Teenage Reading Habits
Last year Lorna Roberts reported in Books for Keeps on the 1980 Bookmaster summer reading scheme organised by Westminster Children’s Libraries. The scheme aroused so much interest because of what it revealed about teenage readers that Westminster was given a grant from the British National Bibliography Research and Development Fund to explore the 1981 programme. A report by the research officer, Jean Bird, will appear this summer (details from BNB Research Fund, Sheraton House, Great Chapel Street, London W1V 4BH).
The Westminster City Libraries report, The 1981 Bookmaster Scheme, is available now (£3 from Westminster City Libraries, Marylebone Road, London NWI 5PS).
Free while stocks last
Rosemary Stones has extended and updated the very useful multi-ethnic booklist she produced for Penguin a few years ago. For your copy apply to Children’s Marketing, Penguin Books, 536 King’s Road. London SW10 OUH.
Children’s Books of the Year
The annual CBY exhibition will be at the National Book League, Book House, Wandsworth, London SW18, from 2-14 August. There will be storytelling, author appearances and lots of things to do as well as look at the books. Details from Barbara Buckley at the NBL (01-870 9055).
Children’s Book Week Personality
Peter Davison, the new Dr Who, the old Tristram Farnon and general all-round actor, has agreed to be this year’s CBW personality. It should be a popular choice judging by the way Peter has been mobbed recently by enthusiastic children at signing sessions for his Book of Alien Monsters (Sparrow). Taking on the role of Dr Who it seems demands more than mere acting! Details of CBW events in our September issue.
James and the Giant Peach on stage
The official British premiere of Richard R George’s stage adaptation of Roald Dahl’s best-selling story is being presented by an enterprising new company of young Oxford graduates led by a founder member of the Puffin Club, Paul Godfrey. The Good Companions Seaside Theatre Company opened on 7 July at the Cheltenham Music Festival and will be in rep on the Isle of Wight until mid-August. Thereafter watch out for them on a Southern Arts tour and in London.
Also in their repertory is an end-of-the-pier style production of Shakespeare’s Pericles with song and dance routines and The Story of Ino, a new play for children by Zoe Brooks, also in the company. This promises mime and slapstick and an anarchic world where adult rules of conduct play no part. You have been warned.
(James and the Giant Peach, a play, Richard R George, Puffin, 0 14 03.1464 4, 95p)
Spending on books – derisory
The NBL has updated the recommended figures for spending on books which appeared in Books for Schools, the 1979 report of the working party on the provision of books in schools. The new recommended levels per capita are Primary Schools: ‘good’ £12.85, ‘reasonable’ £10.72. Secondary Schools: ‘good’ £20.28, ‘reasonable’ £17.51. (These are for class books and library books).
Michael Marland, Head of North Westminster Community School, who chaired the original Working Party commented, ‘We said that spending levels on books were inadequate in 1979. They are now derisory. Many local authorities are not even spending a third of what is necessary.’
Critical reports by HMIs have prodded the Secretary of State into a statement that £20 million extra should be spent on ‘books and equipment’ in the next financial year. Even this, if it happens, will not be sufficient. Nor will it do anything about the gross inequalities in spending which exist around the country.
This summer, Hertfordshire Library Service (what an example they set for their fellow professionals) takes to the water in a narrowboat. From 26 July to 5 August the Belfast, well stocked with books and librarians, will cruise along the Grand Union Canal from Rickmansworth to Marsworth, near Tring. It will make nine stops for storytelling sessions, visits from authors and illustrators, and activities such as singing, painting and making a play. The content of many of these activities will be linked with English Maritime Heritage Year, the current promotion of the English Tourist Board which is helping to finance the project.
The Hertfordshire librarians seem to have been as imaginative in their search for sponsors and fund-raising as they were in conceiving the programme in the first place. Dina Thorpe, Divisional Schools Librarian for primary schools, says ‘We hope that children and families will find the idea of a mobile library travelling along a canal in an old-fashioned narrowboat interesting and exciting. We will be doing our best to get as many of them as possible involved.’
For details of the programme, contact Dina Thorpe. Watford 27937, or Martin Dudley, Hertford 54242, ext. 5488.
In June the Library Association’s Youth Libraries Group announced this year’s winners of the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Awards.
The Carnegie Medal for a children’s book of outstanding merit goes to The Scarecrows by Robert Westall (Chatto and Windus, 0 7011 2556 X, £5.50).
Highly commended: The Hollow Land by Jane Gardam (Julia MacRae, 0 86203 023 4, £5.25).
Commended: Goodnight Mister Tom by Michelle Magorian (Kestrel, 0 7226 5701 3, £5.50). Bridget and William by Jane Gardam (Julia MacRae, 0 86203 012 9, £2.75).
The Kate Greenaway Medal for the most distinguished work in the illustration of a children’s book goes to The Highwayman, Charles Keeping’s illustrated version of Alfred Noyes’ poem (Oxford, 0 19 279748 4, £4.50).
Highly Commended: Sunshine by Jan Ormerod (Kestrel, 0 7226 5736 6, £3.95).
Commended: The Patchwork Cat, Nicola Bayley illustrates a William Mayne story (Cape 0 224 01925 2, £3.95). Hansel and Gretel, Anthony Brownes’ updated version of the traditional tale (Julia MacRae, 0 86203 042 0, £4.95).
More rarely given (every five years) are the Francis Williams Awards for Illustration, one of which is for the best illustration of a children’s book. The awards (£300 in each category) are administered by the Victoria and Albert Museum and the NBL and arise from the bequest in 1972 of Francis Williams of Uckfield ‘to encourage and advance the art of book illustration’.
The winner for 1977-82 is Raymond Briggs for The Snowman (Hamish Hamilton and Puffin).
The runners-up are Stephen Ryan for his black and white illustration of Ned Kelly and the City of the Bees by Thomas Keneally (Cape, 1978 and Puffin 1980) and Justin Todd for Moonshadow, a just published picture book with story by Angela Carter (Gollancz 1982).