Children's fiction

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Re: Children's fiction

Post  pinhedz on Thu Jul 07, 2011 9:19 am

Holling C. Holling was his own illustrator.

One of his first kid's books was about a kid who wanted to paddle a canoe through the great lakes and then up the Saint Lawrence to the Atlantic Ocean.

He couldn't make the trip himself, so he sent a proxy:


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Re: Children's fiction

Post  eddie on Wed Oct 19, 2011 7:05 pm

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Flies Again by Frank Cottrell Boyce – review

A sequel to Ian Fleming's novel is funnier and more engaging than the original, although only the car reappears

John Lacey
guardian.co.uk, Friday 14 October 2011 22.54 BST


Dangerous imagination … a scene from the film of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Photograph: Ronald Grant Archive

Ian Fleming's estate has had a lot of experience of exploiting the characters under its control: along with the James Bond movies, there have been dozens of novels about 007. Kingsley Amis wrote the first under a pseudonym just after Fleming's death; John Gardner wrote another 16 in the 80s. More recently, both Sebastian Faulks and Jeffrey Deaver have had a go, while Charlie Higson has written five novels about Bond's schooldays. After the success of all these sequels, the Fleming estate has now branched out and commissioned a sequel to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, the novel that Fleming wrote for his son in 1964.


Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Flies Again
by Frank Cottrell Boyce

Their chosen writer, Frank Cottrell Boyce, is the author of several brilliant books for children. In his sequel, the only character who survives from Fleming's novel is the car itself; rather than the eccentric Caractacus Pott, his wife Mimsie and their children Jeremy and Jemima, Cottrell Boyce has created the Tootings, a modern, ordinary and very recognisable family: harried Dad, sensible Mum, grumpy Lucy, practical Jem and the baby, Little Harry. When Dad is fired and his company car is taken away, Mum buys a broken old camper van, which the family renovates using parts from a racing car which once belonged to the famous Count Zborowski. They soon discover that their new car has a mind of its own ...

When I was a child, I loved the film of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. I loved it so much, in fact, that I tracked down the novel too. I can't remember if I'd read any of the James Bond books then, or even knew who Ian Fleming was, but I do remember my disappointment; the novel was so timid, so drab, so black and white in comparison to the multi-coloured craziness of the movie. The contrast between film and book makes sense once you learn that Roald Dahl wrote the screenplay: his dangerous imagination bubbles out of every scene.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Flies Again is much funnier and more engaging than Fleming's original novel. The book looks great too, filled with lovely illustrations by Joe Berger, who even manages to sneak in a magnificent diagram of James Bond's Aston Martin, detailing exactly where you'll find its secret panels, machine guns and ejector seat. But I still missed the wonderful characters created by Dahl: I kept longing to meet Baron Bomburst or Truly Scrumptious, or, best of all, the Child Catcher, stalking through the streets, crying: "Ice-cream! Treacle tart! Cream puffs! All free today!"

Josh Lacey's The Island of Thieves is published by Andersen.

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Re: Children's fiction

Post  eddie on Fri Nov 11, 2011 10:58 am

Roald Dahl was right: the best children's books are funny

Humour is bigger than ever in children's literature - but do funny books last? And which gems would you pass on to the next generation?


Mr Gum, Horrid Henry and anything by Road Dahl are among the books that hit children's funny bone Photograph: David Leahy/Getty Images

Humour, Roald Dahl said, is key to children's writing - "It's got to be funny!". That's the motor behind the Roald Dahl funny prize, now in its fourth year, which this year went to books about pirate cats and a doodling schoolboy. Humour is a bigger driver in children's publishing than ever, which is now drowning in aliens, underpants and quirky surrealism (a field led by Andy Stanton's brilliant Mr Gum series, effortlessly blending Douglas Adams and the Mighty Boosh).

But has it always been this way? Spotting a battered copy of David Henry Wilson's Elephants Don't Sit On Cars at a second-hand book stall recently, I was instantly reminded of something I didn't know I'd forgotten: sitting cross-legged on the carpet with the rest of class two, all Clothkits smocks, flared cords and enormous fringes, listening to Mr Evans read aloud the funniest things any of us had ever heard. An elephant doing a Number Two on Daddy's car: to a bunch of six-year-olds in the late seventies, it didn't get any better than that.

Apart from that rogue elephant, the stories about Jeremy James were realistic, domestic, even mundane: upsetting a tower of tins in the supermarket, secretly eating a box of liquorice allsorts and suffering the consequences, playing with the boy next door even though you don't like him very much. As the books continue, rites of passage - the first funeral, arrival of siblings, the gradual intrusion of the world's complications into the charmed bubble of early childhood- are seen through both ends of the telescope: Jeremy James's incomprehension and his parents' bemused affection.

