Guardian Children’s Fiction Award
This year the Guardian Children’s Fiction Award is twenty years old. To celebrate the occasion Kestrel is publishing Guardian Angels, a collection of original short stories edited by Stephanie Nettell, Guardian Children’s Book Editor, and written by fifteen of the past winners. Ted Hughes, Leon Garfield, Barbara Willard, Anita Desai, Peter Dickinson are just five of the contributors who have all created different variations on the theme of the word ‘guardian’. The collection – like the word – will find most readers in the 10-16 age-range. Good for, reading aloud too.
Guardian Angels, 0 670 81077 0, £6.95.
The winner of this years Guardian Award is James Aldridge for The True Story of Spit MacPhee (Viking Kestrel, 0 670 81213 7, £6.95. To be issued in Puffin Plus in 1988). James Aldridge is the first Australian winner of the award. This book – for the top of the age range – is about a young boy in a small Australian settlement fighting his grandfather and all his neighbours for a say in his destiny.
The runner-up is: Catherine Sefton’s Starry Night (Hamish Hamilton, 0 241 11795 X, £5.95). Another story for older readers of growing up, family life and divided loyalties on the borders between Northern Ireland and the Republic. Starry Night has already been named as one of the winners of The Other Award.
Ferdinand is Fifty
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the publication in this country of Munro Leaf’s delightful story of Ferdinand the Bull.
The story of the little bull who would rather smell flowers than fight was written in forty minutes on a rainy October afternoon in 1935. Munro Leaf had in mind the creation of an amusing story for his friend and neighbour Robert Lawson to illustrate. Together they submitted their work to the children’s book editor at Viking and on 11th September 1936 The Story of Ferdinand was published in America. It was published in the UK in the following year by Hamish Hamilton.
This tale of a peaceful animal who could not be goaded into violence appeared at a time when the eyes of the world -were focused upon Spain and the civil war being fought there. Although neither Munro Leaf or Robert Lawson intended Ferdinand to be anything more than a story for children, this little bull, who would rather sit under his favourite cork tree and smell the flowers than fight, was thrust into international prominence. He was idolised, psychoanalysed and merchandised, as well as being turned into the subject of a Walt Disney film, a stage play and a pop song.
Gradually Ferdinand settled down. Fifty years later he is still going strong and has been translated into more than 60 languages. An exhibition to mark this anniversary is being held at The Children’s Library, The Barbican Centre, London, from 7th-28th April.
The Story of Ferdinand, Munro Leaf, Hamish Hamilton, 0 241 90177 4, £4.95 hbk; Picture Puffin, 0 14 050.234 3, £1.50 pbk.
Twenty years of Wild Things
On 6th April 1967, The Bodley Head published a picture book by an American artist which – despite the fact that it had been published in New York three years before and had won the Caldecott Medal – had been turned down by every publisher in London. Why? Because a great many adults feared that its characters would induce nightmares and encourage their children to behave badly.
Reactions to the announcement of the appearance of Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are on The Bodley Head’s list were so strong that the book became the subject of a late-night TV discussion programme. Controversy raged in the press. The TLS reviewer, when criticised on the letters page by a reader who objected to the negative review, replied:
‘I did not think the book deserved a long review. I find the creatures pointlessly coarse and brutish, and I would not dream of paying 18s. for it to give anyone’. (TLS)
Other critics thought differently:
‘A piece of audacious fantasy.’ (Naomi Lewis, Observer)
‘This picture book could hardly be bettered – though its price is also handsome.’ (Books & Bookmen)
‘A beautiful book, recommended to all those who believe that critics can be mistaken about what frightens children while real artists never confuse fantasy and horror.’ (Margaret Meek, School Librarian)
Twenty years on Where the Wild Things Are is an undisputed children’s classic – acclaimed for its perfect blend of text and pictures.
To celebrate the anniversary The Bodley Head are publishing Posters by Maurice Sendak (0 370 31038 I, £12.95), a collection of 22 full-colour prints, some never before published, designed originally for book events and theatre productions. The prints are large size and suitable for framing – a real treat for Sendak lovers of all ages.
A Quest for a Kelpie
Last year BBC Scotland, the Scottish Library Association and Canongate Publishing Limited joined forces in a quest for a new work of fiction for 8-12 year olds. The competition was open to all residents of Scotland and anyone of Scottish birth and it was assumed that their experience of Scotland would be reflected in any entry.
Frank Delaney headed a panel of judges consisting of Elaine Moss, Mollie Hunter, Mary Baxter (Director of Book Trust, Scotland) and Joan Morrison (Children’s Fiction Buyer, W. H. Smith), and in the autumn the winner was announced. By sheer coincidence, the winning title was Quest for a Kelpie, the first book by Frances Hendry who lives in Nairn where the book is set at the time of the battle of Culloden.
The prize was publication by Canongate both in hardback (0 86241 128 9, £6.95) and in the paperback Kelpie series (0 86241 136 X, £1.95), and dramatisation on BBC Radio Scotland. The author herself has adapted the book for radio in six parts due to start on Wednesday, 29th April in the afternoon.
Canongate were delighted with the quality of Mrs Hendry’s book and are about to launch their next ‘Quest’ with the winning title being published in hardback in 1988.
National Tell a Story Week 2nd – 9th May
The theme for this year’s annual celebrations of stories, promoted by the Federation of Children’s Book Groups, is time and space.
During Tell a Story Week groups all over the country – libraries, schools, playgroups, book groups – organise events and activities to demonstrate the magic of stories and storytelling. Many authors and illustrators will be taking part and anyone who shares the Federation’s aims for the week is invited to join in.
The Federation has a tradition of holding the launch outside London; this year the national launch of Tell a Story Week will be in Steeple Ashton, Wiltshire.
For further details contact: Jan Sanderson (NTASW Publicity Officer), 15 Shadwell Grove, Radcliffe-on-Trent, Nottingham NG12 2ET.
The IBBY Seminar 1987
Stuck for Words: the case for dual-language books for children.
It will be held on 21st May at the Triangle Cinema, Aston University, Birmingham, 10.00-4.30.
Details from Sheila Ray, Tan y capel, Bont Dolgadfan, Llanbrynmair, Powys SY19 7BB (tel: 06503 217).