Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Get Ready to Track Santa!

Each year at this time, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) runs a Christmas-themed programme on it's special website that will track Santa on his journey from the North Pole around the world as he delivers presents! This began in 1955 when a Sears department store ran an ad in the paper with a telephone number that children could ring to talk to Santa. However, the phone number was misprinted, and instead Colorado Springs Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) was inundated with calls. The commander in charge on that Christmas Eve instructed his staff to give each child the current location for Santa Claus. And so, a modern tradition began. NORAD took over from CONAD in 1958, handling all the calls and with the advent of the World Wide Web, a special site was set up that allows you all to follow Santas' travels on Christmas Eve.
In the meantime, you can go on the site where you can explore the North Pole, find interesting facts and play games. The countdown is rolling!
This is something I look forward to every year. And I'm sure your family would love it as much as I do. Here's the link so you can 'Track Santa':
http://www.noradsanta.org/

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Gift Giving...."one thing to wear, one thing to read"


As you might imagine, I am a HUGE believer in giving books as gifts. The  Four Gift Rule... has always been a mainstay in my life. But choosing those gifts takes time and thought, and frequently a little advice. While I love giving Christmas (or seasonal) themed books is always a delight, they do tend to have a limited application. January 1st rolls around and these books tend to get put away for the rest of the year. Nothing wrong with that, it's just that you probably want to give something that 'lasts' longer; lasts year-long.
Robert Dunbar gave a wonderful listing in yesterdays' Irish Times; the best of the best from the past year. Other reviewers, authors and childrens' literate enthusiasts have also been giving their thoughts on the matter (all excellent, I have to say), so I thought, why not Fallen Star Stories? Below is a glance at my favourite books throughout the year that you might wish to consider. ENJOY!

For the little ones (or all the family to share):

The Day The Crayons Came Home by Drew Daywalt/illustrated by Oliver Jeffers
I think we're all in consensus over this one. The follow up to The Day The Crayons Quit is just as hilarious and just as thought-provoking as it's predecessor. The crayons, having given up on their usual assigned tasks have decided it's time to make their way back home in hopes of having taught us all to think outside the (crayon) box. Letters and cards are sent announcing their impending arrivals. Of course, one of them takes the long way round.

Frances Dean Who Loved To Dance and Dance by Birgitta Sif
Out this year in paperback, I LOVE this book. The story of a little girl who dances to her inner music. But when people are looking at her, she can't hear the music any longer and is too shy to continue; until she meets a new friend, whose songs inspire her again. From the author/illustrator of Oliver (which I also highly recommend), this book is joyous, poignant and just right for those of us who lose our inner music from time to time. And, it is simply beautiful; gorgeous illustrations that make you want to look at ths book again and again and again....

A Great Big Cuddle:Poems For The Very Young by Michael Rosen, illustrated by Chris Riddell
Poems that bring joy, laughter and understanding into everyones' day are just the thing! Rosen has the gift of reaching the very young (and very young at heart. Riddells' illustrations ooze with charm, while giving an even more genuine quality to the text (if that's possible.) Big print, bold pictures and exceptional in every way; we all need a bit more poetry to help us tell our story and this is perfect.


How The Library (NOT The Prince) Saved Rapunzel by Wendy Meddour, illustrated by Rebecca Ashdown
Quirky, zany and absolutely marvelous, this contemporary adaptation of Rapunzel sees her take charge of her own destiny with clever rhyming text, colourful illustrations and a little help from her friends. No ivory towers here; Rapunzel lives by herself in a tower block, alone and sad and completely unimpressed when her prince comes along. The lift has broken, so it's up to her friends to climb up to help her. When she receives, not a 'happily ever after', but a job offer, Rapunzel quickly gets to work and changes her life. Just love it!

