Monday, December 29, 2008

Quentin Blake

As you step out of St Pancras International, a 16m high building wrap greets onlookers with a busy scene of celebration. Dining and drinking, dancing and singing, these characters welcome new arrivals at the station.
The drawing is the work of world renowned illustrator, Quentin Blake. The piece was commissioned by Argent, London and Continental Railways and DHL-Exel Supply Chain, the developers of King’s Cross. It is the first of many public art initiatives intended for the scheme.

Quentin Blake has illustrated over 300 books, but never a building. He was appointed the first Children’s Laureate in 1999 and made a CBE in 2005.

Quentin Blake is one of the driving forces behind the idea to bring the UK’s first Museum of Illustration to King’s Cross. This Museum will celebrate historical and contemporary illustration as well as Quentin’s own work.

The installation is mounted on the Grade II listed Stanley Building, one of sixteen Victorian structures on site. New development will embrace this heritage to create a new piece of city with a historic sense of place. The Stanley Building will be refurbished for new uses in due course.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Adrian Mitchell

Adrian Mitchell died on December 20th. He was a natural pacifist, a great campaigner and, in his own words, 'a free-falling poet, playwright and writer of stories'. He believed that 'Most people ignore poetry / because / most poetry ignores people', and wanted his own poems, particularly those he wrote specifically for children, to live, dance, sing and fly - not be pinned out and dissected like dead beetles. On the day I went to interview Adrian I bumped into him on Hampstead Heath as he walked his dog Daisy, 'the peace dog'. Soon he'd introduced me to most of the other dogs and dog-walkers on the Heath that morning. 'Say hello to Daisy,' he was careful to say on each new encounter. He was a robust, gentle man ('dear good-natured Adrian,' Kenneth Tynan called him) who exuded enthusiasm.
Chris Stephenson

Friday, December 05, 2008

Shirley Hughes 6 Dec at Illustration Cupboard

Gallery event: Shirley Hughes on Saturday 6th December.
We are delighted to be ushering in the festive season by uncorking the finest fino and enjoying a yuletide sherry
with Shirley Hughes here at the gallery tomorrow signing copies of her fantastic new fairytale Jonadab and Rita.
Families are most welcome.
Books will be available for purchase and signing.
There is also a chance to see some of Shirley’s fabulous original artwork which is featured as part of our current Winter Exhibition.

The 13th Annual Winter Exhibition
New work by 50 leading artists from around the world
Original artwork from £150
Signed special edition giclée prints from £95
Signed first edition books £9.99 - £45.

Highlights include original work by Jan Pieńkowski, Polly Borland and Lauren Child,
Anita Jeram, Babette Cole, Chris Riddell, John Lawrence, Gary Blythe, Robert Ingpen, Niamh Sharkey,
Graham Oakley, Anthony Browne, Angela Barrett, Jane Ray, Oliver Jeffers, Bruce Ingman
and special signed editions of Where The Wild Things are by Maurice Sendak.

22 Bury St.
London, SW1Y 6AL
10am to 6pm Monday to Friday
(7pm Thursdays until Christmas).
Saturday 12pm – 5pm
Preview on

Tube: Green Park station (Piccadilly, Victoria and Jubilee)

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Educational Writers Award

Gilbert's The Little Book of Thunks: 260 Questions to Make your Brain Go Ouch! (Crown House Publishing) has won this year's Educational Writers' Award. The award is sponsored by the Authors' Licensing & Collecting Society (ALCS) and supported and administered by the Society of Authors.

Gilbert received his cheque for £2,000 from Dr Ian Gibson MP at a reception at the Stationers' Hall, London. This year's award was presented for non-fiction published in 2006 and 2007 that enhanced teaching and learning for 12 to 18 year-olds.

The judges described Gilbert's book as "a completely original book to get all ages stretching their imaginations, thinking, discussing cogently and debating… a valuable tool for the teacher”.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Two new films with stellar casts

The Tale of Despereaux
Friday 19th December sees the release of a major Universal Pictures animated film based on Kate DiCamillo's Newbery Award-winning The Tale of Despereaux, starring Matthew Broderick as Despereaux, Dustin Hoffman as Roscuro, and Emma Watson as Princess Pea. There are also cameos from Sigourney Weaver, Tracey Ullman and Robbie Coltrane.


The film version of Cornelia Funke's fantasy novel stars Helen Mirren, Jim Broadbent, Brendan Fraser, Paul Bettany, Andy Serkis and Sienna Guillory. The film will be playing in 500 British cinemas from Friday 12th December and is set for a massive media campaign including X-factor this weekend!

Campaign for the Book December Newsletter

A hard rain’s gonna fall?
This is the grim assessment of the Local Government Association on the situation for public services after the credit crunch:
The economic slowdown has left town halls having to find more than a billion pounds of savings over the next three years to safeguard vital local services and keep council tax down, town hall leaders will say today.
The Local Government Association, which represents over 400 councils in England & Wales, is warning that the grim economic climate and rising inflation is forcing councils to come up with new ways to make money go further and maintain normal services.
New analysis shows that spiralling inflation has reduced the real terms value of money that councils receive in grant from the Government and through council tax. In real terms, the funding awarded to councils in last year’s Comprehensive Spending Review is now worth almost £500m a year less than the Government intended.
Already, there are reports of cuts around the UK. The Highlands and Aberdeen have faced cost cutting to their Schools Library Service and Wirral has announced ‘reconfiguration’ of its library service. The Campaign for the Book was launched in part to remind councils of their responsibilities and to support campaigns against cuts to library services. Please contact the Campaign with your stories. We will do our best to provide speakers for meetings.

Campaign summer conference
I can announce the details of the Campaign for the Book summer conference.
Campaign for the Book conference
Saturday, 27th June
King Edward’s School, Birmingham B15 2UA.
My thanks to school librarian Jean Allen who has secured the venue for us at a nominal rate.
I am aware that the Conference is now scheduled only a week after the School Library Association’s weekend event on June 20th and 21st. I am afraid there was no other date at which I could get a venue at reasonable cost. Some establishments were asking for between £2,000 and £7,000! I would urge anyone going to the SLA event to come along to Birmingham the week after too. Bodies like the SLA and the Campaign for the Book share a very similar vision. Consider it a busy two weeks to take a stand on behalf of libraries and reading for pleasure. The two events will complement each other.
One of the centrepieces of the conference will be a Question Time session on the future of libraries and reading. The following have already accepted an invitiation to speak: Roy Clare, MLA executive, Lyn Brown MP, Labour, all Party Parliamentary Group on Libraries, Ed Vaizey MP, Conservative speaker on Culture. I am awaiting final confirmation from the Liberal Democrats and from leading authors who will join the debate.
I will announce the remaining list of speakers once they have all confirmed. I would urge everyone in the Society of Authors, Cilip, YLG, SLA, the National Literacy Association, the National Association for Primary Education, the public service trade unions and publishers and the many individuals who have supported the Campaign to circulate the details of the Conference as widely as possible. I believe it can become a focus for debate about the future of libraries and books, supporting all the other groups and individuals who share our love of reading.
These are the next steps:
1) Supporters circulate this newsletter as widely as possible.
2) Organizers issue the first leaflet advertising the Conference just after Christmas. Illustrator Steve Weatherill has kindly agreed to provide a cartoon for the first leaflet. Each month I will be asking an illustrator to design a different leaflet to sustain the momentum.
3) Final confirmation of speakers.
4) Collection of delegate fees. This will be set at the lowest level possible and include coffee, tea and a lunch. At the moment it looks likely that the cost will be very low indeed. Most speakers have already indicated that they will attend for the nominal cost of travel only and accommodation if at long distance. My thanks to them for that.
For further information, please contact:
Alan Gibbons:

Terry Pratchett

You can read the full interview in The Independent 29 November. What follows is Terry hitting the nail on the head...

'He is often asked if he really believes that his novels are suitable for young readers, and even sometimes whether the books he writes especially for them have entirely suitable themes.

"My advice is this. For Christ's sake, don't write a book that is suitable for a kid of 12 years old, because the kids who read who are 12 years old are reading books for adults. I read all of the James Bond books when I was about 11, which was approximately the right time to read James Bond books. So you work out this kind of little equation in your head and you think, yeah, like Nation – the one that's just come out – that's a book for kids. And people will say: 'Well it covers very adult subjects ...' Yeah, that's why it's a book for kids. Because you want kids to grow up to be adults, not just bigger kids."

Monday, December 01, 2008

no to age banding campaign

People are still signing up to the campaign against putting ages on books ...the total now stands at an impressive 4670. However some publishers are now putting ages on books - but all publishers say they will not put an age on a book without the specific agreement of the author.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Costa Children's Book Award

The short list has just been announced...several expected contenders have been left off, but then these prizes are always something of a lottery. The category winner will be announced in early January and the overall winner (this prize is unique in pitting novels against biographies against poetry and children's books) in late January.

Keith Gray - Ostrich Boys
Saci Lloyd - The Carbon Diaries 2015
Michelle Magorian - Just Henry
Jenny Valentine - Broken Soup

YoungMinds Book Award

Tabitha Suzuma’s From Where I Stand was crowned winner of the YoungMinds Book Award 2008 at the Unicorn Theatre.
The £2000 prize, presented by author, broadcaster and psychologist Dr Tanya Byron, was awarded to the book which most helps young people aged 12+ cope with the stresses and challenges of growing up.
From Where I Stand tells the story of Raven, a boy who has been placed in foster care after witnessing the death of his mum. He and his friend Lotte set out to track down his mum’s killer - but their careful plan goes dangerously wrong. Through his journey he experiences self harm and bullying, as well as the difficulties of family relationships.
Sarah Brennan, YoungMinds Chief Executive, said:
“From Where I Stand faced tough competition from five other excellent books, but its exploration of difficult issues and use of strong characters made it a deserving winner. Most young people will be able to identify with the situations in the story, at home or at school, which show how to deal with problems such bullying and not fitting in.
“This is the first year that we have awarded the YoungMinds prize to a book for young readers, and involving young people in the judging process has provided a real insight into the role books can play in a child’s life. They can help break the isolation experienced by many young people, demonstrating that their feelings and problems are not unique.
“Fiction can often be an easier way to explore mental health problems, providing detailed information in an accessible and engaging format for both teenagers and adults.”

