The winner of the 1982 Eleanor Farjeon Award for a distinguished contribution to children and to children’s books is the late Jean Russell whose sudden death in January we reported with great regret in an earlier issue of Books for Keeps.
Originally a children’s librarian, in 1969 Jean joined the newly-formed Federation of Children’s Book Groups where her energy, commitment and sense of fun played a large part in getting that infant parents’ movement on its feet and moving in the right direction. She spent more than five years on the committee retiring after a year as Chairman in 1977. The twinkle in her eye, the raised eyebrow which said `Why not?’ and the mixture of gutsy determination and deep caring which was essentially Jean, worked together to inspire many people to attempt more than they would have dreamed and to succeed.
From 1977 she was co-editor with Anne Wood of the magazine Books for your Children, wrote about children’s books for Mother magazine, lectured, broadcast, and edited two anthologies of original stories, The Methuen Book of Strange Tales and The Methuen Book of Sinister Tales.
Jean was completely committed to the cause of imagination in childhood and the special part books and stories have to play in it. She is a worthy companion for the distinguished previous winners of the award. If she could help it Jean never let disability and chronic asthma divert her from the all-important task of bringing children and good books together, so it is particularly appropriate that the prize money which accompanies the award will be donated to the Jean Russell Gift, a trust fund set up to honour her memory which will make a gift of books each year to a handicapped child.
Edinburgh Book Festival
The Edinburgh Book Festival is an enormous event, taking place under canvas at Charlotte Square Gardens from August 21st till September 3rd. The programme is packed with interesting visitors: besides a large number of adult authors (including John Updike, Malcolm Bradbury, William Trevor and the Liverpool Poets), the children’s Festival has arranged visits from authors who must be on the Favourites list of most children – Jan Pienkowski, Leon Garfield, Michael Rosen, Tony Hart, Joan Lingard, Mollie Hunter, Douglas Hill, Roger McGough, Joe Austin, Lavinia Derwent, Shirley Hughes, John Ryan, Robert Crowther, and many more. The BBC’s `Sixty Years of Children’s Broadcasting’ exhibition will be there, and Puffin have sponsored a Supergran competition where the winner will be dressed as the best granny. Raymond Briggs’ Snowman film will be shown and those brave enough can meet Fungus the Bogeyman in person. The Festival is open from 10 till 8 with an entry fee of £1 for adults and 50p for children, with reductions for school parties. (Contact Valerie Bierman, Edinburgh Book Festival Office, 62 George St., Edinburgh, tel. 031 556 3561 now for school bookings.) There will be over 45,000 books on display, all for sale, in what is undoubtedly the biggest book fair ever seen in Britain.
Children’s Book Week is Alive and Kicking,
writes Dorothy Wood who is organising the event this year from the National Book League.
Plans are progressing at a cracking pace and the promotion material, which we modestly think is the best ever is already ready. The mailing list has been completely reorganised, and if your group or school is not already on it why not contact us at once with your name, the name of your school or organisation, and a full address.
The week will be launched in style on September 30th in Covent Garden, and we are hoping for national coverage – The Guardian has agreed to run a parents’ competition the preceding week, and we are hoping for a spot on TV-AM on the Saturday morning before and after the Week. The national children’s drawing competition will be Design a Book Token, and this year we have divided the competition into four age ranges to make the judging a little easier. There will also be local radio and press competitions – so keep your eyes open!
Following many discussions with the relevant people it has been decided that the arrangements for author visits will once more be handled by their publishers – the people who know them best!
If you want further information please do not hesitate to call me, Dorothy Wood, at the National Book League on 01 874 6361.
Last Children’s Books of the Year Exhibition
This year’s Children’s Books of the Year exhibition will be the last, mainly because Julia MacRae Books have decided they cannot continue to publish the catalogue – another victim of rising costs. The first exhibition took place in 1970; Elaine Moss sifted through the year’s output and chose what she considered to be the best fiction and non-fiction titles published. Three years ago Barbara Sherrard-Smith took over.
The exhibition will be at the National Book League from 1-13 August and, as usual, there will be visits from authors and illustrators, storytimes, competitions, and reading and drawing corners. Admission is free. If you would like a programme of events, contact Barbara Buckley at the NBL, Book House, East Hill, London SW18 2QZ. Tel. 01 870 9055. To hire the exhibition contact Andrew Patterson, also at the NBL.
The National Book League is sad to see the last Children’s Books of the Year, but are determined to replace it with some sort of summer exhibition for children. Watch this page for details.
Another Bologna Prize
The Critici in Erba Award at the annual international Children’s Books Fair in Bologna went this year to Our Changing World, a revolving picture book about nature, by Ingrid Selberg and Andrew Miller. Pull a tab, the picture revolves and the scene changes from winter to summer or night to day. Accurate, easily accessible information to back up the novelty (Collins, 0 00 183767 2, £4.95).
Watch out for
The Children’s Summer Festival, June 8th-12th in Cheltenham with David Bellamy, Brian Cant, Musician John Williams, Atarah’s Band, Michael Hardcastle, Peter Eldin, computers for children to use and lots of other events. Contact Douglas McLean, Forest Bookshop, Coleford, Glos. (0594 33858) for details.
Storyboat ‘83. Hertfordshire Libraries are taking to the canal again for a week of fun and storytelling which begins on July 25th. More about this in our next issue. Meanwhile contact Dina Thorpe, Schools Library Centre, Tolpits Lane, Watford (Watford 27937).
To obtain this year’s Children’s Book Award poster and a copy of Pick of the Year, an annotated booklist featuring the `top eleven’ plus thirty other recommended titles, send 25p and a self-addressed A4 envelope to Sue Cole, Aptonfields, Hounslow Green, Barnston, Near Dunmow, Essex.
The poster, in full colour, is designed by Quentin Blake, and features the BFG and lists the Top Ten.