News & views

Some events from 2011

My retelling of Aesop’s Fables with delightful illustrations by Piet Grobler (another South African – and illustrator of The Great Tug of War) is published by Frances Lincoln on 3 March. A number of co-editions (including Danish, Swedish, Dutch and Brazilian) are lined up and, to my great pleasure, my first South African editions, including my first translation into Afrikaans. Lekker!  Like most people I grew up thinking that Aesop was Greek, but I think that his tales are very African…

The West Kent Themed Book Awards culminate on 17 March when I’ll be sharing the Tunbridge Wells’ stage with Alan Gibbons. This year’s theme has been on ’Conflict’ and students will have read my short stories in Out of Bounds and Alan’s Caught in the Crossfire among other books. Whatever the outcome, the discussions should be lots of fun, even if heated! Alan is the driving force behind the Campaign for the Book, alerting us to the devastating cuts being made to our public libraries. We need to make our voices heard loudly – and quickly. It has taken decades to build up strong library services which make a huge contribution to our culture and society. They can be destroyed overnight… not by bombs but by people who know how to calculate ’price’ without understanding ’value’.

Tuesday 12 April – if you are visiting the London Book Fair, why not come to hear about The Importance of Prizes in the Children’s Theatre?  The event is organised by the International Board on Books for Young People UK (IBBY UK) and I’ll be there with Piet Grobler, Aidan Chambers, Frank Cottrell-Boyce and Philip Pullman.

In July, I shall meet up with students from Hollins University, Virginia, USA, who are coming over to England to be tutored by Jamila Gavin (lucky them!). They are going to quiz me on The Other Side of Truth. They will have read the American edition. The book won a number of awards in the States and this will be a chance for me, in turn, to quiz US readers about how the book ’translates’ for them.

In October I shall make a journey across the Atlantic to deliver the Dorothy Briley Lecture at the 9th Biennial International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) Regional Conference at California State University in Fresno. The conference has a great theme: “Peace the World Together with Children’s Books“.  The late Dorothy Briley was a dedicated publisher and editor who was committed to broadening the experience of American children through international literature. I’ve read some of the tributes to her and I am moved to have been asked to give this lecture.

Prodeepta Das and I are both delighted by the news that S is for South Africa has been named as an Honor Book for Young Children in the 2011 Children’s Africana Book Awards. Unfortunately neither of us can be at the ceremony at the National Museum of African Art in Washington on 18 November, but we will be there in spirit!

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL is celebrating International Human Rights Day and its 50th birthday on Saturday 10 December in London.


Write for Rights: 5×15
5×15 curate an evening in celebration of Amnesty’s Write for Rights Letter-writing campaign.
5 speakers come together and are given 15 minutes each to tell true stories of passion, obsession and adventure recounted live with just two rules: no scripts and only fifteen minutes each.Speakers on the night include:

The heroic writer and humanitarian Terry Waite

The award winning Beverley Naidoo tells us about letters from Apartheid Days

The legendary film maker Nick Broomfield reveals the wild and wacky world of Sarah Palin

The inspirational photo-journalist Giles Duley on photographing stories, then becoming one

The hilarious Private Eye and satirical writer Craig Brown on odd encounters


Join us on Saturday 10 December, 6.30pm for 7pm start
Human Rights Action Centre
17-25 New Inn Yard
London EC2A 3EA
£5 in advance from: