Who Next? A Guide to Children's Authors (2nd edition)

Bob Duckett (Reference Librarian (retired), Bradford)

Library Review

ISSN: 0024-2535

Article publication date: 1 June 2004




Duckett, B. (2004), "Who Next? A Guide to Children's Authors (2nd edition)", Library Review, Vol. 53 No. 5, pp. 287-288. https://doi.org/10.1108/00242530410538463



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

This book is for “parents, teachers and librarians in schools and public libraries to give children who have already enjoyed stories by one writer to find other authors they will enjoy reading”. The book lists 436 writers of children's fiction, and with each name suggests other authors who write in a similar way. Thus, if the Adrian Mole books by Sue Townsend have been enjoyed, then try books by Steve Barlow and Steve Skidmore, Morris Gliezman, Louise Rennison, and Jacqueline Wilson.

The authors are classified according to their audience age groups: 5‐7 years, 8‐11 and 12‐14. (Many authors feature in more than one). Within each author entry a genre indicator is given, usually several – Diaries and Humour in the case of Sue Townsend. There then follows a list of the authors who write on the same genre and theme, and also of style of writing, or similar aspects of characterization and settings. Finally, the relevant titles by the subject author are listed. There is a separate sequence for the 24 genres used, sub‐divided by age category, in which all the authors are listed (several times if they write in more than one genre and/or age group). As examples, Lisa Bruce and Jamila Gavin are listed under Other Cultures (5‐7); Richard Adams, A A Milne, Dodie Smith and 31 other authors under Animals (8‐11); while Robert Swindells and Benjamin Zephaniah are just two of the 83 authors listed under Social Issues (12‐14). There is an index of all the authors covered in one A‐Z sequence.

Some additional sections are included which relate to children's fiction (though not specifically to the “Who next?” theme of the title). There is a separate listing of 142 picture books authors for older readers in author/illustrator order with genre indicators. Fungus the Bogyman (Humour) and When the Wind Blows (War – Nuclear) are two of the eight titles listed for Raymond Briggs. Other extras are a list of series (Beginning to Read Series, Easy Readers Series, Novels, and Young Adult Series); Current Children's Book Prizes (with recent winners from an impressive array of 23 different awards – Kate Greenaway, the Sheffield Children's Book Award, etc.); and a bibliography (including periodicals and Web sites). The whole work is well designed, with highlighted page fore‐edges to assist quick navigation, and heavy art paper to cope with heavy use!

Of my own pre‐librarian reading, Blyton, Ransome and Beatrix Potter are in, but not Malcom Saville; of the books I read to my children, Dr Suess, Roald Dahl and C.S. Lewis are in, but not Dick Bruna; and of the books they read themselves, Terry Jones, Terry Pratchett and Sue Townsend are in, but not Hergé.

No bibliographical details are given – fair enough, but in places I found the content a touch too bleak. I would have welcomed more characterization about the author's work, or of the titles listed – brief one‐liners at least. Often, only the series title to an author's output is given rather than individual titles, so I can imagine valuable librarian‐time being wasted in finding titles and publishing details of, e.g. “The Time‐travelling Cat Series” of Julia Jarman, or the “Internet Detective Series” by Michael Coleman. I also frankly didn't fully understand the Series section: the meanings of “Harry Potter” (J.K. Rowling) and “Famous Five” (Enid Blyton) are obvious, but not “Adventure” (Enid Blyton) or “Disney” or “Swoppers” under the heading “Novels”.

However, there is no getting away from the fact that this rich directory of alternative authors will be a boon to librarians working with children.

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