Lots of pictures and comment from Sarah’s weekend at the CBI Conference in Dublin.
Lots of pictures and comment from Sarah’s weekend at the CBI Conference in Dublin.
A leading Welsh author has warned that a literacy crisis among TV-obsessed school pupils is threatening the future of children who are leaving primary education without the ability to write a legible sentence.
Award winning writer and former literary critic Jennifer Sullivan has described the alarming 20-year decline in standards as “depressing and upsetting.”
Dr Sullivan has also called for more home involvement from parents, citing late night TV as a threat to literacy.
She said: “In one school I was asked if I had children, and where they lived.
“I said, three grown-up daughters, living in London, Essex and Northern Ireland.
“One small girl shrieked with excitement: ‘Oh, Miss, the one what do live in Essex (sic)? Is she famous? Is she on Towie (The Only Way Is Essex)? Oh, I want to be an Essex girl when I grow up!’
“I asked how come a nine-year-old was allowed to stay up to watch The Only Way Is Essex.
“‘I got a telly in my bedroom, Miss.’
“I asked how many other children had TVs in their bedrooms.
“Those children who did not have TVs or computer games consoles in their rooms could be counted on the fingers of one hand.
“I asked them what time they actually went to sleep. Not one confessed to turning out the light before 10pm at the earliest and staff confirmed that children often dozed off in class.”
She added: “This battle for literacy must start with parents.
“Parents should be begged, as a first step – for the sake of their children’s immediate health and their future success – to remove televisions and games consoles from their children’s bedrooms.”
Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell, reviewed by Simon Mason
Simon Mason quite likes this ‘dotty’ novel. I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it when I read it, and felt it somehow missed being a great read. I shall be interested to see what children make of it…
Katherine Rundell’s charmingly lyrical style is dotty in the way Charles is dotty. In the London section she seems interested mainly in conversations, which have a high quota of witticism (wearing a skirt, Sophie looks as if she’s "mugged a librarian") and aphorisms (lawyers have all "the decency and courage of lavatory paper"). In general, her metaphors are determinedly original. Such verbal showiness, though entertaining, has the disadvantage of showing up the misses as well as the successes, and in the early stages the story has the contrived manner, but not the solidly exciting matter, of a fairytale.
This changes the moment Sophie climbs up through the skylight in her Parisian hotel bedroom to the rooftop above. All her life she has been a keen tree-climber, drawn to heights. Now, standing above the city, she is liberated – and the story is liberated with her. Almost immediately she realises she’s not alone up there. A feral boy called Matteo lives on the roof of the law courts, and the drama of his encounter with Sophie and their subsequent partnership is thrilling. The roof-top world is grittily real, the stuff of broken toes and roasted rat and howling gales. Breaking away from Charles’s protection, Sophie finally expresses the Pippi Longstocking-like wilfulness only coyly hinted at before. Even the showy metaphors thin out. There’s a gripping journey of exploration, an extraordinary feast and a tremendous fight between Sophie, Matteo and their tree-dwelling friends and a wolf-like pack of boys from the station area.
From Amsterdam to Wolf Hall, some of the world’s most acclaimed writers have annotated their own first editions. The books will be auctioned at Sotheby’s in aid of English PEN. What would you bid for these bibliophiles’ dreams?
For the test, sat across England on Tuesday, pupils had to insert a correctly spelled word missing from a sentence. Question 6 read: "If there is not [blank] rainfall this month there will be a drought." Question 16 read: "As he was the [blank] of the tribe the final decision was his." The pupils protested that a comma was required after "month" in Q6 and "tribe" in Q16.
The result is mild embarrassment for the education department in the first year that the "Spag" (spelling, punctuation and grammar) tests for year 6 pupils have been conducted. The wording of the tests was approved by the Standards and Testing Agency, an executive agency of the Department for Education. A department spokesperson said: "The commas here are a matter of choice: they can be used to mark out clauses that appear at the beginning or the end of a sentence, but they are not necessary. We decided to use commas sometimes and not at others to make the tests more like real life where people will have their own styles." (My emphasis)
The new edition of Teen Titles (Issue #56) was posted out to subscribers this week.
There are interviews with Damian Dibben (author of The History Keeprs), Philip Caveney (author of Crow Boy), Clare McFall (author of Ferryman), Moira Young (author of Blood Red Road) as well as all the usual reviews and additions to the Author Factfiles.
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The winners of the Atlantic Book Awards were announced at a celebration hosted by CBC Radio’s Louise Renault.
The winners are:
Ann Connor Brimer Award for Children’s Literature
Live to Tell, Lisa Harrington (Dancing Cat Books)
Atlantic Publishers Marketing Association’s Best Atlantic-Published Book Award
The Metamorphosis: The Apprenticeship of Harry Houdini, Bruce McNab (Goose Lane Editions)
Atlantic Book Award for Scholarly Writing
The Ocean Ranger: Remaking the Promise of Oil, Susan Dodd (Fernwood Publishing)
Dartmouth Book Award for Non-fiction in Memory of Robbie Robertson
French Taste in Atlantic Canada 1604–1758: A Gastronomic History/ Le goût français au Canada atlantique 1604-1758: une histoire gastronomique, Anne Marie Lane Jonah and Chantal Véchambre (Cape Breton University Press)
Democracy 250 Atlantic Book Award for Historical Writing
In Search of R.B. Bennett, P.B. Waite (McGill-Queen’s University Press)
E.J. Pratt Poetry Award
Paradoxides, Don McKay (McClelland & Stewart)
Jim Connors Dartmouth Book Award (Fiction)
Anna from Away, D.R. MacDonald (HarperCollins Canada)
Lillian Shepherd Award for Excellence in Illustration
I Is for Island: A Prince Edward Island Alphabet, Hugh MacDonald; Brenda Jones, illus. (Sleeping Bear Press)
Margaret and John Savage First Book Award
Dirty Bird, Keir Lowther (Tightrope Books)
Rogers Communication Award for Non-fiction
In the Field, Joan Sullivan (Breakwater Books)
Photographer Arne Svenson lives on the second floor of an apartment building in the Tribeca neighborhood of New York City. For his project “The Neighbors,” he pointed his camera at a luxury apartment building across the street and secretly photographed its inhabitants through open windows.
Those photographs are now being sold for thousands of dollars at a gallery in NYC, but it turns out the subjects aren’t very happy with having their images stealthily snapped and sold.
Short extract from the findings of an interesting, indepth survey into ebook sales and pricing. Highly recommended:
An indie ebook author earns about $2.00 from the sale of a $2.99 book. That book, on average, will sell four times as many units as a book priced over $10.00. In order for a traditionally published author to earn $2.00 on an ebook sale, the book must be priced at $11.42 (if the publisher has agency terms, as Smashwords does) or $16.00 (if it’s a wholesale publisher). Remember, traditionally published authors earn only 25% of the net, whereas Smashwords authors earn 85% net. If your book is traditionally published, and your publisher sells under the wholesale pricing model, you earn only about $1.25 for a book priced at $9.99, whereas an indie ebook author would earn $6.00-$8.00 at that price.
If a reader has the choice to purchase one of two books of equal quality, and one is priced at $2.99 and the other is priced at $12.99, which will they choose?
Recommended for the photo gallery:
After tallying 1,138,675 votes from kids all over the country, the Children’s Book Council and Every Child a Reader announced the winners of the sixth annual Children’s Choice Book Awards at a gala benefit in New York City on May 13.