PUBLISHING & PUBLICATIONS
Dragon’s Teeth Faces Closure
Dragon’s Teeth, the magazine of the National Committee on Racism in Children’s Books, has lost its funding from the London Borough Grants Scheme (LBGS) and cannot survive without it. LBGS have told Dragon’s Teeth: ‘…your project, which is not a frontline agency, is no longer considered a funding priority.’ With something like £27m at its disposal, LBGS gave little or no warning of this decision and no interim period for Dragon’s Teeth to search out alternatives. At the time of writing there’s an appeal going in but with not a lot of hope behind it. If they do go down, Dragon’s Teeth will publish their last issue some time in June. Whilst it has a smallish circulation (about the size of BBN Children’s Books – with which BfK merged last year) Dragon’s Teeth has been an influential and radical voice on behalf of anti-racism and anti-sexism in children’s books for the last ten years and its loss is to be deplored.
If you’d like to help, write or phone Pascoe Sawyers, NCRCB, 5 Cornwall Crescent, The Basement Office, London W I I 1PH; tel: 01-221 1353.
Working with Sexually Abused Children: A resource pack for professionals
Khadj Rouf and Anne Peake (foreword by Lord Justice Butler-Sloss), The Children’s Society, Edward Rudolf House, Margery Street, London WC1X OJL; tel: (I1-8374299.
A pack containing two story books, a colouring book, and a series of practice papers for professionals in social work, health and education who work with children known or thought to be abused. For an explanatory leaflet/order form, write or phone the Publications Editor at the above address.
Two New Paperback Imprints:
Orchard Books have announced the launch of a new paperback series called Orchard Originals. The first batch of five books, all priced at £4.95 and for older readers, include Paula Fox and Rose Impey titles.
For more details write to: Orchard Books, 12a Golden Square, London WIR 3AF.
Yearling from Transworld
With a launch coming in June, Transworld have announced publishing plans for Yearling, a paperback imprint aimed at upper juniors. The marketing department clearly couldn’t resist references to thoroughbreds and galloping good reads, and neither can we because out of this stable will come trotting a posse of established writers including Robert Westall, June Counsel, John Cunliffe, Helen Cresswell, Pat Thomson and Alison Morgan. Tallyho!
For further information contact: Children’s Publicity Department, Transworld Publishers Ltd, 61/63 Uxbridge Road, London, W5 5SA; tel: 01-579 2652.
Watch our review pages from September on.
Desmond is Back!
Desmond, as in Dinosaur and Althea, has just been relaunched (in March) by Learning Development Aids, the Cambridge-based publisher of educational materials for special needs. They have even created a new trade imprint for him called Bridge Street Books, kicking oft with two new titles (one of which is a collection of short stories chosen from the many hundreds sent in to Althea by Desmond’s young fans) and the reissue of four of his most popular out-of-print adventures (Desmond Starts School, Desmond and the Monsters, Desmond at the Zoo and Desmond and the Fancy Dress Party). As part of the razzmatazz, Althea is willing to visit schools, libraries and bookshops, possibly in the company of a ten-foot high Desmond the Dinosaur costume providing some willing victim can he pressganged. If you can’t get Althea herself, the costume is available or hire to anybody organising their own mini-event.
Contact Amanda Clarke at LDA on 0223 357744 for details.
– a new author video from The Greenwich Bookbus
A 16-minute video featuring John Agard, Bernard Ashley, Anthony Browne and Pat Hutchins, four very different writers covering a wide age range, talking about their books and how they work. Originally conceived by Bob Cattell, of Greenwich Bookboat and Bookbus fame, as an aid or a sort of preview for primary schools preparing for an author visit (of which the Boat and the Bus have amassed huge experience over the years), it turns out to be a quite superb author video in its own right. High professional production values and good editing (essential for today’s sophisticated child TV viewers) make for an excellent ‘taster’ of these four particular writers in action. It would be fascinating to see what the Cattell team might come up with if they concentrated on one author and omitted the ‘preparing for a school visit’ emphasis.
The video (and accompanying booklet) costs £7.50 (it is not for hire) and is available from Bob Cattell, The Greenwich Bookbus Company, P 0 Box 347, Cutty Sark Gardens, Greenwich, London SE 10 9DB; tel: 01-853 4383.
Quest for a Kelpie
Canongate Publishing Ltd, BBC Scotland and the Scottish Libraries Association have once again combined forces to find and encourage new children’s authors in Scotland. The winning story will be published in the Canongate Kelpie Series and serialised by BBC Radio Scotland. The winning author, who must either be born or resident in Scotland, will receive a £1000 advance on royalties. Closing date for entries is 1st September 1989.
