Monthly Archives: November 2012

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Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators Conference: Saturday

en route to WinchesterEn route to Winchester

A few months ago – I can’t remember quite how far back my good chum Liz de Jager contacted me and asked if I would like to appear on a panel at the SCBWI Convention in Winchester. Naturally I said of course and then asked what I had to do. It was simple I had to get up to Winchester on the 24th November and ist on a panel with other Industry experts and discuss the state of books, publishing and libraries.

I arrived at the University of Winchester a bit damp and out of breath having followed signs from the station around the houses and up some relatively steep hills. It was bang on midday and I was just in time for the Industry Panel, this was made up of: Mara Bergman Senior Commissioning Editor, Walker Books; Janetta Otter-Barry Publisher, Janetta Otter-Barry Books (Frances Lincoln); Kate Wilson MD Nosy Crow; Sarah Odedina MD/Publisher, Hot Key Books; Val Braithwaite Art Director, Bloomsbury, Vic Tyler Commissioning Editor, Barefoot Books moderated by Benjamin Scott.

Discussion touched on what traditional publishers can offer authors/illustrators in the face of growing self-publishing; the importance on online portfolios for artists/illustrators, how it is important not to send a complete mock-up of a book to showcase your work and for the love of God do not create a picture book with a chum that can draw because that will end badly for one of the people involved – and that can include the publisher. Creating apps and enhanced e-reading was also mentioned with Nosy Crow taking the lead on this, closely followed by Hot Key Books.

Brief aside: I was at a Youth Libraries Group London training day the week before at which Kate Wilson was speaking, and she demoed the forthcoming QR code enhanced picture books that when scanned by a smart phone will allow the reader to download a free audio version of the book.

Questions from the floor included how authors and illustrators go about submitting manuscripts or artwork for consideration and if publishers accept unsolicited manuscripts.

This was followed by lunch, I was sitting behind Non Pratt of Catnip Books during the Industry Panel so we walked out for lunch a the end and we had a lovely catch-up about what is happening in our respective lives and exciting times for Catnip Books, plus a potential focus group offer for my school (but that will be fleshed out in January). Also said hello to the lovely Sara Grant (author of Dark Parties and the 2013 book Half Lives – which is excellent! Yes I have an early proof which is gorgeous and all mine!)

Debi Gliori was the keynote illustrator speaker for the afternoon session and after fossicking around her undies (her words) trying to sort out the lapel mic she started. One of the really brilliant things she spoke about was hate mail she received from climate change deniers “Pack up your Prius and go back to California!” after the publication of The Trouble With Dragons, presented a slide show of her influences as a child, as well as her artwork from roughs to finished pages including images from The Trouble With Dragons, The Tobermory Cat (there were photographs of Tobermory and the cats themselves – apparently there were three), animal family pictures from various books and she finished up with reading the Scariest thing of All with slides of the pages. I still love being read to – even after all these years!

I then bumped into Dave Cousins of 15 Days Without a Head Fame and we caught up – I had not seen him since the YLG/Edge Authors event at Foyles. Another highlight of the day was that was Sara Grant introduced me to her agent who expressed an interest in seeing some of my written work. I was also lucky enough to chat to Candy Gourlay author of Tall Story who was moderator for the panel I was on.

Prior to my panel they announced the winner of the 2012 Crystal Kite Award, which was *drumroll* Sara Grant for Dark Parties. Sara is a brilliant author and an absolutely lovely person (as her acceptance speech showed) and as ypu can see her fellow authors and illustrators think the same.

