News round-up, June 2013

Amazon licenses fan fiction ebooks
George RR Martin hates fan fiction, Anne Rice has banned it, Ursula K Le Guin calls it "an invasion". But a host of authors have signed up to a new programme from Amazon, which encourages any fan who fancies it to write fiction inspired by their worlds, and sell it to readers through the Kindle store. Amazon announced that it had secured licences for the bestselling Gossip Girl series by Cecily von Ziegesar, for Sara Shepard’s Pretty Little Liars and for LJ Smith’s Vampire Diaries from Alloy Entertainment. The licences will allow fans to publish authorised stories set in the different fictional universes as ebooks for the Kindle, with royalties paid to both the original author and the fan fictioneer. Amazon said the "Kindle Worlds" project was good for writers because it is "an entirely new way to monetise their valuable franchises [and] it allows them to extend their worlds with new stories and characters and more deeply engage with existing fans".
Source: The Guardian

Julia Donaldson backs study into malnutrition in kids
A group of top kids’ authors, including Gruffalo writer Julia Donaldson, says extreme hunger leaves children struggling to read and write. The former children’s laureate backs a global study that suggests children who are badly malnourished are 20% more likely to misread simple sentences. The research was carried out by the University of Oxford for the charity Save the Children and looked at 7,300 eight-year-olds in four countries – Ethiopia, India, Peru and Pakistan. Other top children’s authors backing the campaign are Michael Morpurgo, Philip Pullman and David Walliams. Justin Forsyth from Save the Children says: "poor nutrition is capable of seriously damaging a child’s life chances before he or she even sets foot in a classroom". The report says that even if the children have good schooling, the benefits of it get cancelled out if they’re not eating well.
Source: BBC

New cover design for  Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets revealed at BEA
At Book Expo America (BEA) in New York City, Scholastic Books unveiled its new cover design for J.K Rowling’s second series installment, Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets.

New Scholastic cover for Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

Harry Potter fans will likely recognize the scene depicted as Harry Potter and Ronald Weasley riding in Ron’s father’s flying car toward the Weasley’s Burrow home. The original cover for Chamber Of Secrets featured Harry in the snake-laden Chamber grasping onto the tail feathers of the red phoenix while wearing a cape and a sword. This is but the second reveal from Kibuishi’s re-imagining of the Harry Potter book covers, all seven of which are expected to hit shelves on Aug. 27 individually and in box set format.

First look at Evangeline Lilly’s elf warrior in ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’
When The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug hits theatres on Dec. 13, there will be a fresh face among the residents of Middle-earth: Tauriel, an elf warrior played by Evangeline Lilly of Lost fame. “She’s slightly reckless and totally ruthless and doesn’t hesitate to kill,” says Lilly. She’s also not found anywhere in J.R.R. Tolkien’s original fantasy novel, or in any of Tolkien’s other writings for that matter.

Evangeline Lilly as Tauriel in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.

Director Peter Jackson and his co-writers on the Hobbit trilogy, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens, invented the character to expand the world of the elves of Mirkwood Forest – and to bring some more female energy to the otherwise male-dominated Hobbit narrative.
Source: Entertainment Weekly

Blackman is new Children’s Laureate
The new Children’s Laureate Malorie Blackman said she would use her position to be an "advocate" for public libraries and campaign against "short-sighted" closures. Blackman, the author of dozens of books including the award-winning Noughts & Crosses series for teen-agers, took over from previous laureate Julia Donaldson, who lives in Bearsden, East Dunbartonshire, at a ceremony in central London. The 51-year-old, who was a computer programmer before becoming a full-time writer 23 years ago, said she owed her success to her local libraries when she was growing up in Lewisham, south-east London. Blackman said: "Each laureate can bring their own passions to it, but one of my passions is the public library service and I wouldn’t have become an author and I certainly wouldn’t have been standing here now as the Children’s Laureate if it had not been for my local library service so that’s definitely something I want to be an advocate for and cherishing our libraries and speaking out against library closures. I will do everything I can to ensure our library service is maintained or improved especially when you look at other countries like South Korea, which in 2012 initiated a programme to build 180 libraries. Russia is building libraries but we seem to be closing them. I think its very short-sighted." The mother-of-one, whose novel Pig-Heart Boy was short-listed for the Carnegie Medal and made into a BBC series, said it was "a real honour" to be chosen for the role and that children’s books needed a champion.
Source: Herald Scotland

Beanstalk story collection marks charity’s 40th
National literacy charity Beanstalk is publishing a specially commissioned collection of stories as part of its 40th anniversary celebrations, with contributions from authors and illustrators including Francesca Simon, Chris Riddell and Paul Stewart. Jack and the Beanstalk and the other Beany Stories, Poems and Jokes will be published by the charity on 12th June and given, free, to every child the organisation has helped this year, as well as to the Beanstalk reading helpers and schools. It will also be available for the general public to download from the Beanstalk website, alongside additional teaching resources. The book includes ten specially commissioned works, including a play, three verse stories and some bean-themed jokes. Each is based on, or inspired by, the original Jack and the Beanstalk fable and is illustrated with original black and white drawings. They are aimed at readers of different levels and are graded. Chief executive of Beanstalk, Sue Porto, said: "We have published this book as a way of celebrating all we have achieved and to thank all the children, schools and reading helpers we have worked with in our 40th anniversary year for their amazing efforts. We hope it will bring them many hours of pleasure and help to inspire more people to support our efforts to reach more children."
Source: The Bookseller

Original Winnie-the-Pooh illustrations animated for the first time in iPad app
The original Winnie-the-Pooh children’s stories have been digitised, allowing them to be read on iPad and iPhone using an app.

How the Classic Pooh app looks on the iPad.

Classic Pooh, released by children’s publisher Egmont Press, is free for users to download and comes with one Pooh story, with another available to buy for £1.99. Users can either read the story themselves, or have it read to them by the voice of actor Rufus Jones. The iPad app makes the original stories fully interactive, animating EH Shepard’s 1920s illustrations for the first time. Tim Jones, publisher at Egmont Press, told Metro: "We’ve been working with illustrations that are 85 years old which have a place in British culture, illustrations that are greatly loved. We had to look at it very sensitively and that’s what we’ve tried to do." The app offers audio clips of the sounds of Hundred Acre Wood and the characters move around, and turn from black and white to colour. Milne’s stories have been abridged for the app.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Teaser Poster Revealed
The first teaser poster has been revealed, ahead of a trailer that is set to launch this week. The appropriately atmospheric artwork shows our heroic hobbit Bilbo (Martin Freeman) standing before what looks like the Lonely Mountain. From within a glowing doorway, smoke escapes, suggesting the titular Smaug, a ruthless dragon played in the film via motion-capture wizardry by Khan Benedict Cumberbatch.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug teaser poster.