Aliens Love Dinopants by Claire Freedman and Ben Cort
We all need a bit of silliness in our lives. This, the latest in the Underpants series, gives us exactly that. Those underpants-loving aliens  (from Aliens Love Underpants) have returned, and this time they are after the underpants of the dinosaurs (from Dinosaurs Love Underpants). The aliens crash land in a jungle with absolutely no idea that they are about to discover the biggest stash of underpants EVER! But the dinosaurs aren't going to give their pants up that easily. Hilarious fun!


Goodnight Like This by Mary Murphy
This beautiful bedtime book is the perfect way to settle down with your little ones at nighttime. Subtle colours and lots of snuggly, snoozy bedtime action as all the animals settle in for the night will make everyone in the house ready for sleep. I love it! And you will, too. Enough said!







Pierre The Maze Detective: Search for the Stolen Maze Stone by Hiro Kamigaki and IC4DESIGN
This book is actually for older children (8+). Like the Where's Wally books, this works a bit like a
'find-the-object' book. But, there is a consistent plot-line throughout with maze-detective Pierre in search of Mr X, the dastardly thief who has stolen the Maze Stone. The Maze Stone will turn all of Opera City into a maze unless Pierre and his friend, Carmen can stop Mr X in time. As they find their way through 15 elaborate, magnificently drawn mazes, Pierre and Carmen journey through a fantastic worl of tree-tops, underground cities,a hot air balloon race and much, much more. There are hours of puzzles to solve, clues to an extra mystery to solve. WOW!

Newly competent readers :
Daisy and the Trouble With Piggy Banks by Kes Gray
Daisy explains all the troubles you will encounter in life, much to the dismay of her mother. This year, she has returned to explain the trouble with piggy banks, geting herself into more trouble than before. When her best friend, Gabby turns up with a brand new scooter, Daisy just has to have one, too; but they cost A LOT of money. So, she and Gabby come up with a money-making scheme. The Daisy books are written with a genuine childs' voice, much humour and a lot of heart. I just love Daisy and know the young readers in your house will, as well.


Claude: Lights, Camera, Action! by Alex T. Smith
I have nothing but glorious things to say about the Claude series of books! When Mr and Mrs
Shiny-shoes go out for the day, Claude and his best friend, Sir Bobblysock discover a film set just the other side of the fence. When the two lead actors are injured, Claude and Sir Bobblysock are asked to take their place. But will the addition of a wig turn our heroes into film stars? Well, of course it will. Who doesn't want to be a star?Another brilliant book in the Claude series! (note to all the grown-ups out there; where your day has been a little too much, the Claude books are the remedy for your woes.)

Pugs Of The Frozen North by Philip Reeve, illustrated by Sarah McIntyre
The race is on the frozen Top of the World! Facing snow trolls, sea monsters and hungry yetis makes this a dangerous business, but it only comes around once in a lifetime. If you win, you will receive whatever your heart desires. The competition is fierce and deadly. But Shen and Sika have an edge that all the contestants don't have; 66 pugs! That's 264 paws powering their sled...so let the race begin! Fantastic characters, filled with imagination and incredible amounts of fun!



That bit older:
The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell, illustrated by Gelrev Ongbico
This has to be my favourite book of the year. Fedora and her mother are wolf wilders, returning pet wolves of the Russian aristocracy to their natural wolf-like wild state; to be wary of human, to hunt and to fend for themselves. But the days just prior to the Russian Revolution are dangerous ones. When Feos' mother is taken prisoner by the army, Feo must go on the run and to find a way to rescue her mother. A book with adventure, heart and wild beauty; a book about standing up for what you love and believe in. The presentation of this book is stunning, with sumptuous illustrations throughout.

