Wednesday, November 29, 2006


We all knew this as the Whitbread Prize - but will now have to think in terms of coffee not beer. I wonder if the Costa Coffee will have copies of the books in all their outlets - what an excellent promotion that would be.

The report in The Guardian gives no details, other than the shortlist, of the children's books. However, ever presicient, you can read more about Julia Golding in our most recent issue (34); or order back copies (0121 622 7458) and read about David Almond (issue 29), Linda Newbery (issue 21) and Meg Rosoff (issue 31).

Children's Books Shortlist:

David Almond, Clay, Hodder Children's Books
Julia Golding, The Diamond of Drury Lane, Egmont
Linda Newbery, Set in Stone, David Fickling Books
Meg Rosoff, Just in Case, Puffin

Monday, November 27, 2006


Early years (0 - 7 years)
Winner: Little Lost Cowboy by Simon Puttock and Caroline Jayne Church
About the authors:
Simon Puttock was born in New Zealand and grew up in Trinidad, Kent and Wiltshire. He has worked in a bakery, as a DJ and for over 10 years as a children’s bookseller. He always wanted to be a writer and in 2004 he moved to Edinburgh to write full-time. He is the author of numerous picture books and is currently working on a story for 8-12 year olds.
Caroline Jayne Church is the creator of many books for young children, published throughout the UK and abroad. Describing herself as a ‘serious daydreamer’ at school, illustrating children’s books is the only thing she has ever wanted to do.
Reader’s verdict: "When we read Little Lost Cowboy to Primary 3 they loved it. They could not stop laughing. I thought they were going to explode. I think everyone who has young children should buy this brilliant book and read it to their younger ones because I’m sure it will be the best book they will have ever read or heard." (Charlie Duffy, aged 11, St Brigid’s Primary School, Glasgow)
Shortlist panel’s comments: "A fantastically heartwarming tale about a little lost coyote pup! Humorous and well-written with a host of other animals playing their support roles perfectly this picture book reads aloud brilliantly, especially with a cowboy accent!"

Younger readers (8 – 12 years)
Winner: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J K Rowling
About the author: J K Rowling started writing the Harry Potter series during a Manchester to London King’s Cross train journey, and during the next five years, outlined the plots for each book and began writing the first novel. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was published in 1997 and became an all-time bestseller. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is the sixth book in the series.
Reader’s verdict: "J K Rowling is an exceptionally good author, but this is one of her best yet! ...I will definitely vote for it as it has me really gripped and passed the test with flying colours. Well done, J K Rowling! A real toe-curler!" (Margaret Ann MacLeod, aged 10, Western Isles Library, Isle of Lewis).
Shortlist panel’s comments: "A fantastically well-written and gripping read – the 6th Harry Potter book definitely lives up to expectations!"

Older readers (13 – 16 years)
Winner: Roxy’s Baby by Catherine MacPhail
About the author: Catherine MacPhail was born and brought up in Greenock in Scotland where she still lives. She started off writing short stories for magazines and radio, as well as two romantic novels. She never even considered writing for children until something happened to her daughter, Katie, which sparked off her first novel for teenagers, Run Zan Run. Roxy’s Baby is Cathy’s twentieth book.
Reader’s verdict: "When I began this book I didn’t put it down until the final word … I was exceptionally engrossed and captivated … I could feel my heart racing as I progressed nearer the end of the novel … Roxy’s Baby, a thriller I’m strongly passionate about." (Leah Aylwin, Bearsden Academy, East Dunbartonshire).
Shortlist panel’s comments: "A page-turning read which delves into a dark subject matter, dealt with with sensitivity and flair."


Who do you want to be the next Children's Laureate?

Children and adults are welcome to make nominations for the next Children's Laureate, who will be appointed in June 2007 for a two year term.

Who can I choose?

A writer, poet or an illustrator ... • who is still alive! • who has written or illustrated many books and has been published for at least eight years. • who lives and works in the UK.

Nominations are open until 31 December 2006.

For more information, read our terms and conditions and privacy policy You can only make one nomination. If you make more than one your nomination will be discounted.A summary of the nominations received will be sent to the judging panel, including the numbers of nominations for each individual. The children who write the three nominations we like the best will be invited to the award ceremony in June 2007 and 10 others whose comments we enjoy will be sent book prizes

The selection process for the new Children’s Laureate has begun. Votes are coming in from Children - by votes on line – Click on - representing librarians, critics, writers and booksellers, including the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY). The voting process closes on 31 December 2006

The next step:
In March 2007, nominations will be considered by the recently appointed selection panel for the appointment of the Children’s Laureate. The new panel of experts is chaired by Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty and represents different fields in the wide world of children’s literature:
∑ Marilyn Brocklehurst – independent bookseller, Norfolk Children’s Book Centre
∑ Lindsey Fraser – literary agent, critic and member of the Children’s Laureate Steering Committee
∑ John O’Farrell – author and journalist
∑ Phyllis Ramage – children’s librarian, London Borough of Harrow
∑ Dr David Rudd – University of Bolton, academic specialising in children’s literature
∑ Representative from the sponsors, Waterstone’s

The fifth Children’s Laureate, will replace Jacqueline Wilson when she completes her two-year term of office in June 2007. Previous Children’s Laureates - Quentin Blake, Anne Fine and Michael Morpurgo.

