Hear from our 2018 speakers

Programmers' notes - The brave new publishing world

The Bookseller Children’s Conference is now only two weeks away, and this year’s conference is bigger and better than ever before, with an expanded line-up, dual-stream programming and expert speakers from the book industry and beyond.

So why should you buy tickets? This year the conference has been split into two streams, one focused on publishing and the other delving into the world of other forms of storytelling such as film, TV, theatre and gaming. The format will enable us to explore books and their position in the wider entertainment world in real depth.

As part of the publishing stream we are welcoming some huge names—David Fickling and Peter Usborne among them—and we will be exploring the idea of operating in a global market. How can professionals and creatives make books for a worldwide audience while still catering for individual groups of readers? Hanna Otero, publisher at Lonely Planet Kids, manages offices in London and New York and she is kicking off the day, while Penguin Random House, Usborne and Beijing International Book Fair will also share their tips for global success.

In the newly unveiled media stream, we will hear from author M G Leonard and TV expert Nigel Pickard, previously controller of BBC Children’s, on how they are adapting the award-winning Beetle Boy series for the small screen. Economic consultant Eli Rezinsky will talk about the financial impact of book adaptations, and we will hear from the team behind CBeebies show “Pablo”, and the joint-m.d. of Lupus Films, Camilla Deakin, who has produced various animations such as "The Snowman and the Snowdog" and "We’re Going on a Bear Hunt".

We will also be exploring ways of reaching out to specific groups of readers. Why is the number of poetry readers on the rise? Where are the opportunities in non-fiction? How can publishers reach out to young people who don’t traditionally buy books? National Poetry Day, b small, Knights Of and more will help answer these questions.

There are still a limited number of tickets available but they are selling out fast, so book now to secure your seat. If you have any questions about the conference, don’t hesitate to contact us. We look forward to seeing you at County Hall on 24th September.

- Charlotte Eyre, children's editor at The Bookseller, and Heloise Wood, reporter at The Bookseller

Top funny books for children

Maz Evans, author and founder of BookBuddy, reveals her top five funny books for children.

The Twits by Roald Dahl
The original and still the best, this remains my favourite children’s book of all time. Quentin Blake’s illustrations of Mr Twit’s beard and bird pie still make me retch. As I age, I more closely resemble Mrs Twit. Bad for my ego, great for my World Book Day costume.

My Brother Is a Superhero by David Solomons
I suspect like many comedy writers, I’m horribly tricky to make laugh. But David’s books regularly have me emitting noises like a faulty kettle. He just has funny bones – the sibling rivalry at the heart of his books is so perfectly drawn and his asides are joyful.

Bad Nana by Sophy Henn
I was given this book earlier this year and it is already a firm family favourite. Sophy’s depiction of this naughty Nana has that Pixar-esque quality of hitting humour on multiple levels and the brilliant illustrations make this accessible for all ages.  

The Cow That Laid an Egg by Andy Cutbill, illustrated by Russell Ayto
Another big hit in my household, this glorious story of a cow who may or may not have laid an egg is so funny. I’m in awe of picture book writers, who squeeze so much into so few words and images.

A Children’s Treasury of Milligan by Spike Milligan
I love writing verse for kids and the late, great Spike Milligan is a huge influence for me. His ability to reflect reality through absurdity is simply pure comedy genius.

Maz Evans will be speaking about 'Connecting Books with Readers' at The Bookseller Children's Conference.

Exciting developments in international markets

Hanna Otero, publisher at Lonely Planet Kids, talks to The Bookseller about global markets.

Which is the most exciting international market at the moment?

China is a promising market for us, as it is for many other publishers. We've started working with Jieli in China. They'll be publishing the first of a large number of titles in the spring.

Which smaller markets are up-and-coming?

We're very excited about our first two LP Kids titles to be published in Latin America by a Mexican publisher later this year. We're also starting to do well with co-editions in Taiwan and Hong Kong.

Are there any UK books or trends that have taken off overseas? Which ones and where?

When we presented our recent title 101 Small Ways to Change the World at Bologna, we heard strong interest from a variety of foreign publishers for books promoting positive values and how to be a good world citizen.

How important is overseas business to your company?

As a publisher that specialises in teaching people about the world, overseas business is important for us not just from a revenue perspective but also from a brand perspective, to extend our global reach.  Lonely Planet Kids allows us to take the Lonely Planet brand to new territories and new audiences.

Will Brexit change the market? If so, how?

If only we knew!  On a practical level, we have no idea what the impact will be because the terms haven't been agreed yet. Perhaps we might see a renewed interest from children and young people in economics and politics. Who knows?

Hanna Otero will deliver a keynote speech about ‘Inspiring Kids About the World, Around the World’ at The Bookseller Children’s Conference 2018.


Amy Wilkerson, head of international sales at Penguin Random House Children's, talks to The Bookseller about the international markets and which countries she is excited about.

