Category Archives: Authors

Siobhan Dowd

Siobhan Dowd

Siobhan Dowd received the Carnegie Medal for her novel Bog Child and is the first author to have won it posthumously.

I first became aware of Siobhan Dowd after having a colleague force a copy of The London Eye Mystery into my hands and tell me to read it or else. I only found out later that she had passed away, but not before writing several other truly amazing books.

London Eye Mystery pbblankSwift Pure Cry hi resBog Child pbblankSolace

TheSiobhan Dowd Trust is the dying bequest of the celebrated children’s author Siobhan Dowd. Just before her tragic death from cancer in August 2007 she personally and energetically supervised its foundation, to support, in all ways possible, disadvantaged young readers in the UK and Ireland. It was one of the very last things on Siobhan’s mind and clearly for her the most pressing cause in our society today.

The aims of the trust are simple and direct:

To take stories to our children without stories.
To bring the joy of reading to our children deprived of reading.
To bring books to our children deprived of books.
To fund disadvantaged readers where there is no funding, and to support disadvantaged readers where there is no support.
To fund and support any persons or organizations who help disadvantaged young readers.

The Trustees believe that the best and truest way faithfully to observe Siobhan’s last wish is to invite applications from persons or organizations in the UK or Ireland who need funding to directly help disadvantaged young readers. The Trustees will take a few months to consider and evaluate applications and then begin to disburse awards in the way that best seems to follow Siobhan’s wishes.

By the terms of Siobhan’s will, all royalty income derived from her published novels and any posthumously published work will go to the Trust.

The Trustees believe that Siobhan’s generosity will be the seed of something much larger, and so the Trust also welcomes donations from the public. The aspiration is to help as many disadvantaged young people as possible.

The Trustees are in no doubt of the importance of this bequest and its fundamental urgency for our children and for the future culture of the British Isles and Ireland. We may think we live in a literate society but, as Siobhan was well aware, there are too many places in our own ‘house’ where children are denied the opportunity to read. This is a charity that must begin at home, a home that, like Siobhan’s life, spans both sides of the Irish Sea.


A brief note on Siobhan:

Siobhan spent most of her career looking after writers. Working for PEN she fought to help writers silenced by oppressive regimes around the world. Closer to home, she did all she could to get reading material into the hands of disadvantaged young people from all walks of life, Siobhan co-founded and then ran the Readers & Writers Programme for English PEN which encouraged disadvantaged children to read by sending books and writers into schools as well as working with other institutions such as prisons. Siobhan also encouraged youngsters from the Romany culture to record their history. Her support for, and encouragement of, her fellow-writers was inexhaustible.

In some ways perhaps she sacrificed her own brimming talent for the benefit of other authors. And then, just as she discovered she was fatally ill, she put pen to paper and produced four of the most remarkable novels for children you could wish for. She was a writing phenomenon. The overriding thought of all those who knew her work is that her loss to the world of children’s writing is a tragedy. It is utterly characteristic that Siobhan should, at the end, put her mind unerringly to the most deserving group of all: the young reader. Siobhan realized that our literary culture – critics, bookshops, agents, publishing, libraries, schools – depends ultimately on the reader. And, of readers, the young reader is the most vulnerable. And amongst young readers, the disadvantaged young reader is the most deprived of all. Siobhan, at the last, and with all her usual clarity, decided to help them. And you can help them too.

The Siobhan Dowd Trust Books
A Swift Pure Cry
The London Eye Mystery
Bog Child
Solace of the Road

The Trustees
Tony Bradman
Rachel Billington
Polly Nolan
David Fickling

Rachel Billington
Siobhan has the number one gift of gripping you from the first page and not
letting you go till the final, always satisfying, last page. Her gift for
fabulous characterisation, however small the role, combines brilliantly with
original and carefully constructed plot-lines. Always believable, she yet
raises the drama to a frighteningly intense level. Hardest act of all, she
manages to keep up the humour even when the going gets tough. Solace with all
her gripes and bravery, is a fitting heroine for our times. Yet again, hooray
for another Siobhan Dowd masterwork!

Fiona Dunbar
Siobhan inhabits her characters so completely, you feel you know them. In
Holly, she has done it again; here is someone whose wit and humour carries
her through the hardest of times, and whose journey of self-discovery is both
poignant and heart-warming. A delight.

Jonathan Heawood, Director, English PEN
‘Siobhan Dowd believed passionately in the power of writing to change
people’s lives. She brought this passion to her work for PEN over many years,
whether defending writers in prison or promoting literature in schools. It’s
inspiring and moving to see her work continuing even now.’

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

fohatIn Mary’s world there are simple truths.

The Sisterhood always knows best.

The Guardians will protect and serve.

The Unconsecrated will never relent.

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan is the best zombie novel I have read in a long time! Set in a post zombie apocalypse world and narrated by Mary a young woman who is starting to question her place in the limited world of the village and the choices being made for her.