BookTrust Teenage Prize

Patrick Ness, winner of the Booktrust Teenage Prize 2008 for his novel ‘The Knife of Never Letting Go,’ published by Walker.

The Booktrust Teenage Prize honours the best in contemporary writing for teenagers.

Royal Mail Scotland Awards

Winners of Royal Mail Awards Announced as Record Numbers of Children Vote for their Favourite Books
A record-breaking 9,541 young readers from across Scotland – over twice as many as last year – have voted for their favourite books as part of the 2008 Royal Mail Awards for Scottish Children’s Books, making this year’s Royal Mail Awards the most successful to date.

Scotland’s largest children’s book award (each prize winner receives £3,000 and runners-up all get £500 each), the Royal Mail Awards recognise excellence in Scottish writing and illustration for children across three age categories with the winners decided by Scottish children themselves, who will have read and voted for their favourite books.

The 2008 winning books are:
Early years (age 0-7): Billy Monster’s Daymare by Alan Durant and Ross Collins (Published by Oxford University Press)
Younger readers (age 8-11): DarkIsle by D A Nelson (Published by Strident)
Older readers (age 12-16): Bunker 10 by J A Henderson (Published by Oxford University Press)

This year, a total of 9,541 votes were cast from all Scottish education authorities. Overall, and in all three age categories, voters were roughly 50% boys and 50% girls, a surprising figure which challenges the usual preconception that girls read more than boys!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Blue Peter Exhibition

The National Media Museum in Bradford is a lively, unstuffy place where you can track the history of photography and television. It hosts a wide range of exhibitions and at present is celebrating 50 years of Blue Peter "Here's one we made earlier". The museum is open from 10.00-18.00 Tuesday - Sunday, car parks nearby, railway station an easy walk away. There is a relaxed cafe with hot and cold food and amazing cakes. There is TV Heaven where you can watch an extraordinary range of TV clips. And there are two cinemas showing a wide range of films plus Imax. The Blue Peter Exhibition opened in October and is on until January - stimulating for both children and adults.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Children's Laureate Competition

Children’s Laureate Competition
To vote for who you would like to be the next Children’s Laureate (2009 - 2011) log on to:

Children under 14 can win the chance to attend the announcement event of the next Children's Laureate in London in June 2009. Four lucky winners, one each from England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, will have their entries read out on the day and published on the Children’s Laureate website. Ten others will receive book prizes. Adults are invited to nominate their choice for the Children's Laureate but are not eligible for the competition.

The competition

Children under 14 can suggest any living British writer or illustrator of children's books - someone who they think has made a real contribution to the development of children's books. They need to argue their case in up to 100 words. Entries that simply name someone will be disqualified from the competition. The winner will be the person under 14 who makes the best case for their choice - they do not need to choose the person who becomes the laureate. Authors of the four best entries will be invited to the announcement event in London, with a parent or carer.

The Children’s Laureate
The role of Children's Laureate, which has a bursary of £10,000, is awarded once every two years to an eminent writer or illustrator of children's books to celebrate outstanding achievement in their field. The appointment of a Children's Laureate acknowledges the importance of exceptional children's authors in creating the readers of tomorrow.

The idea for the Children's Laureate originated from a conversation between (the then) Poet Laureate Ted Hughes and children's writer Michael Morpurgo. The illustrator Quentin Blake was the first Children's Laureate (1999-2001), followed by the author Anne Fine (2001-2003), Michael Morpurgo (2003-2005), Jacqueline Wilson (2005-7) and Michael Rosen (2007-2009) is the current Children’s Laureate. The next Children's Laureate will be chosen by a selection panel and will be appointed for a two-year term.

A summary of the suggestions received via the online competition will be sent to the selection panel, including the number of entries for each individual.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Book Campaign widens aims

The Campaign for the Book, the initiative launched by author Alan Gibbons in support of school and public libraries, has broadened its aims to put children's reading for pleasure at the core of its activities.

The campaign was conceived to establish a regional network of authors, illustrators, teachers and librarians who could campaign locally against library cuts and closures. While that is still planned, Gibbons said: "We believe that the campaign can also have a more generalised impact on reading for pleasure."

The Campaign for the Book will focus on establishing national guidelines for best practice in areas such as teacher training in children's literature and reading workshops for children. A summer conference for 2009 is also planned to bring together educators, authors and government spokespeople.

"There are many good things happening around the country, but there are also regions where nothing is happening," said Gibbons. "We want to encourage government to be more energetic about best practice by showing how much difference it can make for children to actually meet authors and read books they enjoy, rather than this focus on tracking and testing their reading in schools." The campaign aims to encourage every major urban area to have a reading and writing roadshow where children can meet authors and illustrators.

Another key area for the campaign will be to increase the amount that local authorities dedicate to children's book ­budgets in libraries. "Any librarian or teacher will tell you that reading for pleasure starts with children choosing books for themselves," said Gibbons. Currently, just 2.5% of library budgets is dedicated to children's books with 25 local authorities spending 1% or less of their ­budget on children's books.

The Museums, Libraries & Archives Council and Campaign for the Book are in discussion to formulate a statement to put forward to culture secretary Andy Burnham to con­sider as part of the government's library review, stating that reading books should be a key element of the review. "Statements from ministers that describe libraries as ‘cultural marketplaces' or tell library users to ‘look beyond the book' are diluting the place of the book and I am very suspicious of that," Gibbons added.

Caroline Horn, The Bookseller 13.11.08

Friday, November 14, 2008

Skellig at the Sage Gateshead 24-29 November

24 November 2008 - 29 November 2008

Skellig is an enchanting contemporary opera of David Almond’s award-winning novel of the same name, commissioned by The Sage Gateshead. With music by innovative composer Tod Machover and libretto by David Almond himself, Skellig is directed by Braham Murray, designed by Rae Smith with choreography by Mark Bruce. It is performed by a stellar cast including Omar Ebrahim, Paul Keohone and Sophie Daneman, with Northern Sinfonia conducted by Garry Walker.

Mysterious, eerie and enthralling, Skellig leads audiences of all ages into the coarse world of an ambiguous angel and transcends all preconceptions of traditional opera. It’s the story of Michael who is desperately worried about his premature baby sister: between anxiety about her and the move to a new house, Michael’s parents don’t have much time for him. Exploring the condemned garage at the end of the new garden, Michael finds a half-dead, spiteful old tramp. Skellig is a filthy, smelly, ungrateful old man, who feeds off dead bluebottles, Chinese takeaway, Newcastle Brown Ale and the dead mice that the owls bring him. However, Michael and his new friend Mina look after him, wondering about the bumps where his shoulder blades are and why he has such an affinity with owls…

Composer: Tod Machover
Librettist: David Almond
Conductor/Music Director: Garry Walker
Director: Braham Murray
Designer: Rae Smith
Choreographer: Mark Bruce
Northern Sinfonia

Don't miss your chance to be one of the first to see this electrifying opera before it becomes a worldwide hit.

Tickets £19.50, under 19s only £5, other concessions available

Ticket Office: Telephone 0191 443 4661

Roald Dahl Funny Prize

Michael Rosen announced the winners of the inaugural Roald Dahl Funny Prize, which honours the funniest books for children.

 For children aged six and under, the winning book was The Witch’s Children Go to School by Ursula Jones, Illus. Russell Ayto (Orchard Books).

 For children aged seven to fourteen, the winning book was Mr Gum and the Dancing Bear by Andy Stanton, Illus. David Tazzyman (Egmont Press).

Presenting the awards, Michael Rosen said:

“The Witch's Children Go to School is a rumbustious tale in the tradition of mischievous spirits causing mayhem and disorder where it's least wanted. Every page shouts with the sound of chaos and surprise: we are told that a school is turned into a storybook, the class teacher into the Mad Hatter and the school inspector is turned into a big smelly cheese. And that's not even half of it.

“Andy Stanton has developed a comic style all of his own, full of ludicrous similes, uproarious bathos, absurdity and grossness. Mr Gum and the Dancing Bear fulfils the requirement that a truly funny novel should have at least a laugh a page and a gasp-making denouement.”

Sophie Dahl commented:

"Chaos, pandemonium and a cursory tiger–all these things and more when The Witches Children Go to School. Between them Ursula Jones and Russell Ayto have created a comic caper that guarantees giggles and a general bewitching of all who read it. Hurray for Polly and Padlock the Dancing Bear, and down with revolting Mr Gum! Mr Gum and the Dancing Bear by Andy Stanton is quirky, odd, and deliciously funny. It is everything the Roald Dahl Funny Prize was invented for; outstanding, original, ageless and irreverent fiction married with the madcap illustrations of David Tazzyman. Unanimously funny and brilliant."

The winners were presented with a cheque for £2,500 at a ceremony at the Unicorn Theatre, London.

The judging panel comprised the author Sophie Dahl, the comedian Dara O’Briain, author Kaye Umansky and author, illustrator and political cartoonist Chris Riddell. The panel was chaired by the Children’s Laureate Michael Rosen.

There was an interview with Chris Riddell and Andy Stanton on the Today programme 14 November where it sounded as though there was only one winner - no mention of the younger prize winner The Witches Children - unless I was entirely distracted by breakfast...

Monday, November 10, 2008

Shortlist revealed for the Blue Peter Book Awards

The shortlist is:

Best Book With Facts:

Archaeology Detectives - by Simon Adams (Oxford University Press)
100 Most Dangerous Things on the Planet - by Anna Claybourne (A&C Black)
Horrible Geography Handbooks: Planet in Peril - by Anita Ganeri, illustrated by Mike Phillips (Scholastic)

Book I Couldn't Put Down:

Abela - by Berlie Doherty (Andersen Press)
Shadow Forest - by Matt Haig (Corgi)
Foul Play - by Tom Palmer (Puffin)

Most Fun Story with Pictures:

Mr Gum and the Dancing Bear - by Andy Stanton, illustrated by David Tazzyman (Egmont)
Fleabag - by Helen Stephens (Alison Green Books)
Lost! The Hundred-Mile-An-Hour Dog - by Jeremy Strong (Puffin Books)

Tim Levell, Editor of Blue Peter comments:

"I've laughed, cried, and bitten my nails through this year's crop of children's books. The standard was incredibly high, particularly in the Book I Couldn't Put Down category, and finding just nine books for our young judges to read was very tough. But this is a very varied and inspirational shortlist, and the real excitement now is in seeing what our young judges will choose as winners. The adult judges can only ever second-guess what children will like most, and every year, once the children make their decision, their choices always seem absolutely spot-on."

