New UK comics laureate

Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' Watchmen, which was later made into a film.The UK now has a comics laureate. It’s the illustrator and graphic novelist Dave Gibbons - he’s been appointed for two years starting in February and will champion children’s literacy through schools, teacher-training events and education conferences. The role was created by the charity Comics Literary Awareness (CLAw).

He said: “It’s a great honour for me to be nominated as the first comics laureate. I intend to do all that I can to promote the acceptance of comics in schools. It’s vitally important, not only for the pupils but for the industry too.”

He’s illustrated characters for Marvel and DC Comics during his art career, including Batman, Superman and Green Lantern. He began in underground comics after leaving his job as a building surveyor. He’s worked on Doctor Who and in the late 1980s worked with the writer Alan Moore on the Watchmen series, which went on to become a film.

T S Eliot prize shortlist announced

Marking the 50th anniversary of T S Eliot’s death on 4 January 2015, the poet’s estate has increased the value of the prize this year by £5,000 to £20,000. We don’t have all the collections, please reserve them if you would like them.

The winner of the award will be announced on 12 January. Last year, the prize was won by Sinéad Morrissey for her collection Parallax. We featured one of her poems, Through the Square Window  as last week’s poem of the week. 

The award has been won in the past by names including Carol Ann Duffy, Seamus Heaney and Derek Walcott. It’s been running since 1993.

Bright Travellers by Fiona Benson 

All One Breath by John Burnside

The Stairwell by Michael Longley

Letter Composed During a Lull in the Fighting by Kevin Powers

Fire Songs by David Harsent

Learning to Make an Oud in Nazareth by Ruth Padel 

Fauverie by Pascale Petit

When God is a Traveller by Arundhathi Subramaniam

I Knew the Bride by Hugo Williams

Faithful and Virtuous Night by Louise Glück


Diversity in children’s books

The great big book of familiesHere in Child Friendly Leeds @Child_Leeds, we’ve just matched our stock to the Best Culturally Diverse Books for children and ordered copies or extra copies of everything on the list that’s available. 

Authors and illustrators Alex Strick, Sean Stockdale and Ros Asquith are challenging people to look at some children’s books when they next go to the library and see if any of the leading characters are from less ‘conventional’ families , have any disabilities, are they all white?

They believe that alongside books about robots, aliens, gruffalos, vampires, dragons and wizards, books need to show a few more images of society as it really is: diverse. There should be a place for every child and it doesn’t need to be overt – books can include all children naturally, subtly and without comment.

Watch this space, we’ll post our list in the next few weeks when all the books arrive.

Ros Asquith and Mary Hoffman have already produced some books which do this (click the links to see copies):  Max the Champion which includes a vast range of disabled children and Great Big Book of Families  and  Welcome to the Family which remind us that there are many ways to make a family.

It must be good for all kids not only find someone to identify with in books, but also to read about and understand others’ situations.  Books play a valuable role in exposing readers to new ideas and experiences, allowing them to walk in other people’s shoes whether the character is a wheelchair user, has two mums, or is from a traveller community. 

There’s also a new initiative calling for all publishers to look at how they can make their books as inclusive as possible. It’s called ‘Everybody In’ and should pave the way to a new diverse world of books for all of us! The Everybody In campaign is asking people to tweet “I’m in” to @InclusiveMinds using the hashtag #everybodyin


#FF Poem of the Week

Sir Thomas Wyatt, by Hans Holbein the Younger.jpgThey Flee From Me

By Sir Thomas Wyatt 1503–1542 

They flee from me that sometime did me seek
With naked foot, stalking in my chamber.
I have seen them gentle, tame, and meek,
That now are wild and do not remember
That sometime they put themself in danger
To take bread at my hand; and now they range,
Busily seeking with a continual change.
Thanked be fortune it hath been otherwise
Twenty times better; but once in special,
In thin array after a pleasant guise,
When her loose gown from her shoulders did fall,
And she me caught in her arms long and small;
Therewithall sweetly did me kiss
And softly said, “Dear heart, how like you this?”
It was no dream: I lay broad waking.
But all is turned thorough my gentleness
Into a strange fashion of forsaking;
And I have leave to go of her goodness,
And she also, to use newfangleness.
But since that I so kindly am served
I would fain know what she hath deserved.

