Between the lines

29th October 2004 at 01:00
TES books editor Geraldine Brennan on the inside literary track

Kilmersdon primary near Radstock, Somerset, is already famous as the supplier of baked potatoes to Glastonbury ravers until 4.30am, parents having spotted an annual fundraising opportunity in the music festival.

It's also famous for Jack and Jill's hilltop well, which is on the school badge. Now headteacher Steve Voake (cousin of Charlotte, who creates prize-winning picture books) is about to put the school on the map again with his forthcoming fantasy adventure novel The Dreamwalker's Child, to be published by Faber in January.

Mr Voake is obsessed with insects (and so are some of his pupils, who like to bring him wasps' nests) and if you read this book you will never again feel quite so good about swatting a pesky wasp or horsefly.

Cornelia Funke's novel The Thief Lord (published by The Chicken House), about a group of child runaways hiding out in a deserted cinema in Venice, has a non-British flavour about its escapades, similar to Paul Berna's A Hundred Million Francs, which reached these shores in 1957 thanks to its translator.

Oliver Latsch's translation from German made Funke's gripping story available to UK children two years ago, and now it's on the shortlist for the biennial Marsh Award for Children's Literature in Translation, to be awarded in January.

France's Daniel Pennac has two novels under consideration, translated by Sarah Adams for Walker Books: Eye of the Wolf, about a lonely refugee boy called Africa who finds a soulmate in the Paris zoo, and Kamo's Escape, one of a series about a Parisian boy and his friends.

The Shamer's Signet by Lene Kaaberol (Hodder Children's Books) is the second book in a fantasy quartet that explores the nature of guilt and shame, translated by the Danish author, a former teacher. Playing with Fire by Henning Mankell, translated by Anna Paterson, concerns the troubles of 15-year-old Mozambiquan Sonia and her family, beset by poverty and Aids, but the judges were also impressed by its humour.

Booktrust's Children's Book Show, running until mid-November, will pick up the themes of the award by celebrating the translator's art and craft in next year's show, scheduled for the autumn term.

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