Michael Morpurgo on fighting Brexit: ‘I’ve been spat at. It’s almost civil war’


This post is by Etan Smallman from Books | The Guardian


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




The world’s getting nastier, says the writer, and Britain no longer cares. So he’s hitting back – with a Gulliver’s Travels update that targets Trump, Brexit and the refugee crisis

Michael Morpurgo has all the trappings befitting a prolific, bestselling and beloved children’s author. There is the National Theatre production (War Horse, still touring the globe) and its Spielberg movie adaptation; the stint as children’s laureate (a post he helped create); the gold Blue Peter badge and the knighthood. But as a vocal campaigner against Brexit, he is getting used to rather a different kind of reception.

“I’ve been spat at,” Britain’s storyteller-in-chief says nonchalantly over lunch at his local pub in an idyllic Devon village. “I went to Sidmouth folk festival – quite a peaceable part of the world, you would have thought.” The trouble began when he bought one of the “little blue ...

Will my cat eat my eyeballs? How Caitlin Doughty teaches kids about death


This post is by Marianne Eloise from Books | The Guardian


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




In her new book, the undertaker and YouTube star answers children’s questions about mortality. She explains why we shouldn’t fear talking about it

When faced with the question “what do you want to be when you grow up?”, very few kids would answer “undertaker”. Caitlin Doughty, perhaps most famous for her YouTube channel Ask a Mortician, certainly wouldn’t have. “I never had any sense of the funeral industry as anything other than this dark, archaic hole with a man in a suit putting electric green fluid through a tube into a corpse. It never even occurred to me that I could be a part of it,” she says.

But maybe that is about to change. Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs? answers 35 questions about death, sourced from curious children. From “Will I poop when I die?” to “Can I use bones from a human cremation as ...

‘I am proven joyously wrong’: picture book about trans child wins major prize amid moral panic


This post is by Alison Flood from Books | The Guardian


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




In a week of LGBTQ-hostile news, the £5,000 Klaus Fugge award for illustrated books goes to Jessica Love’s Julian Is a Mermaid

In Julian Is a Mermaid, a little boy riding the New York City subway with “his nana” dreams of looking like the spectacularly dressed women they see – and ends up, with his grandmother’s help, joining the iconic Mermaid Parade. Author and illustrator Jessica Love, who was partly inspired by a trans friend to create the picture book, never expected it to be published after five years of work.

On Wednesday night, Love was named winner of the prestigious Klaus Flugge prize, which goes to the most exciting and promising newcomer to picture book illustration. Judge and former children’s laureate Anthony Browne called the book “astonishingly beautiful”, saying it was amazing that it was her first attempt to write and illustrate a picture book.

Continue reading...

Harry Potter books removed from Catholic school ‘on exorcists’ advice’


This post is by Alison Flood from Books | The Guardian


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Pastor at St Edward junior school in Nashville says JK Rowling’s use of ‘actual spells’ risks conjuring evil spirits.

A Catholic junior school in Nashville has removed the Harry Potter books from its library, saying they include “actual curses and spells, which when read by a human being risk conjuring evil spirits”.

Local paper the Tennessean reported that the pastor at St Edward Catholic school had emailed parents about JK Rowling’s series to tell them that he had been in contact with “several” exorcists who had recommended removing the books from the library.

Continue reading...

Children’s and teens roundup: the best new picture books and novels


This post is by Imogen Russell Williams from Books | The Guardian


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Wizard ninjas, a flying pony, adventurous crabs and a formidable classroom competition and more

Readers of eight to 12 are well served for imaginary worlds this month. Jenny McLachlan’s The Land of Roar (Egmont), illustrated by Ben Mantle, is set in a world dreamed up by Arthur and Rose when they were younger, then forgotten – until Roar’s evil scarecrow villain, Crowkey, captures their grandfather. Accompanied by wizard ninjas, cutthroat Lost Girls and wilful dragons, the twins must put aside their differences and return to Roar once more. This funny, captivating story is filled with the painful pangs of growing up and the transporting qualities of imagination.

