Blog Tour: The Dragon in the Bookshop by Ewa Jozefkowicz

I am delighted to be kicking off the blog tour to mark publication of Ewa Jozefkowicz’s latest novel for children, The Dragon in the Bookshop. This moving story is inspired by the author’s own personal experience of childhood bereavement and told with a tender understanding. Ewa Josefkowicz weaves together a contemporary tale of grief and a traditional Polish legend in a book that will reassure and encourage young readers.

Cover illustration by Katy Riddell

Konrad’s Dad always used to say, “There is a character in a book somewhere that matches you almost entirely. It’s just a matter of finding them.” After his Dad dies suddenly Konrad stops talking completely and finds comfort in the things they shared together such as exploring the beach and reading favourite stories. Through these things Kon feels just a little closer to the father he misses so much, however still he remains silent. One day at the beach he meets Maya who is kind and friendly and does not mind his quietness. Together the two new friends visit the family bookshop Kon’s Dad loved so much before it is finally closed. Whilst reading a book together they are whisked back in time and find themselves quite literally ‘lost in a book’ and on a quest to defeat a dragon and save a town. This adventure will encourage Konrad and Maya to discover what is most important to them, find their voices and pursue a happy ending in both the book and real life.

Ewa Jozefkowicz’s writing style is thoughtful and compassionate bringing a poignancy to this combination of magical adventure and exploration of grief. The importance of stories, and in particular the sharing of stories, is threaded thought the plot and I find it touching how this both comforts and guides our two young characters. The folklore element is well done and the story within the story gives this an appeal to those who enjoy books containing time slips or portals to other worlds. Yet this does not feel like a fantasy to me rather more like a spiritually comforting read. As a reader you are left with the impression that those we have loved and lost are not really lost at all but with us through the things we have shared together and perhaps most particularly in the stories we enjoyed together.

The Dragon in the Bookshop contains excitement and bravery, grief and loss, friendship and family and two wonderful protagonists in Konrad and Maya. A winning mix of magic, adventure and thoughtfulness this is a story that will appeal to many and raise the profile of Grief Encounter, a charity close to the author’s heart.

Ewa has written a lovely inspirational piece about charity Grief Encounter and why she wanted to support their work and write The Dragon in the Bookshop which I am sharing below:

The Dragon in the Bookshop is a book about many things – a dragon, a dinosaur, a yellow-bellied lizard, a girl who speaks to it in Portuguese, and a peculiar old lady who lives in a cathedral turret and has mysterious holes in her sleeves. But it’s also a book about grief and the importance of having the right people around you to help find yourself again.

It’s been many years since I’d lost my dad while at secondary school. At the time, I was lucky enough to have an incredible group of supportive friends, and a couple of teachers who went out of their way to check in on me. But I didn’t know anyone who had gone through the same experience as me, nor anyone who I could regularly talk to outside of the school and family setting. I felt keenly that I needed more support, but I wasn’t even sure what to ask for.

At intervals throughout my adult life, I’ve found myself experiencing periods of grief which often took me by surprise. They didn’t seem to be triggered by anything in particular and they left me questioning why this was happening so many years after my dad’s death. It took me a long time to realise it was because I hadn’t dealt with it effectively at the time. 

I found out about the brilliant work of Grief Encounter when I was already in my mid-twenties. For me, it was immediately obvious that their work forms that crucial, missing piece of support. It provides counselling, a Grieftalk helpline, workshops, retreats, and family days. And what’s perhaps most important – it connects people who have been through similar experiences. 

When I started to write The Dragon in the Bookshop, which is about a boy called Kon who loses his dad, I wanted to raise awareness for Grief Encounter through my book. Why? Because I want every reader to know about the charity’s existence – it just might be that invaluable source of support for them or someone they know.

Ewa Jozefkowicz

The Dragon in the Bookshop by Ewa Jozefkowicz (front cover illustration by Katy Riddell) is out on 7th July 2022 and will help promote Grief Encounter (www.griefencounter.org.uk) a wonderful charity that works with children who have lost someone they love. 

Grief Encounter have a message for children and young people like Kon. As a charity they work closely with individuals, families, schools and professionals to offer a way through the anxiety, fear and isolation so often caused by the grief of losing someone close.

Grief Encounter provide immediate support with a FREEPHONE Grieftalk helpline 0808 802 0111 open Mon-Fri 9am-9pm, a live chat via their website or support by emailing grieftalk@griefencounter.org.uk.

I should like to thank Ewa Jozefkowicz, Fritha Lindqvist and Zephyr Books for their help in preparing this blog post. Do please follow the rest of the tour to find out more about this kind and thoughtful story.

 

 

Posted in Book Review | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Reading Matters – children’s book news

Welcome to this week’s look at what has been happening in the world of children’s books.

What I’m reading…

This coming Friday I will be kicking off the blog tour arranged to coincide with the publication of The Dragon in the Bookshop by Ewa Jozefkowicz. Ewa always writes with sensitivity, creating thoughtful yet exciting adventures and often encompassing big themes in her books. The Dragon in the Bookshop whilst being an exciting story is also an exploration of grief and coping with loss wrapped up in Polish folklore and the importance of sharing stories. I think it’s a wise book for children and you can find out more about the inspiration for the story in Ewa’s guest piece on the blog next Friday.

My latest batch of books to review for the School Library Association’s quarterly journal, TSL, arrived this week and I was delighted to find Writes of Passage: Words to Read Before You Turn 13 Selected by Nicolette Jones among the selection. Oh I wish this had been available when I was coming up to 13! However it is just as enjoyable, thoughtful and wise for an adult reader. As I started reading I was going to make a note of those pieces of writing that resonated particularly with me. I soon gave up as they all did. This is a beautiful book, valuable for school libraries and perfect as a gift. Over the last few days I have kept returning to this compilation and Nicolette’s insightful and thoughtful commentary accompanying each piece and know I’m not going to be able to part with this book.

News, articles and resources…

Reading for Pleasure Padlet – Jon Biddle has generously added an article about his Reading Champions initiative plus a sample application form to his Padlet. This is a resource worth investigating if you have not already seen it.

Around the World in Eighty* Ways – I’m enjoying Roy James’ guest blogs on the Just Imagine website immensely and this one has introduced me to some titles of which I was unaware. Roy discusses the place of atlases and maps in education but also the pleasure that many derive from these sources of information too. I’ve bookmarked this to refer back to as I want to read so many of the books mentioned.