The Doldrums by Nicholas Gannon
This is the type of book that everyone wants to receive as a gift...and everyone wants to give. Brilliant story-telling comes with memorable characters and beautiful illustrations to create a contemporary adventure story with an old-fashioned feel. Archer B. Helmsley is the young grandson of the intrepid explorers, Rachel and Ralph Helmsley. His father is a lawyer and his mother spends most of her time trying to keep Archer safe from his inherent 'tendencies' that would make him follow in his grandparents footsteps. When his grandparents go missing on an iceberg in Antarctica, Archer concocts a plan, along with friends, Oliver Grun and Adelaide L. Belmont, to rescue them, bringing them back home in glory. It's a very good plan. But nothing goes quite the way Archer expects it. 


Kapheus Air by Marguerite Tonery, illustrated by David T. Wenzel
In this, book two of the Kapheus series, we return to the fantasical  realm of light.
“You must return… ssss, tick tock goes the clock tick tock, ssss. You must return to Kapheus, Children of the Light. All hope lives or dies with you. Ahh, tick tock goes the clock, tick tock…”
But while Elisa has been longing to return, brother Jamie really doesn't want to go back. But Eilsa cannot fulfill her destiny without Jamie. And the arrival of the giant boy, Setanta and the last shape-shifter in Éire make Jamies' decision more difficult. Beautiful fantasy adventure! (Also, please read Kapheus Earth if you haven't already.)

The Wordsmith by Patricia Forde
 Eloquent, thoughtful and thought-provoking dystopian novel set in a thoroughly believeable future, after the enviromental disaster has happened. Upon the disappearance of her master, Letta is promoted from apprentice to wordsmith. Her job in Ark is to collect and dispense words to the residents there from the List (language of Ark) of 500 words they are allowed. But when Letta discovers a sinister plan to rob the people of  all language, she realises she must take action to save, not only the people, but culture itself. Truly unique and mesmerising.


Teens and YA:
The Rest Of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness
What if you weren't the one who's supposed to save the world from zombies or vampires or whatever
is coming with all its' apocalyptic mayhem? What if you're just a normal kid who wants to graduate and go to the prom before someone blows up the school...again? Mikey is a kid just like that. But he and his friends find themselves living as 'collateral damage' to the evnts and actions of the 'heroes'. Sometimes, you just have to be able to find the extraordinary in your own ordinary life. Ness brilliantly riffs on all the typical YA genres in this novel that is stunning and considerate. The best!

Fire Colour One by Jenny Valentine
Iris' estranged and wealthy father, Ernst is now seeking to contact her at the end of his life....a man she barely remembers. Her manipulative mother has declared war in order to gain control of Ernsts' vast wealth and exceptional art collection, using Iris as a pawn in her game. Her best frien Thurston is halfway across the world and everything Iris knew, about life and about herself, is about to go up in flames. Written with honesty and integrity, this is a most welcome return for Jenny Valentine, one of the best authors of teen/YA literature. A wonderful novel about love, friendship, family and deception....with a little arson thrown in.

The Accident Season by Maura Fowley-Doyle 
The Accident Season is here; with broken bones, electrical faults and near misses. The knives will all be locked up, every corner will be padded, but accidents, it seems are unavoidable. The Accident season has been a part of Caras' life as long as he can remember. But how much is accident, and how much is something more sinister? Why is Caras' family so cursed?And, with the deaths of so many predecessors behind them, who will be next? Fantastic psychological drama/horror with a powerful punch.



The Door That Led To Where by Sally Gardner
AJ Flynn has failed all but one GSCE exam and his future is looking pretty grim. But, when he lands
an apprenticeship at a posh London law firm, quite by surprise; things begin to change rapidly. As he's cleaning out the office, AJ finds an old key with his initials and birthdate engraved on it. Determined to find the door that the key belongs to, AJ begins an unbelievable journey that takes him into London of the 1830's. He discovers a mystery that gives him the ability to change his life in the present day.  As he takes his friends along with him, they all discover that their lives are worth far more than they ever expected, that redemption is possible and that their lives can have meaning and purpose....they just have to decide for themselves where they belong. Brilliant time-flip novel that couls only have been written by Sally Gardner.