And here is the trailer:

SoA warns publishers over e-book loans to libraries
The Society of Authors has warned that authors may be losing out twice over on e-book loans, with president-elect Philip Pullman calling for authors to "be paid fairly" for the digital loans. In its report and briefing paper, the Society of Authors commented that authors may be losing up to two thirds of the income they would have received on the sale and loan of a physical book, since publishers may be underpaying authors on e-book library loans, and the government is not paying authors Public Lending Right on e-book loans. The SoA stated that publishers may be mistakenly underpaying authors on library loans of e-books by treating receipts as sales rather than licences.
Although all e-book sales are technically licenses, since in order for an e-book to be lent the publisher must grant a subsidiary licence to the aggregator, the author is therefore entitled to receive a different loyalty because a subsidiary right has been exercised. This figure is typically 50% of net receipts, according to the SoA.
Source: The Bookseller

Scholastic Celebrates 15 Years of Harry Potter
Fifteen years after J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone first graced U.S. bookshelves, Scholastic is touting some impressive numbers. The in-print tally for that book and the subsequent six Harry Potter novels has topped 150 million copies in the U.S. alone. Published in 200 territories in 74 languages, the series boasts worldwide sales of more than 450 million copies. To mark Harry Potter’s 15th U.S. anniversary, Scholastic is staging a contest in which 15 public libraries will win a party pack to help them host a celebration in honor of the bespectacled young wizard.  The winners will be announced on July 31 – Harry’s birthday – and the parties will be held on August 27, the U.S. pub date of new trade paperback editions of all seven books in the series, which feature new cover art by Kazu Kibuishi. Scholastic will simultaneously release a boxed set of the new paperbacks, which like previous editions will be published under the Arthur A. Levine imprint.
Source: Publisher’s Weekly

Fantasy news round-up, October 26, 2011

George RR Martin reveals his favourite ‘Game of Thrones’ actors
New York Magazine’s Vulture asked Game of Thrones author George RR Martin to mention who were his favourite actors in the HBO series.

“Certainly Peter Dinklage did an amazing job with Tyrion, who is one of my favorite characters in the books. We always wanted Sean [Bean] and he was incredible in that role,” said the author, who also went on to praise the show’s “three terrific" child actors.

Game of Thrones was renewed for a second season just two days after its premiere in April. Season 2 premieres April 2012.

An image of Peter Dinklage, who plays Tyrion Lannister in Game of Thrones.

Joseph Delaney visits schools and bookshops to promote I Am Grimalkin
As Halloween draws near it seemed like a perfect time to catch up with one of our favourite authors, Joseph Delaney. With the film adaptation of the Spook’s Apprentice progressing nicely and a new Spook’s book, I am Grimalkin, recently out in stores the Rochdale-based author has been a busy man.

He visited Waterstone’s in Barrow last week to promote the new book, the ninth tale in series, shortly after visiting Walney School and St Bernard’s Catholic High School (also in Barrow) the previous day to speak to pupils about life as a novelist.

“It has been a great success. I think a lot of children have come after Joseph visited them at school. He went in and did a presentation and talked to children about the books, his history and where he gets his inspiration from. They were all really enthusiastic and asked him lots of interesting questions,” commented Laura Kennie, a bookseller at Waterstone’s in Barrow.

Protesters set up own library as Pullman joins campaign
Campaigners have set up a "library outside a library" in Kensal Rise in defiance of cuts by Brent council. Using books donated by residents, protesters outside the building – one of six libraries in the borough that closed after a High Court bid failed to save them last week – are running their own free service. The campaign against the closures is gathering pace. Author Philip Pullman is to join protesters at the weekend, while a round-the-clock vigil outside Kensal Rise library aimed at stopping workman boarding up the buildings entered its sixth day. The campaigners vowed not to move until they have lodged their case with the Court of Appeal.

Turkish rights deal for Rod Rees
Flora McMichael, Rights Manager at Quercus, has sold Turkish rights in Demi-Monde: Winter by UK novelist Rod Rees to Inkilap.

World rights in Rod’s four-book Demi-Monde series were acquired pre-emptively by Quercus (who published the first volume successfully in January 2011, and in paperback in September) from agent John Jarrold for a major advance in 2009. Rights have now been sold in ten territories, also including the US, Germany, Russia, France, Poland, the Czech Republic, Croatia and Italy.

The Demi-Monde is set in a wonderfully imagined virtual world – the Demi-Monde of the title. Originally conceived by the US military as a training ground for their troops in the twenty-first century facing street fighting and enemies who use guerrilla tactics, rather than modern technology-based armies, the Demi-Monde was created by the world’s first quantum computer. Young singer Ella Thomas is sent there to rescue a VIP (she ticks all the boxes to blend into the world, which has a late-Victorian technology base) and discovers the world and its thirty million inhabitants, or ‘avatars’, are all too real. Especially those who run the world’s city-states, based on famous human monsters such as Reinhard Heydrich, Shaka Zulu, Empress Wu, Godfrey de Bouillon, Selim the Grim and Lavrentii Beria, with whom the world was seeded to make it more of a test…and that is only the beginning. There is a fascinating website at

Eric Brown’s Helix sequel to Solaris
Jonathan Oliver, commissioning editor of Solaris Books, has acquired the sequel to Helix by Eric Brown, which was published by the company in 2007 and has reprinted ever since, selling regularly. Helix Wars will be delivered in the spring of 2012, for an autumn publication. The agent was John Jarrold, and the deal was for UK/US rights.

Eric explains the basis of the amazing artefact that is Helix here:

Helix is a vast spiral construct, wound around a main sequence G-type sun, and is the work of an ancient alien race known only as the Builders.

The helix resembles a spiral staircase made up of eight ‘twists’, four above the sun and four below. Each twist or circle consists of well over two thousand ‘sections’ or worlds, amounting to some ten thousand worlds. Each one is approximately forty thousand miles wide, with an ocean in between. Each ‘planet’ is barrel-shaped and rotates on a lateral, equatorial axis, like a bead on a string, and each has its own unique atmosphere and duration of rotation. The arms of the helix at the top and bottom, being further away from the sun, are polar in make-up; those closer to the sun are more clement.

