Eleanor Farjeon ’91
Past recipients of the Eleanor Farjeon Award include Margery Fisher, Kaye Webb, Margaret Meek, Naomi Lewis, Shirley Hughes, Robert Leeson . . . and BfK‘s Jill Bennett, last year. Sponsored by Books For Children, the award has been made ‘for distinguished service to the world of children’s books’ since 1965. The 27th Award, just announced, goes to Patricia Crampton.
Best known for her work as a translator, Patricia has helped to make Anne Holm, Rudolf Frank, Helme Heine, Janosch, Alf Proysen and Astrid Lindgren firm favourites with English language readers – during the last thirty years she’s translated more than 160 books from Danish, Dutch, French, German, Norwegian and Swedish! Twice she’s won the Mildred Batchelor Award for Translation, twice her skill has been recognised as the IBBY Honour Book for Translation and she was the first winner of the Astrid Lindgren Prize.
Less well known, though, is her work at conferences, on committees and for a variety of international associations, institutes and literary panels promoting children’s books and the contribution translators make to them. She served on the International IBBY executive from 1982-6 and was a highly influential chairperson of the Hans Christian Andersen Jury – insisting, for instance, that all jurors read the work of all candidates (about 120 books from 20 countries). The Children’s Book Circle, whose members nominate Eleanor Farjeon winners, speak of Patricia as `an ambassador and representative in the wider world of books where she has been a consistent, informative and independent voice for all of us working in children’s publishing’.
She’s also a very nice person. Readers may remember her article in our November ’89 issue (No. 59) when, speaking of Astrid Lindgren, she wrote ‘I am very glad … of her humour and kindness and her ability to bring back “the intensity with which we experienced it all when one was new to this earth”.’ This might easily be a description of Patricia Crampton herself. BfK congratulates her.
Carnegie and Kate …
With sponsorship from Peters’ Library Service matched by the Government under its Business Incentive Scheme plus a smart new logo designed by Tony Ross the Library Association hopes to raise the profile of its prestigious Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Awards even higher.
The Carnegie Medal’s previous holders include Arthur Ransome, C S Lewis and Eleanor Farjeon. Edward Ardizzone, John Burningham and Quentin Blake are amongst former recipients of the Kate Greenaway. So this year’s winners – Gillian Cross for her novel Wolf (Oxford, 0 19 271633 6, £7.95) and Gary Blythe for illustrating The Whales’ Song (Hutchinson, 0 09 174250 1, £6.99) [see also pages 25 and 32 in this issue] – join a distinguished company. Best wishes to both . . . and good luck to the Library Association and its sponsors for their bravery and initiative in keeping alive the rumour that children’s books really do matter.
Well … to one of this year’s sponsors, anyway. That the generosity of Peters’ Library Service should be supplemented with government money is deeply ironic at a time when library services everywhere have been cut or ,are under threat. This isn’t lost on Gillian Cross herself who, in her acceptance speech at the Awards Ceremony in London on 25 June, declared, ‘I am angry and outraged at what is happening to libraries and this gives me the chance to express it.’ She went on to point out that ‘libraries are tools of freedom – the only way people can get information and fiction, not fed to them by broadcasters or journalists. IF WE WANT TO KEEP THEM, WE MUST SHOUT NOW.’
The Children’s Book Award
Organised by the National Federation of Children’s Book Groups, the 1991 award involved 10,247 children from all over Britain who ‘tested’ more than 647 titles.
The Winner: Mick Inkpen for Threadbear (Hodder & Stoughton, 0 340 53129 0, £6.95) receiving a silver and wood oak tree valued at £7,000.
Science Book Prize 1991
The Under-14 section was won by Fran Balkwill and Mic Rolph who share £10,000 for two titles:
Cells Are Us (0 00 191163 5, £4.95; 0 00 196306 6, £2.95 pbk) and Cell Wars (0 00 1911674 3, £4.95; 0 00 196307 4, £2.95 pbk), both published by Collins.
Nick Ross, chairperson of the judges, commended the books as a `contribution to encouraging more people to make friends with some of the wonders of the world around them’.
The Macmillan Prize
Now in its sixth year, this award is for the best picture book submitted to Macmillan by an unpublished illustrator. This year’s judges included Shirley Hughes, Pat Hutchins, Tony Ross and Colin McNaughton. The winner for 1991 is Selina Young from Anglia Higher Education College with her book My Grandpa’s Big Pockets which will be available later this year.
