Hello and welcome to this week’s round up of the latest news from the world of children’s books. The number of fantastic books being published at present is a cause for celebration and I try to include some of them each week. There is also news of awards, guidance for school libraries, and new resources too. I hope you find something helpful, entertaining or interesting among the links.
What I’m reading…
A Street Dog Named Pup by Gill Lewis, published next week by David Fickling Books, is an emotional and captivating read. During online book chats about children’s literature comment is frequently made about the appeal of classic stories and this book contains, I think, many of the qualities of epic animal stories such as Watership Down and One Hundred and One Dalmatians. I loved it.
The publishers Barrington Stoke are producing some fabulous books at the moment and I have reviewed a selection that were published this month here. This week I have also read two more of their titles due out next week, Featherlight by Peter Bunzl and Tragedy at Sea: the sinking of the Titanic by David Long and I will be posting reviews of these next week. I guarantee that among this selection there will be at least one that will tempt a young reader.
Can Bears Ski? by Raymond Antrobus and Polly Dunbar has featured in Reading Matters reviews recently and this week I listened to Nikki Gamble’s interview with the author. I found this helpful and interesting having worked with deaf children in the past and would highly recommend this as it will, I’m sure, prompt discussion and more understanding.
I have just started reading The Feast of the Evernight by Ross Mackenzie which I will be reviewing for The School Librarian magazine. It has all the dark, atmospheric feel of Evernight and has a dramatic opening that engaged me immediately. That’s my weekend reading sorted!
News, articles and resources…
The Tir na n-Og Awards Shortlists Announced – Congratulations to all the wonderful authors, illustrators and publishers on the Tir na n-Og 2021 shortlists. The Tir na n-Og Awards are the oldest and most popular awards for children’s literature in Wales. Established in 1976, the awards recognise, honour and promote excellence in books for children and young people. The English Language Shortlist is made up of three stories exploring Wales at different times through history and I am very much looking forward to reading them. I’ll be posting more about the books on my blog in the coming weeks. The winners will be announced in May.
Fleur Hitchcock and Gill Lewis joint launch event 30th March – Join authors Fleur Hitchcock and Gill Lewis for the launch of their new books Waiting for Murder and A Street Dog Named Pup and a chat about ten years of being published The Book Nook Facebook page.
See that cute animal? It’s about to go extinct: Dear Zoo gets an update – Look After Us, a companion book to the much classic interactive picture book Dear Zoo, delivers some lessons about saving wildlife. Creator Rod Campbell explains why in this Guardian article. Macmillan Children’s Books have created some colouring activity sheets for young children linked to the new book which are available to download here.
Bravery, hope and escape: the best books to cheer up kids in lockdown – From polar bears to murder mysteries, Katherine Rundell chooses a selection of books to lift children’s spirits.
How can Primary Schools use their libraries to their full potential? – an excellent and informative article by Joy Court and Tricia Adams both of whom have a wealth of experience in this field. It’s full of helpful links, advice and tips.
Developing a Library That’s REALLY For Everyone – this article by Kelsey Bogan a US High School Media Specialist is well worth saving and referring to as it highlights many vitally important points linked to ensuring that our school libraries are diverse and inclusive. It covers aspects from book stock to signage, from recommended book list to librarian’s personal reading.
The Laugh Out Loud Book Awards (the Lollies) Are Back – this is a book award searching for the very funniest children’s books published in the previous year. For 2022 the organisers are looking for books published in both 2019 and 2020 in three different categories: Picture Books, Books for 6-8-year-olds and Books for 9-13-year-olds. You can find out more about the award, the judges and past winners via the link above.
Storytelling for a greener tomorrow – this is an interesting and thoughtful article by children’s author Fiona Barker asking if children’s books can inspire behavioural change.
Raymond Antrobus: ‘Deafness is an experience, not a trauma’ – this interesting interview with the author of Can Bears Ski? perfectly complements the podcast I referred to above.