The alien races of the helix number some six thousand, at varying levels of technological accomplishment.

Lost Hobbit images get first showing
Previously unseen illustrations produced for The Hobbit by its author, JRR Tolkien, will be published for the first time this week. The paintings and sketches, which were not used when the seminal children’s novel came out in 1937, were recently discovered in the Bodleian Library, in Oxford.

The pen and ink drawings and a series of watercolours were discovered by researchers in material bequeathed by the author’s estate to the library in 1979.

The images show how Tolkien took his distinctive style and developed it into the familiar illustrations that adorn the covers of his bestselling books. Experts say that when producing illustrations for The Hobbit, Tolkien borrowed heavily from those of an earlier book, Roverandom, which he wrote for his son Michael. The picture "The White Dragon Pursues Roverandom" bears a clear resemblance to "The Lonely Mountain" later used in The Hobbit.

The new book of illustrations will feature more than a hundred sketches, drawings, paintings and maps.

Fantasy news round-up: October 3, 2011

Here is a round-up of events in the fantasy-related literary world over the past week or so.

JK Rowling honoured by Edinburgh University
The Harry Potter author received the University Benefactor’s Award for her financial contribution to multiple sclerosis research at the Scottish institution. Rowling donated 10 million pounds ($16 million) to establish the Anne Rowling Regenerative Neurology Clinic, named after her mother, who suffered from MS, The Independent reported.

And Rowling’s good work does not stopped there and she is also helping in the battle against deforestation. When approached about protecting Canada’s ancient trees from the escalating hungry demand for wood to turn into throw away paper products, Rowling was keen to promote the use of environmentally friendly paper.

“The forest at Hogwarts is home to magical creatures like unicorns and centaurs. Because the Canadian editions are printed on Ancient Forest Friendly paper, the Harry Potter books are helping to save magnificent forests in the Muggle world, home of magical animals such as orangutans, wolves and bears. It is a good idea to respect ancient trees, especially if they have a temper like the Whomping Willow.”

Details of Game of Thrones RPG revealed
Cyanide Studio, having just finished their RTS; A Game of Thrones: Genesis, is now hard at work on an RPG set in George RR Martin’s fantasy universe. Drawing inspiration from several BioWare titles. The combat uses what he called an “active pause system,” which he compared to the battle system from BioWare’s Knights of the Old Republic.

The Game of Thrones RPG is slated for release in early 2012 on consoles and PC.

Shortlist for children’s fiction prize announced
The shortlist for The Guardian Children’s Fiction prize: has been announced:

  • My Name Is Mina, by David Almond;
  • Return to Ribblestrop, by Andy Mulligan;
  • Moon Pie, by Simon Mason;
  • Twilight Robbery, by Frances Hardinge.

A few days ago we covered this shortlist in greater detail, including extra information on the books and those judging the competition. The post was entitled Shortlist for the Guardian Children’s Fiction prize announced.

Spielberg’s War Horse scheduled for 13 January 2012 UK release
Michael Morpurgo‘s popular 1982 novel tells the story of Joey, a horse who begins life on the Narracott family’s farm in Devon and ends up being sold to the Cavalry for use in the First World War. But farm hand Albert Narracott cannot forget his former partner, and he ends up joining the army to try to find Joey and bring him home.

In the film, Jeremy Irvine stars as Albert while Tom Hiddlestone plays Captain Nicholls, the cavalry officer who rides Joey into combat. The movie was shot on location in Hampshire, Devon, Wiltshire, Surrey, Wales and parts of France.

Google to support new festival Word Up!
Google is to support a new family arts and literature festival, which is taking place during autumn half term in London. The internet giant will make 300 tickets to main theatre events at Word Up! available to low-income families referred to organisers through partner organisations such as Kids Company and the National Literary Trust’s London Literacy Champions scheme. The festival will run from 22nd-24th October.

Events will also include family workshops with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and interactive storytelling of Peepo!, The Moomins and The Very Hungry Caterpillar. There will also be workshops, stalls and a community stage.

Walden Media’s exclusive ‘Narnia’ film option expires
It has been reported that Walden Media no longer has exclusive rights to the rest of the Chronicles of Narnia books. According to the website NarniaWeb, during the negotiations between Fox, Walden, and the CS Lewis Estate, the film option that Walden Media owned was allowed to expire and Walden Media no longer has exclusive purchasing rights to any further Narnia films. This has been confirmed to us by representatives of the CS Lewis Estate.

Random House Children’s Books buys Fallen tie-in
Random House Children’s Books has bought an original novel by Lauren Kate that is connected to her paranormal romance series Fallen. Fiction publisher Annie Eaton and editorial director Becky Stradwick bought UK and Commonwealth rights from Michael Stearns and Ted Malawer of Upstart Crow Agency. Fallen in Love will be published on 2nd February 2012 ahead of Rapture, the fourth and final book in the Fallen series, which is lined up for June. Fallen in Love features four intertwined stories featuring characters from the series.

Donaldson joins fight for Surrey’s libraries
A group campaigning to save Surrey libraries has received support from an award-winning author. Julia Donaldson, children’s book playwright and the National Children’s Laureate, has added her support to Surrey Libraries Action Movement and their Love Your Libraries Campaign. Friends of Bagshot Library are against the closure of a host of libraries including Bagshot, Lightwater, Frimley Green and Ash that Surrey County Council propose to force local communities to run, or be closed. Under Surrey’s plans, volunteers would be able to take over the day to day running of the libraries, saving £300,000 a year.

"I am in full support of Surrey Libraries Action Movement and their Love Your Libraries Campaign. Libraries need trained librarians just as schools need trained teachers and hospitals need trained doctors. Volunteers may have a role to play, but to staff a library exclusively with volunteers is not the way forward,” said the author of The Gruffalo.

Pullman continues to fight for Oxford’s libraries
His Dark Materials author Philip Pullman has made an impassioned plea to save libraries in Oxfordshire and has warned that volunteers cannot replace professionals.

Pullman, whose attack on council plans to stop funding 20 of 43 libraries last year launched a mass campaign, admitted County Hall’s new proposals were an improvement.

“The trouble is, people the council are relying on to jump in and volunteer are already doing dozens of other things, volunteering at hospital friends groups or training primary school football teams. You cannot go on relying on volunteers to do professional work. There seems to be a rather disparaging view of librarians that all they do is tidy the shelves and stamp the books. It is far more than that, it requires pretty stringent professional training. It is not something you can just pick up after an hour or two,” said the award-winning author.

