Hello and welcome to this week’s look at what has been happening in the world of children’s books. It has been a busy week for me and for children’s books and although I know I have not been able to include everything I hope that this selection is enjoyable and helpful.
A reminder that if you are looking for resources linked to reading for pleasure to share online as part of home learning I have collected lots of sites and ideas together here.
What I’m reading…
One of my favourite genres is historical fiction both for children and adults and this week I read and reviewed The Ghost Garden by Emma Carroll for Just Imagine. This is Emma’s debut for Barrington Stoke and I am delighted that a wider audience will now be able to appreciate her work. This is one of those wonderful stories that feels as though it has always been there and Emma has woken it up for us to all enjoy.
As a child I enjoyed the story of the Ugly Duckling and in the Fairy Tale Revolution series Kamila Shamsie provides in Duckling a thoughtful, relevant and feminist version of this popular tale and the illustrations by Laura Barrett are lovely too. I preferred this to the original! There are many important themes covered in this picture book and it would be an excellent book for the classroom.
Last but not least my son gave me Dear Reader by Cathy Retzenbrink for Christmas and I am enjoying it very much. Her descriptions of life as a bookseller are so similar to the world of librarians in many ways; the matching of book to reader and developing a skill in identifying a title from the vaguest of descriptions!
News, articles and resources…
Nikki Gamble’s An Audience With Sita Brahmachari – Are you interested in children’s books, reading, creative writing, or publishing? An Audience with Sita Brahmachari on 4th February sound fabulous. Tickets, including reduced-price student tickets, can be purchased direct from Eventbrite now via the link. I can wholeheartedly recommend these evenings as I have found each so far both interesting and enjoyable.
A Shelter for Sadness – interview with Anne Booth and David Litchfield – this is soothing, interesting and highly recommended. A lovely, thoughtful interview, reading and Q&A with the creators of this picturebook due to be published on 21st January. The LitFilmFest website is full of excellent resources that can be shared in the classroom and online. I’m glad I discovered this and have been browsing the website since.
Optimism in Stories for Children – Experiments in Living – This links beautifully with the interview above and is an uplifting and rewarding listen. I now want to join this band of hope-ists. How do you give hope to children when you’re not feeling hopeful? What’s the difference between optimism and hope? How do children’s writers balance light and dark, joy and sadness? And what kind of language sustains and nurtures us through difficult times when we’re young? Smriti Halls, Frank Cottrell-Boyce, Kate Fox and Gaia Vince join Ian McMillan on this Radio 4 programme.
Books for Keeps January Issue – this latest edition of my favourite book related magazine contains many reasons to be cheerful in 2021. There is a look back at recent positive stories, reviews of excellent new books and great articles by Teresa Cremin, Alex Wheatle, Darren Chetty and Karen Sands-O’Connor amongst others. This is my weekend reading sorted.
Engaging readers remotely – a helpful blogpost by teacher Christopher Harrison providing strategies to help keep children reading during lockdown.
Why The School Library Was My First Investment – Richard Gerver – the newly appointed president of the School Library Association urges schools to recognise the power of school libraries in this important article for the Teaching Times.
Authorfy – Publisher Permissions During the Lockdown – if you are consider reading books online to pupils this is a helpful resource. Mel Taylor-Bessent of Authorfy has contacted her publishing partners to bring you their permissions policies and guidelines for sharing stories online during the Covid-19 pandemic. There are details via the link but sure to check the guidelines in full via their websites as they may be updated from time-to-time.
Firefly acquires debut middle-grade from book blogger Jo Clarke – this announcement on Tuesday made me beam! I’m thrilled for Jo who has worked so hard for this and love the sound of her debut. Due out in April 2022, Libby and the Parisian Puzzle will be illustrated by Becka Moor, this is a book to look forward to.
Young adult books roundup – review – this selection chosen by Fiona Noble for the Guardian includes the new title from Angie Thomas, Concrete Rose and What We’re Scared of by Keren David featured in an article in last week’s Reading Matters.
New Resources for the Classroom from Authorfy – these resources linked to popular children’s books are created by the publishing partners of Authorfy and are free to download. They are useful for schools, libraries or home learning.
Helping Home Learning: Reading with TRUST – This comic strip is designed to be shared with parents to support them in maximising the benefit of shared reading time with their child. Free to download from the Education Endowment Foundation website.
Bourneville Bookfest for Schools – Bournville BookFest for Schools is going online – and this year their storytelling events are for schools…families..everyone! All Free. All Digital. Register your interest via the link. Speakers include Cressida Cowell, Benjamin Zephaniah, Michael Rosen, Nick Sharratt, Serena Patel, Tom Palmer, Steven Lenton and Steven Butler, Matt”Poet with Punch” Windle and storyteller Anna O’Brien.
Time is short – time for short stories: enriching reading & writing with perfectly formed tales – This useful and interesting new blog by Martin Galway of Herts Primary English includes: Updated short story recommendations booklist, designed to be a quick, medium, or longer read, why they matter in our reading offer – especially now.
Young Quills 2020 – the shortlist – the Historical Association’s annual awards for best historical fiction for young people were delayed due to the pandemic but the shortlists in each of the three categories were announced this week. Lots of great titles to choose from.
Guest Post by Poet James Carter – How to enthuse children whilst delivering online – this special guest post on Jo Cummins @LibraryGirl&BookBoy is full of excellent ideas and suggestions and some lovely poems too.
Books for Topics Free Storytime Online – a reminder that these free Storytime Online resources are still available to all. Children use a QR code to access a range of stories being read by their authors. There are separate sheets for ages 3-5, 5-7, 7-9 and 9-11 to download & share.
Voyage of the Sparrowhawk by Natasha Farrant Teaching Resources – Scott Evans (The Reader Teacher) has written chapter-by-chapter resources for this Costa Award winning book with comprehension questions, writing opportunities & cross-curricular activities. Available to download from the Faber website via the link.
Finally, some book reviews that caught my eye this week…
Saving Hanno: A Refugee Boy and His Dog by Miriam Halahmy – this sounds lovely. Mary Esther Judy says in her review “With flowing language, a steady, strong pace and a vivid voice Saving Hanno… is a fantastic book for children ages 7 and up, or to read together.”
Chocolate Milk, X-Ray Specs and Me by Bethany Walker, illustrated by Jack Noel – this review and interview on Nicki Cleveland’s blog made me smile and the book sounds great fun. We all need a bit of fun right now.
Crater Lake Evolution by Jennifer Killick – Crater Lake was a big hit with teachers and pupils so there is great excitement online about the sequel due out in May. Teacher and blogger Andrew Rough has whetted our appetites further with his cracking review. I imagine this is going to be preordered by many!
The Broken Raven – Joseph Elliott – somehow I missed the first instalment of Joseph Elliott’s Shadow Skye trilogy but this review by Rich Simpson of the second book in the series has convinced me that I should correct that. Rich says that “Alongside all the drama and action, however, there is also a mix of humour, empathy for the characters and a message of hope.” A great read for YR7+
I hope that you have enjoyed this week’s round up of news and reviews. A quick reminder that the blog tour for The Boy Who Sang with Dragons by Andy Shepherd is taking place at the moment and you can read my review tomorrow.