The Portable Magic Dispenser Episode 9 Collaboration and Co-Creation – former School Librarian of the Year, Lucas Maxwell, spoke at the recent School Library Association Conference on the subject of school librarians and collaboration. Lucas has generously shared the key points from his presentation on his podcast and this is definitely worth a listen as Lucas, as ever makes, some valuable and helpful points. Suitable for both school librarians and teachers.

PaperBound Magazine Summer Discovery Issue 2022 – PaperBound Magazine is an online magazine for the young, and the young at heart. They are dedicated to showcasing authors and illustrators for children’s and young adult fiction and strive to deliver inspiring content, uplifting stories, and top tips for young and aspiring writers yet to burst on to the literary scene. The special summer issue includes interviews with Anne Cassidy, Katie Clapham and Natasha Devon, reviews of new books, plus new writing and illustration.

Books For Topics Summer Reading Bingo – A reading bingo challenge to keep children motivated to read over the summer holidays. The focus is on reading for pleasure experiences rather than specific texts, with activities like make a den and read inside, read in the dark using a torch and read to a pet or a soft toy. Children can choose what they read for the challenges, although Alison Leach at Books for Topics has included some Summer 2022 recommended reads for those looking for new ideas.

Malorie Blackman’s ‘dynamic imaginary worlds’ win her the PEN Pinter prize – Noughts & Crosses author Malorie Blackman has become the first children’s and YA writer to be awarded the PEN Pinter prize. The prize is given by English PEN annually to a writer of “outstanding literary merit” who is based in the UK, Ireland or the Commonwealth.

Reading is Magic Festival – the Reading is Magic Festival is back from 26th – 30th September with a five-day online programme packed full of magical events from bestselling authors & illustrators from around the globe. The full programme is available via the link above and includes Gareth P. Jones, Cressida Cowell, Joseph Coelho, Sophie Anderson plus a special Read for Empathy event. Well worth a browse!

Bath Children’s Literature Festival – Europe’s largest dedicated children’s literature festival with a vibrant array of talks and activities for children will return Friday 23rd September – Sunday 2nd October 2022. You can browse the packed programme of events via the link above and booking for the general public opens in 1st July.

BookTrust unveils exciting new interactive books being included in Bookstart Baby bags – Bookstart Baby is designed to encourage families to start reading with their children as early as possible, and every baby born in England, Wales and Northern Ireland is entitled to a pack. Each bag includes two books, finger puppets and an information sheet that explains the benefits of sharing stories and rhymes with babies. Find out which books are included in the article linked above.

James Cropper Wainwright Prize Longlists Announced – 23rd June saw the announcement of the longlists for each of the three categories in the 2022 JAMES CROPPER WAINWRIGHT PRIZE, including the all-new children’s prize. This is welcome news and the long list includes some gems, in both fiction and non-fiction. Award-winning teenage naturalist, Dara McAnulty, the winner of the 2020 Nature Writing Prize, is longlisted for the Children’s Prize for his multi-sensory guide to exploring the nature on your doorstep while Katya Balen is nominated for her 2022 Yoto Carnegie Award winner, October, October. The full long list plus more information about the awards can be found on the official website linked above.

Tony Mitton: Books For Keeps Authorgraph – I was sad to learn of the death of poet Tony Mitton last weekend. He was one of the first creators of children’s literature I booked to visit when I became a school librarian. A kind and gentle man whose work was enjoyed by a wide age range and I have fond memories of the happy day he spent with the children. Nikki Gamble’s interview with Tony from 2014 linked above sheds light on his approach to poetry. If you would like to discover more of his work you many like to visit the Children’s Poetry Archive.

Shortlist for 2022 SLA Information Book Award (IBA) Announced – Now in its twelfth year, the IBA aims to emphasise the importance of non-fiction by highlighting and celebrating the high standard of children’s information books. The awards are divided into three age categories, judged by a panel of educators. Children will then also have the opportunity to vote for their favourites in each group, as well as their favourite overall, to determine four additional Children’s Choice winners. This year’s shortlist is made up of 10 titles, drawing on themes of science, art and diversity.

2022 YA Book Prize Shortlist Announced – there are 10 titles on the shortlist for the YA Book Prize 2022, run by The Bookseller in a strong year for debut talent, with the winner to be announced at the Edinburgh International Book Festival.

Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised: Extraordinarily Ordinary – teacher Dean Boddington has written a blog for Everybody Read sharing his own experience and recommending five superb books for all primary ages to enable children with disabilities to see themselves. As Dean says, “We need to be seeing more disabled characters that are having adventures, living normal lives, defeating monsters, and saving the world alongside their disability, not because of it.”

Finally, some book reviews that caught my eye this week…

Martha Maps It Out by Leigh Hodgkinson – the Books for Keeps Book of the Week is a picture book to pair perfectly with the Around The World blogpost by Roy James linked above. “Every page is a treat with so much for young readers to explore and it’s delightfully positive, celebrating all the opportunities Martha has for adventure and discovery.”

Hetty and the Battle of the Books by Anna James illustrated by Jez Tuya – although I’m not the target audience for this Barrington Stoke title due out next month this sounds like the perfect book for me. Veronica Price in her enthusiastic review describes the story as, “a funny, thoughtful, powerful manifesto for the necessity of having a library and a trained librarian in every school, published in fully accessible format so that it can be read and enjoyed by the very individuals to whom a library often matters the most.” Irresistible!

Alex Neptune: Dragon Thief by David Owen – when teacher Tom Griffiths shared this review it was his comment ‘an ending to rival Free Willy!’ that prompted me to read further. I really like the sound of this adventure and have a feeling it may be a popular summer holiday read.

The Battle of Cable Street by Tanya Landman Illustrated by Sara Mulvanny – a book of the month selection on LoveReading4Kids this Barrington Stoke title is a “Vivid telling of a slice of our history many would prefer to forget” With content suitable for teens and a reading age of 8+ this book should be popular in secondary school libraries.

That’s everything for this week and I hope that among all the links included there is something that appeals to you. Happy reading.

Posted in Reading Matters Children’s Book News | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Reading Matters – children’s book news

Welcome to this week’s look at was has been happening in the world of children’s books. The highlight of this week has been the announcement of the winners of the Yoto Carnegie and Greenaway Medals and you can read more about that in the links below. On Tuesday we held our Surrey Branch of the School Library Association Summer Term Meeting at Heaths Educational Books. It’s great to be meeting up in person once more and Heaths are welcoming hosts. Our focus was the role and future of non-fiction in the school library and prompted loads of discussion. This is a subject of importance to both librarians and publishers and one that requires collaboration in the future.

