Two schools thinking big
Last November a rather special book event took place. At Abbey Wood School in South London, fifteen hundred children, aged 9 to 13, met forty authors and artists in a day crowded with talk, activity and excitement. Everything went with the smoothness that means months of careful planning and preparation. The children were from Abbey Wood and its ten feeder primary schools. Each class had chosen two authors and one illustrator for special study and the meeting with these on the day was the climax of three months of reading, talking, puppet and model-making painting and writing. The school was full of children’s work which was much enjoyed by the famous visitors, among them Roald Dahl, Leon Garfield, Nina Bawden, and Barbara Sleigh. In addition, there were `specialist activities’: painting with Tony Hart, printing with Gail Haley, drama, chess, astronomy, music; films and a variety of exhibitions. The whole event was sponsored by twenty-four publishers. The bookshop and the book swap shop did fantastic trade and follow-up work is still going on. For all the children, it was a memorable day. Not only did they meet authors and artists who are world-famous but they shared with them in the joy of responding and creating.
There will be an exhibition based on the Book Bang at Woolwich Town Hall in May.
A Castle of Books
Wyedean School, near Chepstow, was also thinking big last November. With a great deal of imagination and a lot of scaffolding and hardboard, the pupils, led by Jeff Rees, created a book-filled castle in their drama hall, complete with dungeons, battlements and a built-in time warp which took you from the Middle Ages to the Space Age and back via a trip to the land of film and TV. There were jesters, princesses and monsters to guide you if you got lost, and a well-stocked bookshop waiting at the end of the tour. The whole show was on for six days and hundreds of children and adults visited it, some in coach-loads from quite a distance. It was sponsored by publishers and run in association with the Forest Bookshop in Coleford, which supplies Wyedean School Bookshop.
You may not want to be as ambitious as Abbey Wood or Wyedean, but a book fair or a special book event before Christmas is not too hard to arrange, especially if you start NOW.
Why not do something for Children’s Book Week 80 which is coming tip on 4-11th October this year. It’s still being planned at the moment. We’ll keep you posted.
The latest arrivals in the paperback menagerie are Scholastic’s Hippos. Launched in January with six titles, they promise four more this month, including Betsy Byars’ Summer of the Swans and Christine Nostlinger’s Mister Bat’s Great Invention; then two new titles every two months. Free copies of Hippo News for your bookshop customers and details of how they can join the Hippo Birthday Club from Gareth Marsh, Hippo Books, 161 Fulham Road, London SW3 6SW (Telephone 01-581 0241).
MAGNET BOOKS – Happy Birthday
Magnet Books, the paperback branch of Methuen, was one year old in January. They couldn’t have had a better start to their second year than capturing Anna Holm’s I am David, a book no child should miss reading or having read to it. A new venture is Jesters (first published in hard covers by Evans), `a hilarious new spy series for the 8-11s’. We hope to review the first four titles in our next issue.
Double Century for Beaver
The 200th Beaver book is published this month. It’s appropriate from an imprint that has given us some very good poetry anthologies (in particular Raymond Wilson’s Time’s Delights) that it should be the Beaver Book of Funny Rhymes by Barbara Ireson.
A great lady retires
Kaye Webb, the almost legendary editor of Puffins for the last twenty years, retired late last year. What she did for children’s books during her long and glittering reign (and queen-like she undoubtedly was) ranks as one of the great publishing achievements. Besides her wit and style, she possessed a unique ability, which rarely left her, of knowing exactly what children liked and what they wanted. Kaye is continuing her work with The Puffin Club. We wish her well.
Stepping into Kaye’s shoes is Tony Lacey who started his publishing career in Penguin Education, then with Kestrel, the children’s hardback imprint at Penguin. After a year at Granada, he was invited back to take on the most prestigious job in the children’s book world there is. He told us that Kaye has left him a 1980 Puffin programme that’s `the best in three or four years’. Nevertheless he thinks the next few years are going to be extremely difficult for children’s book publishers although Puffin, as the premier list, should weather most storms. He also thinks that with all the cuts the book-buying parent is even more crucial. We wish him luck – he’ll probably need it after 1980.
