Budding writers become published authors with the Short Story Prize

November 26th, 2017

The National Literacy Trust and Bloomsbury Publishing have announced the winners of the Short Story Prize.

The competition, which launched in March, challenged budding authors to capture children’s imaginations by recreating a classic fairy tale with a modern twist, aimed at an audience of eight to 12-year-olds.

 

Hundreds of 2,000 – 4,000 word entries were received and judged by a panel including award winning children’s author Chris Priestley, members of the Bloomsbury Editorial team and Jonathan Douglas, director of the National Literacy Trust.

 

The eight winning stories will all be included in an eBook anthology by Bloomsbury and the newly-published authors will also receive £200 each.

 

  • Beardunzel by Annie Edge
  • The Perfect Child by Charlotte Goddard
  • VANISHED by Frances Stickley
  • The Mysterious Transformation of the Prince of Amphibia by Stephanie Aslan
  • Sarah Snow and the Seven Spacecraft Engineers               by Mirandy Luby
  • Rapunzel’s Reunion by Emma Young
  • The Giant’s Child by Vicky McFarland
  • The Problem with Mr Woolf by Kelly Archer

 

The money raised from entrance fees to the competition will help the National Literacy Trust to continue its work helping to give disadvantaged children the literacy skills they need to succeed.

 

Jonathan Douglas, Director of the National Literacy Trust and Short Story Prize Judge Panellist said:

 

“Exciting and inspiring literature is vital to our work and we are delighted that the Short Story Prize has helped up to uncover such brilliant new children’s writing talent. A huge congratulations to our winners, who can now say they are published authors thanks to Bloomsbury Publishing.

 

“A huge thank you to everyone who entered the competition – the money raised will help us to inspire more children to enjoy reading, which has an important impact on how well they do at school and in the future.”

 

Ian Lamb, Head of Children’s Marketing and Publicity at Bloomsbury Publishing Plc said:

 

“We were blown away by the many wonderfully twisted Short Story Prize entries and are delighted to have discovered fantastic new writing talent with the National Literacy Trust.

 

“We hope that the published eBook will inspire young people across the country to enjoy reading… and perhaps even write a short story of their own.”

 

Find out more at www.literacytrust.org.uk/shortstories

CHICKEN HOUSE EXTENDS CHILDREN’S FICTION COMPETITION DEADLINE

November 26th, 2017

As an early Christmas treat to aspiring writers and to celebrate its tenth year, Chicken House are extending the deadline for this year’s Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction Competition to Wednesday 20th December 2017.
The annual competition – the UK’s most valuable for children’s writers – offers unpublished and unagented writers all over the world the chance to submit their work to Chicken House’s team of readers. One talented writer will win a worldwide publishing contract with Chicken House with a royalty advance of £10,000. We are on the lookout for original ideas, a fresh voice and a story that children will love!
To enter, writers must have written a completed full-length novel suitable for children or young adults aged somewhere between 7 and 18 years. We ask that manuscripts are a minimum of 30,000 and maximum of 80,000 words in length. Entrants can submit either online or via post.
The competition has sparked the careers of many successful children’s authors, such as Sophia Bennett (author of eight children’s books, including her 2009 winning novel Threads), Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison (authors of Lobsters, shortlisted for the inaugural YA book prize and a 2013 competition shortlistee), and Anna Day (author of The Fandom, Chicken House’s fastest-ever-selling foreign rights title and a version of which was shortlisted for the 2014 competition).
Judges last year included Chicken House’s MD Barry Cunningham (known for discovering J.K. Rowling), Times Arts Editor Alex O’Connell, Waterstones children’s buyer Florentyna Martin, and children’s authors Kate Saunders and Katherine Woodfine.
‘Since 2014, we’ve had three books published, seen them translated into more than ten languages, and spoken at literary events from Hay-on-Wye to Utrecht, and it is basically all thanks to the Times/Chicken House competition.’ – Tom Ellen, co-author of Lobsters and Freshers
‘Entering this competition is one of the best decisions I ever made. I was unpublished, unagented, unheard of, and now I’ve just sold my 25th licence … and I didn’t even win!’ – Anna Day, author of The Fandom
FAQs and full terms and conditions of the competition can be found at www.chickenhousebooks.com/submissions
For more information, please contact Jazz Bartlett: jasmine@chickenhousebooks.com

The Sleighmaker: A Christmas Story That’s Never Been Told By Ian Shepherd

November 9th, 2017

As warming as a hot minced pie and mulled wine, this unashamedly traditional Christmas story will delight children and adults alike.

