Random House combines forces
The Random House Group has announced the creation of a single new children’s publishing division, Random House Children’s Books, which will bring together the Group’s children’s publishing across Random House and Transworld. This will unite their three hardback imprints, Jonathan Cape, Hutchinson and Bodley Head, with the younger Doubleday Children’s Books and the recently acquired David Fickling Books. Each of the lists will retain its separate identity and will continue to feed the two existing paperback imprints, Red Fox and Corgi Children’s Books.
Young Picador – a new literary imprint for teenagers
Macmillan Children’s Books has announced the launch of Young Picador, a new imprint for 12-15 year olds. It is claimed that Young Picador will ‘reflect, emulate and build on the brand values of its acclaimed adult partner’, the Picador list, seeking to publish the very best of contemporary, cutting-edge fiction. The list will also include occasional non-fiction titles and poetry.
More about those Potter books
· J K Rowling’s agent Christopher Little has sold worldwide Latin language rights in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone to Bloomsbury Children’s Books.
· A Book Marketing Limited survey reveals that a third of all Harry Potter books sold in the UK last year were bought for adults. Of Ms Rowling’s total readership 22% are adult females and 11% adult males. It also reveals that Harry Potter titles are as popular with boys as with girls.
The Bisto Book of the Year
This year’s award has been won by Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick’s Izzy and Skunk (Blackwater Press/David & Charles). The Merit Awards went to Martina Murphy’s Dirt Tracks (Poolbeg Press), Eoin Colfer’s The Wish List (O’Brien Press) and to Martin Waddell’s The Orchard Book of Ghostly Stories (Orchard Books). The other shortlisted titles were Michael Mullen’s An Bóthar Fada (Coiscéim), Siobhán Parkinson’s Call of the Whales (O’Brien Press), Jim Halligan and John Newman’s Fowl Deeds (Wolfhound Press), Patrick Deeley’s The Lost Orchard (O’Brien Press), Malachy Doyle and Niamh Sharkey’s Tales from Old Ireland (Barefoot Books) and Adrienne Kennaway’s This is the Tree: A Story of the Baobab (Frances Lincoln).
Eilís Dillon Award for a First Children’s Book
This award has been won by Patrick Deeley’s The Lost Orchard (O’Brien Press).
The Carnegie and Greenaway shortlists
The shortlisted titles for the Carnegie Medal are David Almond’s Heaven Eyes (Hodder Children’s Books), Melvin Burgess’s The Ghost Behind the Wall (Andersen Press), Sharon Creech’s The Wanderer (Macmillan Children’s Books), Jamila Gavin’s Coram Boy (Mammoth), Adèle Geras’s Troy (Scholastic David Fickling Books), Alan Gibbons’s Shadow of the Minotaur (Orion), Beverley Naidoo’s The Other Side of Truth (Puffin) and Philip Pullman’s The Amber Spyglass (Scholastic David Fickling Books). Chair of judges, Sarah Wilkie, said: ‘This year sees an unprecedented array of proven talent with every one of the eight authors having already won or been shortlisted for a children’s book prize.’
The shortlisted titles for the Greenaway Medal are Ron Brooks’s Fox (Franklin Watts), Anthony Browne’s Willy’s Pictures (Walker Books), Ruth Brown’s Snail Trail (Andersen Press), Lauren Child’s Beware of the Storybook Wolves (Hodder Children’s Books) and I Will Not Ever Never Eat a Tomato (Orchard Books), Ted Dewan’s Crispin: The Pig Who Had it All (Doubleday) and Jane Ray’s Fairy Tales (Walker Books). Wilkie commented that: ‘The Greenaway shortlist encompasses both classic and contemporary styles of illustration.’
The winners will be announced on 13 July.
South Lanarkshire Book Award 2001
Catherine MacPhail has won the third annual South Lanarkshire Book Award for her book Missing. The winner was chosen by groups of S3 pupils from 10 secondary schools in South Lanarkshire. The other shortlisted titles were e a blare’s Wising Up (Orchard), Roger Green’s Daggers (Oxford), Ann Halam’s Don’t Open Your Eyes (Dolphin) and Julia Jarman’s Hangman (Collins).