The council was forced into a U-turn in May, after thousands of people opposed plans that would have caused many branches to close. County Hall now proposes to keep all 43 libraries open but ask volunteers to make up a third of staff at five branches and two-thirds at 16 others.

Shortlist for the Guardian Children’s Fiction prize announced

The Guardian Children’s Fiction prize is the only children’s prize to be judged by writers (this year being Michelle Paver, Julia Golding and Marcus Sedgwick). The winner will be announced at an event at Kings Place in London on Thursday 10 November.

The four titles that made the shortlist are:

My Name Is Mina by David Almond
Age: 9+

A thumbnail cover image of David Almond's My Name is Mina.There’s an empty notebook lying on the table in the moonlight. It’s been there for an age. I keep on saying that I’ll write a journal. So I’ll start right here, right now. I open the book and write the very first words: My name is Mina and I love the night. Then what shall I write? I can’t just write that this happened then this happened then this happened to boring infinitum. I’ll let my journal grow just like the mind does, just like a tree or a beast does, just like life does. Why should a book tell a tale in a dull straight line?

Return to Ribblestrop by Andy Mulligan
Age: 10+

A thumbnail cover image of Andy Mulligan's Return to Ribblestrop.It’s a new term at Ribblestrop and the headmaster is hoping for a bit more organisation. But secrets remain under the ground, the new Chaplain is not all that he seems, and a truck load of circus animals has taken refuge in the school grounds. Amongst the new intake are a footballing protégée and a trainee psychopath…not to mention a pregnant panther and an escaped crocodile. Things are about to go from bad to worse at Ribblestrop…can Millie, Sanchez and the gang help save the day once more?

Moon Pie by Simon Mason
Age: 10+

A thumbnail cover image of Simon Mason's Moon Pie.When I’m older, she thought, I’ll remember this midnight picnic as a good thing. I’ll forget that I was scared of the dark, and that Dad was strange. I’ll remember the candles in the grass, like flowers made out of flame, and Tug dreaming of pie, and Dad telling me he loves me. Eleven-year-old Martha is used to being the one who has to keep their head. Tug, her little brother, is too small. Dad is too strange. And Mum’s not here any more. So when Dad falls off the roof, it’s Martha who ices his knee and takes him to the doctor. And when Dad doesn’t come home, it’s Martha who cooks Tug’s favourite pie and reads him his bedtime story. And when Dad passes out, it’s Martha who cleans him up and keeps his secret. But eventually Dad’s problems become too big for even Martha to solve. There is only one person who can sort things out now. Dad.

Twilight Robbery by Frances Hardinge
Age: 11+

A thumbnail cover image of Frances Hardinge's Twilight Robbery.Mosca Mye and Eponymous Clent are in trouble again. Escaping disaster by the skin of their teeth, they find refuge in Toll, the strange gateway town where visitors may neither enter nor leave without paying a price. By day, the city is well-mannered and orderly; by night, it’s the haunt of rogues and villains. Wherever there’s a plot, there’s sure to be treachery, and wherever there’s treachery, there’s sure to be trouble – and where there’s trouble, Clent, Mosca and the web-footed apocalypse Saracen can’t be far behind. But as past deeds catch up with them and old enemies appear, it looks as if this time there’s no way out…

Past winners of the Guardian Children’s Fiction prize have included Alan Garner, Joan Aiken, Ted Hughes, Philip Pullman and Jacqueline Wilson.

Congratulations to all four nominees and best of luck to each individual on the 10th of November.


The World Book Night top 100 books to read, give and share

An image of the front cover of the Pullitzer Prize winning book, To Kill A MockingbirdThe folks over at World Book Night – – asked readers to nominate the 10 books they most love to read, give and share. Over 6,000 people nominated more than 8,000 titles and the top 100 are displayed below.

I am pleased to say that I have read 22 of the listed titles and have many others on my shelves ready to read. I was shocked to realise that I still haven’t read Dune, The Lovely Bones and The Wind-up Bird Chronicle despite having owned them for so long – this must be remedied.

I was also pleased to see Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell on there. As you can see from the reader reviews on this site not all were as smitten by it as me but I still think it is one of the best books I have read over the past decade (not for the casual reader though).

I would happily read every book on this list:

  1. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
  2. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
  3. The Book Thief, Markus Zusak
  4. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte
  5. The Time Traveler’s Wife, Audrey Niffenegger
  6. The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien
  7. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
  8. Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte
  9. Rebecca, Daphne Du Maurier
  10. The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini
  11. American Gods, Neil Gaiman
  12. A Thousand Splendid Suns, Khaled Hosseini
  13. Harry Potter Adult Hardback Boxed Set, JK Rowling
  14. The Shadow of the Wind, Carlos Ruiz Zafon
  15. The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien
  16. One Day, David Nicholls
  17. Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks
  18. The Help, Kathryn Stockett
  19. Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell
  20. Good Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
  21. The Notebook, Nicholas Sparks
  22. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Stieg Larsson
  23. The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood
  24. The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald
  25. Little Women, Louisa M. Alcott
  26. Memoirs of a Geisha, Arthur Golden
  27. The Lovely Bones, Alice Sebold
  28. Atonement, Ian McEwan
  29. Room, Emma Donoghue
  30. Catch-22, Joseph Heller
  31. We Need to Talk About Kevin, Lionel Shriver
  32. His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman
  33. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, Louis De Bernieres
  34. The Island, Victoria Hislop
  35. Neverwhere, Neil Gaiman
  36. The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver
  37. The Catcher in the Rye, J. D. Salinger
  38. Chocolat, Joanne Harris
  39. Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro
  40. The Five People You Meet in Heaven, Mitch Albom
  41. One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  42. Animal Farm, George Orwell
  43. The Pillars of the Earth, Ken Follett
  44. The Eyre Affair, Jasper Fforde
  45. Tess of the D’Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy
  46. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl
  47. I Capture the Castle, Dodie Smith
  48. The Wasp Factory, Iain Banks
  49. Life of Pi, Yann Martel
  50. The Road, Cormac McCarthy
  51. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens
  52. Dracula, Bram Stoker
  53. The Secret History, Donna Tartt
  54. Small Island, Andrea Levy
  55. The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett
  56. Lord of the Flies, William Golding
  57. Persuasion, Jane Austen
  58. A Prayer for Owen Meany, John Irving
  59. Notes from a Small Island, Bill Bryson
  60. Watership Down, Richard Adams
  61. Night Watch, Terry Pratchett
  62. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
  63. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, Mark Haddon
  64. Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, Susanna Clarke
  65. The Color Purple, Alice Walker
  66. My Sister’s Keeper, Jodi Picoult
  67. The Stand, Stephen King
  68. Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell
  69. The Master and Margarita, Mikhail Bulgakov
  70. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
  71. Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons
  72. Frankenstein, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
  73. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Mary Ann Shaffer
  74. The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde
  75. Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
  76. The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman
  77. The Woman in White, Wilkie Collins
  78. The Princess Bride, William Goldman
  79. A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth
  80. Perfume, Patrick Suskind
  81. The Count of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas
  82. The God of Small Things, Arundhati Roy
  83. Middlemarch, George Eliot
  84. Dune, Frank Herbert
  85. Wolf Hall, Hilary Mantel
  86. Stardust, Neil Gaiman
  87. Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov
  88. Midnight’s Children, Salman Rushdie
  89. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, JK Rowling
  90. Shantaram, Gregory David Roberts
  91. The Remains of the Day, Kazuo Ishiguro
  92. Possession: A Romance, A. S. Byatt
  93. Tales of the City, Armistead Maupin
  94. Kafka on the Shore, Haruki Murakami
  95. The Magus, John Fowles
  96. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, John Boyne
  97. A Fine Balance, Rohinton Mistry
  98. Alias Grace, Margaret Atwood
  99. Norwegian Wood, Haruki Murakami
  100. The Wind-up Bird Chronicle, Haruki Murakami

