Between The Covers: 17/04/2011

Your weekly guide to what's really going on inside the world of books
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The Independent Culture

*Who are the mysterious Alex and Rory, the authors behind Simon & Schuster's brilliant spoof photo book, Will and Kate's Big Fat Gypsy Wedding: Photos from Our Big Day, Like?

Artistic, irreverent, well connected in publishing ... they couldn't, by any chance, be Simon & Schuster employees Alex and Rory Scarfe, the sons of the cartoonist Gerald, could they? Praise is already rolling in for the book, which has royal heads cleverly pasted on to gypsy bodies to unexpectedly hilarious effect. ("Brilliant. It made me laugh out loud!" – Harry Hill; "One very nearly wet oneself!" – Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II; "Too many foreigners ... other than that, it is good, clean fun" – The Duke of Edinburgh. And those are just the quotes that were printable in the press release.) Dad must be very proud.

*A glittering tiara, then, for Will and Kate's Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, and big sapphire ring to Fiona Goble's Knit Your Own Royal Wedding, the unexpected book tie-in success story of the whole wedding. It's a spell in the doghouse with the corgis, though, for Mills & Boon's attempt at jumping on the fairytale, horsedrawn bandwagon, with a series of Royal Romances, a special Wills'n'Kate mug and, for lucky literary editors, a limited edition packet of delicious, rose petal-scented Royal Tea. (Royalty. Get it?)

*It's a brave man who attempts to explain the most fundamental concepts of theoretical physics in the space of a tweet, but if anyone can do it, Marcus Chown can. Faber has just bought the rights to Tweeting the Universe: Very Short Courses on Very Big Ideas, by Chown and Govert Schilling. I hope that Chown finds space for a very short course from the legendary physicist Richard Feynman, by whom he was taught at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena in the 1980s. The young student Chown had constantly tried to interest his mum in science, with little success, and nervously asked the great Feynman to write to her. He did. "Dear Mrs Chown," he wrote. "Please ignore your son's attempts to teach you physics. Physics is not the most important thing. Love is. Richard Feynman."

*The American Library Association's annual list of most frequently banned books was published on Monday, and once again the most offensive book in the whole of the USA was And Tango Makes Three, the true story of two male penguins at New York's Central Park Zoo, who hatched and raised a baby chick. Meanwhile, a Harris Poll of 2,379 adults has shown that the majority of Americans do not approve of banning or censoring any books at all. Some 56 per cent think that no books should be banned completely, and those against banning are more likely to be Liberal and educated. Maybe if the others just read about the poor little orphan penguin ...

*If they don't like gay penguins, the book burners will hate the latest from Celebra Children's Books, which has signed gossip blogger Perez Hilton to do a picture book called The Boy With Pink Hair. It is, we're told, "the story of a child born with a shock of fabulous hair that sets him apart from his peers. While some find this difference hard to accept or understand, The Boy With Pink Hair uses the opportunity to find what makes him special." Then he flashes his knickers while getting out of a limo, and they all live happily ever after?