Harry Potter and Coca Cola
Disquiet amongst Harry fans about author J K Rowling’s deal with Coca Cola which grants exclusive rights to market her creation across the globe has led to the setting up of a website called SaveHarry.com. The campaigners argue that, just when children have become, thanks to Harry, so enthusiastic about reading, they are now being bombarded with a junk food tie-in promotion. In February 2001 Coca Cola announced a £100million exclusive marketing agreement with Warner Brothers, the studio releasing Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in Britain and the US. Rowling’s personal stake in the deal could be £10 million.
Wilson and Stine Most Borrowed
Figures released by the Public Lending Right Office reveal that R L Stine of the ‘Goosebumps’ series is still the UK’s most borrowed children’s author, closely followed by Jacqueline Wilson. Both authors are in the more than a million loans band (together with adult author, Catherine Cookson).
The Roald Dahl Foundation Children’s Laureate Platform Debates
The Children’s Laureate Anne Fine is fronting a national series of discussions about the impact and significance of children’s literature. The debates (the first was at the Bath Literary Festival) are funded by The Roald Dahl Foundation. Forthcoming debates will take place at Brighton Festival on 4 May (Theme: ‘Absent parents in children’s and adult fiction.’ Speakers: Nina Bawden, Anne Fine, Beverley Naidoo and Nick Tucker.) and at the Edinburgh Festival on 11 August (Speakers: Julia Eccleshare, Anne Fine, Philip Pullman and Francis Spufford.). Further information from www.childrenslaureate.org or from 020 7247 9695.
Astrid Lindgren 1907 -2002
Astrid Lindgren, creator of Pippi Longstocking (from 1945), has died at the age of 94 in Stockholm. The unruly Pippi, the strongest girl in the world, challenged the didactic Swedish literature for children of the time with her independent adventures. Other Lindgren novels (The Brothers Lionheart and Ronia, the Robber’s Daughter) were adventures of a more allegorical kind. Astrid Lindgren was the most widely read Swedish author of her time and her books have been translated into more than 60 languages.
Pullman wins the Whitbread
Many congratulations to Philip Pullman whose The Amber Spyglass (Scholastic) is the first Children’s Book of the Year category winner to go on to win the Whitbread Book of the Year (above the winners of the adult novel, first novel, poetry and biography sections).
Macmillan Writer’s Prize for Africa
The first ever Children’s Literature Awards have been won by Rosina Umelo of Nigeria (Junior category), Osman Pius Conteh of Sierra Leone (Senior Category) and Susan Mugizi Kajura of Uganda (Special Award). The stories will be published in August.
North East Book Award 2001
Jeanne Willis’s The Hard Man of the Swings (Faber) has won the North East Book Award which is judged by Year 10 students from participating High Schools. Rosie Rushton’s Tell Me I’m OK, Really (Piccadilly) was Highly Recommended and Bali Rai’s (Un)arranged Marriage (Transworld) was recommended.
Sheffield Children’s Book Award
The Overall Winner of the Sheffield Children’s Book Award is Kes Gray’s Eat Your Peas (Random House) which also won the Picture Book Category. Jeremy Strong’s Living with Vampires (Barrington Stoke) won the Shorter Novel Category and Louis Sachar’s Holes (Bloomsbury) won the Longer Novel Category. The winners were voted for by some 3,000 Sheffield school children from a short list drawn up by librarians and teachers.
Beyond Harry Potter
Beyond Harry Potter leaflets with suggested titles to ‘fill the gap until Autumn and the publication of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix’ are available free from Anne Williams, The County Library HQ, The Annexe, Shirehall, Shrewsbury, SY2 6ND; email: children’email@example.com
Sarah Odedina, Editorial Director of Bloomsbury Children’s Books, has been appointed to the Bloomsbury board.
Ann-Janine Murtagh has been appointed Publishing director at Orchard Books. She was previously Publishing Director at Kingfisher.
