Cover Stories: Sinéad Moriarty; Adrian Mole; Philip Pullman; <i>The Independent</i> and Children's Bookshow competition

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The Independent Culture

Yet again, an Irish novelist has caused publishers around the world to have palpitations. Penguin Ireland leaped on Sinéad Moriarty's The Baby Trail after the author sent a tentative email asking if anyone would be interested in reading her work-in-progress. Editor Patricia Deevy certainly was: the Dublin outpost is a newish operation, set up to cream off talent previously picked up by local publishers such as Poolbeg, who brought us Marian Keyes and Patricia Scanlan. No sooner had Deevy snapped it up than agent Gillon Aitken began heated auctions to Spain, Italy, France, Holland, Sweden, Greece and the US. Moriarty, who moved back to Dublin from London in August, will publish next October.

* It's been a while since we heard from Adrian Mole - The Cappuccino Years opened on the eve of the 1997 election and captured the optimism of those far-off days, even though Sue Townsend nailed her Old Labour colours firmly to the mast. Now she is at work on Adrian Mole and the Weapons of Mass Destruction. No date has been set, but the book seems certain to arrive before Bush and Blair unearth WMD.

* Philip Pullman fans won't want to miss the author in conversation with science writer John Gribbin. The event, chaired by Francine Stock, marks The Science of Philip Pullman and 'His Dark Materials' by John and Mary Gribbin (Hodder), who draw on chaos theory and quantum physics to answer many questions raised by Pullman's work. It's at UCL, Gower Street, London WC1 at 2.30pm on Sunday 7 December, and tickets can be bought at Borders Charing Cross Road, or via 020-7836 9485.

* The winner of The Independent and Children's Bookshow competition to win a trip to see Father Christmas is Anna Parry Jones of Bath. She wins a weekend with a child for two nights in Finnish Lapland and - a meeting with the bearded one himself. The prize was supplied by the specialists in theme travel, Liaisons Abroad.