Sunday, January 28, 2007

Philip Pullman receives Freedom of Oxford

Philip Pullman, who has published over twenty books, received the rare honour in a ceremony at the Town Hall in Oxford on Wednesday 24 January 2007.

The Lord Mayor, Councillor Jim Campbell, said: “Oxford has an astonishingly rich tradition of children's story telling, and Philip Pullman is a worthy successor to Lewis Carroll and C S Lewis.

His Dark Materials is one of the finest imaginative works in English. While it creates and explores new worlds and new systems its roots are in Oxford and we are pleased to be able to confer the freedom of the city on someone who has given so much enjoyment to children, and adults, all over the world.”

Philip Pullman, who lives in Cumnor, said: “I am delighted and honoured to receive the Freedom of Oxford, the city which has been the inspiration for a great deal of my work.

“Oxford is a city that’s steeped in storytelling. It’s a place where the past and the present jostle each other on the pavement, and while of course that’s true of many cities in Britain, Oxford does seem to have a few extra dimensions in some strange way.

“I am immensely gratified that the city I’ve made my home has found my work worth rewarding, and very proud to receive an honour whose history goes back to the craftsmen and merchants of the Middle Ages, and which is held by a few very distinguished people of today.”

There is only a small number of people who have been given the award including Sir Roger Bannister, Nelson Mandela, author Colin Dexter and Burmese human rights campaigner Aung San Suu Kyi.

Waterstone's Children's Book Prize

Children’s Laureate Jacqueline Wilson has announced that debut author Tom Becker has won the Waterstone’s Children’s Book Prize for his novel ‘Darkside’ which is set in a dangerous and unimaginably exciting parallel ‘secret’ London where nightmares walk the streets.

The announcement, made at a central London Awards ceremony today, has realised a life ambition for Tom Becker at an early age. Since Tom learned to hold a pen he wanted to become a writer and now, aged 25, he has both published his first book and won his first prestigious award.

Tom Becker drew inspiration for ‘Darkside’ from fantasy novels, film noirs such as ‘The Asphalt Jungle’ and ‘The Big Sleep’, and also from a fascination with the seamier side of Victorian history. Tom has always held a fascination with fantasy novels spending many a childhood day curled up in an armchair reading Brian Jacques and he further developed his interest for supernatural adventures whilst studying history at Oxford where he found himself intrigued by the otherworldly atmosphere of the University library where he used to spend long days reading.

Author Tom Becker said “It's an incredible feeling to have won the Waterstones' Children's Book Prize, and I hope that this means that readers have enjoyed the strange and other-worldly pleasures of ‘Darkside’. Given the calibre of the other books on the shortlist, I didn't think I stood a chance of winning, and it's amazing to receive such a prestigious award at the very beginning of my writing career.”

About the Waterstone’s Children’s Book Prize

The Waterstone’s Children’s Book Prize is in its third year and was created to uncover hidden talent in children’s writing. Open to authors who have written three or less books, the award is the only one where publishers, booksellers and the public join forces to recommend their book to the panel of judges. Over 4,000 booksellers get involved, together with local schools and reading groups, to discuss and pick their favourite book within three categories: 5-8, 9-12 and Teenage.

The Waterstone’s Children’s Book Prize 2007 Short List

Jake Cake: The Werewolf Teacher’ by Michael Broad

‘The Dragon Detective Agency: Case of the Missing Cats’ by Gareth Jones

‘Darkside’ by Tom Becker

‘Nathan Fox: Dangerous Times’ by L. Brittney

Sebastian Darke: Prince of Fools’ by Philip Caveney
Random House

‘The Black Book of Secrets’ by F.E. Higgins

‘The Thing With Finn’ by Tom Kelly

‘Smugglers’ by Christopher Russell

‘A Swift Pure Cry’ by Siobhan Dowd
Random House

‘Bunker 10’ by J.A. Henderson
Oxford UP


Anthea Bell’s translation from German of Kai Meyer’s THE FLOWING QUEEN,
published by Egmont Press has won her the Marsh Award for Children’s Literature in Translation.

Presenting the Award on 23rd January 2007 at The Arts Club, London, Wendy Cooling, winner of the 2006 Eleanor Farjeon Award and a judge of the Marsh Award said:

"The Marsh Award is in its second decade and now, more than ever, there's a need to offer young people real choice in their reading - a range of books that offers them a view of the whole world. The richness and originality in this year's short-listed titles takes us some way forward in this aim."

Accepting the award and a cheque for £1000, Anthea Bell responded:

“When that archetypal story-teller the Ancient Mariner holds you with his glittering eye and you cannot choose but hear, the tale he is telling wasn't necessarily in your mother tongue to start with. That is where translations and translators come in. The good story, the real page-turner - like Kai Meyer's book - travels easily between languages, and encouraging such books to enter the English-speaking world is what the Marsh Award is all about.”

