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

Hello and welcome to another look at all the latest news in the world of children’s books. What a busy week! Many fabulous books were published on 1st October and also on Thursday as part of the National Poetry Day celebrations the shortlist for this year’s CLiPPA award was announced. There is so much to try and keep up with and I hope the items I have selected will be of interest.

What I’m reading…

This week I have reviewed two very different picture books that were published in September. All Sorts by Pippa Goodhart and Emily Rand is a joyful picture book celebrating how differences enrich our world and would be perfect for Early Years or KS1. Last: The Story of a White Rhino by Nicola Davies, inspired by the true story of Sudan, the last male Northern White Rhino, is a powerful picture book which will encourage children to think about global conservation and how we can help preserve endangered animals. 

Barrington Stoke had several books published this week and I always enjoy finding out what they have in store for young readers. The Griffin Gate is Vashti Hardy’s first book for this publisher and I think it will prove to be extremely popular. The good news is there is a follow up due to be published in 2021!

This week I attended some more online events and discussions including on Thursday evening the virtual launch of The Lost Spells by Jackie Morris and Robert Macfarlane. It was an enchanting hour of words, thoughts, music and hopes that nurtured readers and listeners of all ages. There are other brilliant events that are still available online if you missed them this week included below.

News, articles and resources…

Children’s books roundup – the best new picture and novels – a simply superb range of books suggested by Imogen Russell Williams in her latest round up for the Guardian. I want to read every single one of them.

Exploring Children’s Literature Interview with Tom Palmer – Nikki Gamble’s regular interviews with authors and children’s book experts are always a treat but I particularly enjoyed this one as Tom Palmer’s book After the War is one of my favourite books of the year. A fascinating insight into the real life story that inspired this remarkable book and a thoughtful discussion about Tom’s research and writing process.

Top authors hope you’ll give this book away to change young lives – “The greatest gift of reading is literacy,” says Robert Macfarlane in this article about a new and important book. He, Philip Pullman, and 21 others give backing to literacy charity Room to Read in a new anthology titled the Gifts of Reading. It sounds wonderful.

World Book Day £1 Books Announcement – Thanks to National Book Tokens and many book publishers and booksellers, World Book Day, in partnership with schools all over the country, distribute over 15 million £1 World Book Day book tokens to children and young people every year. The books for 2021 were announced on Tuesday and you can watch the video trailer here.

Create a classroom full of poets – to celebrate National Poetry Day on 1 October, the British Library is inviting schools to share their poetry creations all month. To get you started, superstar poet Joseph Coelho shares the secrets of his notebooks and sets an activity for pupils that he uses to write his own poems.

Recommended Poetry Books from Books for Topics – if National Poetry Day has prompted an interest you may like to check out these lists of lovely suggestions on this helpful website for early years through to Year 6.

YA Novels are Not Just for Teens – this article on MyVLF (the free global virtual literary festival) includes suggestions of great titles that may appeal and includes one of my favourite reads of the year, Toffee by Sarah Crossan.

The Diverse Book Awards 2020 Shortlist – The shortlists for these awards were announced this week with 5 diverse UK books in three categories: Children’s, YA and Adult fiction. The winner will be announced on an online awards ceremony 7pm October 22nd 2020

Rebel Rebel: how books and libraries can challenge mainstream narratives – If you missed this excellent event during the week the recording is now available to watch. This webinar looks at the role and power of books in challenging mainstream narratives and the importance of radical books as part of the UK’s publishing and library traditions. Jake Hope, is joined by award winning author and former Children’s Laureate, Michael Rosen; the co-Director of Letterbox Library and co-organiser of the Little Rebels Prize Fen Coles; and one of this year’s Little Rebels shortlistees Smriti Halls, author of The Little Island.

The CLiPPA Poetry Award – lovely blog by Charlotte Hacking of CLPE on the CILIP website that really encourages you to explore and savour poetry. Lots of helpful links for schools are included.

Black History Month Books – Book Trust have put together a booklist of historical stories from Black History around the world. From picture books to teen novels, spanning fiction and non-fiction, these books are bound to captivate and inform.

CBeebies Bedtime Stories David Olusoga – Coming to England – Historian David Olusoga reads Coming to England, the true story of Baroness Floella Benjamin’s journey from Trinidad to London in 1960. This is wonderful. I am lucky to have received a copy of this new picture book version of this hopeful biography which is published next week and this is a great way of sharing it. The recording is available until the end of the month.

Books for Keeps Poetry Guide – with an introduction by Michael Rosen this special supplement is full of poetry recommendations, reading and writing tips, and a rundown of the shortlist for the CLiPPA2020.

Reading is Magic Festival – if you missed this fabulous free event this week don’t worry because it is still freely available to watch online until the end of the year.

Finally, some reviews that caught my eye this week…

The New Girl by Nicola Davies & Cathy Fisher – I was interested in this new picture book as soon as I heard about it as The Pond by this author and illustrator team was a beautiful book. This lovely review by Mary Esther Judy has confirmed my interest, “While the words of the story are given to us from the point of view of the bully, the illustrations show us the tale from the perspective of the new girl.”

Lottie Loves Nature: Frog Frenzy by Jane Clarke illustrated by James Brown – a series for newly confident readers this sounds great fun and should be enjoyed particularly by young nature lovers. Jo Cummins’ review also features a pen interesting look at the author’s lifetime love of nature too.

Fearless: The Story of Daphne Caruana Galizia by Gattaldo – this wonderful review by Ben Harris has pushed this book right up my wish list. The book and the inspirational woman who features in it sound remarkable. “Become friends with the book, listen to the truth of its messages, hold this story in your hands and heart.”


When Life Gives You Mangoes by Kereen Getten – this debut sounds as though it would be an excellent addition to school bookshelves. “As well as the entirely gripping mystery and suspense, ‘When Life Gives You Mangoes’ allows children to experience Afro-Caribbean culture and explore some of the history of colonial Britain.” says Emma Kuyateh on her Primary Teacher Bookshelf blog.

A Story About Afiya by James Berry illustrated by Anna Cun – “a beautiful book about the wonder and magic of noticing and celebrating what we found around us. The gentle use of magic realism helps readers to identify what is magical and special about their own natural surroundings.” a really lovely review of this new picture book on the Books for Topics website by Jenny Holder.

Boy, Everywhere by A. M. Dassu – this debut for readers of 11+ sounds excellent. It chronicles the harrowing journey taken by Sami and his family from privilege to poverty, across countries and continents. “Read this book – it’s needs to be in classrooms everywhere – it will change you and stay with you.” says Tricia Adams in her review for Love Reading 4 Kids.

That’s all for this week and there is rather a lot to read but I hope it will be helpful. Book lovers have a special few days to look forward to; it is #BookshopDay today, Saturday 3rd October, a perfect excuse to buy that special book you have coveted for ages, and Libraries Week next week, 5th -10th October so yet more books to enjoy without breaking the bank. What a treat. Happy reading!

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