WARTIME tragedies and accidents which wreck young lives apparently make good stories.
Three novels on the short list announced today for a children's book award invite readers to put themselves in the place of teenagers coping with the physical and psychological effects of horrific injuries.
Two books with a chance of the 1999 Special Educational Needs Children's Book Award, supported by The TES, feature a hero who has to live with a disfigured face. Otherwise the stories could not be more different: Face by Benjamin Zephaniah (Bloomsbury) is a streetwise tale of present-day east London; Sweet Clarinet by James Riordan (Oxford University Press) follows Billy Riley through recovery from near death in the Portsmouth blitz, helped by a passion for music. Meanwhile, Fighting Back by Wendy Orr (an Australian import from Orchard) looks at life after a car accident for Anna, a karate champion.
The award is presented to the best children's book which represents people with special needs positively. The judging panel includes two secondary pupils: Kate Gallow of Walton high school, Stafford and Michael Riordan of Haberdashers Aske's Hatcham College, in London.
Also on the short list is Stiks and Stoans (Mammoth) by Andrew Matthews, a former English teacher. The diary of a schoolgirl who becomes a bully's target because of her dyslexia alternates with insight into the bully's mind.
The list also includes a novel for younger fluent readers - Big Ben by Rachel Anderson (Mammoth) about Matthew and his big brother Ben, who has severe learning difficulties.
There are three information book entries: the Think About ... series from Belitha Press (Think About Being Blind by Peter White; ... Being Deaf by Maggie Wooley; ... Being in a Wheelchair by Lois Keith; ... Having a Learning Disability by Margaret and Peter Flynn); Animals as Carers by Clare Oliver (Franklin Watts) and I'm Special by Jen Green (Wayland).
The parallel award for academic books on special needs has seven books shortlisted: Approaches to Teaching and Learning: including pupils with learning difficulties by Ron Babbage, Helen Redding and Richard Byers with a foreword by Gary Thomas (David Fulton); Inclusive Education, edited by Harry Daniels and Philip Garner, in the Kogan Page World Yearbook of Education 1999 series; Collaborating for Effectiveness: empowering schools to be inclusive by Jennifer Evans, Ingrid Lunt, Klaus Wedell and Alan Dyson (Open University Press); Literature for All by Nicola Grove (David Fulton pound;12.99); Teaching Children with Autism to Mind-read by Patricia Howlin, Simon Baron-Cohen and Julie Hadwin (John Wiley); Care about Education: a joint training curriculum for supporting children in public care by Sally Morgan (National Children's Bureau) and Promoting Inclusive Practice, edited by Christina Tilstone, Lani Florian and Richard Rose (Routledge).
The 1999 NASEN Special Educational Needs Book Awards are presented by the National Association for Special Educational Needs and the Educational Publishers Council with support from The TES and the Paul Hamlyn Foundation. The winners will be announced at the Special Needs London exhibition on November 4 by education junior minister Jacqui Smith.