· Log on to to read interviews with Anthea, Bell, Kai Meyer and an article by Elizabeth Hammill on judging the Marsh Award – with comments on the winner and all the shortlisted titles.

The Book of Everything by Guus Kuijer translated from Dutch by John Nieuwenhuizen Young Picador

A Bridge to the Stars by Henning Mankell translated from Swedish by Laurie Thompson Andersen Press
Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke translated from German by Anthea Bell The Chicken House
Just Like Tomorrow by Faiza Guène translated from French by Sarah Adams Random House
Mimus by Lilli Thal translated from German by John Brownjohn Allen & Unwin,

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


Seven Stories’ Chief Executive Mary Briggs has been rewarded for her contribution to children’s literature by being placed on the 2007 New Year’s honours list. Mary will receive an Order of the British Empire by Royal appointment later this year.
It was the vision of Mary Briggs and Elizabeth Hammill to establish a centre dedicated to the celebration of the books, manuscripts and artwork of British children’s authors and illustrators. Since opening in August 2005, Seven Stories has attracted more than 80,000 visitors from across the UK and beyond. Based in an imaginatively converted warehouse in Newcastle’s Ouseburn Valley Seven Stories has already won numerous awards for architecture and regeneration.
Mary Briggs Chief Executive says: "Opening the doors to Seven Stories and seeing the people pouring in was amazing. We lived with the idea for so long that to see it become a reality was fantastic. It has been interesting over the 18 months since opening to see how our ideas worked out in practice.
"It is a great honour for me to receive an OBE and came as a complete surprise. This is all down to Elizabeth’s brilliant idea and I don’t think either of us imagined we would come this far we only dreamed Seven Stories would be the success that it is."
Seven Stories is testimony to the fact that dreams can be achieved through voluntary activity and hard work. Eleven years ago a centre for children’s books was only a germ of an idea, and Mary and Elizabeth started the ball rolling by opening a joint bank account with just ten pounds each.
Tim Caulton, Chair of Trustees at Seven Stories says: "The Board are delighted that Mary’s achievements have been rewarded with an OBE, but Seven Stories has been a joint effort by Mary and Elizabeth from its original inception, and we truly hope that Elizabeth’s immense contribution will be similarly rewarded in due course."
American born Elizabeth Hammill, Collection Development Director adds: "Mary and I share a lifelong love of children’s books and a belief in their value in nourishing children’s intellectual, imaginative and creative growth. As an American making my career here in the education and book worlds, I was surprised at the British reluctance to blow their own trumpet and celebrate their achievements in this field.
"I am delighted for Mary to be honoured an OBE as it recognises all the hard work we put into Seven Stories."
The duo’s achievement has been highly regarded amongst peers in the children’s book world. It was recognised regionally in May 2006 when they were awarded Honorary Doctorates of Civil Law by Newcastle University for their outstanding achievement in establishing Seven Stories and their contribution to children’s literature.
Philip Pullman, "The project began with the realisation that priceless manuscripts and original artwork by some of the most important creators of British children’s literature were flooding out of the country and being bought by collectors and institutions all over the world. I am sure that I speak for many of my colleagues in the field of children’s books when I say that Seven Stories represents, for us, the assurance that our work is not going to disappear as soon as it goes out of print. If it were to disappear it would be a disaster; but no-one knew how important it was, or whether such a dream could be possible at all, until Mary Briggs and Elizabeth Hammill showed the way.
"As a trustee during the early stages of the project, it was my privilege to attend many meetings chaired by Mary Briggs, and to be inspired by her wise counsel and clear understanding of how to steer a fragile craft of vision through the rapids of difficulty and disappointment and not lose a single passenger on the way."

Sunday, January 14, 2007


If you should be in New England before 11 March do take a trip to the Eric Carle Museum, Amherst, Ma. There are constantly changing exhibitions, talks, plays and a superb shop.
In The East Gallery Quentin Blake: The Theater of the Page November 7, 2006 - March 11, 2007
With hundreds of books to his name, Quentin Blake has become a “British Institution” and a global treasure, both for his own books and for his celebrated partnership with Roald Dahl, which began in 1978 with Blake’s illustrations for The Enormous Crocodile. Tracing the life and work of this master, The Carle’s exhibition explores many aspects of Blake’s style, process, and collaborations: from the high comedy of Mr. Magnolia and many of the Roald Dahl books, to the reflective, atmospheric mood that prevails in The Green Ship and Michael Rosen’s Sad Book. Reflecting Blake’s many artistic influences, works by Honoré Daumier, George Cruickshank, and Pablo Picasso are also included.This exhibition has been generously underwritten by the Triad Foundation.