New face at the NBL
Bev Mathias was appointed the National Book League’s new Children’s Book Officer back in September. She’s Australian, very positive and full of ideas. More will follow about Bev and her ideas in the next issue.
SBA in the USA?
The Scarsdale Enquirer (Scarsdale, New York) reports on the opening of The Paperback Shack – a book store in Greenacres School Library. The School Librarian at Greenacres (a primary school) is Lois Witt who was in England on study leave last year to find out about how we get parents, children, schools and books together in this country., Lois spent quite a lot of time with us and went back talking about setting up a bookshop. She is a very determined lady so we might have guessed – Congratulations anyway, Lois. Especially as the article says `She has selected a variety of books for the store, many of which come from Great Britain and are not generally available in the United States.’
The 13th Puffin Exhibition
The amazing Puffinshow, including a maze, an enormous crocodile and competitions.
To be held this year at the New Kensington Town hall from 8th to 19th April (closed Sunday), 10.30 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. Admission: Adults 50p, Children 30p, Badge-wearing Puffin Club members 25p.
For details of authors’ appearances, activities, etc., ring the Puffin Club on 01-759 1984.
Book Agency Suppliers – Official
You may have up to three named suppliers on your Book Agency Licence, the PA tells us. This means that if you are planning a book fair and want hardback books, and your usual supplier can’t help, you can approach another bookseller to see if he will cooperate.
Books for Schools That’s that then?
Issue of the Moment The NBL’s Chairman, Simon Hornby, led a delegation to the Minister of State for Education and Science, the Baroness Young, to follow up the recommendations of the NBL’s Books for Schools Report. The other members of the delegation were Michael Marland CBE, Headmaster of Woodberry Down School and Chairman of the NBL’s Working Party; Martin Lightfoot, Vice-Chairman of the Working Party; and the Director. The Minister received them sympathetically and promised to consider the points they raised on recommended school book provision levels, book selection and auxiliary staffing in relation to school libraries.
We can’t leave it at that.
Recommended expenditure per child from capitation for 1979/80 is
Find out how your LEA measures up to this and make sure everyone, especially parents, knows about it. If your authority is under-providing, pressure at local level is vital. Books in schools and libraries are easy victims in the search for something to cut.
Hans Andersen Awards
Organized by IBBY (International Board on Books for Young People). Member countries nominate authors and illustrators for an author’s medal and an illustrator’s medal. British nominations this year:
Philippa Pearce and John Burningham
The Gods in Winter – Patricia Miles
Each Peach Pear Plum – illustrated by Janet Ahlberg
The Sea Lord – Alet Schouten,
translated by Patricia Crampton
The jury sits in April.
A one-day seminar on the awards, Children’s Books for All the World, will take place on Thursday, 22nd May at the Assembly Rooms, Derby – approximate cost £7. All those nominated will attend. For further information, contact:
Mrs Judith Elkin, 26 Eggington Road, Hall Green, Birmingham B28 OLZ (Telephone 021-744 1928).
Lloyds Bank helps the SBA
For the first time, the SBA is to have a commercial sponsor outside the publishing industry in the form of Lloyds Bank. Naturally we were delighted to receive support from an organisation which, it may surprise many to learn, already has an extensive involvement in children and books through its sponsorship of Children’s Book Week (seepage 22). We hope to carry more details about Lloyds’ work in a later issue.
ICA Children’s Cinema Club
Last December, London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts established the ICA Children’s Cinema Club, an original attempt to develop the range of films on show for children. Membership of the club is free when a ticket is bought for any performance, each Saturday and Sunday at 3.00 p.m., with additional items such as badges and calendar wallcharts on which members can make a note of future films. Each month there is a different season of films accompanied by specialist guests (writers, puppeteers, animators, etc.). Films based on children’s books, cartoons, science fiction, trick films, 3-D – all may crop up. Coming in March, a very special season indeed– films made by the boys of Forest Hill Comprehensive School in South London, including film adaptations of Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes and The Custard Boys, from the novel by John Rae. Future programme details can be obtained from ICA Children’s Cinema, The Mall, London SW1 (Telephone 01-930 3647).