The panel of adult judges comprises author Anthony McGowan, school librarian Karen Bhatti and Blue Peter Editor Tim Levell to judge the three categories: Book I Couldn’t Put Down, Best Book with Facts and Most Fun Story with Pictures.

The final nine books will then be judged by a selection of young Blue Peter viewers, who will decide the winners in each category and the overall winner which deserves the ultimate accolade, Blue Peter Book of the Year. Their judging meeting will be broadcast on Blue Peter in March 2009.

The winning author and/or illustrator in each category will be awarded a special Blue Peter Book Award Trophy on screen. In addition, an extract from each of the nine shortlisted titles will be dramatised on the programme.

The winner of the Blue Peter Book Awards will be announced in the spring of 2009, to coincide with World Book Day. Booktrust was awarded administration for the Blue Peter Book Awards in May 2008.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Horrid Henry - live and horrid!

HORRID HENRY - LIVE AND HORRID! will play at the Trafalgar Studios in London between 21st November and 11th January.

For the first time ever on stage, Henry takes his rightful place in the spotlight. Along with Mum, Dad, Perfect Peter, Moody Margaret, Rude Ralph and all your favourite characters. Only they're not going to be in the spotlight, of course, not if Henry's got anything to do with it... And if you're not a boring grown-up, you can see the show for half price!

To book tickets go to, where you can also see a sneak preview of the show!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

The Scarecrow and his Servant

Southwark Playhouse
Philip Pullman’s
The Scarecrow and his Servant
10 December 2008 to 10 January 2009

For those families living in and around London a trip to Southwark this Christmas promises to be a real treat.

To find out about ticket prices and availability ring 020 7407 0234 or visit the website

Sunday, November 02, 2008

BBC TV "Picture This"

A series about children's books begins on Wednesday 5 November, BBC4 at 9pm Sounds interesting.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Announcement of the 2009 shortlist for
The Marsh Award for Children’s Literature in Translation

Anthony Horowitz will present the Marsh Award for Children’s Literature in Translation 2009, at a ceremony at the English-Speaking Union, on 20th January 2009. The Award of £2000 will go to the winning translator.

The Marsh Award for Children’s Literature in Translation was designed to spotlight the high quality and diversity of translated fiction for young readers and is presented biennially. Since its inception, in 1996, there has been a steady increase in the number of children’s books translated into English and published in Britain. For the current award the list of submissions has increased substantially and includes books translated from Chinese, Danish, Dutch, French, German, Greek, Icelandic, Italian, Spanish (including an entry from a Cuban author), Swedish and Yiddish.

The judging panel was excited by the high quality of submissions and after animated discussion, have selected six excellent stories, all beautifully told.

Borders UK has agreed to work with publishers to promote the shortlist throughout all their stores in January 2009.

The short list

This is a rich and diverse shortlist. Some of the books give an insight into other cultures, others have a mind-stretching sense of place or time and all of them are great stories, reminding us that some of the best children’s books can come from beyond our shores.

My Brother Johnny by Francesco D’Adamo translated from Italian by Sian Williams (Aurora Metro Press, 2007)

When the Snow Fell by Henning Mankell translated from Swedish by Laurie Thompson
(Andersen Press, 2007)

Letters from Alain by Enrique Perez Diaz translated from Spanish by Simon Breden
(Aurora Metro Press, 2008)

Tina’s Web by Alki Zei translated from Greek by John Thornley
(Aurora Metro Press, 2007)

Toby Alone by Timothée de Fombelle translated from French by Sarah Ardizzone illustrated by François Place (Walker Books, 2008)

Message in a Bottle by Valérie Zenatti translated from French by Adriana Hunter (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2008)

The Judging Panel – for the current award
The panel combines expertise in children’s literature and translation. Its members are:
· Patricia Crampton – winner of the Marsh Award for Children’s Literature in Translation 1999
· Wendy Cooling – Book Consultant, author and critic.
· Dr Gillian Lathey – Director of the National Centre for Research in Children’s Literature, Roehampton University
· Dr Colin Niven OBE – Former Headmaster
· Becky Stradwick – former Head of Children’s Books at Borders Children’s Books

The award is administered by the English- Speaking Union and sponsored by the Marsh Christian Trust.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

R4, The Learning Curve

This interview links to the article on "We are all born free" in the current edition of Carousel. Do listen.

We Are Born Free – The Learning Curve BBC Radio 4 interviewed confirmed
Monday 3rd November Libby Purves will talk to Jane Ray and Dan Jones from Amnesty about We Are All Born Free. The interview will be live during the programme which goes out 20.30 – 21.00 and is repeated Sunday 9th November 23.00 – 23.30 .

Thursday, October 23, 2008

no to age banding campaign

"CILIP supports the aims of the “No to Age Banding” campaign. It believes that the age banding of books is unhelpful and potentially harmful to the enjoyment of reading by children" Visit for the full statement from the librarians.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

We are all born free

Frances Lincoln in association with Amnesty International have published We are all born free . This fine publication celebrates in pictures the 60th anniversary of the sigining of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. There will be an interesting article by Judith Escreet Art Director at Frances Lincoln giving the background story to the project in the next issue of Carousel.

Halesworth Arts Festival school project was based on this book with Jane Ray and Amnesty Art worker Dan Jones going into Suffolk schools and resulting in a splendid exhibition. Open weekends during October at the Halesworth Art Gallery...see for details of opening times. The banners created will be moving to London and will be on show during workshops led by Amnesty at the British Library and the Imperial War Museum - contact both venues for details.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Images of Delight Exhibition at Foyles

Images of Delight
Original artwork from children's book illustrators
An exhibition of the best in contemporary children's book illustration
Opens next week Wednesday 1st October!

The Illustrators: (see full details on
Jill Barton
Anthony Browne
Eileen Browne
Vanessa Cabban
Christopher Corr
Helen Craig
Penny Dale
Ted Dewan
Polly Dunbar
Cathie Felstead
Barbara Firth
Chris Fisher
Jonny Hannah
Sue Heap
Petr Horacek
Paul Howard
Anita Jeram
Julie Lacome
Stephen Lambert
John Lawrence
Katharine McEwen
Colin McNaughton
Jackie Morris
Jill Murphy
Axel Scheffler
Nick Sharratt
Charlotte Voake
Louise Voce
Marcia Williams

There will be new work on display by all of the illustrators listed above.

The Gallery
Foyles Bookshop
113 - 119 Charing Cross Road

The nearest tube stations are Leicester Square and Tottenham Court Rd

Wed 1 Oct - Sun 5 Oct
9.30am - 5.30pm, Wed - Sat
12 - 4pm, Sun

Prices range from
£75 - £2,500

Meet the illustrators
Open Day
Sat 4th Oct, 12noon - 3pm

Don't miss this wonderful opportunity to meet, chat and have your books signed by some of the most talented illustrators around!

12noon - Helen Craig
12.30om - Barbara Firth
1pm - Colin McNaughton
2pm - Polly Dunbar
2.30pm - Marcia Williams

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

We are all born free

Jane Ray talking to children at Saxmundham Primary School, Suffolk as part of a series of workshops leading to a school art exhibition during the Halesworth Arts Festival. Jane has contributed a very moving and compelling image for the book. The exhibition will be opened by John Burningham, who has contributed to We are all born free , on Saturday 11 October and the exhibition will be open every weekend throughout the festival (11 October to 26 October). The splendid publication is published on 9 October by Frances Lincoln. There will be an article about this important book in the next edition of Carousel.
Posted by Picasa

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Church Mice Exhibition

The Illustration Cupboard is one of those rare galleries that actually welcome children. Do grab the chance to see the original illustrations for The Church Mice by Graham Oakley...a real pleasure for us who remember them first time around and a joy to come for those who have yet to discover them.

The September Exhibition:

Graham Oakley and The Church Mice
16 – 30 September 2008

The Illustration Cupboard
22 Bury St.

Celebrating the new edition of this much-loved classic story.
Signed books and the original artwork

10am to 6pm Monday to Friday
12pm to 5pm Saturday
Families welcome

YoungMinds Short List

This summer young people up and down the country have been reviewing books for this year’s YoungMinds book award – and following their feedback, YoungMinds, the leading children’s mental health charity, is delighted to announce the six shortlisted books for 2008:
Singing it, by Anne Cottringer (Andersen Press Ltd) - the tale of Flower, a defiant loner because of incessant travel, who learns the confidence to sing in public and trust in friends. “This was an amazing book,” commented one young reviewer. “As evidence I can tell you that I stayed up until 10:02 pm reading it.”
The way I see it, by Nicole Dryburgh (Hodder Children’s Books) - a teenager’s own story of her fight to rebuild her life after cancer. Aged 11, Nicole was diagnosed with a malignant tumour on her spine and after a brain haemorrhage at 13 which left her blind she was expected to live for only weeks. Now 19, Nicole - still blind, unable to walk and losing her hearing - is always busy, whether writing, fund-raising, travelling, or socialising with friends. “An inspiring story of a positive young lady and her fight against cancer,” was one reviewer’s verdict.
Accidents of nature, by Harriet McBryde Johnson (Andersen Press Ltd) - about a teenager with cerebral palsy who is experiencing her first time away from her parents. Comments included: “This book was amazing! It helped my perspective on disabled people greatly change. I now realise they can be independent and they are their own person. Five stars – way to go Harriet McBryde Johnson.”
The knife that killed me, by Anthony McGowan (Definitions) - a thought-provoking story that highlights the terrible consequences of peer pressure, and casts a spotlight on the rise in knife crime among teenagers. One young reviewer said: “I would recommend it as an easy read book that highlights some of the problems faced by youth today. It gave the reader a real insight into the thoughts of the main character.”
Accidental friends, by Helena Pielichaty (OUP Oxford) - when four young people are thrust together on their first day at college they form an uneasy alliance that turns to friendship – until a life threatening accident tests that friendship to the limit. “The style in which the book was written kept it exciting and made it very different. I felt really connected with the characters and I also found the book quite easy to read.”
From where I stand, by Tabitha Suzuma (Definitions) - the story of Raven, a boy who has been placed in foster care after witnessing the death of his mum. He and his friend Lotte set out to track down his mum’s killer - but their careful plan goes dangerously wrong. “I think that this is one of the best books I have ever read. The characters are very believable and plot is really good, especially the twist at the end.”
Relaunched this year, the YoungMinds Book Award 2008 will be given to a book for readers of 12 + which helps young people to cope with the challenges of growing up.
Sarah Brennan, YoungMinds Chief Executive, said: “Books can play a vital role in promoting the mental and emotional well being of young people. They can help break the isolation experienced by young people and demonstrate that their feelings and problems are not unique.”
The panel of judges will now choose the winner of the £2000 prize, to be presented at a gala ceremony at the Unicorn Theatre, London, on Monday November 17, following the YoungMinds Annual Lecture.
This year’s judges are:
Imran Ahmad, author of Unimagined: a Muslim boy meets the west – shortlisted for last year’s YoungMinds book award;
Steve Barrett, editor of Media Week and a YoungMinds trustee;
Grace Dent, author of Trainers vs Tiaras- Diary of a Chav;
Jon East, BBC Children’s Head of Drama;
Honor Fletcher Wilson, project director, National Year of Reading;
Sue Mongredien, author of Royal Ballet School Diaries;
Mike Shooter, chair, YoungMinds;
Becky Stradwick, senior buyer for children’s books, Borders.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Old Possum's Children's Poetry Competition


