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Michael, Mick, Mike

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I met my TES editor,

Deal Done

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Scholastic Corporation :: Scholastic Acquires Worldwide English-Language Rights to Guillaume Prevost's Thrilling Adventure Trilogy, The Book Of Time

Scholastic has acquired worldwide English-language publishing rights to the fantasy adventure trilogy, The Book of Time, by Guillaume Prevost, from French publisher Gallimard Jeunesse, in a major pre-emptive deal. The first title, The Stone Statue, will be released simultaneously in the US, UK, and Australia in fall 2007. "Guillaume Prevost has a world-class imagination and a story to tell that will reach across borders to grab readers by their collars and hold them fast. We are thrilled to bring a unique talent like his to the attention of English- language readers around the globe," said Arthur A. Levine, VP, Editorial Director, Arthur A. Levine Books, Scholastic Inc. Elaine McQuade, Scholastic UK Managing Director, said, "We can't wait to publish Guillaume Prevost's captivating, intelligent, and hugely engaging The Book of Time in the UK. This readable and original story has all the ingredients of a bestseller."

Fearfully Quiet

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Apologies for the unusually quiet weekend on ACHOCKABLOG. There's a simple explanation - I've been pole-axed by a 'flu type bug.
Back-logging of the weekend's reviews and any other news should start tomorrow.
Subscribers to the weekly Mail List Update will receive it later than usual - Tuesday or Wednesday.

For my 'sickbed' reading, I chose a proof copy of Keith Gray's forthcoming novel, The Fearful, published in April. I'm two thirds of the way through and, whoo, it's five-star stuff.

Turning Point

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Congratulations to David Belbin, for having organised such a successful and well-attended one-day conference on Young Adult fiction, held at Nottingham Trent University yesterday. The large lecture theatre that was the venue for the various panel discussions throughout the day was full nearly to capacity, with editors, school librarians, agents, reviewers and others voluntarily giving up half of the weekend to attend.

Melvin Burgess, giving the closing keynote speech, was in fine, freeflowing form, talking about the variously barmy and barking mad objections to his work, but the prize for the most entertaining speaker of the day has to go to Keith Gray, who, with an anecdotalist's mastery of timing, told a tale about the 18 numbered instructions attached to a stepladder - a tale which, as the story unfolded, became, amongst other things, an oblique moral fable about the dangers of patronising an audience.

A resume of the day will follow (after I have met a Scotsman deadline, which will also delay dispatch of this week's Mailing List update). The worst part of the roundtrip (which involved leaving home before 5am and arriving back after 10pm) was having to use the new St Pancras station - not the inconvenience of the building works and the 10 minute walk to and from Kings Cross Thamselink, but the sheer brutal ghastliness of the new station itself. Waiting for the outward train in the morning, I sat on a hard bench looking up at the steely hangar, while an electric buggy marked 'Mobility Assistance' (or some such ridiculous phrase) beeb-beeped by, and felt as if I was in some futuristic East German film, made in the Cold War.

Catching Up

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Just about to post a truncated Mail List update, not doing much more than pointing people to the dozen or so items blogged below. I'm sure there are a few things I've missed. If anyone spots significant omissions, let me know.
Mailing Monkey has submitted a superbly entertaining second installment, so watch out for that in the next day or two.
The hotel we stayed in in Glasgow had a broadband connection in each room, so I might well have been able to keep things updated had I taken a laptop with me, but although the notion of blogging while on the raod (a la Neil Gaiman and others) has always appealed, on balance I prefer to treat my rare trips away from base as a complete break from routine.
I've no idea yet what arrived in the post while I was away, as the Post Office was instructed to hold all packets back until tomorrow. I'm expecting a santasackful of stuff to be arriving in the morning.

Away From Base

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Forgive the hiatus, both in blog entries and Mail List update. I'm away from base...

Two Drivers

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There was no entry yesterday, mainly because I was on the road most of the day, collecting son's gear from Norwich. It was only after return, slumped on the settee watching the Olympics, that I realised I hadn't bought any papers. We'd heard the news about Mark Thatcher's arrest and the two Russian plane crashes umpteen times on the car radio, so felt fairly up-to-speed with current affairs. The Times sometimes has a children's books review on a Wednesday but a quick check online suggests I didn't miss one. Perhaps someone can alert me if there was anything in the UK broadsheets yesterday that could be usefully blogged here.