Aisha Bushby’s A Pocketful of Stars (Egmont) inhabits a more melancholy imagined world. Safiya lives with her dad, and doesn’t get on with her mother; when her mum falls ill, though, something strange happens, and Saff finds herself wandering through the magic landscape ...

‘They just wanted us to read about a white boy and his dog’: why teenager Marley Dias fought back


This post is by Coco Khan from Books | The Guardian


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




She was 10 when she first decided to distribute children’s books with black girl leads – a campaign that has taken her to the White House. Now she’s written a book of her own

When I arrive at the photography studio to meet the education activist Marley Dias, I am surprised to find the shoot is long over. The 14-year-old is sitting patiently, her luggage packed, coat neatly slung over her lap, waiting. The photographer explains the early finish is because they got all the pictures they needed with Dias near-immediately; that she is the perfect subject to work with.

This was perhaps the first inkling of what would become abundantly clear during our interview: Marley Dias is a pro. Despite her tender years, the campaigner for diverse children’s books – which took her from her New Jersey home town to the White House – carries herself with a mature ...

Crossfire by Malorie Blackman review – an explosive Noughts and Crosses instalment


This post is by Linda Buckley-Archer from Books | The Guardian


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Sparks fly, in both love and politics, in the latest volume of the groundbreaking series

“Every aspect of our lives is governed by politics,” writes Malorie Blackman in the preface to Crossfire, the fifth book in her ground-breaking Noughts & Crosses series. “The results of the UK Brexit referendum and the US presidential election in 2016 brought home to me just how potent the politics of fear and division can be.”

Crossfire is published in advance of a BBC adaptation of Noughts & Crosses. In that first novel of the series, Blackman created a topsy-turvy alternative world, Zafrica, where the white underclass, the “Noughts”, who were once enslaved by the “Crosses”, encounter constant racial prejudice. Forbidden love was at the heart of that story. Almost two decades later, it is power and what people will do to get it that has prompted Blackman to resume the series. Political ...

Why You Should Read Children’s Books, Even Though You Are So Old and Wise by Katherine Rundell – review


This post is by Alex Preston from Books | The Guardian


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Katherine Rundell’s hymn to the energising brilliance of children’s literature is subtle and persuasive

Products sold at the till are by their nature impulse buys, appealing to our baser instincts, which sneak out when we aren’t concentrating. In supermarkets, it’s where they display sweets, trashy magazines and the Daily Mail. In bookshops, the tills used to be the domain of the novelty read – Don’ts for Husbands, Barry Trotter and A Simples Life – to name some of the most egregious. In recent years, though, we’ve seen a more serious brand of author perched on the tills of our bookshops. There’s been The Embassy of Cambodia by Zadie Smith, Lyra’s Oxford by Philip Pullman, The Gifts of Reading by Robert Macfarlane and We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. These books all tend to be short, around a fiver, presented in handy A6 format and yet are ...

Children’s and teens roundup: the best new picture books and novels


This post is by Imogen Russell Williams from Books | The Guardian


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




A wolf in sheep’s clothing, a BMXing princess, a German refugee’s journey and more

In picture books this month, the superlative Morag Hood returns with Brenda Is a Sheep (Two Hoots), a suspense-filled account of a young sheep who isn’t like the rest, what with her pointy teeth, antipathy to grass and increasing desire to eat her companions. But the flock love Brenda’s unusual approach to sheephood; will their adoration change the predator’s mind? This funny story of a wolf in sheep’s clothing is delightfully deadpan.

There is a lovely warmth saturating Rebecca Cobb’s Hello Friend! (Macmillan), in which a rosy-cheeked protagonist plays zealously with a less enthusiastic pal, building towers, sharing lunch and banging a tambourine. At last, a small farewell smile shows that she has won him over, and the next day he is as excited as she is. A charming look at playground dynamics that effortlessly evokes ...

