The Other Award 1981
The Other Award was inaugurated in 1975 by Rosemary Stones and Andrew Mann of the Children’s Rights Workshop. It arose from a concern with the narrow range of attitudes presented in children’s literature and seeks to draw attention to those writers and illustrators who are making available to children a wider and more accurate representation of human experience and situation, in particular those whose work accords their rightful place in the books children read to those who are in general ignored, patronised or misrepresented.
The commended books for 1981 are:
A Strong and Willing Girl
Dorothy Edwards, Methuen, 0 416 88630 2, £4.25
These nine vigorously told stories for younger readers set in Victorian times tell of a ten-year-old working class girl, Nan, who goes into service to help support her family. Based on her own family history told to her as a child, Dorothy Edwards has given us in A Strong and Willing Girl a lively and detailed account of the life of a young servant at the turn of the century, within the accessible framework of the adventures and experiences of the impetuous and highspirited Nan. Finely illustrated with Robert Micklewright’s sensitive, historically accurate drawings.
What is a Union?
Althea, Dinosaur, 0 85122 269 2, £1.85 hb and 0 85122 256 0, 70p pb
A simply written, well illustrated (by Chris Evans) information book for junior school age readers about trades unions – why they came into being and how they work today, explaining on the way the role of the shop steward, why workers go on strike and media attitudes to unions. Never before has trades unionism been so clearly and fairly presented to young readers.
Have You Started Yet?
Ruth Thomson, Heinemann, 0 434 96600 2, £3.50
This admirably laid out and clearly written information book about periods (body changes, towels and tampons, the menstrual cycle. etc.) deals in a friendly, straightforward and practical way with menstruation and with the attitudes that surround it. A glossary and index are usefully included as are teenagers’ own comments about their experience of periods. (The Other Award Panel did not extend its commendation to the Piccolo edition which replaces the book’s index with an advertisement for Kotex sanitary towels.)
The Terraced House Books: Set D
Peter Heaslip, photos by Anne Griffiths, Methuen Educational, 0 423 90080 3, £2.50 non-net
This outstanding set of the Terraced House beginner readers with their simple, repetitive texts which focus on everyday happenings for the urban child, are sympathetically illustrated with compelling photographs which reflect unselfconsciously the multi-racial composition of British inner cities (The New Baby, The Clinic) and the extended family (My Aunty), as well as presenting women and men in non-stereotypical roles (The Market, The New Baby).
The panel gave a special commendation to Young World Books. Sponsored by Liberation (formerly the Movement for Colonial Freedom), a new children’s book imprint, Young World Books, was launched in 1980 to publish children’s books from the ‘decolonised’ nations which present ‘without apology, or nostalgia, an anti-imperialist attitude’. The first two titles – the folk tale collection Tales of Mozambique, 0 905405 04 8, £2.00 (see BfK 6), and Pepetela’s Ngunga’s Adventures, 0 905405 03 X, £1.50 – are a most impressive beginning to this important new imprint for young readers.
The Children’s Book section of this years £3,000 Whitbread Literary Award goes to Jane Gardam for The Hollow Land (Julia MacRae). Also shortlisted were The Witches and the Grinnygog by Dorothy Edwards (Faber) and Diana Wynne Jones’ The Homeward Bounders (Macmillan). The judge for the children’s section was Penelope Lively. (For our review of The Hollow Land see page 9.)