Tag Archives: Gregory Hughes

Dame in a nebula outfit

The weirdest thing was running into Andy Mulligan at Euston. Not that he knows me, but there he was. Probably going towards ‘Up North’ like Formby (for tomorrow’s event), whereas we (trusted photographer and witch) were heading for Branford Boase, which is an award and it’s in London. (There is a point to that which you will not get.) And then there was Jodi Picoult in the tube station, but she was merely a poster, if a life size one.

Walker Books employee

I’d have got lost at Vauxhall tube station. I have been before. Once. Thankfully Daughter, who has never been, put us on the right path. So we were not lost after all.

Sarah McIntyre and Candy Gourlay, Branford Boase

So, there they all were, the shortlisted authors, apart from Gregory Hughes (I deduced he was not the winner). Candy Gourlay seemed to have brought Sarah McIntyre along, which was wise, and one of the men in the Fickling basement was present. That’s Simon Mason of Moon Pie fame. So we had met before, which the clever-clogs Daughter remembered and I didn’t. You can’t memorise all men kept in basements everywhere.

Keren David, Branford Boase

Keren David was surrounded by admirers at all times so was hard to get close to. But her shoes were marvellous. And her glasses. (Sorry, is this a book blog?)

J P Buxton, Branford Boase

Had no idea what Jason Wallace looks like, but the photographer identified him with her eagle eye. There was something about her wanting his shirt for her bedroom…

J P Buxton was someone I didn’t know at all, but he turned out to be the tall guy with the impressive hair.

Pat Walsh, Branford Boase 2011

And Pat Walsh had a crutch with her that I very nearly stole. Being kind, I only held it for her during the photocall. Pat was what you have to call the experts’ favourite, so I am very interested in her book (which is another one published by someone I’m not managing to establish a – professional – relationship with).

Clare S

Klaus Flugge

David Lloyd

John McLay

Lots of other lovely book world types, including Andersen’s Clare, Nicky with the impressive memory, Philippa Dickinson, former winner Frances Hardinge and many more. Klaus Flugge, whose chair Goldilocks sat in. Super agent Hilary Delamere, Julia Eccleshare, Walker Books’ David Lloyd. And I have finally met and been introduced properly to John McLay of the Bath Festival of Children’s Literature.

And then there was Jacqueline Wilson (Dame, OBE, etc, etc) in a starry outfit that Daughter will have when Jacky is finished with it. Please.

Jason Wallace and Charlie Sheppard, Branford Boase winners 2011

Henrietta Branford winners 2011 with Jacqueline Wilson

Jason was not the only winner last night. There was a whole bunch of talented children who had won the Henrietta Branford Writing Competition. One girl was so keen to come that she’d travelled on the coach from Scotland since five that morning and going back overnight. Maybe the future of writing is safe, after all?

Anne Marley and Jacqueline Wilson

Julia Eccleshare

In her speech, Branford Boase organiser Anne Marley slipped in a Freudian Wife of Never Letting Go for Patrick Ness, son of the Walker house, which made us laugh. David Lloyd pointed out what a fun – and easy – job editing books is. Julia Eccleshare spoke about the history of the Branford Boase Award.

And then it should have been last year’s winner Lucy Christopher, but she was off on some very important business elsewhere, so had written a lovely speech to be delivered by Damien Kelleher who was one of the judges. The Branford Boase is awarded not only to authors like Jason, but to editors like Charlie Sheppard. What Lucy had to say about editors is that authors need them ‘like crazy people need therapists’. She can talk. According to Charlie, editors occasionally spend time polishing turds. I fully expect Out of Shadows not to have been anywhere near turd status.

Although, Jason did mention ‘gutted fish at feeding time’. Andersen Press is the nicest bunch of people. (I had noticed.) Jason also muttered something incomprehensible regarding cats, empty bottles and loneliness. And most importantly, he talked about Zimbabwe, where his novel is set. Things are still not good and people are still suffering. Let’s hope books like Jason’s will make a difference.

Branford Boase winning books

Anne Marley warned us off stealing the display of former winners’ books. Apparently Philip Ardagh tried it last year. (Could be why he wasn’t there?) The good thing about neither Candy nor Keren winning was – as they said – that now they don’t have to kill each other. Competing against friends is never fun.

