No Big Deal is a funny and inspiring debut YA novel from Bethany Rutter: influencer, editor and a fierce UK voice in the debate around body positivity.
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Waterstones says: One of the most iconic activists of our age gets the Little People Big Dreams treatment with Anke Weckmann’s bold artwork perfectly complementing the clear, precise text of Sanchez Vegara. The ideal introduction to an essential life, this is another terrific entry in a highly collectable series.
Andersen Press have announced acquisition of the next young adult novel from Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize-winning author, Alex Wheatle, whose Crongton sequence is published by Little Brown.
The new title is called CANE WARRIORS and is described as “a heart-thumping, visceral historical novel about the real-life slave uprising against British plantation owners in Jamaica known as Tacky’s War in 1760.”
The book will be published in hardback October 2020 with proof copies going out imminently.
2020 looks set to be a big year for Wheatle. Not only has Steve McQueen based one episode in his 6 part SMALL AXE series for BBC on Alex’s life (to be aired Autumn 2020 on BBC ONE), Noel Clarke of Unstoppable Films is adapting the Crongton series into a TV series whilst the theatre adaptation of Crongton Knights is currently playing to packed houses and receiving phenomenal reviews for its major UK tour.
Alex Wheatle has said of the book and deal, “I would like my children’s children to learn about the mighty Cane Warriors just as they read about Richard the Lionheart, Joan of Arc and Queen Elizabeth I repelling the Spanish Armada. I want to bring their untold story to the world so they will be recognised as freedom fighters and the heroes that they without question are. It’s been a pleasure to be acquisitioned and published by Andersen Press, they have given their full support and backing for my vision of Cane Warriors. Together, we will present the Cane Warriors legend to the reading public where I hope they will be entertained and moved by this compelling story based on real historical events.”
Chloe Sackur, Commissioning Editor for fiction at Andersen Press bought UK and commonwealth rights from Laura Susijn, of The Susijn Agency for Cane Warriors and a second historical novel from Alex, which is currently in the works.
Andersen Press will work with the award-winning PR agency EDPR on a wide ranging, high-profile national media campaign.
Children’s author Sally Nicholls and A Series of Unfortunate Events illustrator Brett Helquist are joining forces on a new series with Nosy Crow.
The publisher has acquired the middle-grade books, The Time Seekers, which features a "time-slip adventure". The deal, for world rights in four titles, was done by head of fiction, Kirsty Stansfield, with Jodie Hodges at United Agents. The series is written by Nicholls and will be illustrated by Brett Helquist, the US-based illustrator of A Series of Unfortunate Events (Egmont). The first title will be published in spring 2018.
A Nosy Crow spokesperson said: “The first story is a time-slip adventure set partly in Edwardian times about Alex and Ruby. Staying in their aunt’s house they catch sight of a group of children in a hall mirror, and step back in time to help them solve a mystery, catch an arsonist and eat an awful lot of cake. The fast-paced story is laced with humour, but also poignancy, as our modern day characters realise not all of their friends will survive the war.”
Stansfield said: “We’re so delighted to have Sally on the list, as we’re all big fans of her writing. And we’re excited to pair her with Brett Helquist, who brings a lot of international panache to the series. It’s a dream team."
Nicholls is best known for her debut Ways to Live Forever (Marion Lloyd Books) which won the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize in 2007. These are her first books with Nosy Crow.
Backlash to Simon & Schuster imprint Threshold Editions’s deal with controversial Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos continues to mount in the weeks after the announcement that Yiannopoulos reportedly received a $250,000 advance for his book, Dangerous, which will publish on March 14. While free speech organizations have condemned boycotts of the publisher promised by a number of bookstores and media outlets, a new protest has popped up within S&S’s own ranks, as more than 160 children’s book authors and illustrators have signed a letter to S&S CEO and president Carolyn Reidy protesting the deal.
The letter, which was released Thursday morning, was initally organized by S&S children’s book creators who are clients of the Erin Murphy Literary Agency, but has grown to encompass writers and illustrators across the industry.