What I’m reading…

Last weekend I finished reading Noah’s Gold by Frank Cottrell Boyce. What a delight this story is and it did lift my spirits. One aspect of the story I particularly like is the resilience shown by the children as this is both encouraging and inspiring for young readers. This emphasis on what children are capable of is particularly important, I think, after their experiences during the COVID pandemic. Definitely recommended! You may like to read Veronica Price’s excellent review which I think captures the spirit of the book perfectly .

Phil Earle is receiving a great deal of attention at the moment, deservedly so, for his award winning When the Sky Falls and his latest book While the Storm Rages. However don’t let his new ‘Little Gem’ for Barrington Stoke slip through the net! SuperNan’s Day Out is entertaining, great fun and perfect for younger children just starting to read fiction independently. The humorous illustrations by Steve May and the dyslexia friendly format make this an appealing package to many.

Autumn Moonbeam: Dance Magic is the first in a new series by Emma Finlayson Palmer and is fully illustrated by Heidi Cannon. A story full of magic, family, friendship and dreams and containing positive representation of disability too. This will be published on 7th July by UClan Publishing and is lovely for age 7+.

News, articles and resources…

YOTO Carnegie and Greenaway Winners Announced – The winners of the UK’s longest running book awards for children and young people, the Yoto Carnegie Greenaway Awards were announced on Thursday in a ceremony at The British Library. The Yoto Carnegie Medal was awarded to Katya Balen for her second novel October, October (Bloomsbury), illustrated by Angela Harding and Danica Novgorodoff’s illustrated edition of Jason Reynold’s 2019 Carnegie-shortlisted book, Long Way Down (Faber) won the Yoto Kate Greenaway Medal – the first graphic novel to win since Raymond Briggs’ Father Christmas in 1973. Many congratulations to the winners.

Saved By Stories: Joy Court Interviews 2022 Carnegie Medal Winner Katya Balen for Books for Keeps – this insight into the background to this year’s winner of both the Carnegie Medal and the Shadowers’ Choice is an interesting read.

Nikki Gamble’s Book Blast for June 2022 – Book Blast is a monthly round-up of some of the best children’s books published this month. For teachers, student teachers, librarians and anyone interested in children’s books and reading. It is excellent and extremely helpful so if you missed Nikki’s latest round up it is available to watch on YouTube via the link above.

The Teachers’ Collection: Stories to Support the Curriculum – Mary Myatt shared this new initiative last weekend. Selected high quality texts with ideas as to how they link to a programme of study with draft outline plans included. The collection will be gradually added to and this will no doubt be worth following.

The Reading Agency and Open University Teachers’ Reading Challenge – The Teachers’ Reading Challenge is an opportunity for school and library staff to expand their knowledge of contemporary children’s books and develop their understanding of reading for pleasure pedagogy. The 2022 Teachers’ Reading Challenge runs from 27 June to 29 October and full details of how to get involved can be found via the link above.

Badger Learning Free Reading Resources for Ukrainian Pupils – Badger Learning have translated and published a range of six dual language English–Ukrainian eBook PDFs for schools and families. They have consulted with authors and commissioned professional translators to work on these books and are able to offer them to schools and families to download free of charge. These are suitable for children in KS2 and KS3 (ages 8–14) and are ideal learning resources to support children in building fluency in reading in English. Full details of how to register for these are available on the link above.

Teachers Make Readers (and writers) by Danielle Davis – this guest post on The Nerdy Book Club by Danielle Davis highlights the huge long term impact. a teacher may have on a child. The article focuses on the importance of reading aloud in the classroom and the opening up of the world of language. It’s a beautiful read and worth setting five minutes aside to savour.

Picked With Pride – educator Matthew Courtney shares a rainbow of book recommendations for all ages suitable for Pride Month on the Letters and Sounds Everybody Read campaign on the Letters and Sounds website.

How Bookbuzz encouraged independent reading in my school – Charlie Hield, English teacher at Sidestrand Hall School, talks about how Bookbuzz has encouraged independent reading for his Year 7 and 8 students. You can find out more about Bookbuzz and sign up via the link too.

The Reading Agency’s June Booklist for Children & Young People – Around the World/Refugee Week – helpful lists compiled by The Reading Agency, one celebrating books set in different countries and those by authors and illustrators from around the world. Be transported to Mumbai, Paris, Nigeria and many other locations across the globe and discover Samurai and the Northern Lights. The second booklist focuses specifically on books written by and about refugees or former refugees to mark Refugee Week, which takes place from 20-26 June 2022. Here you will find picture books, middle grade books and YA titles that explore the struggles, achievements, bravery, resilience and strength of refugees around the world.

Refugee Week 2022 event: in conversation with Tom Palmer – a reminder of this National Literacy Trust event for teachers and pupils on Monday 20 June from 10.30 to 11.00. They will discuss with Tom how to approach writing sensitively and appropriately about the experiences of refugees, and how we can offer support to them. Tom’s historical fiction has powerfully addressed the impact of war and experiences of displacement, notably in his acclaimed title After the War, and his new book, Resist.

Summer Reading Challenge x StoryTrails – StoryTrails is a unique, immersive storytelling experience. It aims to allow local people to experience their town in a completely new way through immersive technology, including augmented and virtual reality. People will be able to use this new technology to travel back in time, experiencing untold histories from their local community. This pack brings together StoryTrails and the Summer Reading Challenge, providing activities to help children and young people explore the themes of innovation, technology and immersive storytelling. Full details free to download via the link.

Lupus Films Adapts ‘Storm Whale’ Books to Animated Trilogy – Benji Davies’ “Storm Whale” children’s books are getting an animated adaptation from Lupus Films, the studio behind the adaptation of Judith Kerr’s “The Tiger Who Came to Tea.” The lovely teaser trailer video is worth a watch.

Children’s and teens roundup – the best new picture books and novels – Imogen Russell Williams’ June selection includes While The Storm Rages by Phil Earle and Fight Back by A M Dassu plus non-fiction and picture books ideal for the summer holidays.

Read for Refugees Sunflower Challenge – Read for Refugees Sunflower Challenge is the School Library Association’s sponsored read initiative in support of Ukrainian refugees and has now been extended until 1st September. This makes it perfect for a summer reading idea for schools and there is an introductory video, FAQ, registration details etc. available via the link above.