Mandy and Richard Horne RIP

from The Scotsman 11.1.07
"Richard Horne, better known as Harry Horse, and his wife, Mandy, had a relationship that was, according to everyone who knew them, simply extraordinary.
Brought together by a love of music and art, they lived together in a succession of rural idylls, from East Lothian to Loch Awe, before returning to Mrs Horne's native Shetland.
There, they took a house on Burra Isle, overlooking the sea, after the multiple sclerosis that had stricken Mrs Horne began to take its toll, confining her to a wheelchair at the age of 39.
Yesterday, three days after Mr Horne's final work appeared in a national newspaper, the couple's bodies were discovered, lying together in their remote bungalow after an apparent suicide pact.
One theory was that Mr Horne helped his desperately ill wife to end her life before taking his own. It is understood their pets were also found dead.
The tiny island community of Papil, on Burra, was in shock after the discovery of the bodies by paramedics, who were called to the house by concerned relatives yesterday morning.
And last night, as a police investigation began into the double tragedy, friends and colleagues in the media united in paying tribute to Mr Horne, 46, who was hailed as a "unique and irreplaceable talent", and his devoted wife. "

Harry Horse was well known to many in the children's books world through his many delightful picture books.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007


The prize-winners for the individual sections have just been announced on R4's Front Row - the children's section has been won by Linda Newbery with Set in Stone published by David Fickling Books. The overall winner of all the categories will be announced in three weeks.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Children's Book Illustration Exhibition in Oxfordshire

Four artists from The Story Museum have an exhibition at West Ox Arts Gallery, Town Hall, Market Square, Bampton, Oxon OX18 2JH from 7-28 January. The gallery is open Tuesday - Saturday 10.30-12.30 and 2-4 with Sunday opening from 2-4. See work by Sarah Garson, Mini Grey, Sue Heap and Korky Paul.

Meet Korky in the Gallery from 10.30am to view the exhibition and then join him in the Village Hall at 11am for a monstrous drawing session. Open to all from 5 upwards. Tickets £2.50 ring 01993 850137 or email

MEET ALL THE ARTISTS 12 noon Saturday 13 January after the workshop. I'm uncertain from the press release whether this is at the Village Hall or in the Gallery, ring and check first.

Kidnapped Free in Edinburgh

25,000 free copies of Robert Louis Stevenson's Kidnapped are to be distributed throughout Edinburgh in February in a campaign to get the city's residents reading the same book. Edinburgh's first citywide reading campaign is a unique project created by the world's first UNESCO City of Literature.

One Book - One Edinburgh aims to get as many Edinburgh citizens as possible reading this exciting adventure story ­ on their own initiative, or through libraries, schools and book groups. The campaign is supported by more than 30 partner organisations from across the city with a large public programme of events backing up the reading campaign in February.

Three new editions of Stevenson's great adventure story have been created - a paperback, a fantastic new graphic novel and a simplified version. Of the 25,000, there will be 10,000 copies of the original text with a preface by Louise Welsh in a beautiful new paperback edition from Canongate. In a major coup for Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature there will also be 7,500 copies of a specially commissioned graphic novel by internationally renowned comic book artists, author Alan Grant and illustrator Cam Kennedy, who between them have created classics of the genre such as Judge Dredd, Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight and two series of Star Wars graphics. Finally there are 7,500 copies of a simplified retold edition created especially for a younger audience.

Free copies of the three editions of the book will be distributed across the city in February to every primary and secondary school, to every public library and to partner organisations. From 1st February, members of the public can drop into their local library to claim a free copy while stocks last.

Ali Bowden, Manager of the Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust, said "Kidnapped, the epic adventure of young David Balfour, is a fantastic story set in one of the most dramatic periods of Scotland's history and Stevenson is a great Edinburgh author. We are very excited to be bringing this wonderful book to an Edinburgh readership in these new formats. The different editions will appeal to different readers, and will enable us to reach the widest possible audience."

Gavin Wallace, Head of Literature at the Scottish Arts Council, said "We are absolutely delighted to be funding this exciting campaign through the National Lottery. It is the first of its kind in Scotland and is a totally collaborative project with one single aim ­ to get Edinburgh reading."

The public programme totals more than 30 events, including exhibitions, a literary walking tour following in Stevenson¹s footsteps and a series of readings in conjunction with the National Library of Scotland, the first of which will take place on 1st February when Ian Rankin joins others to discuss the gothic, the criminal and Stevenson. For a younger audience, Donald Smith, Director of the Scottish Storytelling Centre, has scripted an irreverent and cheeky take on the Kidnapped story ­ When Kilts Were Banned ­ storytelling theatre with the bare essentials: wit, humour, falling out, friendship and growing up ­ but no kilts. The 1971 classic film of the story, starring Michael Caine and Donald Pleasence, will be shown at the Filmhouse on 24th February. The full programme of events can be found on the City of Literature website ( ) or on the leaflet which will be distributed throughout the city from January.