Set in the late 1800s, it’s a bitter-sweet tale that harks back to the traditional yuletide tales of the Victorian era.

An impressive debut novel by Ian Shepherd, The Sleighmaker is ostensibly aimed at children aged seven and up, though it will certainly appeal to kids in a higher age bracket. While it might be a little challenging for seven-year-olds to read by themselves, grown-ups are sure to enjoy reading it to younger children.

The main character is Drummond, a master-craftsman once known as the most talented sleighmaker in the land.

After a tragic event, Drummond turns his back on his trade and leads a lonely life, shunning the company of others, before an old friend manages to get him to agree to work on the estate of the local gentry, Lord and Lady Harrington.Here he labours alone, embracing the solitude his new work gives him, until his life is changed by the arrival of a cheerful young boy known only as William, whose way with animals manages to prevent a riding accident involving the Harrington’s young son, Henry.

Wise beyond his years, William comes to work as Drummond’s apprentice and, along with his close companion, kitchen maid Marny, manages slowly but surely to bring a warmth back to the sleighmaker’s life.

William discovers a magnificent sleigh that Drummond had once built, now mothballed in his workshop, and eventually convinces his master to restore it for the coming winter parade.

Filled with a real sense of purpose for the first time since the tragedy, Drummond gets to work on the sleigh, enlisting the help of his friend and artist, Auguste.

It’s not easy for Drummond to continue, given his traumatic experiences, but with the loving support of William and Marny he fashions a sleigh fit for a king.

There’s a magical twist to the tale that I won’t spoil, but it’s enough to say that Drummond’s sleigh gets to serve its purpose with aplomb and is finally rekindled with the Christmas spirit and the promise of a bright future.

The Sleighmaker is an unashamedly traditional Christmas tale a million miles away from the typical modern children’s books, and is all the better for it.

The sad but ultimately uplifting story of Drummond is rich with description and nuance, presents engaging characters with depth, and though dealing with some dark issues, does so in a sensitive way.

Ian Shepherd revels in the sights, sounds and tastes of a Victorian Christmas, with readers almost able to taste the rich cakes and chocolates, fresh-baked bread and hot soups that the author so evocatively describes.

And he is confident to take his time with the narrative, building up to the wonderful and memorable ending without ever rushing and forcing things.

It’s a charming, classic Christmas story that celebrates all that is good and true about this most special time of year and it would no doubt work very well on the big screen.

For anyone who yearns to return to a simpler, less commercial time; when Christmas was still a magical occasion about family and enjoying your time together as opposed to staring zombified into digital devices; this novel will be sure to delight.
The Sleighmaker by Ian Shepherd is out now through Raj Joshi Publishing and priced £11.99 in hardback, £6.99 paperback and £4.60 as a Kindle eBook. Visit Amazon UK.

Win a family ticket to see The Gruffalo’s Child Live on stage in the West End plus a copy of The Gruffalo and Friends Annual 2018

October 30th, 2017

Following hot on the heels of The Gruffalo’s monstrous success comes The Gruffalo’s Child – with attitude! Just how brave is she? Find out for yourselves by joining her in the West End this Christmas!

The Gruffalo said that no gruffalo should ever set foot in the deep dark wood. . .

One wild and windy night the Gruffalo’s child ignores her father’s warning and tiptoes out into the snow. After all, the Big Bad Mouse doesn’t really exist… does he?

Tall Stories returns, bringing Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s award-winning sequel to life in this magical, musical adaptation.

**** “Fun, daft and a little scary!” Time Out

The Gruffalo’s Child Live is playing at the Lyric Theatre Shaftesbury Avenue from 22 November to 7 January.

For more information and to book your tickets (from £15), visit gruffaloschildlive.com

Running time: 55 minutes (no interval). Recommended for ages 3+.