I could go on, But I risk boring you. For more recommendations, please do read Robert Dunbars'  "Cream of the Crop" article and don't forget the New York Times Notable Childrens Books of 2015. The Links are below:
http://www.irishtimes.com/culture/books/cream-of-the-crop-30-great-books-for-children-and-teenagers-1.2463156

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/06/books/review/notable-childrens-books-of-2015.html

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Jolabokaflod...the Icelandic Tradition

Each year at this time, Iceland celebrates the winter season with an unusual and most excellent literary tradition, Jolabokaflod (which translates as the "Christmas Book Flood".) In Iceland, the very best Christmas gift to give and receive is a book. This has been the most sought after present for decades.
Kristjan B. Jonasson, president of the Iceland Publishers Association explains;
"The culture of giving books as presents is very deeply rooted in how families perceive Christmas as a holiday. Normally, we give the presents on the night of the 24th and people spend the night reading. In many ways, it's the backbone of the publishing sector here in Iceland."
With a strong literary tradition that is centuries old, Iceland publishes more books per capita than any other country worldwide, with 5 books published per 1000 people. A catalog of the book titles on offer is sent out to every household. The majority of books are sold from late September through early November in anticipation of Jolabokaflod. 
Oh, and they give physical books, not e-books.
I can't imagine a nicer way to spend Christmas Eve than to be tucked in with a good book.
http://www.npr.org/2012/12/25/167537939/literary-iceland-revels-in-its-annual-christmas-book-flood

Monday, November 30, 2015

'Tis The Season...

As we bid farewell to November, we enter well and truly the holiday season. It's a very busy time in the bookshop because, as we all know, regardless of the occasion, books make the perfect gift. Not only that, but they are the perfect tool for building anticipation and excitement. Starting tomorrow, I will start my tradition of the Advent Calendar of Books page, which includes 24 books; one a day right up until Christmas Day.
Recently, I heard of a tradition that I think should be adopted by everyone. (In fact, I have always maintained a version of this in my home for years.)

Why not wrap up 25 books and leave them in a prominent place?  Each day, unwrap one book to read and share with family and friends....or even just to give yourself a moment to relax, enjoy and smile. They don't have to be new books, but it is nice to include a few brand new books to add to the variety and surprise. Picture books, seasonal collections and novels of winter which can be shared by all. Also, this can be adapted to suit any upcoming celebration, so if Christmas isn't your thing, don't feel left out. In fact, even if Christmas is the holiday you celebrate, wouldn't it be wonderful to include a few books about the other holidays celebrated at this time of year?
As I said, in my own home, at this moment in the year, the stack of winter and Christmas books comes out and sits near the fire for all and sundry to pick up, read and enjoy...I just never thought of wrapping them! Genius!
The weather has been very dramatic here, and it's easy to succumb to the dreary and dismal, dark days. Take the time to celebrate and life your spirits! Happy Holidays and happy reading!

Sunday, November 29, 2015

End of November.....

So, it's the last day of November. The weather is wild here in Galway and the season is hopping as we move firmly into the busiest time of the year. I hope you have all been keeping up with international Picture Book Month. Each day has given us a new picture book champion with insightful thoughts on the importance of the picture book, and I would say, not just their importance in the lives of small children, but in all our lives. If you've missed any, you can always scroll back through the post entries. You  really wouldn't want to miss a thing.
There are so many reasons that picture books stand out, but for me, perhaps the most important is in the memories picture books create and sustain. Take a moment. Ask yourself what you're very very memory of a book is and why. What does that memory mean to you? What feelings does it evoke? Hold on to that memory and let it serve you well throughout your own life. Then, pass that memory on to a small person in your life. It is in the warmth, the voice and joy of an adult that a child remembers meaning and love readily given through the sharing of a story.
From my earliest reading memories, here are a few of mine... just pictures; no words needed:
http://picturebookmonth.com/

