Monday, September 20, 2010

A Plethora of Children's Lit Prizes (shortlists)

There's been a lot of activity in the Children's Literature Prize area lately. With dates looming closer, the shortlists have been announced.
First for the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize to be announced on 8th October; the shortlist is
1) Ghost Hunter by Michelle Paver. This is the sixth and final book in the amazing Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series. Beginning with Wolf Brother, this series follows the life of Torak, orphaned and ostracised from his clan in a land 6000 years ago. It has been consistently brilliant throughout, and the last book was gripping and enthralling.
2) Unhooking The Moon by Gregory Hughes is an extraordinary story tracing the journey of two orphans, 10 year old 'Rat' and her brother, Bob, as they hitch a lift from Winnipeg, Ontario to New York in search of their uncle, knowing only his name and that he is a 'drug-dealer'.
3)Now by Morris Gleitzman is the third book in his series centred around the Holocaust and conclues the story of childhood friends, Felix and Zelda. Felix is now a very old man and his granddaughter, Zelda (named for his old and treasured friend) shows unique bravery and stamina in standing up to school bullying and dealing with terrifying forest fires.
4) The Ogre of Oglefort by Eva Ibbotson offers some relief ffrom the highly serious subject matters of the others, while maintaining the highest standards of writing and story-telling. Four unusual companions set out to rescue a princess from an ogre, who is not at all what he seems. But then, the princess is something of a surprise, as well.
The Booktrust Teenage Prize 2010 has also just announced it's shortlist of six books, with the prize to be announced on 1 November 2010. The nominees are:
1)Halo by Zizou Corder
2)The Enemy by Charlie Higson
3)Unhooking The Moon by Gregory Hughes
4)Nobody's Girl by Sarah Manning
5)Revolver by Marcus Sedgewick
6) Out of Shadows by Jason Wallace
And one final mention for the Roald Dahl Funny Prize. There are two shortlists involved here, so for the sake of blog space, I'll just give you a few of my favourites and the link to the site.
For the Funniest Book for ages 6 and under:  I really love the wonderful picture book Dog Loves Books by Louise Yates. (My review for this one is one my Picturebooks page.) Also, One Smart Fish by the magnificent author/illustrator Chris Wormell.
In the Funniest Book for Children Aged Seven to Fourteen Years (quite an age range there): I really love the Clumies Make A Mess by  Sorrel Anderson (My review for this is on the What Ae You Reading page.) And here's the link.....

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Derek Landy

Today, the children of Galway (both in body and spirit) turned out in incredible force at Dubray Books on Shop Street in Galway to meet Derek Landy. They were trying to queue from about 12.00, but I had to send them away, promising them front positions. In retrospect, I should have gotten out the 'coat room' numbers, perhaps. In the end, inspite of there being over 200 people moving through the shop...and inspite of the extremely changeable weather, it all went off without a hitch. Derek arrived in good time and got straight to it! Throughout the entire event (we were there until 7.30pm...3 1/2 hours!), he was lively, engaging, gracious, smiling, funny...truly amazing as he took time with each and every child (and their parents). And even those who stood in that queue for over 3 hours...tired and cranky, though they may have been prior to reaching him....all of them left saying it was well worth the wait, with smiles on their faces, clutching their newly signed books. It was great! And Derek Landy is truly stellar!!!!
Many thanks to Derek... let's do it again sometime!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Author! Author!

Just a quick word to remind everyone about two events that are closing fast upon us. It's all go this week in Galway! WhileI couldn't attend the Mountains to Sea Festival (not happy about that at all), I am delighted with the following:
1) Don't forget.... tomorrow, Tuesday, 14th September at 4pm, DEREK LANDY will be at Dubray Books, Galway to sign his new book (and the fifth in the series) 'Skulduggery Pleasant : Mortal Coil'!!!! This is Derek's first appearance in the West of Ireland since winning the Bord Gais Irish Book of the Decade earlier this year. The award was voted by you, his wonderful readers, for the first in the series, simply titled 'Skulduggery Pleasant'. And I'm sure Derek won't mind signing the earlier books, as well. It's looking like there will be a crowd...lots and lots of interest.... but don't worry, there will be the wonderful staff of Dubray Books (that means myself and my co-workers) to entertain you. And we can be pretty entertaining. See you all there!

