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2013 Shortlist – Scottish Book Trust

Congratulations to some of my favourite authors for their inclusion on the shortlist for the 2013 ScottishChildren’s Book Awards. Click the link for more information.


2013 Shortlist – Scottish Book Trust.

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Red House seeks talented young writers for 2013 Yearbook!

Do you know a budding writer, poet, or journalist?

If so, the Red House Young Writer’s Yearbook needs YOU…

We want aspiring young writers from around the country to enter the 2013 Red House Young Writers’ Yearbook competition and win the chance to see their stories or poems published in a stunningly produced and designed book.
To enter the competition, children should be aged between 7 and 17. They can submit a story, poem or article and it’s up to the individual what subject they choose to write about. This year the competition entries will be divided into four age categories: 7+, 9+, 11+ and 13+. The deadline is 31st July 2013.

As well as becoming a published author, the winners will also earn the opportunity to attend a Red House Young Writers’ Workshop, with a high-profile children’s author, held – for the first time ever- as part of the celebrated Imagine Children’s Festival at London’s Southbank Centre. The workshop will provide participants with a unique, fun and stimulating opportunity to help them hone their skills and provide lots of feedback to encourage and inspire!

So, both winners and authors get a great deal out of involvement in the Red House Young Writers competition – but you have to be in it to win it! And to enter simply email us with your piece of work along with your name, email address, date of birth, age range (7+, 9+, 11+, 13+), your parent/guardian email address and your address to, with a subject of “Red House Young Writers’ Yearbook 2013 Competition”.

For more information please contact Dominic Kingston –

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Annabel Pitcher has won the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize 2013 with her second novel, Ketchup Clouds.

Pitcher was also nominated for last year’s award for her debut book, My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece.

Ketchup Clouds is the story of a teenage girl who reveals a terrible secret through a series of letters written to a murderer on death row.

Pitcher was the winner of the teenage category in addition to her overall prize, with RJ Palacio’s Wonder named winner of the 5-12s category, and Rebecca Cobb winning the picture book category for her story Lunchtime.

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Are you still missing ‘Harry Potter’?

Were there questions you always wished you could ask, but never had the chance? Well, set your clocks and don your wizard/witch hat, because J.K. Rowling will be taking part in a webcast on Thursday 11th October at 5pm. This is a wonderful opportunity to see the bestselling author talking about Harry Potter, Pottermore and all things Hogwarts. And if you are busy, the webcast will be available to view afterwards as well.
The web address you need is:

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Top 10 Classics for Teens

Thanks to the friend who asked me in the playground yesterday for recommendations on a classic to start her 12-year-old daughter with, because it really made me think. So here is a completely unscientific list based on what I read myself and other recommendations. I’m sure there are lots of really important books I have left out – so if you want to add anything, let me know. The list is basically in my own recommended age order, ascending from 12-17. My personal favourites while growing up were numbers 1, 2 and 10. What are yours?

1. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
2. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
3. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
4. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
5. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
6. Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
7. Tess of the d’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
8. A Room With a View by E.M. Forster
9. Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
10. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

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Growing Up, by guest contributor Helen Peters

In a first for kidsreadbooks, guest author Helen Peters, author of the lovely The Secret Hen House Theatre, tells how her own upbringing on a farm contributed to her book.

The Secret Hen House Theatre is set on a fictionalised version of the old-fashioned Sussex farm where I grew up. We were a family of four siblings, three girls and a boy, and, like the children in the book, we all had different attitudes to the farm.
One sister was animal-mad: she was given her first guinea pigs when she was four and her menagerie soon extended to dogs, cats, mice, hamsters, gerbils, budgies, chinchillas, chickens and ducks.
My little brother was fascinated with the whole business of farming. Like Sam in the book, every room in the house was a field on his pretend farm, and he kept field plans under the carpet in each room. My youngest sister, however, hated mud on her shoes, hand-me-down clothes and having no TV, so growing up on a farm wasn’t so much fun for her.
But we were never forced to work on the farm: we were always given the choice. Like Hannah in the story, I was happy to do the cute things like adopt baby lambs, but I never volunteered to muck out pigs! Hand-reared lambs had to be bottle-fed before and after school, and again before bed. Even when fully grown, they remained tame and affectionate. My sister’s enormous pet sheep, Jasper, whom I borrowed as a character in the book, really did follow her around the farm with a duck sitting on his back!
The farm was a sea of mud in winter and the farmhouse was absolutely freezing. We had no central heating, just an open fire in the living room and the Aga in the kitchen. If it was really cold, my dad would light paraffin stoves. I remember regularly waking up with the insides of my bedroom windows coated in ice.
For the rest of the year, though, living on a farm was fantastic. The thing I loved most was the space. The farmyard was full of unused sheds and outhouses, which we commandeered for numerous clubs, often with our cousins and school friends, who all loved roaming around the yard and fields and woods with us. We had nature clubs, spy clubs, fashion clubs and, just like in the book, our own theatre in a shed. I was very like Hannah in my interests, but Hannah, being a motherless story heroine, is cleverer, braver and more resourceful than I ever was.
I now live in London, which I love, but I’m lucky enough to be able to go back to the farm for holidays. I wouldn’t want to have to choose between city and country, but, if I had a gun at my head, I’d choose the farm.


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Congratulations to Brian Selznick…

…for Hugo‘s triumph at the Oscars last night. Review of his other masterpiece, Wonder Struck, coming soon.

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Do YOU want to meet the Gruffalo? Now you can!

Meet Axel Schaffer and the Gruffalo at a family event in Richmond on Sunday 4th March 3-5pm, with the chance to meet the author, get his autograph and bid for one of his pictures at auction. It’s at the Bingham hotel (great cocktails, parents!). Visit the following link for more details.

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Richard and Judy kids’ book club spring 2012

The Richard and Judy kids’ book club has released its recommendations for spring 2012. Some reviews to follow here, or please let me have your own:

Olivia’s First Term by Lyn Gardner (Nosy Crow)
The Peppers and the International Magic Guys by Sian Pattenden (HarperCollins)
Pegasus and the New Olympians by Kate O’Hearn (Hachette)
Young Sherlock Holmes: Death Cloud by Andrew Lane (Pan Macmillan)
The Poodle Problem by Anna Wilson (Pan Macmillan)
Stitch Head by Guy Bass and Pete Williamson (Magi)
The Whizz Pop Chocolate Shop by Kate Saunders (Scholastic)
Northern Lights by Philip Pullman (Scholastic)
Frogspell by C.J. Busby and David Wyatt (Templar)
Hank Zipzer: The World’s Greatest Underachiever and the Crazy Classroom Cascade by Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver (Walker)

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What do you think of the new logo?

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