Tag Archives: ALMA

Bookwitch bites #94

I am the proud owner of a signed copy of Basu ni Notte. And I didn’t even know that it was called that, because I don’t read Japanese. (I know. It looks rather like Italian.) That in itself will tell you that my reading of Basu ni Notte has not gone terribly well, either, since I don’t read Japanese, and the book is in Japanese. Picture book, but still.

Ryoji Arai, Basu ni Notte

Ryoji Arai

So I stand to benefit from the new reading guides issued by the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award people. They have just come up with twelve guides for books by ten recipients of the ALMA, one of whom is Ryoji Arai. He shared the prize with Philip Pullman in 2005. That’s when I was crazy enough to go to Gothenburg just to hear Philip speak. A side effect was meeting up with this Japanese author and illustrator.

He supposedly didn’t speak English, but he did – a little – when it came to the crunch.

No language troubles at all with Marion Lloyd. As you can tell, I’ve not ‘bitten’ anyone here for a while, which is why I am offering you old news. Or not news so much, as a link to what I thought was a very nice blog post by Susie Day about this super-editor when she retired.

I don’t know why we seldom write really lovely articles about people before they retire, or worse, die. I want to know now. Except I don’t know what I want to know, because you haven’t written about those fantastic people yet.

And speaking of fantastic and reading, I eventually enticed Daughter to read the best book of 2012. None of us have got round to much reading during the recent eating season, but once the suggestion was made, she found it hard to stop until she was done. She, too, liked Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein.

I have no expectation of reading hundreds of books during 2013, but a few would be nice. I need to start collecting for the next ‘best of’ award. But as Cathy Butler said in her blog post about reading speed, we are allowed to be really slow. It’s not better to be fast.

Although it would be handy.

Bookwitch bites #89

Anyone wants to hire an author? There is a new company called Authors Aloud UK who can put you in touch with one. I suspect they will only do author type stuff, no singing or washing up. It makes sense to have lots of authors under one organisational roof, and it will hopefully prove useful for schools, etc, as well as for authors who don’t mind getting out there.

The capable hands behind this venture are those of Jacqueline Wilson’s lovely publicist Naomi Cooper, along with super librarians Anne Marley and Annie Everall.

2013 will be a Neil Gaiman-y sort of year by the sound of it. He has an adult novel, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, coming our way, and quoting from Headline’s press release: ‘a new picture book Chu’s Day will be published by Bloomsbury Children’s Publishing at the start of 2013, followed by a children’s book for older readers later in the year. There is the eagerly anticipated prequel mini-series to his seminal comic book series The Sandman.  Neil is also scripting a new episode of Doctor Who to be screened in 2013, having written the multi-award winning 2011 episode ‘The Doctor’s Wife’.  Neverwhere is to be dramatised across two platforms on BBC Radio Four and BBC Radio Four Extra in the spring. HBO is developing six seasons of a television version of Neil Gaiman’s 2001 novel American Gods.’

Phew. I wonder if some of these are things Neil ‘wrote earlier?’ Even he must sleep occasionally.

You might have noticed that J K Rowling has been in the news recently. What you might not have come across is a webcast about Potter-y stuff. It’s rather American, but never mind. They like their romantic Scotland.

One way of – almost – ending up with as lovely a bank balance as Neil’s or J K’s would be to win the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award. The longlist (which as far as I know never turns into an official shortlist) was published this week. It’s longer than ever.

Meg Rosoff is on it, and so are 206 others. Many are ‘always’ on the list, and most would be very worthy winners. What I find odd is that along with the well known British names, there are people I’ve never heard of. British ones, I mean. I suppose it’s the judges’ way of doing a mini-Nobel, picking obscure writers.

Sara Paretsky

And if you fancy a more normal competition, there is one on Sara Paretsky’s blog; Where in Chicago Is V I Warshawski? ‘Every Tuesday for the next seven weeks we’ll post a picture on my blog of V I in a different part of Chicago. Guess the right location, and you’ll be entered into a drawing. The winner will get an early copy of the paperback edition of Breakdown, in bookstores on December 4th. The final week, November 20th, will have a grand prize drawing from all of the entries to the quiz (note: there will be no quiz on November 6th, election day. V I expects all Americans to be going to the polls).’

