ISSN 11750189: Volume 9: Issue 1: February/March 2010
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The shortlist for the Storylines Gavin Bishop Award was announced a couple of months ago. The winner will be announced at the Storylines Margaret Mahy Day.
The shortlist is:
You can see their artwork on the Random House website.
What a fantastic weekend. Joy shared her experience, knowledge and great sense of fun with thirty participants.. We all came away with a better understanding of what is required to make the most of our words, and will now approach our manuscripts with a fresh eye and greater expertise.
Several writers who are just starting on their journey said how good it was to have someone who is so respected in the industry share that she too had been unsure of herself at the beginning of her writing career. At the end of the weekend we all received 54 pages of notes. This coming from a master of her craft is a fantastic tool. Thank you, Joy, for giving so much of yourself.
Storylines is one of six shortlisted charities with Sovereign Sunshine in March. Your vote counts!
Anyone from across New Zealand can register on the site and vote for Storylines during March 2010.The number of votes will tally on the screen, and voting will close on Wednesday 31 March at midday. Sovereign will announce the winning charity on the website on Wednesday 31 March, along with the winner of their voter prize, which all voters go in the draw to win. They will also post a news story which will announce each charity's vote counts and proportions of the total vote / donations.
Jo Noble, a lifelong advocate and promoter of books of children has died. Jo established Jabberwocky Children’s Bookshop in Blockhouse Bay, later moving the shop to Balmoral with Judy Keestra. She also produced various magazines including Jabbering About Books, which became Well Read, and the annual New Zealand Children’s Books in Print. She edited anthologies including 100 New Zealand Poems for Children and 30 New Zealand Stories for Children, both were Storylines Notable Books. In 1993, Jo was awarded the CLA Award for Services to Children’s Literature (now the Storylines Betty Gilderale Award). In 2003 Jo became an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to children’s literature. Jo was a member of various Children’s Literature Association and Storylines committees over the years, including being the year book editor, and a member of the Storylines Tom Fitzgibbon Award judging panel. Jo’s knowledge and expertise in children’s literature was extensive, and always available to us. We will miss you Jo. Jo's profile is available here.
The Hans Christian Andersen Award winners are due to be announced any day, followed by the IBBY stand at the Bolonga Book Fair.
The 32nd IBBY Congress will be held at Santiago de Compostela, Spain, 8-12 September.
IBBY Haiti has been meeting to discuss their plan of action. Last year they organised an IBBY Children in Crisi project, following floods in Gonaives. Now they are identifying the camps they can work in. One of the undamaged printing presses is willing to reproduce some books to help in bibliotherapy sessions. IBBY will be sending funds to help in the re-printing, as well as training and support for staff. Banks are beginning to accept international payments. IBBY Haiti will be working with other organisations including UNICEF and the Catholic Relief Services.
Visit the IBBY site for more news.
I just happened to be in Wellington for work, just in time to catch a few events at the New Zealand International Arts Festival, New Zealand Post Readers and Writers Week. On Friday, skillful time management allowed me time to see Once Upon a Time – Neil Gaiman and Margo Lanagan in conversation with Kate De Goldi.
This was a wide-ranging talk – as could be expected by this ‘beaut brace’ (as described by Kate). Neil began by reading from chapter seven of The Graveyard Book – after commenting that flesh-coloured mikes screw the face up for the audience – ‘does he have a wart?’ Neil explained The Graveyard Book as like The Jungle Book, except Bod is raised by dead people in a graveyard, rather than animals in a jungle. Margo read from Tender Morsels, when Muddy Annie sent Collaby Dought through to a personal heaven – just not his.
There was a discussion about what makes a children’s book – or young adult book – and whether they knew the audience when they wrote. Neil’s opinion is that he knows whether it is exclusively for adults, only because it had stuff in it that would bore kids – stuff you have to have been knocking around the world a while to understand. For Margo, the reality that she was originally published as a young adult author did mean that she had made some concessions, knowing that she would probably continue to be published in the young adult market.
Neil told the story of the publication of Coraline – basically, it was published as a children’s book thanks to his agent’s daughter lying. His agent didn’t think it was a children’s book – because it is so terrifying. Neil asked her to read it to her daughters, both loved it. It was published. When the musical of Coraline came out, Neil was sitting beside the girls and thanked them. One admitted that she had been terrified, but wanted to know what happened, and so didn’t let on.
Both discussed the value of fantasy and science-fiction. For Margo, it’s like looking at stars – you have to look slightly to the side for clarity. So fantasy is the real world, slightly askew, but seen clearly. Kate described the use of animals, gods, etc, as a safety feature – that they put some distance between the reader and the character. Later in the talk, Margo said it was when you were writing action in the wing of a house that, structurally, couldn’t happen – and you leave it there – that’s when it tips over into fantasy.
Neil described the sort of kids’ books he saw as a reviewer in the 80s – ‘proper’ books. There had to be a boy, living in a tower block in London, whose big brother had trouble with heroin. The boy had to get in trouble with the law in chapter five, but only a little, and he would think about having sex (but not really have it). And there would be a noble teacher, who would explain the error of his ways and set him on the right path. At this point Kate said ‘I think I wrote some of those’.
Both admitted they were lucky and able to write what they wanted. And they were published and people liked their work. Oh, and they find their most ‘inspiring’ times in those instances – and places – when you can’t physically escape, or read a book, and so your mind goes somewhere else to escape. For Neil, this is times like fifth-grade performances. For Margo, long drives.
When asked by a member of the audience, Neil said that he must write something for boys – similar to Blueberry Girl – and a picture book that give dad’s a fair go.
On Saturday, after a trip to Pompeii (well, Te Papa), it was to The Opera House for The Arrival. I hadn’t had a chance to see it at the Auckland Festival last year, so grabbed the opportunity. Like the book (by Shaun Tan) and the experiences depicted, this live-action version was surreal, engaging, suitably confusing and emotional. It lived up to everything people had said.
Saturday night and it was the Town Hall Talk: Neil Gaiman, again with Kate De Goldi. Kate introduced Neil as the ‘Amadeus Mozart of post-modern fiction’. To wolf-whistles and cheers, Neil approached the lectern, said ‘hello’ and introduced his readings. This time he read three poems. One, ‘Locks’, has been published (in Fragile Things), one was written a month ago for an anthology of sea stories – scary and unsettling sea stories (hence the English seaside town setting). The third was written 10 days ago and this was its first performance in front of live human beings.
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