Author of the Month
JUNE - Jacqueline Wilson
Jacqueline Wilson was born in Bath in 1945, but spent most of her childhood in Kingston-on-Thames. She always wanted to be a writer and wrote her first ‘novel’ when she was nine, filling in countless Woolworths’ exercise books as she grew up. As a teenager she started work for a magazine publishing company and then went on to work as a journalist on Jackie magazine (which she was told was named after her!) before turning to writing novels full-time.
One of Jacqueline’s most successful and enduring creations has been the famous Tracy Beaker, who first appeared in 1991 in The Story of Tracy Beaker. This was also the first of her books to be illustrated by Nick Sharratt. Since then Jacqueline has been on countless awards shortlists and has gone on to win many awards. The Illustrated Mum won the Guardian Children’s Fiction Award, the 1999 Children’s Book of the Year at the British Book Awards and was also shortlisted for the 1999 Whitbread Children’s Book Award.
Double Act won the prestigious Smarties Medal and the Children’s Book Award as well as being highly commended for the Carnegie Medal. The Story of Tracy Beaker won the 2002 Blue Peter People’s Choice Award.
Jacqueline is one of the nation’s favourite authors, and her books are loved and cherished by young readers not only in the UK but all over the world. She has sold millions of books and in the UK alone the total now stands at over 35 million!
In 2002 Jacqueline was awarded the OBE for services to literacy in schools and from 2005 to 2007 she was the Children’s Laureate. In 2008 she became Dame Jacqueline Wilson.
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Jacqueline Wilson's books are illustrated by Nick Sharratt
MAY - Michael Rosen
Michael Rosen was born in 1946 in North London. One of the best-known figures in the children's book world, he is renowned for his work as a poet, performer, broadcaster and scriptwriter. As an author and by selecting other writers’ works for anthologies he has been involved with over 140 books. He lectures and teaches in universities on children’s literature, reading and writing. Michael is a familiar voice to BBC listeners and is currently presenting Word of Mouth, the magazine programme that looks at the English language and the way we use it. He visits schools with his one-man show to enthuse children with his passion for books and poetry. He was one of the first poets to make visits to schools throughout the UK and has also visited schools throughout the world.
Michael Rosen started writing poetry when he was twelve years old, creating satirical poems about people he knew. His parents, who were both teachers and distinguished educators, were from the Jewish East End tradition, their parents and/or grandparents coming form Poland/ Russia/Romania.
He went to various state schools in Pinner, Harrow and Watford and by the time he was sixteen he was an avid poetry reader, especially enjoying DH Lawrence’s poems and James Joyce’s ‘Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.’ He started to write ‘deadly serious’ poems about things he had done when he was much younger, about girls and about ‘nature.’ In the sixth form he was introduced to the work of Gerard Manley Hopkins. Although he tried to write in a similar style, the results, he says, ‘were incomprehensible and very boring.’
Michael attended Middlesex Hospital Medical School for a year but quickly transferred to Wadham College, Oxford to read English. At Oxford, he started to realise his ambition of acting (as well as writing and directing). Michael began looking outside the recommended reading to contemporary working class ballads. He retains a passion for street rhymes, popular songs and folk stories. Most of Michael’s books are considered to be for children but he started his career as a writer with a play, Backbone, that went on to the Royal Court in 1969. His next stop was the BBC, where he worked on Play School, Schools TV and radio dramas until 1972 when he went freelance. He wrote poems about his childhood published in 1974 as Mind Your Own Business.
He quickly established himself with his collections of humorous verse for children, including: Wouldn’t You Like to Know, You Tell Me and Quick Let’s Get Out of Here.
Poetry critic Morag Styles has described him as "one of the most significant figures in contemporary children's poetry." He was, she says, one of the first poets "to draw closely on his own childhood experiences ... and to 'tell it as it was' in the ordinary language children actually use." Michael Rosen’s writing for children appeals to all ages. He writes non-fiction, novels, picture books, retells classics and stories from other cultures as well as writing poetry. He has been shortlisted for and won many awards. You Can’t Catch Me won the Signal Poetry Award in 1982 and such is the enduring appeal of the poems that the book was re-issued in 2006 with Don’t Put Mustard in the Custard as Mustard, Custard, Grumble Belly and Gravy, illustrated by Quentin Blake (Bloomsbury). His classic picture book We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury (Walker Books), won the Nestle Smarties Grand Prize in 1989. The English Association awarded Michael Rosen's Sad Book, illustrated by Quentin Blake (Walker Books), an Exceptional Award for the Best Children's Illustrated Books of 2004, in the 4-11 age range. The book deals with bereavement, and followed the publication, in 2002, of Carrying the Elephant: A Memoir of Love and Loss (Penguin) which was published after the death of his son Eddie (who features as a child in much of Rosen's earlier poetry) from meningitis in 1999.
