Between the lines

19th November 2004 at 00:00
The independent Muswell Hill Children's Bookshop in north London, 30 years old this month, doesn't do 3-for-2 offers, but it does give books away to new baby customers to supplement their Bookstart package. It also nominates a book of the year (the most significant book rather than the biggest seller), and the list since 1974 reads like a series of children's literature landmarks: Carrie's War (1975), Fungus the Bogeyman (1977), The Jolly Postman (1987), Northern Lights (1995) and guess what in 1997? The 2004 book is Meg Rosoff's How I Live Now.

Just in time for Northern Lights but before Junk, Harry Potter, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and the key stage 3 literacy strategy, there was BOOX magazine. The glossy publication distributed through schools and libraries to lure 13 to 16-year-olds into reading is 10 issues (and eight years) old. The look has changed, weblinks are omnipresent and it's now available nationwide (it was launched in three county library authorities), but the formula stays the same: celebrity on the cover (it's had Joanna Lumley, Johnny Vaughan and Ms Dynamite), reviews and interviews by young readers, features on aspects of books such as jackets, with TV-led pieces from a literary Blind Date in issue 2 to this year's very funny Big Brother spoof.

Issue 1 had a feature on graphic fiction and an interview with Benjamin Zephaniah before he started writing novels. Next term's 16-pager has had a design overhaul; content includes books to please surfers and skateboarders, graphic novels again (Buffy, Mysti, the Simpsons and the return of manga) and "Mates, Dates" series author Cathy Hopkins. Order issue 10 by January 28, 2005 from www.readingagency.co.uk. Schools prices start at pound;20 for 10 copies and two promotional posters.

The BOOX website, aimed at young readers, and visually less appealing than the magazine, is www.boox.org.uk. Also, see next week's key stage 3 supplement, 11 to 14: years of change, free with The TES.

Jan Mark and Philippa Pearce meet the critics (and their fans) at the "Fiction for Children Comes of Age" teachers' conference on April 23 at the University of Cambridge faculty of education. The programme of lectures and seminars draws on themes in the Contemporary Classics in Children's Literature series published by Continuum: children at war, frightening fiction, fantasy fiction and family stories for today. Tel: 01223 366525 for an application form.

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