The letter in full, with signatories:
To Carolyn Reidy and the Leadership of Simon & Schuster, and to All the Readers and Supporters of Books for Children:
We, as Simon & Schuster children’s and YA authors and illustrators, have deep respect for our publisher, our editors, and the Simon & Schuster Children’s Division, which we believe strives to publish the strongest, most diverse list it can acquire, for the betterment of literature and children everywhere.
Sadly, we cannot extend this same respect to Simon & Schuster’s Threshold imprint following their decision to lend the legitimacy of this publisher’s venerable brand to hate-monger Milo Yiannopoulos. Threshold has placed Simon & Schuster’s considerable reputation and weight behind one of the most prominent faces of the newly repackaged white supremacist/white nationalist movement and financially supported a man who routinely denigrates, verbally attacks, and directs dangerous internet doxxing and hate campaigns against women, minorities, LGBTQ individuals, Muslims, and anyone he chooses to target who supports equality and human decency. Irrespective of the content of this book, by extending a mainstream publication contract, Threshold has chosen to legitimize this reprehensible belief system, these behaviors, and white supremacy itself.
Additionally, they have associated all of Simon & Schuster with it, and therefore weakened the reach of the many other brilliant imprints that daily attempt to contribute to humanity instead of destroy it.
This is not an issue of advocating or suppressing free speech, as Mr. Yiannopoulos has a broad internet broadcasting platform and the support of many extremist organizations and publications. His voice is certainly being heard, and it is a voice of hate that stirs its followers to emotional, verbal, and physical violence directed at anyone who disagrees or speaks to the contrary. Insinuating that people who protest this terrible decision wish to suppress free speech is gaslighting.
As Simon & Schuster authors and illustrators who are already published, with books in the release pipeline, with contracts in place, we do not have to quietly accept or assent to this “Gleichschaltung,” this getting in line with fascism and making it mainstream. We reject the wisdom of this decision. This man, and this book, are not America. This man, and this book, are not the bulk of Simon & Schuster. This man, and this book, are not us, the authors and illustrators of Simon & Schuster. We believe that the children we write for deserve a better America.
We the undersigned pledge to continue to advocate tolerance, acceptance, love, diversity, and equality, and respectfully ask you to take an irrefutable stand against hate.
Adrienne Maria Vrettos
Alice Faye Duncan
Amber J. Keyser
Ann Whitford Paul
Anne Marie Pace
Betty G. Birney
Brooke Boynton Hughes
Corey Rosen Schwartz
Debbie Ridpath Ohi
Elana K. Arnold
Elizabeth Rose Stanton
J. Anderson Coats
Jacqueline Preiss Weitzman
Karen Romano Young
Kari Anne Holt
Kristin L. Gray
Laurie Ann Thompson
Laurie Halse Anderson
Lee Gjertsen Malone
Liz Garton Scanlon
Margaret Peterson Haddix
Marion Dane Bauer
Mary Lyn Ray
Nancy Raines Day
Rachel Renée Russell
Rhonda (Helms) Stapleton
Sarah L. Thomson
Sue Lowell Gallion
Susan Goldman Rubin
Susan R. Vaught
Vanessa Brantley Newton
Studio 100 Media GmbH, the media sales division of the global family entertainment company Studio 100, has concluded a deal with Al Jazeera Media Network, one of the biggest pan-Arab media organizations, for both the new CGI versions of the worldwide well-known classic brands Vic the Viking and Heidi and the CGI pre-school series Trains.
Al Jazeera Media Network owns, JeemTV, targeted at 7 to 12 year olds and Baraem TV which aims to reach Arab children from 2 to 6 years. Al Jazeera Media Network has acquired exclusive Arabic TV rights for the MENA-region for new episodes of Vic the Viking, of Heidi and of TRAINS. The license agreement for such territories will roll out at the end of 2015.
Heidi is a vibrant and charming show with a rich visual flavor. The revived CGI animated TV series is produced by Paris based Studio100 Animation and Flying Bark Productions. The CGI series is already sold to more than 110 countries worldwide.
Written by Swiss author Johanna Spyri in 1880, the popular children’s book Heidi’s Years of Wandering and Learning was adapted into a 52 part series by Japanese animation studio Zuiyo Enterprises in 1974.