The Old Possum’s Children’s Poetry Competition for 7-11 year olds starts accepting entries today. The Children’s Laureate, Michael Rosen, is the Chair of the judges for the second year running. The Competition is organised by the Children’s Poetry Bookshelf, a poetry book club for young people run by the Poetry Book Society. To link with National Poetry Day on Thursday 9 October, children will be asked to write a poem of no more than 25 lines on the theme of ‘Work’.

Joining Michael Rosen is a distinguished panel of people who are passionate about poetry, consisting of Gaby Morgan, anthologist and Editorial Director in charge of the poetry list at Macmillan Children’s Books; Rosemary Stones, Editor of Books for Keeps; Fiona Waters, Editorial Director of Troubadour and poetry anthologist; and Cliff Yates, poet and Deputy Head of Maharishi School.

Now in its third year, the competition has been renamed the Old Possum’s Children’s Poetry Competition after T S Eliot’s much-loved children’s poetry collection about cats. It is open to both individuals and schools, with prizes being awarded in two age groups, 7- 8 year olds and 9 -11 year olds. Entries will be accepted from today, Thursday 11 September, up until the closing date of Monday 20 October 2008. The winners will be announced at a gala celebration with Michael Rosen at the Unicorn Theatre in London on 15 December, where they will be presented with cash prizes and poetry books, and with Children’s Poetry Bookshelf memberships for their schools. Last year’s Competition attracted nearly 5,000 entries from across the UK and overseas, and this year many more are expected.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Roald Dahl Funny Prize Shortlist

The Roald Dahl Funny Prize is the first prize of its kind; founded to honour those books that simply make us laugh.

The shortlist is:

The Funniest Book for Children Aged Six and Under

Stick Man by Julia Donaldson, Illus. Axel Scheffler (Alison Green Books)
Elephant Wellyphant by Nick Sharratt (Alison Green Books)
The Great Paper Caper by Oliver Jeffers (HarperCollins Children’s Books)
The Witch’s Children Go to School by Ursula Jones, Illus. Russell Ayto (Orchard Books)
There’s an Ouch in My Pouch! by Jeanne Willis, Illus. Garry Parsons (Puffin Books)
Manfred the Baddie by John Fardell (Quercus Books)

The Funniest Book for Children Aged Seven to Fourteen

Mr Gum and the Dancing Bear by Andy Stanton, Illus. David Tazzyman (Egmont Press)
Paddington Here and Now by Michael Bond, Illus. R.W. Alley (HarperCollins Children’s Books)
Stop in the Name of Pants! by Louise Rennison (HarperCollins Children’s Books)
Cosmic by Frank Cottrell Boyce (Macmillan Children’s Books)
Aliens Don’t Eat Dog Food by Dinah Capparucci (Scholastic Children’s Books)
Urgum and the Goo Goo Bah! By Kjartan Poskitt, Illus. Philip Reeve - (Scholastic Children’s Books)

The winner of each category will receive £2,500, which will be presented at an awards ceremony in London on 13 November.

The judging panel comprised the author Sophie Dahl, the comedian Dara O’Briain, author Kaye Umansky and author, illustrator and political cartoonist Chris Riddell. The panel was chaired by the Children’s Laureate Michael Rosen.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Children's Book Show 2008

This year the theme will be picture books and some of the best writers and illustrators from the UK and abroad to theatre venues in Bexhill, London, Oxford, Newcastle, Ilkley, Bristol, Liverpool and Manchester. The writers will include Michael Rosen, Anushka Ravishankar, Posy Simmonds, Polly Dunbar and storyteller Daniel Morden

Alongside the tour is a series of 40 free schools workshops this year in primary
schools in Bexhill, London, Bristol, Manchester, Oxford, Newcastle, Liverpool,
and Ilkley so if you’re a teacher and would like a writer to come into your school,
please contact Kate Tull at
Places go fast, so please book early!

Supported by the Arts Council England

Skellig by David Almond

Sky1 has signed up Oscar nominees Tim Roth and Kelly MacDonald as well as Life on Mars star John Simm for its new feature-length drama Skellig.

The 120-minute "modern fairytale", which is based on David Almond's Whitbread Children's Award-winning novel, is the first project to commence production from Sky1's new £10m-plus drama investment fund.

Filming began today on location in Cardiff on the high-definition drama, which will also star Son of Rambow child actor Bill Milner.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Michelle Paver Exhibition

Cambridge University's Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology has display cases based on Wolf Brother and Spirit Walker . The displays form part of a series of displays at the Museum based on novels for children and for adults and, says the museum, they were impressed by the quality of her research, the accuracy of her descriptions and how well they matched the objects in the collection. For more information go to

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Book Trust Early Years Shortlist

Baby Book Award

Baby’s Very First Book: Day illus. Angela Brooksbank (Campbell Books)
Baby Loves Peekaboo! by Dawn Sirett, designer Rachael Parfitt (Dorling Kindersley)
Daddy Hug by Tim Warnes, illus. Jane Chapman (HarperCollins)
Baby Touch: Playtime Book and DVD by Justine Smith, illus. Fiona Land (Ladybird)
Is This My Nose? illus. Georgie Birkett (Red Fox)
Amazing Baby: Rainbow Fun! by Emily Hawkins, illus. Emma Dodd (Templar)

Pre-School Award

It’s a George Thing! by David Bedford, illus. Russell Julian (Egmont)
Grizzly Dad by Joanna Harrison (David Fickling)
The Cow That Laid an Egg by Andy Cutbill, illus. Russell Ayto (HarperCollins)
Wendel’s Workshop by Chris Riddell (Macmillan)
The Bog Baby by Jeanne Willis, illus. Gwen Millward (Puffin)
There’s An Ouch in My Pouch! by Jeanne Willis, illus. Garry Parsons (Puffin)

Best Emerging Illustrator

That Yucky Love Thing by Michael Catchpool, illus. Victoria Ball (Gullane)
Here Comes Frankie! by Tim Hopgood (Macmillan)
Eliot Jones, Midnight Superhero by Anne Cottringer, illus. Alex T Smith (Scholastic)
Bridget Fidget by Joe Berger (Puffin)
The Bog Baby by Jeanne Willis, illus. Gwen Millward (Puffin)
Ape by Martin Jenkins, illus. Vicky White (Walker)

The winners will be announced on 23 September

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Save Kids TV Campaign

A groundswell of political opinion is growing in support of the campaign aims and all three parties are engaged with it now. At the recent Showcomotion conference (2 – 4 July, Sheffield) Ed Vaizey MP Conservative Shadow Minister of Culture and Broadcasting gave a Keynote address. Visit for further information. You can still lend your support to this campaign by signing up at, increase the political pressure by emailing a letter drafted by PACT to your local MP: or attend the Voice of the Listener and Viewer’s annual conference in November (see events listings).

Costa judges - children wanted!

Costa Children's Book Award - The search is on for three young people to be judges for this year's Costa Children's Book Award. This is an opportunity for anyone between the ages of 9 and 13 who needs to write a 200-word book review and submit it through the Costa website before midnight on 8 August. Jacqueline Wilson will select three winners who'll sit on the panel with adult judges and select the shortlist and winner of this year's award. They'll also attend the gala dinner and presentation next January and receive a £100 book token. If you know any disabled children who might be encouraged to enter, they should visit

Nice work if you can get it


Random House Children’s Books and Thomas Cook are delighted to announce a joint initiative which will lead to the introduction of Reading Zones into all Thomas Cook resorts that feature club: KidsWORLD. The Reading Zones will be jam-packed with favourite books from leading children’s authors and they offer great chill out zones for children on holiday.

Tony Hopkins of Thomas Cook comments “This year is The National Year of Reading and it’s made us realise how vitally important it is for parents and their children to read books together. Our new Reading Zones will help encourage youngsters to pick up a book while they’re on holiday and enter a world of excitement and imagination. We want to help them understand that reading isn’t just something to be done at school – it can be enjoyed wherever you are.”

Managing Director of Random House Children’s Books Philippa Dickinson comments “We're delighted to be working with Thomas Cook to take books to places where children and their families are on their holidays. Holidays are a great time to read and this is an excellent way to encourage the habit of thinking of books alongside the sunscreen, the swimsuit and the towel.”

To mark this new and exciting relationship two author weeks will launch the project this summer. Authors Steve Cole and Janey Louise Jones will be taking their Astrosaurs and Princess Poppy events out to Thomas Cook holiday resorts in Majorca.

Steve Cole has just got back from his tour of the resorts on the island where he introduced over two hundred children to his Cows In Action and Astrosaurs books.

“I’ve been to some unlikely places with the Astrosaurs and Cows in Action but never expected to en-cow-nter them in Majorca! I’m delighted to be taking part in such an exciting new initiative –it’s a fantastic opportunity to bring young readers from all over the country together for some out-of-this-world holiday fun.”

Best-selling author Janey Louise Jones will take a trip to the Balearic Island this August where children will be treated to Princess Poppy party games and book readings from the author.

“I am delighted to be doing Princess Poppy events in Majorca for Thomas Cook this summer. It was an honour to be asked by such a reputable company and it will be lovely to see Princess Poppy fans in holiday mood!”

