Millie, Audrey, Verna, Selina, Pearl, Carmen Rhona, Mary and Elaine, photos by Blackfriars Photography Project, Peckham Publishing Project, 0 906464 12 9, £2.25
A photo-story book for the very young with no words, Our Kids is a series of colour photographs of Black South London children involved in everyday activities – on the swings, helping to bath the baby, buying new shoes, going to the laundrette, etc. Produced co-operatively by the mothers of the children in the pictures, a community photography project and a community publisher, Our Kids is an outstanding example of alternative anti-racist publishing for young readers.
Journey to Jo’burg: a South African Story
Beverley Naidoo, Longman ‘Knockouts’, 0 582 25208 3, £4.25 (hbk); 0 582 20514 X, £1.10 (pbk)
Frightened that their baby sister will die, 13-year-old Naledi and her younger brother Tiro run away together to Johannesburg to find their mother who works there as a maid, and bring her back. The places and events they see on the way and the people they meet – a pass raid, separate buses for white and Black, the white Madam’s opulent house, Grace who lives in Soweto – reveal at every turn the grim realities of the apartheid system. Through this story of two Black South African children, Beverley Naidoo shows the monstrous injustice of apartheid in terms that young readers will be able to understand. 7-10
Geraldine Kaye, Deutsch, 0 233 97614 0, £4.95
Half-English and half-Ghanian, 11-year-old Comfort Kwatey-Jones spends the year, after her mother’s death, travelling – from England to her father in Accra and to her grandmother in Wanwangeri village, and back to her other grandparents in Penfold, Kent. ‘You get pulled apart belonging to two places’, Comfort’s Ghanian father tells her but this warm and sensitive book tells how Comfort draws on the differences and the similarities of her rich cultural heritages to develop ‘an eagle’s heart and friends everywhere’. Packed with the detail of people and lives in Accra, Wanwangeri and Penfold, Geraldine Kaye’s deftly narrated story not only dispels ignorance about cultural differences but celebrates the lives and heritages of mixed race children. 8-12
Sarah Baylis, Brilliance, 0 946189 95 1, £8.95 (hbk); 0 946189 90 6, £3.95 (pbk)
Medieval Russia and Nina and Masha live in a village where ‘traditional’ sex roles and superstitious beliefs rigidly define how they can lead their lives. When Nina and Masha are swept away in the river (thought to be the home of a malevolent spirit) they are rescued by Vila, a strong and fearless woman from a different community and, under her influence, their futures begin to look different. This pacily written, exciting adventure story, full of well differentiated female characters, breaks new ground in feminist fiction for teenagers. 12+
Motherland: West Indian Women to Britain in the 1950s
Elyse Dodgson, Heinemann Educational, 0 435 23230 4, £3.95
The testimonies of 23 Black West Indian women, make up the core of this illuminating and accessible study of Caribbean migration to Britain in the 1950s and reveal movingly just what it was like to be a Black woman immigrant at that time. The difficulties of finding somewhere to live, the pressures on family life, earning a living, hostility from the host community etc. are vividly described in a series of powerful accounts enhanced by photographs from the period. The school project on which this book is based also inspired a play and the script is included here. An excellent stimulus for sensitive and imaginative engagement with recent Black British and women’s history. 12+
Angela V John, Cambridge Educational, 0 521 27872 4, £2.15
The task of putting ‘herstory’ into history books for young readers is one that feminist historians have begun to address in the last few years. Cambridge Educational’s ‘Women in History’ series is helping to make such innovative research available in a form accessible to secondary school readers, and Coalmining Women, their third title, is a particularly impressive and welcome contribution to both women’s and working class history. Angela V. John’s lively and detailed account of working conditions for women miners and attitudes to them, is a story not just of suffering and exploitation but also of independent women with strength and self-respect. 12+
The Other Award ’85
This is the eleventh year of the Other Award for ‘progressive books of literary merit’. Books are commended each year which ‘offer children a wider and more accurate representation of human experience and situation’ with particular reference to `groups of people usually ignored, patronised or misrepresented in children’s literature’.
This year the panel, Peter Griffiths, Grace Hallworth, Mary Hoffman, Bob Leeson, Andrew Mann, Rosemary Stones and John Vincent, made six commendations.
Jury Complete for Smarties Prize
TV presenter Michael Aspel is to be the fifth member of the judging panel for the £10,000 Smarties prize. He joins Bernard Ashley, Sarah Greene, Peggy Heeks and Nanette Newman.
A shortlist of five books in each of the three categories of award (-7, 7+ and ‘innovatory presentation’) will be announced in October and the 15 titles will be displayed. the CBW Book Train.
Baby’s Best Book
The winner of the Best Book for Babies award sponsored by Parents magazine is Janet and Allan Ahlberg’s Peepo! The jury described it as ‘a book in which all its elements combine to create a unique reading experience for both child and parent.’
The award which carried a prize of £1,000 will be presented annually.
BOOK EVENTS AHEAD
Scheherazade – a travelling book event is part of this year’s Bristol Festival for Children, 3-23 October.
Aware that cash for school trips is in short supply the organisers of Scheherazade have wisely decided to take the book event to the children; it will appear at six venues around Avon. A specially devised puppet show, stories, dressing-up sessions, activities, competitions are all designed to encourage reading and writing. A careful selection of books specifically linked to activities at the event will be on sale ‘for those who might like to buy.’ The event is free and all ages can be catered for. Phone Bristol 277157.
Northern Children’s Book Festival 1985
A genuinely regional event involving six local authorities – Newcastle, Gateshead, North Tyneside, South Tyneside, Northumberland and Durham – based on cooperation between schools, libraries, bookshops, publishers and voluntary groups – all sharing a wish to promote children’s literature.
The Festival was launched in 1984 and proved to be extremely successful, with 6,000 children plus parents taking part. This year promises to be even bigger and better. From 4-8 November, children in the participating authorities will have the opportunity to meet a wide variety of authors and illustrators including Nina Beachcroft, Patrick Benson, Rod Campbell, Peter Dickinson, Gwen Grant, Shirley Hughes, Mary Rayner, Hazel Townson, Martin Waddell and Jill Paton Walsh. There will also be puppet shows and Book Safaris.
On the 9 November, a ‘Super Saturday’ Event takes place in Newcastle’s Shopping and Recreation Centre, Eldon Square. As well as authors, there will be a book ‘surgery’ with Elaine Moss, crafts and pop-up bookmaking, videos and an extensive publishers’ book exhibition. Postman Pat and Spot the Dog will be around, too!
It’s all FREE and everyone is welcome.
Contact: Elizabeth Hammill, The Bookhouse, Ridley Place, Newcastle upon Tyne. Telephone: 091 616128.