Michael’s recent publications illustrate the range of his output and interests and include books about Shakespeare and Dickens and a Selected Poems (Penguin) which includes some previously published poems, some poems for children and some new work edited so that the book follows a chronological sequence from his early childhood to present day. Michael is currently writing a biography of Roald Dahl for Penguin.
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Click the link below to watch Michael Rosen read his famous book, We're Going On a Bear Hunt!
APRIL - Lauren Child
Lauren Child was born in 1967 and grew up in Marlborough, Wiltshire. She studied art briefly at Manchester Polytechnic and later at London Art School, after which she worked in a variety of jobs, including being a painting assistant toDamien Hirst. She also started her own company, 'Chandeliers for the People', making exotic lampshades together with the actor Andrew St Clair.
She wrote her first children's novel, Utterly Me, Clarice Bean in 1999. Her second book in this series, Clarice Bean Spells Trouble, was shortlisted for the 2005 British Book Awards Children's Book of the Year. The third novel in the series, Clarice Bean Don't Look Now, was published in 2006.
Lauren Child's humorous illustrations contain many different mediums, including magazine cuttings, collage, material, and photography, as well as traditional watercolours. A television series based on her Charlie and Lola books was made by Tiger Aspect for Disney/CBBC, on which Child was a Executive Producer. Charlie and Lola has been sold throughout the world, and has won many prizes, including BAFTAs in 2007 for Best Children's Television Show and Best Script.
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MARCH - JK Rowling
Born in Yate, England, on July 31, 1965, J.K. Rowling came from humble economic means before writing Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, a children's fantasy novel. The work was an international hit and Rowling wrote six more books in the series, which sold into the hundreds of millions and was adapted into a blockbuster film franchise. In 2012, Rowling released the non-Potter novel The Casual Vacancy.
Joanne Rowling, best known as J.K. Rowling, was born on July 31, 1965, in Yate, England. She adopted her pen name, J.K., incorporating her grandmother's name, Kathleen, for the latter initial (Rowling does not have a middle name).
As a single mother living in Edinburgh, Scotland, Rowling became an international literary sensation in 1999, when the first three installments of her Harry Potter children's book series took over the top three slots of The New York Times best-seller list after achieving similar success in her native United Kingdom. The phenomenal response to Rowling's books culminated in July 2000, when the fourth volume in the series, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, became the fastest-selling book in history.
A graduate of Exeter University, Rowling moved to Portugal in 1990 to teach English. There, she met and married the Portuguese journalist Jorge Arantes. The couple's daughter, Jessica, was born in 1993. After her marriage ended in divorce, Rowling moved to Edinburgh with her daughter to live near her younger sister, Di. While struggling to support Jessica and herself on welfare, Rowling worked on a book, the idea for which had reportedly occurred to her while she was traveling on a train from Manchester to London in 1990. After a number of rejections, she finally sold the book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (the word "Philosopher" was changed to "Sorcerer" for its publication in America), for the equivalent of about $4,000. The book, and its subseqent series, chronicled the life of Harry Potter, a young wizard, and his motley band of cohorts at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Fame and Fortune
By the summer of 2000, the first three Harry Potter books, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban earned approximately $480 million in three years, with over 35 million copies in print in 35 languages. In July 2000, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire saw a first printing of 5.3 million copies and advance orders of over 1.8 million. After a postponed release date, the fifth installment, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, hit bookstores in June 2003. The sixth installment, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, sold 6.9 million copies in the United States in its first 24 hours, the biggest opening in publishing history. Prior to its July 2007 release, the seventh and final installment in the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, was the largest ever pre-ordered book at chain stores Barnes & Noble and Borders, and at Amazon.com.