Childrens Illustrators in Bath

SWILL & Friends: An Exhibition of Children’s Book Illustration
by South West Illustrators and leading guest illustrators

Bath Central Library
The Podium, Bath

19th-28th September 2008

0117-9730022 (SWILL) 01225-394041 (Bath Library)

This September, Bath will be buzzing with children’s book authors and illustrators for the second Daily Telegraph Bath Festival of Children’s Literature 2008. Chill out with a visit to Bath Central Library for this fantastic exhibition of artwork from leading children’s book illustrators and get The Big Picture in this National Year of Reading. With work ranging from that of world-known Babette Cole, author/illustrator of beloved classics Princess Smartypants and Mummy Laid an Egg, to that of brand-new book illustrator, Paula Bowles, over 30 artists are represented in a colourfully diverse and diverting show. The illustrators featured are largely locally-based but internationally-employed. They are Grahame Baker Smith, Paula Bowles, Tim ‘Willy’ Bullock, Ivana Svabic Cannon, Michelle Cartlidge, Margaret Chamberlain, Babette Cole, Frances Cony, Steve Cox, Christina de la Mare, Kate Davies, Richard Deverell, Chris Fisher, Mary Hall, Penny Ives, Simon James, Peter Malone, Rodney Matthews, Jackie Morris, Jan Nesbitt, Graham Oakley, Tessa Norris, Anna Popescu, Katy Rhodes, John Sibbick, Sue Shields, Suzy-Jane Tanner, Alan Snow, Carol Tratt, Sarah Warburton, Nadine Wickenden. Original works, cards and prints are available to buy and you can meet the illustrators themselves during the exhibition.

For the latest gen on who and what’s on show visit SWILL’s blog or ring 0117 9730022.
Staged in association with The Daily Telegraph Bath Festival of Children’s Literature (, National Year of Reading ( and The Big Picture ( We are delighted to receive sponsorship from Hodder Children’s Books, Orchard Books and Templar Publishing.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Campaign for the book

A campaign for the book
Sometimes it just isn't good enough for a writer to sit in his or her study tapping out the latest novel. Events recently propelled me into a fortnight of frantic activity that made me sit down and think very carefully about the position of the book in society. The trigger was an invitation to speak at a public meeting in Doncaster, South Yorkshire to protest against swingeing cuts to the town's library service.
According to the public sector union Unison, Mayor Winter's administration is proposing savings of £662,000 and a further £268,000 being put aside to pay for redundancies. In all some thirty staff are earmarked to go. There will also be cuts to the book budget and to opening hours.
Corporate Director of Customer Services (sic), Stuart Hall, has had this to say about cutbacks that will materially damage the library service:
“What is the point in buying new books? Tescos sell them cheaply and everything you need to know is on the Internet.”
He also said:
“What’s the point of having a Rolls Royce when a Mondeo will do?”
On my return home, I fired off an open letter protesting against this butchery to the many writers, educationalists and librarians I had encountered at the 150 public speaking engagements I do every year.
The response was instantaneous. The signatories are too many to list here but they included Philip Pullman, Philip Reeve, Michael Morpurgo, Geraldine McCaughrean, Toby Litt, Anne Fine, Mark Steel, Beverley Naidoo and dozens of others.
Many contributors to the statement included personal testimonies to the importance of public libraries in their own professional journeys.
The statement figured in the Doncaster press and produced much hand-wringing in the corridors of power. Indeed, Mayor Winter wrote to me this week, responding to the statement. His letter denied that there was any wide-scale cost-cutting at all. This gave an extra fillip, if one was needed, to the several hundred strong demonstration by librarians and their supporters through Doncaster town centre on Saturday, July 12th. At the rally, author Helena Pielichaty and I spoke.
But my concerns go wider than just Doncaster, dire though the situation is. Many of those who emailed me told me of similar situations in their own areas. To cap it all, on Thursday, July 10th at the Kids' Lit Quiz Final in Oxford, I was told by a librarian, a leading member of the Federation of Children's Book Groups, that she faces a £7,000 pay cut. I was appalled to discover how a local authority could treat someone with vast experience and expertise.
In conclusion, recent events acted as a flash of lightning which illuminated the current landscape in the world of books. Libraries are under threat. Some sixty closed last year. The numbers of professional library staff fell in the decade 1995 to 2005 by 13%. National book expenditure in libraries is at its lowest level since 1995.
Nor is it just public libraries. Everywhere, there is a shift from the book to computer services. In some schools the library has been closed, only to reopen as an IT suite. And the books? They have been boxed up and locked in a cupboard somewhere. School librarians have been dismissed and don't forget, only 28% of schools had qualified staff in the first place. Finally, in both public and school libraries, there is a shift from qualified staff to untrained volunteers. In my opinion, this amounts to nothing less than an undeclared war on the book.
I would propose a national conference to set up an umbrella body including everyone who wants to preserve the place of the book in the life of the UK. The country has plummeted down the international PISA ratings for children's reading, a scandal when we remember the UNESCO report that concluded that reading for pleasure is a more important indicator of educational achievement than social class. The conference would include the main professional bodies such as CILIP, the SLA, the Society of Authors, the Poetry Society, the teaching and public sector unions, children's book magazines such as Carousel, Books for Keeps and Armadillo and the country's novelists, illustrators and poets.
The aim would be to draw up a brief, popular, commonly agreed charter to defend the place of the book in our national life. Hopefully, it could also produce a free book full of accounts from people in public life together with poems, stories and snippets about the importance of reading. This may sound a very ambitious undertaking but, despite the marvellous Year of Reading, everywhere I go reading for pleasure faces significant challenges. There are sharks circling in the water. It is time to make a splash and drive them away.

Alan Gibbons, children's author
0151 474 8392 (website) (blog)

Monday, June 30, 2008

Read It Again Prize

"Max and the Doglins" by Amanda Montgomery Higham is the winner of the third "Read it Again!" Cambridgeshire Children's Picture Book award. Amanda was presented with the award by last year's winner Tim Hopgood at a special presentation ceremony in front of 230 children at the Burgess Hall, St Ives in Cambridgeshire on Thursday 26th June.
The award is for a debut picture book where the story and pictures are the work of one person.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Carnegie and Greenaway Awards

CILIP Carnegie Winner Here lies Arthur by Philip Reeve

CILIP Kate Greenaway Winner Little Mouse's Big Book of Fears by Emily Gravett

The Award Ceremony at the British Library on Thursday 26 June was compared by Bob (I didn't catch his last name) who is head of CILIP. His style is very much jacket off, sleeves rolled but despite a jokey manner he made a worth while plea for local authorities to maintain their expert children's librarians. Michael Portillo presented the prizes and showed convincing interest throughout the ceremony.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Lauren Child Exhibition, Manchester

Green Drops and Moonsquirters: The Utterly Imaginative World of Lauren Child
Saturday 21 June 2008 - Sunday 21 September 2008
Manchester Art Gallery
Join Charlie and Lola, Clarice Bean and friends in an interactive summer exhibition for under 7s and their families.

Step into the utterly imaginative world of Lauren’s books and explore playhouses where you can:

Sit at Charlie and Lola’s kitchen table and make meals with food from their fridge.
Dress-up in Charlie and Lola’s favourite outfits including Lola’s fabulous alligator costume from I Am TOO Absolutely Small For School.
Draw imaginary friends on a magna-doodle (inspired by Lola’s friend Soren Lorensen).
Visit Grubby Alley where That Pesky Rat lives.
Perform puppet shows to an audience of family and friends (in a theatre created from the four-poster bed in The Princess and The Pea).
You can also see over 40 original illustrations from Lauren's award-winning stories. And have an exclusive first peek at the author's next book.

Green Drops and Moonsquirters is the very first exhibition to be dedicated to Lauren Child's work. Her illustrations artfully combine drawing, collage and photography while witty and irreverent text weaves through the pages in unconventional ways.

Curated and developed by Manchester Art Gallery, the free exhibition premieres at the gallery from 21 June until 21 September 2008 before touring to museums and galleries around the UK.

Supported by the Arts Council England.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Chris Powling: Now don't get me wrong...


Chris Powling

Number 26: Age-Banding Books

…I’m all for keeping book buyers informed. That’s what reviews and the reviewing media are for (not least this very journal). Where books for children are concerned, with choosers who may well be someone other than the intended reader, a bit of preliminary reconnaissance is especially helpful. That’s where the blurb on the book itself comes in – not to mention the hard-to-miss signals provided by the lay-out of the pages, the size of the print, the style of the illustrations and a sampling of the actual text. With evidence like this as a guide there’s nobody, so far as I know, who has ever confused the intended readership of, say, THE HOUSE AT POOH CORNER with that of TREASURE ISLAND.

Why, then, are publishers now insisting that all children’s books carry a prominently displayed ‘age-band’ to indicate that a particular title is for readers of 6+, or 9+, or 12+ or, in the case of Adrian Mole perhaps, 13 ¾? Getting a ‘fix’ on a book is one thing. Getting a Kwik-Fix is entirely another.

I’m not surprised there’s been a back-lash. Go to to see what Philip Pullman, Anne Fine, Jackie Wilson, Michael Rosen and Adele Geras think…along with about 2000 other writers, illustrators, librarians, academics et al. The list is growing steadily as I write. No need to repeat the website’s arguments here but Philip Pullman sums up his objections thus:

“You simply can’t decide who your readership will be. Nor

do I want to, because declaring that it’s for one group in

particular means excluding every other group, and I don’t

want to exclude anybody. Every reader is welcome and I

want my books to say so.”

For me that settles it. Well do I remember, for instance, my first encounter with TREASURE ISLAND. As a ten-year-old, I was equally impressed with the half of it I understood and the half of it I didn’t. Much more puzzling was THE HOUSE AT POOH CORNER which I came across at about the same time. How could such a ‘baby’ book make me laugh so much? If the first had been banded at 12+, say, and the second at 6+, I’m pretty sure I’d have rejected both. As it was, I was happy to find out for myself if these were books for me...because neither of them made me feel unwelcome.

Chris Powling – June, 2008

Age Banding - the story continues

Over 2,000 signatures now on the website.

the following is from Peter's Library Services newsletter:
BOOK NEWS : "Age" concern continues

The Society of Authors has called for age-guidance plans to be temporarily suspended pending a review, following the unprecedented author revolt last week. Novelist Celia Rees, chair of the children’s writers and illustrators group at the Society of Authors, told the Bookseller that if publishers go ahead it should only be with individual authors’ approval.