The Panel:

Ok earlier – I said my panel – but it was not mine (not mine alone anyway) I sat next to Lin Oliver (author, TV and film producer as well as Executive Director and co-founder of SCBWI), Clair Wilson (Agent, at Rogers, Coleridge and White Literary Agency); Beverley birch (Senior Commissioning Editor at Hodder); Melissa Cox (New Titles Buyer for Waterstones Children’s) and me – Matt Imrie (Librarian, Chair of YLG London and future Carnegie & Kate Greenaway judge) to say felt under-qualified to be on the panel would be understating it just a bit. Candy gourlay was a brilliant moderator and kept us on task, discussion moved between the Penguin/Random House merger, to eReaders (Kindle & everyone else), Amazon’s alleged anti-competitive practices were mentioned , the downside to digital reading was discussed briefly (not owning the digital copies n your ereader came up) and a large part of the talk focused on the closure of school and public libraries – I got a bit ranty, I did try and reign myself in and managed not to shout or swear (I did get rather emotional though) it was amazing sitting in a massive auditorium filled with authors and illustrators – people whose enables me to do what I do.

After the panel I chatted to Kate Wilson who recognized my voice from the YLG training Day she said my rant reminded her of an article that Caitlin Moran had written about libraries. She had even tweeted it:

I also had the chance to ask Kate if Nosy Crow will bring out their ebooks for the Android platform (they will but do not have a timeframe yet).

I had planned to slope off back to London after the panel but had my arm twisted by a number of people so I stayed for the book Launch party at the Winchester Guildhall where I rubbed shoulders and chatted to a number of people including Chitra Soundar, John Shelley, Sean Noonan, Sara Grant, Molly Ker Hawn , Zella Compton and so many others!

I tore myself away at 9pm and walked up to Winchester station and waved goodbye to the train I had hoped to catch because I could not find a way across the railway line that would not end without me being electrocuted and/or arrested which would not have been good!

I was only there for the Saturday afternoon and sadly missed out on the morning break out sessions and the fun and games of the Sunday. I knew that the UK had a vibrant childrens publishing inustry but I had no idea that there was such a close-knit community, it has made me want to sign up to SCBWI and go as a delegate next year and also work on my writing and get some pieces finished!

For Want of a Library

For want of a library a mind didn’t change!
For want of a changed mind the choices weren’t there
For want of good choices the future went spare
For want of a future the youth did despair
Because of despair there is now nothing there
All for the want of a library!

Schools Need Libraries by Candy Gourlay

CILIP Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Awards long-lists

Now THESE are long-lists – 68 titles for the Carnegie Award and 64 for the Kate Greenaway Award. As my colleague and friend CazApr1 said on her blog I too am a bit put out by the lack of Heart-Shaped Bruise by Tanya Byrne. HSB was excluded because it had first been published as an adult novel rather than a simultaneous adult/YA publication. There are some excellent titles on the list, I even know some of the authors – but will try not to play favourites. I will have a look at who I think will make it onto the short-list at a later date.

Books are nominated by librarians that are members of CILIP (The Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals), the nominated books are then checked for eligibility before being placed on the long-list. You can view the criteria for the Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Awards here: Carnegie Award Criteria and the Kate Greenaway Award Criteria.

I am going to start my Shadowing of the Awards now to flex my reading and reviewing muscles in preparation for becoming a judge in 2014 when there will probably be over 100 titles on each list.

The CILIP Carnegie Medal longlist:

