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

Hello and welcome to this week’s look at all the latest children’s book news. This weekly round up is an attempt to highlight articles, news items and useful information, resources or ideas linked to books for children and young people. It’s not possible to include everything but I hope it gives a taste of what is available and is useful to those who read it each week.

What I’m reading...

Six years ago I was lucky enough to receive a proof copy of a debut to review for the Bookbag website in anticipation of its publication in February of the following year. When I read The Dreamsnatcher by Abi Elphinstone I was immediately struck by the distinctive narrative voice and the understanding of the type of story many children love. This month Abi’s latest book, Jungledrop, the second in the Unmapped Chronicles, was published and I enjoyed this one just as much as her previous stories. You can read my review to find out why. This week the whole family have shared a new picture book from Tiny Owl, Where’s Baby Elephant? by Ali Khodai and we all, aged 3 to 89, have declared this a delight! I will post a review next week but this would be perfect for babies, toddlers and for use in early years settings.

On Wednesday I attended the online reveal of the new School Library Association patrons with no idea what to expect. What a treat it was! The new patrons are Juno Dawson, Sarah McIntyre and Smriti Halls and over an enjoyable hour they talked about what school libraries mean to them and how they hope to help and support them in the future. Thank you so much to the hosts for this presentation, Alison Tarrant and Bev Humphrey, for an entertaining and extremely heartening event. You can read a little more about the new patrons and the appeal announced this week in the news section below.

News, articles and resources…

Join Nikki Gamble and 10 Outstanding Authors for An Audience With… – this sounds absolutely wonderful. Nikki Gamble of Just Imagine has launched a curated programme of online events celebrating writers and illustrators of exceptional repute. Follow the link for more information and to book your place.

Creating a Community of Reading Teachers – a collaboration between a librarian and a teacher. – this excellent article by Barbara Band on the Great School Libraries website gives the background to the setting up of a Teachers as Readers group and would be helpful to anyone interested in becoming involved in this excellent initiative.

The Greatest Girls in Children’s Literature? – interesting and thought provoking blogpost by teacher Freya McLaughlin which has already prompted much online discussion. Thank you to Jon Biddle for making me aware of this.

25 years of His Dark Materials: Philip Pullman on the journey of a lifetime – incredibly it’s now twenty five years since we first met Lyra and this fascinating article in the Guardian is an enjoyable and insightful read.

Sarah McIntyre’s Teacher Comic Pack! – this is a great generous idea. Sarah McIntyre has created a half hour workshop leading children in making their own comics. There are videos, helpful advice and free worksheets to download all linked to Kevin and the Biscuit Bandit her new book created with Philip Reeve.

CLiPPA Poetry Award Show LIVE – if you missed this award ceremony being shown live last week you watch the recording of the Award show via the link to the Cheltenham Literature Festival website until December 31st:

CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Shadowers’ Choice Awards – The Shadowing Groups chose The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta, illustrated by Anshika Khullar as their favourite book from the Carnegie shortlist and The Undefeated illustrated by Kadir Nelson and written by Kwame Alexander was voted the Shadowers’ Choice for the Kate Greenaway shortlist. You can find out more about the books and the scheme in this Books for Keeps article.

The 2020 Federation of Children’s Book Groups Children’s Book Award – I was delighted to see that Tom Palmer had won both the award for Books for More Confident Readers category and the overall Award last Saturday. You can find out more about all the winning books as voted for by the children who read them and watch the award ceremony via the link on the FCBG website above.

Pushkin Children’s Round Table October 28th 6.30 – 7.30pm – Pushkin Children’s Books are hosting their first ever round table event, six of their children’s authors – Ele Fountain, Liz Hyder, Kereen Getten, Susie Bower, H.S. Norup and Ayesha Harruna Attah – talking about all things writing, reading and publishing books for young readers. Chairing them in conversation will be Sarah Odedina, Editor-at-Large of Pushkin Children’s Books and editor extraordinaire to these authors. Free but you need to register via the link.

