Fingers crossed for the UK Kids' Lit Quiz top team from Cherwell school in Oxford, off next week to take on New Zealand's finest. With help from supporters including former parent governor Philip Pullman, Cherwell has raised pound;7,000 to meet expenses.
A week's tour of the North Island follows the final in Auckland on June 11 for Cherwell's Year 7 and Year 8 team (Toby Shelley, Ronni Shalev, Sarah Beggs and Cloudy Carnegie). With one team member named after a poet and another named after the founder of public libraries, surely they can't go wrong.
Even if you intend to steer clear of bookshops during the Harry Potter launch weekend, note that July 15 sees the start of the Waterstone's-sponsored search for a new children's author to be published by Faber next year (first prize is a contract and pound;1,000 in Waterstone's vouchers). Drop off your first three chapters plus synopsis of a novel (aimed either at eight to 12-year-olds or the teenage market) at any branch between July 15 and 4pm on July 31.
Then make sure you've written the rest of it by September 30 when it might be called in for the shortlist stage, to be judged by a panel including myself. Anyone over 16 can enter. Full details on "WOW Factor" entry forms from Waterstone's, which must be submitted with entries.
Meanwhile Ann Meek, learning support assistant at Maids Moreton CE infants in Buckingham (pictured), is waiting to see her first picture book in print with Little Tiger Press, having won the publisher's 2003 Search for a Story new author prize (TES, November 28, 2003). I'm Special, I'm Me!, the story of how a little boy grows in self-confidence, is likely to reach bookshops in October.
Now Little Tiger is looking for its next discovery. The publisher wants original stories, 750 words maximum, suitable for a fiction picture book text (without illustrations) for children aged up to six. The winning author gets pound;2,000 plus a publication contract. The closing date is September 1. See www.littletigerpress. com for full details.