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Irish Book Awards 2015

The Bord Gáis Energy Book Awards 2015 winners were announced in a ceremony last night, which took place in Dublin's Double Tree Hilton. The ceremony, celebrating it's 10th year, was attended by a host of Ireland's finest authors, publishers and booksellers.
This year, over 45,000 book lovers across the nation voted for their favourite reads in each category. There are two children's categories, both of which had very strong shortlisted candidates, but, sadly, there can be only one winner in each.
The Specsavers Children's Book of the Year went to the delightful, funny, warm and thought-provoking Imaginary Fred by Eoin Colfer (current Laureate na nÓg) and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers; published by HarperCollins Children's Books.
In the Specsavers Children's Book of the Year senior category, the winner
was the young adult title Asking For It by Louise O'Neill; publisher Quercus Books.
A hearty congratulations to both...that was a tough list and coming out on top in the eyes of Ireland's discerning readers was quite a feat! You should be proud.
For more information on the winners of the awards, just follow the link.
http://www.irishbookawards.ie/2015/11/25/bord-gais-energy-irish-book-awards-2015-winning-authors-revealed/

Thursday, November 19, 2015

David Almond Wins Guardian Childrens Fiction Prize

It was announced today that David Almond is the 2015 winner of the Guardian Childrens Fiction Prize for his "fearless" and stunning novel A Song For Ella Gray. This is an incredible contemporary retelling of the Orpheus and Eurydice myth that chronicles the vignette in the lives of friends Ella and Claire, two sixth-form girls in the North East landscape of deserted, disused shipyards. Enter the vagrant Orpheus, re-emerged in this dreary landscape who so entrances Ella with a love so consuming that Claire loses her best friend to this mysterious stranger. As tragedy ensues, Claire creates a narrative elegy that is powerful, passionate and deeply felt. Almond places the reader firmly in the emotional landscape of the 17-year-old with eloquence, grace and a genuine voice; and beauty echoes this with the landscape which he chose to set his tale. Simply amazing.
Upon accepting the award, Almond explained;

" as a tale of youth and yearning, the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice is “perfect for the young … first love is the first of all loves, first recognition of death the first such recognition. The teenage years are the times of the deepest visceral awareness of the mystery and wonder of the human condition, the strange disturbances of body and soul.” 

A hearty congratulations to David Almond, whose many books have enchanted and fascinated me for many years. His pivotal Skellig remains firmly in my best-books list, as I feel it is a book everyone should read at least every 2 or 3 years, as it completely, yet subtly changes your perspective. And A Song For Ella Gray is pure magic, filled with life and depth.

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/nov/19/david-almond-wins-guardian-childrens-fiction-prize-song-for-ella-grey 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Costa Childrens Awards Shortlist 2015

Here's a quick post...the Costa Book Awards shortlist have been revealed. Of course, I am mainly concerned with what's happening in the childrens category, but the best of luck to all shortlisted authors and their wonderful books.
In the childrens category, there is a very fine selection of four books and authors, so of which we are seeing rather a lot of lately.
The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge (Macmillan Childrens Books)
Sophie Someone by Hayley Long (Hot Key Books)
An Island of Our Own by Sally Nicholls (Scholastic)
Jessica's Ghost by Andrew Norriss (David Fickling Books)



The winner of the Costa Childrens Award is also in with a chance to win the overall Costa, which hasn't happened in a while (2001, when Philip Pullman won for The Amber Spyglass), so maybe it's about time.
Good luck to all the authors!

http://www.costa.co.uk/costa-book-awards/costa-book-awards/ 

http://www.theguardian.com/childrens-books-site/2015/nov/17/costa-childrens-book-award-shortlist-2015?CMP=share_btn_tw 

