Category Archives: books_news

So much Discworld news!

Okay, so I’m a few days behind the curve, but that does not diminish my excitement!

Discworld Pratchett Gives Thumbs Up to Discworld Cop Show! From March 11th here:

The main focus of the series will be set in the bustling, highly mercantile, largely untrustworthy and always vibrant city of Ankh-Morpork and will follow the day-to-day activities of the men, women, trolls, dwarves, vampires and several other species who daily pound its ancient cobbles (and, of course, Igor in the forensics department). Terry commonly refers to the City Watch police force series as “the jewels in the Discworld Crown.” These richly developed and highly compelling characters will feature in a ‘crime of the week’ episodic storyline. As each weekly adventure unfolds, viewers will be taken on a ride through Pratchett’s genius imagination, with the author overseeing the creation of the series, where wild and exciting encounters with werewolves, dragons, dwarfs, trolls and golems and the classic heroes and villains, are an everyday occurrence… and where many of these characters even make outstanding crime fighters!

ALSO, scroll down to March 1st for:

There has been one hell of a lot of rumours regarding a Good Omens adaptation over the past few weeks, mostly started by me at the SFX Weekender. So, ladies and gentleman, I can hereby exclusively reveal that – YES – Neil and myself have shaken hands and received groats from Rod Brown sealing a TV deal. An official announcement from Prime Focus will follow in a couple of weeks time. However, I can reveal right now that Terry Jones (yes, the Python) and Gavin Scott (not a Python, but he gets it) are already on the job. It’s been a long time coming, but it’s looking good.

AND, there’s a new Discworld book coming out this fall!

The new Discworld novel from the master sees Sam Vimes investigating a countryhouse murder, and is Terry Pratchett’s fiftieth book.

According to the writer of the best-selling crime novel ever to have been published in the city of Ankh-Morpork, it is a truth universally acknowledged that a policeman taking a holiday would barely have had time to open his suitcase before he finds his first corpse.

And Commander Sam Vimes of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch is on holiday in the pleasant and innocent countryside, but not for him a mere body in the wardrobe. There are many, many bodies and an ancient crime more terrible than murder.

He is out of his jurisdiction, out of his depth, out of bacon sandwiches, and occasionally snookered and out of his mind, but never out of guile. Where there is a crime there must be a finding, there must be a chase and there must be a punishment.

They say that in the end all sins are forgiven.

But not quite all…

Now I need to finish rereading the first three Tiffany Aching books so I can get to I Shall Wear Midnight

Amazon FAIL

I am Unimpressed.

You’ve all seen Amazon Rank a zillion times today, right? (And a more extensive list of affected books here.)

And the petition?

And the google-bombing?

The utter randomness of some of the titles make me wonder if part of the colossal fail is due to a search algorithm gone wrong. (ETA: ie, something like this.) But don’t get me wrong–the underlying philosophy still makes me furious.

Linkalicious: more on queer kids’ and YA books

Once again, I come bearing links, continuing on a theme from my last post.

Here’s an interview with Vancouver YA author Carrie Mac on queer characters, harsh realities, and dystopic futures in her books. I really like what I’ve read of her stuff so far. The Beckoners is an unflinchingly harsh look at high school bullying and hazing, Crush was a sweet little book from Orca’s hi-low line, Orca Soundings, and The Droughtlanders is the first of what looks like a trilogy, a dystopic future that, unsurprisingly, pulls no punches. (Now with violence, betrayal, rape, murder, and plot-essential nudity! Also, complex characters, complex plot, and some great worldbuilding. I am very much looking forward to getting my hands on book two.)

Battles Rage Over Children’s Books With Gay Theme  Herein lies an interview with Arthur Levine, one of the editorial director with Scholastic. He’s summed up both why we need gay characters in kids’ books, and the kind of books we now need just about perfectly:

Ten percent of the children’s book readership, at least, will grow up to be gay or lesbian,” he said to AfterElton.com. “Wouldn’t it be nice if their first exposure to the idea that there are gay people in the world isn’t when they’re teenagers — so when little Johnny falls in love with that really cute, brainy boy in his computer class, he’s grown up with the idea that it’s not unusual and there’s nothing wrong with that.

