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

Hello everyone and welcome to another look at some of the latest news in the children’s book world. Happy new month! We have lots to look forward to in February including Harry Potter Book Night,  International Book Giving Day and the announcement of the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Awards longlists.

What I’m reading…


This week I finished reading The One That Got Away by Jan Mark. A mix of school stories and everyday family life they have contained a dry humour that I did not expect and some deliciously spooky, and occasionally deeply sinister, episodes. A big thank you to the #JanMARKuary team especially Ben Harris @one_to_read and Jon Appleton @appletonsbooks for introducing me to this excellent author. Ben has written a summary of the month here and it is well worth a read as I think it perfectly describes the appeal of this author. It is also evidence that Twitter can be a civil, interesting and entertaining medium sometimes! This morning Chris Lovegrove has written a thoughtful article about the short story collection that we shared. If you are not already following his blog I can wholeheartedly recommend it.

I have also read another Jan Mark book, the Carnegie Award winning Thunder and Lightnings, in readiness for the first #ClassicChildrensBooksClub to be hosted by author Christopher Edge on Sunday 2nd February at 8pm.  Do join in if you can, it’s sure to be interesting.

News and Views From the World of Children’s Books…

Children’s and Teens Round Up: the best new picture books and novels – Imogen Russell Williams can be relied upon to provide a wonderful and tempting taste of the latest children’s literature in her regular articles for The Guardian. Her first contribution for 2020 is full of brilliant books for all ages.

What makes a great school author visit? – Children’s author Andy Seed travels all over the UK visiting schools. In this helpful blogpost he writes about a recent extremely successful visit and explains what made it such a success. A useful read for school librarians, teachers and authors and illustrators too.

Love My Books – this great website contains a wonderful range of free resource and activity ideas linked to books for toddlers and young children suitable for both nursery/school settings and parents. New books have been added recently and this is well worth a visit. There’s an advice section specifically for parents too.

The Missing: The True Story of My Family in World War 2 by Michael Rosen – Booktrust interview with award winning writer and former Children’s Laureate, Michael Rosen about his new book and how we can best talk to children about the Holocaust.

Library Research Lesson using No Ballet Shoes in Syria by Catherine Bruton – School Librarian, Lucas Maxwell has designed a lesson to teach pupils how to use Google effectively while learning about the Syrian refugee crisis. He has kindly shared downloadable resources too. If you are not familiar with this excellent book you can read my review here.

World Book Day Brand New Author and Illustrator Masterclasses – 12 new films have been created by the WBD team to inspire children aged 5 – 12 and they feature some fabulous people such as Matt Haig, Cressida Cowell, Katherine Rundell and many more. You can register now and use the films when convenient to you.

From Auschwitz to Ambleside: Tom Palmer – Barrington Stoke announced that in May they will be publishing a new novel by Tom Palmer inspired by the true stories of the Windermere Children, After the War: From Auschwitz to Ambleside. After the War was researched and written with the support of the Lake District Holocaust Project. and is a powerful and evocative fictional account of the real-life child refugees who escaped concentration camps for a new life in the Lake District. Tom Palmer and Barrington Stoke have already proved that they are a winning combination and this is definitely a book to watch out for. 

Tiny Owl Publishers Free Posters  – brilliant new posters for The Drum, The New Baby and Me, The Elephant’s Umbrella, There’s Room for Everyone and more that would look wonderful decorating homes, libraries or bookshops are free to download from their website.

Branford Boase Award Longlist Announced – The Branford Boase Award was set up in memory of award-winning author Henrietta Branford and her editor Wendy Boase, and is given annually to the author of an outstanding debut novel for children. Uniquely, the Branford Boase Award also honours the editor of the winning title and highlights the importance of the editor in nurturing new talent. The fabulous list includes The Middler and Asha and the Spirit Bird

Children’s Book Sequels – This useful website helps you discover the right order of any series from Harry Potter to Biggles, from Young Bond to The Hunger Games. New titles and series have been added to the site recently and this is a useful reference tool.

Great Children’s Books Featuring BAME Characters – this week Darren Chetty posted a helpful link to all the Beyond the Secret Garden articles he has written with Karen Sands-O’Connor for Books for Keeps magazine. An excellent #ReflectingRealities resource.

Children’s Mental Health Week – takes place this coming week, 3rd – 9th February and this year’s theme is ‘Find Your Brave’. Alison from Books for Topics has collated a helpful list of Books to Support Mental Health Awareness and there are free resources available on the official website too.

The Boy Who Dreamed of Dragons by Andy Shepherd, illustrated by Sara Ogilvie– Jo Clarke @bookloverjo hosted the cover reveal of the latest book in this lovely series for younger middle grade readers. It will be published on 11th June and no doubt will be just as popular as the previous books.

Library Lovers Month – to mark February being a special time to cherish our libraries Just Imagine have interviewed current School Librarian of the Year, Ros Harding and discovered how she has made sure that her school library makes a difference. An excellent read if you are looking for ways to make your library a Great School Library.

Meet the Author – An Interview With Nicola Penfold – Ian Eagleton of The Reading Realm interviewed Nicola about her debut, When the World Turns Wild, as part of this week’s blog tour. This book is next up on my reading list and it sounds wonderful.

Finally, some reviews of children’s books that I have enjoyed this week:

The Highland Falcon Thief by MG Leonard and Sam Sedgman – this wonderful review by @chaletfan is so full of enthusiasm that I feel sure I will enjoy the book too. She describes it as “a vibrant and well-crafted story and one that gives you an incredibly rich mystery/adventure in the process.” How can we resist that?

Monster Slayer by Brian Patten and Chris Riddell – a retelling of the classic tale of Beowulf published by Barrington Stoke this is described as a “fabulous introduction to a timeless story” by Louise Nettleton @Lou_Nettleton in her review. This sounds like a must buy for school libraries and classrooms.

Patina by Jason Reynolds–  Knights Of are already displaying a knack for publishing books that make a difference. Veronica Price’s review of this follow up to Ghost suggests that this is going to be another hit as she says: ‘I cannot recommend it highly enough as a thoroughly gripping story to add to your “read-for-empathy” collections for anyone of 10+.’

Thank you for reading and I hope that you have found something interesting or helpful within this week’s links. Back with more news next week…

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

  1. Calmgrove says:

    Oooh, more links to start exploring even though I can’t really spare the time for them! But couldn’t resist the children’s book sequels site to see if they got the Wolves Chronicles sequence right — and yes, they pretty much well have! Yay.

    And thanks for mentioning my Jan Mark review. She’s definitely an author I shall be reading more of.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. setinthepast says:

    I’ll definitely be looking out for From Auschwitz to Ambleside – thanks for the heads-up.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Tanya says:

    This is a wonderful blog post, thanks Ann!

    I’d caught most if the news you mention, but not all the blogs. Tomorrow will be my blog catch-up day using your posting as my guide.

    So glad you remain so keen and sharing… I 😍📚


    Liked by 1 person

  4. So many great links again this week. I loved reading the interview with Ros Harding, it has given me some excellent new ideas to think about in my school library. 😃

    Liked by 1 person

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