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Irish Book Awards 2015

It's time again for the Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards. The shortlist have been posted and you have a few days left to vote for your favourite and best in Irish literature 2015. A fantastic selection of Irish books published this year are represented in the 13 different categories. But here, I am going to give a shout out for the childrens shortlists. There are but two categories, but what an incredible selection!
In the Specsavers Childrens Book of the Year Junior category:
I'm A Girl by Yasmeen Ismail
The Snow Beast by Chris Judge
The Day the Crayons Came Home by Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers
The Boy Who Fell Off the Mayflower by P.J. Lynch
A Dublin Fairytale by Nicola Colton
Imaginary Fred by Eoin Colfer and Oliver Jeffers

The Specsavers Childrens Book of the Year Senior category includes:
Asking For It by Louise O'Neill
Darkmouth: Worlds Explode by Shane Hegarty
Demon Road by Derek Landy
One by Sarah Crossan
Once Upon A Place by Eoin Colfer (Editor)
The Boy At The Top Of The Mountain by John Boyne

You can vote now for the books you feel deserve this wonderful award honouring our brilliant Irish authors and illustrators in all categories. Consider well! And follow the link to cast your votes:
http://www.irishbookawards.ie/

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Happy 70th Birthday, Moomins!

Moomins and the Great Flood; ISBN 9781908745132
In 1945, at the end of the second World War, Finnish author Tove Jansson  published the first ever Moomin book, The Moomins and the Great Flood. This book introduced the Moomins to the world; fanciful creatures that live in a realm just to the side of our own.
In Moomins and the Great Flood, Moominmamma and young Moomintroll set off on an adventure to find the wandering Moominpappa and a warm place to live for the winter. Along the way, they meet amazing and imaginative folk;  mermaids, sea-trolls, the Hattifattners, the ant-lion, blue-haired Tulippa, an 'old gentleman' (perhaps an inspiration for Roald Dahl!), a boy with red-hair and many more who would come to grace the pages of so many more Moomin adventures in the following years. The Moomins are magical, curious little creatures with concerns and problems very much the same as ours. They solve their dilemmas using wit and by sticking together.
This first book was (finally) translated into English in 2005, much later than the other Moomin books. A beautiful, hardback reproduction of the original is available from Sort Of press, faithful to the original, with each page holding the original illustrations by the author. Elegant, entertaining, whimsical and poignant, this book is a thing of beauty and wonder....and a must have for the entire family. It is quiet and thoughtful, and while it doesn't have all the fast-paced, noisy action of the current crop of childrens books, it is one that will stay with you forever. The intrepid adventures of Moomintroll are stirring and easy to relate to. If you have read the Moomin books yet, you really must. And share them with the young people in your life.
Other Moomin books are readily available and all of them are a delight. For the winter months, I can thoroughly recommend Moominland Midwinter (in which Moomintroll decides not to sleep all winter, but goes out to explore the winter landscape) and Moominvalley in November (in which young Toft and others notice the change of the season and decide to venture to Moominvalley for a visit and an education from their Moomin friends).
Happy 70th Birthday to all the Moomins and their friends! And thank you, Tove Jansson for creating these very special, marvelous beings.
 For more about Tove Jansson, just follow the link:
http://tovejansson.com/eng/ura.html

Sunday, November 1, 2015

November Is Picture Book Month!

It's that time of year again...a time for us to learn, remember and celebrate why picture books matter!
Picture books have such an impact on all our lives, as children and as adults. Some time ago, a very wise and wonderful initiative was started to celebrate November as Picture Book Month. Each day features a different Picture Book Month Champion will present a brief post on the subject "Why Picture Books Are Important." In these, they share their thoughts, experiences and, yes, even their picture books. Filled with information and enthusiasm, it's a 'can't miss' for parents, teachers...or anyone who loves picture books and wants to learn more about them.
No less than any other literary form (and perhaps even more than...), picture books make a difference in the lives of people all over the world. Children find information and imagination in picture books. They gain exposure to the lives of others; they learn about the world; they share in dreams and stories. And. picture books give children their very first experience and exposure to art.
If you want to find out more, I suggest you travel over to the Picture Book Month: A Celebration! (link below) everyday this November. You'll find out so much, and your understanding and enthusiasm for picture books will grow day by day. Just check the calendar below for what's on each day!(You'll find the link for the website as well.) Become a Picture Book Month Ambassador! You know you want to....
Today, 1st November, there's a writing by Trisha Speed Shaskan that talks about her experiences as an ELL teacher with picture books and one particular child that will warm your heart and make you smile. Trisha has written over 30 picture books for children. Her upcoming picture book, Punk Skunks, will be published by HarperCollins in February 2016.


