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26. This week in publishing - digital leads once again

It is hard to get away from the digital publishing phenomenon. Every publisher is trying to get a handle on it and more particularly a slice of the revenue. Enhanced ebooks are a constant talking point. UK children’s publishing house Nosy Crow has invested heavily in their app development showcasing interactive stories based on well known tales. There are those that frown on the app and even the ebook for younger children, but there is no denying that children are drawn to the screen.

In a recent reading at a library I was surrounded by eight children as I read from a traditional book, one where you turn real paper pages. The children were polite and quiet as they sat and listened. Once we finished the story a couple of the children started talking about ebooks. I pulled out my iPad and began showing the children Nosy Crow’s Three Little Pigs app, they jostled to get close to me to touch and scroll the screen. Out of nowhere 30 more children appeared from around the library keen to be involved in this interactive storytelling.

There is no denying children want it, the difficulty lies in finding the balance between the paper product and the interactive product. It is likely to be a few years before we have solid research to indicate whether or not literacy levels are hampered by the interactive device, but so far the indication is that enhanced ebooks distract children from the story and stop them remembering narrative.

Despite the gloomy message behind the above research, publishers will continue to develop apps, games and enhanced ebooks based on the book product for as long as children are drawn to them. J.K. Rowling’s Books of Spellsaims to bring a magical book to life on the PlayStation 3. It seems that the stories that children are already familiar with are the ones that continue to gain a following in other enhanced formats.

Still in digital n

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27. @jamieoliver makes his mark on Sydney with Jamie's Italian

When walking into Jamie’s Italian in Sydney guests are treated to rustic design, good food and warm service.

The Jamie Oliver industry is quite something to behold. As you look around Jamie’s Italian, his books, mugs and even napkins (with Jamie’s name on them) are displayed and available to purchase.

Packed full of business folk, we waited (only 10 minutes) at the bar for a table. They don’t take bookings unless you are a party of six or more.

My sister and I had the following – we thought pasta should be the preference.

Fusilli with "San Marzano" tomato, anchovies, aubergines, olives, pine nuts, raisins, chilli, basil & parsley

Delicate parcels stuffed with creamed ricotta, lemon, mint & Parmesan.

They were both fabulous – we shared!

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28. Quote of the week

'What is the use of a book', thought Alice, 'without pictures or conversations?'
Lewis Carroll - Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

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29. The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman

This much anticipated novel is the result of a bidding war between publishers.
Margot Stedman is a Perth born, but London based author.

Much of the novel is set in the 1920s on a fictitious remote island, Janus Rock, off the coast of Western Australia. Young lighthouse keeper Tom Sherbourne and his wife Isabel settle on the Island living a life of isolation, cut off from the mainland.

One morning a dinghy washes up on the shore carrying a dead man and a crying baby. The decisions that Tom and his wife Isabel make, following this discovery, have far reaching consequences both for them and for others.

Moral and ethical dilemmas are the driving force behind the plot. Nothing is clearly laid out - right and wrong merge together leaving the reader to decipher where the line should have been drawn.

Tom is such a likable character; others are drawn to his virtuous nature, puzzled by the dichotomy in his character, which his actions seem to imply. A World War I decorated veteran, Tom has seen many atrocities, which cast a permanent shadow over his life. Death seemingly lurks at every corner. Even when life arrives on the island, it is in the shadow of death.

Isabel is a more complex character and therefore a little harder for the reader to come to terms with. Her actions seem misguided as she becomes increasingly fuelled by self-interest.

Stedman paints a bleak picture of Port Partageuse, the mainland, a place struggling to come to terms with the loss of many of its men, sons and husbands who have perished in the war. A place crying out for a good news story, a story that can restore faith in humankind.
The background scenery of Port Partageuse is vividly described; the harsh uncertain ocean, the fauna and the bird life come to life through Stedman’s storytelling.

This is the story of harrowing consequences followi

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30. 100 of the best book in the English language #penguin

With the Diamond Jubilee celebrations well underway in London, I thought we should look back at English Language Literature.