‘The appointment of the Children’s Laureate acknowledges the importance of the exceptional children’s authors in creating readers of tomorrow. The selection panel represents and reflects the diverse world of children’s literature.’ Nikki Marsh, Head of Education at Booktrust

‘Waterstone’s is absolutely delighted to be sponsoring the Laureate in 2007 and looks forward to building on the excellent contribution Jacqueline Wilson and former laureates have made.’ Wayne Winstone, Category Manager for Children’s Books at Waterstone’s

The current Children’s Laureate:
During her first year in office it is estimated that Jacqueline Wilson had
· spoken to over 16,000 children at all kinds of events all over the country
· filled 35 days touring in England, Wales and Scotland, going to smaller venues at more remote spots as well as visiting big cities
· spent 54 hours at literary events, conferences and festivals – talking to children and adults and signing books for them· launched the Read Aloud campaign…
. Great Books to Read Aloud, published by Random House (May 2006)· given numerous interviews including Desert Island Discs (16th October 2005)
. A profile of the Children’s Laureate was a South Bank Show Special (5th March 2006)
· discussed what it means to be a Laureate with Andrew Motion, the Poet Laureate (on 28th September 2005)
· presented the Ottakar’s Children’s Book Prize (26th January 2006)
· supported charities – RNIB, Childline, Brake, The Fostering Network, Great Ormond Street Hospital, The NSPCC and Book Aid International

For full details see

For further information visit the Booktrust website:

The award is funded by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. Waterstones are sole sponsors of the 2005-7 award, which is also supported by the following publishers: Random House, Egmont, Walker Books, Oxford University Press, Scholastic and Puffin.

The award is administered by Booktrust, an independent national charity that encourages people of all ages and cultures to discover and enjoy reading. The reader is at the heart of everything they do.

Saturday, November 18, 2006


Charlotte's Web at Dukes, Lancaster from Friday 24 November to January 6. Tickets £5-12 with concessions. Tel. 01524 598500. LynGardner of The Guardian says "makes the transitiion from page to stage very well with actors playing both the humans and the animals on Zuckerman's farm"

James and the Giant Peach at Octagon, Bolton from Friday 24 November to January 20. Tickets £10-£14.95 with concessions. Tel 01204 520661. This is a theatrical by David Wood - someone who can be relied on to put over Dahl books with enormous panache.

Danny The Champion of the World at Birmingham Old Rep from Saturday November 18 to January 27. A production by the well-thought of Birmingham Stage Company.

Mr A's Amazing Maze Plays, Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough from 6December - 6 January 01723 370541 This interactive play - can Susie and her enormous dog outwit Mr Accousticus - keeps the audience on the edge of their seats, and the audience is in final control of the action.

The Stories of Hans Christian Andersen at Sherman Theatre, Cardiff unil January 6 029 2064 6900 adapted by the seasoned Mike Kenny.

Pinnocchio Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh 1-30 December 0131 248 4848 This fable usually pleases.


Carrie's War at the Lilian Baylis Theatre, Sadlers Wells, London
Carrie and her brother Nick are evacuees transported to the safety of the countryside in the 1940s. There they stay with mean Mr Evans, but there's also kind Auntie Lou, and brilliant young Albert Sandwich and Mr Johnny, who speaks his own language, and Hepzibah, the witch at Druid's Grove who makes perfect mince pies. And then there's the ancient skull with its terrifying curse…
Thursday 23rd November 06– Saturday 6th January 07, Adults £24 Children £20. Previews (23rd Nov– 8th Dec) all tickets £10
Box Office: 0870 737 7737.

Kensuke's Kingdom at the Bloomsbury Theatre, London
The Birmingham Stage Company are proud to present Michael Morpurgo's award-winning book, following their acclaimed production of The Jungle Book last year.
This is the amazing story of Michael, a young boy who goes on a fantastic sailing adventure with his parents around the world. His adventure takes a nightmare turn when their boat is hit by a terrifying storm and Michael is washed overboard. He wakes up to find a himself stranded on a Pacific island. However, soon he makes an astonishing discovery – the seemingly deserted island is already home to one extraordinary man – this is Kensuke's Kingdom.
Kensuke's Kingdom is suitable for the whole family, from 5 years upwards and runs from Tuesday 12th December – Saturday 27th January 06.
Adults £15, Children £10, Concs £12.50, Family of Four £45
Box Office: 020 7388 8822 See online trailer at

Coram Boy National Theatre 29 Novemb er - 24 February 020 7452 3000. A chance to catch this adaptation of Jamila Gavin's novel which was so popular last year.

Journey to the River Sea Unicorn Theatre, SE1 8 December - 28 January 020 7645 0560 A terrific novel by Eva Ibbotson and it should make an excellent stage play.

