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

Hello and welcome to another look at some of the latest news from the world of children’s books. It has been another busy week with awards, comment, resources and ideas linked to children’s literature circulating online.

What I’m reading…

I started the week by taking part in the blog tour to mark the publication of To the Island, a magical, fantastical picture book based on the Irish mythological island Hy Brasil. The Anisha, Accidental Detective series by Serena Patel had been on my book radar for a little while and this week I read and reviewed the second book, School’s Cancelled! It is a delight. Full of warmth and humour with an inspiring protagonist, this is definitely recommended.

Moon over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool, a Newbery Medal winner, was recommended earlier in the year in one of those articles listing ‘books to read during a pandemic’. I eagerly sourced and bought a second hand copy but as gloomy news and uncertainty spread quite honestly I went off the idea. However I started it this week and am enjoying it very much so far, particularly the lead character, Abeline. I’ll keep you posted!

A highlight of the week in the world of children’s books was the announcement of the winner of the Branford Boase Award. Inevitably the ceremony took place online and I don’t think it is merely because I am now more used to this type of event that I found it thoroughly enjoyable. Fascinating discussions, entertaining authors and editors together with knowledgeable book lovers ensured an entertaining hour and a half. You can read more about it here.

News and resources…

Wellbeing and literacy: Resources linked to The Book of Hopes – the Literacy Trust In partnership with Place2Be and Bloomsbury Children’s Books have developed free resources based on the Book of Hopes, a beautiful collection with contributions from many well known authors, illustrators and poets, to support wellbeing and literacy. Each activity is linked to a story, illustration or poem and the resources include downloadable PowerPoints, differentiated material for KS1 and 2 and teacher guidance.

Online book readings and story time for World Kid Lit Month – a selection of links gathered together by the World Kid Lit team to a range of videos available online showcasing some wonderful translated and world children’s books.

BBC Radio4: A Point of View Thinking Otherwise with Michael Morpurgo – As children return to school, Michael Morpurgo argues that it’s time to rethink our education system and its use of endless data gathering and algorithms. This was broadcast last weekend but is still available to listen to.

Life in the Information Jungle – Susan Martineau – in this article on the CILIP website, Susan discusses the importance of critical literacy, navigating fake news and some of the background to the writing of Question Everything (reviewed below by Veronica Price). Both the article and the book highlight the need for school librarians to guide pupils through the maze of information available, sadly not all of it trustworthy.

The My Twist on a Tale: Everyday Heroes competition is officially open – run by Pearson, this free competition, is now open to four- to 19-year-olds across the UK. Encourage young people to let their imaginations run wild as they write a story based on the new theme for 2020: Everyday Heroes. Information and entry packs are available on the website.

North Somerset Teachers’ Book Awards – the shortlists for these annual awards have been announced, slightly longer than usual and with a variety of categories, these are a good way of keeping in touch with quality children’s books. Any teacher, teaching assistant or school librarian is able to vote for the awards so perhaps explore the website to find out more.

A look at the Klaus Flugge Prize Shortlist – the winner of this prestigious award is announced on 16th September and this article in Books for Keeps is a lovely reminder of the shortlisted picturebooks. There are teaching resources for each of the shortlisted books created by CLPE available here.

Rebel Rebel: how books and libraries can challenge mainstream narratives – this free webinar on 30th September run by the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals featuring Jake Hope, Michael Rosen, Smriti Halls and Fen Coles is is aimed at public and school librarians and anyone with an interest in children’s and radical publishing.

Sixteen-year-old Dara McAnulty wins Wainwright prize for nature writing – Diary of a Young Naturalist hailed as ‘astute and candid’ by judges, who have called for the book to be added to national curriculum.

Bearmouth Wins the Branford Boase Award – Liz Hyder and her editor Sarah Odedina of Pushkin Children’s Books win the 2020 BRANFORD BOASE AWARD awarded to the author and editor of the outstanding debut novel for children.

