Change Round at Penguin-New Editor for Puffin
Tony Lacy who followed Kaye Webb as chief editor of Puffin in 1979 changed jobs at the beginning of September and became editorial director of Allen Lane (the Penguin hardback imprint). Into his shoes stepped Liz Attenborough moving from being chief editor at Kestrel.
In his four years at Puffin Tony Lacey introduced new series like Puffin Plus a fresh attempt after the ill-fated Peacocks, to identify books for ‘Older Readers’ – and Puffin Classics. He’s been particularly good at reflecting the mood of the moment by rushing out books like the best-selling You Can Do the Cube, and snapping up the Dungeons and Dragons spin-off, The Warlock of Firetop Mountain series – do-it-yourself fantasy game adventures which now have a huge following.
Liz Attenborough with six years at Kestrel, preceded by a year with Piccolo and five years at Heinemann, is well-experienced in children’s books. She intends to continue as an innovator and, we hear, she already has ideas for developing picture books for babies, and taking a fresh look at the rather neglected Young Puffin list.
The Other Award: 1983
The Other Award. inaugurated in 1975, is given for progressive books of literary merit: It seeks to draw attention to important new writing and illustration for children, and to recognise writers and illustrators who are taking positive steps to widen the literary experience of young people today..
Books commended this year are:
Everybody Here compiled by Michael Rosen: Bodley Head. (hbk) 0 370 30944 8 £3.95. An exuberant collection of stories, facts, photographs, recipes and games that reflects and celebrates the cultural and ethnic diversity of Britain today – from Caribbean to Turkish Cypriot. A compelling panorama of the variety and depth of British society. Appealingly accessible to very young readers.
Nowhere to Play by Karusa, ill. Monika Doppert, trans. by Judith Elkin; A & C Black hbk) 0 7136 2236 9, £3.95. Based on a true incident in a Venezuelan shanty town, this picture story book for younger readers tells how the children and the adults join together to campaign for a place to play, and then build it themselves. An exciting multi-ethnic and non-sexist store of the present-day Third World with direct parallels to similar plat campaigns in Britain.
Will of Iron by Gerard Melia: Longman ‘Knockouts (pbk) 1 582 20036 9, 95p. The early life of Will Thorne, the founder of the General and Municipal Workers’ Union. has inspired this sensitively written play which traces the struggle of Thorne and his fellow workers to overcome the hardship and poverty of their condition and take steps to organise themselves into a Union for the unskilled. For older readers. this dramatic play can lie read or performed.
Talking in Whispers by James Watson: Gollancz, 0 575 03272 3, £5.95. Set in Chile, this tensely written novel for older readers draws on the tragic events of the last decade. Talking in whispers depicts and discusses the political realities of this military dictatorship and pays homage to the courage of those who continue to confront and struggle against the repressive regime.
Changes at Bookworm
Bookworm, the paperback mail order book club for children aged 5-12, was launched by Heffers. the booksellers of Cambridge, and E.J. Arnold of Leeds, in partnership in September 1975, and has members in 7,000 schools. The club is now solely owned by Heffers. who will continue the selection of books as they have always done and now also undertake the distribution of books from Cambridge.
For details write to: John Welch, The Bookworm Club. Heffers Booksellers. 20 Trinity Street. Cambridge CB2 3NG.
NBL attacked over plans for CBY replacement
The decision of Julia MacRae Books to cease publication of the Children’s Books of the Year catalogue meant that the National Book League had to consider the future of the exhibition.
Some years ago now the NBL began to change the image of CBY. Visits from authors and illustrators, storytimes. competitions, drawing corners, and other activities for children, books displayed on stands disguised as castles, space rockets and the like, turned the exhibition from a sober array of books to a jolly, child-centred event with, it was hoped, appeal to ‘ordinary parents and (since the NBL’s move to Wandsworth) the local community. This year’s exhibition was the 13th, and the third since Barbara Sherrard-Smith took over as selector from Elaine Moss.
In reassessing the situation the NBL has decided to return to sobriety with an exhibition for adults based on the Signal Review, edited by Nancy Chambers, which appeared for the first time earlier this year. In addition there will be a thematic ‘jamboree for kids’ held during the summer in association with Wandsworth Libraries.
The announcement of these plans has raised quite a storm. Brian Alderson (of the Times) Stephanie Nettell (of the Guardian) Robert Leeson and Rosemary Stones wrote to The Bookseller in July criticising the NBL for ‘the arbitrary way in which the National Book League has shuffled off its responsibilities’ for the exhibition and complaining about the lack of public discussion about the future of this major event. They asked the NBL to reveal who was consulted and what alternatives were considered in coming to what they call a ‘hasty decision’.
In reply Martyn Goff, director of the NBL, claims. ‘We tried every means of continuing it in its present form. They could find no publisher willing to take over the catalogue. Mr Goff did not reveal whether, as an Arts Council funded body. the NBL had considered publishing the catalogue itself as a non profit-making project. (The newest NBL booklist We All Live Here has 111 annotated titles on 34 pages and sells for £l.50: The Signal Review, with 349 titles and 84 pages, this year cost £3.95).
The Signal Review, said Mr Goff, was selected as the best basis for the exhibition from ‘several alternatives’. Comment in the reviews. he added, ‘is geographically and professionally wide… selections are made by a team of unpaid teachers and librarians nationwide. This also includes such names as Judy Taylor, Elaine Moss, Peggy Heeks and Margaret Meek … In international terms it would be harder to find a stronger team. The NBL already has a well-established relationship with Signal via the Signal Bookguides which it sells and uses as the basis for touring exhibitions. The attractions of extending the connection are evident.
The first Signal Review. published earlier this year, was idiosyncratic and interesting. (Being the basis of the annual NBL exhibition will probably help to assure its future – a happy outcome.) But it lacks the coherence of a single selector’s vision, something which made CBY such a useful and useable tool. No doubt its new status as the annual exhibition will affect both the form and the nature of the Review. We shall watch what happens with interest.
More Moves in Publishing
Publishers continue to play musical chairs.
Just as Collins was busy sorting out and absorbing Granada, news came that Hamlyn Paperbacks had been sold to Arrow Books Ltd (a paperback division of Hutchinson). Granada Dragons will continue under that name but for a limited period only. (Granada having decided to move out of publishing doesn’t want its name left on books.) Arrow will continue to publish Beavers – the Hamlyn children’s paperback imprint – at least for the next two years. Sparrow (Arrow’s children’s imprint) has been doing some enterprising publishing recently, particularly in picture books: it will be interesting to watch what happens to the Beaver list in new surroundings.
On the first of January next year another name joins the game – Piccadilly Press, a new independent company. The Press however isn’t quite as new as its name. With Brenda Gardner as editor it is really a new incarnation for Pepper Press, an imprint which has had its problems since it was set up in 1979 by E. J. Arnold. Less than two years later, with a list 22 titles strong, Pepper, threatened with closure. was bought by Evans. This year Evans sold Pepper along with the rest of its UK publishing operation to Bell and Hyman. Brenda Gardner did not move with her list. Now with new backers and some of the Pepper titles which she has arranged to take back from Bell and Hyman she plans to develop Piccadilly Press along Pepper lines.
Bell and Hyman. with Pepper, Evans, and its own titles, now has over 200 children’s titles under its umbrella and has plans for developing a strong list: Bell and Hyman’s Children’s Books.