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)

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? 

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:

Friday, October 9, 2015

It's Nearly Baboró Time!

While we are all being whisked off our feet by the excellent programme in this Octobers'  Childrens Book Festival (Read Everywhere!), in just a few days it will be time for the brilliant and exciting Baboró International Arts Festival for Children in Galway. From Monday, 12th October through Saturday the 18th, we will be positively inundated with incredible theatre, music, workshops and much, much more by artists from near and far.
You can bring your baby to Concertino Pannolina and be immersed in classical music. How about
some theatre? There's Casa...telling the story of an adult and a child who meet and build a story, a structure....a home.  Bake! lets you into the Queens' palace as preparations are made for Prince Fredriks' 9th birthday party. And an extra special addition this year; the Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia Puppet Theatre brings us Guess How Much I Love You & I Love My Little Storybook...pure magic.
There's Baborós' Happy Heart Zone,  the SkyDome Mobile Planetarium, kidisco Dance Your Heart Out! favourites.... the Book Doctor will be in residence at Fisheries Watchtower Museum on Saturday the 18th from 12 until 4 to fix you right up with exactly the right book prescription. (And it's free!!!)
There is so much to do, so much to see. I don't have the space to describe all the wonder for you here, but below is the Baboró link, where you'll find the complete programme. Or you can pick one up now, while you're out and about in Galway. Trust won't want to miss this!

Friday, October 2, 2015

Hello October! Here come the books!

October is my favourite month of the year for soooo many reasons. And one of those reasons is the release of all the books heading into the seasonal round-up. While many try to get ahead of the game by releasing early, from this point forward, you will see new books on the shelves of your local bookshops and libraries day by day...I promise.
So, as every year, it's the perfect month for Childrens Books Irelands'  Childrens Book Festival (KidLitFest), with it's theme this year, READ EVERYWHERE. Events, Storytimes, and activities will be taking place near you throughout the month of October encouraging children to get involved with books. Reading is for everywhere and every time; not just schools or libraries. So, look around. Find an event. Illustrate a new cover for your favourite book and READ, wherever you are!
Having trouble finding the right book for you. CBI has the answer as always! Pick up a copy of the Inis Reading Guide. Just head into the library to collect one; they're FREE! And with over 270  books reviews over 84 pages, if you're between the ages of 0 through Young Adult, you'll find something in there to interest you. (If you read carefully, you'll even find a few reviews by yours truly.) How will you recognise the Inis Reading Guide? Just look for the brilliant cover illustration by Yasmeen Ismail, author/illustrator of one of my favourite new picture books, I'm A Girl!
And then, if you're still stuck for reading recommendations, CBI's own Book Doctors will be touring around, setting up their clinics and reading, willing and able to give you the right prescription to sooth your reading woes. Why, the Book Doctors will even be on hand during Galways' Babaro Festival (but more about that in another post.)
CBI is really excited for you to share your photos of YOU, reading everywhere. Follow the link below and you can find out more about this. Please note: there will be prizes!
Finally, the always exciting, always popular O'Brien Press Cover Design Competition is up and running. O'Brien Press is very keen to give young designers and artists an opportunity to see their artwork gracing the cover of a book. The book that has been selected for a redesign this year is  Conor's Canvas by Gillian Purdue. Imagine your cover design on a book that will turn up in bookshops and libraries across the country.....
WOW! That's a lot! And it's only just started. So get out there and have fun. But most of all...READ EVERYWHERE! (And let's see those photos! I'll be looking for you....)