My approximately less-than 400 mile return drive yesterday pales into insigificance besides the drive Neil Gaiman is taking today and tomorrow:

from Neil Gaiman's Journal:

Wednesday, August 25, 2004
Driving Miss Holly
posted by Neil Gaiman 8/25/2004 10:36:54 PM

I set off very early tomorrow to drive Holly to school.

Her school is about 1300 miles away, so I don't expect we'll get there until Friday afternoon; then I'll leave her the car and fly home, in time for Maddy's tenth birthday on Saturday.

I may post our exciting adventures from the road tomorrow night. Or I may just go to sleep in whichever motel we find ourselves on the way.


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With the sky turned prematurely dark, cars shooshing by in the wet street, and shrieking pedestrians dashing for cover from the downpour, I snatched a few rare minutes under the reading lamp for some cosily discursive reading, and happened upon this passage in an essay by Cynthia Ozick:

Suspense occurs when the reader is about to learn something, not simply about the relationship of fictional characters, but about the writer's relationship to a set of ideas, or to the universe. Suspense is the product of teaching, and teaching is the product of mastery, and mastery is the product of seriousness, and seriousness springs not from ego or ambition or the workings of the subjective self, but from the amazing permutations of the objective world.
Portrait of the Artist as a Bad Character and Other Essays on Writing by Cynthia Ozick

This mini-meditation on the properties of suspense had been prompted by a bout of flu and a sickbed reading of Thomas Hardy, which helped Ozick the novelist and critic see more clearly the limitations of the modern novel. The observations may seem, at first, to have little to do with childhood reading and with children's books (albeit that she makes several references to children's literature in her essay). Certainly, it doesn't apply to the bulk of children's publishing's current output and that is because the bulk of children's fiction, at any one time, is always going to be lacking in mastery, and positively allergic to seriousness. But apply Ozick's comments to the best that children's literature has to offer - Philip Pullman, Paul Jennings (and I cite this disparate pairing intentionally) - and it will be found that her definition fits both the work and the author.

Real bully inspired author's tale

A piece about Wendelin Van Draanen, author of the Sammy Keyes books...

Bubba, "born big and mean, full of teeth and ready to bite," is the creation of children's author Wendelin Van Draanen. But that doesn't mean she made him up.

Like Bubba, a real-life bully Van Draanen went to school with years ago "made herself feel cool by putting other kids down," she told students at Anasazi Elementary School ...

Chance Meeting

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Windswept and dressed in the ancient wax jacket P. only allows me to wear in extreme weather, I had just stumbled out of the buffeting gale into Rounder Records, a favourite Saturday afternoon haunt, in Brighton's South Laines, when someone said "Oh, hello..." My verbal responses are not quickfire at the best of times, but there was an even longer delay than normal before I said 'Oh, hello there' back. I'm not sure whether it was just that we'd never bumped into one another outside London before, though I knew she is based in Brighton, or whether there had been a change of hairstyle or colour. Anyway, it was Rowan Stanfield, publicist at Orion, who had come in to track down an obscure Japanese CD. The CD was too obscure even for Rounder Records, so she was intending to order the CD online. But seemed keen enough to find something else in the shop to buy.

I've had a good bit of luck at the start of the year with purely speculative purchases, including the first CD by The National (the one that preceded Sad Songs For Dirty Lovers and is now difficult to find). I only made one modest, non-speculative purchase today - the Sweatbees EP by My Morning Jacket.

Driving home via Seaford (we usually go to Brighton by train, but the heavy rain decided us in favour of Berlingo today) I stopped off at the seafront to take pictures of the heavy sea.

Fabric Conditioner

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At a curriculum design meeting with JW this afternoon in an Eastbourne Hotel:
Colleague, having been asked to join our table, sits beside J. Says, out of the blue, "I must just ask a really unprofessional question. Who is the user of that absolutely wonderful fabric conditioner?"
J., nearly choking: "Well, it's not me."
Whereopon the other chap sniffs to one side of him, sniffs to the other, does the same again, and turning back to J. says "It IS you. It's you."

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