Prices on Paper…
That well-known phrase about text which ‘isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on’ has acquired a new resonance in the last 18 months or so. According to Peter Ingram, who publishes The Paper Market Digest, the average price of paper has risen by £200 a tonne over that period – adding almost £50 million to the cost of book publication, for instance, which consumes nearly a quarter-of-a-million tonnes of the stuff a year. ‘What has happened in one and a half years normally takes place over four or five years,’ he says, with the comment ‘many people aren’t latching on to the significance of this.’
Not BfK readers, alas. The increase, while varying according to the type of paper used, affects all kinds of print – not least this very magazine. Hence the price rise we announce on page 3. These are parlous times, indeed. We’ll be reporting on the current situation in the children’s book world generally in our January 1996 issue. In the meantime, though, whatever happened to that economic upturn?
More Means Verse…
… in this issue it does, at any rate. Further to our poetry theme, here are three poetic possibilities for the autumn:
National Poetry Day
Officially designated as Thursday, 12 October. For 24 hours, every announcement on radio and television will be made in rhyme, heroic couplets will dignify all newspaper reports, question-time in the House of Commons will be conducted in limericks and the only permitted utterance, nationwide, will be blank verse.
We’re joking, of course. Given its proximity to Children’s Book Week, though, here’s a marvellous excuse – if one is needed – to focus on POETRY for a day. Don’t miss the chance.
To help you set things up, here’s the perfect publication …
Hands on Poetry
Edited by Sue Ellis with Myra Barrs (plus a contribution from Morag Styles), this 48-page booklet, according to James Berry in his introduction, ‘deserves getting smudged and dogeared with use’. Quite right, too. Full of ideas, advice and enthusiasm – and completely practical in its approach – the compilers succeed splendidly in conveying both the magic of poetry and its centrality to classroom listening, reading and writing. It’s available at £8.00 (inc. p&p) from CLPE, Webber Row, London SE1 8QW, tel: 0171 401 3382. Also available at £1.25 is the CLPE’s Read It Together, an accessible and attractive guide for parents and other carers on every aspect of literacy.
Poster poems, in full colour, by Welsh writers Gillian Clarke and Duncan Bush, are available for secondary schools at £3.50 each, plus 95p p&p.
Gillian Clarke’s ‘Haymaking’ celebrates first love and the rhythm of the seasons … but the mood of ‘Pneumoconiosis’ by Duncan Bush is rather different. Here’s an extract:
‘I take things pretty easy, these days;
one step at a time.
Especially the stairs,
I try not to think about it.
I saw my own brother: rising,
dying in panic, gasping
worse than a hooked
carp drowning in air.
Every breath was his last
till the last.’
Contact HMSO/Oriel, The Friary, Cardiff (tel: 01222 395548).
Following the success of Kickstart, a selection of books with a High level of interest but a Low reading age, Cornwall Library Services now provide an update – including a hundred new titles covering both fiction and non-fiction. As before, the list covers picture books, novels, short stories, poetry and information books and is aimed at parents, teachers and librarians faced with the problem of luring into reading those youngsters who all too easily settle for other pursuits.
Practical, unpretentious and clearly compiled by experts who are also enthusiasts, Kickstart II is a rare example of a sequel which, if anything, improves on the original. Don’t miss it. Excellent value at £2.50, it’s available from Cornwall Education Library Services, Unit 17, Threemilestone, Truro TR4 9LD or ‘phone 01872 323456.
Inspection and the Secondary School Library
With OFSTED in the offing for most of them, it’s a brave secondary school which can ignore this publication – expertly but accessibly written and covering all aspects of the necessary paperwork in a workbook format. Good advice, crucial coping strategies, says BfK. Price £7.50 (cheques payable to Hertfordshire County Council) from Jill Calder, New Bramfield, Travellers Lane, Hatfield AL10 8XG.
Penguin Children’s Booklist
‘For most children the real key is enjoyment’, says our premier children’s book publisher. Good to see this so strongly emphasised in the context of National Curriculum English … but, then, the compiler here is Wendy Cooling who trawls the Puffin and Penguin lists and comes up with over 500 titles, classics included, that are guaranteed to re-assure the most grouchy of governing bodies without short-changing the kids. Sometimes annotated, occasionally quirky, always personal in flavour, it’s a list that’s extensive and open-minded enough to spark off reminders of other books, from other publishers, as you browse through it … and is none the worse for that, of course.
It’s available, free of charge, in two packs for Key Stages 1 and 2 and Key Stages 3 and 4. Contact Justin Somper on 0171 416 3316 or write to Penguin Publicity, 27 Wrights Lane, London W8 5TZ.
DATES FOR YOUR DIARY
National Poetry Day
Children’s Literature Association of Ireland 6th Annual Conference. Speakers include Philip Ridley, Hugh Scott, Catherine Sefton and Eddie Lennihan. Details from CLAI Conference, Church of Ireland College of Education, 96 Upper Rathmines Road, Dublin 8.
‘Take a Book at This’ Conference, Ramsgate, Kent. Speakers include Chris Powling, Philip Ridley, Korky Paul, David Fickling and Susanna Gretz. Contact Lindsay Prestage on 01227 742443.
‘Visions of the Future’, IBBY Conference at the Roehampton Institute, London. For further details contact John Dunne of Hampshire County Library on 01962 841841.
Northern Children’s Bookfair, Newcastle and environs. Speakers include Tony Ross, Anthony Browne, Mairi Hedderwick, Janni Howker, Berlie Doherty and Ian Strachan. Contact Jan Clements on 0191 268 9999.
Wessex Children’s Bookfair, Winchester, Hampshire. Taking part will be Terry Deary, Anne Fine, Michael Foreman, Colin and Jacqui Hawkins, Jane Hissey, Mary Hoffman, Jill Murphy, Korky Paul, Chris Powling, Robert Swindells, Kaye Umansky and Jacqueline Wilson. Details from Jan Powling, P & G Wells, College Street, Winchester SO23 9LZ.
Theresa Breslin has won the Carnegie Medal for Whispers in the Graveyard (Methuen, 0 416 19052 9, £8.99; Mammoth, 0 7497 2388 2, £3.50), a supernatural drama for children of nine and upwards.
Gregory Rogers has won the Greenaway Medal for his illustrations in Way Home by Libby Hathorn, (Andersen, 0 86264 541 7, £8.99), a picture book for older children with a powerful message about homelessness.
The Signal Poetry Award for 1995
has gone to Secrets by Helen Dunmore, published by Bodley Head, 0 370 31882 X, £7.99.
The Rhone-Poulenc Science Books Prize
This year The Most Amazing Pop-Up Science Book by Jay Young (Watts, 0 7496 1481 1, £14,99) was one of the winners.
Tir Na N-Og Awards
The prize for the best English book with an authentic Welsh background went to The Candle Man by Catherine Fisher (Bodley Head, 0 370 31889 7, £8.99).