Rowling, now Britain's 13th wealthiest woman—wealthier than even the Queen—does not plan to write any more books in the series, but has not entirely ruled out the possibility.
A film version of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, directed by Chris Columbus, was released in November 2001. In its opening weekend in the U.S., the film debuted on a record 8,200 screens and smashed the previous box-office record, earning an estimated $93.5 million ($20 million more than the previous recordholder, 1999's The Lost World: Jurassic Park). It ended the year as the top-grossing movie of 2001. The second and third films in the series opened in November 2002 and June 2004 respectively, each enjoying similar record-breaking box-office success. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, directed by Mike Newell, was released in 2005. The fifth movie, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, released in July 2007, featured screenwriter Michael Goldenberg, who replaced Steve Kloves, writer of the first four films. In 2009, the film version of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is scheduled to hit theaters on July 17. The movie is expected to gross several million at the box office. The Potter films are scheduled to come to an end in 2011.
After 'Harry Potter'
Although J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series is finished, the author continues to work on more written works. The Tales of Beedle the Bard, a collection of five fables mentioned in the Harry Potter book series, was released on November 4, 2008—at a tea party for 200 schoolchildren at the National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh. Rowling donated all royalties from the book to the Children's High Level Group, a charity that Rowling co-founded to support institutionalized children in Eastern Europe, which has since been renamed Lumos.
Rowling's first book aimed at adults, The Casual Vacancy, was published in September 2012. The novel, a dark comedy about a local election in the small English town of Pagford, received mixed reviews. A book review in The New York Times called the novel "disappointing" and "dull." A review in The Telegraph, however, gave the book three out of five stars, stating that the novel is "Rowling on bodkin-sharp comic form in the early pages ... Jane Austen herself would admire the way [Rowling] shows the news of Barry’s death spreading like a virus round Pagford."
In 2013, Rowling broke into a new genre: crime fiction. But this new work involved a mystery all of its own. She published the mystery novel Cuckoo Calling that April under the pen name Robert Galbraith. In its first few months of release, the novel had modest sales and received positive reviews. Sales for the work skyrocketed in July when its author's identity was discovered. According to Bloomberg News report, Rowling said that "I had hoped to keep this secret a little longer, because being Robert Galbraith has been such a liberating experience. It has been wonderful to publish without hype or expectation, and pure pleasure to get feedback under a different name."
Later that year, Rowling announced a new film venture with Warner Bros. This new film series will be based on Rowling's hogwarts textbook Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. According to Entertainment Weekly, Rowling explained in a statement that the movies draw from "the worldwide community of witches and wizards where I was so happy for 17 years," but "is neither a prequel nor a sequel to the Harry Potter series, but an extension of the wizarding world."
Rowling is also reportedly working on a new Harry Potter-related book. On her website, she announced that she will write "an encyclopedia of Harry's world" and the royalties from this volume will be donated to charity.
In 2014, Rowling published a short story about grown-up Harry Potter and a Hogwarts school reunion on her website Pottermore.
Taken from: www.biography.com/people/jk-rowling-40998
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If you like the Harry Potter books...try listening to the audio books!
FEBRUARY - Francesca Simon
Francesca Simon spent her childhood on the beach in California, and started writing stories from the age of eight. She then went to Yale and Oxford Universities to study medieval history and literature. She threw away a lucrative career as a medievalist and worked as a freelance journalist, writing for the Sunday Times, Guardian, Mail on Sunday, Telegraph, and Vogue (US).
It was reading so many stories to her son Joshua, that encouraged her to start writing children’s books and many of Francesca’s stories have been inspired by real life situations. One of Francesca’s most successful and irrepressible creations has been the famous (or should that be infamous) Horrid Henry, who first appeared in 1994.
Horrid Henry has gone on to conquer the globe and his adventures are published in 27 languages, and have sold millions of copies worldwide. In 2008, Horrid Henry and the Abominable Snowman won the Children’s Book of the Year Award at the Galaxy British Book Awards.
Francesca is one of the nation’s most popular authors and has written over fifty books for children of all ages. When she is not writing, Francesca is often encouraging and inspiring young writers and has judged many writing competitions for schools. She has also been a judge for the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize and the Roald Dahl Funny Prize. In 2009, in one of the proudest moments of her career, Francesca was awarded a Gold Blue Peter badge.