Terms and conditions: One winner will receive a family ticket (four tickets, minimum one adult) to see The Gruffalo’s Child Live at the Lyric Theatre valid until 16 December, excludes 12pm weekend performances plus a copy of The Gruffalo and Friends Annual 2018. Subject to availability. No cash alternative. Travel and accommodation not included. The Gruffalo’s Child © Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler 2004 – Macmillan Children’s Books.

To enter the competition to win the family ticket to The Gruffalo’s Child Live on stage in the West End plus a copy of The Gruffalo and Friends Annual 2018, click here.

Entries close on 20th November 2017 and winners will be notified soon after.

An exclusive Q&A with Annabel Pitcher

October 19th, 2017

The Last Days of Archie Maxwe​ll: Annabel Pitcher published by Barrington Stoke

Could you introduce The Last Days of Archie Maxwell to us in less than ten words?
A boy, a girl, a secret, a suicide.

What drew you to writing for young adults in particular?
It was never a choice. It was something subconscious; some inner, unknowable desire to pick up a pen and start creating stories about, and for, young people. I am simply not drawn to writing for adults. It has never been an ambition of mine, but since my early twenties, I have felt utterly compelled to write for children and young adults. I can’t really describe it. I don’t do it out of duty, or some lofty desire to make sense of my own childhood, or to reach out to children who might be struggling. I do it because I am meant to do it, and because it fascinates me, and moves me deeply.

What did you begin with; the characters or the sense of the driving force of the story?
This is so tricky to answer. It is different for every book, and it is hard to put into words that first, mystical flicker of inspiration. With Archie, it was a number of things. The location was important. I walk my dog by a train track, crossing it several times, always surprised and a bit unnerved by how easy it would be to not get off the track when the signal turned from red to green. The rumble of the trains accompanied my thoughts for many long hours, and slowly, the vague outline of a story about a boy who lives by a track and is tempted to do the unthinkable started to emerge. I had also, somewhere, had an idea for a book that began with a boy and a girl going to a bridge to commit suicide on the very same morning. What would they do? What would they say? Would they still feel a duty to save each other, even if they were about to die themselves? Some of these questions found their answers in The Last Days of Archie Maxwell. One thing I can say for sure is that I am not a plotter. I don’t like to have a hard and fast plan when I write. I rely much more on feel and instinct, and allow the characters to drive the story as much as possible.

Is this the first novella length story that you’ve written?
It is, and I absolutely loved the experience. It was wonderful to get the chance to focus on something smaller, where each word, and the position of each word, has a huge part to play. It felt a little like writing poetry at times.

  • Why did you decide to write for Barrington Stoke?

I used to be an English teacher, so I have seen first-hand how daunting reading can be for many students. If words are frightening, picking up a book crammed full of them is a huge ordeal. But stories are for everyone. And everyone, no matter what their reading ability, has the right to access good stories, and hard-hitting stories, which aren’t dumbed down in anyway. That’s what Barrington Stoke represent and I was honoured to be asked to write for them.

What is your writing day like?
Unfortunately there is no such thing! I am a mum of two boys (3 and 1) so my life is happily chaotic at present. I squeeze my writing in wherever I can, so I find myself writing at 4am, or midnight, or during nap times, or at the weekend when my husband takes our sons swimming. It is a tough juggling act, sometimes, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

All about The Last Days of Archie Maxwell (13+) by Annabel Pitcher is a super readable YA novella – Dads leave home all the time. It’s not that unusual, really. Leon’s dad walked out. So did Mo’s. But Archie’s? Well, that’s a different story – a story that Archie must keep secret at all cost. Archie knows he should accept Dad for who he is, so he hides his turmoil until he can stand it no longer. With nowhere else to turn, he finds himself at the railway track. The track has been calling to him, promising escape, release. The only problem is, it’s been calling to someone else too…

To read an extract ahead of publication on 1st November, click here.

Why We Published Hats of Faith

September 12th, 2017

Medeia Cohan

I am not a children’s book author. Well I am now, but I mean, I wasn’t and it’s still not my full time vocation. I set out to find this book to buy for my son to teach him about faith-based head coverings. We regularly encountered people wearing all kinds of different head coverings where we lived in Tooting in South London and I was increasingly aware that I didn’t know what most of them were called or what they represented and I wanted to have good answers when he started asking me about them.

I just wanted to buy a book and do my duty as a parent to educate my son about diversity early on. I did some research and found that the book I wanted didn’t exist. I remember thinking how odd it was that no one had already written this book. It seemed so relevant and so important that we educate your young people about head coverings and who wore them and why, so they could make their own, hopefully better, choices.

I remember mentioning the idea to a friend who went on to tell me a story about her daughter seeing a woman in a full grey burqa at the shops and calling her a ghost. My friend talked about her daughter not knowing any better, having never seen a burqa before and her own embarrassment. And then she said if she’d had a book like the one I was dreaming up, then she’d have had a relevant reference point. That stuck with me.

Not long after speaking to my friend, I was having a conversation with another mother and she told me a similar tale about her little one who had an appointment with a hijab wearing doctor and it not going well.

Around the time of Brexit and just before Trump took office, with a notable increase of hate crimes and intolerance around the world, the idea to create this book really started to gain momentum.

 

 

 


Medeia and Hajera

Medeia and Hajera



 

 

I began feeling like I had a responsibility to do whatever I could to counter the growing intolerance and fear around me. I believe that many small acts of kindness can add up to a powerful movement and can create much needed positive change and this belief felt more relevant than ever.

My good friend and now publisher, Hajera Memon encouraged me to shut up and get on with it, which at the time didn’t seem that difficult, after all board books don’t have that many words, right? Little did I know how hard writing a few, very accurate words on such a delicate subject could be!

Simultaneously we began hunting for the perfect artist and got to grips with the shear enormity of the research. We wanted to be absolutely positive that we’d done our homework and that we could say without a shadow of a doubt, that we were offering parents and educators accurate information. We consulted with everyone from religious experts, faith leaders, professors of theology, curators at major museums and faith followers themselves. It was a long process.

 


Hats of Faith

 

 

We also wanted to create a truly mainstream book. Something attractive and fact based rather than religious. Sarah Walsh the illustrator is a true wizard and an incredibly patient person. She worked with us to get the skin tones and expressions just right, and lets be honest; there is not book without them. She was able to capture warmth and beauty on each page.

Sarah was a joy to work with. She became as passionate about this book as Hajera and I were. Working with a team of bright, talented women from different faith backgrounds was not intentional, but it was helpful to inform the book and to keep us all going when the hours were long and imperfect. I’m thrilled with the outcome.

The aim is for Hats of Faith is that it plays a part in helping young people to learn acceptance and to become fearless and knowledgeable about the people beneath the head coverings. I’d love to see the book in libraries and classrooms around the globe and for children everywhere to be versed in the terminology. It’s a big goal, but we hope to inspire kinder future generations.

Visit: lovereading4kids.co.uk/book/14517/Hats-of-Faith-by-Medeia-Cohan-Petrolino.html

Join Lovereading4kids reviewer as he ‘Reads around the World’

July 11th, 2017

My name is Toby, and I am 9 years old. I have written letters to every country in the world – you can read about that adventure at my other website, Writing to the World.

Some letters are published in a book called “Dear World, How Are You?“. In order to learn more about the
countries I am writing to, I am reading books, and I am reviewing them here.

I also reviewed books for LoveReading4Kids, and those reviews are on here, too. I am trying to find one book set in each country, or by an author from that country.

My Mum is doing the same for grown-up books, and I am reviewing mine, and she is reviewing hers. So whether you are a child or a grown-up, you can explore the world with us 🙂

Find out more at fantastic books and where to find them

Hot off the press! – You’ll notice a new addition to LoveReading4Kids…

June 19th, 2017

The KRiB – The Kids Review & Interview Bookclub – an online world of exciting book related shows presented by a flurry of book crazy kids, featuring viewer reviews, competitions, kid’s culture broadcasts, celeb author interviews and an exciting genre based book search library.


The KRiB celebrates authors, publishers, booksellers, libraries and
young readers, spreading the word about the coolest books everyone
should be reading!

