Big in Bologna

22nd April 2005 at 01:00
Coming this autumn

Handbag Friends by Sally Lloyd Jones and Sue Heap. Likely to be the only pink handbag-shaped book you'll ever see in the catalogue of David Fickling, who publishes Mark Haddon, Jan Mark and Philip Pullman. Five feisty creatures who live in a handbag head for Planet Pink Handbag and take on a mean old bag called Clasp who kidnaps little baby handbags and turns them into baglodytes. It's true!

Ask Me by Antje Damm (Frances Lincoln). A German architect assembles questions to draw profound answers from children, such as "Do you have a secret?" and "What do you see when you look out of your window?"

Two fantasy adventure novels for keen readers: Drift House by Dale Peck (Bloomsbury), first in a series, opens as three New York siblings are sent to Canada after 911; their refuge with an eccentric uncle turns out to be adrift on the sea of time. The most talked-about novel at the fair was Fly by Night by Frances Hardinge (Macmillan), about a brave and ruthless orphan and her quest for forbidden learning, helped by a homicidal goose.

Alice Through the Looking Glass illustrated by Helen Oxenbury (Walker Books). At last, the companion to the first Alice book from Oxenbury, who has a look of the White Queen (or is it the other way round?).

Wolves by Emily Gravett (Macmillan). A sharp, funny tale of a wolf and its blissfully unaware prey from a new artist-illustrator.

Jinnie Ghost by Berlie Doherty, illustrated by Jane Ray (Frances Lincoln).

A quality picture book with a longer poetic text for reading aloud, and intense night-vision artwork.

How Hedley Hopkins Did a Dare by Paul Jennings (Puffin). Jennings's first fiction for an older age group (12-plus) is an autobiographical tale of an English boy adjusting to life in 1950s Australia.

Wenceslas by Geraldine McCaughrean and Christian Birmingham (Doubleday) is the perfect Christmas picture book, setting the story behind JM Neale's carol in medieval Prague and the snowy wastes beyond.

Next year

The Garden by Elsie Adinoff (Doubleday) revisits Eden from Eve's perspective in a novel for 12-plus. I hear that the serpent is not all bad and Adam is even less bright than suspected.

Beauty and the Beast by Angela Barrett (Walker). Captures the haunting melancholy of the tale.

Tanglewreck by Jeanette Winterson (Bloomsbury) returns to the theme of time out of joint in a novel for nine to 11-year-olds.

Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin (Bloomsbury). Still on the time track, a 15-year-old girl killed in a road accident begins to live her life backwards.

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