Thursday, September 25, 2014

New UK Prize for YA Fiction

Exciting news in today's The Bookseller:
The Bookseller is to launch the first ever prize for Young Adult books in the UK and Ireland.

The decision to create the prize was made after The Bookseller reported on the deficit of YA book prizes for British and Irish authors, a matter highlighted by many of the publishers interviewed.

Nigel Roby, publisher and chief executive of The Bookseller Group, said: “From the very first meetings with publishers and retailers it has been crystal clear that the prize is much needed and that The Bookseller is ideally placed to deliver it. We have one simple desire that underpins everything we do: we want more readers reading more books. The YA Book Prize gives us a wonderful opportunity to put that desire into practice.”

Any YA title written by an author living in the UK or Ireland, published between 1st January 2014 and 31st December 2014, is eligible for the prize. It will be judged by a group of teenage readers alongside leading industry experts such as World Book Day director Kirsten Grant, Waterstones children’s books buyer Melissa Cox, and Rosianna Halse Rojas. vlogger and assistant to YA author John Green.

The winning author will receive £2,000.

Submissions are now open, and a shortlist of eight to 10 titles will be announced in early December. The shortlist will reflect the wide breadth of YA literature that is available—from dystopia and fantasy to comedy, drama, horror and real-life stories.

The prize is sponsored by story-sharing start-up Movellas. Its c.e.o. Joe Cohen said he wanted to get involved with the prize because Movellas users were inspired by YA literature as much as they were by other mediums, such as music, TV, YouTube and Tumblr.  

“The Movellas team wanted to help launch the award because of our community’s relationships with teen books,” Cohen said. “If we can help raise the profile of YA authors and their books, we’re playing a small part in helping our community—and all young people—to engage with great writing.”

The winning title will be announced at a ceremony at Foyles’ flagship store on Charing Cross Road in central London, on 19th March 2015.

Full submission details can be found online at

Friday, September 19, 2014

Publishing Deal - Amy Alward & James Dawson on Diversity Monitoring

In today's Bookseller, news of a publishing deal for Amy Alward (aka Amy McCulloch):

Simon and Schuster Children’s Books has acquired a new title from Amy Alward, author and editorial director at Puffin.

The Potion Diaries is about a girl called Samantha Kemi who dreams of going to university to study potions. She has absolutely no magical talent but her instinct for putting together a potion is second to none. When the city’s princess is accidentally poisoned Samantha sets off on an adventure to find all the ingredients.

Elv Moody, fiction editorial director, and Jane Griffiths, commissioning editor at S&S Children’s UK, acquired the world English rights from Juliet Mushens at The Agency Group in a six figure pre-emptive deal.

“It’s been a long time since we’ve seen anything that feels as fresh as this,” said Moody. “With pulse-pounding thrills, a contest to save a princess (who is much more Kate Middleton than Rapunzel) takes place in a whirlwind of paparazzi and social media – with just a touch of perfect romantic chemistry.”

The book, described as "a clean teen title for readers aged 11 plus", will be published in paperback in summer 2015.

Also in The Bookseller, James Dawson speaking about diversity:

YA author James Dawson has called for “diversity monitoring” from children’s publishers.

The author proposed the idea as he delivered the annual Patrick Hardy lecture to the Children’s Book Circle in London last night (17th September). In the speech, Dawson said children’s and YA books should feature characters of different gender, sexualities, faiths, abilities, ethnicities, cultures and socioeconomic backgrounds.

“Children’s books are actually quite diverse but it’s hard to know for sure either way,” he explained to The Bookseller. “It would be a big job to monitor for diversity but it would come down to publishers. It they kept track of diversity they would have actual statistics. They would keep on top of good practice as well.” He added: “There’s always the risk of ticking a box then moving along. We want to track the industry to check that we don’t get a situation where, for example, suddenly it’s been 10 years since they last published a title with a gay character.”

