Thursday, December 28, 2006


Phillipa Pearce died on Thursday December 21 2006. One of the very best writers of children's books she was born in 1920 and brought up in Great Shelford, a village just outside Cambridge, where she spent much of her life and which provided the setting for perhaps her greatest book Tom's Midnight Garden.

After leaving Cambridge University in 1942 she worked as a civil servant, then an educational and children's book editor and finally as a scriptwriter and producer for BBC Radio. I first met her when working in a very lowly capacity at Andre Deutsch and I have to say my chief memory is of her daughter Sally tipping out the wastepaper baskets so she could sit on them! I have fond memories of her over the years ranging from an excellent lunch at her cottage in Great Shelford (the wine was kept in the outside loo), to her incisive questions from the floor at a Federation of Children's Book Conference and to the last meeting earlier this year at lunch following the memorial service for Jan Mark. Her strong sense of humour and her slightly terrifying intelligence shone as brightly as ever.

Her first book, Minnow on the Say (1955) illustrated superbly by Edward Ardizzone was commended for the Carnegie Medal and her second novel Tom's Midnight Garden (1958) won the award. It is a powerful book, and deals so well with the contradictory longing to remain a child for ever but with the pull to explore the world beyond childhood. Her writing continued with A Dog So Small (1962) which opened and closed on Hampstead Heath, her favourite part of London - she lived for some time in Gospel Oak. The Battle of Bubble and Squeak (1978) won the Whitbread Award. The Way to Sattin Shore (1983) is set in Suffolk, another part of East Anglia well known to her. Several excellent collections of short stories were published and her final novel, illustrated sympathically by Patrick Benson, was published in 2004. The Little Gentleman tells of the friendship between a 300 year old mole (who can talk) and a lonely young girl. I have a card from Philippa in front of me as I type "I hadn't written a book for 20 years. Surely, I'd retired...until, I walked the dog round our meadow, avoiding molehills".

She will be much missed, but what a wealth of books she leaves us.

Enid Stephenson

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Medway Book Award 2006

Medway Book Award has been won this year by Stuart Hill for Cry of the Icemark. The award was presented at the Sir Joseph Williamson’s Mathematical School on 27th November when Stuart held a group of the young judges spellbound. The award is presented annually for the best debut novel for teenagers and has previously been won by Eleanor Updale and Robert Muchamore. Six Medway Secondary Schools (Math School, Rainham Girls, Thomas Aveling, Robert Napier, Chapter School and Chatham South) took part and Stuart was a very popular winner coming out top of a strong field including CILIP Carnegie medal nominee Gabrielle Zevin.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


Over 500 Angus pupils gathered in Montrose Academy on Friday 8 December for the launch of the Angus Book Award 2007.

This year the shortlist features three novels by authors new to the Angus Book Award and a return by two authors previously shortlisted, Alan Gibbons 2004 and Theresa Breslin 1996. Divided City by Theresa Breslin, is a tense and thought-provoking tale which explores loyalty, prejudice and the ugliness of sectarianism
Candy by Kevin Brooks, a walk on the wilder side of life through the dark world of drug addiction and prostitution, this sharp, sensitive and exciting read is a real gripper.
Hold On by Alan Gibbons, a perceptive and powerful exploration of family relationships and how society feels the need to ridicule or exclude individuality.
Damage by Sue Mayfield, a disturbingly realistic novel, which exposes the raw emotional wounds of those who are scarred by the events of one winter night.
The Foreshadowing by Marcus Sedgwick, takes the reader on a journey through the gift of foresight and its consequences in this dark and mesmerising novel of gothic spirit.

The 2007 winner will be announced at the award ceremony in Arbroath on 15 May 2007.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


"A GOOD READ" – Berkshire’s first book award chosen by young people for young people
The Berkshire Book Award was launched in 2004 and has been tremendously successful in its first two years. Over 50 schools and 1200 young people have taken part in this new award for the best, recently published book written for young people.. The Award is the first of its kind in Berkshire and differs from similar Award schemes by involving young people in both nominating the titles and selecting the winner.

The Shortlist:
The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas John Boyne
The Dangerous Book for Boys Gonn & Hal Iggulden
Beast Ally Kennen
Alone on a wide, wide sea Michael Morpurgo
Candy Floss Jacqueline Wilson
Storm Thief Chris Wooding
These titles will be read and reviewed by young people all over the county between now and the end of March 2007. The Award Website gives all the information about the Award and will enable young people to swap reviews online. Discussion groups and events will be taking place in schools across Berkshire over the next three months.
Voting takes place week commencing 12th March and the winner will be announced on 23rd March 2007.