The indefatigable Ben Schott’s latest social barometer, Schott’s Almanac 2010 (Bloomsbury £16.99), curiously published together with his 2009 edition (Bloomsbury £18.99), is a gloriously random tome full of information of no real value, but huge fun nonetheless.
Teddy bears and teenage spies were among the highlights of children’s fiction in 2009.
Winner of the Booktrust Teenage prize was Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book (Bloomsbury, £7.99, age 11 to adult), in which young Nobody Owens is brought up by strange foster parents — a vampire and a family of ghosts, while Gaiman’s Coraline, featuring sinister bogus parents with button eyes, was made into an animated film.
Forget climate change — a new eco-disaster threatens, reports the Lamonical Chronicle (the online offshoot of Andy Stanton’s Mr Gum series, published by Egmont). According to the Chronicle, space-squirrels are building huge sponges to dry up our oceans and gigantic scissors to cut off the tops of our mountains and steal the ice-cream inside. Read more at www.mrgum.co.uk
Little literati will have their own fair, “Little Bookniks”, at Jewish Book Week, on Sunday March 7, 2010. The theme is “dreams and nightmares” (with fancy-dress prizes). Participants will have the chance to design a book cover, contribute to a “Word Wall”, or add their input to a Morris Gleitzman story.
● ‘I always think that the person Freud was most like was Groucho Marx – they both loved jokes and, of course, cigars.’ Psychological-detective writer Frank Tallis, interviewed by Jenni Frazer (Jan 2)
● Though we still sit round the table on a Friday night, anorexia is common in our community and obsession with the body has affected us as much as any other community. Julia Neuberger on Bodies by Susie Orbach (Feb 20)
Joe Sacco has built a formidable reputation as a comics journalist. His early work, Palestine, won an American Book Award and he received the 2001 Eisner best original graphic novel award for Safe Area Gorazde, about the conflict in Bosnia.
That same year, Sacco was preparing an article on Gaza for Harpers magazine with journalist Chris Hedges. This included material on events of 1956 that was cut from the published article.
By Barbara Engelking & Jacek Leociak Yale University Press £40
The devil, they say, is in the detail. This extraordinary book bears out the epithet. Its 906 pages form a vastly detailed portrait of Jews in the ghetto, struggling for survival under the radical evil of Nazi occupation. It is a book displaying deep scholarship, but also intense emotion.
The cult of celebrity, says Melissa Katsoulis in Telling Tales: A History of Literary Hoaxes (Constable £8.99), is nothing new, but the desire to see the worst and/or smallest parts of a star is a post-war invention. And because the unearthing of sordid details about well-known figures is such a big-money game, it is no surprise that literary hoaxers with dollar signs in their eyes have sprung up in all corners of the media.
Long before they know the words to the Star Spangled Banner, American children can recite the opening lines to Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are. Not that the affection for this tale stops in the US. Every school and nursery in Britain has a well-thumbed copy, and with sales of this picture book exceeding 19 million worldwide since its publication in 1963, mischievous little Max has become a global hero for children and parents longing for adventure — albeit only in their imagination. And now Max, together with the monsters he tames in the land of wild things, are movie stars.