World Book Day 2015
video camera’s view of the crowd
I know from personal experience how much work is involved and how nerve-wracking it can be to organise a single author visit attended by groups from half a dozen schools with a total audience of just a few hundred, so just imagine how daunting it must have been to envisage inviting not five hundred but five thousand children to attend a World Book Day event at a football stadium.
spot the Wally’s
[In the space that follows I do not even touch upon all the logistics of getting the children to and from the stadium (a whole road being closed off for coach parking), or the work involved in sourcing and supplying the pre-ordered copies of books for attending school groups.]
In recent years the concept of a single World Book Day has expanded to embrace a series of events held in different locations, collectively known as the Biggest Bookshow On Earth.
Kirsten Grant of World Book Day
Last year, amongst the most successful of such Bookshows was one arranged by Jake Hope (previously of the Lancashire Library Service, now a freelance book consultant and events organiser) and Elaine Silverwood of Silverdell bookshop. That event was held in King George’s Hall, Blackburn, with an audience of 1000 children.
Frank Cottrell Boyce waves to the crowd
When Jake and Elaine were asked by Kirsten Grant of the World Book Day organisation to prepare to host a 2015 Bookshow on World Book Day itself, they were keen to try something a little bit big, a little bit audacious.
The warmup duo
Jake, now in his mid-thirties, was very keen to design an event that would excite and enthuse boys and, although no football fan himself, he conceived the notion of hosting the Bookshow at Preston North End stadium. It helped his cause that the previous year’s venue was unavailable for a repeat booking.
opportunistic shot of the two organisers
The format for the Bookshows – a panel of 6 authors, with one of the them serving as the MC – is the same for all, but each show is organised locally. So it was totally down to Jake and Elaine to approach the stadium and negotiate arrangements.
Jake and Kirsten survey the VIP guest list
Mark Farnworth, the football club’s ground safety officer, was their main liaison. Because it was an event that involved school children, Preston City Council‘s health & safety team also had to be reassured that adequate first aiders would be on hand, so a large team from St John Ambulance had to be engaged for the day.
Jake has been a great friend to ACHUKA over many years, so when I received an invitation to attend the event, I was quick to book a return rail ticket to Preston (a city I’d not previously visited).
Let’s be in no doubt – this was a major undertaking, and both the chief organisers are to be heartily congratulated on carrying off such a spectacular large-scale event that did World Book Day proud.
I was still hanging around long after the authors and other VIP guests had left, while Jake and Elaine – together with a small number of friends and helpers – put the Players Lounge (that had served as Green Room for the occasion) back to rights, and it was notable how repeatedly effusive the head groundsman was in his praise of the event. He went out of his way to say how much of an impact the children’s enthusiasm had made upon him – an enthusiasm that I am sure will have come across strongly in media coverage, which included CBBC Newsround, Granada TV and local radio.
Any event throws up things to consider for the future. The technical side of the day was ably overseen by a student team from the local university, but because three sides of the stadium were empty, there was a mushy reverb to the sound which made hearing some of the presentations and announcements difficult. Sometimes the radio microphones played up, and it would have been better to revert to hand-held sooner than happened.
Frank Cottrell Boyce [ can he be our next Laureate, please]
Kirsten Grant confirmed to me that this was the first roadshow held outside of a theatre-style setting. The format of author presentations was perhaps not best suited to the larger open-air venue and the acoustics of the stadium. The reading of extracts didn’t work as well as they do in more enclosed surroundings and there was a noticeable loss of audience engagement during these sections. The parts of presentations that worked best were those in which speakers connected directly with the audience: Cathy Cassidy communicating her passion for libraries, Cressida Cowell talking about her childhood holidays on a desolate Scottish Island, Frank Cottrell Boyce [whose slot was worst affected by radio mic issues] telling us about turning yellow as a boy, Danny Wallace in his amazingly confident and apparently debut author appearance.
Stephen Butler, a trained actor and MC for the occasion knew how best to engage such a broadly spread audience, with exaggerated gestures and comments directed to different parts of the football stand. This isn’t a skill that necessarily comes naturally to authors.
I’d love to think that this event will give World Book Day the confidence to organise similar large-scale gatherings in other stadiums, ideally with the inclusion of a poet or two. I couldn’t help thinking how John Agard or Jon Hegley might have animated the crowd – poetry is, after all, very popular with children in the 8-13 age group.
