W H Smith has acquired Hodder Headline. It will be a separate business within the W H Smith Group and keep the name and those of its imprints.
Sponsored by Sainsbury’s and administered by Book Trust, Bookstart , the project which aims to introduce new parents and their babies to books is experiencing enthusiastic take-up. Parents attending the seven to nine-month check-up with their babies are given a free Bookstart pack which includes books and suggestions for further reading material as well as information on how to join the local library.
Oxford University Press Children’s Books has launched its own paperback list for literary fiction. It will be publishing about 40 titles a year. This move to vertical publishing will deprive other paperback lists, notably Puffin, of a rich resource.
Two-Can , the children’s non-fiction publisher, has sold its publishing division to Zenith Entertainment, a television and film production company. Some tie-in publishing may be expected and there are plans to develop titles for film and tv adaptation.
Southampton University ’s centre for language in education has published a report which claims that glossy non-fiction books are allowing boys with reading difficulties to feign proficiency by talking about the pictures. Further details from 01703 592433.
Congratulations to Joan Aiken who received the MBE in the Queen’s Birthday List. Michael Morpurgo and Clare Morpurgo also received the MBE for their work as co-founders of Farms for City Children.
Congratulations to John Dolan , head of Birmingham City Library, on receiving an OBE. His commitment to Birmingham Central Library, and especially his support for the unique ‘Centre for the Child’ has helped to make it one of the biggest and busiest public libraries in Europe. Dolan also worked on secondment to the Library and Information Commission and was instrumental in producing the most important library document of recent times, ‘The People’s Network’. He did further work for the Commission in devising the guidelines for implementing the ‘New Library’ plan, published in ‘Building the New Library Network’.
The innovative and energetic library marketing consultant Miranda McKearney has been appointed to the Public Lending Right Advisory Committee. McKearney’s other activities include co-ordinating the Well Worth Reading Scheme and running LaunchPad’s national library programme, Reaching Parents.
Gillie Russell has been appointed Fiction Publishing Director at Collins Children’s Books.
Contributors: BfK team, Anne Marley. Submissions welcome.
National Children’s Book Week is from 4-10 October. Young Book Trust supplies practical resource materials to help schools and libraries with book events. For an order form and price list contact Book Trust, Book House, 45 East Hill, London SW18 2QZ (tel: 0181 516 2984).
Book It! is the children’s book festival at the Cheltenham Festival of Literature from 8-24 October. Participating authors and illustrators include Anne Fine, Jacqueline Wilson, Jane Hissey and Roger McGough. To receive a free brochure with details of events call 01242 237377.
Northern Children’s Book Festival is a regional event across the North East of England involving twelve local authorities. It will be held from the 8-20 November and will run free events; 35 authors and illustrators will attend. Further information from Helen Thompson, Darlington Library, Crown St, Darlington DL1 1ND (tel: 01325 349616).
Peter Carter 1929-1999
Ron Heapy of Oxford University Press Children’s Books writes:
Peter Carter, the distinguished children’s novelist, died on 21 July. He was 69. He wrote many fine novels, many of which won prizes both in the UK and on the Continent.
Throughout his books (which include The Black Lamp , Under Goliath and Children of the Book ) Peter showed the conflict and collision between wildly opposing societies, which often ended in tragedy. In his work there was a constant theme of social concern and justice for the common man. His heroes battled against life-threatening events and in the end, they were redeemed or damned. He was one of our great writers, and I mean writers. He drafted everything he wrote about six times, and never wrote a bad line. He collapsed in the middle of a sentence on his old typewriter, trying to finish his current novel, Union Blue . It remains unfinished.
When asked about what he would have done if he was not a writer, he said he would like to have been a jazz pianist in one of the big bands in New York in the thirties. That fits. Play it again, Peter, play it again.
THE CARNEGIE MEDAL
David Almond’s Skellig (Hodder Children’s Books) is the winner of The Library Association’s Carnegie Medal. Ray Lonsdale, Chair of the Youth Libraries Group which selects the winners said: ‘ Skellig is a brilliant, economically written novel… it has a visionary intensity which stretches children’s imaginations to the limit; at the same time it is immensely readable.’ In an exhilarating acceptance speech, Almond laid into the ‘pedants’ of the National Curriculum with their target-setting and paid tribute to the library ‘that was crucial in turning me into a writer’. Robert Cormier’s Heroes (Hamish Hamilton) and Chris D’Lacy’s Fly, Cherokee Fly (Corgi Yearling) were Highly Commended.