On Black and Asian Authors Who Deserve to be Much Better Known – thank you to Imogen Russell Williams for this excellent article in the Times Literary Supplement. This overview would be a great starting point but as Imogen said on Twitter there are many more authors available but space only allowed for those mentioned.

Blue Peter Book Awards School Judges – Since 2000, the enormously popular and influential Blue Peter Book Awards have been recognising and celebrating the best authors, the most creative illustrators and the greatest reads for children. Application for School Judges for 2021 is now open. Deadline Friday 9th October, 5pm.

Reading for Pleasure: The Nectar of Imagination (free webinar) – Join The Reading Agency and the Open University for this exciting webinar. Sharing research and practical advice, the expert team including Teresa Cremin (researcher), Matt Courtney (teacher), and Sonia Thomson(headteacher) will also answer questions and offer news of the Teachers’ Reading Challenge.

‘H is for Harry’ online screening in aid of Coram Beanstalk Tursday 17th September. – a fundraising campaign called “Closing the Covid Gap” set up by Rosemarie Ghazaros has secured an exclusive online screening of ‘H is for Harry’ in aid of Coram Beanstalk, Action Tutoring and Think Forward. This thought provoking film follows 11 year old Harry as his teacher tries to help him overcome his illiteracy and years of feeling excluded from learning and opportunity. After the film, you may join Roz Pedder, a secondary school teacher, and a Zoom panel with co-director Edward Owles, Angela Fuggle, Head of Programmes at Coram Beanstalk and a representatives from the charity Think Forward. Tickets are £6. I have seen this film, it is most definitely worth watching. Tickets are available via the link above.

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

Taking Time by Jo Loring-Fisher – this picture book published by Lantana Publishing sounds beautiful. A journey around the world witnessing special moments through a child’s eyes and savouring them will surely encourage mindfulness. A gorgeous review by Jill Bennett.

Question Everything! An Investigator’s Toolkit by Susan Martineau and Vicky Barker – this is the guide mentioned in the CILIP article above and Veronica Price’s helpful review giving detail of a book she describes as “ the perfect complement to information and digital literacy aspects of the primary school curriculum.”

The Magician and his hat: A review of The Finn Family Moomintroll by Tove Jansson – as part of #WorldKidLit month Chris Lovegrove has shared his thoughts on this popular children’s classic. I always enjoy Chris’s excellent reviews and learn something new from them each time I read them and this one is no exception. It has also resulted in me rescuing my copy from the shelves for a reread!

The Thing at Black Hole Lake by Dashe Roberts – I enjoyed the BigWoof Conspiracy very much, an entertaining and amusing story and this sequel sounds to be just as good. In his review Chris Soul says “Sticky Pines is fast becoming that must-read series” so this is definitely book to look out for.

Zombierella by Joseph Coelho and Freya Hartas – one of the Just Imagine Summer School sessions this year looked at the influence of fairy tales and examined the reimagining of them in children’s literature. This great review by Mat Tobin has reminded me of that discussion. I think it is impossible to resist a book “that drips with cunningly dark imagery and design whilst managing, somehow, to include a lightness of touch and humour that will leave readers grinning.”

Well, I think that is it for this week. It’s been another busy one with yet more fabulous new books appearing for us to read, share and talk about. I hope that something in this compilation has piqued your interest. Happy reading!

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

  1. Thank you for linking to my review Anne, and for providing so many useful and thought-provoking ideas. Have a lovely weekend 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  2. alibrarylady says:

    It’s an extremely helpful review. Thank you Veronica, I hope you have a lovely weekend too.


  3. A really helpful round-up of all things reading related!
    I’m looking forward to the OU Reading for Pleasure webinar and some colleagues from school have booked places too.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Calmgrove says:

    I hope you managed to retrieve your copy of the Jansson book to reread, Anne, and that you were prompted by my review (thanks for the kind words!). I’ve read a couple of your links already, but I was also pleased Dara McAnulty is garnering the plaudits he clearly deserves. And he expresses himself so well too: I enjoyed a podcast he did when his book cam out, and I see he was a judge for the BBC Countryfile 2021 calendar.

    Liked by 1 person

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