Branford Boase 2011, authors and editors

As usual Paul Carter was taking photographs, and he is not above sharing the task with others. Which is why I brought my own picture person. As they do in real life sometimes, the photographers ended up taking pictures of each other.

We were chatting to Jacqueline Wilson just before leaving, when Candy sneaked up, wanting to be photographed with a star. One of these days she’ll realise that no sneaking is necessary. She too, is a star.

Jacqueline Wilson and Candy Gourlay

Bookwitch bites #53

When Daughter left the house the other evening, the oldies watched Sophie Hannah’s Case Sensitive on ITV. Why they renamed it I don’t know, but back when it was ‘just’ a crime novel it had the title Point of Rescue and was quite scary. It was still scary. We liked it. We wouldn’t mind more.

Awards are dropping onto authors left, right and centre (ouch!) and I’ve given up any hope of keeping track. Keren David was in Angus (and sometimes I don’t even know where that is) this week, picking up an award. I recall seeing the town Arbroath mentioned, so maybe that’s where it happened. I can remember buying bread rolls in Arbroath once, and that didn’t go well.

The Branford Boase shortlist arrived in my inbox this week, and it’s a bad one! By that I mean it’s so good I don’t know who to keep my fingers crossed for.

I Am The Blade by J.P. Buxton

When I Was Joe by Keren David

Tall Story by Candy Gourlay

Unhooking The Moon by Gregory Hughes

Out Of Shadows by Jason Wallace

The Crowfield Curse by Pat Walsh

I have read four of the six, and three of them were on my best for 2010. If that’s not good taste I don’t know what is.

Steve Cole with chonster

There are other kinds of prizes as well. Steve Cole has an Astrosaurs’ superhero competition, where you need to create your own, new astrosaurs character. I wouldn’t put it past Steve to ‘steal’ it for his books. If you win, he will come to your school. Which might be quite nice, if the teachers can put up with his behaviour.

Finally, who do you like best in the Harry Potter books? Here is your chance to vote. Except I don’t know what you win. Nothing perhaps. Just the knowledge that you are the only one who likes Filch best. And my favourite is…

It’s meat cleaver time

Again.

And I’ve worried so much about this that I’ve barely been able to decide whether to do it and if so, how to do it.

But I do like lists, and in a way I’ve mentally ticked books throughout the year. But should it be ten best, or five best, or just a random number of bests?

Oh, come on witch!

My best book of the year has to be Tall Story by Candy Gourlay. It just has to.

It is closely followed by Linda Sargent’s Paper Wings and by Keren David’s When I Was Joe/Almost True. Keren having had two books out this year I can’t choose between them, so they share.

They in turn are barely ahead of Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness, Unhooking the Moon by Gregory Hughes and Ellen Renner’s City of Thieves.

I have a very complex list of candidates, with circles and highlighting and things going on. So I could go on. But I feel that too long a list dilutes the effect.

I think I’ll stop here. But believe me; there are many many wonderful books. It’s been a tremendously good year for reading. Please keep those books coming!

2010 books

Huck Finn with a cell phone

Unhooking the Moon by Gregory Hughes is a true journey book, and were it not for the fact that mobile phones are used and that Ground Zero gets a mention, I’d have wanted to place it much earlier in history. That’s the kind of timeless feel this novel has. And it’s the most fantastic book! I don’t know why I didn’t read it earlier. Well, I do actually. It was because I had no inkling it could be this good.

Unhooking the Moon

It’s been shortlisted enough, and it won the Booktrust teenage prize just the other week. Now that could be where I don’t agree with what others have said. It was described by Tony Bradman as ‘managing to explore the kind of themes teenagers will find engaging’. It’s a much younger book than that. Bob is 12 and his sister Marie Claire, aka the Rat, is ten. Their view of life is very much what children that age will have, except possibly most are slightly less outrageously exuberant and a little more ‘normal’.

We know that Bob and the Rat take to the road because their father is dead, which is good to know, or we would be far more upset when the lovely man dies. They set off from Winnipeg in Canada to New York to find their uncle Jerome, whom they don’t know. The Rat is rather crazy, but very very charming, and she is the brains behind this. Bob comes along because he needs to protect his sister.