Story time: the five children’s books every adult should read


This post is by Katherine Rundell from Books | The Guardian


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Children’s books explore hope, fear, failure and love. Katherine Rundell on how the best of them can ignite the imagination of all readers, whatever their age

I have been writing children’s fiction for more than 10 years now, and still I would hesitate to define it; it is a slippery, various, quicksilver thing. But I do know, with more certainty than I usually feel about anything, what it is not: it is not exclusively for children. When I write, I write for two people, myself, age 12, and myself, now, and the book has to satisfy two distinct but connected appetites.

My 12-year-old self wanted autonomy, peril, justice, food and above all a kind of density of atmosphere into which I could step and be engulfed. My adult self wants all those things, and also: acknowledgments of fear, love, failure. So what I try for when I write – failing ...

Philip Pullman’s La Belle Sauvage to be adapted for London stage


This post is by Sian Cain from Books | The Guardian


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Nicholas Hytner will direct an adaptation of the His Dark Materials prequel at the Bridge theatre

More than a decade after Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy first dazzled theatre audiences, his prequel novel La Belle Sauvage is set to be adapted for the stage at London’s Bridge theatre in autumn 2020.

On Friday, a spokesperson for the Bridge theatre confirmed that plans were under way to adapt Pullman’s 2017 novel for the stage. Bridge artistic director Nicholas Hytner will direct the show, which will be written by Bryony Lavery.

Continue reading...

Cressida Cowell: ‘Books are better than films at teaching children creativity and intelligence’


This post is by Alison Flood from Books | The Guardian


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




The new children’s laureate and How to Train Your Dragon author talks about how to get kids reading and why we need the space to make mistakes

There is a primary school across the road from Cressida Cowell’s west London home, so the author of the How to Train Your Dragon series writes with a backdrop of shouts and yells from the playground. The little garden shed where she dreams up and illustrates the stories of Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III and his dragon Toothless is stuffed with drawings and maps, pencils and paints, and piles and piles of books.

“I have been into that school but not recently, so maybe I’m incognito to this generation,” says Cowell, who has lived in the area for decades. She does sometimes get recognised when she’s out and about. After all, she’s sold over 11m books around the world, in 38 languages, with her ...

How to Train Your Dragon author Cressida Cowell named new children’s laureate


This post is by Alison Flood from Books | The Guardian


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




The author and illustrator comes to role with ‘giant to-do list’, which includes making school libraries a legal requirement, and more time for creativity

How to Train Your Dragon author and illustrator Cressida Cowell has been named the new Waterstones children’s laureate, and has promised she will use her two-year incumbency to make the magic of books “urgently available to absolutely everyone”.

Following 10 previous laureates, from Quentin Blake to, most recently, Lauren Child, Cowell’s stories about the adventures of timid Viking Hiccup and his dragon Toothless, have sold more than 11m books around the world. They have also been adapted into a popular film series by DreamWorks.

Continue reading...

The Longest Night of Charlie Noon by Christopher Edge review – into the woods


This post is by Tony Bradman from Books | The Guardian


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Time plays tricks in an original and suspenseful tale for 8- to 12-year-olds that explores black holes and quantum physics

It isn’t every day that a novel for 8- to 12-year-olds reminds you of TS Eliot’s Four Quartets, Dante’s Inferno and Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. There’s a dash of The Twilight Zone in there too, plus a hint of the Wild Wood from The Wind in the Willows, all swirled together at the same time. And as young Charlie Noon discovers in this intriguing book, time itself can be a tricky concept.

When we meet her, life is clearly not great for Charlie. Her grandad has died and left his house to Charlie’s mum and dad, which is handy as her dad has lost his job in London and they need somewhere cheaper to live. But Charlie finds moving to the country pretty tough, and ...