“Not all writers are against age guidance, but given the strong opposition that has emerged in recent days, we have proposed to the Publishers Association that the Children’s Book Group’s plans should be put on hold, pending a review, which would include a number of authors,” she said. A spokesperson for the CBG said that publishers were continuing to discuss author concerns on an individual basis. “Publishers are getting lots of valuable feedback from authors, which in turn is helping them address the specific issues and concerns that authors are raising.

The CBG remains committed to the principle of age guidance, which it sees as one of several tools that will help more adults choose and buy a book for the children in their lives.” Walker and Usborne said that they were among those playing a “wait and see” game. Usborne, said that publishers were “never as united as the first statements indicated”. Whilst Walker has indicated it is in “no hurry” to join the age guidance movement.

This week’s “Publishing News” carries a full page listing of authors and book trade people, who feel age banding is ill-conceived – together with a further full page article on page 10. Incidentally last week’s most popular and most read article in Egazette was the “Age raging angst.”

Fantastic Book Awards - Lancashire

My Haunted House by Angie Sage
Oranges in No Man’s Land by Elizabeth Laird
Mr Gum and the Biscuit Billionaire by Andy Stanton
Spy Dog 2 by Andrew Cope
Lexi by L.S. Matthews

The lucky authors have received a uniquely engraved fountain pen AND a very special letter written by one of the schools that voted them a winner! The winners were over the moon! This is what they said:

Andrew Cope said “You’ve put a huge grin on my face!”
Elizabeth Laird said, “Here’s a big huge massive enormous colossal gigantic thank you to all of you!”
Andy Stanton was chuffed with his pen & said, “ I have started writing the next ‘Mr Gum’ book with it. It’s my lucky pen!”

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Bisto Book of the Year

Hurrah! A children's book wins a children's book many short listed books for Children's Book Prizes seem to be for teenage books.

Siobhan Dowd’s The London Eye Mystery (David Fickling) was named Bisto Book of the Year 2007/08 at a ceremony in Dublin last week. The author died of cancer last year, and the trophy and cheque for €10,000 were ac­cepted on her behalf by her friend and publisher, David Fickling. Siobhan's husband Geoff Morgan was also at the ceremony and the prize money will be donated to The Siobhan Dowd Trust

Guardian Children's Fiction Prize

The long list is:

The Goldsmith's Daughter by Tanya Landman

Bad Blood by Rhiannon Lassiter

Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd (David Fickling)

Cosmic by Frank Cottrell Boyce

Before I Die by Jenny Downham

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

The Knife that Killed Me by Anthony McGowan

Monday, June 02, 2008

No to Age Banding

No to Age Banding
We are writers, illustrators, librarians, teachers, publishers and booksellers. Some of us have a measure of control over what appears on the covers of their books; others have less.

But we are all agreed that the proposal to put an age-guidance figure on books for children is ill-conceived, damaging to the interests of young readers, and highly unlikely, despite the claims made by those publishers promoting the scheme, to make the slightest difference to sales.

We take this step to disavow publicly any connection with such age-guidance figures, and to state our passionately-held conviction that everything about a book should seek to welcome readers in and not keep them out.

Here are some of our reasons:

Each child is unique, and so is each book. Accurate judgments about age suitability are impossible, and approximate ones are worse than useless.
Children easily feel stigmatized, and many will put aside books they might love because of the fear of being called babyish. Other children will feel dismayed that books of their ‘correct’ age-group are too challenging, and will be put off reading even more firmly than before.
Age-banding seeks to help adults choose books for children, and we're all in favour of that; but it does so by giving them the wrong information. It’s also likely to encourage over-prescriptive or anxious adults to limit a child's reading in ways that are unnecessary and even damaging.
Everything about a book is already rich with clues about the sort of reader it hopes to find – jacket design, typography, cover copy, prose style, illustrations. These are genuine connections with potential readers, because they appeal to individual preference. An age-guidance figure is a false one, because it implies that all children of that age are the same.
Children are now taught to look closely at book covers for all the information they convey. The hope that they will not notice the age-guidance figure, or think it unimportant, is unfounded.
Writers take great care not to limit their readership unnecessarily. To tell a story as well and inclusively as possible, and then find someone at the door turning readers away, is contrary to everything we value about books, and reading, and literature itself.
To sign up and show your support for this statement, send an email to . We will publish your name and any relevant description (eg writer, bookseller) on this web site and possibly in the Bookseller advertisement. We'll keep your email address confidential and won't pass it to anybody else, but we may write occasionally with relevant news.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Red House Children's Book Award

Derek Landy’s debut novel, Skulduggery Pleasant, has won the Red House Children’s Book Award (RHCBA) - the only national children’s book award to be chosen exclusively by children.

As winner of the Red House Children’s Book Award Derek Landy joins a group of illustrious past winners including Quentin Blake in 1981 with Mister Magnolia, Roald Dahl in 1983 with The BFG, Jacqueline Wilson in 1996 with Double Act, J.K. Rowling in 1998 with Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and Michael Morpurgo with Private Peaceful in 2004. Former Children’s Laureate, Jacqueline Wilson DBE, says of the award “It’s the book award that means the most to me because it’s the one where children do the voting.”

The category winners were in the Books for Younger Children section, Polly Dunbar with Penguin published by Walker Books and in the Books for Younger Readers Chris Riddell Ottoline and the Yellow Cat published by Macmillan Children’s Books. Derek Landy won the Books for Older Readers as well as being awarded overall winner.

· The Red House Children’s Book Award, now in its 28th year, is the only national award 100% selected by children – that includes both the shortlist and the winners.
· It’s totally democratic & accessible - any child can take part and vote via the website or via a Freepost address.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Who's Kidding Who?

Listed in one of those free book magazines - May edition of Booktime to be precise - is a list said to be from The Mammoth Book of Boys' Own Stuff. I haven't checked it out BUT the list is headed "Ten Books to Read Before the Age of Ten" and includes Coral Island, The Call of the Wild and Treasure Island!!

Angus Book Award 2008

Kate Cann wins 2008 Angus Book Award

Author Kate Cann has won the 2008 Angus Book Award for her novel Leaving Poppy, Lewis Miller, Chair of the Angus Youth Congress, presented the winning author with her trophy, a miniature replica of the Aberlemno Serpent Stone, and £500 prize at a ceremony in Montrose Town Hall on 20 May.

After several months of decision making and debate in the eight Angus secondary schools, the five shortlisted authors arrived from all over the UK to speak to the pupils and take part in the award ceremony in Montrose.

The ceremony, organised by 3rd year pupils, was hosted this year by Montrose Academy. Pupils from the other secondary schools spoke about the shortlisted books and asked the authors questions. This year’s voting was again a close run race but the reaction of the pupils to the announcement of the winner confirmed that this was an extremely popular choice.

The other shortlisted authors for the 2008 award were: Sherry Ashworth for Close-up (Simon & Schuster UK)), J. A. Henderson for Bunker 10 (Oxford University Press), Graham Marks for Omega 10 (Bloomsbury) and Anthony McGowan for Henry Tumour (Definitions).
Leaving Poppy is a taut, tense ghost story with a chilling edge, published by Scholastic. It tells the absorbing story of Amber who has fled from her claustrophobic, manipulative family, determined to start her life again in a different town, only to discover that her new home hides a horrifying, terrible secret. When circumstances bring her suffocating sister Poppy to live with her again, a latent power concealed in the house is awakened. The book raises the question, which is more frightening - the supernatural or the selfish, destructive family?

Kate Cann said: “The Angus Book Award was an absolute blast! It more than deserves its formidable reputation. The girls from Arbroath Academy blew me away with their wonderful report on my book at the ceremony. The kids ran the show and they did it brilliantly. I am so proud and happy to have won.”

Friday, May 16, 2008

bedtime stories on the bbc


Next week’s Bedtime Stories on the CBeebies Channel will be read by the Children’s Laureate Michael Rosen.

Michael has chosen five of his favourite children’s books to read – Ruby Sings the Blues (Niki Daly), Eliza and the Moonchild (Emma Chichester Clark), Farmer Duck (Martin Waddell), The Opposite (Tom Macrae) and Slinky Malinki Catflaps & Hairy Maclary of Donaldson’s Dairy (both by Lynley Dodd).

Michael said: “I chose these stories because they are rhythmic and full of feeling and fun. I think it’s really important that children hear the sounds of stories read with full colour and characterisation. Stories on the page need to be lifted and dramatised. I hope if mums and dads are watching they’ll think ... I could read a story like that.”

Bedtime Stories are produced by Angela Young for CBeebies Presentation. You can see Michael reading the stories from May 19th – 23rd on the CBeebies channel at 6.45 pm. Ruby Sings the Blues and Eliza and the Moonchild will both be repeated on Saturday 24th and Sunday 25th at 6.45 pm.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Illustration Cupboard Exhibition

The Illustration Cupboard
presents its Spring Exhibition 2008

The Art of Aardman
Original Film Animation Artwork
Thursday 15 May to Saturday 07 June

Monday – Friday 10am to 6pm
Saturday 12pm – 5pm

A Multimedia exhibition including artwork by Nick Park and Michael Salter for Wallace & Gromit and Chicken Run
Sketches of the claymation figure Morph by Peter Lord
Rare character development drawings for Creature Comforts
Working film storyboards for Shaun the Sheep
Original claymation models and documentary film will also be on view.

Entrance is free, Families welcome
3 Minutes form Green Park Station
Meter Parking outside the gallery
Wheelchair access

Hurrah! At long last a prize for humour

The Roald Dahl Funny PrizeBooktrust, in association with Children’s Laureate Michael Rosen, is delighted to announce the inaugural Roald Dahl Funny Prize.
This exciting new prize has two categories – the funniest book for children aged six and under, and the funniest book for children aged seven to fourteen. Fiction, non-fiction and poetry will be welcomed.

A panel of five judges will be chaired by Michael Rosen; the other judges are Sophie Dahl, Dara O'Briain, Chris Riddell and one other.

The judges will select a shortlist of six books in each category in early September to tie in with the third Roald Dahl Day on 13 September.

The winner of each category will receive £2,500, which will be presented at an awards ceremony in London in November 2008.