THE KATE GREENAWAY MEDAL
Helen Cooper’s Pumpkin Soup (Doubleday) is the winner of The Library Association’s Kate Greenaway Medal. ‘The interplay between the sumptuous illustrations and text in Pumpkin Soup is wonderful… the style and tone of Helen Cooper’s illustration captivates children, and the story helps them explore their feelings about friendship and tolerance,’ said YLG Chair Ray Lonsdale. Shirley Hughes’ The Lion & the Unicorn (The Bodley Head) and Jane Simmons’ Come on Daisy! (Orchard Books) were Highly Commended.
SCOTTISH ARTS COUNCIL CHILDREN’S BOOK AWARDS
The first Scottish Arts Council Children’s Book Awards have gone to Susan Cooper’s The Boggart and the Monster (The Bodley Head), Joan Lingard’s Tom and the Tree House (Hodder Children’s Books), Catherine MacPhail’s Fighting Back (Puffin), J K Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Bloomsbury) and Frances Thomas and Ross Collins’s Supposing (Bloomsbury). Award winners received £1,000 each.
THE RHONE-POULENC PRIZE FOR SCIENCE BOOKS
This year’s Junior Rhône-Poulenc prize winner is Kirsteen Rogers’ The Usborne Complete Book of the Microscope (Usborne).
THE CHILDREN’S BOOK AWARD
The overall winner of the 1999 The Federation of Children’s Book Groups’ Children’s Book Award is J K Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Bloomsbury) which also won the Longer Novel category. The Picture Book category winner was Kate Lum and Adrian Johnson’s What! (Bloomsbury) and the Shorter Novel category winner was Pat Moon’s Little Dad (Mammoth).
Lancashire Children’s Book of the Year 1999
Nigel Hinton’s Out of the Darkness (Puffin) is the winner of the Lancashire Children’s Book of the Year. Nigel received a £500 cheque and an engraved decanter at Lancashire County Hall. The winner was chosen by students from High Schools throughout Lancashire under the guidance of children’s author Hazel Townson.
Stockton Children’s Book of the Year Award
Stockton Children’s Book of the Year 1999 was won by David Almond, for his novel Skellig (Hodder Signature). The other nominations were The Crow Haunting by Julia Jarman (Collins), Max and the Petnappers by Jeremy Strong (Viking), Switchers by Kate Thompson (The Bodley Head) and The Drummer Boy by Garry Kilworth (Mammoth). The award, now in its third year, was the culmination of a three-month project, beginning in January and involving around 1,000 pupils from 26 primary schools across Stockton.
The South Lanarkshire Book Award
The South Lanarkshire Book Award (see BfK No.115) has been won by Sue Welford’s Starlight City (Oxford).
The Angus Book Award
The Angus Book Award for 1999 has been won by Tim Bowler’s River Boy (Oxford). The award is designed to involve Angus teenagers in the reading and voting process.
Wirral Paperback of the Year
Chosen by young readers from years 8 and 9 from thirteen Wirral schools, the 1999 winner is Malorie Blackman’s Pig-heart Boy (Corgi).
BEST SELLER CHART
TOP 10 POETRY TITLES
January – June 1999
For Younger Children:
1 Green Poems , comp. John Foster, Oxford, £1.99
2 Home Poems , comp. John Foster, Oxford, £1.99
3 Alphabet Spook! , Nicholas Tulloch, Oxford, £2.99
4 Tea in the Sugar Bowl, Potato in My Shoe , Michael Rosen, Walker, £4.99
5 Michael Rosen’s Book of Nonsense , Michael Rosen, Macdonald, £4.99
For Older Children:
1 Please Mrs Butler , Allan Ahlberg, Puffin, £3.99
2 Heard it in the Playground , Allan Ahlberg, Puffin, £3.99
3 Michael Palin’s Limericks , Michael Palin, Red Fox, £2.99
4 Aliens Stole My Underpants , comp. Brian Moses, Macmillan, £2,99
5 Over the Moon! Championship Football Poems , comp. David Orme, Red Fox, £2.99
There’s a mix of high street and classroom bestsellers here, with firm favourites like Allan Ahlberg and Michael Rosen showing as strongly as expected. It’s interesting that here, too, price makes a difference; 60% of these books are less than £3.
