Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Sara Grady's sneaky reading list

Sara Grady, Director of the Children's Programme at Edinburgh International Book Festival, drops in to stir things up...

Spring seems to come and go in Edinburgh. One day it’s gloriously sunny, perfect for picnics and frisbee, the next I’m digging for my gloves and hat in a freezing torrential downpour. But one thing in my May diary is consistent: I finally have time to read a lot.

This time of year, the Book Festival programme is finished (with 350 events, I don’t think I can handle anymore!). Brilliant authors are coming and no one in the whole world knows the line-up except me. Until I have the big reveal at our launch in June, it’s my little (well, big) secret.

So in May, while I avoid spilling the beans, I spend a lot of time reading. It takes my mind off of things. And there is a hidden bonus: lots of people assume my current reading list equates to the Festival guest list. So, I switch things up with decoys. I read a huge variety of books to throw everyone off the trail. Sneaky eh?

So, here is my reading list so far. Try and guess which ones will be in Edinburgh this summer, I dare you.

Lately, I’ve Read:
How to Drink From a Frog by Michael Cox. A truly awesome collection of food facts. I have been telling everyone about how when Paris was besieged and starving in wartime, the zoo auctioned off its animals to the highest bidder for exotic feats!

Cosmic by Frank Cottrell Boyce (pictured top right) – Absolutely brilliant and great fun. No wonder it’s up for the Carnegie.

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. I love all Gaiman’s work, and here the simplicity of the storytelling perfectly suits his quirky, otherworldly narrative of a boy raised by ghosts (and check out the awesome illustration by Chris Riddell, left).

What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell. This book just won some major prizes in America. It’s a compelling story about growing up just after WWII, well worth a read though probably my girliest pick of the month.

The Wizard the Ugly and the Book of Shame by Pablo Bernasconi. It’s not everyday a picture book comes all the way from Patagonia, and this oddball fairy tale lives up to its exotic origins.



Next Up is:
Diary of a Wimpy Kid 2 by Jeff Kinney. This comic/diary series is a massive blockbuster in the states and soon to be a film. You’ll laugh until milk comes out your nose, promise.

The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness (pictured right). I’ve been dying to read the sequel to the amazing The Knife of Never Letting Go (don’t let the weird title put you off, this shocking thriller is a page turner like no other). The first book ended on such a wild cliff hanger, I’m on the edge of my seat already.

What is the Point of School by Guy Claxton. I don’t only read children’s books (mostly, but not only). Sometimes I read books about childhood and education and things to programme events for parents and teachers. If the title is anything to go by, this one should be cracking.

The Thornthwaite Inheritance by Gareth P. Jones. A Lemony Snicket-like gothic tale of intrigue, this story sees twins in a duel of endlessly complicated murder attempts. Dark, odd and totally fun.


And then we’ll see. Possibly the new (and last) Confession of Georgia Nicholson. But who knows? Before I know it summer will be here and Festival preparations will envelope me again, so I’m reading all I can in the next couple of weeks. In fact, do you have anything I absolutely must read? I’m always on the hunt for something new…

Thanks again to Sara!

Plus, if you don't have enough reading suggestions from Sara's list, we just got news in today of the shortlist for the Branford Boase Award 2009:

The Traitor Game by B R Collins, edited by Emma Matthewson (Bloomsbury)
The Toymaker by Jeremy De Quidt, edited by Bella Pearson (David Fickling Books)
Flood Child by Emily Diamand, edited by Imogen Cooper (published originally as Reavers Ransom by Chicken House)
Between Two Seas by Marie-Louise Jensen, edited by Liz Cross (OUP)
Bloodline by Katy Moran, edited by Denise Johnstone-Burt, (Walker Books)
The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness, edited by Denise Johnstone-Burt (Walker Books)Ways to Live Forever by Sally Nicholls, edited by Marian Lloyd (Marian Lloyd Books)

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