The KRiB TV aims to raise literacy levels and to give all kids, whether they love reading or not, an entertaining platform that unites them, builds their confidence and inspires them to see the connection between books and their own lives.

A tour of The KRiB’s pages, will take the viewer from the entertaining ‘KRiB TV’ page, where you can watch video reviews of new releases, to insightful ‘Conscious Kids’ location broadcasts exploring the messages authors give us about modern life, to the educational
‘KRiB Skool’ which offers exciting presenting and acting courses, to
the motivational ‘Vlogs’ page where you can audition to become a KRiB
TV presenter and interview your favourite authors!

So we invite everyone to visit thekrib.tv

June 19th, 2017

As the summer holidays loom, smiling on a sunny horizon, we are here to provide happy hours of brilliant reading to fill children’s heads with priceless memories, in the open air or inside on rainy days. Check out our lovingly hand-picked Summer Reading section, divided into age ranges so that you can find exactly what you’re looking for! Happy Days.

     

On the Award Board! – Carnegie and Greenaway Awards Winner 2017

What do Rosemary Sutcliff, CS Lewis, Quentin Blake and Raymond Briggs have in common? They’ve all won a Carnegie & Greenaway gong, that’s what! And don’t miss a new version of Rosemary Sutcliff’s ‘Carnegie of Carnegies’ Black Ships Before Troy.

And just announced are the 2017 winners. The Greenaway award for illustration went to the delightful There is a Tribe of Kids by Lane Smith.The Carnegie for best novel went to Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys. The inspirational novel is based on a true story from the Second World War. Why not find out more and check out the high quality shortlists as well.

More Pre-Publication Exclusives!

What’s better than reading extracts of a new book as soon as it’s out? Reading them before it’s out. That’s what!

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Top Tips for June Bugs

This month’s must-reads according to the one and only Julia Eccleshare, our Editor-at-Large for everyone from toddlers to teens! See what’s caught her eye this month.

Did You Miss This? – Mid-Month Highlights

Every month we try to guide you to some of the best books about that you may have missed. This month we love:

After the Fire (YA) by Will Hill – Inspired by the Waco siege in Texas 1993 when 82 members of the Branch Davidian sect and four US government agents died in a firefight after a long siege. Reader Reviewer Talia, 15, said ‘A powerful novel about corruption, secrets … questioning everything you’ve ever known. Beautiful and unique, it will stay with you …

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Dogger’s Day! – Dogger by Shirley Hughes is 40

Winner of the Book Trust Lifetime Achievement Award in 2015, Shirley Hughes, 90 years young this month, is a national treasure with over 200 children’s books under her belt. Her humourous and beloved classic Dogger, first published 40 years ago, is still tugging at heart strings today. There’s a beautifully redesigned paperback edition of Dogger complete with a CD audio read by lifelong fan and TV actress Olivia Colman. Joining it in early July is a stunning hardback edition, which includes a personal letter and Introduction from Shirley Hughes herself, who reflects on the origins of the real life Dogger and how much joy this story has brought to her and her readers over the past 40 years. It’s a classic for adults and children alike. Find out more.

Out of the Mouths – Reader Recommended Highlights by Kids

What better endorsement for a book than from other kids? These are the titles our kids Reader Reviewer panel members loved the most. Enjoy!

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What’s Next?  – If they like, they’ll Love

You know how this works by now. They’ve finished the latest book or series by their favourite author. We fill the gap with recommendations right up their street. DAB!

If they like Katherine Rundell, Lauren St John or Polly Ho-Yen they’ll love Running on the Roof of the World by Jess Butterworth. If they like Lisa Williamson, Jenny Downham or Sarah Crossan they’ll love Troublemakers by Catherine Barter.
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If they like Rainbow Rowell or John Green they’ll love Truth or Dare by Non Pratt. If they like Holly Bourne they’ll love Who Runs the World by Virginia Bergin. If they like Robin Stevens or Katherine Woodfine they’ll love The Last Duchess by Laura Powell.
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Sorting Hat Trick! – Harry Potter ‘House’ Editions

20 Years since The Philosopher’s Stone was first published, four highly collectable hardback editions of this groundbreaking story have been lovingly prepared. Each limited edition hardback features the individual house crest of Slytherin, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw or Gryffindor on the jacket and line illustrations exclusive to that house.  Click here. If you are too late buying the hardbacks there are also paperback editions which look almost as lovely. Or, enter our free prize draw to win the set worth £59.99! It’s a must for Potter fans!

