Carnegie and Greenaway
For the second year running the Carnegie Medal has gone to Peter Dickinson. This year the winning title is City of Gold (Gollancz, 0 575 02883 1, £5.95) a collection of stories retold from the Old Testament. Last year it was Tulku, also from Gollancz and out this month in paperback as a Puffin Plus.
Runners up were: Jan Mark’s Nothing to be Afraid of (Kestrel), Jan Needle’s A Sense of Shame (Deutsch) and John Branfield’s The Fox in Winter (Gollancz).
The Kate Greenaway Medal, for illustration, went to Quentin Blake’s Mr Magnolia (Cape). Runners up were: Michael Foreman for City of Gold, Jill Murphy for Peace at Last (Macmillan), Beryl Cook for Seven Years and a Day (Collins).
CBY in Space
Books for Keeps isn’t the only booky thing in Space this month. The Eleventh Children’s Books of the Year exhibition which opens at the National Book League on 22 July has a moon landscape setting.
The 300 plus books which make up this annual collection were chosen this year by Barbara Sherrard-Smith who, having worked with Elaine Moss on the tenth selection, has now taken over. Barbara is a librarian, teacher, reviewer and parent: she works in a secondary school in Welwyn Garden City.
The exhibition is open until 8 August, Monday to Saturday, 10.00 am – 6.00 pm. Admission free.
Storytelling: Tuesdays and Thursdays at 3.00.
Artist/illustrators: Wednesdays and Fridays at 3.00.
Stories and Activities every Saturday afternoon.
Those appearing include Michael Foreman, Shirley Hughes. Eileen Colwell. Grace Hallworth. Aliki, Jill Bennett
Details from Barbara Buckley, NBL, Book House, 45 East Hill, Wandsworth London.
The fully annotated list Children’s Books of the Year 1980 is published in July by Julia MacRae, £3.95 (£3.00 to NBL members). As usual a touring exhibition of the books will be available from the NBL. Hire charge £24 (£20 to NBL members).
What sells Nancy Drew?
In Books for Keeps No.6, mainly about children’s books and television, we reported that sales of Nancy Drew books had shot up with the TV series and stayed up, whereas The Hardy Boys, after a brief boost, had settled back to the previous level. No-one at Armada could explain why.
Jane Little, a librarian in London, was intrigued and wrote to us with what she thinks is the answer.
‘I suggest that this is because the Nancy Drew books, although as formula-written as The Hardy Boys ones, feature girls doing all the exciting things.
In my experience as a librarian there are still too few books featuring girls as the main characters. Although the plots in the Nancy Drew books are very far-fetched, Nancy and her friends solve mysteries, zoom around with only minimal parental control, overcome villains with judo, speak better Spanish than their boyfriends and generally win through! The boys are kept firmly in the background always, as is Nancy’s lawyer father, and it is with the girls that the skills and strength lie.
Girls who like a fairly predictable story but with strong female characters often relate well to the Nancy Drew books. And why not: there’s certainly not much for them to identify with in The Hardy Boys stories, the William books, Jennings – or Enid Blyton!
And right on cue for our SF issue comes Nancy Drew No. 52, The Flying Saucer Mystery, Carolyn Keene, Armada, 0 00 691839 5, 80p. The intrepid girls (and boys) are camping on Shawniegunk Mountain investigating some UFO sightings and, by the by, solving old Joe’s mystery for him. The plot is totally preposterous and falls apart as soon as you look at it. (If you work it out, you have to believe in an 85-year-old man camping with his 60-year-old son and going off alone to bury the secret his son is still looking for ten years later.)
Whole episodes, including large scale hallucinations, are left completely unexplained. Creating positive female characters is certainly appealing to girls; it’s no excuse for writing a story with your mind on something else and insulting faithful readers with such a shoddy product.