Every zombie-novel and film I have read or seen opens with the world in the throes of a zombie attack. This is the first novel I have read that takes place after the fact (or The Return as it is known in the world of The Forest of Hands and Teeth), where a group of survivors have built a village and thrived in their closed environment. The village life is run on theocratic lines by the Sisterhood who make up the ruling body and the Guardians who protect the village and maintain the fences. The villagers themselves do as they are told and on the whole are content. The portion of the novel set inthe village reminded me of M. Night Shyamalan’s film The Village with its inhabitants living with strict rules to keep them safe, with the one difference being that in this book the villagers often come face to face with the Unconsecrated at the fence, and sometimes they are the people that they have loved and lost.

The village has been protected and kept safe for generations, but as any lover of the zombie genre will know – no location is safe forever against the undead. Mary discovers that an outsider entered the village through the fenced pathways and is being sequestered by the Sisterhood. She later comes face to face with the woman and that is where everything changes. Forced to flee with her fiancee, the man she loves and his girlfriend plus her brother and sister in law, Mary hopes to reach the ocean and to finally be safe.

I loved The Forest of Hands and Teeth, and particularly enjoyed nods to other books and films contained within the pages – specifically the shambling zombies of the original Romero films and the running zombie from the remake. The world creation was fascinating, the tale hinted of other groups of survivors who for some time at least were in contact. Reference was made to The Return and I am hoping to find out more about this world when The Dead-Tossed Waves is released next year.

YLG AGM @ Scholastic 19/03/2009

On Thursday I attended the Youth Library Group London AGM, which was a relatively quick affair with Karen Robinson taking the reins as YLG:London Chair for 2009/10.

Scholastic provided a room for the AGM and afterwards all members of YLG were invited to attend an incredibly enjoyable informal discussion (with wine and snacks) between Damian Kelleher and authors Rachel Ward, Josh Lacey, M.G. Harris and Sharon Dogar. They discussed their new and forthcoming books as well as what inspired their creation. We were also treated to a brief reading from each of the authors.

After the Q&A session the authors mingled with the Librarians and signed books and chatted about writing and Libraries until the end of the evening.

From teenlib

Rachel Ward + Numbers, Josh Lacey + Bearkeeper, MG Harris + Ice Shock, Sharon Dogar + Falling

Teen Librarian Monthly: March 2009

The March edition of TLM is available to download here

You can also get it delivered to your inbox on a monthly basis free of charge by subscribing – full details at the end of every TLM.

Coraline by Neil Gaiman

Read the full-text of Coraline online (including Dave McKean’s illustrations).

A discussion guide for Coraline is available here if you would like to discuss it in a reading group.

Tintin at 80

Tintin & Snowy

Tintin & Snowy

This Saturday the 10th January marks the 80th anniversary of Tintin‘s first appearance in Le Petit Vingtième.

Tintin has remained consistently popular with children, teens and adults for the past 80 years. The 80th anniversary comes amidst news that the long-awaited Tintin film (to be directed by Steven Spielberg and a script written by Doctor Who scribe Steven Moffat) is due to be released in 2010.

While the filming is only due to start in February, the film once released may be used as a taster of Tintin to get reluctant readers interested in trying the books themselves.

Malorie Blackman awarded OBE

Congratulations to Malorie Blackman who is to be awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthdays Honours List.

Malorie says of the honour:

“I have been a professional writer for almost two decades now, so I am thrilled and honoured to receive an OBE for services to children’s literature.”

Malorie Blackman is one of the country’s most well loved and acclaimed authors for young adults. She worked as a Database Manager and Systems Programmer before becoming a full-time writer. After receiving 82 rejection letters for her first eight to ten books, her first book, Not So Stupid! was published in 1990 and was a selected title for the 1991 Feminist Book Fortnight, and Malorie participated in the first BBC TV Black Women’s Screenwriting Workshop in 1991. She has written a number of books for young readers which have been dramatised successfully for children’s television including the Whizziwig series and has worked on other TV projects such as Byker Grove and Pig Heart Boy which won a BAFTA for best children’s drama 2000.

Malorie’s titles for Random House Children’s Books include Cloud Busting (selected for the first Booked Up Scheme in 2007), Hacker, Thief and Pig Heart Boy. For older readers her name has become famed for the Noughts & Crosses sequence, where set ideas of race, heritage, belief, power, money and love are challenged – the first book was recently adapted for the stage and directed by Dominic Cooke for the Royal Shakespeare Company, playing to critical acclaim in the Winter Season 2007/8, in Stratford upon Avon and on tour around the UK. A fourth book is to be published in November 2008, moving on the story in Double Cross, which is set to be one of the most highly anticipated books of the year.

Malorie’s reputation has steadily grown and she has been awarded a number of prizes, and has been involved in countless projects enabling children and young adults to access her work, and get interested in reading. She lives in Kent with her husband and daughter – and a collection of around 15,000 books!

(taken from Randon House Press Release

Author Profiles Section

A new author profile section has just been set up on the Teen Librarian site. The first author to be featured is Jenny Downham

View her blog site http://www.beforeidiebook.blogspot.com/