Fantasy news round-up, January 20, 2011

Lee and Holm in talks to reprise Lord of the Rings roles in The Hobbit
Sir Christopher Lee is in talks to reprise his role as the wizard Saruman and that Ian Holm will appear as an older version of his beloved role, Bilbo Baggins. Peter Jackson already secured the return of Andy Serkis (Gollum), Sir Ian McKellen (Gandalf), Cate Blanchett (Galadriel), Elijah Wood (Frodo) and Hugo Weaving (Elrond).Image: Christopher Lee playing Saruman in the Lord of the Rings film.

HBOs Game of Thrones set for April launch
US television network HBO has announced the premiere date for its new fantasy series, Game of Thrones. The show, which launches in April, is based on author George RR Martin‘s A Song of Ice and Fire series of novels. Game of Thrones boasts a number of big-name actors among its ensemble cast, including Sean Bean, Peter Dinklage, Aiden Gillen, and Alfie Allen. The series will tell the story a number of noble families who struggle for control over the so-called Iron Throne, in order to rule the kingdom of Westeros. Game of Thrones begins on HBO on April 17.

Michael Moorcock to undergo partial amputation
”I apologise for being a bad correspondent with many over the last couple of months. All efforts to save my wounded foot without resort to surgery have been made and now, somewhat inconveniently, I’m seeing a surgeon tomorrow (Monday) re. amputation. Shouldn’t be too serious, though, as I said somewhere, I feel a bit fed up with constantly supplying Mrs Lovett for tidbits for her bloody pies… I AM a little nervous but it’s mostly to do with more things going wrong (caused by medical staff) than anything else,” commented Moorcock on his Multiverse fora website.

Disney’s new Winnie The Pooh movie gets release date
Walt Disney is producing a brand new movie simply titled Winnie the Pooh, which will be the first original big-screen Pooh movie in over 35 years. The movie will be presented in classic Disney hand-drawn style, and very little has changed in the Hundred Acre Wood. The movie now has an official release date, set to hit theatres on July 15, 2011.

Barnes & Noble release new iPad Nook App for kids
Barnes & Noble has introduced a Nook kids for iPad application. The app makes Barnes & Noble’s digital catalogue of children’s content – which includes 100 new interactive kids’ books–available on the e-reading device. To promote the new app, Barnes & Noble is offering two free picture books: Richard Scarry’s Colors and Rudyard Kipling’s The Elephant’s Child, which will automatically appear in a customer’s digital library when they register. The retailer says the app was designed specifically for children, with features such as AliveTouch technology that lets kids easily find a favourite story, digitally turn pages, interact with the text, and zoom in and around graphics. The app has a password-protected Parent’s Corner that helps parents select which books are appropriate for their children. More than 12,000 children’s chapter books will also soon be available on Nook kids for iPad. The app is available free at and

Hollywood stars head towards Hay festival
Nobel Prize winners, Hollywood stars, and The Archbishop of Canterbury will rub shoulders at this year’s Hay-on-Wye Festival of Literature and Arts. Festival organisers have announced their advanced list of headline guests for the event which takes place between 27 May and 6 June 2011. Among those named so far from the world of books are Sir VS Naipaul, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2001 and is best known for his work on post-colonial themes, including The Mystic Masseur and A House for Mr Biswas. Last year’s Man Booker Prize Winner, Howard Jacobson, will also attend the festival, as will Philip Pullman, author of trilogy His Dark Materials and a fictional biography of Jesus, The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ.

The top-selling 100 books, 1998-2010

Nielsen Bookscan, the world’s largest book tracking service, recently supplied a leading newspaper with total transaction data, collected directly from the tills and dispatch systems of all major book retailers. This data covers over 90% of all retail book purchases in the UK.

Image: Harry Potter and the Hogwarts Express from the cover of The Philosopher's Stone

This data has enabled the creation of a listing of the 100 top-selling books since the data collection began in 1998 and it makes for very interesting reading.

The word “phenomenal” has often been used when describing JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series and the figures certainly back up its use. The Gloucestershire-born author has no less than 7 books within the top 10 and only Dan Brown and fellow fantasy writer Stephenie Meyer prevent her total dominance.

So, without any further ado, here is the list of the top-selling 100 book in the UK, 1998-2010. The number of copies sold can be found to the right of each entry.