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Awards News: Longlist Announced for NBA Young People's Literature 2014

The longlist for the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature 2014 has been announced:
Laurie Halse Anderson -  The Impossible Knife of Memory (Viking/ Penguin Group (USA))

Gail Giles -  Girls Like Us (Candlewick Press)

Carl Hiaasen -  Skink—No Surrender (Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers/ Random House)

Kate Milford - Greenglass House (Clarion Books/ Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Eliot Schrefer -  Threatened (Scholastic Press)

Steve Sheinkin -  The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights
(Roaring Brook Press/ Macmillan Publishers)

Andrew Smith -  100 Sideways Miles (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers/ Simon & Schuster)

John Corey Whaley -  Noggin (Atheneum Books for Young Readers/ Simon & Schuster)

Deborah Wiles - Revolution: The Sixties Trilogy, Book Two (Scholastic Press)

Jacqueline Woodson -  Brown Girl Dreaming (Nancy Paulsen Books/ Penguin Group (USA))

The Guardian fleshes out the list.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Review: The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet by Bernie Su and Kate Rorick

The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet by Bernie Su and Kate Rorick (July 2014, Simon & Schuster Childrens Books, ISBN: 1471123227)

The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet
, based on the YouTube series The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, based on Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice is every bit as delightful as the original.

The Bennet family is somewhat smaller that Austen's but there's lots going on with Jane, Lizzie and Lydia.

Due to financial constraints, Mrs Bennet is keen to have her older daughters married off and out of the house – not necessarily in that order – so when the wealthy Bing Lee rents a posh house in Netherfield, Mrs Bennet schemes to get her daughters in front of him. Meanwhile Lizzie is in grad school and as part of her studies she has decided to document her personal life on video, with the help of her best friend Charlotte. As the diaries become popular, Lizzie's younger sister Lydia begins to do her own.

The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet
follows the same path as Pride and Prejudice – introducing Darcy, Mr Collins, George Wickham, Catherine de Bourgh and documents the happy times and the pain these characters cause either by mistake or deliberately, all the while set in the modern-day world with Lizzie and Darcy both involved in creating Internet content. The sisters go from living at home and dependent on their family to being able to leave the nest and have successful careers.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet. Despite being based on a classic story it is very modern (including references to pregnancy-scares and sex-tapes) with lots of twists on the original. Being a diary format, it means you'll think “I'll just read one more chapter” and before you know it you've reached the end! I haven't seen the YouTube series (yet) but that didn't affect my enthusiasm for the book.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Publishing Deal - Eugene Lambert

From today's Book Trade, news of SF trilogy from Eugene Lambert, snapped up by Egmont:
Egmont Publishing has acquired a "page-turning sci-fi thriller trilogy" by debut novelist Eugene Lambert.

The first book, THE SIGN OF ONE, will publish in Spring 2016, in paperback on Egmont's Electric Monkey list, with books 2 & 3 following 9-12 months apart.

On Wrath, a dump-world for human outcasts, identical twins are feared. Only one will grow up human, while the other becomes a condemned monster with 'twisted' blood. When sixteen-year-old Kyle realises he's a Twist, he flees for his life with the help of Sky, a rebel glider pilot. To survive, they must confront what Kyle is, then find out who he is.

"This is compulsive YA at its very best – perfect for fans of Suzanne Collins, Michael Grant and Sally Green," commented Stella Paskins, Fiction Publisher, Egmont Publishing.

Read the whole article at Book Trade.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Review: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins (Jan. 2014, Usborne Publishing Ltd, ISBN: 140957993X)

I remember all the praise Anna and the French Kiss received when it was first published – 2010 in the US – and as it now has a UK release I was able to finally read it myself.

I too thoroughly enjoyed it and am pleased that the second and third books, Lola and the Boy Next Door and Isla and the Happily Ever After, in this (what I understand to be) loosely linked trilogy, are also now available in the UK!

Seventeen-year-old Anna Oliphant, from Atlanta, has been sent by her rich, writer, father to finish her education in an American School in Paris. She speaks Spanish but no French and doesn't know a soul. Fortunately she is soon being looked after by her neighbour Mer, who introduces Anna to her friends, including the gorgeous Etienne St Clair, he of the equally gorgeous English accent.

Anna is smitten by St Clair (as everyone calls him) but he has a girlfriend and she has a tentative relationship brewing back at home nonetheless the pair become almost inseparable.. as best friends.

Over the course of the school year, St Clair helps Anna become more independent and she helps him cope with his difficult family situation. But will they end up together or is this mutual friendship enough?

Who can resist a (possible) romance/coming of age story set in Paris? Anna is someone you can relate too as she stumbles her way through the first few weeks, embarrassed by her lack of French language, and I loved her film references/comments – she wants to be a film critic. St Clair is lovely but also a bit frustrating and that is what makes him a bit different from a standard gorgeous boy character, he is cautious and is also not six-foot plus tall, and makes jokes about his lack of height.

I read the ebook version which also includes a deleted scene, and an extract from Lola.