2) Also, and very exciting indeed, Deirdre Sullivan will be at the Galway City Library on Augustine Street at 6pm on Wednesday, 15th September to launch her new (and first) novel for teens, 'Prim Improper' published by Little Island.

3) And finally, back to tomorrow evening 6.30 pm our time, do link up to the Cornelia Funke live online launch of 'Reckless', coming to us around the globe via live streaming from New York. (It's 1.30pm EST for my good friends and family in the US.)
Busy, busy, busy....

Saturday, September 11, 2010

New Picture on the Blog Header

Just briefly, in case you're wondering, the new picture I've put up on the blog header is another from the wonderful legacy of Jessie Willcox Smith. This one I've always known as 'Picture Books In Winter' from the famous poem by Robert Louis Stevenson. As summer comes to a close and the autumn makes it's presence known with greater emphasis each day, this is a poem I often think I loved as a child. (you can find it in the classic collection "A Child's Garden of Verse" by Stevenson...yes, indeed, the same man who gave us 'Treasure Island' and 'Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde', among other great classics.)

Picture-books in Winter
by Robert Louis Stevenson  
Summer fading, winter comes--
Frosty mornings, tingling thumbs,
Window robins, winter rooks,
And the picture story-books.

Water now is turned to stone
Nurse and I can walk upon;
Still we find the flowing brooks
In the picture story-books.

All the pretty things put by,
Wait upon the children's eye,
Sheep and shepherds, trees and crooks,
In the picture story-books.

We may see how all things are
Seas and cities, near and far,
And the flying fairies' looks,
In the picture story-books.

How am I to sing your praise,
Happy chimney-corner days,
Sitting safe in nursery nooks,
Reading picture story-books?


Launch: 'Prim Improper'

Excellent news from Deirdre Sullivan (and Little Island Press, those wonderful and talented people!): Deirdre will be at the Galway City Library this Wednesday evening, 15th September at 6pm to officially launch her new (and first) novel for teens, 'Prim Improper'. This wonderful book tells the story of Primrose Leary. Prim has just started secondary school, has a burgeoning interest in boys, and has to deal with an extremely embarassing father she barely knows along with the fact that her mother isn't around anymore. Told with compassion and real humour, 'Prim Improper' demonstrates a great understanding of character and storyline.
Deirdre is a local Galway girl who graduated from NUI Galway with a masters degree in drama and theatre and is now teaching in Dublin... and, I'm assured, is finishing her second book as we speak. Busy woman!
All are welcome to attend the launch, so I hope to see you there.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Queen of Teen 2010

The votes have all been counted and it's all over but the shouting. The 2010 Queen of Teen, as voted by you, the readers is......... Cathy Cassidy! Author of many wonderful books, such as Indigo Blue, GingerSnaps, Angel Cake, the Daisy Star books (for younger readers) and the newly published Cherry Crush (first of the Chocolate Box Girls), Cathy is one of the hardest working and most giving of her time. Congratulations, Cathy Cassidy!!!!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

MS ReadaThon

It's time, once again, for the MS ReadaThon! Kicking off on the 15th of October, you have a whole month of reading your favourite books to support this very worthy cause (and be in with a chance to win some fantastic prizes.) If, for some reason your school doesn't participate, don't forget that you can sign up as an individual. And... for all you adults, this year MS ReadaThon have created a campaign for grown-ups to talk about all their wonderful memories of great childhood reads and discuss their current reading. Great idea for bookclubs!  Competitions, quizzes, polls, etc. are available on-line for children and grown-ups. So... pop into your local library or bookshop to pick up all the information you'll need; or check out the newly refurbished website from the link below. Get ready to read for a great cause!

There's also a facebook page to follow all the bookish action and excitement. And, if anyone of you would like to join me, on my blog as I organise a blog-reading-event, just contact me and let me know. Look forward to hearing from you!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Queen of Teen Last Chance!