  1. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown, 4,522,025
  2. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by JK Rowling, 3,844,316
  3. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling, 3,184,492
  4. Angels and Demons by Dan Brown, 3,096,850
  5. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by JK Rowling, 3,043,226
  6. Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince:Children’s Edition by JK Rowling, 2,947,565
  7. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling, 2,842,059
  8. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by JK Rowling, 2,776,314
  9. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer, 2,105,862
  10. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling, 2,057,397
  11. Deception Point by Dan Brown, 2,018,264
  12. New Moon by Stephenie Meyer, 1,975,659
  13. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold, 1,942,042
  14. Digital Fortress by Dan Brown, 1,911,943
  15. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon, 1,868,969
  16. Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer, 1,846,171
  17. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo: Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson, 1,697,425
  18. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, 1,551,953
  19. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, 1,496,081
  20. The World According to Clarkson by Jeremy Clarkson, 1,447,188
  21. Atonement by Ian McEwan, 1,396,366
  22. The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown, 1,370,347
  23. A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson, 1,334,635
  24. Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer, 1,315,685
  25. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling, 1,297,411
  26. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling, 1,283,638
  27. The Girl Who Played With Fire: Millennium Trilogy by Stieg, 1,265,474
  28. A Child Called It by Dave Pelzer, 1,116,042
  29. The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith, 1,106,219
  30. You are What You Eat:The Plan That Will Change Your Life by Gillian McKeith, 1,103,619
  31. Man and Boy by Tony Parsons, 1,100,447
  32. Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks, 1,078,571
  33. Labyrinth by Kate Mosse, 1,065,008
  34. The Island by Victoria Hislop, 1,056,432
  35. Life of Pi by Yann Martel, 1,050,090
  36. Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution: The No-hunger, Luxurious Weight Loss by Robert C Atkins, 1,046,531
  37. The Tales of Beedle the Bard by JK Rowling, 1,039,823
  38. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis De Bernieres, 1,025,66439
  39. Delia’s How to Cook by Delia Smith, 1,014,854
  40. The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson, 1,007,208
  41. Eats, Shoots and Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss, 995,455
  42. Northern Lights: His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman, 976,435
  43. The Interpretation of Murder by Jed Rubenfeld, 950,686
  44. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest: Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson, 942,103
  45. Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason by Helen Fielding, 923,429
  46. A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka, 904,498
  47. The Alchemist: A Fable About Following Your Dream by Paulo Coelho, 903,395
  48. Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson, 898,388
  49. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne 885,450
  50. Stupid White Men… and Other Sorry Excuses for the State of the Nation by Michael Moore (877,777)
  51. Jamie’s 30-minute Meals by Jamie Oliver, 874,546
  52. The Broker by John Grisham, 869,077
  53. Bridget Jones’s Diary: A Novel by Helen Fielding, 858,390
  54. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle, 855,920
  55. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini, 855,523
  56. The Sound of Laughter by Peter Kay, 853,499
  57. Jamie’s Italy by Jamie Oliver, 833,060
  58. Small Island by Andrea Levy, 831,039
  59. The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards, 820,877
  60. Billy Connolly by Pamela Stephenson, 801,133
  61. The House at Riverton by Kate Morton, 793,338
  62. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by JK Rowling, 788,619
  63. Nigella Express by Nigella Lawson, 780,665
  64. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden, 766,706
  65. Delia’s How to Cook: Book 2 by Delia Smith, 765,246
  66. The Subtle Knife: His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman, 762,717
  67. Jamie’s Ministry of Food: Anyone Can Learn to Cook in 24 Hours by Jamie Oliver, 759,900
  68. Guinness World Records 2009, 747,715
  69. Why Don’t Penguins’ Feet Freeze?: And 114 Other Questions, 746,917
  70. Jamie at Home: Cook Your Way to the Good Life by Jamie Oliver, 741,643
  71. White Teeth by Zadie Smith, 731,416
  72. The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger, 725,210
  73. At My Mother’s Knee… :and Other Low Joints by Paul O’Grady, 723,164
  74. No Time for Goodbye by Linwood Barclay, 722,103
  75. The Times Su Doku: The Utterly Addictive Number-placing Puzzle, 719,307
  76. Chocolat by Joanne Harris, 713,299
  77. The Return of the Naked Chef by Jamie Oliver, 707,570
  78. Angela’s Ashes: A Memoir of a Childhood by Frank McCourt, 694,831
  79. Schott’s Original Miscellany by Ben Schott, 694,063
  80. Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance by Barack Obama, 690,765
  81. The Dangerous Book for Boys by Conn  Iggulden and Hal Iggulden, 688,808
  82. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, 682,102
  83. Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince by JK Rowling, 680,886
  84. The Summons by John Grisham, 677,378
  85. The Lost Symbol, 672,950
  86. The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger, 668,497
  87. I Can Make You Thin by Paul McKenna, 665,923
  88. Happy Days with the Naked Chef by Jamie Oliver, 659,722
  89. Brick Lane by Monica Ali, 659,023
  90. Anybody Out There? by Marian Keyes, 658,713
  91. The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella, 658,598
  92. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, 658,524
  93. I Know You Got Soul by Jeremy Clarkson, 658,274
  94. Sharon Osbourne Extreme: My Autobiography by Sharon Osbourne,  656,431
  95. Guinness World Records 2010, 656,326
  96. The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman, 653,615
  97. Can You Keep a Secret? by Sophie Kinsella, 652,78898
  98. Down Under by Bill Bryson, 646,515
  99. A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon, 645,453
  100. Dear Fatty by Dawn French, 643,636

Jonathan Stroud short-listed for Costa book award

The Costa Book Awards is one of the most prestigious and popular literary prizes in the UK, recognising some of the most enjoyable books of the year by writers based in the UK and Ireland. This year, Fantasy Book Review favourite Jonathan Stroud, author of the best-selling Bartimaeus Trilogy, has been short-listed in the children’s category for The Ring of Solomon, a prequel to trilogy.

Image: The Ring of Solomon book cover

The Costa Book Awards has five categories: First Novel, Novel, Biography, Poetry and Children’s Book. The winner in each category receives £5,000 and one of these five books is selected as the overall winner of the Book of the Year and receives a further £30,000, making a total prize fund of £55,000. It is the only prize which places children’s books alongside adult books in this way.

Winners of the prize have been The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman, Beowulf by Seamus Heaney and Birthday Letters by Ted Hughes.

The next stage will be the announcement of the £5,000 category prizes on 5 January and the overall £30,000 winner on 25 January.