http://picturebookmonth.com/

Guardian Childrens Fiction Prize Shortlist

The shortlist for the Guardian Childrens Fiction Prize 2015 was announced yesterday. And what a shortlist it is! Sally Nicholls, David Almond, Kate Saunders and Frances Hardinge are all nominated for what is, in my opinion, one of the strongest lists ever.
Sally Nicholls latest book, An Island of Our Own tells a treasure-seeking story for the contemporary age in a story of what it takes to make a family.
David Almond is listed for his incredible retelling of the Orpheus and Eurydice myth in A Song For Ella Grey. An intense, moving, all-consuming love story, it is simply amazing.
Kate Saunders has created a wonderful, wonderful sequel to the favourite childrens' classic, Five Children and It with Five Children on the Western Front. Moving and fascinating, the children are a bit older now, but the adventure and magic still grip the reader.
Frances Hardinge's The Lie Tree takes us back to the Victorian era with a creepy, Gothic tale that begs the question, what if lies can you the power to discover other peoples secrets? A finely-crafted, stirring fantasy.
Each of these novels looks back to earlier styles and themes in childrens' literature with exquisite story-telling, memorable charcterisation and deeper meaning that will stick with the reader for a long, long time, creating new classics n the making. My fingers are crossed for all of them!
The winner of the Guardian Childrens Fiction Prize 2015 will be announced on Thursday, 19 November 2015.
http://www.theguardian.com/childrens-books-site/2015/oct/31/the-guardian-childrens-fiction-prize-shortlist-2015

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Frances Hardinge Takes Top British Fantasy Award

Frances Hardinge  has become the first YA author to win the top prize for best fantasy novel for her incredibly surreal and creepily sinister Cuckoo Song. The award, known as the Robert Holdstock award was presented to Hardinge on Sunday at FantasyCon 2015. I am so extremely pleased for her. I've been a huge fan since her first novel, Fly By Night, which won the Branford Boase award in 2006.... and, clearly, the brilliant books have just kept coming.
Cuckoo Song tells the story of a girl, Triss, who nearly drowns in a local pond. When she awakens, she finds her world has become slightly out of sync. Pages have been ripped out of her diary, she is incredibly hungry all the time, her younger sister is terrified of her and her parents are whispering behind closed doors. She comes to believe that she is, quite literally, not herself. In order to discover the truth, she must travel to the dark and twisted side of town to find the Architect, a menacing villain with designs on her and her family. It is a magical and eerie read in traditional horror story style that will keep you up all night. (It's also a perfect teen read for this time of year!) Beautifully crafted, expert story-telling...dark and magnificent. I recommend this for any fantasy fan.
Hardinge's seventh novel, The Lie Tree (another fantastic horror) has been nominated for this year's Guardian Childrens Fiction Award.
Huge congratulations to one of my favourite authors today.