For more details write or phone: Joanne Small, Canongate Publishing Ltd, 17 Jeffrey Street, Edinburgh EH 1 IDR; tel: 031 557 5888.
Faber and Faber Write-A-Story Competition
For 12 years and under, with the best stories being published in an anthology in 1990. Chairing the panel of judges will be the Poet Laureate, Ted Hughes. Children can choose whether or not to accompany their stories (not to be longer than 1500 words) with their own illustrations. Winners, besides being published, will receive a £25 Book Token and be invited to help promote the book, attending parties and meeting the press. The closing date is 31st July 1989; winners to be notified in October. To enter children need to send in their story together with details of their name, age and address to: The Faber and Faber Write-A-Story Competition, 3 Queen Square, London WCIN 3AU.
Story Aid 1990
Following the logic of the Federation’s original and continuing mission of encouraging story telling and story reading, the more specifically focused National-Tell-a-Story Week (conceived originally by Pat Triggs) and the recent fund-raising trend inspired by the likes of Band Aid, Live Aid, Sports Aid and Comic Relief (and noting the fact that 1990 has been designated International Literacy Year), the FCBG have announced their initial thoughts concerning an ambitious project called Story Aid 1990. Whilst fund-raising over the last few years has concentrated (out of catastrophic necessity) on disasters and relief efforts, in the run-up to the 21st century it is not enough to provide sustenance and protection for the body only. Mind and soul are just as important. Competitions, publications and a variety of activities are planned – some definite, some still on the drawing board. Monies raised will be divided equally among educational projects of Save the Children Fund, UNESCO’S `Books for All Project’, and the FCBG itself.
For further information contact: Thelma Simpson, FCBG, 34 Hopetoun Place, Kirkcaldy KY2 6TY.
Scholastic Book Fairs
In the March issue we carried a short piece on the News Page about Scholastic’s new book fairs service which at the time we understood to be called Great British Book Fairs. Evidently it is to be known simply as Scholastic Book Fairs because the company is well known anyway for both its book and magazine publishing. Also, just in case there was any confusion, there is no connection between Scholastic Book Fairs and the Dorset based company School Book Fairs Ltd.
For further details the contact is: Chris Day on 092681 7300.
Macmillan Prize 1989
The Macmillan Prize, now in its fourth year, is a unique award open exclusively to art students with the to be applauded intention of encouraging and introducing new talent into children’s book illustration. This year’s jury comprises the elite of established British children’s book illustrators (Raymond Briggs, Tony Ross, Michael Foreman. Shirley Hughes) who were unanimous in their decision:
First Prize (£500)-Amanda Harvey, from Chelsea School of Art, for her work, ‘A Close Call’.
Second Prize (£300)-Simon Buckingham, also from Chelsea School of Art, for his work, ‘The Amazing Flying Bed’.
Third Prize (£100) – jointly given to Emma Phillips from Bristol Polytechnic for ‘The Last Tree on the Whole Earth’, and to Patrick Yee from Camberwell School of Art and Crafts for ‘The Adventures of Cha Cha’.
None of the work for which prizes have been awarded is or necessarily will be published.
Children’s Book of the Year Award 1989
Organised by Lancashire County Library and sponsored by the National Westminster Bank, this award for fiction for 11-14 year olds, chosen by children themselves, has just published its shortlist from which the eventual winner will be chosen and then announced in July 1989:
Children of the Camps, Clare Cooper, Hodder, 0 340 41364 6, £7.95
The Thorn Key, Louise Cooper, Orchard, 1 85213 132 2, £7.95
The Empty Sleeve, Leon Garfield, Viking Kestrel, O 670 80118 6, £7.95
Quake, Michael Hardcastle, Faber, 0 571 14698 8, £6.95
Master of Fiends, Douglas Hill, Gollancz, 0 575 04095 5, £7.95
The Edge of War, Dorothy Horgan, Oxford, 0 19 271574 7, £6.95
Groosham Grange, Anthony Horowitz, Methuen, 0 416 02462 9, £7.50
The Mole and Beverley Miller, Allan Frewin Jones, Hodder, 0 340 41320 4, £6.95
Red Sky in the Morning, Elizabeth Laird, Heinemann, 0 434 94714 8, £7.95
Stan, Ann Pilling, Viking Kestrel, 0 67(1 81770 8, £6.95
Further details from: Tracey Hollins on 0253 729943/4
Commendation in the Graphics Prize at Bologna Book Fair
Lucy Cousins was awarded a commendation in the Graphics Prize for her illustrations in Portly’s Hat which was also a runner-up in the 1987 Macmillan Prize for a Children’s Picture Book (0 333 46692 6, £2.95).