On the Teaching of Reading
This is the title of a new publication by the Language and Literacy tutors of the Brighton Polytechnic Faculty of Education. The booklet arose out of evidence presented to the Select Committee for Science and Arts in connection with its enquiry into Standards of Reading in Primary Schools. It’s a balanced, well-organised account reflecting balanced, well-organised courses – a world away from the approaches the popular press erroneously suggests are widespread in our schools and teacher-training institutions.
Also, mercifully, it’s short. Highly recommended. For copies, priced at £2.00 inc. p&p (with a discount for bulk orders), telephone Pam Blackman, Literacy Centre Co-ordinator, on 0273 643387.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
As you indicate in your excellent editorial note (BfK No.68, May ’91) writers do emphatically support the Net Book Agreement – not only those in the Society of Authors but those in the Writers Guild as well.
As well as being highly organised in TV, Film, Theatre and Radio, the Writers Guild has a strong book section. Many of its active members write for children – in all the media.
When the Net Book Agreement was being weighed up by the Office of Fair Trading (is it a ‘fair’ practice?) a Guild Delegation met officials from the OFT and strongly argued for the continuance of the Net Book Agreement.
We made several points of which the following are the main ones.
Books are not a commodity of the same sort as shirts or steel ingots. A ‘freer’ market does not confer automatic benefits. The book trade is unique in having 300,000 stock items at any time (including 30,000 children’s book titles). Each item is individual, each item has a different producer. Variety is the essence – and experience shows that unrestrained competition is the enemy of such variety.
The independent stock-holding bookseller, backbone of the book trade, and especially of the children’s book trade, would go to the wall in any ‘free for all’. Along with the (mainly small) bookseller, would suffer thousands of less known authors who depend upon sympathetic individual selling to reach public notice.
Most immediate benefit of any abolition of the NBA would fall to the top one per cent of bestselling authors and those outlets able to handle large quantities of ‘cheaper’ fewer titles.
Authors would be adversely affected in another less obvious way. Authors’ royalty income is normally based on a percentage of a known retail price. If the retail price is up for grabs, neither author nor publisher will know what might be expected by way of return. In such an incalculable situation, publishers would become more cagey about authors’ advances. An atmosphere of uncertainty (which I can assure you is hostile to creativity) would have further disagreeable effects on the author.
There’s more to be said, but that’ll do for now. Anyone who values variety and quality in books will see how important it is to maintain the Net Book Agreement.
Robert Leeson, Broxbourne, Herts.
I was somewhat disturbed to see in the March issue of Books for Keeps (No. 67) in the article by Liz Attenborough, the misleading information that trade discount on books is 42%.
Technically, the average discount to the Trade across all types of outlets probably is 42%, but for many small bookshops, like myself, our discount is only 35%. It is more annoying that Books for Keeps is mainly read by teachers who expect to receive a 10% discount when buying through their schools via the Education Licence scheme which I feel is very unfair to smaller shops. If teachers feel we get 42% discount, they will assume that 10% of that is not too bad, but 10% of 35% together with our costs leaves us very little profit. Even less profit on school text books where we only receive 17.5% discount and still have to give 10% discount to schools.
In the present economic climate, booksellers find it hard to make ends meet and schools have tighter budgets. Not a happy situation for children’s books.
Carole Files, Bookseller and Chairman of School Governors, Duddon Books, Millom, Cumbria.
I bet you that hundreds, if not thousands, of your readers are longing to have a go at writing books for children and could be very good at it. Why not run a BfK competition for writing a children’s book? You could run a fascinating series of articles by a panel of judges – a publisher, a teacher, a bookseller, a parent, a librarian, a child and an illustrator – each explaining what they would look for in a text. I don’t think that there is currently any other competition for new children’s writers, is there? I’m sure that you’d discover some exciting new talents for all the different categories of children’s books. Why not give it a go?!
Pippa Goodhart, Leicester.
Actually there is such a competition – it’s the Kathleen Fidler Award which was set up in 1980 to encourage both new and established authors to submit their work for the 8-12 age group. It’s sponsored by Blackie publishers and administered by Book Trust Scotland. There’s a cash prize and a trophy … plus, the real pay-off, subsequent publication by Blackie. Even if BfK could muster the resources for such a competition, we couldn’t guarantee the latter. Ed.
Letters to the Editor should be addressed to Books for Keeps, The Old Chapel, Easton, Nr. Winchester, Hampshire SO21 1EG. We reserve the right to shorten letters received for publication.