2010 Costa Children’s Book Award shortlist

  • Flyaway, Lucy Christopher
  • Annexed, Sharon Dogar
  • Bartimaeus: The Ring of Solomon, Jonathan Stroud
  • Out of Shadows, Jason Wallace

This year’s short-listed books in the other four categories are:

Costa First Novel Award

  • Witness the Night, Kishwar Desai
  • Coconut Unlimited, Nikesh Shukla
  • The Temple-Goers, Aatish Taseer
  • Not Quite White, Simon Thirsk

Costa Novel Award

  • Whatever You Love, Louise Doughty
  • The Blasphemer, Nigel Farndale
  • The Hand That First Held Mine, Maggie O’Farrell
  • Skippy Dies, Paul Murray

Costa Biography Award

  • How to Live A Life of Montaigne, Sarah Bakewell
  • My Father’s Fortune, Michael Frayn
  • The Hare with Amber Eyes, Edmund de Waal

Costa Poetry Award

  • Standard Midland, Roy Fisher
  • The Wrecking Light, Robin Robertson
  • Of Mutability, Jo Shapcott
  • New Light for the Old Dark, Sam Willetts

The 25 best children’s books, according to The Telegraph

  1. Treasure Island
    The story grew out of a map that led to imaginary treasure, devised during a holiday in Scotland by Stevenson and his nephew. The tale is told by an adventurous boy, Jim Hawkins, who gets hold of a treasure map and sets off with an adult crew in search of the buried treasure. Among the crew, however, is the treacherous Long John Silver who is determined to keep the treasure for himself. Stevenson’s first full-length work of fiction brought him immediate fame and continues to captivate readers of all ages.
  2. The Tale of Peter Rabbit
    The Tale of Peter Rabbit was first published by Frederick Warne in 1902 and endures as Beatrix Potter’s most popular and well-loved tale. It tells the story of a very mischievous rabbit and the trouble he encounters in Mr McGregor’s vegetable garden!
  3. The Wind in the Willows
    Far from fading with time, Kenneth Grahame‘s classic tale of fantasy has attracted a growing audience in each generation. Rat, Mole, Badger and the preposterous Mr Toad, have brought delight to many through the years with their odd adventures on and by the river, and at the imposing residence of Toad Hall.
    Read our review of The Wind in the Willows
  4. The Railway Children
    When Father goes away with two strangers one evening, the lives of Roberta, Peter and Phyllis are shattered. They and their mother have to move from their comfortable London home to go and live in a simple country cottage, where Mother writes books to make ends meet. However, they soon come to love the railway that runs near their cottage, and they make a habit of waving to the Old Gentleman who rides on it. They befriend the porter, Perks, and through him learn railway lore and much else. They have many adventures, and when they save a train from disaster, they are helped by the Old Gentleman to solve the mystery of their father’s disappearance.
  5. Peter Pan
    It was Friday night. Mr and Mrs Darling were dining out. Nana had been tied up in the backyard. The poor dog was barking, for she could smell danger. And she was right – this was the night that Peter Pan would take the Darling children on the most breath-taking adventure of their lives, to a place called Neverland, a strange country where the lost boys live and never grow up, a land with mermaids, fairies and pirates – and of course the terrible, evil, Captain Hook. Peter Pan is undoubtedly one of the most famous and best-loved stories for children, an unforgettable, magical fantasy which has been enjoyed by generations.
  6. Winnie-the-Pooh
    AA Milne‘s first stories about Winnie-the-Pooh, the most famous bear in the world, were published eighty years ago. This beautiful anniversary edition of “Winnie-the-Pooh” celebrates the enduring popularity of Pooh and his Forest friends. Discover what happens when Pooh goes visiting and Piglet meets a Heffalump, not forgetting when Eeyore loses his tail and Pooh finds one!
  7. Swallows and Amazons
    Swallows and Amazons is the wholesome story of four young children, John, Susan, Titty and Roger, who set out in their boat (the Swallow of the title) to an island of adventure. All seems well until they encounter their enemy. At first they are angry at the invasion of their peaceful haven by these Amazon pirates, Nancy and Peggy, who claim ownership of the land. But in time a truce is called and the Swallows and Amazons become firm friends. Camping under open skies, swimming in clear water, fishing, exploring and making discoveries is the stuff of dreams which serves to make this so charming a tale. The author manages to capture the innocence of a time when all this was real and possible. Swallows and Amazons will transport children to a fantastical place where they can play safely and roam freely, without an adult in sight.
  8. Babar
    “If you love elephants, you will love Babar and Celeste,” wrote AA Milne. “And if you have never loved elephants, you will love them now.”
  9. The Faraway Tree
    When Joe, Beth and Frannie move to a new home, an Enchanted Wood is on their doorstep. And when they discover the Faraway Tree, that is the beginning of many magical adventures! Join them and their friends Moonface, Saucepan Man and Silky the fairy as they discover which new land is at the top of the Faraway Tree. Will it be the Land of Spells, the Land of Treats, or the Land of Do-As-You-Please? There’ll be adventures waiting for them, whatever happens; funny, magical adventures that will delight children again and again.
  10. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
    The Narnia Chronicles, first published in 1950, have been and remain some of the most enduringly popular ever published. The best known, the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, has been translated into 29 languages. Lucy steps into the Professor’s wardrobe – but steps out again into a snowy forest. She’s stumbled upon the magical world of Narnia, a land of unicorns, centaurs, fauns and the wicked White Witch, who terrorises all. Lucy soon realises that Narnia, and in particular Aslan, the great Lion, needs her help if the county’s creatures are ever going to be free again.
    Read our review of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
  11. The Lord of the Rings
    Not just revolutionary because it was groundbreaking, The Lord of the Rings is timeless because it’s the product of a truly top-shelf mind. JRR Tolkien was a distinguished linguist and Oxford scholar of dead languages, with strong ideas about the importance of myth and story and a deep appreciation of nature. His epic, 10 years in the making, recounts the Great War of the Ring and the closing of Middle-Earth’s Third Age, a time when magic begins to fade from the world and men rise to dominance.
    Read our review of The Lord of the Rings
  12. The Cat in the Hat
    Dr. Seuss’s original, classic tale of the coolest, hippest cat in history! When the Cat in the Hat steps in on the mat, Sally and her brother are in for a roller-coaster ride of havoc and mayhem! The Cat can rescue them from a dull rainy day, but it means lots of thrills and spills along the way.
  13. Where the Wild Things Are
    Where the Wild Things Are is one of those truly rare books that can be enjoyed equally by a child and a grown-up. If you disagree, then it’s been too long since you’ve attended a wild rumpus. Max dons his wolf suit in pursuit of some mischief and gets sent to bed without supper. Fortuitously, a forest grows in his room, allowing his wild rampage to continue unimpaired. Sendak’s colour illustrations (perhaps his finest) are beautiful, and each turn of the page brings the discovery of a new wonder.