Goldilocks on CCTV by John Agard (Frances Lincoln Children’s Books)
The True Tale of the Monster Billy Dean by David Almond (Puffin Books)
Soldier Dog by Sam Angus (Macmillan Children’s Books)
The No. 1 Car Spotter and the Firebird by Atinuke (Walker Books)
The Traitors by Tom Becker (Scholastic)
The Terrible Thing That Happened to Barnaby Brocket by John Boyne (Doubleday Children’s Books)
Jasmine Skies by Sita Brahmachari (Macmillan Children’s Books)
Spy For The Queen of Scots by Theresa Breslin (Doubleday Children’s Books)
Naked by Kevin Brooks (Puffin Books)
Kill All Enemies by Melvin Burgess (Puffin Books)
Dead Time by Anne Cassidy (Bloomsbury)
VIII by H.M. Castor (Templar Publishing)
Dying To Know You by Aidan Chambers (Bodley Head)
The Broken Road by B.R. Collins (Bloomsbury)
The Unforgotten Coat by Frank Cottrell Boyce (Walker Books)
15 Days Without a Head by Dave Cousins (Oxford University Press)
After the Snow by S.D. Crockett (Macmillan Children’s Books)
The Weight of Water by Sarah Crossan (Bloomsbury)
Scramasax by Kevin Crossley-Holland (Quercus Publishing)
Mortal Chaos by Matt Dickinson (Oxford University Press)
Sektion 20 by Paul Dowswell (Bloomsbury)
A Greyhound of a Girl by Roddy Doyle (Marion Lloyd Books)
Saving Daisy by Phil Earle (Puffin Books)
Buzzing! by Anneliese Emmans Dean (Brambleby Books)
The Things We Did For Love by Natasha Farrant (Faber and Faber)
Trouble in Toadpool by Anne Fine (Doubleday Children’s Books)
Call Down Thunder by Daniel Finn (Macmillan Children’s Books)
Far Rockaway by Charlie Fletcher (Hodder Children’s Books)
The Double Shadow by Sally Gardner (Indigo)
Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner (Hot Key Books)
After by Morris Gleitzman (Puffin Books)
To Be A Cat by Matt Haig (Bodley Head)
A Face Like Glass by Frances Hardinge (Macmillan Children’s Books)
Unrest by Michelle Harrison (Simon & Schuster Children’s Books)
Seraphina by Rachel Hartman (Doubleday Children’s Books)
The Seeing by Diana Hendry (Bodley Head)
Daylight Saving by Edward Hogan (Walker Books)
Hero on a Bicycle by Shirley Hughes (Walker Books)
The Abominables by Eva Ibbotson (Marion Lloyd Books)
The Girl in the Mask by Marie-Louise Jensen (Oxford University Press)
The Prince Who Walked With Lions by Elizabeth Laird (Macmillan Children’s Books)
In Darkness by Nick Lake (Bloomsbury)
The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan (David Fickling Books)
Skulduggery Pleasant: Death Bringer by Derek Landy (HarperCollins Children’s Books)
Itch by Simon Mayo    (Corgi Children’s Books)
At Yellow Lake by Jane McLoughlin (Frances Lincoln Children’s Books)
The Apothecary by Maile Meloy (Andersen Press)
The Treasure House by Linda Newbery (Orion Children’s Books)
All Fall Down by Sally Nicholls (Marion Lloyd Books)
This Dark Endeavour by Kenneth Oppel (Random House David Fickling Books)
Hitler’s Angel by William Osborne (Chicken House)
Wonder by R.J. Palacio (Bodley Head)
Gods and Warriors by Michelle Paver (Puffin Books)
Burn Mark by Laura Powell (Bloomsbury)
Black Arts: The Books of Pandemonium by Andrew Prentice and Jonathan Weil (David Fickling Books)
Mister Creecher by Chris Priestley (Bloomsbury)
This is Not Forgiveness by Celia Rees (Bloomsbury)
Goblins by Philip Reeve (Marion Lloyd Books)
Black Heart Blue by Louisa Reid (Puffin Books)
Pendragon Legacy: Sword of Light by Katherine Roberts (Templar Publishing)
Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick (Indigo)
A Boy and a Bear in a Boat by Dave Shelton (David Fickling Books)
The Sleeping Army by Francesca Simon (Profile Books)
The Flask by Nicky Singer (HarperCollins Children’s Books)
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater (Scholastic)
A Skull in Shadows Lane by Robert Swindells (Corgi Children’s Books)
A Waste of Good Paper by Sean Taylor (Frances Lincoln Children’s Books)
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (Electric Monkey)

The CILIP Kate Greenaway Longlist:

