Children’s Books in the Top Ten
A top ten hardback fiction chart compiled by Waterstone’s for The Guardian of 20 October included three children’s books. Ian McEwan’s Atonement (Cape) at No.1 was followed at No. 2 by Julia Donaldson’s Room on a Broom (Macmillan) with Jacqueline Wilson’s Dustbin Baby (Doubleday) at No.3 and The Bad Beginning: A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket at No. 10. Children’s books are often left out of standard bestseller charts.
Nation’s Favourite Children’s Poem
A BBC poll has found the nation’s favourite children’s poem. It is Edward Lear’s ‘The Owl and the Pussycat’.
An exciting national reading group scheme for children in public libraries has been launched by the Orange Prize for Fiction. It is to be co-ordinated by Launchpad, the development agency for children’s library services. Jacqueline Wilson is the project’s patron. The reading groups, for 4-12 year olds, will meet in their local library and be given a range of attractive materials to get them started, including reading diaries and ‘post-it’ review notes. The project has been piloted by Manchester, Kensington & Chelsea, and Plymouth libraries and 50 library authorities are now involved. Further information from Tricia Kings: email@example.com
Bookstart in Wales
Jane Davidson, Minister for Education and Lifelong Learning at the National Assembly for Wales, has announced £600,000 of extra funding for the Bookstart Project in Wales. The new funding comes from the National Basic Skills Strategy for Wales which is administered by The Basic Skills Agency. Bookstart is based on the simple, but proven idea that sharing books with babies from an early age benefits their development in many different ways, educationally, socially and emotionally. There are now 210 schemes in the UK covering 92% of the UK and since 1999 all 22 local authorities in Wales have had their own Bookstart schemes.
World Book Day
This year’s World Book Day will be on Thursday 14 March. This year’s aim is to encourage the whole family to Get Caught Reading. Events and activities will be held nationwide in schools, libraries, workplaces and bookshops to celebrate reading and books in a huge variety of ways. Over the next few months, schools and bookshops will be making plans to take part in World Book Day. Every event will be posted on the WBD website – www.worldbookday.com .
In the meantime, look out for a Read Around the World marathon storytelling session at Brixham CE Infant School in Devon, a family book evening at Littlehampton Community School in Sussex and WBD activities at the Royal Blind School in Edinburgh. Libraries across the country will be masterminding a wealth of activities and events designed to encourage people of all ages to enjoy books and reading.
Thanks to Book Tokens Ltd, principal sponsor of World Book Day 2002, and publishers and booksellers, over 13 million children – every schoolchild in full-time education – will receive a £1 World Book Day Book Token via their school which can be redeemed for three weeks around World Book Day itself. There will also be five special World Book Day £1 books for five different age ranges by leading children’s authors. They can all be exchanged for the £1 World Book Day Book Token. Further information from www.worldbookday.com
World Book Day supports Book Aid International by helping them to provide over 750,000 selected books and journals each year to support learning and skills’ development in over 60 developing countries throughout the world. To date, over £150,000 has been raised by schools on World Book Day for Book Aid International. Further information from www.bookaid.org.
Bedtime Reading Week
Bedtime Reading Week coincides with World Book Day 2002 and runs from 11 to 17 March. A national initiative launched last year, it is aimed at encouraging people of all ages to spend just a few minutes a day reading aloud to their loved ones – be it children, friends or partners. Visit the Bedtime Reading Week website at www.bedtimereadingweek.co.uk
More About Harry Potter
* A survey by the literacy charity Reading Is Fundamental has found that Harry Potter is helping to make reading a more popular leisure activity. Of the children involved in RIF’s projects who had read one Harry Potter book, 70% said that it encouraged them to read other books.
* Opticians report that Harry Potter is helping children who wear spectacles to feel less stigmatised.
* A Waterstone’s survey has found that Harry Potter is the most familiar book character among UK readers. Characters from the books are now more recognizable than those from Enid Blyton’s ‘Famous Five’ series.
Prix Tam-Tam 2001
Two books by English writers published in translation by Editions Gallimard have won this prestigious and influential French children’s literature prize. The young fiction section has been won by Henrietta Branford’s Dimanche-Diller which is published as Avril et La Poison. The 10+ section has been won by Michael Morpurgo’s Kensuke’s Kingdom (Le Royaume de Kensuké). This title previously won the Prix Sorcières and thus becomes the only title ever to win both prizes.
The Nestlé Smarties Book Prize
The 2001 Nestlé Smarties winners are announced. In the 5 and Under Category the gold award winner is Catherine and Laurence Anholt’s Chimp and Zee (Frances Lincoln). The silver award winner is Mick Inkpen’s Kipper’s A to Z (Hodder) and the bronze award winner is Sarah Dyer’s Five Little Fiends (Bloomsbury). In the 6-8 Age Category the gold award is Emily Smith’s The Shrimp (Young Corgi). The silver award winner is Raymond Briggs’s Ug (Cape) and the bronze award winner is Lauren Child’s What Planet Are You From Clarice Bean? (Orchard). In the 9-11 Age Category the gold award winner is Eva Ibbotson’s Journey to the River Sea (Macmillan). The silver award winner is Chris Wooding’s The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray (Scholastic) and the bronze award winner is Geraldine McCaughrean’s The Kite Rider (Oxford).
