Archive for April, 2010


On Tuesday I attended, for the first time the London Book Fair. I went in, as I do with any new event, very nervous and intrigued about what I would find. Even without attending previous years, I knew the book fair was unusually quiet with a lot of booth signs reading the generic ‘because of the flight disruptions we have been unable to attend’

I walked around aimlessly with great intrigue and loved seeing some familiar faces from Twitter. I think the most impressive booth was of course Usborne with its giant yellow castle. I think it’s important to represent the publisher through the use of visuals in each booth, because to the unknowing observer that is what attracts.

I was warned by a contact beforehand that some publishers consider their stands semi-private and it was obvious which ones those were. Some titles you could browse at ease, but other required going into their space and starting a conversation. I was not approached by anyone during my time there, but I did take the time to talk to a few people and made some contacts.

I walked round the digital section too as no longer can we deny that it doesn’t belong in publishing. It was only tonight really, (don’t ask me why) that the relationship between publishing and the digital really successfully co-existed. I made contact with a publisher via Twitter who has posted a great, honest blog post about the book fair which can be found at http://druceydrama.blog.co.uk/2010/04/21/a-book-fair-revelations-and-a-quest-to-find-miss-f-8422618/ She has been very kind in offering me advice. I stopped to take count of the scope of availability digitalisation has given us. It isn’t something we should deny or begrudgingly adapt to, rather we should made the digital age work for us. We should be able to overcome the fears of how the ebooks and iPad will work for children’s publishing. We should use forces to be reckoned with such as Twitter to promote, market and launch books. We should recognise that the relationship between a book and its reader is no longer just words and attention; but strategic artistic creations and readers.

In the digital age, the reader is no longer just a consumer of the words but a creator of the words. They drive the sales, the reception of a book and influence what comes next. The internet tells us If you liked…, you’ll love. We shouldn’t underestimate the digital age of publishing. Of course, I take a very naive stance on it as I don’t have the technological nor business experience to understand the implications of these developments. But I know that publishing can become really strong again if we recognise that the physical feel of a book in our hands can work alongside a touch screen iPad, and I for one am really excited to see how publishers will overcome the difficulties these new developments propose. It’s a trying time for publishing but hey, when is it not?

So it’s become clear that my musings on LBF 2010 have taken a very 21st century turn. I’m just writing what I saw, and what I saw gave me excitement and great anticipation for when I can finally put my input into the publishing industry.

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I think there’s a lot of great picture books in publication that we don’t initially realise are foreign. I find it fascinating to look through foreign books and learn traditions and customs which we might not otherwise know of. It’s also great for kids to get a larger scope of the literature out there and to experience something a little out of their comfort zone; that I believe is quite important in a child’s reading experience.

My five favourite foreign picture books:

1. Miffy by Dick Bruna

Few children probably realise how old Miffy really is. First published in 1963, this Dutch little Rabbit has stood the test of time.

Miffy is a simple little rabbit who has not changed one bit since she hopped into children’s lives in the 60’s. I appreciate that she hasn’t changed into a 21st century rabbit (whatever that may look like) The premise of Miffy works so there is no need to change it. She’s a small rabbit with a minimalist representation- hardly believable yet her stories are good representations of a child’s life such as a birthday party or going to school and with over thirty different titles, it’s understandable why Bruna  has sold over 80 millions books worldwide.

2. Peter in Blueberry Land by Elsa Beskow

If you want a really old, traditional picture book then this is it. First published in 1901, it tells the tale of Peter, blueberries and possibility.

I’ve chosen this book because the author Elsa Beskow, was considered the first to introduce Swedith literature to a wider audience. The illustrations may seem dated to some children but if you have an appreciation of classic in the same manner as you will have an appreciation of Harry Potter in 50 years to come, this is a charming book to add to a collection.

3. The Story of Babar by Jean de Brunhoff

How could I not include Babar in here? I loved the books, I loved the television series when I was younger.

First published in 1931, Babar’s stories were considered a new type of picture book and paved the way for more developments in this form of literature. The beginning of this story is quite sad, Bambi-esque if you will, with Babar the little elephant’s mother killed in the forest. But the sadness doesn’t last too long and makes way for charming story of triumph over loss.

4. Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans

Madeline - 70th Anniversary Edition

Ahh Madeline, the smallest of her class and yet the bravest. A literary hero to Judy Blume, and many others I am sure.

Bemelmans opened each of his stories with the same line “In an old house in Paris, that was covered in vines, lived twelve little girls in two straight lines” It’s a line that has stayed with many children through their lives. I don’t know what it is about this story; the Parisian undertones or the simple cartoon picture board illustrations; this book charmed me and will continue to charm children for many, many years to come.

5. The Moomins by Tove Jansson

An obvious choice? Perhaps, but it doesn’t mean I love The Moomins any less. I’ve got Moominmania!

There’s something about a little white Moomin that makes me want to cry, in a good way. They’re innocent, strange little creatures who live in Moominland and yet they have all the good traights of what it means to have morals, passion and fun. And yes, I absolutely do believe you can get all that emotion from one book. In fact, I have one illustration by Jansson as my wallpaper on my laptop. It is of a Moomin in stripy black and white shorts, running off with a face of determination and the caption read “I bet I’ll make an impression” It just reminds me to have that sort of determination every day in my own life.

I would provide ISBN’s for all these titles, but there are so many editions available it’s up to you to pick your favourites.

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This weeks Wednesday of Whimsy post features the wonderful Edward Ardizzone’s ‘Tim All Alone’.

What first charmed me about this book is its melancholic nature as poor Tim must travel everywhere and face everyone in order to find his parents who have vanished since his return from holiday.

First published in 1956, Ardizzone won the Kate Greenaway Medal for this book and rightly so. Tim is a champion whom we root for throughout and the evocative illustrations show us just what Tim goes through in order to find his parents.

He meets some people who are helpful and some who just slow down his quest.

I just love this book because in the same fashionof Oliver Jeffers’ ‘Lost and Found’; whilst it’s not quite believable that a young boy can travel all round the world, we still believe it and more importantly, we root for him. The watercolour illustrations are just beautiful and very suited to the time of publication, yet timeless all the same.

Current in print edition ISBN: 9781845075460 Frances Lincoln Children’s Books.

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And so that was the title of my dissertation which earned me a first at university. Since I started my blog last year, I have been consistent in delcaring my love for fairytales and the reasons for this are endless. It took me a long time to choose my subject for my dissertation and then something just felt right when I explored the ideas of fairytales, at first Aesop’s fables then eventually I reached the more diverse, adult concept of Grimm’s fairy tales and that’s what really interesting me- the dichotomy of a child’s concept of fairytales which such adult content. Fairytales are inherently a part of our childhoods and yet the origins of these tales are completely misunderstood. Did you know the story of Cinderella originates from 4th century China involving foot binding and foot fetishes?

And so as I researched fairytales more I became fascinated with the interpretations of these vast tales. Believe me when I say it is so easy to get lost in the world of fairytales. This genre is the basis of arguably all other genres and influence our lives so much from childhood through to adulthood. Through the use of Vladimir Propp’s theory on Morphology we can establish a fundamental purpose to each fairytale as they follow set themes and stages- of course this is all relative but what can be said is that fairytales to this day maintain a set structure, what they don’t maintain is a set influence to the reader. Fairytales influence our lives more than we could ever know. They gives us preconceptions, misconceptions and introduce us to belief and faith and the idea of fantastical possibility.

I absolutely relished in writing my dissertation- through all the re-writes, the word limits, the sweet consuming (the alcohol consuming) and the all nighters; fairy tales are wonderful and shouldn’t be dismissed in a child’s education. Go back to them, relive a memory that hasn’t been Disneyfied. Just…escape.

I’ve written this post because of http://thebookladysblog.com/ aka #pantyworthy lady. Recently, she very admirably blogged about a book titled ‘Flow- The Cultural Story of Menstruation’ by Elissa Stein and Susan Kim. She ignored the stigma and wrote about periods anyway..it shouldn’t even be a big deal that she wrote about periods in the first place but I digress. What interested me about this post is that in writing my dissertation I broached onto the subject of menstruation in my study of ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ aka ‘Little Red Cap’ as it used to be known. I came to discover little red’s hood as a symbolism for menstruation. Themes of devouring and contraception come into play aswell in the form of little red’s ‘cap’ . Typically a girls first menstrual cycle indicates a move into maturation and sexual maturity and yet in Little Red Cap this idea is rejected as the girl is naive and unwilling to submit to the anthropomorphic Wolf. There is ambivalence throughout this tale as it shows the menstrual cycle is a mere stepping stone into the path of maturity and yet makes the girl elusively aware of her sexual prowess. I don’t know about anyone else but myself and indeed, my dissertation supervisor found this fascinating stuff.