Here is a brilliant new series, beautifully designed by Coralie Bickford-Smith, celebrating literature from Robinson Crusoe to the outbreak of WW1.

Penguin English Library reintroduces 100 of the best books in the English language. 

Penguin English Library comes to life

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31. This week in publishing

This week saw an empty school library featured on the front page of The Australian along with two big announcements in digital development by Allen and Unwin and Momentum, Pan Macmillan’s digital only imprint.

Allen and Unwin has launched a new digital program.
The House of Books aims to bring Australia's cultural and literary heritage to a broad audience by creating affordable print and eBook editions of the nation’s most significant and enduring writers and their work. The fiction, non-fiction, plays and poetry of generations of Australian writers published before the advent of eBooks will now be available to new readers, alongside a selection of more recently published books that had fallen out of circulation.

Momentum announced it is to drop DRM on all titles to allow across the board accessibility. 

US author Madeline Miller has won the prestigious Orange prize for her debut book, The Song of Achilles. Bookscan revealed it was clearly the bestselling book on the shortlist since the announcemen

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32. Me Before You by @jojomoyes. A compelling read.

Louisa Clark works in The Buttered Bun tea shop, a job she loves. When she suddenly loses her job her comfortable life is thrown into chaos. Her parents rely on the assistance her salary provides to care for her granddad, her sister and her sister’s son, Thomas, all of whom live under the one roof.

Desperate to find a job and under pressure from the job centre to take anything that comes along, Louisa agrees to care for Will Traynor, a quadriplegic. She has never been a care worker before, has had no previous training and has little idea of what is required of her.

Louisa is hired by Will’s mother, on a six-month contract, before she has even met Will. Mrs Traynor insists that Louisa must not leave Will alone under any circumstances.
Will Traynor, a former city worker and thrill seeker was left a quadriplegic after a motorbike accident two years ago. After the accident he moved from his London bachelor pad back to the country to live with his increasingly unhappy parents.

Will turns out to be a surly young man with a bitter chip on his shoulder. From the outset he makes it clear he does not want anyone to look after him. Louisa does what she has to, she feeds Will, cleans his room and does his washing, but is often left to sit in the kitchen with a magazine as Will listens to the radio or watches a film alone.

As Louisa gets to know Will their relationship unfolds. Louisa, a bright, outspoken, effervescent young woman adds a spark to Will’s day. She begins to encourage him to get out of the house and Will in turn, frustrated with Louisa’s low self esteem and lack of ambition, encourages her to broaden her horizons.

Moyes describes the life of someone bound to a wheelchair with great insight. The descriptions of the many difficulties that arise once Will begins going out will resonate with anyone who has been in a wheelchair or been a carer. T

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33. The Famous Five celebrates a momentous birthday

"It wasn't a bit of good fighting grown-ups. They could do exactly as they liked".  
Five On a Treasure Island – Enid Blyton

70 years ago, in 1942, the first book in the Famous Fiveseries, Five On a Treasure Island,was published. To mark the anniversary a number of well-known, brilliant illustrators have breathed new life into the covers of 70-year-old stories. Helen Oxenbury, Quentin Blake and Oliver Jeffers are among the illustrators to add their own style to these classic tales.

At the time of her death, in 1968, Enid Blyton had published an estimated 800 books. Many adults remember her stories fondly and children today are still discovering them. Half a million copies of the Famous Fivebooks are still sold every year. 

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34. @kimizzo selects Five Books of Influence

Kim Izzo is a frequent contributor to newspapers and magazines. She is the co–author of The Fabulous Girl’s Guide to Life and The Fabulous Girl’s Guide to Decorum. The Jane Austen Marriage Manual is her first novel.
Kim Izzo selects Five Books of Influence

Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen

How can I not select this great novel given that my debut novel is called The Jane Austen Marriage Manual? I first read it when I was fourteen. But it really hit home to me after watching the 1995 BBC adaptation with Colin Firth. Then I read it again and read it at least once a year ever since. I always refer to it. The language, the humour, the characters are so fully drawn, it's a perfect read.
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35. Jennifer Egan tweets her latest story @NYerFiction

Pulitzer Prize winner Jennifer Egan, author of the acclaimed novel A Visit From the Goon Squad, has partnered with The New Yorker to tweet her latest story Black Box. The 8,500 word story has been broken down into grabs of 140 characters.