NASEN Book Award
The Times Educational Supplement’s Special Educational Needs Award has been won by Jack Gantos’s Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key (Corgi Yearling), a novel for upper primary readers about a boy with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. The Highly Commended titles were Terry Trueman’s Stuck in Neutral (Hodder) and Jenny Marlowe’s The Night Garden (Honno Welsh Women’s Press).
Whitbread Children’s Book of the Year
The shortlisted titles for the Whitbread Children’s Books of the Year are Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl (Viking), Eva Ibbotson’s Journey to the River Sea (Macmillan), Terry Jones’s The Lady and the Squire (Pavilion) and Philip Pullman’s The Amber Spyglass (Scholastic). The judges are Julia Eccleshare of The Guardian, Roy Flowers of Kendrake Children’s Bookshop, previous Whitbread winner, Jamila Gavin, and Lizo Mzimbo of CBBC Newsround. The young judges are Annalisa Middleton (13) and Harry Cheetham (11). In the press release the panel tells us of the Pullman title: ‘No ordinary person could write this.’ Do good authors really need gush like this? The winner will be announced on 22 January.
Spoken Word Awards
Stephen Fry’s reading of J K Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Cover to Cover) has won the prize for the best audiobook for children of 7+.
Sheffield Book Award
Living With Vampires by Jeremy Strong and illustrated by Scoular Anderson (Barrington Stoke) has won the Shorter Novel Section of the Sheffield Children’s Book Award. The winners are voted for by children from 93 local schools.
Penguin has appointed Francesca Dow Managing Director of Puffin. She was previously Publishing Director at Orchard.
Hodder Children’s Books has appointed Anne McNeil as Editorial Director, picture and gift books. She was previously publishing director of Bodley Head and Red Fox.
Philippa Milnes-Smith has joined the literary agency, LAW (Lucas, Alexander, Whitley), where she will specialise in children’s publishing and media, representing authors, illustrators and children’s properties. She was previously Managing Director of Puffin.
Judith Evans has been appointed Commissioning Editor at Little Tiger Press. She previously worked as an Editor at Piccadilly Press.
John McLay has left Working Partners to become a children’s fiction scout and reviewer.
Changing Faces, Changing Places: A Guide to Multicultural Books for Children
Edited by Susanna Coghlan, Mary Fitzpatrick and Lucy O’Dea, IBBY Ireland, 0 95441352 0 2. Ireland is rapidly developing into a multicultural society and this attractive new Guide provides an annotated lists of books which reflect the diverse nature of Ireland’s population and their countries of origin. It includes articles from academics on changing Ireland and author profiles. Available from The O’Brien Press, 20 Victoria Road, Rathgar, Dublin 6 at £7.00 (sterling area), IR£7.87 (Ireland) or $10.00 (Euro zone).
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
In Waterstone’s children’s book department in Piccadilly there is an ‘After Harry’ table of books. This is a clever marketing idea, and really useful for children, many of whom are suffering withdrawal symptoms while waiting for Harry No. 5. But I looked in vain for a ‘Before Harry’ table. The Harry Potter books are steeped in mythology, as Germaine Greer has pointed out, so where are the books to introduce young children to the ideas and worlds of J K Rowling, Philip Pullman, Kevin Crossley-Holland, Alan Garner and Ursula Le Guin?
In the folk and fairy tale section there were certainly plenty of compendiums of myths, legends and fairy tales. But these books are aimed at Junior school age children, who will have already started on Harry Potter. And, as Brian Alderson said in your last issue (BfK No.131), these books are often decorated rather than illustrated. Where are the single story picture books aimed at Infants, or to use teacher-speak – Key stage 1? Where are the books with a few carefully chosen words, and visually exciting and thought provoking pictures? Where are the ‘… stories that tell the most difficult truths in the simplest language’, to quote Alan Garner – that is books to prepare the ground for the wonderful, complicated stories of Rowling and Pullman.
Why were Fiona French’s titles not on the shelves? Her picture books published by Frances Lincoln are in print. Why is the late Errol Le Cain not on the shelves? His princesses, fabulous beasts, witches, and fairies are unforgettable. These author/artists and others like them, would introduce 5, 6, and 7 year olds to the riches of Greek and Norse mythology, King Arthur legends, Native American religion and African fables.
Philip Pullman wrote recently that we are not allowing our children to grow up. There was so much that was childish, in the worst sense of that word, in many of the picture books I saw on the shelves. Surely 5 and 6 year olds sometimes need something a bit tougher and sharper, as an antidote to ‘…the nauseating whimsy and marshmallow sweetness’ that is so often on offer. A single, powerful, traditional story, with the illustrations capturing the drama of the narrative, would prepare young children for the future delights of the fantasy books to come.
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