16 April 2008

Exeter, Inkheart, Quercus, Siblings

As Leonie said, the FCBG conference at Exeter was brilliant - many congratulations to all the organisers, and thanks for having us as a part of it. The UBG seminar which Leonie and Susan ran was very well attended and full of people eager to share their own experiences, learn from each other's ideas, etc. (And I just sat quietly in a corner and resisted the temptation to interfere, and did very well, I thought...) And I then chaired an event with four lovely writers - Justin Somper, Julia Golding, Ally Kennen and David Gilman. Always a bit tricky with that many people trying to be part of a single conversation, but it was fun, I thought, and good to see Justin (as ever) and to meet the other three. And on top of that there was the UFBG cake (picture to follow, I hope - it was quite something), and other events with great writers and illustrators such as the lovely David Roberts (mentioned by Leonie below) and many others...

Since then the finishing touches have been put onto the manuscript for the revised UBG for 8-12s, including the final selection of final last absolutely final books for inclusion; the PA children's books supplement has gone out with the Guardian including our picture-book recommendations and a UBG read-on map; and the National Year of Reading sampler has come out too, meaning that now any young person in the country joining a library (the next 250,000 of them, at least) will be given a free mini-UBG. So as Leonie said, a busy couple of weeks... And tomorrow we start commissioning for the updated teen guide...

I finally managed to get time to return to Inkheart, which reluctantly I had had to put aside mid-read a few weeks ago when I just didn't have the time, but delighted to have been able to sit down with it properly now and finished it over the weekend. Very highly recommended. What a thrilling imagination Cornelia Funke has, and such a good story-teller (with the assistance of her translator, the great Anthea Bell); a book I hesitated to pick up (it's long, it's fantasy, and all sorts of other prejudices against it...) but I'm very pleased I did, and the characters and setting have really stayed me in the days since I finished. I'm holding off reading the second book in the series, but only because the third isn't out yet and I want to pace myself so I don't have too long to wait for that - Inkspell is no. 2, and Inkdeath the third, published in October.

Just noticed, incidentally, having mentioned Anthea Bell, that The UBG doesn't credit translators, which is very bad indeed - don't know how we/I let that happen. We have to fix that.

Started Hazel's Phantasmagoria, by Leander Deeny, also this weekend, which made me laugh out loud several times in the opening three or four pages; I'm going to enjoy this one. It comes from a publisher - Quercus - who're launching a new children's list; and while I'm a little bitter because I can't get them to answer my mail, I'm pleased to have found such a strong debut in their launch list - bodes very well.

Incidentally, looking for good books to give to two/three year olds about to be afflicted with a new baby in the family. I've just read Minty and Tink, which is one possibility; any other thoughts, anyone? Help!


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