Watership Down The Lyric, Hammersmith W6 23 November - 13 January 08700 500511 A stage version of the still extremely popular allegorical tale by Richard Adams of rabbits adventures.

Monday, November 13, 2006


Four cities united today in the announcement of Britain’s largest ever community-based reading project with the backing of Arts Council England and the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Small Island Read 2007 – which takes place from 11 January 2007 – builds on the success of the annual Bristol Great Reading Adventure and Liverpool Reads initiatives, and brings in new partners from Aye Write! The Glasgow Book Festival and Hull Libraries. Tens of thousands of people from Scotland to Cornwall are expected to join the project and read Small Island by Andrea Levy.
Small Island Read 2007 is linked to the 2007 commemorations of the 200th anniversary of the passing of the Slave Trade Abolition Bill – a year that is being used to explore the legacy of slavery and its continuing impact upon modern Britain. Andrea Levy’s widely acclaimed and award-winning novel describes the arrival in post-war Britain of black Jamaican immigrants, the descendants of enslaved Africans. It addresses the themes of identity, racial awareness, forgiveness, ignorance and survival with humour, high drama, anger and pathos, providing an unforgettable read in 2007.
In announcing their support for Small Island Read 2007, Adrian Tinniswood, of the Heritage Lottery Fund, and Nick Capaldi, of Arts Council England, commented:
We have supported two Bristol reading projects already and are delighted to be supporting this national project. Remembering the victims of the slave trade is essential to everyone’s lives. Just as important is celebrating the diversity of the modern city.
They added:
The mass reading project – and the associated arts and heritage projects – provides a fitting start to the 2007 commemorations.

In addition to the thousands of copies of the book being available for loan in the participating cities, readers will be able to obtain a fully illustrated guide, which provides information on the author and background material on the themes of slavery and migration. Books for younger readers are also being used as part of the project to ensure all age groups can take part. These are Benjamin Zephaniah’s Refugee Boy and Mary Hoffman’s Amazing Grace.
All four cities were involved in the slave trade and the campaign for its abolition. In a joint statement the four cities said today:
We are all committed to promoting reading and literacy, at the same time as encouraging learning about the past. We are confident we will achieve both of these aims with Small Island Read 2007and are delighted to be working together on such an exciting and inspirational project. All this work will promote the pleasures of reading and learning about the past and celebrating the present – in this case the diversity of our cities.
They added:
The Bristol Great Reading Adventure and Liverpool Reads have already shown how mass-reading initiatives can engage a wide range of people in a single book, inspire discussion and debate, encourage more reading, writing and creativity, enhance social capital through the building of networks across the community, promote learning about our heritage, and be fun for all those involved.
For Small Island Read 2007:
50,000 copies of Small Island will be distributed free of charge in Bristol and the South West, Liverpool and North West England, Hull and Glasgow.
80,000 copies of a full-colour, illustrated guide will be distributed free of charge.
All the library authorities in Bristol and South West England, Liverpool, Hull and Glasgow are participating, along with many in North West England – over 500 libraries in total.
A programme of schools and adult learners workshops will be held in addition to reading group discussions, competitions, quizzes, talks and other activities.
An extensive website – – to be launched in January 2007 will provide news of events taking place as well as further background information and links to resources.
Andrea Levy said today:
I am very excited that Small Island is the focus of this ambitious mass-reading project. I feel deeply honoured that it has been chosen in the year that commemorates the ending of the slave trade, and that the novel, which is set in the 1940s, is being used as the springboard to look back to the important issues of slavery and its aftermath. It has always been one of the aims of my writing to make the history of African-Caribbean people in this country more visible and to show their story to be an important part of British history. I hope everyone who takes part in the Small Island Read 2007 really enjoys the experience.

Sunday, November 12, 2006


The distinguished children's agent Gina Pollinger will be giving a talk at Seven Stories in Newcastle on 23 November. The evening begins with wine and nibbles at 6.30. Gina's talk will bear on her memories of the late children's book editor, Miriam Hodgson as well as her own experience of editing of children's books. Gina and Murray Pollinger represented over 240 children's authors before they retired and Gina would be delighted to see as many as possible again on this occasion. Further details from Seven Stories, 30 Lime Street, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 2PQ Tel 0845-271-0777, or email

Saturday, November 11, 2006


The Institut Francais, 17 Queensbury Place, London SW7 2DT is running its annual Youth Festival with films, workshops and free talks. The launch event is Michael Rosen and Carl Norac in conversation "On being a poet and children's author" chaired by Quentin Blake. 6.30pm 15 November. There will be a bilingual bookshop open for all three days and a "Fun" day on the Saturday. Full details on

Thursday, November 02, 2006


Congratulations to Anthony McGowan for winning the 2006 Booktrust Teenage Prize. Thought a controversial choice by some for its irreverent style and strong language Henry Tumour tells the story of Hector Brunty, who struggles with his alter-ego, his abusive but hilariously funning talking brain-tumour Henry. You can read a review of this book in the latest edition of Carousel.