So for ‘bookladysblog’ the following list of book recommendations is for you and all your visitors from the ‘Flow’ post:

Judy Grahn, ‘Blood, Bread and Roses: How Menstruation Created the World’ (1994).

Vigen Guroian, ‘Awakening the Moral Imagination: Teaching Virtues through Fairy Tales’ (1996).

Martha Hixon, ‘Little Red Riding Hood Uncloacked: Sex, Morality and the Evolution of a Fairy Tale’ Children’s Literature Association Quarterly 129-131 Issue 29 (2004). A review of….

Catherine Orenstein ‘Little Red Riding Hood Uncloacked: Sex, Morality and the Evolution of a Fairy Tale’ (2000).

Jack Zipes (fairytale knowitall) ‘A Second Gaze at Little Red Riding Hood’s Trials and Tribulations’ The Lion and the Unicorn publication 7/8 78-109 (1983).

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This is the fourth week of the blogger hop already? Goodness Friday’s come round quickly. The Book Blogger Hop is hosted by the lovely Jennifer over at http://www.crazy-for-books.com/ Go discover some new blogs or sign yourself up and get discovered.

I’ve added my own personal twist to this and every week I recommend my five favourite book blogs I have discovered from the hop that week. As the hop grows every week I find it harder and harder to decide but I have great fun finding many new blogs I may not have otherwise discovered.

1. Try Reading my Mind

http://tryreadingmymind.blogspot.com/ A lovely blog from a lovely blogger it seems. A diverse home page that instantly caught my eye. Reviews mostly historical fiction but with some young adult fiction thrown in there too.

2. Puss Reboots

http://www.pussreboots.pair.com/blog/2010/comments_04/book_blogger_hop_april_9.html A very well established blog, going since 1997! Thorough reviews of children’s books and more including horror, sci-fi and manga. There is a huge archive to look through.

3. Chrissie’s Corner

http://www.chrissiescorner.co.uk/ A really accessible blog; well laid out with honest reviews and for me honesty is the most important thing regardless of for whom you are reviewing the books.

4. Super Reader Girl Reviews

http://www.superreadergirlreviews.blogspot.com/ I love this blog. Honest, non-spoiling reviews of fiction for girls. She has some great fiction titles for review to date, can’t wait for her next post.

5. A Trillian Books

http://trillianbooks.blogspot.com/2010/04/book-blogger-hop-5.html If only for the fact she is a fellow Brit in a hop filled with those from the US; I love this blog. Reviews a range of books including a range of children’s. Fantastic.

And there we have it, my favourite five from the hop this week. Check back next week for five more.

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I have already declared my love for the work of Miroslav Sasek and this is just another book to re-affirm that love.

Sasek is best known for his ‘This is’…(London, Paris, New York etc) picture books and ‘This Way to the Moon’ is in a similar style to previous works and has the same trademark illustrations. The illustrations are light-hearted and use bold colours giving the images clean outlines whilst maintaining a sense of humour. I love Sasek’s illustrations and love his consistency. The prose is easy to follow and great to be read aloud. This book might be nice for introducing children to the moon/space at a younger age.
ISBN: 9780789318428 (Universe Publishing)

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I’ve been meaning to buy this book for a while now, and today I did because I opened up the book to a random page, and what was the book featured? Jane Hissey’s ‘Old Bear’ 

I remembered it so clearly from my childhood and was immediately charmed and it put a smile on my face for the rest of the day. ‘1001 books you must read before you grow up’ (so much more charming than ‘before you die’ is part of the 1001…. series and is a great book to delve into every now and again where you can reminisce, travel back to your childhood or discover a classic you never even knew about. The book is updated ever few years so also has contemporary titles in there such as Harry Potter and Jacqueline Wilson’s books. Fantastic.

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