Friday, 29 May 2009

Dads in children's books

A recent Times article asks: Where are all the nice normal dads in children's books? The author, Damon Syson, found few role-model dads when he was looking for picture books to read to his young daughter, and thinks more books should reflect shifting gender roles and show dads doing more child care. To find books about fathers, you could use our theme index which checks the library catalogue for children's fiction on particular subjects. Recent examples include My dad is brilliant by Nick Butterworth (Walker, 2008) and Grizzly dad : why dads are great (even the grumpy ones) by Joanna Harrison (David Fickling, 2008).

Monday, 18 May 2009

The Gruffalo ten years on.

The Gruffalo, written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler, has become a modern classic since it was first published in 1999, and it's also soon to be a film. In yesterday's Observer, Robert McCrum puts it in its place in the great tradition of British storytelling for children.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Margaret Mahy

The latest Notes from the Horn Book features an interview with Margaret Mahy, the veteran author from New Zealand. Since 1969, when her first book was published, Mahy has written for every age group, from picture book readers to teenagers. She's won many awards, including the Carnegie Medal twice for The Haunting and The Changeover - the latter was the first of her books I ever read. It's a powerful, supernatural romance which I strongly recommend. In 2006, she also won the Hans Christian Andersen Award, which is given biennially by the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) to honour an author who has made a lasting contribution to international children's literature. For more information about Margaret Mahy, see the pages from Christchurch City Libraries where she worked before becoming a full time writer, and see our library catalogue for a list of the titles we hold.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Books for Keeps

The May edition of Books for Keeps is now in the library. It has all the usual reviews and features, including Authorgraph (this month about Kaye Umansky, author of the Pongwiffy books) and Classics in Short (about The very hungry caterpillar, currently celebrating its 40th anniversary - there's an article by Joanna Carey about Eric Carle elsewhere in the magazine). Other highlights include Melvin Burgess on how Dickens provided a source of inspiration for his latest novel, Nicholas Dane, and Caroline Horn on digital developments in children's publishing. I though this was going to be about eBooks, and it does talk about them, but it's more about how authors and publishers are using the digital world to build audiences for new books, engage young readers and communicate directly with them online. (See also my previous post, eBooks- an awfully big adventure?)

Some of the examples in Horn's article I knew about - for instance, and are already on our internet links page - but I hadn't heard of, set up by a group of authors who write, funnily enough, about monsters. The premise is that they planned a get-together where they would write the ultimate book of monster pain and slaughter - but the monsters got to them first! Now they are trapped in a dark, damp cave and forced to blog about brilliant books, post exclusive poems and stories, reveal secret writing tips and more. It looks a lot of fun.

Friday, 8 May 2009

Scottish Children's Books Awards

The shortlist for the 2009 Royal Mail Awards for Scottish Children's Books was announced this week:

Early years (0-7): Manfred the Baddie by John Fardell, Pink! by Lynne Rickards and Margaret Chamberlain and Stick Man by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler.

Younger readers (8-11): Dino Egg by Charlie James, The Eleventh Orphan by Joan Lingard and First Aid for Fairies and Other Fabled Beasts by Lari Don.

Older readers: (12-16): Crash by J A Henderson, Ostrich Boys by Keith Gray and The Reckoning by James Jauncey.

The awards are chosen by children, either as individuals or through groups organised by teachers and librarians. There are also competitons for reviews and Gaelic and Scots creative writing. For full details, follow the links above. All the books can be borrowed from this Library, apart from the James and the Jauncey which are currently on order.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Children's literature updates

Some bits and pieces of news from the last week or so:

Nicola Morgan and aspiring writers

I've noticed that An awfully big blog adventure, as well as having links to individual authors, has a page marked For aspiring writers. This is a blog by Nicola Morgan which she introduces by saying: " I hope you are here because of a burning need to be published, a passion for reading and a desire and ability to connect with readers. I am here because, if you are a wonderful writer, I want you to be published, as avid readers grow from brilliant books and we all want avid readers."

Nicola writes fine books for teenagers herslf - check out our holdings - for example, Fleshmarket (Hodder, 2003). Set in 1820s Edinburgh, home of the notorious body-snatchers, Burke and Hare, the story opens with a woman undergoing surgery before any sense of pain control or hygiene had been introduced. The woman’s son cannot forget what happened and seeks his revenge. Morgan writes about the past again in The highwayman’s footsteps (Walker, 2006), but also writes about the future, e.g. Sleepwalking (Hodder, 2004) is set in a future world where every emotion is regulated and there is no pain, no suffering and no evil.

Friday, 1 May 2009

Children's literature in Scotland

The Library has a new page on Children's Literature in Scotland. From it, you can access lists of books set in Scotland and of authors with Scottish connections. There are also two annotated booklists: Scottish Poems for Children and Teenage Titles from Scotland - the latter is completely new, though the other has been on our poetry page for a while. Finally, there is a collection of internet sites with further information about Scottish children's literature.