I think it’s a big ask to expect authors and illustrators to step up to ‘performing’ in a stadium without some prior experience of previous engagements with very large audiences.
This is a personal view, and I realise it would complicate the current roadshow stencil, but a big open air event probably requires a different format compared with the theatre-style shows – with a lead ‘act’ (someone with performance pedigree – one of the fore-mentioned poets, or Eoin Colfer, David Walliams…) being given the bulk of the time, with shorter slots for supporting authors.
But what a fantastic and memorable day this was.
World Book Day 2015 will go down in history as the year of the big venue.
Some early responses include:
“This was a spectacular event.” Gemma Jackson, Blackpool Gazette
“What an amazing day that was! My kids really loved it. They are thrilled with their books.” Sarah Goldson, Assistant Head Teacher Brownedge St Mary’s Catholic High School
“An awesome organisational feat. Fantastic media coverage. Huge statement about the love of books and reading.” Joy Court, Reviews Editor, School Librarian
“What an incredibly wonderful World Book Day event. 5,000 children from 100 schools! Thanks” Anna Ganley, Society of Authors
“What a way to celebrate World Book Day, to see some great authors, and to be surrounded by other book lovers. It was a delight to BE there.” Nikki Heath, School Librarian of the Year, 2008 Werneth School
Any authors/illustrators who would like to explore this should email me
or hook up with me on Facebook
I got very lucky with my photos – I happened to have had some taken in 2008 (well before I got my first book deal) and I happened to have paid for the copyright to use them where and when I wanted to. Without planning to, I ended up with a selection of pictures I could use on my website, on Twitter – anywhere, really. And those photos have stood me in good stead because I have used them a lot. The trouble is that they are seven years old and I’ve…well, I’ve changed a bit since then. The example mentioned at the party I went to cited a photo that was thirty years out of date. So my question to you is: Does it really matter if your author photo is old? How often should you get a new one? As authors, are we getting unfairly judged by our covers?
In this age of satellite TV there is quite a substantial UK fanbase for American football and baseball. Finding good sports books for young readers is not at all easy. So it’s good to be able to recommend these small softbacks available from an independent American press. Jim Pransky, a professional baseball scout with the Tampa Bay Rays, writes a good clean American prose. Josh and Josh is a biographical study of two young Pensylvanian sportsmen. Pransky’s previous two books – Championship Expectations and Playoff Run – were fictional baseball adventures, ideal for readers aged 9+. The books were sent to me from America by the author himself and are published by an American publishing firm that is open about its agenda of promoting family values.
My impressions of BETT, the annual educational technology show, now held at EXCEL, were very similar to the ones I had last year . The new venue has some advantages – better air conditioning being one. But still, on balance, I preferred the show when it was at Olympia. There it was good to have two separate halls to explore, plus the balcony, which was often the haunt for tiny startup firms.
The costs of having a stall at BETT are now prohibitively high for newly-established companies, and it was noticeable this year that practically all the exhibitors (especially the UK exhibitors) were ones that have already achieved a successful status.
I could find only limited evidence of genuinely helpful attempts to grapple with the requirements of the new computing curriculum (see Rory Cellan-Jones TV news report on the challenges facing schools). I am quite a fan of what the American startup, CodeHS, is doing in terms of teaching programming to high school students. I have used their video teaching units with KS2 children and the early units are easily accessible to Y4 and up.
A few months ago I asked Zach Galant, one of the co-founders of CodeHS, if he and his partner Jeremy Keeshin were planning to come to the UK to spread the word about CodeHS here, but when I told them the cost of even the smallest BETT stand he unsurprisingly told me it wasn’t going to be worth the investment.
It’s not as if, on the evidence of this show, there are many other enterprises offering the same kind of video-tutored course that these two young American entrepreneurs have developed.
Some of the programs being used and recommended in schools, at KS2 and KS3, are great as far as they go. I am as big a fan of Scratch and Khodu as the next person, but ultimately that kind of software teaches only the building blocks and logical thought-processes of programming. It’s a bit like painting by numbers. Sooner or later students need to get into the actual language of coding, and that’s where CodeHS is a really strong solution, especially for highly-motivated students, eager to learn at their own pace.