And an even higher percentage of picture book readership will grow up to know and love somebody who’s gay or lesbian. So when you think about it that way, a large percentage of your picture book audience can really benefit from naturalizing the idea that there are gay and lesbian people in the world. When you think about it that way, it’s even more of a mystery why there aren’t more of these books.”

and

Leslea Newman broke huge ground by writing a book in which she declares ‘Heather has two mommies.’ But at this point, 20 years later, we get it. Heather already knows she has two moms. Now we need stories where Heather has lost her teddy bear and we see how her two moms help her. … I think the hardest thing to find is books that are just wonderful real stories that happen to have gay and lesbian characters in them.

Which is why it’s reassuring to see things like this project in the UK: No Outsiders: Researching Approaches to Sexualities Equality in Primary Schools “‘No Outsiders’ is a 28-month research project based in primary schools and funded by The Economic and Social Research Council. During the course of the project, a team of primary teachers from three areas of the UK will develop ideas and resources to address lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality in their own schools and their communities.”

YA author David Levithan talks about much the same kind of thing in the speech he gave at the Australian Reading Matters conference. Specifically, about getting YA books with GLBT themes onto the library shelves and into the hands of the kids that need them. He talked about killing the “vampires,” the little voice in your head that says oh no, we can’t get that book, people will be upset and offended. (But guess what? You have an obligation to represent your whole community, not just the majority, and not just with “safe” books. The suicide rate for gay teens is six to sixteen times higher than their straight counterparts. Anything we can do to decrease the sense of isolation that’s often a contributing factor is a good thing, as far as I’m concerned.)

Which brings me much closer to home, with some supporting material from a presentation the 2006 Canadian Library Association conference, The Last Taboo: Diversity, Equity, Inclusivity, and Law in Canadian Libraries. It looks like the study on GLBT material for teens in Alberta public libraries was done in 2001-2002, which means hopefully all those numbers have gone up exponentially, reflecting current publishing trends. The list of material is more of a representative sample than an exhaustive survey, as far as I can tell, which makes the titles per capita numbers misleading. (Especially since it’s a list of books with a specific target audience of primarily 13-18 years old, and the numbers are for each respective city’s entire population.) It’s such a small set of data that you can’t really draw any definite conclusions, but right now, I’d bet my library has closer to forty or fifty GLBT YA books than the twenty-some of when the research was done. I think that’s some small sort of progress.

Lloyd Alexander, January 30, 1924 – May 17, 2007

Lloyd Alexander died last week.

Among many, many other things, he wrote the Prydain Chronicles. The series goes: The Book of Three, The Black Cauldron, The Castle of Llyr, Taran Wanderer, and The High King.

This series firmly occupies a space in my personal canon of juvenile fantasy in general, and childhood favourites in particular. (Along with Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising series, The Children of Green Knowe by Lucy Boston, Jenny Nimmo’s The Snow Spider, A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle, A String in the Harp by Nancy Bond, most anything by Zilpha Keatley Snyder and Diana Wynne Jones and, and, and…)

It’s got its roots firmly planted in Welsh mythology. It has (in no particular order) an assistant pig keeper, an orcular big, the horned god of the dead, a princess with attitude and a glowing bauble, a bard whose harp strings snap if he lies, and a cauldron that raises an army of the dead. And believe me, the whole is much better than this laundry-list sum of its parts. (Maybe I was never a big Tolkien fan because the epic fantasy centres of my brain had already imprinted on the Prydain Chronicles…)

And that’s not even mentioning the Holly Vesper books or Time Cat or the Westmark Trilogy, or a plethora of others.

I was quite thrilled when we got new paperback editions of the Prydain Chronicles over the summer. I was even more thrilled when a ten year old boy asked me where the Lloyd Alexander books were just last week.

I spent half an hour this past Saturday morning putting up a small display. Nothing fancy, just the SLJ obit backed with some coloured paper, and his books. They speak for themselves. And it’s worth noting that with all of Lloyd Alexander’s books on display, there’s a shelf in the A’s over in the juvenile fiction that’s mostly empty at the moment.

His last book, The Golden Dream of Carlo Chuchio, is coming out in August. He was 83.

Here are obituaries via School Library Journal, CBC and an article from the New York Times.

And from his 1969 Newbery acceptance speech (via the NYT article):

“In whatever guise — our own daily nightmares of war, intolerance, inhumanity; or the struggles of an Assistant Pig-Keeper against the Lord of Death — the problems are agonizingly familiar. And an openness to compassion, love and mercy is as essential to us here and now as it is to any inhabitant of an imaginary kingdom.”

I think I need to pick up The Book of Three now and start reading at the beginning.