Finally, some book reviews that caught my eye this week…

Slug Love by Cath Jones, illustrated by Craig Shuttlewood – at the moment slugs don’t feature high on my love list thanks to what they’ve done to my baby courgette plants however this new picture book may yet convert me. Author Cath Jones shares her love of gardening and the inspiration for Slug Love on Emma Kuyateh’s blog.

Rex: Dinosaur in Disguise by Elys Dolan – a brand new highly-illustrated chapter book from the creator of Weasels, a picture book I love, definitely tempted me this week. As part of this week’s blog tour Jo Cummins has reviewed this and provided a glimpse of one of the pages too. This looks absolutely perfect for newly confident readers.

When I See Blue By Lily Bailey – this debut middle grade novel reviewed on My Book Corner tackles the subject of OCD and is “the perfect example of how reading has the power to promote empathy and understanding.” A book I will now be on the look out for and one worth bearing in mind for school libraries.

Three Girls by Katie Clapham – published earlier this month this sounds great for lovers of Holly Smale and Louise Rennison and this enthusiastic review by Kate Hitchings for Just Imagine has tempted me too. Kate says, “This is a book that could help teenagers confront some serious issues. In school, it could help with the pastoral support of pupils facing friendship issues, struggling with decisions or feeling trapped in circumstances.”

That’s everything for this week and I hope you have found it helpful. This weekend I am hoping to finish reading The Dragon in the Bookshop by Ewa Jozefkowicz in readiness for the blog tour taking place to mark its publication on 7th July. I hope you find time for some reading too. If any of the books mentioned this week have tempted you don’t forget Independent Bookshop Week starts today!

Posted in Reading Matters Children’s Book News | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Reading Matters – children’s book news

Welcome to the latest round up of what has been happening in the world of children’s books recently. The highlight of this week has been Empathy Day with it trending on Twitter and many sharing thoughts, activities, suggested books and their Empathy resolutions. I’ve included a link to the official website below so you can catch up with what you may have missed.

A personal highlight for me this week was Nikki Gamble’s Audience with Frank Cottrell-Boyce who has long been one of my favourite children’s authors. He is just as funny, entertaining and kind as you would imagine from his stories.

What I’m reading…

Well I finally managed to read While the Storm Rages by Phil Earle and it is just as special as I hoped it would be. It is wise and kind, utterly believable, both hilariously funny and heartbreakingly sad in the turn of a page. There are children and animals you grow to love, friendships made and tested, courage found and lessons learned, this is a wonderful book and a perfect follow up to the award winning When the Sky Falls.

This week in preparation for the Frank Cottrell-Boyce event mentioned above I have been reading Frank’s latest book, Noah’s Gold and it is an absolute joy. It’s been a welcome distraction for me this week and has actually made me ‘laugh out loud’ in many places during the story. A wry look at our dependence on and use of technology and full of kindly wisdom about family relationships and friendship. And food! I have nearly finished it and think it’s a real mood lifter of a book.

Last week I took part in the The Boy Who Grew A Tree blog tour timed to coincide with National Children’s Gardening Week. This is such a lovely book, I enjoyed it very much and think its kind, inclusive and thoughtful fable like quality makes it a great read aloud for KS1/Lower KS2.

Although I had seen others mention the popular series by Jen Carney, The Accidental Diary of B.U.G., I knew little about it other than its appeal to fans of Tom Gates. Over the long bank holiday weekend I decided to put that right and read the third in the series, Sister Act. From the first page I understood why these books are popular. The first person narrative by the ever optimistic Billie is appealing and full of humour and the illustrations include witty detail too. However what I did not anticipate was the kind and inclusive nature of the story which promotes tolerance and understanding in a gentle way. A brilliant book to highlight during Pride Month. The portrayal of Billie’s family, her two mums and the theme of adoption are all included in a natural and realistic manner. I’m converted and must read the first two books soon.

I have recently discovered the new publiser, Neon Squid, who are creating stylish non-fiction to engage curious children in a variety of topics. You may like to read my reviews of two of their titles published in April, The Book of Sisters and The Hospital. Roy James’ recent blogpost for Just Imagine, linked below, prompted me to review some recent books from small publishers, both fiction and nonfiction and suitable for a wide age range.

News, articles and resources…

Life-changing Libraries – first up on this week’s links as it’s a subject I feel strongly about. This week saw the release of a report on the impact of our Children’s Laureate, Cressida Cowell’s, Life Changing Libraries initiative. As Cressida ends her term as Laureate we owe her a debt of thanks for all she has done to highlight the importance of primary school libraries. The report, the accompanying video and the Book Trust round up, all available via the link above, are important and I hope they are shared widely.

Cressida Cowell renews call for £100m investment in primary school libraries – article in the Guardian reporting on the Life Changing Libraries impact report and quotes from Cressida Cowell.

Empathy Day 2022 – Thursday 9th June saw schools and libraries across the country mark Empathy Day in a variety of ways. The excellent website includes activities, book lists, resources and videos which enable us to turn every day in to an empathy day.

Book Trust: Books We Love for June – every month the Book Trust team select their favourite books in different age categories. This month’s books include While the Storm Rages, All to Play For and Eye Spy, all of which I would recommend too. I’ve added Smile Out Loud and One Time to my wish list.

The Reader Teacher: Books I’m Most Excited About for June – Scott Evans has put together his ‘coming soon’ selection for this month and this includes non-fiction and picture books alongside novels. I was pleased to see The Encyclopedia of STEM Words from b small publishing featured as I think this would be excellent for school libraries.

Children’s and teens roundup: the best new chapter books – Marcus Rashford channels Scooby-Doo, more girls solve mysteries, while two historical young Black Britons join forces in theatreland in books chosen by Kitty Empire.

Vote in the InspiREAD 2022 book awards – Nottinghamshire Education Library Service librarians have shortlisted some of their favourite books for the second InspiREAD awards. There will be a winner in each of the three categories: Picture Books, Shorter Books and Longer Novels. You can see the shortlisted books and find out more via the link above.

Being a good ally with A.M. Dassu, author of FIGHT BACK – Wednesday 15th June, 11am, hosted by Scholastic. Join award-winning author A.M. Dassu for a workshop exploring identity, freedom of expression and allyship. In this session you will be introduced to Dassu’s new upper middle grade novel, Fight Back, and examine its themes. This event is recommended for ages 10 and above.