While other authors have not been keen to tweet their work, Egan has embraced the new medium. The story is being tweeted for 10 days between 8-9pm @NYerFiction. A summary is also available on the site.

Have you been following the tweets? Is Twitter able to broadcast a story, with all its fluidity, in 140 characters?

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36. This week in publishing

The Orange Prize for fiction is no longer orange.
 Sadly after 17 years Orange has pulled out of its sponsorship to concentrate on supporting films in the UK. Next week’s winner will be the last sponsored by Orange. The prize was established in 1996 by a group of publishing industry professionals keen to promote international female writers. The prize will continue with a new sponsor.

Waterstones does a deal with the devil

Shock waves reverberated through the books industry on Monday when James Daunt, the managing director of Waterstones, announced Waterstones was teaming up with Amazon to provide their customers with the eBook experience within the comfort of a bookstore.  Perhaps Daunt no longer views  Amazon as the ‘ruthless money making devil’ he previously described it to be? 
It is thought the plan will roll out later this year once the refurbishment of 300 Waterstones stores has been completed. Twitter responded swiftly to the announcement with readers giving the partnership the thumbs up and the book industry the thumbs down.

Congratulations to Anna Funder who continued her dream run with All That I Am taking out the ABIA for Book of the Year and the Barbara Jefferis Award.
Past the Shallows by Favel Parrett won ABIA Newcomer of the Year.
General Fiction Book of the Year went to Sarah Thornhill by Kate Grenville
Worse Things Happen at Sea by William McInnes and the late Sarah Watt won Non-fiction Book of the Year.
Emma Quay took out the Award for Younger Children with Rudie Nudie and Andy Griffiths for Older Children with the 0 Comments on This week in publishing as of 1/1/1900
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37. Would you leave your child with your neighbour? The Playdate by @l_millarwriter

Every mum has left their young child with a neighbour whilst running to the shops for supplies. Then school starts and parents begin to assert themselves in the role of top parent, volunteering at the school, going to coffee mornings and organising play dates, soon to be followed by the sleepover in order to cement their child’s social presence within a class unit.

Millar has written a contemporary thriller which delves into the unfaltering trust many parents put in others to care for their own children.

Callie feels ostracised for being a single parent, always on the outside, never quite able to fit in with the other middle class north London mums. Alone, with a daughter who has a serious medical condition, Callie seeks solace elsewhere. When an American woman arrives to live opposite her they form a close friendship. Callie begins to lean on Suzy, the married mother of three, depending on her for support and friendship. Suzy’s son Henry and Callie’s daughter Rae get on well, attending the same class at school. They have an easy relationship popping in and out of each other’s homes, but then Debs moves in next door to Suzy.

Callie turns up on Debs door proffering a lasagne and a bottle of wine to welcome her to the street, but Debs seems unnerved by her presence. An incident in her past has made her highly strung. Debs is determined to start afresh in this new location with her husband of six months by her side.

The book is told from the point of view of the three main characters, Callie, Suzy and Debs. As this psychological thriller builds the chapters get shorter, the reader hears from each character in short bursts, adding to the final climax of the book.

The book preys on every parent’s worst nightmare. Who do you trust with your child? What if? How well do you know other parents?
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38. A first look at Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby

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39. New Frontier's Fabulous Morning Tea #cancercouncil

On Thursday we will be throwing open our doors in support of the Cancer Council.

New Frontier's Fabulous Morning Tea
Thursday May 24
10.30am - 12pm
Suite 3, Level 2
18 Aquatic Drive
Frenchs Forest

You can browse through our books and take a look at the hub of New Frontier.
Do come along and join us for a cup of tea and a piece of cake.

