CS Lewis. Photograph: Hulton Getty
Clive Staples Lewis, whose 111th birthday would have been celebrated on Sunday 29 November, can lay claim to being one of the key English intellectual authors of the mid-20th century. His work on philosophy, theology and English literature – in particular his studies of Milton and the poetry of the 16th-century – would have ensured his legacy, even if the views he expresses are unfashionable nowadays. But it's his fiction on which his claim truly rests, despite its being marginalised in discussions that tend to celebrate "serious" work for adults over innovative and influential books for children.
by Claire E. Gross
The second cinematic installment of Stephenie Meyer’s vampire romance series The Twilight Saga is best left for only the most devoted fans. Both book and movie follow the deepening friendship between heroine Bella and Jacob. A sweet, younger-brother type in the first movie, he’s suddenly bulked up to become a romantic counterpart to Edward: warm to Edward’s cold, present when Edward disappears without a trace (having been convinced by a paper-cut that Bella is better off without him). Meanwhile, Jacob is a werewolf, his tribe sworn to protect humankind from vampires — sorry, Edward — and vampire-with-a-grudge Victoria closes in on Bella. Oh yeah, and Bella’s depressed a lot.
For the first time there are two posthumous Costa nominations, one of which is for Siobhan Dowd in the children's book category for Solace of the Road. Judges said they were captivated by Dowd's story of a troubled teenager who embarks on a road trip back to her mother. Dowd died of cancer in August 2007 and all royalties now go to a fund for disadvantaged young people set up in her name.
Also on the children's shortlist is a novel that tackles a big, controversial subject: Anna Perera's Guantanamo Boy tells the story of Khalid, from Rochdale, who is arrested on a visit to Pakistan and soon finds himself in the US detention camp. Perera, who is married to Dire Straits founder David Knopfler, said she felt honoured to be shortlisted. "I didn't sleep a wink last night, I was completely flabbergasted."
Robbie Coltrane will voice the Gruffalo, which is at the heart of BBC1's Christmas schedule Photograph: BBC/MAGIC LIGHT COMPANY/BBC
As anyone who's ever had the pleasure of reading it will tell you, there's no such thing as a Gruffalo… And yet, in the 10 years since it was published in 1999, Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler's 700-word story has become something of a national institution. It's been translated around the world, turned into an audio book with Imelda Staunton and a stage play; earlier this month it even beat established classics such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Winnie The Pooh and Where the Wild Things Are in Jeremy Vine's quest on Radio 2 to find the nation's favourite bedtime story.
Spike Jonze on the set of Where the Wild Things Are, with its young star. Photograph: Warner Bros/Allstar
Dave Eggers: So here we are. It's always awkward doing this kind of thing together. If we wrote this the way we wrote the script, fighting over every word, it would probably take a year.
Spike Jonze: We should just have a conversation. Then we can fight over every word when we edit it.
DE: But let's be really eloquent. We can talk, and then after we transcribe the talk, we can make ourselves seem articulate.
SJ: Yes, we shall do that. It brings to mind something the bard once said: "Tis excellent to be spontaneous, tho better to be brilliant."
DE: He didn't say that.
SJ: He did. In one of his lesser-known plays, The Sisters of Hannah.
DE: So let's talk about Maurice Sendak, about the first time we saw him together. It was in the winter of 2003, I think. You and Maurice had known each other for a long time.
We have a working title for the film, and while there are still a handful of interviews to shoot, the editing is underway, with hopes of a finished cut by spring.
All in all, we have 33 interviews amounting to roughly 25 hours of primary footage that will go into making a finished film in the 75-to-85-minute range. Obviously, the generosity of so many prominent writers and illustrators with their time has been wonderful, and the happy problem will be to come to the finished product out of such a wealth of material.
The film’s first journeys will be to film festivals in 2010 and possibly into 2011. We’ll post here with news on that.
This is the production blog of The Library of the Early Mind, a feature-length documentary film about children’s literature directed by Edward J. Delaney and produced by Edward J. Delaney and Steven Withrow.
Visit the blog to watch excerpts of some of the interviews with authors like Natalie Babbitt, Lois Lowry, Maurice Sendak and Brian Selznick.
In its November issue, Country Living features a nifty project that turns a book into a bag. Now, I don't condone ripping apart a perfectly sound book for this, but it's a clever way to repurpose a book that's beyond saving.
More details and similar projects after the jump.
(Photo credit: Lara Robby/Studio D)
It goes without saying that you'll need a hardback book; the project also requires half a yard of fabric, a handle kit (found at any craft or hobby store), ribbon, a button and some free time.
Make a literary clock
Turn a book into a lampshade
Create an iPod case using a book
I wonder of we can turn this into a workshop for the kids at the Hub!