Which is the most exciting international market at the moment?
I’m most excited by the huge potential of the China market. Our pre-school sales have grown significantly over the last couple of years and it’s exciting to consider what the long-term possibilities of this are. Creatively, it’s a very fulfilling market to work with because of the innovations and responsiveness of our customers there.
Which smaller markets are up-and-coming?
Lots of Eastern European markets are seeing consistent growth in the children’s space and I think this is set to continue. Alongside an increased interest in English language learning at a young age, markets like Poland have some incredible local publishers producing beautiful and exciting content for children which means there is more room given over to children’s titles in store.
Are there any UK books or trends that have taken off overseas? Which ones and where?
I think in our publishing global landscape it’s hard to pinpoint trends as originating from any one country, we are all amplified by each other. One of the best things  about working in international is seeing the different ways trends have played out in different markets, for example seeing how books on feminism for children have been embraced in a multitude of ways across different markets, and how trends such as illustrated non-fiction are adapted by publishers for the markets they are based in. I’m a huge fan of Aotearoa by Gavin Bishop which is a sumptuously illustrated guide to the story of New Zealand. I love how they’ve taken a global trend and made it personal to them.

Amy Wilkerson is talking about 'Sharing Stories in a Global Language' at The Bookseller's Children's Conference 2018.

Top children's books by British BAME creators

Knights Of co-founder Aimée Felone picks out her top five titles by British BAME authors, illustrators and poets.

Pig Heart Boy by Malorie Blackman (Corgi Children’s)
Ultimately this a story about a kid that just wants to be normal but it is so much more than that! Pig Heart Boy has everything - a gripping plot, a likeable main character and most importantly, heart.

Billy and the Beast by Nadia Shireen (Penguin Random House Children's)
Nadia’s illustrations are so vibrant that her full-of-life characters quite literally jump off the page. Billy is the hero that we should all be striving to be; she’s fearless and resourceful. I just wish my hair could carry useful things in it too!

 The Boy in the Tower by Polly Ho-Yen (Corgi Children’s)
Polly’s writing is absorbing, addictive and falls on the right side of unusual. The Boy in the Tower is a modern day gripping sci-fi that explores more than just the weird goings on of the city, but also shows the beauty of the mother-son relationship and how important friends are.

Liccle Bit by Alex Wheatle (Atom)
I absolutely love the characters in Liccle Bit, mainly because Alex has kept their voices, dialogue and language true and authentic. A story wrapped around decisions made and not made, shows just how important family and friendship is and how keeping a secret can be the hardest and most dangerous thing to do.

Among the Hairyboos and Smoothyboos by John Agard (poem from The Rainmaker Danced, published by Hodder)
John Agard’s poems are hilarious! They encourage you to embrace and explore your silly and playful side and are best read aloud. His creativity is plain to see on the page but what sticks with you is Agard’s ability to balance poignant messages of love over hate.

Aimée Felone will be speaking at The Bookseller Children's Conference about her experience of co-founding the inclusive children’s publisher, Knights Of.

Children's book marketing and PR campaigns

Paul Black, PR director at Andersen Press, talks about some of the best marketing and PR campaigns from the children’s book industry over the past year.

World Book Day

It’s pretty ubiquitous now, and such a major part of the publishing year, but I feel like WBD 2018 needs a shout-out for really battling through a lot. From the ‘celeb books controversy’ to snow-maggeddon, they rose up to create a positive campaign that reacted well  and quickly to everything thrown at them and they reached more children than any other campaign all year. For that they deserve a lot of praise!

Clean by Juno Dawson (Hachette Children’s Books)

Cast your mind back to the early summer… we were all still delighting in warm days (and not fed up of melting at our desks or on a train or in a school event!) and you literally couldn’t open a newspaper, magazine or look on twitter without seeing Juno and hearing
about her amazingly entertaining YA novel Clean. Her team took a star on the rise and rode that wave as far as they could - well done them.

Proud anthology (Little Tiger Group)

So,  this book isn’t even out for six months or more, and I’m already fully hyped! The Stripes team have built on their incredible job with the A Change is Gonna Come campaign and made me excited for the next step. I’m desperate to read it.

Walker Books’ Big Picture Books list on Instagram

This isn’t so much a campaign, but an amazing Instagram feed from the Walker Books guys, who are showcasing their enviable picture book list in a unique way. I love what they’ve been doing with Instagram take-overs with some of their award winning artists; Catherine Rayner, Jon Klassen and Jarvis a few highlights recently, plus the absolute coup de grace of a Ru Paul mention for the beautiful Julian is a Mermaid - talk about breaking the internet!

They are using the platform in the best way, to create and curate using the best asset they have; their artists and their art! I’m not sorry to say we at Andersen are starting to do similar - imitation is the highest form of flattery!

Paul Black who will be revealing the secrets behind Andersen Press’ ‘The Battle of the Monsters: Justice for Mr Underbed’ campaign at The Bookseller Children’s Conference 2018.

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