There is very little Marie Claire can’t do. She sings and acts and has the most tremendous memory for unimportant facts by the shovelful. They know uncle Jerome is a drug dealer, so look in the shadiest places for him. They meet small crooks and hustlers, and some bigger crooks too. There are Irish doormen and famous rappers. And paedophiles. Luckily the Rat has a sixth sense and she knows what will happen before it happens.

Unhooking the Moon would make a great film, as long as they can catch some of the love both children have for each other and their Dad and for many of the strangers they meet en route to their drug dealer uncle.

A lovely, lovely book. I could go on all day.

Lovely…

OK, I’ll go now.

Season of lists

Having thought it’d be last Saturday, and found it wasn’t, I naturally assumed it’d be this Saturday, so swept the decks, if not much else, in preparation. And it wasn’t. It seemed. And then, come Sunday morning, I found it was, after all.

‘It’ being the Guardian children’s fiction prize shortlist. When I wrote about those other shortlists a few days ago, I felt this one was bound to follow immediately. As things tend to do. Some years ago I asked to be put on the mailing list (see, another list) for this prize, and was told I would be. I’ve since asked every year, and somehow it’s not happened.

My Sunday morning revelation only appeared in the form of a brief column in the Review by Mal Peet musing on his role as one of the judges. It was well hidden. The column. Not Mal’s role as judge.

I google and still I don’t find them. At times I get the impression that the ‘home’ website for every award is the last one to update itself. One I mentioned earlier this week only listed the 2009 award. I had thought I’d at least get an early-ish warning on facebook, but not this week.

Don’t worry. My moan is almost done now.

So, to the list. (Here is where I have to search my own blog to see what I predicted. I have a dreadful feeling I was seriously out this time.)

OK, check done. I got two right. And here is the list:

Now, by Morris Gleitzman

Unhooking the Moon, by Gregory Hughes

The Ogre of Oglefort, by Eva Ibbotson

Ghost Hunter, by Michelle Paver

Interestingly two of the choices are ‘last book in a series’ books. I believe someone criticised that as not being a good idea. I don’t think it matters. You could sort of get the prize for ‘long-standing service’.

I have only read Now. Which is wonderful. Really want to read about the Ogre. Unhooking the Moon sounds interesting, and the only reason I’ve not read Ghost Hunter is that I never got started on Michelle Paver’s books, so feel I have an awful lot of catching up to do.

Won’t say which one, but I think I may have a favourite.

Worthy books

Some year I will learn that the longlist for the Guardian children’s fiction prize tends to emerge just as I go away for half term in May. I may even write it down in my newly acquired blog diary. Or would that take planning a step too far?

Better late than never, here is the 2010 longlist, accompanied by a worthiness problem further down.

Prisoner of the Inquisition, by Theresa Breslin

Now, by Morris Gleitzman

Unhooking the Moon, by Gregory Hughes

The Ogre of Oglefort, by Eva Ibbotson

Sparks, by Ally Kennen

Lob, by Linda Newbery

Ghost Hunter, by Michelle Paver

White Crow, by Marcus Sedgwick

For me it’s more of an unknown list than I’m used to. Three I’ve read, with another lying in waiting. At least another couple that I like the sound of. That makes the predicting rather harder. Although, predicting is mainly an inner ‘feel’ and not something based on fact or my own tastes. So the shortlist will comprise Theresa Breslin, Morris Gleitzman, Eva Ibbotson and Ally Kennen.

Perhaps.

There is one aspect to the list that has always puzzled me, and that is why they pick books not yet published. I have a copy of Marcus’ s book, but it’s not out yet. And if the young critics are to stand a chance, they need to be able to buy the books.

The worthiness referred to at the beginning of this post has to do with a letter in Saturday’s Guardian, where the correspondent was unhappy with the selection. The books are far too worthy and will not attract young readers.

Is he right? I’m not sure who does the picking for the Guardian longlist, but it’s true that awards where children vote, tend to pick more child oriented choices. Who are the awards for? Maybe he’s wrong? Not all children will like the above books, but many will.

As for me, I’m old and will pick like an old person. I can stand aside and say that some other books may suit some readers better. But if you leave it all to children, there are books they will never try, which is why adults are there to push and suggest.