Stockton Children’s Book of the Year
Pete Johnson, a previous winner of this award, has won the 2001 award for The Creeper (Corgi Yearling), chosen by pupils from 24 primary and secondary schools across Stockton. The other shortlisted titles were Geoffrey Malone’s Elephant Ben (Hodder Children’s Books), Stephen Moore’s The Brugan (Hodder Children’s Books), Susan Gates’s Killer Mushrooms Ate My Gran (Puffin) and Theresa Breslin’s The Dream Master (Corgi Yearling).
Stockton’s Book Review of the Year Award was won by Dean Parkinson of Mandale Mill Primary School.
Children’s Literature International Summer School (CLISS) and Children’s Literature Research Symposium
The summer school and research symposium will be held from 10-18 August at the University of Surrey. Areas of study include ‘interrogation of multiculturalism’, examining the treatment of disability and work on children’s literature in translation. Further information from NCRCL, University of Surrey Roehampton, Digby Stuart College, Roehampton Lane, London SW15 5PH (tel: 020 8392 3008).
2nd Annual National Storytelling Week
The Society for Storytelling announce that this event will take place from 2-9 February 2002 and events are already being planned. For further information about The Society for Storytelling and its events, call 0118 935 1381 or 020 8866 4232 (after 6pm) or ask for Del Reid on 020 7492 8796 (day), or view the website on www.sfs.org.uk
The new children’s Laureate is Anne Fine. Her many novels include Flour Babies, Step by Wicked Step, The Tulip Touch and Bad Dreams.
Following the uniting of the Random House and Transworld children’s publishing teams into Random House Children’s Books, Philippa Dickinson has been appointed Managing Director of the new division and Gill Evans Deputy MD and Head of Publishing. Both will continue to report to Group Managing Director, Ian Hudson. The new division will be based at the Transworld site in Ealing. The newly structured sales department is headed by Pat Shepherd and the Sales and Marketing team is led by Garry Prior.
Jeffrey Nobbs has been appointed Managing Director of Quarto Children’s Books following Sally Gritten’s departure. Sally Gritten has returned to management consulting.
Head of children’s literature at Book Trust, Alexandra Strick, has left the charity.
The Children’s Book Handbook 2001 is a useful guide to publishers, organisations, publications, prizes, courses and so forth to do with children’s literature. £6.50 from Book Trust, Book House, 45 East Hill, London SW18 2QZ.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Chains: ‘an historical novel, not a reasoned argument…’
Thank you for devoting two pages to Chains in your March issue (BfK 127). It is good to see that the book has produced such a healthy debate: that was one of its purposes. It is not our practice to write blow-by-blow rebuttals of reviews and articles about our books. We respect Errol Lloyd’s views on Chains and thank him for writing. But there are a few points we would like to bring up.
Our author, Frances Hendry, has written ‘out of race’ successfully and sensitively before. The book was Chandra, which, besides winning major awards, has been very popular with, for example, Bangladeshi girls in Tower Hamlets. Frances is white, in her sixties, and Scottish. But more importantly, she is a good novelist and is able to get inside people’s heads of whatever colour, race, or time.
We want to emphasise that this is an historical novel, not a reasoned argument. Our author describes the African trade as it was seen by people of the eighteenth century. Many of the characters put forth views that are totally unacceptable today. But it is up to the reader, not the author, to refute such views. The ‘racial’ slurs are not the author’s views, but what a person of the time might have thought. The ‘racial’ language is used only by people who would be seen as ‘baddies’ – notably Mr Hunt. He is set up as a target stuffed with ignorance and prejudice, to help our readers flatly to dismiss his language and arguments.