    Read our review of Where The Wild Things Are
  14. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
    For the first time in a decade, Willy Wonka, the reclusive and eccentric chocolate maker, is opening his doors to the public–well, five members of the public, actually. The lucky five who find a Golden Ticket in their Wonka bars will receive a private tour of the factory, given by Mr Wonka himself. For young Charlie Bucket, this a dream come true. So when he finds a dollar bill in the street, he can’t help but buy two Wonka’s Whipple-Scrumptious Fudgemallow Delights–even though his impoverished family could certainly use the extra dollar for food. But as Charlie unwraps the second chocolate bar, he sees the glimmer of gold just under the wrapper. The very next day, Charlie, along with his unworthy fellow winners Mike Teavee, Veruca Salt, Violet Beauregarde and Augustus Gloop, steps through the factory gates to discover whether or not the rumours surrounding the Chocolate Factory and its mysterious owner are true. What they find is that the gossip can’t compare to the extraordinary truth, and for Charlie, life will never be the same again.
  15. The Tiger who came to Tea
    This classic story of Sophie and her extraordinary tea-time guest has been loved by millions of children since it was first published over 30 years ago. Now a new generation will enjoy this beautiful reformatted edition! The doorbell rings just as Sophie and her mummy are sitting down to tea. Who could it possibly be? What they certainly don’t expect to see at the door is a big furry, stripy tiger!
  16. The Very Hungry Caterpillar
    A much-loved classic, The Very Hungry Caterpillar has won over millions of readers with its vivid and colourful collage illustrations and its deceptively simply, hopeful story. With its die-cut pages and finger-sized holes to explore, this is a richly satisfying book for children.
  17. Mr Men
    The first six Mr Men books were published in 1971, priced 20p. Mr. Tickle was the first Mr. Men character created by Hargreaves after his son, Adam, asked him what a tickle looked like: a round, orange figure with long, bendy arms. Each book in the original Mr. Men and Little Miss series introduced a different title character and their single dominant trait in order to convey a simple moral lesson.
  18. Watership Down
    Fiver could sense danger. Something terrible was going to happen to the warren – he felt sure of it. So did his brother Hazel, for Fiver’s sixth sense was never wrong. They had to leave immediately, and they had to persuade the other rabbits to join them. And so begins a long and perilous journey of a small band of rabbits in search of a safe home. Fiver’s vision finally leads them to Watership Down, but here they face their most difficult challenge of all… Published in 1972 Watership Down is an epic journey, a stirring tale of adventure, courage and survival against the odds.
    Read our review of Watership Down
  19. The BFG
    The BFG is one of Dahl’s most lovable character creations. Whether galloping off with Sophie nestled into the soft skin of his ear to capture dreams as though they were exotic butterflies; speaking his delightful, jumbled, squib-fangled patois; or whizzpopping for the Queen, he leaves an indelible impression of big-heartedness.
  20. Dear Zoo
    I wrote to the zoo to send me a pet . . . This classic lift-the-flap book has been a favourite with toddlers ever since it was first published in 1982. Now reissued as a sturdy casebound board book, perfect for little hands!
  21. We’re going on a Bear Hunt
    Winner of the 1989 Smarties Book Prize and highly commended for the 1989 Kate Greenaway Medal, this picture book tells of a family going in search of a bear in a cave.
  22. The Story of Tracy Beaker
    Shortlisted for the Smarties Prize in 1991, Tracy Beaker’s story, which is told in the first person by the infuriating and loveable 10-year-old Tracy, is a wonderfully funny and thought- provoking slice of life in a children’s home. Tracy, as she herself tells us, has had a hard time. She’s been fostered a number of times but it’s never worked out. Now she dreams of her glamorous mother coming to fetch her and spends her time, when she’s not quarrelling with the other children, writing her life story. And then one day, Cam, a real writer, visits the home and after a rocky start, she and Tracy really hit it off.
  23. His Dark Materials
    Philip Pullman‘s His Dark Materials trilogy astounded the literary world, reaping high praise from adults as well as children. The final book in the trilogy, The Amber Spyglass, was published to great literary acclaim, earning Pullman a place on the long list for the prestigious Booker Prize and pushing the trilogy toward cult fiction status for both children and adults.
    Read our reviews of His Dark Materials
  24. Harry Potter series
    The Harry Potter novels are prize-winning and consistently on the bestseller lists, and have now sold over 250 million copies worldwide. Originally published as an author for children and still primarily so, JK Rowling has generated huge popular appeal for her books in an unprecedented fashion. She was the first children’s author to be voted the BA Author of the Year, and also to win the British Book Awards Author of the Year.
    Read our reviews of Harry Potter
  25. The Gruffalo
    A witty, sly little story that wrings giggles from the belly of the reader, The Gruffalo is both stylish and hilarious, simple in its execution, as it plays skilfully on a child’s fears and then shows that even the most threatening of monsters are not always as scary as they seem. A combination of read-along-rhyme by Julia Donaldson and illustrations by Alex Sheffler which perfectly capture the atmosphere of the story, The Gruffalo is an excellent picture book for 3-5-year-olds to read along with their parents, and is certain to become something of a classic.
    Read our review of The Gruffalo

Donation from Philip Pullman helps Pegasus Theatre to reopen

Image: The new Pegasus Theatre signage The Pegasus Theatre, a copper and glass-fronted building in Magdalen Roadin, east Oxford, is just days away from opening its doors to the public following a £7.4m revamp.

The theatre, powered by solar panels, will open on Saturday and will be a base for youth and amateur performers across the city. New facilities include a state-of-the-art dance studio, a large workshop linked directly to the stage, a café, new foyer and box office area, and offices above.

“Seven years ago the Arts Council gave us the first significant funding so it feels like we have been waiting for this day for a long time. The author Philip Pullman donated just over £100,000 to help us develop our dream and there were lots of smaller donations as well, which made a massive difference. We now have a world-class 21st century venue which is ready to go and is making a very strong statement architecturally,” said project director Simon Daykin.

For further information, visit

Philip Pullman is best known for His Dark Materials, a series of award-winning children’s books. His love for Oxford began in 1963 when, as a student he attended Exeter College where he received a third-class BA in English. He was awarded a CBE in the New Year’s Honours list in 2004.