The Big Snuggle-Up by Nicola Bayley (illustrator) and Brian Patten (Andersen Press)
North: The Greatest Animal Journey on Earth by Patrick Benson (illustrator) and Nick Dowson (Walker Books)
How Do You Feel? by Anthony Browne (Walker Books)
The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse by Eric Carle (Puffin Books)
Have You Ever Ever Ever? by Emma Chichester Clark (illustrator) and Colin McNaughton (Walker Books)
The Pied Piper of Hamelin by Emma Chichester Clark (illustrator) and Michael Morpurgo (Walker Books)
Lunchtime by Rebecca Cobb (Macmillan Children’s Books)
The Goggle-Eyed Goats by Christopher Corr (illustrator) and Stephen Davies (Andersen Press)
Croc and Bird by Alexis Deacon (Hutchinson)
Soonchild by Alexis Deacon (illustrator) and Russell Hoban (Walker Books)
The Pirates Next Door by Jonny Duddle (Templar Publishing)
Arthur’s Dream Boat by Polly Dunbar (Walker Books)
Rabbityness by Jo Empson (Child’s Play International)
Friends by Michael Foreman (Andersen Press)
Wild Child by Lorna Freytag (illustrator) and Jeanne Willis (Walker Books)
Azzi in Between by Sarah Garland (Frances Lincoln Children’s Books)
Robin Hood by Anne Yvonne Gilbert (illustrator) and Nicky Raven (Templar Publishing)
A Bus Called Heaven by Bob Graham (Walker Books)
Again! by Emily Gravett (Macmillan Children’s Books)
Matilda’s Cat by Emily Gravett (Macmillan Children’s Books)
Toys in Space by Mini Grey (Jonathan Cape)
Oh No, George! by Chris Haughton (Walker Books)
A First Book of Nature by Mark Hearld (illustrator) and Nicola Davies (Walker Books)
The Great Snortle Hunt by Kate Hindley (illustrator) and Claire Freedman (Simon & Schuster)
Goldilocks and Just the One Bear by Leigh Hodgkinson (Nosy Crow)
Children’s Books)
Jonathan & Martha by Petr Horáček (Phaidon)
The Hueys in The New Jumper by Oliver Jeffers (HarperCollins Children’s Books)
Stuck by Oliver Jeffers (HarperCollins Children’s Books)
This Moose Belongs to Me by Oliver Jeffers (HarperCollins Children’s Books)
The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore by W.E. Joyce (co-illustrator and writer) and Joe Bluhm (illustrator) (Simon & Schuster Children’s Books)
Goldilocks on CCTV by Satoshi Kitamura (illustrator) and John Agard (Frances Lincoln Children’s Books)
I Want my Hat Back by Jon Klassen (Walker Books)
An Illustrated Treasury of Scottish Folk and Fairy Tales by Kate Leiper (illustrator) and Theresa Breslin (Floris Books)
Demolition by Brian Lovelock (illustrator) and Sally Sutton (Walker Books)
The Skeleton Pirate by David Lucas (Walker Books)
The Frank Show by David Mackintosh (HarperCollins Children’s Books)
The Cat and the Fiddle: A Treasury of Nursery Rhymes by Jackie Morris (Frances Lincoln Children’s Books)
Pirates ‘n’ Pistols by Chris Mould (Hodder Children’s Books)
The Worst Princess by Sara Ogilvie (illustrator) and Anna Kemp (Simon & Schuster Children’s Books)
King Jack and the Dragon by Helen Oxenbury (illustrator) and Peter Bently (Puffin Books)
My Big Shouting Day by Rebecca Patterson (Jonathan Cape)
Black Dog by Levi Pinfold (Templar Publishing)
Where is Fred? by Ali Pye (illustrator) and Edward Hardy (Egmont Books)
The Twelve Days of Christmas by Jane Ray (Orchard Books)
The Yoga Ogre by Simon Rickerty (illustrator) and Peter Bently (Simon & Schuster Children’s Books)
One Cool Cat by David Roberts (illustrator) and Susannah Corbett (Egmont Children’s Books)
Who Am I? by Tony Ross (illustrator) and Gervase Phinn (Andersen Press)
Fly, Chick, Fly! by Tony Ross (illustrator) and Jeanne Willis (Andersen Press)
Just Ducks! by Salvatore Rubbino (illustrator) and Nicola Davies (Walker Books)
Just Imagine by Nick Sharratt (illustrator) and Pippa Goodhart (Doubleday Children’s Books)
A Boy and a Bear in a Boat by Dave Shelton (David Fickling Books)
ABC London by Kate Slater (illustrator) and James Dunn (Frances Lincoln Children’s Books)
Claude at the Circus by Alex T. Smith (Hodder Children’s Books)
Ella by Alex T. Smith (Scholastic)
Red Car, Red Bus by Susan Steggall (Frances Lincoln Children’s Books)
How to Hide a Lion by Helen Stephens (Alison Green Books)
Jack and the Baked Beanstalk by Colin Stimpson (Templar Publishing)
Naughty Kitty by Adam Stower (Templar Publishing)
The Town Mouse and The Country Mouse by Helen Ward (Templar Publishing)
Leave Me Alone by Lee Wildish (illustrator) and Kes Gray (Hodder Children’s Books)
The Duckling Gets a Cookie!? by Mo Willems (Walker Books)
Eric! by Christopher Wormell (Jonathan Cape)
Dog Loves Drawing by Louise Yates (Jonathan Cape)
Hans and Matilda by Yokococo (Templar Publishing)

