We don’t know how many books were chosen, but there’s usually around seventy, and it’s great to have three slots. This year’s theme is “Creepy House”.
We are particularly pleased to see the Summer Reading Challenge’s continued support for Christopher Edge, whose first book for us was in last year’s selection. Just-published Shadows of the Silver Screen was described by Martin Chilton in The Telegraph, as “a serious (and playful) intelligent historical thriller for children”. It’s set in the dawn of movie-making and dauntless heroine Penelope Treadwell unravels mysteries as a film’s plot leaks spookily into reality.
You can read the first chapter here:
It’s good, too, to see that the Summer Reading Challenge supports new talent. Our picture book chosen this year is written by award-winning writer of picture books and young fiction, Tracey Corderoy, who has been making her mark on the UK’s children’s writing scene over the last year or so, but it’s illustrated by Steven Lenton whose first picture book is Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam, a story of two rather ineffectual robber dogs, whose baking-based plot to distract their neighbours while they rob them results in their recognition that robbing is wrong and embarking on a new career.
On a rather soggy Saturday morning in Herefordshire, after arriving late last night at a cottage with a power cut and the powerful smell of rot emanating from a many-weeks defrosted and prodigiously leaking freezer, I was not feeling as pro-countryside as I sometimes do.
First, Linda Buckley-Archerreviewed it as The Guardian’s children’s book of the week. She says, “There’s something timeless about Helen Peters’s accomplished and hugely engaging debut… Drawn with humour and affection, Hannah’s world is utterly convincing… There is a lovely moment when Hannah takes a newborn lamb from its cardboard box at the bottom of the Aga, feeling its “quick, shallow heart-beat under nubbly wool”. Its body is warm and comforting “like a hot water bottle”. “You’re mine,” she says… It is said that your capital as a writer is your childhood. In celebrating friendship and family, a country upbringing and the joy of discovering something you truly love to do, Peters has drawn on hers to create a memorable story with broad appeal”.
Helen Peters singing copies of The Secret Hen House Theatre in the signing tent at the Hay Festival
Julia Donaldson says, “As a child, I loved The Swish of the Curtain by Pamela Brown, and The Secret Hen House Theatre by Helen Peters is another engaging book about amateur dramatics”.
Michael Morpurgo says, “Helen Peters is a new writer and The Secret Hen House Theatre feels very autobiographical. Hannah Roberts is the eldest of four children; her father, a single parent is an overworked farmer struggling to keep his farm going against a greedy landlord and vandals who try to destroy his dream. Hannah takes her responsibilities as eldest daughter very seriously, but what she really wants to do is become an actor like her dead mother. The book follows the dramatic twists and turns as she tries to write, direct and act in her own play. Life on the rundown farm is wonderfully described – you can almost smell the pigs and hear the lambs bleating. Full of action, with a happy ending, this is a book I didn’t want to finish.”
The book is, in fact, one of four Nosy Crow titles included in the 2012 Reading Challenge official lists, and we wrote about how pleased we were about our inclusions in the selection here. And here are links to both the older and younger lists.
We don’t know how many books were chosen in total, but it’s usually around seventy, so, particularly as a small, new publisher, we were pleased to have bagged four slots.
And it is, of course great both to have the extra sales; to see The Reading Agency supporting new talent as well as more established writers/illustrators; and for us to be working on this library project at a time when we’re keen to do whatever we can to support libraries against the threats they face.
“Young readers today who have grown up with an amazing array of electronic gadgets will certainly enjoy this fast-moving and imaginative story.” – The School Librarian, Winter 2011
“A great read for boys – the story really grips the reader and draws you through the book.” – Parents in Touch
Twelve Minutes to Midnight by Christopher Edge was published last month. The Bookseller described it as “a really pacy historical thriller with a great sense of Victorian atmosphere”, while Lovereading4kids.com said, “A thriller with a fast-paced cinematic style…an electrifying story from an exciting new author”.
The Secret Hen House Theatre by debut novelist Helen Peters will be published in April, but it’s already had a great mention in the Ham and High from Kate Agnew, children’s book consultant at the brilliant Children’s Bookshop, Muswell Hill. She says the book is “absolutely delightful … Astonishingly accomplished for a first novel, it is on one level an engaging story about a group of children determinedly staging a play in a disused old hen house and, on another, a warm-hearted and compassionate account of a family coming to terms with loss. I enjoyed the proof so much that I read it in two sittings”.