Francesca is also a passionate ambassador for children’s literacy and access to literature. She is a trustee of the World Book Day charity, and has been actively involved with many other literacy charities and initiatives including Beanstalk, The Reading Agency, Booktrust’s Children’s Reading Fund and Storybook Dads.
Francesca lives in North London with her family.
Taken from http://www.francescasimon.com/
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If you enjoy the Horrid Henry TV show then try the Horrid Henry books!
JANUARY - Michael Morpurgo
Michael Morpurgo is, in his own words, “oldish, married with three children, and a grandfather six times over.” Born in 1943, he attended schools in London, Sussex and Canterbury (one at least of which was horrible enough to inspire him to describe it obliquely in The Butterfly Lion). He went on to London University to study English and French, followed by a step into the teaching profession and a job in a primary school in Kent. It was there that he discovered what he wanted to do.
“We had to read the children a story every day and my lot were bored by the book I was reading. I decided I had to do something and told them the kind of story I used to tell my kids – it was like a soap opera, and they focused on it. I could see there was magic in it for them, and realised there was magic in it for me.”
In 1976 Michael and his wife, Clare, started the charity Farms For City Children (FFCC), which aims to relieve the poverty of experience of young children from inner city and urban areas by providing them with a week in which they work actively and purposefully on farms in the heart of the countryside. They now have three farms – Nethercott in Devon, Treginnis in Wales and Wick in Gloucestershire. “As a teacher I realised many children had little real contact with the world around them – to them the television was real. I wanted them to experience life at first hand.” In the last 30 years over, 50,000 children from cities and towns throughout the UK have spent a week of their lives living and working on one of the three farms.
Living in Devon, listening to Mozart, and working with children have provided most of the stimulae Michael needs to discover and write his stories. He spends about half his life mucking out sheds with the children, feeding sheep or milking cows; the other half he spends dreaming up and writing stories. “For me, the greater part of writing is daydreaming, dreaming the dream of my story until it hatches out – the writing down of it I always find hard. But I love finishing it, then holding the book in my hand and sharing my dream with my readers.”
Michael is Vice Chancellor of The Children’s University and President of Book Trust.
Taken from www.michaelmorpurgo.com
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If you like the book...watch the film
DECEMBER - Julia Donaldson
I grew up in a tall terraced Victorian London house with my parents, grandmother, aunt, uncle, younger sister Mary and cat Geoffrey (who was really a prince in disguise. Mary and I would argue about which of us would marry him).
Mary and I were always creating imaginary characters and mimicking real ones, and I used to write shows and choreograph ballets for us. A wind-up gramophone wafted out Chopin waltzes.
I studied Drama and French at Bristol University, where I met Malcolm, a guitar-playing medic to whom I’m now married.
Busking and books
Before Malcolm and I had our family, we used to go busking together and I would write special songs for each country; the best one was in Italian about pasta.
The busking led to a career in singing and songwriting, mainly for children’s television. I became an expert at writing to order on such subjects as guinea pigs, window-cleaning and horrible smells. “We want a song about throwing crumpled-up wrapping paper into the bin” was a typical request from the BBC.
I also continued to write “grown-up” songs and perform them in folk clubs and on the radio, and have recently released two CDs of these songs. One of these songs, sung by Malcolm and called “Cochon Blues” was played as one of my choices when I was on the Radio 4 programme, Desert Island Discs.
One of my television songs, A SQUASH AND A SQUEEZE, was made into a book in 1993, with illustrations by the wonderful Axel Scheffler. It was great to hold the book in my hand without it vanishing in the air the way the songs did. This prompted me to unearth some plays I’d written for a school reading group, and since then I’ve had 20 plays published. Most children love acting and it’s a tremendous way to improve their reading.
My real breakthrough was THE GRUFFALO, again illustrated by Axel. We work separately - he’s in London and I’m in Glasgow - but he sends me letters with lovely funny pictures on the envelopes.
I really enjoy writing verse, even though it can be fiendishly difficult. I used to memorise poems as a child and it means a lot to me when parents tell me their child can recite one of my books.