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40. Sydney Writers' Festival highlights #swf2012

The sunshine came out this year for the Sydney Writers’ Festival and so, unexpectedly, did the men. It was strange and wonderful to see that the SWF, usually so dominated by female bookish folk, held some interest for the male bookworm.

There were even men at Kathy Lette’s session with Jean Kitson, a particularly brave male member of the audience dared to ask the first question and was treated to all the wit and hilarity of the wonderful Kathy Lette.

Crowds swarmed around Walsh Bay in the brilliant sunshine. Guests were turned away at free events that had reached capacity, Elliot Perlman on Friday was popular as well as Hannah Richell and Emily Perkins in their session, Tides and Forrests, although guests were able to lie back in a deck chair and watch Richell and Perkins on the big screen in the lounge. Emerging writers must have enjoyed Richell’s fairytale story from stay at home mum to published author. She sent her book to two agents, both of whom wanted her book. Richell selected the agent she felt best understood her work, which led to an auction and finally the release of Secrets of the Tides.

Other popular free events included Who’s Potus, which friends attended and felt was suitably praiseworthy.

Jeffrey Eugenides was one of the star performers. Unfortunately I was unable to attend, perhaps because the entire English department at my daughter’s school had booked to see him. My daughter was able to inform me second hand of all the details of the event as passed on by her English teacher. Fabulous apparently.

 Topic of Cancer with Joshua Cody and Masha Gessen, facilitated by Lisa Pryor was a poorly attended session, but fascinating. Joshua Cody, a composer living in New York, documented his struggle with a particularly aggressive form of cancer in his book, sic. He claimed to be constantly in a state of anger at his disease and felt there was no rhyme or reason for why certain people contracted cancer. A number of his friends died and some survived. He gave an at times harrowing account of his struggle with cancer. In contrast Masha Gessen, a Russian American journalist, never had cancer, but inherited the genetic mutation that produces breast cancer, prevalent among Ashkenazi Jews. She discussed her response to learning this, which is documented in her book, Blood Matters.

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41. Onegin @TheAusBallet is a ballet with mesmerising charm

The Australian Ballet is staging a favourite as part of its 50thanniversary year. It has been 16 years since the Australian Ballet last staged John Cranko’s Onegin.

Originally created by Cranko in 1965 for the Stuttgart Ballet, of which he was artistic director, Onegin is based on Alexander Pushkin’s 1837 verse novel and on Tchaikovsky’s opera. It is one of the great 20th century dramatic ballets.

Onegin is the tale of Tatiana, an innocent young girl who meets a weary aristocrat bored with life, seeking distraction in the country.

The costumes are staggering, based on the original designs by Jurgen Rose in 1965. The Australian Ballet collaborated with Jurgen and the wardrobe department of the Paris Opera Ballet with spectacular results.

The final pas de deux during which Tatiana finally rejects Onegin for the safety of her marriage is exquisite. It is the transformation of Tatiana from an innocent country girl to a sophisticated married woman of St Petersburg.

Onegin will always remain a favourite for its dramatic storyline, beautiful music and complex characters.
The Australian Ballet has staged a dramatic ballet with mesmerising charm.

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42. Quote of the week

"Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness."
Martin Luther King, Jr

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43. The Beginner’s Goodbye by Anne Tyler

The narrator of the story, Aaron Woolcott has suffered debilitating permanent injuries from a childhood illness. He walks with a cane and wears a back brace for support. He has spent his life being fussed over and protected from the outside world by his mother and sister.

After the death of his father he returned to the fold to run the family publishing business, which specialises in vanity press and ‘Beginner’s guides’.

When he finally meets Dorothy Rosales, some years older than him, he is delighted by her indifference to his physical condition. They have a comfortable marriage, but one where they allow each other space for independence. There is none of the fussing and deep concern that had so irritated him throughout his childhood.

