Second Children’s Laureate
The appointment of the second children’s laureate, following on from Quentin Blake’s triumphant reign, is to be announced on 16 May. BfK gathers that the hot favourite is Jacqueline Wilson. This year’s judging panel, chaired by Mark Lawson, is Quentin Blake, Antonia Byatt, John Dunne, Julia Eccleshare, Lindsey Fraser, Susan Hancock, Emma Powell and David Teale.
World Book Day Title Criticised
Booksellers have complained about the ‘adult’ language in Kate Cann’s teenage novel Shop Dead (Scholastic), one of the books chosen to be a World Book Day £1 title.
The 2001 Newbery Medal, one of the US’s most prestigious awards, has been won by Richard Peck’s A Year Down Yonder (Dial Books). The Caldecott Medal (for illustration) has been won by David Small’s So You Want to be President? (Philomel). The Michael L Printz Award for excellence in literature for young adults has been won by David Almond’s Kit’s Wilderness (Delacorte Press).
The Big Guide 2: Irish Children’s Books (ed. Valerie Coghlan and Celia Keenan, Children’s Books Ireland, 1 872917 06 2) contains articles on contemporary Irish children’s literature as well as hundreds of reviews of recent titles. Available from Gill & Macmillan, Hume Avenue, Park West, Dublin 12, Ireland at £16.00.
Wales in English (Welsh Books Council, ISSN 1362 3176) is an annotated bibliography of books and other materials in English which relate in some way to Wales and the Welsh way of life. Available free from the Children’s Books Department, Welsh Books Council, Castell Brychan, Aberystwyth Ceredigion SY23 2JB.
Simon Elvin Young Poets Award
The Simon Elvin Award is a poetry competition open to young writers between 11 and 18 years. Young poets can enter as many poems as they like. The closing date for entries is 31 July 2001. Launched in 1998, the Simon Elvin Award was set up by the Poetry Society and supported by Simon Elvin Greetings Cards. It acknowledges the huge amount of talent amongst young writers and provides an opportunity for that talent to flourish. As part of their prize fifteen overall winners will spend a week tutored by poets Stephen Knight and Amanda Dalton at the Arvon Foundation centre at Lumb Bank. For further information telephone 020 7420 9894 or visit www.poetrysoc.com.
Congratulations to Grace Kempster who leaves her role as Head of Library, Information, Heritage and Cultural Services in Essex to become Director of Information Services Management for the British Council, based in Manchester. The aim of the post is to lead knowledge management development for the British Council and to lead the library and information centres in 110 countries across the world, as well as developing new and exciting creative products and services. It is an exciting time for Grace to be joining the Council, but a sad loss for children’s public libraries in the UK. Grace has always been a wonderful ambassador for library services to children in this country and has been the source of inspiration to many children’s librarians through her work with the Youth Libraries Group and later as an influential member of the Library and Information Commission.
Jill Coleman has been appointed Managing Director of A & C Black which is now owned by Bloomsbury. She joins the Bloomsbury board.
Carolyn Hughes is the new School Library Service Manager for Essex. She was previously the Principal Library Adviser and takes over the service at a challenging time as it currently faces delegation. But with the support of the School Library Service Team, she looks forward to an exciting future!
Philippa Milnes-Smith, Managing Director of Puffin Books, is leaving the company. It is thought that her departure follows Penguin’s Chief Executive, Anthony Forbes-Watson’s decision not to include her on Penguin’s new main board, reorganised following its acquisition of Dorling Kindersley. 2000 was a difficult year for Puffin’s backlist lists following the reduction in school book budgets.
Valerie Coghlan, librarian, joint editor of The Big Guide 2: Irish Children’s Books and regular BfK reviewer, has been appointed review editor of Children’s Books in Ireland.
Lisa Edwards has been appointed Senior Commissioning Editor Non Fiction at Scholastic Children’s Books. She was previously a Senior Editor at Hodder Wayland. Caroline Edgley has been appointed Commissioning Editor Media, Pre-School and Picture Books. She was formerly Managing Editor on the Kingfisher Fiction list.
Venetia Gosling has been appointed to the board at Hodder Children’s Books as Editorial Director, Fiction. Maurice Lyon has been appointed Senior Commissioning Editor, Non-Fiction.
Contributors: BfK team, Anne Marley. Contributions welcome.