As well as wry observational humour ("Daddy went on showing Mummy how paper chains should be put up and then Mummy started showing Daddy how paper chains could be put up") there is satisfying slapstick - crashing a car after playing in the driving seat, piercing a water pipe while digging for buried treasure - and yet no one gets angry. Comedy often comes from danger, but these books spin it out of safety and familiarity. They're like Just William without the pent-up fury, or Horrid Henry if he wasn't so spirit-crushingly horrid all the time. And most strikingly, when children's comedy tends either to get the parents out of the way for the adventures to begin, or set out the parent-child relationship as a battlefield, Jeremy James's home life is entirely non-combative.

More than thirty years on, how would the stories play with my own captive audience, a four- and a seven-year-old accustomed to Horrid Henry's constant hysteria and Mr Gum's high-concept otherworldliness? Well, they weren't so amused by an adult saying 'Number Two' as we were back in class two. (For maximum comedy value, it needs to be a teacher talking about poo.) They were impressed and envious that the pre-school Jeremy James gets to tricycle off to the sweetshop by himself, and a little wistful at all the shiny 50p pieces handed over by various strange "uncles". (Children may have been freer back in the 70s, but parental roles were more rigid: the car and the money are Daddy's, while Mummy gets saddled with everything else. )

But no other book they've read so far, new or old, has given them more shared laughs than Jeremy James. It's prompted me to order, for a few years' time, another comedy favourite of my childhood, Helen Cresswell's inimitable Bagthorpe Saga.

So which comedy classics do you remember from childhood - and are they still funny today?

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Re: Children's fiction

Post  eddie on Sat Dec 10, 2011 10:26 pm


Harvey, The Boy Who Couldn't Fart by Matthew Johnstone (Walker, £9.99)
Harvey, The Boy Who Couldn't Fart should prove a sure-fire Christmas choice. This nicely crafted comic story about windless Harvey includes a survey of his family’s farting habits and comes with a devious fart machine (a “Fart-o-matic”). But the back cover carries a lengthy, po-faced warning: “You must use the device only as described in these instructions…” The story itself is a gas – a rival to any Christmas cracker. Kate Kellaway., Photograph: Walker

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Re: Children's fiction

Post  eddie on Sat Dec 10, 2011 10:29 pm


A House In The Woods by Inga Moore (Walker, £12.99)
A House in the Woods is a beautiful book dominated, once again, by pigs. But these are uncommonly dainty pigs in a lavishly imagined forest, carpeted by gold leaves and moss. Trouble strikes when the pigs’ makeshift shelters are wrecked by their squatter friends: a rueful bear and a merry moose. More permanent accommodation is called for and the pigs hire a hilarious team of “beaver builders”, equipped with hard hats and a keen appetite for peanut butter sandwiches. The joy of their eventually constructed, reassuringly secure house will captivate parents and children alike. KK. Photograph: Walker

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Re: Children's fiction

Post  eddie on Sat Dec 10, 2011 10:32 pm


The Pop Up Book of Poo (Walker, £8.99)
The Pop Up Book of Poo is a compendious and surprisingly informative publication (“Because bat poo is so high in phosphorous and nitrogen, it was used to make gunpowder during the American civil war!”). KK. Photograph: Walker

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Re: Children's fiction

Post  eddie on Sat Dec 10, 2011 10:35 pm


A River of Stories by Jan Pienkowski & Alice Curry (Commonwealth Education Trust, £18.99)
Salt water, fresh water, clean water, dirty water – these stories from around the Commonwealth capture the role of all kinds of water in everyone's survival. Whether it is too much or too little, gloriously flowing in rivers, gushing from wells or seeping through marshes, water is essential for people and animals everywhere. In this well-organised anthology, some stories are realist, others magical, but all will stimulate readers to think about protecting this vital resource. Jan Pienkowski's stunning silhouettes bring watery scenes vividly to life. Julia Eccleshare

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Re: Children's fiction

Post  eddie on Sat Dec 10, 2011 10:38 pm


Christmas At The Toy Museum: A Fairytale by David Lucas (Walker, £11.99)
Christmas at the Toy Museum: A Fairytale (Walker £11.99) is absurd, enchanting and simple. The toys rush to the tree and realise there is nothing there – no presents. One comes up with a proposition: “Why don’t we all give each other ourselves?” They set to work at once. And that more or less wraps the story up – once you have also thrown in a glorious, interventionist angel who traffics in stars and wishes. KK. Photograph: Walker