Aaron is distraught after Dorothy dies in a freak accident in their home. He moves in with his sister away from the wreckage of his home, which has suffered catastrophic damage from the accident.

Suffering, in the early stages of grief, Aaron reflects back on his life with Dorothy, how they met and the state of their marriage at the time of her death. Dorothy begins appearing to Aaron, first briefly and then for more prolonged periods of time. She never appears in the same place and often talks to him. Aaron initially thinks others can also see Dorothy, that she has come back to him, and then as time passes he begins to realise that he is the only one to see her.

Tyler’s tale is a very ordinary one of the early stages of grief. In many ways it is an untouchable subject, one that is difficult to talk about. Tyler shows this through the attitude of those around Aaron. His fridge is so full of food he can’t possibly consume that he ends up throwing out one dish after another and writing the same polite note to each one of the generous givers. No one is able to talk to Aaron; no one knows what to say. They seem to have forgotten his wife’s death, ignoring it completely. Tyler hauntingly tells his loneliness in grief. His one companion, his wife Dorothy, leads him through his grief until he is finally able to contemplate life without her.

 It is simply told, an ordinary family dealing with ordinary every day life. This is perhaps what makes the book so brilliant. Tyler’s story is achingly real and astutely observed.
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44. This week in publishing

This wonderful photograph of the first Avengers was found at  Awesome People Reading

Anthony Horowitz wrote an interesting article this week on the film, The Hunger Games. He commented that had the massacre in Norway been in America the Americans would have thought twice before producing the film.
“ Dead teenagers strewn across a wood? If these had been American children who had been killed, would they have been quite so comfortable going ahead?

On a happier note 1.45 million copies of the title, The Tales of a Very Naughty Rabbit will be given away in England and Wales.

The Tale of a Naughty Little Rabbit,  0 Comments on This week in publishing as of 1/1/1900
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45. Wonder by R.J.Palacio is a remarkable debut novel. Every school library should have a copy of this book.

Don’t judge a book boy by its cover his face

Born with a terrible facial deformity ten-year-old August (Auggie) Pullman just wants to be ordinary. His parents have home schooled him to protect him from the cruelty of the outside world. Now, his mother has decided, it is time for August to take one giant leap and go to mainstream school. He is terrified. What will his classmates think of him?

Narrated by Auggie and those close to him, his sister Olivia (Via), Auggie’s friends Summer and Jack, Olivia’s boyfriend Justin, and Olivia's ex-friend Miranda. Each one has in some way been touched by Auggie’s life.

The principal of middle school, Mr Tushman, is positive from the outset. He believes absolutely that Auggie can be integrated into his school and enlists a band of helpers he deems suitable to assist with Auggie’s smooth transition into school.

The story tracks Auggie’s first year in school, the trials and tribulations, and the revelations. At the start Auggie largely relies on Summer and Jack who befriend him in the midst of a seemingly cold and heartless school. By being Auggie’s friend Summer and Jack have been ostracized by their peers. Both deal with the implications in different ways.

Auggie’s sister, Olivia or Via as Auggie calls her, has her own difficulties adjusting to a new school. Her parents are so concerned with Auggie’s new start that Via’s own issues fall largely unnoticed at home. She is trying to carve out a place for herself without conforming so much that she loses sight of who she is.

The brilliance of this novel lies in the fact that it is narrated by Auggie and his peers.  The reader experiences Auggie’s integration not from the parents or teacher’s point of view, but from those closest to him at school. In the hot house environment of a school, cruelty and kindness can lie side by side. Auggie and his fellow students must make decisions to survive the, at times, brutality of their environment.

It is the early stages of integration that, as Palacio highlights, is so integral to a smooth transition. The careful planning and positive attitude of the school sets the tone for the entire school’s attitude towards Auggie.  

R.J. Palacio has told Auggie’s story with such insight.

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46. 200 years of nonsense

This year Charles Dickens is not the only one to be celebrating his 200th birthday, the master of nonsense, Edward Lear, also turns 200. This Saturday on May 12 his bicentenary will be celebrated. He is best known for the beloved children's classic The Owl and the Pussycat.

