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

Welcome to this week’s look at all the latest child book news and what a busy week it has been. There are award nominations and shortlists, podcasts, interviews and online events in abundance so I hope there is something for all tastes included here.

What I’m reading…

Unfortunately I have not read as much as I hoped or planned this week but I did write my review of Butterfly Brain by Laura Dockrill illustrated by Gwen Millward for Just Imagine. This a kind and poignant portrayal of the importance of memories, dreams and imagination in finding a way to cope with loss and grief. I also finished reading A Thousand Questions by Saadia Faruqi a middle grade story set in modern Karachi. I think that the dual narrative works well at showing how it is possible to discover what unites rather than divides through conversation and understanding. My review will be up on the blog in the next few days.

News, articles and resources…

Exploring Children’s Literature: Podcasts – Nikki Gamble has interviewed a large number of top children’s authors, illustrators and poets and this link will take you to all of them. Perfect listening for children’s book enthusiasts and a fascinating insight into some of the very best books available.

Children’s books roundup – the best new picture books and novels – I always enjoy finding out which books Imogen Russell Williams has selected for her regular feature in the Guardian but these struck me as particularly hopeful and comforting just when we need them.

Little Angel Theatre Production of Clever Cakes by Michael Rosen – this story of a clever, brave girl and how she outwits a greedy bear is told by Michael Rosen accompanied by some lovely puppetry. This production, alongside all of Little Angel’s online activities, is being made available for free. If you are able to consider making a donation – however small – to help the theatre survive during this challenging time, it would be greatly appreciated: https://littleangeltheatre.com/suppor..

Benjamin Zephaniah on new book Windrush Child – Benjamin Zephaniah’s new book Windrush Child is part of the Voices historical fiction series. In this interview he tells Book Trust about the book and why it’s so important to learn your history, and learn it right.

Nominations published for the 2021 CILIP Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Medals – Nominations have been published for the 2021 CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals. A total of 152 books have been nominated for the 2021 Medals; 77 books are in contention for the CILIP Carnegie Medal and 75 for the Kate Greenaway Medal. This includes four titles that received nominations in both Medal categories. You can explore the Carnegie nominations here and the Kate Greenaway nominations here.

Waterstones Book of the Year 2020 Shortlist – first introduced in 2012, Waterstones Book of the Year titles are nominated by their booksellers, recent winners have included Sally Rooney’s Normal People and The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy. This year’s shortlist includes Diary of a a Young Naturalist by Dara McAnulty, The Book of Hopes, stories and poems by children’s authors, curated by Katherine Rundell and Tiger, Tiger, Burning Bright! An Animal Poem for Every Day of the Year compiled by Fiona Waters and illustrated by Britta Teckentrup.

North Cornwall Book Festival at School – launched on 3rd November the organisers of this festival have created a series of short films for schools and families. These video interviews, which include a creative challenge set by the authors for children to complete in their own time, are entirely free for use either in the classroom or at home. All of the authors involved have been kind enough to dedicate their time to this project for free. The videos are suitable for an age range from primary to KS4 and having watched a couple I think they are excellent.


Celebrating Book Week Scotland in your school – Book Week is celebrated in Scotland from 16th – 22nd November and the resource pack created by Scottish Book Trust is full of activity ideas and display materials that tie into this year’s theme of ‘Future’.

Join the Winter Mini Challenge and become a reading hero! – The Reading Agency are partnering with publishers Knights Of to bring you #EveryoneIsAHero – a challenge celebrating heroes in all their forms. The Winter Mini Challenge encourages children to keep up their reading habits over the winter holidays, with a free-to-access website featuring rewards and incentives for reading and reviewing books. It starts on Tuesday 1 December 2020 and finishes on Friday 15 January 2021.

Non-fiction books to help teens understand the world around them – this month marks Non-Fiction November and these non-fiction books chosen by Book Trust could be a great tool to help teenagers explore and investigate problems in their lives and around the world.

Rain Before Poetry – this is fabulous. An hour spent with Dom Conlon, Matt Goodfellow, David Lichfield, Vivian Schwarz and Smriti Halls discussing poetry, picture books and empathy. I enjoyed every minute.

Following in Dickens’ Giant Footsteps by Catherine Bruton – a guest post on My Shelves Are Full, this is an enjoyable and interesting read about Catherine Bruton’s new MG title for Nosy Crow, Another Twist in the Tale. I also love the sound of the book so another for my lengthy lists.

UKLA Book Awards Longlist 2021 (information texts) – thank you very much to Sadie Phillips for creating this Padlet displaying the non-fiction titles on the UKLA Longlist, it’s particularly useful this month.

Blue Peter Book Awards 2021 Shortlist Announced – There are three books are in the running for Best Story, and three are on the list for Best Book With Facts. The nominated books will now be sent to children in judging schools across the country, who will read them all and then vote for their favourites. Detectives, discoveries and incredible people from history make the line-up.

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

Too Much Stuff! by Emily Gravett – as someone who struggles to de-clutter I love the sound of this picture book. A funny, rhyming story introducing young children to the concept of waste, recycling and re-using sounds both helpful and entertaining. In her lovely review Jill Bennett says, “It’s great entertainment…and there’s SO much going on in Emily’s detailed illustrations, every one of which is a mini-story in itself.”

Albert Einstein’s Theory of Relativity by Carl Wilkinson illustrated by James Weston Lewis – chosen as LoveReading4Kids No -Fiction Book of the Month for November this sounds like a remarkable book. “Every reader will close the book fully aware of the enormity of Einstein’s achievement and his brilliance” says reviewer Andrea Reece. Suitable for KS2.

Blue Planet II – Leisa Stewart-Sharpe, illustrated by Emily Dove – Jo Clarke reviews this new book, a collaboration with BBC Earth, and hosts the author who tells us all about sharks and why they are her favourites.

Midnight Guardians by Ross Montgomery – this is Waterstones Book of the Month and I’ve read a great deal of very positive feedback from readers but this lovely review combines the opinions of school librarian Miss Cleveland and her pupils so it’s feedback that matters and they rave about it!

That’s everything for this week and I do hope that it’s helpful. Happy reading!


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

  1. Thank you Anne. At the end of a busy week when I’ve hardly looked at social media and haven’t read anything I appreciate your round-up more than ever. Have a lovely weekend 😃

    Liked by 1 person

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