Fuel for new readers
Publishers and booksellers are meeting in London later this month to discuss whether they are publishing the right books for six to-eight-year-olds (children who need short, punchy, exciting texts to keep them reading and help them build up to longer novels). A tour of the UK stands in Bologna revealed plenty of lively short fiction coming soon for this age group. Could the difficulty be promotion rather than availability?
* Darrel and Sally Odgers have created a promising new series, Jack Russell: Dog Detective, for Scholastic which is also reissuing the Buster Bayliss stories by Philip Reeve, now celebrated for his Mortal Engines quartet of fantasy adventures. Both will be available in autumn 2006.
* John Dougherty is working on a new action-packed story rooted in Greek mythology to follow his successful Zeus on the Loose (Doubleday, January 2007).
* Kes Gray and Nick Sharratt's much-loved Daisy character graduates from picture books to short fiction for six-plus in The Trouble with Life (Doubleday, March 2007).
* Astrid Lindgren's Pippi Longstocking stories will start appearing next year in a new Oxford University Press edition to mark Lindgren's centenary, illustrated by Lauren Child.
* Former primary head Steve Voake launches Walker's Racing Reads series for newly independent readers with the tale of Daisy Dawson, a girl in Dr Dolittle's mould.
* Larklight by Philip Reeve (Bloomsbury, October). If the Victorians had discovered Mars, what would they have done with it? A fantasy adventure with space-pirate baddies.
* The Giant Under the Snow by John Gordon (Orion, June) is a stirring tale of the Green Man which has not dated since publication in 1968.
* Does My Head Look big in This? by Randa Abdel-Fattah, is a sharp, funny and moving look at the pressures on a high-achieving Muslim girl who likes fashion, boys and fun, and is the first in her secondary school to wear the hijab. Published next month as one of the first books from the new Marion Lloyd Books imprint of Scholastic Press.
* The Beast by Ally Kennen (Marion Lloyd Books, June), a well-paced and profound story that sees a boy who is about to leave foster care grappling with responsibilities for his violent, estranged father and a mysterious carnivorous creature.
* Cutting Through the Crap by Bali Rai. This pre-party-conference left-of-centre guide to politics, illustrated by Chris Riddell, promises "no jargon, no spin, no bad suits" (Walker Books, September).
* Rift by Beverley Birch, a contemporary thriller set in Africa which the publisher compares to Picnic at Hanging Rock (Egmont, September).
It's nearly Christmas
The most attractive Christmas stories from the UK were on the Walker stand.
This year: an unadbridged edition of A Christmas Carol with illustrations by PJ Lynch, in the same series as Patrick Benson's Moby-Dick (see above). Plus Ted Sieger tells the story of The Fourth King: the story of the other wise man. Next year: Niran Puttapitat's illustrations for Clement Clarke Moore's The Night Before Christmas.
But first, if you're a fan of Lisbeth Zwerger's illustration, see her dreamy treatment of the same text (published in Germany by Minedition but available through Penguin Books US).