Get guessing, and don’t forget to vote.

Bookwitch bites #81

If you fancy listening to Eoin Colfer swear and curse you shouldn’t click on this video from the launch of Paul O’Brien’s debut adult crime novel Blood Red Turns Dollar Green. (No, I don’t know what that means.) It seems Eoin was looking forward to having left the children’s world behind (why?), when he discovered there were children present, so he had to clean up his act in praising his fellow Wexford author. Or he might have made that up. He’s also shorter than the first presenter in this clip.

The sound quality isn’t marvellous, and it sounds like it’s raining (it’s Ireland, after all), but you have to admire an author who uses his speech at someone else’s launch to talk about himself… Just joking. I still have to get over the beard.

Mentioning Eoin some more, I see the last Artemis Fowl is almost with us. July can’t get here soon enough. Artemis Fowl and the Last Guardian. It sounds like a newspaper advert, but that’s OK.

Being Irish could be enough to enter the multilingual poetry competition run by the Manchester Children’s Book Festival. If you are lucky enough to be aged under 19, and you have a first language other than English you can enter this competition with a poem in your own language. English native speakers learning a foreign language can also enter by writing a poem in the other  language.

I have no poetry writing skills, so it’s just as well I’m old. For anyone else who is interested, go to Mother Tongue Other Tongue for more information. And write fast. The deadline is 28th May. The Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy will present the prizes to winners on 30th June.

That other award – the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award – will be presented on the 28th May, and I can’t tell you how relieved I am. I thought it was going to be on the 22nd (for some obscure reason, not known even to me) and worried in case Crown Princess Victoria had double-booked herself, forgetting she has a baby that needs Christening. On the 22nd. But all is well, and Guus Kuijer will presumably be able to shake the royal hand after all.

Last year when I was searching for foreign reads I believed it’d be both easy and logical for me to read something Finnish. Not actually in Finnish. Obviously. Failed in my research and gave up. Then the other day the Resident IT Consultant (who clearly had nothing better to do than surf the net) sent me a link to an article about Finnish books (which had been translated – into Swedish).

Sinikka and Tiina Nopola are sisters writing books about a Finnish rapper by the name of Risto. I love the original title, Risto Räppääjä. You really can’t have too many äs in a word. Expecting great things I went in search of Risto in a more manageable shape. He’s out of print… So that’s that.

Räppääjä, Räppääjä!

ALMA and Guus

In the end I forgot. And that was despite having written it down in three places. So when I was meant to listen to the live announcement of who would be the 2012 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award winner, I was enjoying a mug of Earl Grey, away from my laptop. Just think, I’d even been offered to be bussed in for the event (that is assumimg I’d been in Stockholm in the first place to be carted to Vimmerby for the big moment).

Guus Kuijer books

And once I’d seen the news, I was overcome by one big whopping xenophobic thought. I am ashamed of myself. Just because I haven’t even heard of a writer, does not mean they are no good or not deserving. I should not, must not, feel that the English-speaking world of books trumps everywhere else (apart, obviously, from Swedish books). But I did, for about ten seconds.

After all, I never once doubted the worthiness of Ryoji Arai who shared with Philip Pullman. After meeting him, even less so, and that’s despite this book of his I have which I can’t read because it’s all in Japanese.

So, I am very happy for Guus Kuijer, whose name I will practise pronouncing for the next few days. His entry on English Wikipedia is suitably, xenophobically short. But I gather that Guus has written a tremendous number of excellent books, for many many years. He has won lots of awards. And it is hardly surprising that the ALMA jury have decided he is this year’s winner. It follows much the same principles that the Nobel prize does. Pick someone no one else has heard of.

Larry Lempert ALMA 2012

Actually, having belatedly checked out the live announcement I’m grateful I wasn’t there. It even out-did the one two years ago. Maybe it’s a Vimmerby effect?

Another Edinburgh interview

The really weird thing about interviews (one of them, anyway) is when ‘my’ subjects begin interviewing each other. I enjoyed the one in the Guardian, on Saturday, where Neil Gaiman disguised himself as a Grauniad reporter and talked to Shaun Tan.

He’s had longer admiring Shaun’s work, and they have bumped into each other a few times. That’s how I intend explaining away the fact that Neil’s questions were better than mine.