This listing has been specially compiled for BfK by Books for Students from their sales data. Books for Students Ltd is a major specialist supply company to schools and libraries.
Pachamama , an Inca word which means both Mother Earth and harmony, is now also the title of a handsome book created by children from eco-groups worldwide on the theme of the environment. Illustrated with artworks from children all over the world, the book will be published in October in the UK by Evans in collaboration with the U.N. and Peace Child International. To celebrate this event, a schoolswide competition is to be held which asks schools to come up with the best environmental initiative within their local community. The first prize is a trip for two children to Nairobi to visit the United Nations Environmental Programme and go on safari. For further information contact: Alex Evans on 0171 935 7160.
Outstanding Sequence Stories (0 901922 32 3) by Alasdair Campbell, Deborah Gibbons et al is an annotated guide to children’s stories published in progressive sequence (eg the Earthsea quartet, the Moomin Family saga). £11.50 from LISE Publications Officer, c/o Education Library, University of Wales Swansea, Hendrefoelen, Gower Road, Swansea SA2 7NB.
Once Upon a Time: Big Books for the Literacy Hour at Key Stage 1 (0 901354 880) by Helen Clark, Jo Brown and Pauline Scott is an annotated guide to suitable titles. £3.50 from Sales Department, Hertfordshire Libraries Arts and Information, New Barnfield, Travellers Lane, Hatfield, Hertfordshire AL10 8XG. Cheques payable to H.C.C.
Fiction in the Literacy Hour (0 7049 12686) by Prue Goodwin and Angela Redfern offers suggestions for developing reading through fiction based on seven texts (picture books and young fiction). £5.95 from The Reading and Language Information Centre, The University of Reading, Bulmershe Court, Earley, Reading RG6 1HY. Cheques payable to ‘The University of Reading’.
Bookflood Project was a Birmingham Schools Library service initiative involving eight schools whose children were ‘flooded’ with books for recreational reading with many positive results. Copies of the report are available on receipt of an A4 sae (64p) to Schools Library Service, Ellen Street (off Pitsford Street), Hockley, Birmingham B18 6QZ.
Talk Back: an antidote to the worst excesses of educational reform (0 7049 1269 4) by Chris Powling is a spirited attack on the demands of the national curriculum and a plea for ‘good talk’ in the promotion of reading and writing. £4.75 from The Reading and Language Information Centre, The University of Reading, Bulmershe Court, Earley, Reading RG6 1HY. Cheques payable to ‘The University of Reading’.
Young Writer is a termly magazine which publishes children’s writing. It also offers competitions, information about authors and tips about different kinds of writing. A subscription is £6.50 (inc. UK p & p) from Young Writer, Glebe House, Church Road, Weobley, Hereford HR4 8SD. Elsewhere in Europe add £1.50 for postage; outside Europe add £3.00.
School Stories from Bunter to Buckeridge (1 902743 01 9) edited by Nicholas Tucker is a compilation of conference papers given by, amongst others, Rosemary Auchmuty, Isabel Quigly, Geoff Fox and Mary Cadogan. £10 from Maureen Murdock, NCRCL, Digby Stuart College, Roehampton Institute, Roehampton Lane, London SW15 5PH.
NEW WEB SITES
Make Friends with Books by Catherine and Laurence Anholt
WormWorks by Ted Dewan and Helen Cooper (online end of Sept.)
Children’s Literature UK
For academics, researchers, writers and publishers who wish to discuss issues of current interest.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
THE CARNEGIE/GREENAWAY MEDALS
As a previous Carnegie and Greenaway judge, I feel I must dispute your charge of ‘moving in mysterious ways’. The criteria for these medals are well known and debated, and the panel is scrupulous in adhering to them, so where is the mystery?
Your concern seems rather that their choices are not your choices, but this has surely happened to all of us who are passionate about the wealth of children’s books eligible for selection. There are many awards, each judged in different ways, by different people and against different criteria. Is there not room for them all? It is not the object of these medals to target new authors and illustrators, nor to honour an author or illustrator for the overall body of their work (isn’t this why the Children’s Laureate was created?).
