First Director Of The Children’s Book Foundation
The Children’s Book Foundation is a newly-created part of Book Trust (formerly the National Book League) which will take over all its activities for the under-sixteens. The first Director of this important and exciting division is Eunice McMullen who started her new job at the beginning of October.
Eunice is well-qualified for her new post. She was for several years an English teacher in a middle school in Rochdale where she had charge of the library. During that time she organised book fairs, ran an award-winning school bookshop and, with her husband Nigel, produced Bookworm, a magazine for children. She eventually left teaching to work for Penguin where she has been running the Puffin Club and the new school bookselling projects. She is also the author of two children’s books.
We hope to hear from Eunice about her plans for the future when she has had time to settle in. Meanwhile we wish her and the Foundation every success and the best of luck.
Help with Books – from Librarians
Take Off Into Reading comes from Hampshire County Libraries. A useful fold-out leaflet for parents (and teachers) with an annotated selection of 34 books arranged under First Steps, Gaining Confidence, Taking Off. There’s also a short list of Books for Parents.
Now Read On from Camden Libraries lists 100 titles (no annotations) arranged under First Steps, Getting Going, Moving On and Taking Off. Titles range from John Burningham’s The Blanket and Ron Maris’ Better Move on Frog! to Grinny and Tom’s Midnight Garden. Each title is prefixed by a star which children are invited to colour in: ‘red for the best, yellow for good, blue for OK’. There’s a page of advice to adults which stresses sharing, enjoyment.
Also from Camden Libraries Your Child in Hospital – advice and annotated booklist compiled in association with NAWCH.
Developing Readers by Judith Graham and Elizabeth Plackett comes from the School Library Association. A selection made with the older child in mind ‘who needs encouragement to read’. Nevertheless the annotations would be of interest to anyone involved with children and books. The experience of the authors as teachers and researchers (both worked with Margaret Meek on Achieving Literacy) shines through and their comments are worth reading even if you know the books! In their introduction they say they have chosen books ‘by authors who have a real story to tell and who have taken pride and care in the telling of it’. None ‘were written expressly to teach “reading” or to be useful for “remedials”. The invitation of each text is that the reader should engage with the author, and thus discover more about reading itself.’
Obtainable from SLA, Liden Library, Barrington Close, Liden, Swindon SN3 6HF. £2.90 (£2.40 to SLA members).
A NEW PUBLISHER ON THE SCENE
The American publishers Simon and Schuster now have a new company in Britain with a rapidly developing children’s list. So far they have published moving picture books and novelty books (lift the flaps, re-usable stickers); for the future they promise teenage fiction, information books and ‘innovative activity books’.
From the first months’ output we’d pick
Goodnight Jessie (0 671 65463 2) and Hurry Up Jessie (0 671 65462 4) by Harriet Ziefert and Mavis Smith, £3.95 each. In each book Jessie searches for and gathers up her possessions while Mum waits and calls off-page. Ingeniously designed die cuts in the page give the reader Jessie’s view from outside the cupboard, drawer, washing machine, etc., and then, as the page turns, a view of Jessie from inside. Nicely shaped cumulative tales with lots of opportunities for reader involvement.
Old Henry (0 671 65478 0, £5.95), a rhyming story by Joan W Blos with gorgeous pictures by Stephen Gammell, is a gently moral tale, a plea for mutual tolerance which ends optimistically. Stephen Gammell’s pictures give vibrant life to the unorthodox Henry in his neglected old house and to his tidy-minded neighbours.
The Third Class Genie on stage
Bob Leeson has adapted his very popular and funny fantasy adventure for the stage. The work was specially commissioned by the Phoenix Arts Theatre will have its world premiere on 26th November. Performances, matinee and evening, Tuesdays to Saturdays, will continue until 23rd January.
Details from the Phoenix Box Office (tel: 0533 554854).
Children’s Book Week – The Right Direction
Bob Cattell, CBW Organiser at Book Trust It’s over! But did it work?
That’s a question for you not me. And the answer will much depend on where you are standing. There are strong indications, however, that Children’s Book Week gained a great deal of ground from the regional emphasis of Book Cover UK and the Roadshows. The strong local identification of book events this year has led to a real leap forward in the media coverage the campaign has received and consequently we have had an explosion in the numbers of enquiries from schools, libraries and even bookshops.
The crude statistics are not too meaningful – but sales of promotional material were up more than 50% (mind you, I challenge anyone to do better than Tony Ross’s designs for this year) and we estimate that nearly 5,000 events took place involving in one way or another about 1,500,000 children.
But how good were they? I suspect some were brilliant and some diabolical. I know some were brilliant. My experience travelling with the northern roadshow bus took me to Belfast and Millom – the two events for which I have the highest praise. Quite different from each other – the Northern Ireland Y.L.G. had put together a vast programme with authors covering most of the province; the Millom event was very local, very friendly. But both were professionally organised, attention was paid to smallest details and the result was not lacking the slightest spontaneity. They were fun for all involved, press coverage was brilliant, thousands of children experienced one of the best outings they’d known and I stood by in admiration.
I’m told by the hardened travellers on the southern bus that the events in Exmouth and Blackburn were every bit as good. And others were pretty good, and every now and then we came up against poor planning and lack of courtesy to authors and thought, ‘We’ve still got a long way to go.’ Astonishingly some organisers still haven’t grasped the basics such as the idea that authors arriving for a full afternoon session might possibly be given something to eat and drink before they begin.
But this isn’t the time for moans and gripes. What has made my involvement with Children’s Book Week so enjoyable has been the enthusiasm of people all over the country. There appears to be a very good chance that a new sponsor will be secured for the 1988 campaign. And I am quite sure it will once again be bigger and better than ever.
Sorry but we will be increasing the price of the annual UK subscription to Books for Keeps from £6.90 to £7.20 as from 1st January 1988.