1989 Guardian Children’s Fiction Award
Stephanie Nettell reports
MCC Berkshire springs from nowhere (he sayshe comes from Reading, but significantly mispronounces it), charming Ailsa and her mother into allowing him to live in their antiques shop and their customers into buying their junk, and all with a virtuoso performance of stories – twelve of them, marvellous pastiches of different genres, horror, romance, farce, detection, tragedy, against which the real world seems powerless.
Reading Geraldine McCaughrean’s A Pack of Lies is like playing Pass the Parcel. Each story peels away to reveal another one, the storyteller, MCC, not only casting a spell over his fellow characters but enchanting his own creator into joining them in the happy-ever-after world of his own fiction. It is an unembarrassed vindication of all escapism.
In an intriguing puzzle-ending, Ailsa and hey mother realise what must be happening – that neither MCC nor they themselves can be real – so MCC’s creator, a young man who escapes his pathetic, sickly self by writing, decides it is time to stop his characters getting out of hand. And then, in a marvellous last twist, he changes his mind, abandons the real world and joins them in theirs. This ending – which I really ought not to be revealing, except that it is the essence of any description of the book – might have been spelt out a little more for younger readers (and two of the judges!) who have been swept along till then by the fun and entertainment of the stories, but for teens it will be a neat surprise to tease out.
More than anything, A Pack of Lies is an exuberant celebration of fiction’s spell, a smiling surrender to the grip of the unruly imagination, a playful introduction to the riches of style that lie waiting in books. Itself a tribute to the sheer power of story, it must be the ideal recipient of a children’s fiction award.
Our runner-up, Josie Smith, by Magdalen Nabb, vivaciously illustrated by Pirkko Vainio,. is one of the youngest ever finalists for the Guardian Award. Try as they might, judges of literary prizes aye almost always compelled to choose the older novels that naturally encompass more complex issues and more subtle emotions. But here is a reading-aloud book that tackles all sorts of important feelings in a small child’s life in a style that combines pure simplicity with liveliness and rare skill.
In three stories, Josie, a sturdily independent rising-six, struggles against the odds to buy her mum a birthday present, hates her best friend, makes such a mess she reckons she’d better run away to her gran, and falls in love with a cat. The humour, the everyday detail, the spot-on truth of the conversations, will appeal to older independent readers, while the skilful repetitions and cadences, the only too recognisable feelings and events, will capture young listeners.
The judges for the Guardian Award must be themselves writers for children, and this year they were Douglas Hill, Dick King-Smith, Ann Pilling and Ann Schlee, with me, as children’s books editor, in the chair.
A Pack of Lies, Geraldine McCaughrean, Oxford, 0 19 271612 3, £7.95
Josie Smith, Magdalen Nabb, ill. Piykko Vainio, Collins, 0 00 190005 6, £4.95
The Children’s Book Award 1988
Like the Lancashire County Library Award, this award from the Federation of Children’s Book Groups has the distinctive quality of involving children as judges, but its catchment is far wider and broader. This year’s award, the ninth, involved 3680 children from all over the UK, reading, testing and assessing books. A shortlist of six titles was announced at the Federation’s Annual Conference in Brighton earlier this year:
Can’t You Sleep, Little Bear?, Martin Waddell, ill. Barbara Firth, Walker, 0 7445 0796 0, £6.95
Dr Xargle’s Book of Earthlets, Jeanne Willis, ill. Tony Ross, Andersen, 0 86264 213 2, £5.95
Ms Wiz Spells Trouble, Terence Blacker, Piccadilly, 1 85340 022 X, £5.25
Matilda, Roald Dahl, ill. Quentin Blake, Cape, 0 224 02572 4, £8.50
The Monster Garden, Vivien Alcock, Methuen, 0 416 09192 X, £7.95
Red Sky in the Morning, Elizabeth Laird, Heinemann, 0 434 94714 8, £7.95
The winner, announced on 1 May at the award ceremony in York, was Matilda by Roald Dahl and Quentin Blake.
Mother Goose Award 1989
Anne Marley, one of the judges, gives an account of this year’s award for `the best newcomer to British children’s book illustration:
Have you ever watched the Grand National’? Making this year’s Mother Goose Award was rather like watching the race (no bets, of course, but all with our own soft spots for certain entries!). It was a crowded field, over 40 in the running from a wide variety of stables, large and small. There was considerable excitement at the quality of the field.
There were lots of thrills and spills, with quite a lot falling at the early fences for a variety of reasons – not eligible (publishers, please note the terms of the Award – for the most promising newcomer to children’s book illustration!), not enough substance, or perhaps too derivative, but a respectable number made it round the course to the second circuit (the final panel meeting). There was a lot of excitement and jostling for position as they approached Beecher’s Brook (decision-making time) with the four who finally made it over and on to the final stretch being encouraged by their supporters in the stands (the Panel) who hotly argued the merits of each entry back and forth. Four entries – A Balloon for Grandad. Bush Vark’s First Day Out, Rainforest and The Secret in the Matchbox – finally made it over the finishing line with first and second places hotly contested – a real neck-and-neck finish. But, as with every event like this, one entry has to come in first, and Bush Vark just had the edge over Matchbox and won by a short head.
