VAT on Books?
Throughout the book trade concern is growing that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Nigel Lawson, may be planning to impose Value Added Tax on books and periodicals, discontinuing the exemption which books have traditionally enjoyed – even during the second World War the government made a point of not imposing a ‘tax on knowledge’. Rumour and speculation abound: tax will be at the standard rate (15%); a lower rate will be introduced (5%); tax will be limited to books, newspapers and periodicals considered to be ‘for entertainment only’! (Think about it!). Whatever the truth, the implications of imposing any tax of this kind are far-reaching and profound. If book prices rise (as has been calculated) by 20% how will it affect publishers, booksellers, book buyers, and education in particular. Local Authorities can claim back VAT (so would probably choose to centralise book purchase – no more special trips to the bookshop with £10 from the PTA to spend); Universities cannot. If sales fall will publishing and bookselling become even more conservative and risk-averse? Will the ‘small businesses’ finally have to give up the struggle and let the big corporations take over? Will it eventually mean less choice for the book buyer?
Fears of the consequences are widespread and needless to say a vigorous campaign is being mounted to dissuade the government from such action. We will report progress in the January issue.
The Emil Short List
This is the third year of the Kurt Maschler/Emil Award founded in memory of Erich Kastner and Walter Trier. It is given to a children’s book in which text and illustration are both excellent, each enhancing and balancing the other.
Elaine Moss, Fiona Waters and Frank Delaney, this year’s judges, have chosen a short list of five books from the 70 plus submitted.
The Story of the Dancing Frog, Quentin Blake, Cape, 0 224 02152 4, £5.50
Granpa, John Burningham, Cape, 0 224 02279 2, £4.95
Alice‘s Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll, ill. Justin Todd, Gollancz, 0 575 03263 4, £6.95
Christmas, Jan Pienkowski, Heinemann, 0 434 95649 X, £5.95
The Woman in the Moon and other tales of forgotten heroines, James Riordan, ill. Angela Barrett, Hutchinson, 0 19 156760 2, £5.95
The winner who receives £1,000 and a bronze figure of Emil (from Emil and the Detectives, created by Kastner, first drawn by Trier and published in Germany by Kurt Maschler) will be announced on 29 November.
Books, Reading and the Handicapped Child
In the September issue of Books for Keeps we reported Margaret Marshall’s involvement with the setting up of a National Library and Information Centre on Books and Reading and the Handicapped Child – a project which is being sponsored by the Enid Blyton Trust for children. The project has now appointed a Librarian and the job has gone to Beverley Mathias, well-known to many BfK readers as Children’s Books Officer at the National Book League. Bev, though sad to be leaving the NBL, is clearly excited by the challenge of her new post and looking forward to setting up the new library, which everyone is hopeful will open as planned in the Spring of next year.
We will keep you in touch with progress.
Sendak for Christmas
A new opera with music by Oliver Knussen based on Maurice Sendak’s Higglety Pigglety Pop is joining their previous collaboration Where the Wild Things Are in a double bill being performed this season by the Glyndebourne Touring Opera Company.
Even if the operas don’t come your way there’s plenty of Sendak available for at least one book to find a way into every Christmas stocking.
For the youngest and beginner readers choose, Hector Protector and As I Went Over the Water – two nursery rhymes (Picturemacs, 0 333 37148 8, £1.95); for something a little different choose the Nutshell Library (Collins, 0 00 195551 9 £4.95) four perfect small-size books in a cardboard slipcase – including Alligators all Around and Chicken Soup with Rice; for all ages choose Higglety Pigglety Pop or There Must be More to Life (Puffin, 0 14 03.1692 2, £1.95). It’s the story of Jennie who had everything but wanted more. ‘There must be more to life than having everything,’ she declares and goes out into the world to find it. As with all Sendak words and pictures stir the imagination to plunge beneath the surface of the story where each reader makes his or her own discoveries. Like The Wild Things, not to be missed.
Also not to be missed but more for a family present than a stocking filler is Nutcracker, a new translation by Ralph Manheim of Hoffman’s classic Christmas tale (Bodley Head, 0 370 30840 9, £12.50 until 31 January, thereafter £14.95) with 100 dazzling full colour illustrations by Sendak.
Ms Muffett Fights Back
A selection of non-sexist books made by Rosemary Stones from the Penguin list. It is thoroughly useful with an intelligent and careful introduction which puts the issue of sexism in children’s books in context. Over 100 annotated entries (divided into books for under 6, 7-8, 8+ and 9-12+) are followed by 56 for Young Adults, from Penguin and Puffin Plus. In addition there are lists (without annotations) of Books by, for and about Women, and details of some useful sources of information.
All this FREE from Penguin Books, Bath Road, Harmondsworth, Middlesex, UB7 0DA.
A play version of C S Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe will be staged at the Westminster Theatre, London, in a special season for families and schools. The director, Richard H Williams, already has successful productions of The Jungle Book and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to his credit. Marty Flood, the American designer, who worked on the National Theatre’s production of Hiawatha has the challenge of creating a Narnia that will be acceptable to a theatre full of readers who all know exactly what it looks like.
The first performance is scheduled for 20 November and a national tour is planned for early 1985.
The immensely successful Cosgrove Hall film version of Wind in the Willows is being repeated this month and Thames TV announce seven new episodes to be transmitted on Fridays (early evening) in November and December, with more in 1985.
Enthusiasts will find plenty of tie-ins – not counting Kenneth Grahame’s original! – including a Wind in the Willows Activity Book from Deutsch (£1.95) and four new picture paperbacks from Thames/Magnet (1.25 each).