For various reasons I don’t have ‘my’ own photo of this. But as I’ve hung around the yurt – and the photographers therein – for the past few years, I decided to ask Colin McPherson if he minded me using his picture, which was the one in the article. The nice man said I could, which is very much appreciated.

Shaun Tan and Neil Gaiman, © Colin McPherson

And if you want to know what’s going on, Shaun is looking both happy and relieved because Neil is pointing to where I was at the time, which was diagonally across Charlotte Square, and most likely still on my broom. It was a day when I needed to be in two places at once, but wasn’t. I’ll need to work on that skill.

I’m not sure if Shaun claims to have a sketchbook full of nuts, but he might have. There is a Finnish joke, which isn’t bad. (I have always looked west, for Norwegian jokes, and have never concerned myself too much with what they do in the other direction.)

Not talking too much to your brother seems like sensible siblinghood, and I will never be able to look at the grout in my bathroom in the same way again. But no way am I ‘shaving my leg’ for a Shaun Tan tattoo, however much I admire his little drawings.

Very nice to see two of my boys getting together like this. And so typical that Neil almost talks more than Shaun.

(Although I need to go all nerdy and point out it was this year, 2011, that Shaun was awarded the Astrid Lindgren prize… Bet it was a Graun typo.)

Bookwitch bites #62

I’m beginning to feel like the Sesame Witch, and here I am again, bringing you the letter T.

For those of you who haven’t yet heard the voice of Shaun Tan (yes I know, I go on about him a lot), here he is  in the Guardian podcast, interviewed by Michelle Pauli in Stockholm earlier this year.

Shaun Tan podcast.

And please note how clever those young children are, being interviewed in a foreign language. (Just wanted to point that out.)

This week the winner of another Swedish award for literature was announced. Tomas Tranströmer is this year’s Nobel prize winner, and I read somewhere that he is the most translated poet in the world. So many Ts…

Continuing with the awards, Theresa Breslin has just won the Young Quills prize for historical fiction, with Prisoner of the Inquisition. Is it my imagination, or is Theresa and that book of hers winning a lot?

Before I leave you to go and drink some tea, I will return briefly to the letter B and the blasphemous and banned Meg Rosoff. Her darling creature Eck, that we all adore and would love to call our own, is about to become real. Sort of. In the book he must have been created by Bob (God, to you and me), since Bob created everything.

In real life, Eck – who has a very long tongue – is being created by a Mr Godlee, who is a friend of Meg’s. You couldn’t make it up, could you? In order to part with money, please contact Meg.

There was no dog…



Bookwitch bites #59

Happy 95th Birthday to Mary Stewart! It’s so fantastic to know that someone I began admiring over forty years ago is still alive, although retired from writing those wonderful novels with the perfect heroines and their dashing love interests.

If I hadn’t been so forgetful earlier, I wouldn’t have needed to ask Shaun Tan about who handed over the Astrid Lindgren award earlier this year. I had carefully saved this photo of Shaun with Crown Princess Victoria. He looks fairly pleased, and she is wearing a nice blue dress.

Shaun Tan and Crown Princess Victoria

And while not exactly an award, who’d have thought that Severus Snape would turn out to be so popular? Snape won the Bloomsbury vote for favourite Harry Potter character, followed by Hermione and Sirius. I suppose it was all that moody and half romantic swoosh of the cape that did it.

I’m not in the slightest surprised that Michelle Magorian’s wonderful book Just Henry has been picked by ITV to be filmed. Actually, it has already been filmed, as far as I understand, and it will turn up on television this Christmas. That’s definitely something to look forward to.

A little sooner than that there is the Bath Kids LitFest later this month. Surprise, surprise, but I’m not going to be there. Again. I’m still recuperating from excessive LitFesting. One year I really will make it down to that very beautiful city. Decades after my first visit I still remember all the tearooms I found. Anyway, enough about food I’m not going to eat. They have a relay blog story thing going during the period leading up to the start of the festival and on until the ‘bitter end.’ Lots of big author names are taking part, and even the odd blogger.

Bath Big Story

Click here for the first instalment. Then you need to follow the trail for each chapter.

I’m now getting ready to dance on the table, so have no more time for this blogging business. See you tomorrow!