Once Upon a Summertime
Once Upon a Summertime, the Children’s Books Ireland Summer School, is to be held from 18-20 May, in the Irish Writers’ Centre, Parnell Square, Dublin. Speakers include Margaret Mahy, Kevin Crossley-Holland, Siobhán Parkinson, storyteller Pat Ryan, Malorie Blackman, Malachy Doyle and academic Dáithí Ó hÓgáin. Concurrent lectures on Saturday by Seosamh Ó Murchú and Liz Laird. A biannual award in recognition of outstanding service to Irish children’s books/literature will be awarded at the conference. Further details and booking from Claire at CBI 00353 1 8725854 or email@example.com
21st Annual Writers’ Conference
Eight children’s authors including Michelle Magorian, Michael Coleman, Tessa Krailing and Billi Rosen will be running workshops and courses for aspiring writers at this event from 29 June to 1 July at King Alfred’s College, Winchester. Further details from Barbara Large, Chinook, Southdown Road, Shawford, Winchester, Hampshire SO21 2BY, tel: 01962 712307, email: WriterConf@a aol.com
The Art of the Japanese Picture Book
As part of the Japan 2001 Festival, a touring exhibition of the work of leading contemporary Japanese picture book illustrators (including Ryouji Arai, Noboru Baba, Shin’ta Cho, Shuhei Hasegawa, Akiko Hayashi, Satoshi Kitamura, Daihachi Ohta, Youko Sano, Susumu Shingu, Kouta Taniuchi and Seizo Tashima) will be at Birmingham Central Library from 5 May to 16 June 2001; at the National Theatre, London, from 9 July to 18 August 2001; and at the Centre for the Children’s Book, Newcastle, from 29 September to 3 November 2001. Lectures, events for schools, readings, storytelling, workshops and talks by the illustrators will accompany the exhibition. A catalogue will also be available. Further information from Jilly Paver, Project Co-ordinator: 020 8748 2828.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Having read Caroline Pitcher’s new novel, Silkscreen, recently myself, I was surprised to see it reviewed amongst 10-12 books (BfK 126) rather than in your Secondary section. It is published in the Mammoth Contents series, which I had thought was intended for the 12+ age-group: indeed both the subject matter and the narrative style of Silkscreen are more appropriate for this age-group than for younger readers. Perhaps if the reviewer had seen it as being a title for your 12+ section, he might have realised that the novel’s ‘subtleties and shifts’ would be easily understood by the older reader, to whom what he calls ‘the early confusion’ of the story would also be quite clear.
Patricia Elliott (teacher)
123 Castelnau, Barnes, London SW13 9EL
While I was looking through the recent Books for Keeps reviews I was struck by how many non-fiction books are still being produced about the Holocaust. And, one could argue, rightly so. However when a novel about this period emerges the protagonist seems to be inevitably a Nazi (such as Jurgen Wolf in Final Victory) and a member of the Hitler Youth (not that boys ever had the choice), supporting the belief that the only good German is a dead one. The World War Two ‘resistance’ story In My Hands, also featured in the March issue, is from Poland, a country which still denies its involvement in many crimes against the Jews.
We do live in Europe, like it our not, but the increasing number of anti German incidents in England, stones thrown at school buses, the trashing of cars with German number plates, make it clear that World War Two is still a dominating influence. I have written a book about a German boy who is very much aware of his country’s past, and who comes to live in present day England, where he is ultimately the victim of a racist attack. I have offered the idea to several publishers, all of whom turned it down as being ‘of insufficient interest’. Only one asked to see the manuscript. Since as writers, teachers and parents our concerns must be educational, without being didactic, I wonder how long it will be before the Durmstrang stereotype disappears from children’s books. Do your other readers have any opinions on this I wonder? Or am I a voice in the wilderness?
Althoff Strasse 3, 12169 Berlin, Germany
We were sorry that Henry Harris disapproved of the approach of our very popular book, Gruesome Grub and Disgusting Dishes (BfK 126). His perspective as a top chef is perhaps a touch purist, or even puritanical? We were extremely careful to include in our book a balance of sweet and savoury recipes to be cooked from scratch using fresh ingredients. We felt that a touch of humour would get kids into the kitchen enjoying making food rather than stopping for a burger and chips on their way home. The maligned Snot Surfers is a delicious leek and potato soup, Sick on Toast is the humble but nutritious scrambled egg on toast with carrots, tomatoes and ham, Cow Pat Pudding is a scrumptious chocolate biscuit cake, and so on. Our feedback has been very positive with everyone enjoying the jokes and the recipes.
b small publishing, Pinewood, 3a Combe Risings, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey KT2 7JT