Scottish Book Trust: Graphic Novels for Children – Looking for children’s graphic novel recommendations? Look no further! This list compiled by Marianne Doherty for Scottish Book Trust contains some of her favourite graphic novel and comic book reads, ideal for readers looking for new and exciting titles.

Small Publishers are a Big Deal – another great blog for Just Imagine by Roy Moss, this time highlighting the important contribution smaller publishers make to the world of children’s books. Some of my own favourite publishers feature in this article and there are links to tempting book collections to explore.

WIN £1,000/€1,000 to help your school rebuild their library – National Book Tokens are giving five schools £1,000/€1,000 of National Book Tokens each, plus membership to the School Library Association. Nominate your school via the link above , and if yours is one of the five winning entries, you’ll also win a £100/€120 National Book Token for yourself! Closing date 29th July.

Refugee Week 2022 event: in conversation with Tom Palmer – the National Literacy Trust invites teachers and pupils to join them on Monday 20 June from 10.30 to 11.00 as they discuss with Tom how to approach writing sensitively and appropriately about the experiences of refugees, and how we can offer support to them. Tom’s historical fiction has powerfully addressed the impact of war and experiences of displacement, notably in his acclaimed title After the War, and his new book, Resist.

Using illustration to develop reading and writing: free online CPD – the British Library are hosting this free virtual event on Wednesday 22nd June from 4 -5pm for primary teachers. Featuring Charlotte Hacking, Learning and Programmes Director at the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education, Yu Rong, illustrator and Viviane Schwarz, writer and illustrator, it will be full of ideas to inspire young authors and illustrators.

Stream the 2022 Yoto Carnegie Greenaway Awards Ceremony – the 2022 Yoto Carnegie Greenaway Medals and Shadowers’ Choice Awards Ceremony will be available to stream online on Thursday 16 June at 12pm. Hosted by poet and author, Dean Atta, live from the British Library, Dean will be joined by this year’s Chair of Judges, Jen Horan with special speeches and Q&A’s with the Medal winners.

Five games for children to play in their school library – Library consultant Sarah Pavey shares five simple games that primary school children can play in their library that encourage reading – even for those less interested in books. Sarah has written a book on this subject and runs training courses through the School Library Association which you may be interested in too. Her website has more details.

Finally, some book reviews that caught my eye this week…

Keeping the Words Safe: The Keeper of Wild Words by Brooke Smith – this picture book highlighting both the relationship between a child and a grandparent and the importance of nature described by Mary Esther Judy as, “A gorgeous book to ignite curiosity and hope; encouraging, happy, tender, warm and wonderful” sounds delightful.

The Secret Life of Birds by Moira Butterfield and Vivian Mineker – like many others I enjoy watching from my kitchen window as a variety of birds visit our bird feeders. Having read Sue Magee’s review of this new book I think, although chiefly suitable for the 7-11 audience, I may learn something from reading it too. “It’s a fun book to read and best of all, you don’t feel as though you’ve been educated when you turn the final page. It’s a book which could set a child up with an interest which could stay with them throughout their life.”

Zo and the Forest of Secrets by Alake Pilgrim – another great book from Knights Of and another great review by Reading Teacher, Ben Harris. Described by Ben as a ‘magic-realist novel’ this review has tempted me and Ben’s suggested points for discussion are both thoughtful and interesting. This is a really helpful review for teachers for use in the classroom and for school librarian for book club conversations.

When Shadows Fall by Sita Brahmachari – it’s always good when someone you know personally recommends a book to you so I’m sharing Helen Morgan’s review for Just Imagine of this new YA title. Helen describes this story as “one of the most powerful and moving books that I have read for a long time” and recommends it for Yr9+. I have earmarked it for part of my summer reading.

That’s everything for this week and it has turned into a bit of a bumper issue! Next week we have the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Award announcements to look forward to. I confess to a favourite for the Carnegie so will have my fingers crossed. On Tuesday our Surrey Branch of the School Library Association is holding our summer meeting at Heath Books on the subject of non-fiction in the school library so I will let you know how that goes next week. Happy reading!

Posted in Reading Matters Children’s Book News | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

New Children’s Books – small publishers making a big difference

Recently I read an article on the Just Imagine website with which I found myself nodding in agreement. Roy James is a school librarian and writes regular blogs for this website specialising in excellence in teaching reading and writing, each of them highlighting a particular aspect of children’s literature. This recent article was Small Publishers are a Big Deal and focused on the role of smaller publishers in providing books with an individual flavour or catering for a particular type of reader. Roy’s blog mentioned that sometimes these books may ‘fly under the radar.’ This has prompted me to share a few new books from this type of publisher that you may otherwise have missed.

One of the publishers mentioned was b small publishing, who are on a mission to empower all readers with critical literacy skills and produce an excellent range of non-fiction books. The Encyclopedia of STEM Words by Jenny Jacoby and Vicky Barker is a comprehensive look at 100 essential concepts that will fascinate scientifically minded young readers and is published this month. I think this is an excellent book. It includes a wide range of topics in alphabetical order, discussed in an engaging manner, with definitions provided and ideas that will encourage children to learn more. The layout and presentation is clear with an index and contents page and the How to Use this Book section is extremely helpful. I would highly recommend The Encyclopedia of STEM Words for school libraries and think it is suitable for both upper KS2 and KS3.

Tiny Owl Publishers also received a mention in the Just Imagine blog and I have long been a fan of this independent but impressive publisher of picture books. This month sees the publication of The Name Game by acclaimed author Elizabeth Laird illustrated by Olivia Holden. This is gentle tale focusing on the importance of nature and the power of the imagination. A little girl sitting bored at home watches the activity of the natural world outside her window. This sparks an idea. She then gives each visitor a special name to match them perfectly using her imagination. This charming story introduces young children to a butterfly, a magpie and an oak tree and encourages them to notice and name the natural world around them. The delicate illustrations pair with the text perfectly in this picture book that would be suitable for very young children.

Although not mentioned in the Just Imagine blog Scallywag Press are another small publisher, now three years old, whose books are worth seeking out. They specialise in publishing talented newcomers and re-issues of established creators and classics. Eye Spy by Ruth Brown complements The Name Game perfectly and was published in May. This stunning book takes the reader on a journey through the day set in a countryside landscape. Each page offers the reader, or young listener, an opportunity to solve a riddle and guess which animal is hiding and then search for it in the accompanying illustration. Those familiar with Ruth Brown’s work will not be surprised to learn that this is a visually beautiful book. Each gorgeous page is worth lingering over and talking about particularly as some of the creatures are quite tricky to spot at first. The riddles provide a little snippet of information to help identify the animals and this is a delightful way for young children to learn about our native wild creatures such as snails, ladybirds, foxes and deer. Perfect for sharing with little ones and with a lovely traditional feel to it.

