Reading Matters – News from the world of children’s books

Welcome to the second Reading Matters of the year and thank you to everyone who gave me such kind and positive feedback last week. I will try to make this a regular weekly feature if possible and hope that it will be a useful resource for busy school librarians, teachers and parents. This has not been quite such a news packed week as last but there is still plenty of positive news for us to enjoy in the world of children’s books.

What I’m reading…


Sometimes my reading takes me on unexpected journeys and sometimes books may, by coincidence, be linked in some way, be it theme or time period, genre or character. This happened this week and made my reading particularly enjoyable. The publishers Nosy Crow had sent me a proof copy of The Girl Who Stole an Elephant a debut by Nizrana Farook and I had earmarked it to read this month to coincide with its publication. I had also decided to add the winner of the Costa Book Award for best children’s book to my reading list. Last week Asha and The Spirit Bird by Jasbinder Bilan, another debut, was announced as the winner. So, this week I read them both. I was transported to far away lands to accompany brave young heroines on epic journeys and loved every moment of it.

My reading of the short story collection, The One That Got Away by Jan Mark, continues and every single one so far has been a gem. Look out for #JanMARKuary on Twitter to join in with an appreciation of her work.

I finally managed to see Greta Gerwig’s film version of Little Women. Despite my fears that it would not match my fond memories of the book I simply loved it.

News and Views in Children’s Books


Popular author Abi Elphinstone revealed the cover of her forthcoming book, Jungledrop, created by George Ermos this week. It is stunning and gives us a taste of what to expect when the book, the second in The Unmapped Chronicles, is published on 14th May.

Abi describes the story as being “an adventure set in a glow-in-the-dark rainforest but it is also a story about being kind – to others, to our planet and, perhaps hardest of all, to ourselves.” I can’t wait to read it!

Jason Reynolds named Library of Congress’ national ambassador for young people’s literature – Reynolds is the bestselling and award-winning young adult author and poet well known for titles such as Ghost and Long Way Down.The two-year position, equivalent to the British Children’s Laureate, aims to raise the nation’s appreciation of youth literature, as it relates to literacy, education and the development and betterment of lives.

Empathy Day Collection Selection – On January 22nd EmpathyLabUK release their #ReadForEmpathy collections.  Check out what’s in store by watching Miranda McKearney and Sarah Mears discuss the judging process held at CLPE  featuring Learning Programme Leader Farrah Serroukh.

Books for Keeps January edition – this fabulous online magazine contains reviews, articles and interviews. So much interesting stuff in this issue it’s impossible to only highlight a couple of items. A must read!

My Journey to Publication by Nizrana Farook Author of The Girl Who Stole an Elephant– this guest post by the debut author of the Waterstone’s Children’s Book of the Month on Emma Perry’s My Book Corner blog is fascinating.

Young Adults Books Round Up – Reviews – If you are looking for books for older teens and young adult readers these new titles selected by Fiona Noble for the Guardian would be an excellent place to start.

Brian Wildsmith – 22nd January would have been this celebrated illustrator’s 90th birthday. To mark the occasion a new website is to be launched by his family and author/illustrator James Mayhew and bookseller Tamsin Rosewell plan to fill Twitter with his art using #Wildsmith90

Year 5 Recommended Reads  – Following last week’s Year 6 list Scott Evans, the Reader Teacher has now updated his list for Year 5.

Reading Zone interview with author Ross Welford– Ross Welford tells us more about his latest book, The Kid Who Came From Space.

Bedtime Library books…a starter list. Simon Smith, primary school headteacher and picture book expert has compiled this helpful list of picture books to share. A lovely mixture of classic and contemporary.

Pippi of Today”, a collaboration between The Astrid Lindgren Company and Save the Children, will support the charity’s work with children on the move. The Astrid Lindgren Company and Save the Children have come together to launch a global campaign aimed at creating awareness and raising money for Save the Children’s work with today’s Pippi Longstockings.

Planning for Another Year of Reading by Donalyn Miller– Advice from the “Book Whisperer,” along with recommended titles to sustain the enthusiasm of young readers.

School Library Association Regional Training Day in Surrey – There is still time to get an early bird discount on our SLA regional training day with Elizabeth Hutchinson  on 12th March. The subject is Using Inquiry to Engage Teachers Across the Curriculum and is suitable for school librarians working with KS2+

Finally, some reviews of children’s books published recently that have caught my eye

Respect: Consent, Boundaries and Being In Charge of You,’ by Rachel Brian  – A fantastic, accessible gem about consent and respecting boundaries for UKS2+ says @LibraryGirl&BookBoy (Jo) on her blog. 

The Boy Who Fooled the World by Lisa Thompson -Lucas Maxwell describes this as a touching, funny novel about a white lie that gets out of hand.

The Cure for a Crime by Roopa Farooki – a new middle grade detective fiction novel perfect for fans of Ruby Redford, Murder Most Unladylike and Alex Rider. You can find out more on Veronica Price’s blog.

The Monster in the Lake by Louie Stowell illustrated by David’s Ortu – this lovely review by Mary Reed suggests the second in this magical series celebrating libraries is just as good as the first instalment.

I hope that you have found something of interest in this week’s selection. Happy reading everyone!

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7 Responses to Reading Matters – News from the world of children’s books

  1. setinthepast says:

    I also enjoyed the Little Women film, although I didn’t think that the jumping backwards and forwards in time really worked.

    Liked by 1 person

    • alibrarylady says:

      It is lovely isn’t it. At first I wasn’t sure about the telling of the story in that way but I found as the film progressed it made sense. It was a brave approach as I realise it’s not to everyone’s taste.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Another incredibly useful and informative post, thank you. Also, thanks for putting up a link to my book review – but unfortunately the link is not working, any chance you could re-add it at your end?


  3. alibrarylady says:

    That’s strange, it was working last night when I tried it. Have just re-added and it’s ok now for me. Fingers crossed that it works for you too now.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Yes, I’ve just received a notification asking me to approve the link, I didn’t get one last night for some reason, but it’s working perfectly now, and thank you again :0)


  5. Good reaading your post

    Liked by 1 person

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