Michael Rosen explains:

'If there had been a prize for funny books when Roald Dahl was writing, he would have won it with every book he wrote! That’s why this award was named in his honour.

'Children love funny books but when adults draw up lists of the best books they nearly always leave the funny ones out. When I became the Children’s Laureate, I said that my job should be as an ambassador for fun. That's why I came up with the idea of this funny prize, all part of the job!”

The Roald Dahl Funny Prize aims to:

> promote laughter and humour as a feel-good factor when reading, by encouraging families to read together and discover the pleasure of humorous (funny) books. This in turn will reinforce the message that reading together promotes family well-being.

> draw attention to funny books as readable and enjoyable books. We hope that the prize will enable these books to gain a profile that makes them more accessible to children and young people. The prize will work to achieve this through a range of activities supported by libraries, teachers and parents.

> reward and encourage authors (and illustrators) who write and illustrate books using humour in their stories, poetry and fiction. By creating these awards we hope to promote a vibrant area of publishing often overlooked by other awards.

Felicity Dahl, the author's widow, said:

'Roald would have been absolutely thrilled to have this prize named in his honour. Humour is at the heart of all his writings and, as a strong supporter of new talent, he'd have been tremendously excited at all the wonderful funny books being published for young people today.'

Sophie Dahl, eldest grandchild of Roald Dahl and the inspiration for the character of Sophie in The BFG, added:

'I am thrilled and tickled to join the judging panel of the Roald Dahl Funny Prize this year. A prize that involves laughing until your belly aches and you get the hiccups is the kind of prize I want to be involved with for eternity. It's a pretty irresistible proposition.'

Roald Dahl himself, of course, appreciated the role of humour in his writing:

'My lucky thing is that I laugh at exactly the same jokes that children laugh at and that's one reason I'm able to do it. I don't sit here roaring with laughter but you have wonderful inside jokes all the time and it's got to be exciting, it's got to be fast, it's got to have a good plot but it's got to be funny. It's got to be funny. Each book I do is a different level of that ...

'The fine line between roaring with laughter and crying because it's a disaster is a very, very fine line. You see a chap slip on a banana skin in the street and you roar with laughter when he falls slap on his backside. If in doing so you suddenly see he's broken a leg, you very quickly stop laughing and it's not a joke anymore. I don't know, there's a fine line and you just have to try to find it.'

For further information go to

Monday, April 28, 2008

Royal Mail Awards for Scottish Children's Books Shortlist

Early Years (0-7 years)
- TYRANNOSAURUS DRIP by Julia Donaldson & David Roberts (Macmillan)
- BILLY MONSTER’S DAYMARE by Alan Durant & Ross Collins (OUP)

Younger Readers (8-11 years)
- HOX by Annemarie Allan (Floris Books)
- ROBE OF SKULLS by Vivian French & Ross Collins (Walker Books)
- DARK ISLE by D A Nelson (Strident)

Older Readers (12-16 years)
- THE WITNESS by James Jauncey (Macmillan)
- BUNKER 10 by J.A. Henderson (OUP)
- CRUSADE by Elizabeth Laird (Macmillan)

The winners will be announced in Aberdeen on November 18 2008.

English Association Awards

The winners of the 2008 English 4-11
Best Children’s Illustrated Book Awards
(for books published in 2007) are

Key Stage 1
by Martin Jenkins, illustrated by Vicky White Walker

Key Stage 2
Greek Hero
by Mick Manning and Brita Granström Frances Lincoln

Key Stage 1
Wonderful Life
by Helen Ward Templar

Key Stage 2
by Helen Ward, illustrated by Marc Craste Templar

Special Award
The Invention of Hugo Cabret
by Brian Selznick Scholastic


Archie’s War by Marcia Williams Walker
Art to make you Scared by Elizabeth Newbery Frances Lincoln
Beowulf Retold by Nicky Raven, illustrated by John Howe Templar
Big Brave Brian by M.P.Robertson Frances Lincoln
Dinomummy by Phillip Lars Manning Kingfisher
Ottoline and the Yellow Cat by Chris Riddell Macmillan
Poems About Earth Compiled by Andrew Fusek Peters Evans
The Art Book for Children: Book two by Amanda Renshaw Phaidon
The Life of Anne Frank by Menno Metselaar and Rudd Van Der Rol Macmillan
The Snow Leopard by Jackie Morris Frances Lincoln
The Twin Giants: A Love Story by Dick King-Smith, illustrated by Mini Grey Walker
Wow! Rainforest Animals by Carolyn Franklin Book House

The Awards, given by the English Association, will be presented to the winners on Wednesday 21 May 2008 at 5.00pm at the British Academy, 10 Carlton House Terrace, London, following the Association’s AGM.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Short List 2008

CILIP Carnegie Medal: Congratulations to the following:
* Kevin Crossley-Holland, shortlisted for Gatty's Tale, has won before for Storm in 1985.
* Linzi Glass is shortlisted for Ruby Red, her second novel. She was brought up in South Africa and now lives in California.
* Tanya Landman is shortlisted for Apache. This is the first time she has been shortlisted for the Carnegie. She lives in Devon with her family.
* Elizabeth Laird's Crusade is her fifth book to be shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie.
* Philip Reeve, shortlisted for Here Lies Arthur, worked in a bookshop before writing his first book, Mortal Engines.
* Meg Rosoff is shortlisted for What I Was, her third novel. She won the Carnegie award last year for Just in Case.
* Finding Violet Park is Jenny Valentine's debut novel which has already won the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize.

The CILIP KATE GREENAWAY Medal Shortlist 2008 Congratulations to
Walker Books - will he win it for an unprecidented third time?
Walker Books - this acclaimed young illustrator has already been chosen as one of Booktrusts' Best Ten Illustrators as has
EMILY GRAVETT Little Mouse's Big Book of Fears
JANE RAY (Text by Carol Ann Duffy) The Lost Happy Endings
CHRIS RIDDELL Ottoline and the Yellow Cat
ED VERE Banana!

The Carnegie Medal and its sister award, the Kate Greenaway Medal, are awarded annually by CILIP: the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals. The winners will be announced at a ceremony at the British Library in London on Thursday 26 June.

You will find interviews with many of the shortlisted authors and illustrators in back issues of Carousel. And an interview with Polly Dunbar will appear in the Summer copy of the magazine.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Do it Yourself

I'm uncertain how far down the do-it-yourself angle authors should go...see item below. My local library has a do-it-yourself check in and check out for books so librarians need never talk to the customer! Self-service check-outs in supermarkets must, surely, be reducing jobs. And I do wonder if this enterprise means that publishers can just concentrate on their massive promotions...but perhaps otherwise it would not have come about, and it will undoubtedly shift books which helps everyone. So maybe I'm just being grumpy...

Four authors who live in and around Somerset have collaborated to create a promotional poster to mark the National Year of Reading.

Lynne Benton, Rebecca Lisle, Sue Purkiss and Kathryn White feature on a poster which they are distributing to local schools and libraries, promoting their books and websites, and their availability for talks and workshops.

'We need to be more proactive,' says Sue Purkiss. 'We've got to be realistic about what our publishers can do for us, and rather than waiting for things to happen, we decided to take matters into our own hands. It was Kathryn’s idea to produce a poster, then Becky oversaw the design - with input from all of us - and I organised the distribution via the Somerset library service. The libraries are very keen to support local authors, particularly in view of their focus on the National Year of Reading.' The writers' publishers - Walker and Little Tiger Press - supported the idea by providing printouts of the poster for distribution.'It's already helped raise our profile locally,' Sue says. 'We're all getting more invitations to schools and libraries as a result.'

Sue's new novel, Warrior King (Walker Books), is her retelling of the story of King Alfred which is especially relevant for this area. 'Local readers will recognise the landscapes in my book, and I'm looking forward to talking to them about Alfred. He's a fascinating character, with far more influence on the way Britain developed than we give him credit for. Obviously I want children all over the country to read it, but there's nowhere better to start than our own region.'

Anya Hollis, Marketing Director of Walker Books welcomes the move.
"We are very happy to work collaboratively with our authors, and in particular to help spread the word about Sue, her new book The Warrior King and her backlist."

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

10 Best New Young Illustrators

The UK’s Best New Illustrators were revealed today by Children’s Laureate Michael Rosen at the Children’s Book Fair in Bologna. The final ten represent the best rising talent in the field of illustration today, who demonstrate remarkable creative flair, artistic skill and boundless imagination in their work.

They are:

Alexis Deacon

Polly Dunbar - read an interview with her in the summer edition of Carousel

Lisa Evans

Emily Gravett - you can read an interview in issue 32

Mini Grey - you can read an interview in issue 24

Oliver Jeffers

David Lucas

Catherine Rayner

Joel Stewart

Vicky White

David Roberts and Sam Lloyd were highly commended.

The final ten were chosen from over 250 published illustrators by an illustrious Booktrust panel. To be eligible, illustrators must have been published in the UK since 2000. The Big Picture Judging Committee comprised author and illustrator Anthony Browne; Sunday Times journalist Nicolette Jones; Antonia Byatt, director of literature strategy at Arts Council England; author Malorie Blackman; and John Huddy founder of the Illustration Cupboard.

Michael Rosen comments:
“This is a great time for the picture book. A new generation of artists in command of all the new technologies and with an up-to-the-minute view of the world has arrived. Every one of these makers of picture books deserves a place on a child's bookshelf with the inventiveness, wit and wonder they have given us.”

Shirley Hughes comments:
“The varied talents of these ten new illustrators represent the marvellous vitality of our profession. In an era in which we are bombarded by moving electronic imagery, looking at picture books is not only a vital part of learning to read but offers a lifelong pleasure in itself.”

The Best New Illustrators form part of the Big Picture campaign, which has events running throughout 2008. As well as the Best New Illustrators, Booktrust and Rough Guides have produced The Rough Guide to Picture Books which will be distributed free of charge by branches of Tesco and Waterstone’s. The Big Picture will also join up with the Campaign for Family Learning and The Big Draw to host Big Picture parties at libraries throughout October, to celebrate picture books and encourage family reading through drawing.

The exhibition of works by the ten Best New Illustrators will run at the Illustration Cupboard, Piccadilly, London from 17 April – 3 May.

