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October 15, 2012

E. B. White’s “Hymn to the Barn”

E. B. White           (1899 – 1985)

On this day in 1952, E. B. White’s Charlotte’s Web was published. Among children’s books, it continues to hold its place at or near the top of the ‘best of’ lists, though White’s pre-publication fear was that his “hymn to the barn” would be too low-key for most kids. And he was sure about the film: “The story is interrupted every few minutes so that somebody can sing a jolly song. I don’t care much for jolly songs. The Blue Hill Fair, which I tried to report faithfully in the book, has become a Disney world, with 76 trombones.”

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October 9, 2012

JK Rowling: I will return to writing children’s books

Filed under: Authors — Tags: , , , , , — Bookblurb @ 7:45 pm

JK Rowling will return to writing children’s books following the publication of The Casual Vacancy, her first novel for adults.

By Roya Nikkhah

The author, who has been reluctant to say whether she would return to children’s fiction after finishing the Harry Potter series, confirmed that her next book would be for young children.

“As the writer of Harry Potter, I’m always nervous of committing myself to another children’s book, but yes, the next thing I write will be for children,” she said.

“I have a lot of things on my laptop currently, including a couple of things for children – for a slightly younger age group than Harry Potter was aimed at – which are nearly done and will, I think, be the next thing I publish. I have run them by my children and they seem to like them which is always a good sign.

“I also have some ideas for another book for adults but it isn’t too far on [in development].”

The Casual Vacancy has been described as a “sexually explicit tale of ruthless snobbery and bourgeois hypocrisy”.

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February 6, 2012

Crime gives library loan beating to other genres

Photograph by Christopher Thomond for the Guardian

With a conspicuous absence of non-fiction, this year’s PLR figures show crime fiction dominating lending, with children’s books not far behind.

By John Dugdale

As with Sherlock Holmes’s dog that failed to bark in the night-time, the most telling thing in the league table of library borrowings for 2010/11 is what’s absent. Why is there no non-fiction at all in the top 100, although cookbooks, memoirs and Guinness World Records are invariably among the leading titles in annual charts of books bought?

And where is David Nicholls’s One Day, Britain’s No 1 bestseller in 2011 after making the top five in 2010? Like Dawn French’s debut novel A Tiny Bit Marvellous, also a hit in both years, it’s nowhere to be found. One inference would be that people are more likely to buy books they expect to read or refer to more than once. Fans of Nicholls’s love story, or Jamie Oliver’s recipes, by and large coughed up cash to own or to give them; so if a book is either useful or treasurable, it’s unlikely to appear prominently and may not figure at all.

That also would explain other aspects of the table – compiled by Public Lending Right (PLR) and covering mid-2010 to mid-2011 – such as the relatively feeble showing of literary novels: only Joanna Trollope (38), Hilary Mantel (41, 94), Kathryn Stockett (42), Sebastian Faulks (44), Sarah Waters (80) and Nick Hornby (81) fly the flag for non-genre fiction.

Whodunnits and thrillers, by contrast, are rarely reread for obvious reasons: once you’ve finished them you know the solution or outcome. This disposability seems to account for the overwhelming dominance of crime authors in PLR’s rankings, and also James Patterson’s emergence as supreme among them. The American overseer of a production line churning out a slew of titles each year, Patterson regularly scores several top 100 bestsellers. Few make it higher than mid-table, however, and it’s in library loans that he’s pre-eminent, Britain’s most-borrowed author for the fifth consecutive year.

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November 12, 2011

Ribblestrop scoops Guardian Children’s Book Award

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| By Caroline Horn

Return to Ribblestrop by Andy Mulligan (Simon & Schuster Children’s Books) has been awarded the Guardian Children’s Book Award, beating off shortlisted titles including David Almond’s My Name is Mina and Simon Mason’s Moon Pie yesterday.

The book is about a boarding school called Ribblestrop where the children call the shots. The first title in the series, Ribblestrop, was also shortlisted for the Roald Dahl Funny Prize but despite its literary successes, sales have been modest.

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