Jane Winterbotham's unexpected departure as managing director of Egmont Children's Books was claimed to be an amicable part of the review and restructuring of the company's publishing interests. Winterbotham reported that she wanted to get back to "making books." She had been remarkably successful in holding Reed Children's Books together in the three difficult years when it was on the market before being bought by Egmont. Ian Findlay, U.K. chairman of Egmont, is to take over Winterbotham's responsibilities.
Walker Books, which had been pursuing Winterbotham for some time, was quick to announce that she was joining that company as publishing director. Walker has been without a publishing director since Wendy Boase's death earlier this year. Winterbotham will take creative and managerial responsibility for all U.K. publishing. "Joining Walker Books is the perfect way to get back to publishing," Winterbotham said. "To move from one large corporation to another would have been difficult but, at Walker, the books come first, and that's what makes it such a fantastic opportunity."
After 20 years of publishing, the Julia MacRae imprint is closing. Having headed up the children's list at Hamish Hamilton (where she launched the careers of such illustrators as Raymond Briggs and Anthony Browne and authors including Jane Gardam and Joan Lingard), MacRae founded her own list in 1979 within the Franklin Watts group. With Delia Huddy and Linda Summers, she provided continuity for her authors and illustrators when the list moved first to Walker Books and then to Random House. MacRae retired in 1995.
MacRae was a powerful influence on children's publishing, especially in the 1970s and 1980s. She believed in nurturing authors and illustrators in a long-term relationship that allowed for risk-taking titles, such as Raymond Briggs's The Snowman, which, laughably now, was considered "uncommercial" when it was published because it is a wordless picture book.
As the names and structures of long-established houses continue to change or fade away, new ones appear. Barn Owls, a reprint house aiming to bring back "loved but neglected children's books" was launched with a cabaret performance by author AdÃ¨le Geras. Anne Jungman, author of Vlad the Drac, set up Barn Owls "to clutch back some of the wonderful books which are brutally cut from lists when [sales] fall below a certain level." The four launch titles are Jimmy Jelly by Jacqueline Wilson, Private-Keep Out! by Gwen Grant, You're Thinking About Doughnuts by Michael Rosen and Voyage by AdÃ¨le Geras.
Hodder Children's Books' successful trade list has just been strengthened by the purchase of Wayland Publishers. Founded in 1969 as a publisher of non-fiction for school libraries, Wayland was bought in 1987 by Wolters Kluwer, which also acquired Macdonald Young Books in 1994. Wayland and Macdonald were merged into a stand-alone business, publishing fiction and nonfiction for children. The acquisition of Wayland provides Hodder with an opportunity to expand its nonfiction and reference publishing and to sell it directly to schools through the Wayland schools sales force.
And the Winners Are...
Shortlists for this year's Nestle Smarties Book Prize are as follows: five and under, Julia Donaldson for The Gruffalo, illus. by Axel Scheffler (Macmillan); Bob Graham for Buffy: An Adventure Story (Walker); Lydia Monks for I Wish I Were a Dog (Methuen); six to eight, Laurence Anholt for Snow White and the Seven Aliens, illus. by Arthur Robins (Orchard); Lauren Child for Clarice Bean, That's Me (Orchard); Emily Smith for Astrid, the Au Pair from Outer Space (Corgi); nine to 11, David Almond for Kit's Wilderness (Hodder); Louise Rennison for Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging (Piccadilly); J.K. Rowling for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Bloomsbury). The winners will be announced on November 30.
Klaus Flugge, founder and publisher of Andersen Press, is the winner of this year's Eleanor Farjeon Award, given for "services to children's books that go beyond the call of duty." Flugge is only the second publisher to have won the Farjeon Award (Kaye Webb, longtime editor of Puffin Books, was the first, in 1969). His reputation for taking risks, his integrity and especially his commitment to bringing books in translation to English-speaking children were all praised by David Kewley, managing director of Scholastic Books, which sponsors the Children's Book Circle award.
Helen Oxenbury has won the first Sainsbury's Baby Book Award for Tickle, Tickle (Walker, 1987), praised for "its appeal to babies and parents alike with its larger than life illustrations featuring happy faces and realistic situations." The Baby Book Award complements Sainsbury's £6-million sponsorship of the Bookstart program, which aims to provide parents of every 7-9-month-old baby a starter pack of books, advice for parents and a library invitation.