Lanagan has now expanded the work into a longer novel, something that is often a bad idea, and yet she has produced a fine book. Presumably to avoid confusion, yet possibly creating more, this new version has a new title. While it hints at the story of selkies that is to be found inside the cover, I can't help feeling Sea Hearts would have been a more fitting name for the book, for it is the hearts of all the inhabitants of Rollrock Island, witch and selkie and human and half-breed alike, that are affected by the magic of the sea. MARCUS SEDGWICK

Guardian Review

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Guardian Review

Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway, reviewed by Patrick Ness

Like his debut The Gone-Away World, this is a joyful display of reckless, delightful invention, on a par with the rocket-powered novels of Neal Stephenson, if in rather more ironically diffident English form. Ideas come zinging in from all corners, and do so with linguistic verve and tremendous humour. Even the bad-tempered pug is funny and accurate in every detail. He gets up on a large settee and "despite being small, occupies it entirely". If Angelmaker perhaps starts a bit slowly, and you have to agree to be cheerfully confused by the plot for a good while before it starts making sense, then those are small concerns. Once it gets going, it's brilliantly entertaining, and the last hundred pages are pure, unhinged delight. What a splendid ride. PATRICK NESS

Watch a trailer...

Snicket Autobiography Volume 1 Due The Autumn

Guardian Books reports:

Lemony Snicket is now preparing to shed some light on another murky childhood: his own.

Snicket - the pen name of US author Daniel Handler - has sold more than 60m copies of his A Series of Unfortunate Events books, which follow the dreadful travails of Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire.

This autumn, six years after the last book in the bestselling series was published, he will reveal the "first authorised autobiographical account of his childhood", with the inaugural volume in the All the Wrong Questions series, Who Could That Be at This Hour?, out on 23 October.

Kindle Comes To Japan


Amazon.com Inc. will begin sales of its Kindle e-book readers in Japan, as early as April, for less than 20,000 yen ($260), The Nikkei said.

The Kindle Touch, launched in the U.S. in November, will likely be Amazon's flagship model in Japan....

Self-Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing

Get the best of both worlds - publish via ACHUKAbooks!

Send your submissions to kindleATachuka.co.uk

Waterstones Half-Term Three For Two Offer

Waterstones has brought its 3 for 2 offer back for one week, but only on children's books.
The promotion will run until 22nd February, coinciding with the half term school holidays.

There is also an online discount offer on children's books.

Mental is a superb psychological study of a young man's deepening depression and the effect this has on his sister and a male friend. Skillfully told in the distinctive voices of the three main players, you will find this one of those hard-to-put-down-and-leave-it-where-it-is reads.

I'm thrilled to have the privilege of publishing such an excellent novel by the author of Disconnected and Close-Up.

With publication of our second title, we are also unveiling the new ACHUKAbooks cover design which we will be using for all titles published in our first season.

The jacket design is by Lotte Klaver, an illustrator ACHUKA has been following and celebrating for a long time.

Kindle's Biggest-Selling Author

from the Telegraph

Kerry Wilkinson began writing his debut novel, Locked In, 11 months ago "as a challenge to myself to see if it was something I could do".
It became the first in the Jessica Daniel detective series and Wilkinson quickly went on to produce two follow-ups, Vigilante and The Woman in Black.
Despite Wilkinson having no agent or professional publicity machine, the three books have sold more than 250,000 copies in total to make him the best-selling author at the Kindle Store in the last quarter of 2011.

Waterstones Children's Book Prize 2012, the shortlists

The link takes you to a page showing the shortlists in each of the three categories:

  • Picture Books

  • Fiction 5-12

  • Teen

The winner of each category will receive a £2000 prize, and the overall winner will receive an extra £3000 to give them a lucrative £5000 total prize - one of the most valuable for children's writing in the UK.

A Call for a Unified E-book Market

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A Call for a Unified Ebook Market

Publishers' Weekly piece about ebook file fomrats....

Books For Children About Charles Dickens

Just in time for the 200th birthday of Dickens, there are three new illustrated books based on his life and the books he wrote....

(Brief notices from the Washington Post)

and I would want to add (less recent, but still superb)

Adult Table

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Our current Adult Books selection:

Hatchet Job of the Year

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Hatchet Job Of The Year

Brought to you by The Omnivore, the Hatchet Job of the Year Award will be presented to the author of the angriest, funniest, most trenchant book review of the past twelve months.

It aims to raise the profile of professional critics and to promote integrity and wit in literary journalism.
The judges:

Suzi Feay
Rachel Johnson
Sam Leith
DJ Taylor

The winner, announced on 7 February 2012, will receive a year's supply of potted shrimp...

Read The Omnivore's Manifesto (which ACHUKA applauds) to see why they have launched this award...

Guardian Review

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Guardian Review

Another quite negative children's fiction review from this past Saturday's Guardian Reivew....

Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine, reviewed by Simon Mason

The past 10 years have seen an outburst of children's novels with autistic characters, particularly in the US, where Mockingbird won the prestigious National Book award. There may be a difference between British and American approaches to the subject, however. For British readers the classic of the genre remains The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. But where Mark Haddon's book is sui generis, Erskine's seems as if written with America's annual "Autism Awareness month" in mind. In the end, like Caitlin's drawings, Mockingbird is a neat outline in black and white. It could have done with more colour. SIMON MASON

Pit Pony Author Dies

Joyce Barkhouse, the Nova Scotia-based children's author who wrote Pit Pony, has died. She was 98.
Pit Pony, the story of a boy and his horse working in the coal mines of Cape Breton, was her most popular book, drawing letters from people living in mining communities and from horse lovers across Canada. It was published in 1990.