This is your very last chance to vote online for the 'Queen of Teen'. The voting closes on 9th September (that's tomorrow) and the 'Queen of Teen 2010' will be crowned on Friday, September 10th. If you haven't already done so, just click on to the link below and follow the instructions. It is the teen-fiction-loving readers who choose their Queen, so your vote absolutely counts! Last chance!!!!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Reminder about Reading

As school is well and truly underway, and winter (ugh) approaches, I wanted to republish this essay from my dear friend Kevin Whelan as a reminder to us all. Reading should always be a pleasure and one that we pass on to the children with joy... but, as we all know, sometimes it's just not that easy. In the effort that is made to get them through the curriculum boxes, sometimes the joy of reading for pleasure gets lost. It's too important. Don't let it.


                          By Kevin Whelan

When I was a child [not a ‘kid’: as my nephew Ciaran Whelan always reminds me, “A kid is a goat”] a book was a fantastic thing to hold in one’s hands; turning the cover for the first time was like opening a secret door and stepping through into…what? And where? Somehow I knew that I could leave my life and its Sunday night school worries and other various minor troubles behind: for a few minutes or hours, I could engage in a form of nothing less than time travel.

     I mean how cool was that?

     It was always really exciting to turn the pages and see where the author took me.  It was as though they had gently taken my hand: I was going to have to trust them as much as they were going to trust me. I knew unpredictable and downright crazy things were going to happen. Better than that: I would meet real heroes and real villains and have adventures, real adventures, and feel happy and scared, and all sorts of other emotions.

       A good book was even a kind of food substitute; it fed my imagination and my heart. Good books still do. Which is a pretty incredible deal when you think about it. And they’re additive and calorie free. Organic too, I wouldn’t bet.

   Another thing: Reading should be a pleasurable, enjoyable experience. If you find a particular book ‘boring’ or too ‘difficult’ for you at the time, don’t feel that you have
‘failed’. You will not have. Put it aside or, pass it on to a friend. After all there are other books to read, thousands
and thousands of them—thank God. Sometimes you have to be ‘ready’ for a book, the way you need to be ‘ready’ when certain people come into your life—the good and the bad—and have the intelligence to recognise which is which: The ‘boring’ or ‘difficult’ book might one day turn out to be the ‘exciting’ and ‘easy’ book. The same of course applies to people.

   And if you don’t understand what I mean now then you might, one day—though I also accept that some books and some people are both ‘boring’ and ‘difficult’—and bad too. But you can’t have everything.

   But perhaps the simplest thing to tell someone who ‘hates’ reading is “I feel really sorry for you—you don’t know what you’re missing.”

   But we do.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Derek Landy Event

It is with great excitement that I take this moment to confirm that, yes, indeed...on Tuesday, 14th September at 4pm, Derek Landy will be at Dubray Books, Galway to celebrate his latest book and the fifth in the series, Skulduggery Pleasant : Mortal Coil, and to sign copies of this and all of his Skulduggery books. As we all know, Skulduggery Pleasant was the winner of the Bord Gais Irish Book of the Decade accolade, giving great validation to children's literature and it's young readers. This is Derek's first visit to the West of Ireland since winning this award. And at Dubray Books, we are completely over the moon to have him visit.
(Skulduggery Pleasant : Mortal Coil is released into the world tomorrow, 2nd September.)

Newest Issue of Inis Magazine

It's the first of September, and that means the Autumn 2010 issue of Inis Magazine (published quarterly by the good people of Children's Books Ireland) is in the shops! I happen to think this is one of the best yet. The cover art is by the wonderful Kevin Waldron. (You will also find this on this year's poster and brochure for the Children's Book Festival 2010.) Inside, the first article you are greeted with is Siobhan Parkinson's  keynote address from the CBI conference in May. This address "Chasing White Rabbits: Literature as a Collaborative Artform" is something that should be read over and over again by anyone involved with children's literature, so that we don't forget why we do what we do and how important children's literature is to our children, and to ourselves. You'll also find a conversation with Anthony Browne and an amzing article on the picturebook illustrations of Elena Ordiozola by Valerie Coghlan, who has an amazing grasp on illustration and visual literacy ... and much, much more. I take absolute delight in each and every issue of Inis, and am also proud to contribute (reviews) in my own small way. Thanks to Mags, Tom, David, Patricia, Jenny...everyone at CBI. And absolutely stunning crew!!!