Hereville: How Mirka Met a Meteorite by Barry Deutsch

Boldly Going Where No 11-Year-Old Orthodox Jewish Girl has Gone Before

How Mirka Met a Meteorite is the second book in the Hereville series. The first being Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword (Yet Another Troll-Fighting 11-Year-Old Orthodox Jewish Girl).

Mirka Hirshberg is a spunky, strong-willed eleven-year-old who isn’t interested in knitting lessons from her stepmother, or how-to-find-a-husband advice from her sister, or you-better-not warnings from her brother. There’s only one thing Mirka does want: to fight dragons! But she’ll need a sword – and therein lies the tale!
Mirka is back, and this time she takes on a misguided meteor that’s been set in motion by the troll and turned into Mirka’s twin by the witch. Doppelganger Mirka is out to best the real girl. Our heroine will have to beat her other self in a three-part-challenge – or be banished from Hereville!
My all-time favourite indie comic is the amazing Bone by Jeff Smith – I can honestly say that I never thought I could find another comic to challenge it in my affections; the early Cerebus books by Dave Sim came close but ultimately fell by the wayside as Dave Sim became progressively weirder.

Now there is a new challenger on the block – Barry Deutsh’s stories of Mirka and Hereville. If you had not guessed by the tag lines – Mirka is Jewish, Hereville is a shtetl and an undercurrent of Orthodox Jewish life fills the book, Mirka’s family life centres on Shabbos (Shabbat), the Shabbos rituals and family jobs are laid out beautifully in How Mirka got Her Sword and the disruptive effect having a twin has is shown during Shabbos in How Mirka met a Meteorite. Mirka’s family life and relationships are shown to good effect in the Shabbos pages in both books. The love that Barry obviously has for this comes through in the art and the words he uses.

I am a goy but I have been picking up and using Yiddish words and learning about Jewish culture (and food) for years. I enjoyed immersing myself in a culture that is not my own and even picked up some more words. You do not need to be Jewish or have an understanding of Jewish culture to read or enjoy this book (but it does help).

Mirka is awesome! I do not think there are many comic books that have 11-year-old heroines; let alone snarky siblings as side-kicks. There are trolls, a witch with a pig, extra-terrestrial beings, bullies, family – no orphans in this story, there is a stepmother she is not of the evil variety, more long-suffering and understanding of Mirka than Mirka can actually see. I love that Mirka argues with absolutely everybody but the only one that seems to get the better of her is her stepmother, she is also teeh one that gives Mirka the mental tools to get out of the scrapes that she finds herself in. The scenes where Mirka talks to her stepmother about her mother are some of the most touching I have seen in a comic.

Hereville is hilarious, touching, exciting and the best magically real comic I have ever read!