The Kathleen Fidler Award
This new award for young Scottish writers of children’s fiction is a memorial to Kathleen Fidler who died last year, aged 81.
Kathleen Fidler was the author of over eighty books for children, and over five hundred broadcasts for BBC Children’s Hour and Schools Broadcasting. She was born in Leicestershire, and educated in Lancashire where she eventually became one of the youngest headteachers ever when she took over Goose Green School in Wigan while she was still in her twenties.
In 1930 she married and moved to Edinburgh where she began writing and became a much-loved figure in the children’s book world. She was much in demand as a speaker and her friendly style and sense of humour ensured her a warm reception from everyone she met. She loved books and did a great deal to encourage adults and particularly children to share that love. Her story Flash the Sheep Dog was made into a prize-winning film and Haki the Shetland Pony was adapted for television.
The award, a rosewood and silver trophy and a prize of £250, is for an unpublished novel for the 8-12 age group. Authors must be under 30 and of Scottish parentage or resident in Scotland. It is sponsored by Blackie & Son Ltd (Kathleen Fidler’s publishers) and will be administered by the Edinburgh Children’s Book Group and the National Book League in Scotland.
As part of the selection procedure, shortlisted manuscripts will be submitted by the judges to a panel of young readers (including Catriona Goldie, Kathleen Fidler’s granddaughter) whose views will be taken into account. Details from NBL Scotland, 15a Lynedoch Street, Glasgow G3 6EF.
The winning entry will be announced on 12 February 1982, the anniversary of the publication of Kathleen Fidler’s last book, The Ghost of Sandeel Bay, an adventure story in which a group of resourceful children on holiday in Scotland outwit some sinister smugglers (Blackie, £4.95).
The Children’s Book Award
Another new award, this time for the book, published in 1980 which children have enjoyed most. The award is made by the Federation of Children’s Book Groups and this year’s winner will be announced on 3rd April in Cambridge at the Federation’s Spring Conference.
Adults and children have been ‘testing’ books during the year. Reports have been collected from all over the country and a shortlist has been re-tested. The final selection will be made in March. The award which is unusual in that it takes children’s response into account will be made annually. We shall publish the results in the next issue.
Barnsley Book Bonanza
New Dates 5-13 June
Plans are well in hand for nine days of book-based events culminating in Children’s Day on 13 June, with a fancy dress parade, author appearances, story-telling, and a grand prize-giving.
There will be competitions in schools as a run-up to the Bonanza and throughout the week a Book Hunt, starting at the Junior Library, which will involve following a trail around displays in local shop windows and finding answers to booky questions. The logo design for the Bonanza is also the result of a local competition. The winner was Graham Owen who teaches graphic design at Wakefield District College.
Althea Goes Mobile
Aside from her involvement with Dinosaur Publications Althea has joined her husband, Edward Parker, in a new venture – a mobile bookshop. Althea’s Bookshop is housed in a 22ft long caravan pulled by a Land Rover and is stocked with books from Dinosaur and Penguin. The bookshop hopes to visit schools, playgroups, book events; and, as there are plans for storytelling and competitions, it could be seen as an ‘event’ in itself. The idea is to co-operate with and complement local booksellers and school bookshops in East Anglia. For more information contact Beech House, Over, Cambridge (Tel: 0954 30324).
A New How To…
How to Organise a Children’s Book Fair has been revised and updated. The new version of this useful booklet is available from the Book Marketing Council, 19 Bedford Square, London WC1B 3HJ. Details from Michelle Oberman (01-580 6321).
Happy Birthday Babar
The first Babar the Elephant book by Jean de Brunhoff was published fifty years ago this year. After Jean’s death his son, Laurent, continued the stories and there are now a string of Babar stories published in this country by Methuen. Fifty is still quite young for an elephant – it’s also a wood excuse for a party.
Enid Blyton Lives
Or so it seems. On 23 April Knight will publish two new Famous Five Adventures. On the covers (all we’ve seen so far) no author’s name appears – just the numbers 1 and 2. Apparently this strange practice doesn’t mean that EB has found a way of sending yet more manuscripts from ‘the other side’; merely that an as yet anonymous French person has taken up the Famous Five where she left them. Anthea Bell (see page 12) has done the translations. We will have to wait to see how these Gallic adventurers compare with the originals. Meanwhile, addicts eager for a new fix should be warned they are not actually getting the genuine article, just books by numbers.
Book Events Ahead
27 April – 4 May
Lancaster Literature Festival, this year includes a mini-festival of children’s literature. Details from Margaret Eddershaw, Bath House, Bath Street, Lancaster.
Cambridge Children’s Poetry Week.