In 1997, it was made into a CBC-TV film that co-starred Ellen Page and garnered three Gemini Awards, including best writing in a dramatic program or mini-series.

Sesame Street Ebooks

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Barnes & Noble's digital media and educational products department have announced the availability of enhanced digital versions of popular Sesame Street favorites, now available as NOOK Books, including the classic "The Monster at the End of This Book" available as an eBook with audio, only on NOOK.
Barnes & Noble will launch with seven titles, with nineteen more to follow.

"We are excited to introduce a series of popular Sesame Street titles into our extensive picture book catalogue of NOOK Books," said Wendy Bronfin, Senior Director of Kids Digital Products for Barnes & Noble.

Tales For Great Grandchildren

Tales for Great Grandchildren, is a collection of 13 stories drawn from the mythology and folklore of India and Nepal, which John Jackson encountered on his travels over 30 years ago. It is aimed primarily at children aged 7 to 12.

One of the founding principles of JJ Books is to bring the magical experience of reading a traditional illustrated hardback into the 21st century.

Released on 28th February, the app will be free to download (which includes one Tale), with each subsequent Tale available for £0.69.

Blue Peter Best Book of the Decade Vote

Today's Blue Peter programme announced its search to find the best children's book of the last decade, with the launch of an online vote in which its young viewers will be able to choose from a shortlist of 10 iconic titles.

From a young James Bond to a reluctant teenage superspy, an infamous boy wizard and an underage First World War soldier, miniature action heroes abound in the list which features the bestselling children's fiction books published in the last 10 years, with only one book per author included.

The 10 books competing for the accolade (in title order) are:

· Alex Rider Mission 3: Skeleton Key by Anthony Horowitz (Walker Books, 2002)

· Candyfloss by Jacqueline Wilson, illustrated by Nick Sharratt (Random House Children's Books, 2006)

· Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney (Puffin, 2008)

· Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J K Rowling (Bloomsbury, 2003)

· Horrid Henry and the Football Fiend by Francesca Simon, illustrated by Tony Ross (Orion Children's Books, 2006)

· Mr Stink by David Walliams, illustrated by Quentin Blake (HarperCollins Children's Books, 2009)

· Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo (HarperCollins Children's Books, 2003)

· The Series of Unfortunate Events: Austere Academy by Lemony Snicket (Egmont Books, 2002)

· Theodore Boone by John Grisham (Hodder & Stoughton, 2010)

· Young Bond: SilverFin ─ A James Bond Adventure by Charlie Higson (Puffin, 2005)

Five of the books included have inspired feature films (Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Harry Potter, Horrid Henry, The Series of Unfortunate Events and due this year Private Peaceful); seven are part of a series (Alex Rider, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Harry Potter, Horrid Henry, The Series of Unfortunate Events, Theodore Boone and Young Bond); and two deal with social issues such as homelessness, debt and divorce with sensitivity and humour (Candyfloss and Mr Stink).

The list also boasts several high-profile authors with three former Children's Laureates (Jacqueline Wilson, Michael Morpurgo and Quentin Blake who illustrates Mr Stink), bestselling adult US crime author John Grisham, comedian David Walliams, and Britain's richest author J K Rowling all up for the Award.

The shortlist for the vote is made up of the 10 bestselling (by volume) fiction books of the last 10 years for 5─11 year olds with a first publication date between January 2002 and December 2011. Only the top-selling book per individual, named author is included. (Source: Nielsen BookScan TCM Top 5000 Children's Fiction (Y2) from 200101 to 201152 filtered by CMBC Interest Level 5─11 years.)

The shortlist will be featured on Blue Peter's website bbc.co.uk/bluepeter for three weeks, during which time children under the age of 16 can log on with their BBC iD and vote for their favourite. The vote will close at 4pm on Thursday 23 February.

The winning book will be announced on Blue Peter on 1 March (5.45pm, CBBC), alongside the winner of the annual Blue Peter Book of the Year Award on a special show dedicated to books to tie-in with World Book Day. Blue Peter will invite the winning author to collect a 'Best Children's Book of the Last 10 Years' trophy on the show.

Five Children And It Makeover

Imogen Russell Williams, writing in The Guardian, is

...deeply torn by the news that Jacqueline Wilson has written an updated "echo" of Edith Nesbit's Five Children and It, to be published by Puffin Books in August. I admire Wilson's writing, and can imagine a writer who adores Nesbit as Wilson does - she wrote the Introduction to Puffin's 2010 reissue of The Railway Children, and has called Nesbit her "all-time favourite classic children's author" - relishing such a privileged engagement with a dearly-loved and venerated influence, not to mention the chance to bring shedloads of her own devoted readers along to the party.

On the other hand, there's the fact that Five Children and It is not a neglected old tome in need of a dusting-off - it's never been out of print since it was published in 1902. For most people who now remember reading it as children, it's not only unimprovable, but a sacred text.

Footballer Supports Reading Campaign

I'm... very proud that at just 22 I've become a published author, having written my own series of children's books about a young footballer called TJ (my nickname at school).

UK Ebook Sales Fivefold Increase

from one of many reports on Amazon's latest sales figures:

In the UK, Amazon said sales of Kindle e-books in the last three months had increased five-fold in comparison to the same period in 2010 and it received twice as many orders for Kindle e-readers in the run-up to Christmas than last year. While the Kindle was the best-selling product for the last quarter in 2011 for the UK, no e-books were in the top 10 bestselling products list--a departure from previous years where anywhere up to four have featured. The top 10 bestselling items list for the last quarter was dominated instead by DVDs, video games and music.

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