Each of these publishers provide helpful resources and activity ideas on their websites linked to the books they publish and I would recommend a browse to find out more. The Just Imagine website provides lists of books by smaller publishers too and you can find links to these in Roy’s article mentioned above. I hope this small taste has whetted your appetite to find our more about these publishers and to look out for their books in future.

I should like to thank the publishers for providing my review copies.

Posted in Book Review | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

New Non-fiction from Neon Squid

Neon Squid are a brand new non-fiction publisher for children. As a primary school librarian I have experienced the growth in the range of information books available in recent years and was keen to see what Neon Squid would offer. Their books are on carefully selected topics chosen to introduce children to areas they may not be overly familiar with and to spark an interest that will encourage them to find out more. I have selected a couple to share with you.

The Book of Sisters: Biographies of Incredible Siblings Through History by Olivia Meikle and Kate Nelson

Cover illustration by Sophy Smith

A World History Through Sisters” is a novel approach to exploring our history but it works well in this attractive and engaging book written, appropriately, by two sisters.

The authors travel through time using the stories of sisters to tell young readers about life, world events and people from sisters in Ancient Greek myths and Queen Cleopatra in Ancient Egypt to modern day sporting superstars and mountaineers. There are those such as Queen Elizabeth I and Mary Tudor with whom children may be familiar and others such as the warrior sisters Trung Trac and Trung Nhi beloved symbols of Vietnam from two thousand years ago who will probably be new to them.

Events including the Salem Witch Trials and the Suffragette movement, subjects like the slave trade and refugees, the Cold War and the Russian Revolution are all covered in this comprehensive book and presented in an accessible and engaging style. Sisters from the Mughal Empire, the Tang Dynasty, Native Americans and the Islamic Word of the Middle ensure the information is global in nature. Different illustrators for each period and story provide an added dimension and the overall look is attractive and would encourage browsing for pleasure alongside more formal research and learning.

The structure is well thought out beginning with a double page contents section followed by a welcoming introduction. The typeface is clear, the layout uncluttered and clear with a balance between narrative, key facts, quotes and maps. The final word from the authors highlights the role of women and in particular sisters in our world and there is also a helpful glossary and index.

The Hospital: The Inside Story by Dr. Christle Nwora and Ginnie Hsu

Set over the course of a day at a busy hospital this book offers the curious child an opportunity to meet all the people who work within the hospital to help keep everyone healthy. From medical staff such as nurses and surgeons to those who keep the building running and support the medics such as workers in the cafe and cleaners.

Written by a doctor this comprehensive book would reassure an anxious child preparing for a visit or stay in hospital or maybe having a close relative admitted but would also answer questions about what the many different roles involve. Starting with admission via reception readers the narrative follows a variety of patients in hospital for a range of reasons including the birth of a baby to a young man visiting the physiotherapist following an operation. The explanations of medical procedures and symptoms removes the fear of the unknown and the tone is a good balance of informative and comforting. Dr Nwora also explains the science behind how things work from X-Rays to operating theatres.

The illustrations by Ginnie Hsu are clear and labels and definitions are included were necessary. The emphasis in both text and pictures is on the human kindness evident in hospital, the teamwork and helpfulness needed to make things work. The overall tone is well considered by the creators of the book. There is a glossary of medical terms such as psychiatrist, stethoscope and fracture plus an index.

Both of these titles were published by Neon Squid in April 2022 and more information can be found on the publishers’ website.

Posted in Book Review | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Blog Tour: The Boy Who Grew a Tree by Polly Ho-Yen illustrated by Sojung Kim-McCarthy

This week is National Children’s Gardening Week, a celebration of the fun children and their families can enjoy when gardening together. An important aspect of gardening is the nurturing and tending of young plants and encouraging them to grow. The Boy Who Grew a Tree is a book which incorporates these themes in a story that also illustrates the importance of our libraries. With a background in school and public libraries and being an enthusiastic if not always successful gardener I was probably an ideal audience for this lovely book in many ways. However I found this an even more affecting story than I expected.

The story begins appropriately as a story told by a grandparent to a child, a sharing of a childhood tale passed on from one generation to another. The hero of the story, (the grandad as a young boy) Timi, is a child who observes the world around him with care. Timi notices things. Perhaps the things he notices are unimportant to others but to Timi these things matter; the caterpillar on the leaf at the bus stop, the spider’s web on the rubbish, the worms hiding under stones. Timi also likes growing seeds in his “little garden” on his windowsill. Meanwhile his mum is growing something too and when Timi’s new baby sister arrives he has to attend the after school club where he makes some new friends. It is then that he learns that his local library is to be demolished and when they break in to explore Timi discovers a tiny seedling. Through Timi’s care something rather magical then happens.

This is a delightful story which despite its contemporary setting and concerns has an old fashioned charm in its fable like quality. The links between the growth of Timi’s seedling, the expanding community involvement and the personal growth of Timi himself are subtle but important. Without ever becoming didactic in tone there is an encouraging message within the story of caring for our environment, our libraries and for each other. The publishers describe this as an ‘early reader’ and yes it would be suitable for children of that age but also for those a little older too. The writing style flows yet includes detail and observation, capturing important moments beautifully. The lovely illustrations are perfect both capturing and complementing the gentle tone of the story.

An absolute gem of a book and highly recommended for newly confident readers or as a read aloud in both KS1 or lower KS2. There were many opportunities for conversation and thoughtful discussion offered by the plot which widen its appeal. Thank you to the publishers Knights Of and Louise Danquah of ed public relations for providing my review copy and inviting me to take part in this blog tour.

The Boy Who Grew a Tree, written by Polly Ho-Yen, illustrated by Sojung Kim-McCarthy, published by Knights Of is out now, priced £5.99

Don’t forget to follow the rest of the tour and catch up with any posts you may missed.

Posted in Book Review | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

While the Storm Rages by Phil Earle

While the Storm Rages is a thrilling and emotional adventure set at the start of the Second World War. Phil Earle’s writing is wise and kind, utterly believable, both hilariously funny and heartbreakingly sad in the turn of a page. There are children and animals you grow to love, friendships made and tested, courage found and lessons learned, this is a wonderful book and a perfect follow up to the award winning When the Sky Falls.