Funnily enough, I find it harder to write not in verse, though I feel I am now getting the hang of it! THE GIANTS AND THE JONESES is a novel for 7-11 year olds, and I have written three books of stories about the anarchic PRINCESS MIRROR-BELLE who appears from the mirror and disrupts the life of an otherwise ordinary eight-year-old. For teenagers there is a novel called RUNNING ON THE CRACKS.
When I’m not writing I am often performing, at book festivals and in theatres. I really enjoy getting the children in the audience to help me act out the stories and sing the songs. When Malcolm can take time off from the hospital he and his guitar come too. and it feels as if we’ve come full circle - back to busking.
Taken from www.juliadonaldson.co.uk
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If you like Julia Donaldson...have a look at Axel Scheffler!
Axel Scheffler has illustrated lots of Julia Donaldson's most popular books...
NOVEMBER - Roald Dahl
Famed children's author Roald Dahl was born in Llandaff, South Wales, on September 13, 1916. Dahl's parents were Norwegian. As a child, he spent his summer vacations visiting with his grandparents in Oslo. When Dahl was 4 years old, his father died. While Dahl hardly excelled as a student, his mother offered to pay for his tuition at Oxford or Cambridge University when he graduated. Dahl's response, as quoted from his autobiography, Boy: Tales of Childhood, was, "No thank you. I want to go straight from school to work for a company that will send me to wonderful faraway places like Africa or China." And that he did. After Dahl graduated from Repton in 1932, he went on an expedition to Newfoundland. Afterward, he took a job with the Shell Oil Company in Tanzania, Africa, where he remained until 1939. Lusting for yet more adventure, in 1939, Dahl joined the Royal Air Force. After training in Nairobi, Kenya, he became a World War II fighter pilot. While serving in the Mediterranean, Dahl crash-landed in Alexandria, Egypt. The plane crash left him with serious injuries to his skull, spine and hip. Following a recovery that included a hip replacement and two spinal surgeries, Dahl was transferred to Washington, D.C., where he became an assistant air attaché.
Early Writing Career
While in Washington, D.C., Dahl met with author C.S. Forrester, who encouraged him to start writing. Dahl published his first short story in the Saturday Evening Post. He went on to write stories and articles for other magazines, including The New Yorker. Of his early writing career, Dahl told New York Times book reviewer Willa Petschek, "As I went on the stories became less and less realistic and more fantastic." He went on to describe his foray into writing as a "pure fluke," saying, "Without being asked to, I doubt if I'd ever have thought to do it."
Dahl wrote his first story for children, The Gremlins, in 1942, for Walt Disney. The story wasn't terribly successful, so Dahl went back to writing macabre and mysterious stories geared toward adult readers. He continued in this vein into the 1950s, producing the best-selling story collection Someone Like You in 1953, and Kiss, Kiss in 1959.
The same year that Someone Like You was published, Dahl married film actress Patricia Neal, and had five children, one of whom tragically died in 1962.Dahl told his children nightly bedtime stories that inspired his future career as a children's writer. These stories became the basis for some of his most popular kids' books, as his children proved an informative test audience. "Children are ... highly critical. And they lose interest so quickly," he asserted in his New York Times book review interview. " You have to keep things ticking along. And if you think a child is getting bored, you must think up something that jolts it back. Something that tickles. You have to know what children like." Dahl remarried to Felicity Ann Crosland in 1983, his partner until his death in 1990.
Dahl first established himself as a children’s writer in 1961, when he published the book James and the Giant Peach. The book met with wide critical and commercial acclaim. Three years later, Dahl published another big winner, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Both books were eventually made into popular movies.
A film adaptation of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was released as Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory in 1971, and an originally titled remake of the film, starring Johnny Depp, was released in 2005. The movie version of James and the Giant Peach was released in 1996.
In addition to James and the Giant Peach and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Dahl's most popular kids' books include Fantastic Fox (1970), The Witches (1983) and Matilda (1988).
After suffering an unspecified infection, on November 12, 1990, Roald Dahl was admitted to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, England. He died there on November 23, 1990, at the age of 74. Over his decades-long writing career, Dahl composed 19 children’s books and nine short story collections
Taken from www.biography.com
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If you like Roald Dahl...have a look at Quentin Blake!
Quentin Blake illustrated lots of Roald Dahl's books!