In our author’s view the work does indeed show Juliet’s conversion to abolitionism. As Juliet gradually widens her experience, so her sympathies also widen. She learns that the white servants around her are not simply inferiors but human beings like herself; and this slowly forces itself past her conditioning to extend to the black people she becomes involved with. By the end of the novel the dam finally breaks, and we can see her sympathy and compassion for all oppressed peoples.
A minor point: Juliet does not ‘finally win her male spurs’ by shooting the leader of a slave revolt – a rather male way of looking at it? In terror for her life she kills a woman who is attacking her.
We need more books with black characters – many, many more – and then Hassan and Gbodi can be seen in that context; as two of a range of different characters and experience, rather than the ciphers that stand for all black characters. If Dand were to stand for all Scots, he would be a pretty poor specimen. And if Juliet stood for all white girls from Liverpool, then Liverpudlians would be up in arms. We need more good writers like Frances Hendry, telling more and more stories that include a range of races and experiences.
Consultant Editor, Oxford University Press
Errol Lloyd writes:
The ‘historical novel’ genre does not in my view absolve authors/publishers from restraint or sensitivity regarding the use of racist or offensive dialogue which impressionable teenagers won’t always be able to evaluate or refute (even adults are occasionally adjudged to need a lecture on the subject). Though the examples of racist dialogue in Chains may have been typical of the eighteenth century, it is not entirely untypical of the twenty-first (with racist attacks on the increase to boot) and therefore of more than mere historical or academic interest.
Juliet’s grandmother (Mrs Smethwick) had promised her a fortune if she successfully completed the voyage disguised as a male, avoiding detection. Her shooting of the slave woman seemed the ultimate fulfilment of the role-play, hence the ‘male spurs’ reference. The fact that the author had contrived such a situation and outcome (demonising the slave women and losing sight of their real victim status in the process) is an example of the way in which the plot, together with the derogatory dialogue, combined to subvert the author’s expressed humanist design.
Stuck in Neutral
After reading the review for the award winning Stuck in Neutral (BfK 128) I was left wondering if the reviewer had actually read the same book as me. I have never disagreed so strongly with another writer’s views on a children’s book. My colleagues who had also read the proof copy also felt the same and were dismayed at the two star rating it received.
Your reviewer claims that ‘most worrying is the book’s justification for the killing of disabled children’. Far from justifying it the book successfully argues how wrong this is as the main character actually loves life and encourages the reader to scream ‘Don’t do it!’ at the misguided and rather pretentious father.
Rather than being a story comparable with a racist or anti gay book as your reviewer feels, it instead promotes a positive image of disabled people and its overall message is that we shouldn’t judge others by how they appear. It does not ‘develop the idea that … some lives are too damaged to be worth living’; it instead shows us how precious all life is and encourages the reader to embrace it as the hero of the story does. Stuck in Neutral is a marvellous novel full of hope and humour and one I would actively encourage 12+ readers to pick up.
Samantha Eels Taylor (reviewer and bookseller)
The Children’s Book Company, London W5 5DA
Ever since the system of star ratings for book reviews was set up in BfK, I’ve been waiting to see if you’d change the word you use to describe books that get only one star: namely, Sad.
But as you still haven’t, I’m writing to explain why I object to it.
‘Sad’ is not a literary judgement. It’s an expression of cynical contempt, originally popularised by stand-up comedians who specialise in jeering sarcasm. It’s a cruel word, used in the playground to hurt children who are slightly odd, or shy, or lonely. It’s a taunt thrown by the successful at the unsuccessful.
In short, it’s an expression that looks rather out of place in a journal with BfK’s record of sensitivity to issues of bullying. There are books that aren’t very good, and it’s the job of a review to say so; but I think it would be better to do it without sneering at them.
24 Templar Road, Oxford, 0X2 8LT
Rosemary Stones writes:
It has long been my view that the cosiness of the children’s book world can detract from literary debate and the ‘sad’ star was aimed at sharpening discussion. It is, however, sharp in the wrong way and I’m grateful to you for pointing it out.