I also believe that altering the criteria to make previous winners ineligible would have serious implications, changing the very nature of the awards in honouring ‘the most distinguished book’, and devaluing the achievement of those who won. Imagine the comments: ‘Of course, Anthony’s book was better (or Helen’s or P.J.’s or…) but he won it two years ago.’
However, it’s great that the medals are recognised and debated so much. It was evident in the winners’ speeches this year that they hold the awards in great esteem and feel genuinely honoured to have won them. They appreciate the experience, knowledge and dedication that the panel brings to the task, and value the role of children’s librarians in uniting the adult world of writing and publishing with the child’s world of imagination and sheer enjoyment of the books. Let’s keep the debate going, but please don’t let disappointment at not seeing your choices recognised, cloud the celebration of the wonderful books that were.
Children and Schools’ Services Manager
I’m writing as one of the people whose opinion you
asked for in last year’s BfK (No. 111) about Carnegie and Greenaway winners. I should perhaps declare an interest as a children’s librarian of 25 years standing, and as a new member of the Youth Libraries Group National Committee, though not as a member of the Carnegie and Greenaway judging panel.
In the same way that I put forward my choices in BfK last year, what you were presenting in your Editorial was essentially what YOU would choose if you were to select your best books of the year. For example, whilst I personally wanted Henrietta Branford’s book to win the Carnegie, as you did, my choice for Greenaway was very different. Most of us whose opinions you published were very varied.
Let’s then look at your idea of not allowing previous winners to be considered for the Awards. I’m pretty certain that authors and illustrators, not to mention their publishers, would be up in arms if you were to disqualify them, just because they’ve won before. Having spoken to several of them at the Awards ceremony this year, I know they think this is a non-starter. And what about a level playing field? What would writers and illustrators of the future think if this happened? Wouldn’t it devalue the Award if a seriously large chunk of authors and illustrators are banned from being considered? How can it then be the ‘most distinguished book’?
Now on to Robert Cormier and the fact that an American is on the list. Well, OK, let’s stop that, so no non-Brits can win the Awards in the future, so sorry Satoshi Kitamura, and Philippe Dupasquier, and oh yes, Greg Rogers and Margaret Mahy – we’ll have our Awards back please. Where do you draw the line?
The Carnegie and Greenaway judges take their roles incredibly seriously – people who have sat in on the discussions have spoken about their dedication to the task. The authors and illustrators themselves value the award BECAUSE it is given by librarians. Both winners this year at the ceremony mentioned this specifically in their acceptance speeches. Probably of all the children’s book awards judges, they are the most hands on and most experienced in dealing with children.
But this debate is great for the Awards – it helps to keep them at the top of the book world agenda.It keeps people talking about them, and best and most important of all, it keeps children’s books themselves in the public eye, which is, after all, what we all want. So keep the editorials coming – I’ll look forward to next year’s!
81 North Walls, Winchester SO23 8BY
The Carnegie Medal was set up in reaction to the impoverished output from children’s publishers in the two decades that followed the First World War as an attempt to encourage the improvement of standards. The Greenaway later focused attention on standards in publishing illustrated books.
Publishing output has since increased and improved radically but the YLG has not reinvented the Carnegie/Greenaway Medals convincingly. As Chris Powling pointed out some years ago ( BfK No.82), it is absurd that the Carnegie/Greenaway panel awards previous winners (and sometimes in consecutive years) when there is now such an embarras de richesses to choose from.
So far as awarding a Cormier title is concerned, this is not, of course, a matter of nationality. As a result of national copyright laws those authors and illustrators published by UK publishers have their reputations primarily/initially grown and nurtured within Britain and the Commonwealth.
The significance of the Carnegie/Greenaway Medals being set up in response to publishing output within these territories does not appear to be understood by the YLG. That Heroes was first published in the UK rather than the US should have been seen as the fluke it was rather than as an opportunity.
The panel’s proneness to over-value books that do not, like River Boy , cut the mustard returns us to the need for informed debate about literary and artistic standards of which there is still too little so far as children’s publishing is concerned. Copydates ( BfK ’s and the YLG’s) allowing, I should be glad to give space to more detailed and trenchant discussion of the Carnegie/Greenaway shortlists in BfK . Ed.