Piccadilly Press have appointed Yasemin Uçar as Editor. She was previously an assistant editor at Scholastic Canada.
Mary Byrne has been named as Achuka Publicist of the Year. Achuka’s website citation tells us she ‘worked with energy and imagination on a number of very different campaigns, the most noteworthy being the promotion for Lady, My Life As A Bitch … the discussion about the book on Newsnight Review was a major coup, negotiated directly by Byrne herself.’ Byrne is a freelance publicist who previously worked at Penguin Children’s Books.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Warning about sexual content
I write on behalf of myself and our school librarian concerning the book Crazy by Benjamin Lebert and with particular reference to your review (BfK No. 131).
I will start off by saying that I have not had a chance to read the book fully and would not dream of offering you a view of its overall literary quality. My only concern is that there is a section of the book, particularly pages 76-81, which most of my staff and the parents of the boys in my school would probably consider to be pornographic. The sexual acts are described in a way which can only be called graphic and even disturbing. That having been said, I do not even want to offer you a view about the appropriateness of sex descriptions in books intended for children.
I do feel it is appropriate, however, for your reviewer to warn parents and librarians of the presence of such a scene, which many, at least, would find offensive and inappropriate. I am sure you understand it is not possible for our librarians to read all books that they buy, and they rely very strongly on the recommendations of magazines such as yours, which I know holds a very high reputation. It was by chance that these particular pages were discovered before the book went on loan to boys and taken home. Perhaps some of your book reviews should come with coded warnings about contents, such as is now normal on videos. Once informed, it would of course be up to us to decide whether or not to make the book available to our pupils.
Once again I hope I am clear about my concern. I would not want to be thought either amateur book critic or censor. I simply believe that the nature of that particular scene is such that a warning by your reviewer would have been appropriate. I wonder if you would care to comment?
With every good wish to you and your editorial team upon the work that you do in presenting books for children. This matter aside, I know that your recommendations and advice are much valued here.
Dom Stephen Darlington, OSB
St Columba’s College, St Albans, Herts. AL3 4AW
BfK received two more letters on this topic which is discussed in the Editorial on page 2 of this issue.
Top heavy reviewers?
I was very impressed with the January edition of Books for Keeps, which seemed to have several articles particularly relevant to the interests of a school librarian: Julia Eccleshare (as ever); Jane Gardiner’s ‘Reluctant Readers’ and Jan Mark’s thought provoking comments; not to mention the sharp critical analysis of Margaret Meek. However, what did surprise me was the spread of professions of your reviewers – all extremely well qualified to be reviewers of children’s books, no doubt – but not one person from the shelf face – no practising school librarian. Surely the children’s book magazine should be represented by at least one person who knows what children actually choose to read rather than the somewhat top heavy list of people who write or lecture about what children read?
The Quentin Blake Europe School
The English/German State Europe School in Berlin has been looking for a new name. Many schools in Berlin are named after writers, and we thought it would be appropriate to choose an English writer, and one concerned with children. Quentin Blake was put on a short list of three and the children of the school then voted. Quentin’s name won, and after lengthy consideration by the Berlin school authority, we are now officially, and with his kind permission, the Quentin Blake Europe School!
Quentin is keen to be involved with the school and hopes to visit us soon. The children are delighted and we look forward to a bright future with such an esteemed person as our ‘figurehead’.
Althoff Strasse 3, 12169 Berlin, Germany
Unless I’ve missed something, you do not have a Review category for Big Books of the sort much used at Key Stage 1 in the Literacy Hour in schools. Occasionally I have some money to spend in this area for my Teaching Practice Library and some guidance from your excellent review panel would be very helpful.
Faculty Liaison Officer, Education, Nottingham Trent University, LIS, Clifton, Nottingham NG11 8NS
Big Books have not been reviewed in BfK for some time as we have not received new titles for review. When we do discuss them, we flag up that they are Big Books in the bibliographical information that we provide – see, eg, the discussion of Owl Babies in our January issue. Ed.