These striking illustrations by UK illustrator Sarah Dennis celebrate the much loved classic The Owl and the Pussycat.

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47. Where the Wild Things Are

Maurice Sendak, who died on Tuesday, was most well known for the acclaimed picture book Where the Wild Things Are, which he wrote and illustrated. It was first published in 1963. 
In 1964, the American Library Association awarded Mr. Sendak the Caldecott Medal, for Where the Wild Things Are.

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48. School library destroyed in fire #donatebooks

On Sunday April 29 a fire destroyed an entire recently renovated block including the library and all its contents at John Colet School in Belrose.

This report on the John Colet website gives you an idea of the damage that has occurred on the school site.

The primary aged students (K-6) had to have a week off school as staff concentrated on making the area safe for the return of its students.

As you can imagine the bureaucratic process involved in dealing with this damage will be fraught and time consuming. In the meantime the children have no library and no books.
We have donated books, but as we are small it will not be enough to go around. The school would be delighted to receive books from publishers. This will allow them to at least have an interim library operating while they go through the process of rebuilding.

Books can be sent directly to the school:
John Colet School
Interim Library
6 Wyatt Avenue
NSW 2085

Thank you for your support.

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49. The Jane Austen Marriage Manual by Kim Izzo #janeausten

Kate Shaw lives a glamorous life working as an acting beauty editor for a fashion magazine. Now, due to cutbacks, she is told her services are no longer required. Her boyfriend has run off with her money, she has no job and is about to turn 40. To make matters worse all those around her are consumed with their swelling bellies and the gender of imminent offspring. Kate takes solace in Jane Austen.

Kate’s friends, in a bid to boost her morale, club together to buy her title to a postage stamp piece of land in Scotland. This little piece of paper transforms Kate Shaw into Lady Katherine Shaw, a far more appropriate title for someone who loves all things Jane Austen.

Kate is offered the perfect freelance assignment. As Jane Austen suggested, is it still possible for women of a certain age to marry well? She is going to put Austen’s marriage plot to the test. It soon becomes more of a reality than just an article for a magazine. The assignment takes Kate from all the glamour of St Moritz to New York and London.

As Kate discovers the real plight of her own mother’s financial situation so her search becomes more desperate. She jets off on private jets, as imposter Lady Katherine Shaw, and does the rounds at the well heeled polo matches often with hilarious results.

During her travels Kate keeps meeting up with brooding Englishman Griffith Kent, but he is not for Kate, his clothes and breeding are not what she has set her sights on. The charming Scott, 20 years her senior, she deems far more appropriate in her time of need. Will Kate marry for love or for money?

Izzo has written a charming romantic comedy, the modern Pride and Prejudice complete with its own English manor, Penwick Manor. She weaves Austen themes beautifully throughout her book beginning each chapter with an Austen quote.

“Vanity working on a weak head produces every sort of mischief’ 
Emma - Jane Austen


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50. This week in publishing

Edward Lear, master of the limerick and nonsense rhyme, turns 200 this Saturday. He was best known for The Owl and the Pussycat, lesser known as the drawing teacher to her majesty Queen Victoria.

Maurice Sendak, American writer and illustrator of children’s literature, died this week, aged 83. Tributes poured in from around the world. He will be best remembered for his book Where the Wild Things Are.

Paddington Bear, that lovable marmalade eating bear from deepest darkest Peru, is finally coming to the big screen. Plans for the film were first announced over four years ago.

Oxford undergraduate Samantha Shannon is said to be following in the footsteps of JK Rowling after landing herself a six-figure book deal with Bloomsbury for her novel The Bone Season, and two sequels

There is a reality show for everything else so why no writing? It would be thrilling to watch. Yes it would! Stephan Lee has a go at pitching this new reality TV show. What do you think? TV gold?

Finally, it is Mother’s Day this Sunday. Happy Mother’s Day to all you mums. I hope your day is a little better than this!

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