But enough of this now rather strained analogy.
Bush Vark’s First Day Out, written and illustrated by Charles Fuge, is already a Macmillan Prize winner and deservedly so. for its quite stunning illustrations. It was undoubtedly the most original book with its plethora of amazing creatures all trying to devour Bush Vark, who ambles along, oblivious of any trouble, rather like the hen in Rosie’s Walk. Each page holds something new for the eye to feast on and linger over. His use of colour – oranges, reds, purples, murky greens- all should clash horribly, but don’t, instead creating richness and depth in this make-believe world.
The cover almost belies the content; the first impression is rather frightening, but the author’s ability in creating this endearing little creature, the Bush Vark, brings in a gentle and amusing vein which will delight the reader. He makes great use of the space available, without feeling obliged to cram every nook and cranny with detail, giving the reader time to appreciate the variety of illustration on each page.
He undoubtedly takes risks in his illustration but the excitement and originality of his artwork make him a worthy winner and we look forward with anticipation to his next piece of work.
It has to be said though that much lively debate went into the final result, with almost a stalemate at one point. The Secret in the Matchbox. by Val Willis and illustrated by John Shelley, would no doubt any other year have taken the Golden Egg, for here we had another very promising newcomer. This tongue-in-cheek moral tale for teachers is perfectly complemented by the illustrations, populated by characters who are all a little larger than life. The pages are full of interest – the story can practically be told by the illustrations alone – something we librarians like a lot! There is so much to see in the pictures, with the borders adding even more detail, that the eve sometimes isn’t certain what to concentrate on next! But the vibrancy and humour show throughout and the varied angles the illustrator uses add an extra dimension.
The oriental pastiche perhaps intrudes a little and the children’s expressions could have a little too much similarity, but these were small points in an otherwise excellent first book. It was, incidentally, refreshing and very welcoming to see a realistic multicultural mix in this particular classroom.
It is proof of the merit of these two books that Rainforest, written and illustrated by Helen Cowcher, and A Balloon for Grandad, written by Nigel Gray and illustrated by Jane Ray, were edged down the field.
A cautionary note on our environment is sounded in the striking illustrations of Rainforest which highlight a real ecological problem. The vivid colours of the jungle creatures are all wonderfully captured, but the most amazing piece of illustration has to be the page featuring the howler monkey screeching his warning to his fellow animals of the impending arrival of man and his devastating machines. There is a great sense of drama in these loose, wet and bold illustrations, but the quality isn’t always maintained on every page. However, the panel felt that here was a talented illustrator, whose future contributions we would welcome with interest.
Jane Ray’s illustrations for A Balloon for Grandad, in contrast to those of Rainforest, are quite precise and detailed. There is a warmth depicted in the illustrations of the family when Sam, the boy, discovers his balloon has been blown away and he is comforted by his father. The fantasy of the balloon being blown to where his grandfather Abdullah lives is beautifully handled in these quiet reflective pictures, whose varied perspectives and unusual angles engage both the eye and imagination. It is interesting to note that the panel recognised Jane Ray’s talent in 1987 in her illustrations of Island of the Children, but since this was not considered to be a substantial enough contribution for Mother Goose, being marginal to the poetry and mostly decorative, it was not eligible.
So, that was another year – a good one on the whole and promising well for the future of children’s book illustration, though as usual we bemoaned the lack of good information books being entered by publishers, and despite the tact that two of our shortlist had a multicultural content, not enough of the other submissions did. But we finished feeling confident that next year, as we slip into the 1990s, we shall have even more to look forward to, if this year is anything to go by.
Bush Vark’s First Day Out, Charles Fuge, Macmillan, 0 333 46280 7, £6.50
The Secret in the Matchbox, Val Willis. ill. John Shelley, Deutsch, 0 233 98088 1, £5.50
Rainforest, Helen Cowcher, Deutsch, 0 233 98266 3, £5.95
A Balloon for Grandad, Nigel Gray, ill. Jane Ray. Orchard, 1 85213 125 X, £6.25
The Mother Goose Award is sponsored by Books For Children Ltd.
The judges this year were Anthony Browne, Sally Grindley, Pat Hutchins, Lisa Kopper, Colin McNaughton, Anne Marley, Elaine Moss and Chris Powling.
Anne Marley is at present on secondment from Hampshire School Library Service to set up a Multicultural Resources Centre for the county.