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Re: Children's fiction

Post  eddie on Sat Dec 10, 2011 10:41 pm


Everybody Was A Baby Once and Other Poems by Allan Ahlberg & illustrated by Bruce Ingman (Walker, £7.99)
"Keith’s forgot his royal crown/Kevin’s late (again)/Jason’s lost his frankincense: The Unwise Men.” There are no prizes for guessing what this brief poem is about. Ingman illustrates “Nativity” as a sweet and stumbling primary school play with the three small kings, identically clad in red robes and ermine, making a delightful mess of their stage debut. It is one of a collection of funny, fresh, easy-to-take-on-board poems by the indefatigable Ahlberg. KK. Photograph: Walker

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Re: Children's fiction

Post  eddie on Sat Dec 10, 2011 10:46 pm


Christmas Eve At The Mellops by Tomi Ungerer (Phaidon, £6.95)
An elegant reprint of a 1970s tale, features four pigs with distinguished first names: Casimir, Isidor, Felix and Ferdinand. It describes their attempt to find homes for the snowy Christmas trees they have exuberantly dug up from a German pine forest. As they do the rounds, the point is not lost on the reader: doing the right thing is seldom easy. Everyone seems already to have a tree. But the pigs persevere – and start to understand what it is to be in want and what it means to give. A light-footed Christmas education (presents eventually distributed to patient pigs). KK. Photograph: Phaidon/Phaidon

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Re: Children's fiction

Post  eddie on Sat Dec 10, 2011 10:48 pm


Tales From India by Jamila Gavin, illustrated by Amanda Hall (Templar, £14.99)
If what is required this Christmas is flight into a different culture, then Tales from India is the thing. This fabulous-looking collection of stories should be an answer to prayer. The Hindu recipe for creation in which a sea of milk is turned into butter is only the beginning but is given assured and dramatic treatment by Hall, who does not shrink from any of her exotic tasks, including the drawing of a serpent that doubles as a milk churn. KK. Photograph: Templar

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Re: Children's fiction

Post  eddie on Sat Dec 10, 2011 10:51 pm


My Henry by Judith Kerr (HarperCollins, £7.99)
Christmas is a time for remembering absent family and friends, and My Henry is a picture book to touch the heart as well as make one laugh aloud. It is a new departure for Kerr, a deliciously singular extended daydream in which she imagines wild, airborne outings with her late husband, Henry. He is dressed in a pink cardigan and yellow tie and has sprouted some rather inefficient looking green wings to help him fly. Heaven, obviously, is his new address. And bliss, all round, is guaranteed. KK. Photograph: HarperCollins


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Re: Children's fiction

Post  Guest on Sat Dec 10, 2011 10:52 pm

My daughter loved this when she was young:


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Re: Children's fiction

Post  eddie on Sat Dec 10, 2011 10:55 pm


Freight Train by Donald Crews (Phoenix Yard, £10.99)
You don't have to like trains to love this simple and witty book. Trundling down the track goes a typical freight train, made beautiful by its bright colours, from the red guard's van through to the black tender and steam engine. Bold and clear, the colours stand out, until the train gathers speed and they are all whirled together as it hurtles through tunnels, over bridges, through night and day until, as trains do, it disappears. Nothing is said, nothing needs to be said; it's just a very satisfying experience. And a good introduction to colours, too. JE. Photograph: Phoenix Yard

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Re: Children's fiction

Post  eddie on Sat Dec 10, 2011 10:58 pm


Mother Knows Best by Jill Murphy (Puffin, £6.99)
Jill Murphy follows her bestselling Peace At Last and Five Minutes Peace with a deliciously acerbic look at parent–toddler relationships. In the best spirit of maternal tolerance, Mother Bear indulges her little cub Bradley in his insatiable desire to play. Knowing she must encourage his creativity and foster his enthusiasm, Mum keeps up a steady stream of Bradley-entertaining suggestions. Bradley's stamina doesn't falter; Mum's does. Through gritted teeth Mum falls back on the old cliché. Readers will cheer when she does. JE.Photograph: Puffin


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Re: Children's fiction

Post  Guest on Sat Dec 10, 2011 10:59 pm

This is the first book i remember reading. It was a birthday present


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Re: Children's fiction

Post  eddie on Sat Dec 10, 2011 11:01 pm


Quentin Blake's Amazing Animal Stories, written by John Yeoman (Pavilion, £10.99)
There are magical monkeys, a daring tortoise, a tricksy locust who outsmarts a coyote, and many more besides. The essence of the different animals and the celebration of their individual attributes are a delight. John Yeoman retells these tales from around the world with vigour and enjoyment, while Quentin Blake's illustrations make them all original and bewitching. JE. Photograph: Pavilion

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Re: Children's fiction

Post  eddie on Sun Feb 26, 2012 3:52 am

Famous Five 70th anniversary marked by star illustrators

Quentin Blake and Helen Oxenbury among artists to reinterpret Enid Blyton's classic children's characters for a new generation

Alison Flood

guardian.co.uk, Friday 24 February 2012 16.22 GMT


Famous Five at 70: Detail from Emma Chichester Clark's take on Five Run Away Together. Photograph: Hodder Children's Books

Much-loved illustrators including Quentin Blake and Helen Oxenbury have reimagined the Famous Five to mark the 70th anniversary of the adventurous quintet's first appearance, bringing new looks to Enid Blyton's classic characters.