At an adult level I am a big fan of Lynda.com and believe that UK education still has a long way to go to really effectively deploy the full strengths and possibilities of video tuition. If anything there was less evidence this year of solutions aimed at supporting screencast creation, and I saw one presentation that gave the impression that Mediacore was an entirely new video management tool, whereas I clearly remember marking it as extremely noteworthy in my write-up of BETT2013.
Just as last year there were stands and stands devoted to visual displays, 2D and 3D printing and to course creation and assignment management. If the exhibition is anything to go by, the move to replace Smartboard-style whiteboards with big interactive TV-type screens seems to have abated. It was also noticeable how few of the Learning Platform or VLE providers retain a profile high enough to warrant exhibiting. There was Frog of course (a huge stand) and the Brighton-based DBPrimary. But that was about it.
For me personally BETT was valuable for being able to hear Stephen Heppell present (tirelessly throughout the day, it seemed – I stopped by his stand three times) and to hear the always-interesting Miles Berry‘s tea-time talk on possible ways of approaching one particular aspect of the new curriculum with KS2 children (teaching children to know about the internet – there’s more involved with that than it sounds).
Heppell has a marvellous (if somewhat haphazardly organised) arsenal of videos and images on his laptop (many of these can also be found on his website) that he is able to use to illustrate his talks. In particular I enjoyed seeing the photos he has taken inside inspirational schools, of rooms within rooms, and of informal shoeless learning environments. I missed most of the live Skype conversation he had with students in Denmark, but he clearly likes the Scandinavian approach, in particular their willingness to let children take risks (he showed photos of young students being allowed to cross a busy road and climb to the top of tall trees opposite one school – all in school time). He was also fascinating and inspiring on the subject of Big Data and how empowering (I usually dislike that word, but here it is apposite) it is to give children as much information as possible about how they are doing (I don’t like the word ‘performing’), and allow them to share that amongst themselves, and thereby learn from and instruct one another.
I just wish there had been a greater level of interest in these presentations (I can remember the days when a talk by Stephen Heppell would fill one of the very large auditoriums at Olympia), but the majority of visitors seemed focused on hardware and software – on the mechanics of delivery rather than the dynamics of pedagogy (teaching & learning). BETT has always been a trade show as well as an education show, but the emphasis on trading and commerce seemed greater than ever this year, with many oversees visitors on the opening day, and large areas of the exhibition floor given over to business meetings.
Again as last year I lament the absence of Adobe. The educational pricing of the Creative Cloud to my mind represents excellent value. I’m not suggesting every teacher/student should be given access to the Adobe suite of programs, but for key individuals in a school, yes, it would make a great deal of sense. For example, if admin/office staff were trained to use InDesign rather than relying on Word and Publisher, the immediate professionalisation of documentation produced would greatly benefit the school’s image.
I may have missed it (and if so let me know) but I saw little or no mention of markdown at the exhibition. I would like to see all teachers (and students from about Y4 up for that matter) being shown how to write and compose documentation using markdown (it can be learnt in half an hour), so that anything they produce can easily be converted into an HTML page for the web. The days of linking to Word documents should be long gone, and PDF files are hardly more mobile friendly.
The risk of attending trade shows such as BETT is that you go away thinking, if only we could afford to get this solution or that bit of kit, but we can’t so it’s just tough. But for all its limitations in the new venue and the shift in emphasis from teaching to commerce, BETT can still be inspirational. In particular, attend the right talk sessions and demonstrations (in addition to Heppell and Berry, I enjoyed a talk by James Guinevan of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on ‘Designing Mobile Apps for Pre-Schoolers’, and a presentation on the Young Digital Planet – a Polish company – stand by Tomasz Boszko, demonstrating their impressive digital publishing component, Bookshelf) and you’ll realise you can transform the way you work very easily and very probably with the technology you (or the students themselves) already own. Heppell is a great believer in the power of the smartphone, and simple measurement apps such as light and sound meters. In Denmark, according to Heppell, even KS1 children have mobile phones on their desks. All too often in the UK we are too cautious, too risk-averse. Time to step forward into the future more bravely.