Graven with diamonds: the many lives of Thomas Wyatt, courtier, poet, assassin, spyThomas Wyatt – courtier, poet, assassin, spy (read Graven with diamonds by Nicola Shulman) was in love with Anne Boleyn (the poem is about a fickle mistress and the trials of romantic love but not necessarily Anne) . According to his grandson George Wyatt, the moment Thomas Wyatt saw “this new beauty” on her return from France in winter 1522 he fell in love with her. When she attracted King Henry VIII‘s attentions sometime around 1525, Wyatt was the last of Anne’s other suitors to be ousted by the king.

And graven with diamonds in letters plain
There is written, her fair neck round about:
Noli me tangere, for Caesar’s I am…
He was imprisoned on charges of adultery but eventually freed, thanks to his father’s friendship with Thomas Cromwell.

Enid Blyton’s Faraway Tree series

The folk of the Faraway TreeAnyone an Enid Blyton reader?

Her Faraway Tree series, first published 60 years ago, is to be made into a film by Sam Mendes’ production company. Previous films include the Oscar-nominated Revolutionary Road, as well as the recent stage adaptation of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

The Faraway Tree series tells the adventures of three children who stumble upon an enormous magic tree in an enchanted forest. The four books in the series are The Enchanted Wood, The Magic Faraway Tree, The Folk of Faraway Tree and Up the Faraway tree (on order).

Although they were written between 1939 and 1951, the stories of Jo, Bessie and Fanny and their treetop friends – Moon-Face, Mister Watzisname, Silky and the Saucepan Man, are still  popular. In fact Enid Blyton’s books have sold more than 500 million copies worldwide and have been translated into 40 languages. This series has lots of 5 star ratings from our readers.


UK is top at publishing

Did you know that in 2013, the UK publishing market was the world leader for the number of new titles published in relation population size?

UK publishers released 2,875 new titles per million inhabitants, more than 1,000 titles ahead of the next nearest, Taiwan. In absolute figures, the UK published 184,000 new titles and re-editions, the highest figure in Europe, with only the US and China publishing more, with 304,912 and 444,000 titles respectively.

Revenue from publishing in the UK was also good compared to rest of the world –  £4.7bn, the same as 2012.

The UK joins the US and Germany as a market which did not shrink, while other nations such as France (-3%), Italy (-6%) and Spain (-10%) all saw their values drop. Asian markets grew with South Korea up 2%, China 9% and Indonesia 16%. New Zealand was up by 6%, Mexico by 3% and Brazil 8%.

The UK also has the largest export market, €1.5bn, despite a declining 4% on 2012. The US is €1bn.

Publishing is the largest entertainment business internationally, with an estimated value in US dollars of $151bn, putting it ahead of the film business at $133bn, and magazines at $107bn.

New books!! This week’s Fiction Hotlist

The legacy of Elizabeth PringleBrothers in bloodThis week’s new fiction

Susanna Gregory’s Murder on Holborn has already been rated 5 star – twice -

n 1665 England is facing war with the Dutch and the capital is awash with rumours of Murder on High Holbornconspiracy. These are more frenetic than normal because of the recent sinking of one of the largest ships in the navy – a disastrous tragedy that could very well have been caused by sabotage. As an experienced investigator, Thomas Chaloner knows that there are very few grains of truth in the shifting sands of the rumour-mill, but the loss of such an important warship and the murder of Paul Ferine, a Groom of the Robes, in a brothel favoured by the elite of the Palace of White Hall makes him scent a whiff of genuine treason

Plus novels by Kirsty Wark. New Simon Scarrow. Walking Dead and Homeland. A Martina Cole and lots more –

Check the hotlist