Frances Hardinge Bibiliography
Fly By Night (2005)
Verdigris Deep (2007) 
Gullstruck Island (2009)
Twilight Robbery (sequel to Fly By Night) (2011)
A Face Like Glass (2013)
Cuckoo Song (2014)
                                     The Lie Tree (2015)


http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/oct/26/frances-hardinge-cuckoo-song-british-fantasy-awards-fantasycon

http://www.franceshardinge.com/

Monday, October 19, 2015

CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals 2016

The long lists for the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals 2016 have been published. These lists are always extensive and utterly brilliant. I never envy the judging panel their task. While I simply cannot (and wouldn't want to) place the entire lists on my blog, I'll give you some of my personal highlights and put the links below, so you can check it out yourself. I'd love to have your comments, so feel free...
2016 CILIP Carnegie Medal long list...just a selection:
David Almond for A Song for Ella Grey. This contemporary reworking of the Orpheus myth is simply magnificent. Raw, emotional, funny and very realistic...
Sita Brahmachari for Red Leaves. An exquisitely crafted story of Aisha, a 13 year old refugee caught up in the foster care system in London and 12 year old Zak, coping as best he can with his parents divorce. The two meet and join forces due to the intercession of Elder, a strange homeless woman.
Cathy Cassidy for Looking Glass Girl. Inspired by Cathy's favourite childhood book, Alice in Wonderland; this Alice is dealing with the throes of peer pressure, popularity, friendship and love. When a (bullying) prank ends in disaster, Alice ends up unconscious in hospital with some amazingly revealing dreams.
Moira Fowley-Doyle for The Accident Season.  Every October, it happens. Bones break, fires burn...foreshadowed by the deaths of many relatives before, Cara's family becomes inexplicably accident prone. The accident season becomes an increasing obsession and fear. But how do they break free? And what is the truth behind it? Intriguing, surprising, sharp and incisive; this is an incredible read.
Frances Hardinge for The Lie Tree. Atmospheric (proper creepy!) Victorian melodrama loaded with mystery and monsters of various natures. When Faith's strict, upright father is found dead in mysterious circumstances, she refuses to believe it was suicide. Her investigations lead her to a shocking discovery. Gripping, fantastical tale that evokes the great horror stories of the past.
Patrick Ness for The Rest of Us Just Live Here. Brilliant....just brilliant. (Please see my endless other comments on this blog.) Patrick Ness is a genius...this book is pure genius.
Toby Ibbotson for Mountwood School for Ghosts. The Great Hagges have decided that todays ghosts are decidedly lacking in their fright factor. Opening the Mountwood School for Ghosts should bring them back to proper haunting skills and status ghosts once held in society. But, before the ghosts are prepared in proper fright skills, they are called upon to help a town at threat by so truly evil developers. Fantastic story-telling from the son of one of the best of all time.
Jenny Valentine for Fire Colour One. A brilliant novel about love, family, deception, redemption and friendship...Valentine ticks all the boxes with this one. Iris' estranged father Ernest is dying. Her manipulative mother, has hatched a scheme to get her hands on Ernest's priceless art collection using Iris as a pawn in her game. But there are things Ernest wants Iris to know before he dies.
There are so many more on the list that I could go on about for hours. But here's the link for youto see yourself. What are your favourites?
http://www.carnegiegreenaway.org.uk/pressdesk/press.php?release=pres_2016_nom_ann_carn.html 

The Kate Greenaway Medal recognises excellent in illustration for childrens books. I'm going to give you a brief list of some of my highlights, but do check them out yourselves. All of them are stunning. The choice here will be really tough.
Beatrice Alemagna for  The Marvellous Fluffy Squishy Itty Bitty
Benji Davies for Grandad's Island
Bob Graham for How the Sun Got To Coco's House
Emily Gravett and A.F. Harrold for The Imaginary (also nominated for the Cilip Carnegie Medal 
Kate Hindley and Claire Freedman for Oliver & Patch
Emily Hughes for The Little Gardener
Lucy Letherland and Rachel Williams for The Atlas of Adventures
Chris Riddell for Goth Girl and the Fete Worse Than Death (also nominated for the CILIP Carnegie Medal)
Sydney Smith and Jon Arno Lawson for Footpath Flowers
And the link: http://www.carnegiegreenaway.org.uk/pressdesk/press.php?release=pres_2016_nom_ann_green.html