Hello and welcome to this week’s round up of all that’s been happening over the last few days in the world of children’s books. As we all know World Book Day takes place next Thursday and this is a time when children’s books are more in evidence in the main stream media than usual. Perhaps it is an opportunity for children’s book lovers to shout out about the less well known titles and authors that are being published at the moment. I hope that everyone enjoys the celebrations despite the restrictions.
What I’m Reading…
In case you missed it earlier in the week I took part in the blog tour to launch First Names: Nelson Mandela, the latest in this series celebrating inspirational people published by David Fickling Books. I was delighted to be joined by author Nansubuga Isdahl and illustrator Nicole Miles to discuss their collaboration providing us with a fascinating insight into the creative process.
The Shark Caller by Zillah Bethel is a wise, tender and comforting story that I loved so much that I can see myself reading it again soon. You can read my review and investigate the excellent teaching resources linked to the book here.
Do you remember The Vampirates by Justin Somper? Originally published in 2005 the series has been repackaged and reissued by Uclan Publishing and a further three books are due to be added to the series next month. I reacquainted myself with twins Connor and Grace Tempest in the first in the series, Demons of the Ocean, recently and think this fantasy adventure is great fun. A wonderful cast of characters, action packed and entertaining; there is a blog tour to mark the launch of the new additions to the series next month which I shall be watching out for.
News, articles and resources…
SF Said Reading for Pleasure Video – a lovely two minute video encouraging children to read what they enjoy. SF Said talks about his own books and recommends others too and we can all play ‘guess how many books are on his shelves’!
10 Books Celebrating Every Kind of Family – Isabel Agbo shares her favourite books celebrating families on the Lantana Publishing website. This is a fabulous, diverse list of beautiful picture books.
Your Kids Aren’t Too Old for Picture Books, and Neither Are You – an article by Pamela Paul for the New York Times that is rather preaching to the converted in my case and one that raises many important points for as Pamela says “Nobody moves on from picture books. At least, nobody should.” Well worth a read.
Win Books for your library with What on Earth Books and Britannica Children’s Encyclopedia World Book Day Competition. – this fantastic competition organised by Just Imagine in collaboration with What on Earth Books gives you the opportunity to win books for you and your school library while having fun and learning new stuff with the brilliant online quiz. Suitable for school or home. Full details via the link.
Boys aren’t always given space to express themselves’: Dr Ranj on his new book about puberty – an interview on the Book Trust website discussing his book How to Grow Up and Feel Amazing!: The No-Worries Guide for Boys which is published this month.
Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Awards: Programme of Online Events – a fantastic range of free events start next week linked to these awards and feature Jackie Morris, Shaun Tan, Keane Alexander and Ruta Sepetys plus a webinar about shadowing the awards.
Pyjamarama is back for 2021! – Pyjamarama is returning for a third time and will take place this year on Friday 14 May 2021. Organised by Book Trust it is all about getting children excited about reading, and fundraising to make sure every child gets their bedtime story. Children around the country are invited to spend a day reading, enjoying and sharing stories, all in the comfort of their pyjamas, and donate £1 to BookTrust.
As a Black Lord of the Rings fan, I felt left out of fantasy worlds. So I created my own – this article by Namina Forna, author of The Gilded Ones published by Usborne, is a thoughtful and interesting read and I now very much want to read her debut.
Reconnecting to Nature: Swan Song and Teenage Mental Health – last week I reviewed Swan Song by Gill Lewis and this excellent blog post by Gill for Barrington Stoke explores issues of mental health, anxiety, academic pressure and the healing power of nature and asks for a change. I hope this lovely book prompts discussion and helps young people like Dylan in the story.
Picture This: Non-Fiction Picture Books Telling Life Stories – A Guest Blog by SF Said – this selection shared on the Burley Fisher Books website contains a great range of titles featuring varied and inspiring people. Useful books
Reading, Writing and the Moomins – I had completely missed this so am grateful to Paula Bardell-Hedley for her blogpost and links to both the lovely video announcement about this initiative and the website. This a must for all the Moomins fans out there!
Step inside your story from The British Library – Anyone can be an author or the star of a story & the British Library are asking children across the UK to make concertina books about themselves. You can view ‘how to’ films by favourite authors & illustrators such as Zanib Mian, SF Said and Philip Ardagh before starting your own book. A lovely idea for home or school.
Reading for Pleasure – great time to be talking about this by Michael Rosen – an excellent article in which Michael Rosen looks at the process of reading and how children and young people respond. Perfect for teachers and school librarians to share and discuss in schools but interesting for parents too. So much that I could quote but I was particularly struck by, “books are full of possibility and change. In most fiction and non-fiction, characters and things change. We see that there is the possibility for the material world (the environment) to change and for us to change. This is a powerful and necessary corrective to the idea that we are stuck or that the world must be the way it is.”
Skysteppers by Katherine Rundell – a lovely interview on the Tyger Tale blog. Set a few unspecified years before her classic Parisian adventure Roofoppers, Katherine Rundell’s prequel, Skysteppers tells the story of Matteo and how he came to live up high. She spoke to the Deeper Reading podcast about the world of Rooftoppers and in this extract she talks about her influences, the best buildings to climb in Paris and why she hopes her books will introduce children to new beauty.
The Reader Teacher: February 2021 Monthly Must Reads – a selection chosen by Scott Evans, picture book, non-fiction, and middle grade fiction. I was delighted to see The Shark Calder included.
Finally, some book reviews that caught my eye this week…
Anita and the Dragons by Hannah Carmona illustrated by Anna Cunha – a beautiful review by Kiran Satti for Just Imagine of a picture book set in the Dominican Republic and telling a story of migration. The glimpse of the illustrations that I have seen online are gorgeous and Kiran says they “are comforting and are almost whispering to you, everything will be ok.” Doesn’t that sound lovely.
Explore the World by Anton Hallmann, translated by Ryan Eyers – this informative and helpful review by Clare Zinkin gives an overview of a book that sounds fascinating and one that would prompt further discovery and learning. “This non-fiction title for primary school children neatly marries geography and history, and allows a peek into each era and place.”
Luna Rae is Not Alone by Hayley Webster – moving house although exciting in many ways can be a difficult time for a child so fiction that portrays this is always popular and also useful for school librarians and teachers. This five star review from The Bookbag suggests this particular book is an excellent example, “Wonderfully heartwarming, Luna is a really brilliant character, and this is a beautifully written, extremely readable story.”
That’s all for this week. I hope everyone enjoys World Book Day however you are celebrating it this year and I’ll leave you with this year’s official song…Happy Reading!