Blyton's publisher approached Blake with the idea of celebrating 70 years since the author introduced the world to the Famous Five with Five on a Treasure Island in 1942. Blake was immediately enthusiastic and the project was widened to include Oxenbury, the award-winning children's illustrator known for her work on Michael Rosen's We're Going on a Bear Hunt, Emma Chichester Clark, Oliver Jeffers and Chris Riddell.

"When I first wrote to Quentin Blake with this idea, it seemed a long shot," admitted Anne McNeil, publishing director of Hodder Children's Books. "His response, however, was enthusiastic and open. Mr Blake was keen to explore the idea of linking the Famous Five with five of the nation's favourite illustrators."

Blake, best known for his illustrations of Roald Dahl's books, has brought his iconic style to bear on Five on a Treasure Island, showing Julian, Dick and Anne, their cousin the tomboy George and her dog Timmy picking their way through the rocks to Kirrin Island in George's boat. Oxenbury has tackled Five Go Adventuring Again, Riddell has taken on Five Go Off in a Caravan, Jeffers Five Go to Smuggler's Top and Chichester Clark Five Run Away Together.

"It is always a wonderful challenge for illustrators to create new images for iconic words and it is fascinating to see how Helen Oxenbury, Chris Riddell, Emma Chichester Clark and Oliver Jeffers have risen to the challenge," said Blake. "In doing so, they have breathed new life into favourite stories for those who know them well and those who are discovering them for the first time." Out in May, priced at £5.99, a percentage of royalties from the sale of each limited edition book will go to the House of Illustration charity.

Blyton died in 1968, leaving behind over 600 children's books. Hodder still sells more than half-a-million Famous Five books a year. "The Famous Five are held in deep affection up and down the country," said McNeil. "We identify, it seems, with these children who are so full of optimism and life. As the publishers of the Famous Five, Hodder Children's Books holds in its care a real reading legacy. We are mindful of this, and of the responsibility that it entails. Seventy years is a long time, and very much worthy of a celebration."

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Re: Children's fiction

Post  pinhedz on Sun Feb 26, 2012 5:46 am

As a kid, my dad read all of these Oz books:


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Re: Children's fiction

Post  pinhedz on Sun Feb 26, 2012 5:53 am

But mom read these instead:


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Re: Children's fiction

Post  eddie on Wed Mar 21, 2012 6:06 am

'Scent-sational' reads: smelly children's books hit the market

Autumn Publishing is to inject fun into the reading experience with books that smell of bubblegum, berry flavours – and farts


A new chapter ... Autumn will publish The Greatest Farter. Photograph: Getty Images

What have we all been missing from our lives? A book that smells of farts, apparently. The Bologna Children's book fair is taking place at the moment, so there are heaps of announcements coming out from the kids' books world, but this one from Autumn Publishing is my favourite so far.

Autumn is launching a "scent-sational" new division, it said this morning, which will be called Smellessence. This new imprint will bring out a range of scented books based on its acquisition of rights in "ground-breaking new technology based on micro-encapsulation and touch activation". I remember a number of scratch-and-sniff books from the 1980s (I rather liked them), but this technology, I'm told, is new: the smells have shelf lives of up to three years, and it hasn't been used in books before.

"This advanced technology and the smells it creates are so real they take children's reading to a magical new level. We wanted to inject some fun into the reading experience and this is a powerful way to do just that," says Autumn managing director Perminder Mann in the announcement.

So there's The Splotz list, which I'm told will feature nice smells: bubblegum and berry flavours. And then there's a title called The Story of the Famous Farter, out later this spring, which will include a fart smell on its last page. I couldn't quite believe that when I heard it, so I asked Autumn's PR to repeat herself, and yes, it's true, and "it will be as palatable as farts go", apparently.

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised; last year, after all, there was New York, PHEW York, which featured smells like garbage, sewer steam and horse manure. And you know what? It sounds horrible but it's the kind of thing I can see kids collapsing with laughter about. Fart books – they're the new Twilight. You heard it here first.

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