Marcus Rashford vows to reach children who have never owned book – a celebrity children’s author with a difference. You Are a Champion: How To Be the Best You Can Be by footballer and campaigner Marcus Rashford will be published in May.
The Alligator’s Mouth Award for illustrated early fiction – the longlist for this award organised by bookshop The Alligator’s Mouth in in partnership with Bright Illustration Agency and Gardners Books was announced this week. The award celebrates the best books for 6-8-year-olds and the longlist includes some very appealing titles.
Reading Zone Relaunched Website – I like the new uncluttered, welcoming appearance of this helpful website. It’s separated into sections including ones for children, families and schools and libraries. There are reviews, interviews, book suggestions, competitions and more all encouraging reading for pleasure. It’s well worth a browse.
Spring “Explorer’s Guide” to The Lost Spells – this is lovely. Lesson plans, activities, art challenges, outdoor learning, nature-literacy ideas created by Eva John linked to this beautiful book. The Guide is for use in classrooms, at home or in an outdoor space of your choosing. The various activities and challenges included can be dipped in and out of or used consecutively as a cross-curricular scheme of work.
Are books for young people a literature in their own right? by Elizabeth Bentley – an interesting look at The Age Between: personal reflections on youth fiction by Aidan Chambers and links to essays by Peter Dickinson and Melvin Burgess on the subject.
The Open University Reading for Pleasure Newsletter – the best source of advice and resources to support reading for pleasure in schools this special edition of the newsletter gives an overview of what has been happening over the last year and provides links to case studies, research and more. Definitely worth signing up for if you haven’t already.
Children’s books roundup – the best new picture books and novels – another fabulous selection from Imogen Russell Williams. I love the way in which Imogen captures and conveys the heart of a book in a just a few sentences and there’s always something I want to read. I imagine I’m not alone.
Seven Stories Author and Illustrator Events – Seven Stories Authors into Schools events bring inspirational authors and illustrators to your school. Events are live streamed through a private YouTube link. This means you can have multiple classes join in different rooms at the same time, allowing children to have a shared experience, despite distancing and bubble restrictions. All participating schools are asked to buy a set of the author’s books to the value of £70 in order to take part in each event.
Finally, some book reviews that caught my eye this week…
Storm Dragon by Dianne Hofmeyr and Carol Thompson – I have glimpsed images from this lovely picture book shared online and it sounds hugely appealing. Jill Bennett clearly enjoyed it as in her review she describes it as “a MUST to share with foundation stage listeners”
Harley Hitch and the Iron Forest by Vashti Hardy & George Ermos – when reading reviews recently I’ve been on the look out for books that would be suitable for lower KS2 and this book sounds perfect for that age group and great fun. Kate Heap says in her review that Harley is “sassy and smart, impulsive and full of initiative – such a fantastic role model for girls and boys.“
“No Country”: An Interview with Patrice Aggs and Joe Brady – Ben Harris provides an overview of this graphic novel and then hosts an informative and revealing interview with its creators. I learned a lot from this and No Country has now made it to my lengthy books to buy list.
Just Like Me by Louise Gooding, Melissa Iwai, Caterina Delli Carri, cathyhookey, Angel Chang – This is a collection of the true stories of 40 inspirational figures from around the world, all of whom are physically or neurologically diverse. Reviewed on the Reading Zone website it is described as, “a fantastic addition to any Upper Key Stage 2 classroom. It would work well to dip into, across the curriculum, to remind children of their potential and what they can achieve if they put their mind to it.”
That’s all for this week and it’s a bit of a bumper issue! I know that some schools have already broken up for Easter and others still have a few days to go and I hope everyone enjoys a well earned relaxing break if possible. Reading Matters will be taking an Easter break too as I need to tackle my ‘read and review’ heap (see photo below!) but I hope to bring Reading Matters back next month. Happy Easter.