Location: The Illustration Cupboard, 22 Bury St, St. James’s, London SW1Y 6AL

Dates: 17 April – 3 May

Opening times: Mon – Fri 10-6pm, Sat 12-5

Website: and

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Siobhan Dowd Trust

The Siobhan Dowd Trust is the dying bequest of the celebrated children’s author Siobhan Dowd. Just before her tragic death from cancer in August 2007 she personally and energetically supervised its foundation, to support, in all ways possible, disadvantaged young readers in the UK and Ireland. It was one of the very last things on Siobhan’s mind and clearly for her the most pressing cause in our society today.

The aims of the trust are simple and direct:
To take stories to our children without stories.
To bring the joy of reading to our children deprived of reading.
To bring books to our children deprived of books.
To fund disadvantaged readers where there is no funding, and to support disadvantaged readers where there is no support.
To fund and support any persons or organizations who help disadvantaged young readers.

The Trustees believe that the best and truest way faithfully to observe Siobhan’s last wish is to invite applications from persons or organizations in the UK or Ireland who need funding to directly help disadvantaged young readers. The Trustees will take a few months to consider and evaluate applications and then begin to disburse awards in the way that best seems to follow Siobhan’s wishes. By the terms of Siobhan’s will, all royalty income derived from her published novels and any posthumously published work will go to the Trust. The Trustees believe that Siobhan’s generosity will be the seed of something much larger, and so the Trust also welcomes donations from the public. The aspiration is to help as many disadvantaged young people as possible.

The Trustees are in no doubt of the importance of this bequest and its fundamental urgency for our children and for the future culture of the British Isles and Ireland. We may think we live in a literate society but, as Siobhan was well aware, there are too many places in our own ‘house’ where children are denied the opportunity to read. This is a charity that must begin at home, a home that, like Siobhan’s life, spans both sides of the Irish Sea.

A brief note on Siobhan: Siobhan spent most of her career looking after writers. Working for PEN she fought to help writers silenced by oppressive regimes around the world. Closer to home, she did all she could to get reading material into the hands of disadvantaged young people from all walks of life, for example encouraging people in young offenders’ institutes to read, and youngsters from the Romany culture to record their history. Her support for, and encouragement of, her fellow-writers was inexhaustible.

In some ways perhaps she sacrificed her own brimming talent for the benefit of other authors. And then, just as she discovered she was fatally ill, she put pen to paper and produced four of the most remarkable novels for children you could wish for. She was a writing phenomenon. The overriding thought of all those who knew her work is that her loss to the world of children’s writing is a tragedy. It is utterly characteristic that Siobhan should, at the end, put her mind unerringly to the most deserving group of all: the young reader. Siobhan realized that our literary culture - critics, bookshops, agents, publishing, libraries, schools - depends ultimately on the reader. And, of readers, the young reader is the most vulnerable. And amongst young readers, the disadvantaged young reader is the most deprived of all. Siobhan, at the last, and with all her usual clarity, decided to help them. And you can help them too.

The Siobhan Dowd Trust Books A Swift Pure Cry The London Eye Mystery Bog Child Solace(to be published in 2009)

The Trustees Tony Bradman Rachel Billington Polly Nolan David Fickling

Just click for more details about the Trust, about how to donate and about how to apply for support

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

David St John Thomas Charitable Trust Awards

Born to Dance by Katherine Reynolds published by Ideasa4writers has won the Children’s category in one of the David St. John Thomas Charitable Trust Awards. These awards are run in conjunction with Writers News and Writers Magazine. Born to Dance now goes on to try for the overall prize, competing with fiction for adults, non-fiction etc.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Philippa Pearce Memorial Lecture

Philippa Pearce died at the end of 2006 and widespread respect and affection for her writing is as strong as it ever was. Such is the extraordinary quality of her work that it has not only been honoured by the literary establishment, but has also constantly inspired new young readers and writers. Our aim, therefore, is to encourage young readers and writers, as Philippa Pearce valued so much her engagement with them. '

We' are a small group of her friends, family and colleagues who are planning a series of five lectures, spread over five years, to be delivered by various distinguished speakers with an interest in children's books. Some of the speakers may be authors themselves; all, from their different perspectives, will provoke thought. In this way and in Philippa Pearce's honour, we seek to acknowledge and understand excellence in writing for children, and to emphasize its continuing vital importance.

On 11th September 2008, at Homerton College - an institution with which she was always happy to be involved - the inaugural lecture will take the form of a direct tribute to Philippa Pearce's work. Subsequent lectures will range more widely, over the works of others, but will tend to reflect her own wide-ranging literary interests in, for example, the short story, the ghost story, the picture book and, of course, the novel.

In 2008, her own best loved novel, Tom's Midnight Garden, will have been in print for 50 years. Also in 2008 will come the publication of her very last story, A Finder's Magic, completed just before she died. Both will be widely celebrated by children, parents, grandparents, teachers, librarians and book lovers of every kind: a fitting context for the Memorial Lecture itself. Alongside the inaugural lecture, there will be a small exhibition of books, illustrations and other ephemera relating to Philippa Pearce's work in Homerton College library. We will not be charging admission to the first lecture, but numbers will be limited and from 1st April there will be a booking system in place on the website. You will need to use this to secure a seat. It will be found under the lectures link when you visit the web page

Friday, February 15, 2008

Waterstone's Children's Book Prize

Début author Sally Nicholls has scooped one of the most valuable and prestigious children’s books awards in the country at the age of just 24.

Sally, a graduate of the Writing For Young People MA at Bath Spa University, was just 23 when she wrote Ways To Live Forever, a powerful, inspiring and courageous story told in the voice of 11-year-old Sam, who is terminally ill with leukaemia.

Ways To Live Forever was announced as the winner of the Waterstone's Children's Book Prize 2008 by Children’s Laureate Michael Rosen in an evening ceremony at Waterstone’s Piccadilly on 13th February. As well as a £5,000 cash prize, Sally receives the promise of ongoing commitment from Waterstone’s 325 nationwide branches.

Beating off stiff competition from a nine-strong shortlist, Ways to Live Forever is set to be the début of the year -- foreign rights have already been sold in seventeen countries and rave reviews have been flooding in.

Publisher Marion Lloyd, of Marion Lloyd Books at Scholastic, said:
"I search for novels that send electrical tingles up my spine. Reading this manuscript was more like being plugged into a 1000-volt socket. This is a story for everyone, whatever their age.”

Joel Rickett, Deputy Editor of The Bookseller Magazine said:
"It’s easy to see why the judges of the Waterstone’s Children’s Book Prize 2008 were hooked by Sally Nicholls’ début. Ways To Live Forever is a deceptively simple yet heart-wrenching story of a young boy dying of leukaemia, handled with grace and rare humour. Nicholls largely avoids mawkishness or sentimental set pieces. Yet readers can’t help but fill in the blanks and despair. Having deftly dodged the pitfalls of carrying such a weighty story, Nicholls is poised to follow in the footsteps of her favourite authors Hilary McKay, Frank Cottrell Boyce and Philip Pullman."

Sally Nicholls said: “I am so excited to have won the Waterstone's Children's Book Prize. The experience has all felt very surreal, not just having my first novel published, but hearing how much my book has affected and moved the judges. There were some amazing novels on the shortlist, so it’s a real honour to have won”.

Sally Nicholls was born in Stockton in 1984. Tragically, she lost her father when she was just two years old. She spent most of her childhood immersed in books, and dreamt of becoming an author from a young age. After graduating in Philosophy and Literature at Warwick, she took and MA in Writing For Young People at Bath Spa University, where she won the prize for the writer who showed the most potential.

Sally is a practicing Quaker and a member of the Society of Friends and loves the theatre and reading - especially the works of Sartre, Kafka and Dostoevsky. She now lives in London and is writing her second novel, based on the pagan myth of the green man. The Midnight Hunter is due for release in January 2009.

Ways To Live Forever is a scrapbook of lists, stories, pictures, questions and facts put together by 11-year-old Sam. He’s a boy who collects facts and loves looking things up on the Internet. He’s curious about ghosts and UFOs - and also death. Sam has terminal leukaemia. He is going to die. And dying is a fact of life. His unsentimental view of living and dying sweeps aside our fears of death, and the pure, clear voice in which Sally Nicholls tells his story also speaks of the discovery of an astonishingly accomplished and powerful young writer.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Children's Writers and Illustrators Conference, Cambridge

The Children's Writers and Illustrators Group of The Society of Authors are holding a conference at Robinson College, Cambridge over the last weekend in August - 29-31 August 2008. Booking for this is now open to non-members. The conference is intended as a forum for the exchange of ideas for published and would-be published authors and illustrators but also for those interested in the whole children's book world.

The conference opens on Friday evening 29 August and closes mid-afternoon on Sunday. Speakers include David Almond, Laurence Anholt, Anthony Browne, Polly Dunbar, Julia Eccleshare, Nicolette Jones, Graham Marks, William Nicholson and the Children's Laureate Michael Rosen. There will also be parallel sessions dealing with (on the whole) more practical matters including how to survive school visits, working in remote areas with indigenous communities in Australia, how to manage time, how to make a living as a children's poet, story-boarding, from picture book to film, historical research and more.

Robinson College is a modern college set near the Backs so walking into the centre of Cambridge is a joy - a ten minute stroll alson a footpath takes one directly to King's College. Robinson opened in 1981, built to a high architectural standard with specially commissioned John Piper windows magnificently displayed in the chapel. The standard of catering is excellent and if the weather is glorious you can take your breakfast or lunch outside. Rarely, for a Cambridge college, you can walk on the grass. Ensuite accommodation with the lecture theatre, dining hall, exhibitions, Heffer's conference bookshop and bedrooms within the same central area. There are quick frequent trains from London to Cambridge and if you choose to drive there is even parking!

Further details and a booking form can be seen on Residential rates for the whole weekend for members of The Society of Authors are £255 plus VAT total £299.62 and for non-members £295 plus VAT total £346.62. Non-residential rates for the Saturday and Sunday only are for members £160 plus VAT £188 and non-members £200 plus VAT £235.

"I was invited by an author friend to join her at the Sussex Conference in 2000. It was the beginning of all kinds of good things for me. Apart from enjoying the stimulating and inspiring talks and workshops, I met interesting people and discovered a whole world of support and information I didn't even know existed. I joined the Society of Authors and went to the conferences in Leeds and Oxford. Each conference gave me something special that has enriched my personal and working life - a friendship, an inspiration, an opportunity - so I'm looking forward to Cambridge 2008" Sally Hewitt, non-fiction author