‘We can always fight’: World Burn Down author Steve Cole on how we can help our planet together – Steve Cole’s new book World Burn Down, which I enjoyed very much and reviewed here, was inspired by fires in the Amazon – and now, he’s sharing on the Book Trust website how we can all make a difference if we come together.

Writes of Passage, selected and with commentary by Nicolette Jones – Writes of Passage, to be published by Nosy Crow in May 2021, is a stunning and uplifting collection of over 100 pieces of writing – poems, prose, speeches, film, play, and song lyrics, quotations, and more – from Shakespeare to Stephen Hawking; Greta Thunberg to Galileo; and Lin-Manuel Miranda to Martin Luther King, Jr. This definitely sounds like one to put on the wish list for next year.

Desert Island Discs with Baroness Floella Benjamin – this is just lovely. Broadcaster, writer, politician and ‘national treasure’ Dame Floella shares her choice of music and talks about her life with Lauren Laverne.

Open University Reading for Pleasure Book Chat – Watch & download FREE resources to help children develop a love of reading. Featuring Ben Harris reading One Fox, Rich Charlesworth reading A House That Once Was and Teresa Cremin reading The Same Inside this is a valuable resource for both home and school. This team are also presenting a free webinar, Sharing the pleasure: the role of talk in reading on Tuesday 20th October 8 -9pm. If you’re quick you can still book a ticket here.

School Library Association New Patrons and Launch of Fundraiser – the new Patrons, Juno Dawson, Sarah McIntyre and Smriti Halls, have launched a fundraiser to look at the impact of lockdown on school libraries. The good & the bad; every service pivoted, every LMS moved to the cloud, every child left without. Please do read about this initiative and support it if you can. Sarah McIntyre published a fabulous new poster on Friday supporting this fundraiser and it is available to download on her website.

Sainsbury’s Children’s Book Awards 2020 – the winners of this award were announced on Friday, now in their 11th year the awards aim to encourage parents and carers to spend more time reading with their children.

Also the return of Open University Reading for Pleasure Book Blether! Here’s the timetable if you are on Twitter and would like to join in.


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

The Tindims of Rubbish Island written by Sally Gardner illustrated by Lydia Corry – Printed in dyslexia-friendly font with pictures on every page and perfect for the reluctant reader aged 5+, the Tindims show keen young ecologists how to help protect our planet for the future. In her review for LoveReading4Kids Andrea Reece says, “Children will love them and their recycled world, and these stories are beautifully accessible and perfectly illustrated by Lydia Corry.”


Cherry Moon: Little Poems Big Ideas Mindful of Nature by Zaro Weil ill. Junli Song – the winner of this year’s CLiPPA is revived on the Achuka website, “Thought-provoking, sensitive and delightfully original, Cherry Moon poses big questions about life with poems and other small gatherings of word.”

Midnight Magic by Michelle Harrison, illustrated by Elissa Elwick – the first in a new series this magical mystery story sounds suitable for newly confident readers or to read aloud as Jo Clarke says: “Effortlessly engaging and entertaining, this is a marvellous start to a new series.”

The Ghost of Gosswater by Lucy Strange – I love Lucy Strange’s writing style and her latest book combining a Lake District setting, a ghost and a mystery would have been my ideal read as a ten year old. This lovely review by Emma Kuyateh has made me want to read it now and I’m considerably older than ten!

Witch by Finbar Hawkins – this is an outstanding review by Gordon Askew, and I always trust his reviews. He described this novel as his “YA debut of the year” but goes on to say “I have read only a few other novels this year that can stand comparison with the breathtaking quality of this one.” Witch has now gone soaring up my to read list and I would urge you to read this review to find out more.

Well, another busy week! I hope some of the links are useful to you. Happy reading.

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

  1. Wonderful info and links!

    Liked by 1 person

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