John Cunliffe, the creator of the Postman Pat character and stories, has died.
Here are the obituaries:
This roundup of YA titles in the Irish Times culminates in a summary of And The Ocean Was Our Sky, the latest title form Patrick Ness:
“This is an elegant novella with a mythic feel, beautifully illustrated by Rovina Cai, whose black-and-white (with the occasional striking, powerful splash of red) drawings capture the dreamy sense of this world, even as its preoccupation with power reflects our own. Another modern classic from Ness.”
Other novels reviewed in this piece (by Claire Hennessy are:
- Dark Wood, Dark Water by Tina Callaghan
- It Ends With You by S.K. Wright
- That’s Not What Happened by Kody Keplinger
- The Hurting by Lucy can Smit
Elisa Gall and Jonathan Hunt in conversation for The Horn Book, in which they discuss the merits of board books and wonder why none has ever won the Caldecott Medal.
They discuss two titles in particular. Sadly, one of them, Black Bird Yellow Sun by Steve Light is not yet available in the UK – though other work by him is – but the second book talked about was published here earlier in the year and is now included in our Gift Picks…
ELISA GALL: I think the bias against books for children at both ends of the 0-14 age range is always an issue, and that bias against books for babies and toddlers is so real. Board books are typically small and short. Individual copies do not last long, on account of how they are often chewed up when being enjoyed by small readers. All of this must influence (even subconscious) perceptions that these books are less than literary. (Some folks even call them “throw-away” books.) Gosh, I love Llamaphones too. So many of the board books we see are ineligible by being international or adaptations of previously published picture books. Throw those biases you described in with a microscopic pool of eligible contenders, and it’s no wonder we haven’t seen a board book win the Caldecott just yet.
I do have one book from this year that I would nominate if I were on this year’s committee, though: Black Bird Yellow Sun by Steve Light. Black Bird and its ever-present (yet unnamed) worm friend spend a day together, surrounded by the colors and objects of their natural environment. The text of the story is straightforward: eight couplets each starting with “Black Bird” and followed by color – object. In the accompanying visual spreads, every hue and item is celebrated through spongey, textured illustrations. A collage approach results in cut-out paper characters (Black Bird and worm) resting flat above, beside, and on top of textured printed forms (leaves, grapes, grass, and more). This invites exploration and offers contrast, creating a protagonist that is easily recognized on each page. The stylized, simplified representations of objects allow their colors to shine, with layered paint showing different shades of the same color. Because the characters are ever-moving, they are seen in varying positions, and their settings are shown from different perspectives. On the book’s final spread, readers see a mirror of the first. Instead of a bright yellow morning sun, blues signify nighttime. Black Bird’s eye is closed (instead of open), and the tree branch is now facing in the opposite direction. The worm, once outstretched and wiggly, is now curling up. All of this offers closure and serenity, as well as a reminder that this book about colors is also about one day, which is now over. The design of this book, with smart placement of objects and text alike, contributes to a steady pacing and clarity of concept. In short, this is the best of visual storytelling for the youngest of readers. And if we’re looking at stars, this book only got two. But like you say, that’s a lot for a board book!
The whole conversation is very much worth your time…
The family of popular children’s author Dick King Smith, have expressed their dismay after developers were given the green light to build on the farm which inspired the film ‘Babe’.King-Smith fulfilled his childhood dream of becoming a farmer when he bought the now-famous farm.The land, which sits just outside Bristol, inspired all his books, particularly The Sheep Pig – which became an international bestseller and was turned into a Hollywood blockbuster.
Maria Popova reviews Presto And Zesto In Limboland, a posthumous book by Maurice Sendak, for the New York Times:
In a story propelled by surprise after surprise in deliberate defiance of the expectations of ordinary reality, where logical discontinuity is a vehicle of joy, these leaps furnish rather than obstruct the whimsical world-building. The dialogue between image and story becomes essentially an act of translation, calling to mind the Nobel-winning Polish poet Wisława Szymborska’s lovely notion of “that rare miracle when a translation stops being a translation and becomes … a second original.”
