BLACK Dog Books, the busy little publisher based in, Fitzroy, Melbourne, has elbowed its way into the limelight with three books on this year’s short list for information books at the Children’s Book Council awards. For good measure, it also has a book ( Carole Wilkinson’s Dragon Moon) on the younger readers list. The information books it has published suggest how cleverly and strategically it is thinking: Ned Kelly’s Jerilderie Letter , The Antarctica Book , and Kokoda Track . On the short list for early childhood books we again find two veterans of Australian children’s writing, Pamela Allen and Bob Graham. There’s a long lead time for these awards: the winners will be announced in August during Book Week. YANN Martel, the Booker Prize winner for Life of Pi , is continuing his campaign to inveigle the Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, into reading more books. The latest suggestion was The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway, but so far ( and Martel’s been compiling the list for a year) there’s been no word that Harper has taken the hint. Our PM, on the other hand, is set to read all 160 entries in his new literary awards. At least, we assume he’s going to take a few weeks off to do so, because otherwise how could he make the ‘‘ final decision on a short list and award winners’’? The fact that six very experienced people were engaged as judges without actually being told the PM was having the final say is either foolish or arrogant. AFTER the horrid silliness of Peter Jackson’s King Kong , are we feeling anything other than dread at the idea of a collaboration with Steven Spielberg on a planned trilogy of Tintin films? The ever- so- cute Thomas Sangster from the despicably saccharine Love, Actually is slated to play the title role. Kevin Rudd will be disappointed. THE last time we heard the term moral turpitude was possibly during that notorious trial of Sydney Sparkes Orr, accused of such for alleged seduction of a student in the 1950s ( and revisited by historian Cassandra Pybus in a book called Gross Moral Turpitude ). The term is still actively used by US immigration officials, as British writer Sebastian Horsley has discovered. He apparently spent eight hours at Newark international airport being questioned by Customs officials before they barred him from entering the US on the grounds of moral turpitude. The writer had been invited to the World Voices Festival of International Literature, to talk about his book, Dandy in the Underworld, a ‘‘ memoir of sex, drugs and flamboyant fashion’’. PEN America is fighting Horsley’s cause, saying he was singled out for Customs attention because he was wearing a top hat, long velvet coat and gloves. Dandy indeed. THE good folk of Castlemaine, Victoria, are up in arms about our recent slur on their fine, poetic town, threatening to mass in the grounds of the Old Castlemaine Gaol ( now a tourist hub) and burn effigies, chanting ‘‘ down with Overflow ’’ and other vigorous slogans. Barry Hill, Anthony Lawrence, Jaya Savige, Jayne Fenton Keane and Bob Adamson will be there on the Anzac Day weekend for the Australian Poetry Centre’s first national festival. So will Sam Hamill from the US, who founded Poets Against War, and Lorna Crozier from Canada. Program information from the APC website or ( 03) 9527 4063.
overflow@ theaustralian. com. au