Cover illustration by Levante Szabo

When Noah’s Dad sets off to fight Noah makes him a promise, to keep their beloved family dog, Winn, safe. If Winn is safe, Dad says, then he will come home safely too. Noah is determined to keep that promise come what may so when the government advises people to have their pets put down in readiness for what is to come, coupled with the knowledge that he is soon to be evacuated himself, Noah makes a decision. He and his best friend Clem run away with their pet dogs accompanied by school bully, Big Col, a large snake and a donkey. The ensuing adventure is full of drama, courage, loyalty, loss and resilience.

The story begins with a gradual build up highlighting the bewilderment of people during the worrying days in the build up to the announcement of the outbreak of war in 1939. We sense the anxiety, the worry and the tension as families say goodbye to those departing to fight and the shock to children, and indeed to their parents, as they realise they are to be sent away from their families as evacuees.

This at times reminded me of The Incredible Journey, a story I loved as a child, as the animals make their way to a new, safe home. However the animals in this story are not alone, they have Noah and his Dad’s cherished boat, the Queen Maudie to help them on their way. In truth Noah would flounder without the sensible counsel offered by Clem, their partnership will bring both smiles and tears to readers’ faces. Phil Earle’s dialogue is at times hilarious and he captures the voices of these children so well. The children make mistakes, sometimes big and dangerous mistakes but never was the saying ‘but their hearts are in the right place’ more apt. Any review has to include the wonderful animals who do become characters in their own right. Winn, Noah’s steady and loyal dog, Frank, Clem’s aged but determined dachshund, Col’s python, Delilah and Samson the hat wearing donkey may sound like a comedy act but I defy any reader not to care enormously about their welfare as the story progresses.

There are many emotional moments, sadness and heartbreak along the way but all three of the children develop as we read their adventure. Big Col is more complex that one would first think and the revealing conversations he has with his new friends are compelling and moving. The well paced plot ensures a great balance between drama and tenderness, courage and frustration making this a story that many will want to read and I can see this being another book that will be popular in schools.

Although different in many ways to When the Sky Falls there are some similarities to notice. The bond between humans and animals, the solace found in the comfort offered from unexpected sources and the vulnerability hidden by bravado in some people. Phil Earle creates people who feel real; impulsive children, stressed mothers, kind friends, adults both helpful and threatening play their part and this gripping story has love at its centre making it an emotional and immensely satisfying read.

While the Storm Rages by Phil Earle is published by Andersen Press on 2nd June. Highly recommended.

Posted in Book Review | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Reading Matters – children’s book news

Welcome to another round up of news from the world of children’s books. A rather frantic week personally may mean some news is missing but I have my fingers crossed I’ve included enough for this week’s Reading Matters to be of use.

What I’m reading…

Quite honestly, not very much this week which is a shame. I did however find time to review a couple of stunning art books for children from Prestel Publishing both of which I would recommend. Chris Lovegrove’s Narniathon has prompted me to re-read the Chronicles of Narnia and last weekend I thoroughly enjoyed The Magician’s Nephew. So much of the detail, long forgotten or so I thought, came flooding back as I read so it was both nostalgic and fascinating.

This week I’m looking forward to taking part in the blog tour for The Boy Who Grew a Tree by Polly Ho-Yen illustrated by Sojung Kim-McCarthy. This is a delightful book, a modern fable, full of kindness and a story I would highly recommend so please do look out for the daily posts shown below.

News, articles and resources…

300 Great Books (and counting!) Recommended by School Librarian Lucas Maxwell – this is a fabulous resource generously created by Lucas and continually being updated. All the books are suitable for YR7 (Age 11+) unless otherwise mentioned and include a wide range of genres.

The Winner of the 2022 Tir na n-Og Award Announced – although I mentioned this last week this article gives more details about the award itself and the winning book, The Valley of Lost Secrets by Lesley Parr. You may also like to listen to the BBC Radio Wales Arts Show during which the announcement was made.

Black representation: Parents urged to read diverse books to kids – an important article in the Guardian featuring the authors Catherine Johnson and Em Norry.

Making the most of the Summer Reading Challenge – the School Library Association in conjunction with the Reading Agency are holding a webinar, free to members, £24 for non-members, to find out how you can help prevent the summer reading ‘dip’ by getting your school involved and making the most of this year’s ‘Gadgeteers’ theme. Tuesday 7th June 3.30 – 4.30pm and the event will also be recorded to watch later.

There is More Than One Way to Hug a Cat – apparently June 4th is Hug a Cat Day. In his latest blog for Just Imagine, Roy Moss considers our relationship to our feline friends and how children’s books have portrayed this connection. This is a lovely read and includes links to numerous cat themed books for all ages.

The Book of the Year Winners for the 2022 Nibbies – a fabulous night for children’s publishing on Monday when the celebrations included Phil Earle winning Best Children’s Book: Fiction, Dapo Adeola winning Illustrator of the Year and Children’s Illustrated Book of the Year for Hey You! and Knights Of winning Children’s Publisher of the Year plus Marcus Rashford’s You Can Be A Champion awarded Overall Book of the Year. All category winners can be seen via the link above.

Promoting Non-Fiction in a High School Library – this feature on the Celebrate Nonfiction blogspot by Kerry O’Malley Cerra caught my eye as our SLA branch prepare for our training session on non-fiction next month. Full of practical advice it is well worth a read and interesting for both school librarians and teachers.

The British Library Exploring Children’s Literature: You Write, I’ll Draw – the British Library’s new campaign celebrates author-illustrator partnerships and invites children to team up and create their own picture books. To find out more click on the link above and watch Michael Rosen with illustrations by Allen Fatimaharan. The competition will run from 9am on 23rd May to 5pm on 5th July 2022 and full terms and conditions are also available via the link.

The British Library Exploring Children’s Literature: Go deeper: Author illustrator partnerships – Imogen Russell Williams said on Twitter this week that this guest feature for BL was ‘a treat to write.’ Well I think its a treat to read and hope that you do too.

2022 Little Rebels shortlist: Reading and Discussion Guides – The Little Rebels Children’s Book Award celebrates radical fiction for children aged 0-12 and these guides to the shortlisted books focusing on the theme of social justice would be invaluable in schools. They include ideas to talk about linked to each book plus activities and suggestions for further in depth study.