The children’s book market grew by a modest 0.7% last year.
The YA sector declined 22% – “The main reason the category has declined so much is because 2017 had a lot of TV and film adaptations helping to drive sales, like Nicola Yoon’s Everything Everything (Corgi) and Jay Asher’s 13 Reasons Why”
Non-fiction saved the day, up by an impressive 31%, thanks to titles such as Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls and, I would add, some lovely books from the likes of Wide Eyed and Wren&Rook…
The children’s market has shown overall growth of 0.7% by value, driven by children’s nonfiction sales, which were up 10.2%. In the nonfiction category, sales of books categorised as ‘general nonfiction’ increased by 31% compared to the same time last year, with Bookseller charts and data editor Kiera O’Brien attributing this growth to the success of 2017’s Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls (Elena Favilli & Francesca Cavallo, Particular Books). According to O’Brien, the rise in popularity of similar general nonfiction titles such as Stories for Boys Who Dare to Be Different (Ben Brooks & Quinton Winter, Quercus), which sold 48,738 copies, and You Are Awesome (Matthew Syed, Wren & Rook), which sold 68,752 copies, is ‘unmistakable’.In fiction, picture books experienced their fifth consecutive year of value growth, increasing by 2% on last year, while children’s fiction sales were steady, with 0.05% growth. YA sales were down in 2018, reporting a decrease of 22%. ‘The main reason the category has declined so much is because 2017 had a lot of TV and film adaptations helping to drive sales, like Nicola Yoon’s Everything Everything (Corgi) and Jay Asher’s 13 Reasons Why (Puffin),’ said O’Brien.
Recommended feature profile of Sarah Crossan, in which, at the end, she talks about Her next verse novel, Toffee, set in Bude in Cornwall, to be published next year.
Her next verse novel, Toffee, set in Bude in Cornwall, which will be published next year. It’s about a relationship between a girl and an old woman called Marla, who has dementia. Crossan, who has a six-year-old daughter, tells me that her personal life is in flux and it has been particularly difficult to write lately. “But if you’re not honest, the book suffers, it’s fraudulent. I don’t mean you have to prostitute your life for your own stories, I’ve never done that, but if you are holding back then it is inauthentic.”As a result, she says, it’s the hardest thing she has written. “I think it is about me. The tagline is: a girl trying to forget and a woman trying to remember. That is what’s going on with me at the moment: what do you forget and what do you forgive and what do you hold on to?”
Crossan’s most recent title, Moonrise, is now available in paperback
The BA Children’s Bookselling Group has announced that the next Independent Booksellers Children’s Book of the Season for Autumn will be Chris Riddell’s Once Upon A Wild Wood.
Once Upon a Wild Wood, Chris Riddell’s first picture book for over a decade, is a story with familiar fairy tale characters as you’ve never seen them before. For the Autumn season, around 88 indie bookshops are taking part, promoting Once Upon A Wild Wood for around four weeks from 24 September. The BA will be supporting the promotion of the CBOTS through social media and promotional materials including posters, stickers, bookmarks and other POS material. Booksellers will also be supporting the Book of the Season on social media. Meryl Halls, Managing Director at the BA, commented: “It’s hugely exciting to be celebrating Chris Riddell’s first picture book for over ten years this Autumn.”
Frances Hardinge was the subject of last weekend’s Fame and Fortune feature in the Sunday Times in which people are interviewed about their approach to money. It’s one page I always read in the Business and Money section (back page -easily found, for those who don’t normally look at this section.) It’s a sequence of stock, unvarying questions and the responses are always fascinating.
How much money do you have in your wallet?
Have you ever been hard up? etc.
Frances Hardinge describes the success of her children’s novel The Lie Tree, a tale of religion, science and murder in Victorian England that won Costa Book of the Year 2015, as a “financial bolt from the blue”. The author admits that she had hit a “low point” in her writing career only a year before: “Takings came to a little over £8,000, but after costs my earnings came to not much over £5,000.”