Children’s and teens roundup: the best new picture books and novels


This post is by Imogen Russell Williams from Books | The Guardian


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




A mysterious suitcase, secret dragons, a breathtaking acrobatic heist and more

There’s a star-gazing theme to picture books this month. Look Up! (Puffin) by Nathan Bryon and Dapo Adeola features science-crazed, irrepressible chatterbox Rocket, who is determined to get her whole town out watching a meteor shower – to the annoyance of her big brother, who would rather stay glued to his phone. Energetic and with a wry, sweet take on family dynamics, it will alert readers to the thrilling mysteries of the night skies.

Astro Girl (Otter-Barry) by Ken Wilson-Max stars Astrid, another little girl intent on discovering the secrets of space, who enjoys acting out the challenges of zero gravity with Papa while Mama is away. When Astrid welcomes her back, the twist in the tale reveals that Mama might be an expert on space herself. A delightful combination of imaginative play and inspiring role model from a ...

Carnegie medal goes to first writer of colour in its 83-year history


This post is by Alison Flood from Books | The Guardian


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Dominican-American Elizabeth Acevedo wins prestigious children’s award for The Poet X, while Jackie Morris takes illustration prize for The Lost Words

Dominican-American slam poet Elizabeth Acevedo has become the first ever writer of colour to win the UK’s most prestigious children’s books award, the Carnegie medal, which has a history stretching back to 1936 and includes Arthur Ransome, CS Lewis and Neil Gaiman among its former winners.

Acevedo, the daughter of Dominican immigrants, took the medal for her debut, The Poet X. A verse novel, it tells of a quiet Dominican girl, Xiomara, who joins her school’s slam poetry club in Harlem and is, according to the judges, “a searing, unflinching exploration of culture, family and faith within a truly innovative verse structure”. Xiomara “comes to life on every page and shows the reader how girls and women can learn to inhabit, and love, their own skin”.

Continue reading...

Torn apart: the vicious war over young adult books


This post is by Leo Benedictus from Books | The Guardian


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Authors who write about marginalised communities are facing abuse, boycotts and even death threats. What is cancel culture doing to young adult fiction?

Earlier this month, the author and screenwriter Gareth Roberts announced that his story was being removed from a forthcoming Doctor Who anthology. Having been shown Roberts’s past tweets about transgender people, BBC Books said that his views “conflict with our values as a publisher”. At least one of the book’s other contributors, Susie Day, had promised to withdraw from the project if Roberts were included. “I raised my concerns, and said if he was in, I was out,” Day said.

A few days before, at the Hay festival, the Irish author John Boyne had described a campaign against his own book, A Boy Called Jessica, about a boy and his trans sister. He was insulted on Twitter for his appearance and his sexuality. (Like Roberts, he ...

‘Highly concerning’: picture books bias worsens as female characters stay silent


This post is by Donna Ferguson from Books | The Guardian


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Guardian research shows that the top 100 illustrated children’s books last year showed growing marginalisation of female and minority ethnic characters

The most popular picture books published in 2018 collectively present a white and male-dominated world to children, feature very few BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) characters and have become more biased against girls in the past year, Guardian research reveals.

In-depth analysis of the top 100 bestselling illustrated children’s books of 2018, using data from Nielsen BookScan, has been carried out by the Guardian and Observer for the second year in a row.

Continue reading...

‘Ghosts shaped my life’: out-of-print children’s classic to be resurrected


This post is by Alison Flood from Books | The Guardian


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




The macabre guide counts Reece Shearsmith and Nick Frost among its diehard fans. What’s so creepy about a 1970s children’s book?

So, it turns out I wasn’t the only terrified young reader. From the unnerving one-eyed ghost dog, Black Shuck, to the many gibbets pictured in its pages, Usborne’s World of the Unknown: Ghosts, out of print for more than 20 years, has inspired people from Reece Shearsmith to Nick Frost. Now a petition with more than 1,200 signatures, and a social media campaign backed by both the League of Gentlemen creator and the Hot Fuzz actor, have persuaded the eponymous children’s publisher to reissue the 1977 cult favourite just in time for this year’s Halloween.

Continue reading...