                                  

Alex can Never Die! – New Alex Rider Adventure, Never Say Die

17 years on from his first rip-roaring adventure, Stormbreaker, Alex Rider is still going strong! We are mega excited that this world-dominating series has a brand new action-packed, stylish adventure to get stuck into!

New fans can find the whole lot here. But catch up quick! In Never Say Die, the latest title, Alex is back at his daring best! As Reader Reviewer Sam Harper (12yrs) put it; ‘Alex is tested to the limit in his most thrilling adventure yet … Alex is most definitely back and I promise you will not be disappointed.

We Give Two Hoots! – Perfect Picture Books

Publisher Two Hoots is home to some of the most gifted authors and illustrators around today and produces beautiful, characterful books to be read and loved again and again. Check them out below.

Fancy a Spell in the World of Forgotten Magic?

Archie Green always wanted a life of adventure. Just after his 12th birthday, it arrived! Enter the mysterious and immersive world that is DD Everest’s Archie Green Series! Perfect for 9+ readers.

Thrown into an underground world beneath Oxford streets by a mysterious package, Archie’s life will never be the same again. In his latest adventure, Archie Green and the Raven’s Spell, he must navigate a treacherous world, where no-one can be trusted, to protect his friends and find his destiny. Find out more.

Joan Lennon Wants to Write Forever

And we hope she does! Her quirky style has led to some great reads for all ages. Fans of fantasy and adventure with a human heart will love Silver Skin (11+), a heady mix of sci-fi, historical thriller and romance, which will stay long in the mind of the reader.

Also, don’t miss Walking Mountain (11+), a fantastic adventure filled with unexpected turns, unusual characters and important lessons about courage, trust and the power of friendship. Find out more.

Get your kids to Look Beyond their world

Stories are a great way for children to better understand other cultures, diversity and varied life experiences.

So, it’s great when a publisher, Macmillan Children’s Books, curates a special list of titles that give readers a look into the lives of unfamiliar and new voices: from the war-torn streets of Syria and unconventional family structures to experience of life as a teenager with autism. Click on a cover to find out more.

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Time to start planning the Summer Reading

Have a look at the shelves below for some of our favourites or visit the special category on the site to see them all.

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And that just about wraps up June from us! See you next month for more great reads to soak up the sun with!

Look Beyond Your World

June 15th, 2017

Look Beyond Your World with Macmillan Children’s Books and discover a range of important and varied voices.

This overarching campaign spans seven books that explore diversity, other cultures and varied life experiences. We are keen to encourage broad reading for children aged eight to fourteen years old. The Look Beyond Your World campaign hopes to work with schools, libraries and bookshops to ensure maximum word of mouth, and draw important discussions to the fore.

Look Beyond Your World contains titles from seven key Macmillan Children’s Books authors: Sam Angus, Floella Benjamin, Sita Brahmachari, Emma Donoghue, Elizabeth Laird, Rachael Lucas and Kim Slater – with a combined sales track of over 1 million copies TCM.

Each of these authors has a new story to tell in 2017, giving readers a look into the lives of unfamiliar and new voices: from the war-torn streets of Syria and unconventional family structures to experience of life as a teenager with autism. We are proud to share these stories with the world, and even prouder to represent this range of experiences.

The Look Beyond Your World campaign encourages audiences, schools, libraries and bookshops to think a little differently and look beyond our own world to others. The campaign is targeted at Key Stages 2 and 3, but should appeal to all.

Discussion booklets are available to aid engagement with the campaign, along with materials including bookmarks, posters and supporting resources such as book synopses and author information. The campaign will run through May – September 2017.

If you would like to find out more about how you can get involved in the campaign, please email Kat McKenna at kat.mckenna@macmillan.com.


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