Refugee Week 2022 event – in conversation with Tom Palmer – Refugee Week takes place from 20-26 June 2022 and the theme this year is Healing. The Literacy Trust have organised this free online event for schools. Join award winning author Tom Palmer as he discusses how to approach writing sensitively and appropriately about the experiences of refugees, and how we can offer support to them. The webinar is ideal to share with pupils aged 10 to 14 (Years 6, 7, 8 and 9). Full details of the session and how to book are available via the link above.

The winners of the Jhalak Prize and Jhalak Children’s & YA Prize have been announced – The Jhalak Prize and the Jhalak Children’s & YA Prize seek to support and celebrate books by British and British resident writers of colour. Congratulations to Maisie Chan whose book Danny Chung Does Not Do Maths is the winner of the Children’s and Young Adult Prize.

The English Association: English 4-11 Picture Book Awards Established in 1995, the awards are presented by the English Association to the best children’s picture books of the year. Awards are given to Fiction and Non-Fiction in age ranges 4-7 years and 7-11 years. The winning books are chosen by the editorial board of English 4-11, the journal for primary teachers published by the English Association and the United Kingdom Literacy Association, from a shortlist selected by a panel of teachers and Primary specialists. Congratulations to all the winners.

Children’s and teens roundup – the best new picture books and novels – the fabulous selections chosen by Imogen Russell Williams for the Guardian are always worth a read and this latest one is no exception. Imogen has included The Boy Who Grew a Tree (see above) and Stitch by Patrice Lawrence, another of my recent favourites.

The 2022 Empathy Conversation – if you missed this webinar first broadcast on Wednesday 25th May it has now available to catch up via the EmpathyLabUK website, link above.

Finally, some book reviews that caught my eye this week…

Granny Came Here on the Empire Windrush Written by Patrice Lawrence Illustrated by Camilla Sucre – a Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month for LoveReading4Kids this new picture book would be valuable in schools for younger children. “heart-warming and heartfelt picture book that will help ensure that the struggles and achievements of the Windrush generation are never forgotten.”

Smile Out Loud: 25 Happy Poems by Joseph Coelho illustrated Daniel Gray-Barnett – I love the sound of this collection. It is the follow-up anthology of poems from the pair who brought us Poems Aloud and in her review for Just Imagine Kelly Ashley says, “This book would fit perfectly as a classroom read aloud to inject moments of happiness into the daily routine – a quick poem when lining up for assembly, a cheeky read aloud before home time.”

Fake by Ele Fountain – I was impressed at the way the important environmental theme was integrated skilfully into an exciting adventure in Melt, a previous novel by this author, and this new book deals with different global issues in a similar manner. Kate Heap’s excellent review has really tempted me. “Fake is perfect for Upper Key Stage Two and Key Stage Three – children who are old enough to understand the significance of the time they are living through and make connections with the story. There is so much to explore: disease, medication, healthcare, finances, technology, isolation, friendships, and secrets.”

That’s everything for this week and apologies if I have missed something vital. I have my fingers crossed that I will finally be able to read While the Storm Rages by Phil Earle this weekend. This coming week is half term for many and the long Jubilee Bank Holiday Weekend to look forward to as well so I hope everyone has a relaxing break and maybe some time to read too. Reading Matters will be back soon.

Posted in Reading Matters Children’s Book News | Tagged , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Prestel Publishing Bringing Art to Children of All Ages

Prestel Publishing are an independent publisher of books on art history and design however they also publish quality books for children. Today I would like to share two rather lovely books which combine both of these specialities.

Ella in the Garden of Giverny by Daniel Fehr illustrated by Monika Vaicenaviciene

This beautiful picture book about Claude Monet, providing a child’s eye view of the famous artist and his life, is exquisitely presented and well researched.

It tells the story of Ella, the daughter of an artist, who sneaks into Monet’s garden, watching him and drawing him in secret. One day the old man who “looks funny with his long beard and hat” notices Ella and calls her over to look at her sketchbook. This sharing of a love of drawing and painting starts a conversation and Ella gradually develops a friendship with him. As Monet talks Ella, and the young reader, learn about the ideas behind Impressionism, his beautiful garden and the life of Monet himself. Just like Ella they will also learn the importance of perseverance and pursuing your dream even during difficulties.

Daniel Fehr skilfully weaves facts into this narrative so that it still feels like natural storytelling and this would be lovely to read aloud. It is conversational in tone, as the old man imparts the wisdom gained through experience. There is also a brief biography of Monet, a picture gallery and information about Giverny and the museums at the end of the book.

Monika Vaicenaviciene’s subtle illustrations are perfect for this story. She manages to interpret Monet’s gardens in a style reminiscent of the great artist’s work without ever appearing to be copying his paintings. It feels like a homage to his work and style. There is also a subtle difference between the delicate illustrations depicting Monet’s gardens and life at the time of Ella’s visit and those included conveying his earlier life and work. This is both a visually stunning and fascinating book. Although marketed at age 5+ I think this would also appeal to children in the upper junior age range.

Olaf Hajek’s Fantastic Fruits by Annette Roeder illustrations by Olaf Hajek

This stunning, large format book, the third in the series following Flower Power and Veggie Power, is an exploration of the world of fruit. Olaf Hajek’s vibrant and slightly surreal paintings are paired with fascinating text by Annette Roeder incorporating information, history and folklore.

Did you know that the science of fruit is called pomology? That the pomegranate was linked to the story of Helen of Troy? That Christopher Columbus received a pineapple as a gift? Within the first few pages of this book the reader has learned all of this and more. The text is immediately engaging and this book would appeal to a wide age range; there is something here for adult readers too. The presentation is extremely eye catching and for those not familiar with Hajek’s art, revelatory. Each painting is given a full page with text appearing opposite and this is most definitely a book to linger over. Sometimes the fruit appears to be being worn, either as a headdress, jewellery or part of an outfit. In other paintings an outsize melon is being sat upon by a couple while held aloft by others and a cheerful hedgehog carries a raspberry and blackberry along on his back . There are cultural references in both the art and the writing with links to Greek myths, the Bible, history and contemporary culture. Each description includes the country of origin of the particular fruit and other names it may be known by.

This would I think be a valuable book for use in the classroom being suitable for cross curricular work. There is a large amount of text on each page so perhaps a book to be shared by an adult with children who have not developed reading stamina. The colourful paintings alone would prompt discussion too.

Both of these beautiful books were published by Prestel Publishing in March and are available to purchase on their official website. I should like to thank Catherine Ward and the publishers for providing my review copies.

Posted in Book Review | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments