Reading Matters – children’s book news

Hello and welcome to this week’s catch up with what has been happening in the world of children’s books. The highlight for many I’m sure has been the announcement of the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Award shortlists and full details of these are included in the links below.

What I’m reading…


Regular visitors to Reading Matters will already know that I’m a big fan of the publishers Barrington Stoke who do so much to ensure that the high quality books they produce can be read by as wide an audience as possible. This week I read one of their newest titles, The Dog Who Saved the World (Cup) by Phil Earle, and I loved it, it is a special book dealing with the subject of homelessness in a kind and accessible manner. I would highly recommend it. There were several great books published earlier this month by Barrington Stoke which I finished reading this week and I plan to post reviews very soon.

I recently read and reviewed Circus Maximus: Race to the Death by Annelise Gray, a compelling story which I thoroughly enjoyed so I was delighted to see that Nikki Gamble had interviewed Annelise for her Exploring Children’s Literature podcast. I found this fascinating, particularly the emphasis on the importance of research and the conversation about Latin providing us with a glimpse of people and their lives rather than learning grammar by rote. I am now eager to read the second instalment of Didi’s story next year.

Last night I started reading Street Dog Named Pup by Gill Lewis and already I am drawn into this story and care about Pup and wondering about what the future holds for him. The cover image by Levi Pinfold and the illustrations by Gill herself are gorgeous too. More updates to follow…

New, articles and resources…

Lancaster LitFest: The Art of Nature: Jackie Morris and Shaun Tan – what a wonderful hour this was last Saturday. I felt as though I was eavesdropping on a rather special conversation between two wise and thoughtful creators of beautiful books. I would highly recommend catching up on this if you missed it last weekend. Thank you to Alison Brumwell and Jake Hope the two librarians who made this event possible.

Books For Keeps March Issue – one of my favourite sources of information about children’s books, I always look forward to reading this. The current issue is packed full of fascinating articles, including the regular features and reviews of many new books and is a must read for anyone interested in children’s books.

The Greatest Mothers in Children’s Literature? – this blogpost by Freya McLaughlin was shared online by teacher Jon Biddle on Mothering Sunday and is an interesting read any day.

Sydney Smith on Collaboration – this video, shared by Mat Tobin last weekend, is a fascinating insight into this award winning illustrator’s work and well worth a watch. It is particularly timely as Sydney Smith’s wonderful Small in the City has been shortlisted for the Greenaway Award.

Registration now open for the National Reading Champions Quiz 2021 – This summer, the National Literacy Trust are hosting a quiz for students. Schools can enter either one or two teams, and each team should be made up of four students, plus a reserve. Students must be aged between 10 and 14 inclusive, and the entrance fee is just £20 per team. More details via the link.

The Reading List Project: Teachers Helping Teachers – thank you to school librarian Lucas Maxwell who shared this in his recent newsletter. This is a host of texts curated by English teachers, for English teachers for KS3 students including a range of genres and a balance of classic and new titles.

OURfPBookBlether curriculum recommendations – The February one-hour Twitter Book Blethers focussed on the curriculum and books to read aloud, enjoy and connect with. Mary-Rose Grieve and Marilyn Brockelhurst kindly collated all of the recommendations and they are available to browse and purchase via the link.

Introducing the Barnes & Noble Children’s & YA Book Prizes – These awards will spotlight and celebrate outstanding new and emerging talent in children’s publishing across three categories: Picture Books, Young Readers and YA.

Shared reading of the lockdown kind: delivering parent/carer support sessions remotely – this blogpost by Martin Galway for Herts Learning English is full of wisdom, tips and advice on how to use what has been learned over the last year to further support parents.

Love my Books March Newsletter – I think the Love My Books website is a wonderful resource, it was referenced in the blogpost above too, providing many ideas for activities linked to a wide variety of books. This latest newsletter includes all the recent additions to their site including The Beat and the Piano by David Lichfield and Last by Nicola Davies.

CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals Shortlists Announced – 16 titles have been shortlisted for the 2021 Medals (8 on each shortlist) selected from a total of 40 longlisted titles, read by an expert volunteer team of 15 librarians from across the UK. It is wonderful to see independent publishers such as Barrington Stoke, Knights Of, Book Island and Otter Barry books on the lists. Some of my favourite picturebooks feature on the Greenaway list and I loved The Girl Who Speaks Bear by Sophie Anderson and am looking forwarding to exploring the Carnegie list further.

Shortlist for Carnegie medal offers locked-down children ‘hope and escapism’ – article by Alison Floid exploring the various titles on both awards lists.

Nathan Byron has been named the first ambassador for Puffin World of Stories – Puffin World of Stories aims to address some of the key challenges facing reading for pleasure in schools where budget constraints often mean investing in school libraries and librarians and buying new books is not an option. Over the course of Nathan Bryon’s ambassadorship, he will promote the importance of reading for pleasure to participating schools via virtual content and in-school visits, as well as interactive resources based on his books.

Children’s reading news, research, resources – Anne Harding produces regular compilations of children’s book news and this one contains links to recent research on reading and literacy. Definitely useful to save to refer to as needed. Thank you, Anne.

The British Book Awards Book of the Year Shortlists – The British Book Awards (aka The Nibbies) were launched in 1990 and now run by The Bookseller have several categories among them are Children’s Fiction and Children’s Illustrated and Non-Fiction. The winners will be announced on 13th May.

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

The Forgettery by Rachel Ip and Laura Hughes – a picture book about the bond between grandma and granddaughter and a sensitive exploration of memory and the reality of life when the occasional forgetfulness becomes a cause for concern. This lovely review by Rachael at Picture Book Perfect and the interview with author Rachel Ip has tempted me to add this to my wish list. The illustrations by Laura Hughes look stunning too.

Melt by Ele Fountain – I am fortunate enough to have a copy of this book on my ‘to read shelf’ and this review by Paul Watson has made me look forward to reading it even more. Paul always includes a helpful ‘teacher bit’ in his reviews providing tips for using the books he has reviewed in the classroom too.

The Exploding Life of Scarlett Fife by Maz Evans, illustrated by Chris Jevons – I enjoyed reading this happy, positive review by Veronica Price of a book that sounds equally happy. In summary Veronica says “This is a marvellous book, bursting with joy and good sense and celebrating love in its many forms. I am sure that it will become a much-loved addition to your classroom, library or home and I certainly hope that there will be more books featuring Scarlett Fife.”

The Lightening Catcher by Clare Weze – this children’s debut due out in May was already on my radar as something a little different but this great review by Fabia at Candid Cocoa has increased my anticipation. Fabia says it is, “an intelligent, highly charged, imaginative novel where science and fiction mesh and fizz extraordinarily to create a weird and wonderful adventure.”   

Bone Music by David Almond – I have just discovered Beth’s Bookcase and the wonderful reviews by @f33lthesun “The Lovely Beth” and this one of the latest David Almond YA novel due out next month has sold this book to me. I will be following Beth’s reviews from now!

That’s everything for this week and there’s rather a lot to get through but I do hope that something here has helped or prompted you to try one of the books mentioned. Happy reading.

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8 Responses to Reading Matters – children’s book news

  1. Thank you Anne for another fascinating round-up of news and for linking to my review. I will be forwarding a link to my former school colleagues as I think that many of your linked resources will be useful for them. I loved the post about great mothers in children’s fiction and was happy to see my favourite, Marina from The Wolf Wilder, included. I hope you have a lovely weekend 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  2. alibrarylady says:

    Thank you, Veronica and thank you for your lovely, happy review too. That’s an interesting post about mothers in fiction isn’t it. I’ve started following Freya’s blog now. I can wholeheartedly recommend the Jackie Morris and Shaun Tan event too, it was a real highlight of the week for me, so much wisdom and thoughtfulness.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Fiona says:

    Thank you for such an informative post- I have now signed up to be notified of future posts after finding you on Twitter! I’m currently trying to replenish our Infant school Iibrary and this has been hugely inspirational, thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Rachael says:

    Ooh, yes the Jackie Morris and Shaun Tan eveby was brilliant wasn’t it?! Did you watch Jackie’s other one too? I am hoping to watch the recording of that one this week.

    Liked by 1 person

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