Reading Matters – children’s book news

Hello and welcome to this week’s catch up with all the latest children’s book news. April 22nd marked Earth Day and it has prompted sharing of books and articles related to our environment so there are a few links reflecting this theme, one which I know is of value all year round.

What I’m reading…

A wide variety of reading material has entertained me this week. Firstly I wrote my review of Michelle Paver’s latest for Just Imagine. Skin Taker is an enthralling and atmospheric read that left a lasting impression on me; I love it when I’m still thinking about a book days after finishing it and this definitely achieved that.

You are never too old to enjoy an excellent picture book and this week I selected some of my favourite Pick of the Picture Books from over the last few weeks. All of these are winners for different reasons and in addition to being a joy to read and pore over they all convey important and kindly messages to encourage and comfort readers. I enjoyed all of them very much.

By happy coincidence I found myself reading Melt by Ele Fountain this week and it was perfectly timed for Earth Day. I was impressed at the way the environmental theme is integrated skilfully into the exciting adventure and found the book both enjoyable and enlightening. My review will explain why.

I was immensely touched and excited to be asked to be a Tir na n-Og Children’s Literature Award Champion and am looking forward to sharing and talking about the wonderful shortlisted books. I have just started reading The Short Knife by Elen Caldecott and am already immersed in this vividly described historical novel. This is going to be something special, I think.

News, articles and resources…

Teaching Resources for the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal 2021 – the team at the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education (CLPE) have created plans for each of the shortlisted titles to enable teachers to use these picture books to enhance critical thinking and develop creative approaches in art and writing. They are available to download for free via the link.

Marcus Rashford Book Club kicks off with Puri and 50,000 free books – The Marcus Rashford Book Club will launch in June with Pooja Puri’s middle-grade debut A Dinosaur Ate My Sister. To kick off the Marcus Rashford Book Club, Macmillan Children’s Books has partnered with children’s food charity Magic Breakfast to donate 50,000 free books, reaching more than 850 primary schools across England and Scotland.

Reading Zone Free On-line Book Club – there is a fantastic line-up for these events starting with Kirsty Applebaum on Friday 30th April, followed by Jenny Pearson, Frank Cottrell Boyce, Nicola Penfold and Serena Patel. At each Reading Zone Book Club event the organisers aim to enjoy some book chat with the classes taking part, meet great authors and discover new books. It sounds fabulous and a lovely opportunity for schools.

English 4-11 Picture Book Awards 2021 – the English Association announced the shortlists for these awards this week featuring categories for different age groups and both fiction and non-fiction. You can learn more about the award via the link above and purchase the shortlisted titles here.

Diversity in Children’s Literature 1: history and context May 10th 7pm online – This is the first event in a series on cultural diversity in children’s literature. Michael Rosen, Sanchita Basu De Sarkar and Melanie Ramdarshan Bold discuss how children’s literature has progressed to become more culturally inclusive and diverse than ever before. Tickets cost £3 and are available via the link.

Rewilding and our connections with the natural world – this thoughtful article by Nicola Penfold, author of Where the World Turns Wild, highlights the importance of this approach and includes Nicola’s recommendations for children’s books on this theme plus Anthea Simmons talks about the new YA book BURNING SUNLIGHT.

Children’s Books That Promote Environmental Sustainability– this is an excellent list on the Books for Topics website featuring favourite texts for primary classrooms on the topic of caring for the environment chosen by a team of teachers, librarians, authors and book lovers.

Dame Floella Benjamin’s youth to become ‘uplifting’ stage musical – Coming To England, a new stage musical will receive its premiere at the Birmingham Rep next February and is based on Dame Floella’s 1997 book. It is being adapted by David Wood, one of her former co-presenters on classic children’s TV show Play Away.

Children’s Fiction and the Climate Crisis with Pushkin Press – Join Pushkin Children’s Books and Tales on Moon Lane for a fabulous evening with three brilliant writers in conversation. Pushkin Children’s Books Editor-at-Large Sarah Odedina will be interviewing Hannah Gold (The Last Bear), Piers Torday (The Wild Before)and Ele Fountain (Melt) on Wednesday 26th May on Zoom. I’ve booked a ticket for this and think it will be fascinating.

Books for Topics Give Me Five Guest Book Lists – I have only just discovered these great lists supplied by children’s authors and they cover a wide range of topics from the stage to the Titanic, from India to British Folklore and are well worth exploring.

2020 School Library Survey Report UK – this survey, conducted by Softlink in partnership with the SLA, on behalf of the school library sector, examines key trends and issues impacting school libraries. This report provides an overview of survey findings, with a further breakdown for primary, secondary, 6th form/6th form & secondary, and all-through schools. You can found out more and download a copy of the full report via the link.

Greening the Jolly Springtime – I love this and hope you do too. Nick Swarbrick takes us on a slow walk through some wonderful new picture books on the theme of nature, shares some poetry and his thoughts on his local landscape.

Why I Will Always Read Aloud to my Middle School Students by Beth Jarzabek – this article on the Nerdy Book Club site raises many interesting points about the value of reading aloud within the classroom at all ages.

Third Grade by Jon Klassen – another Nerdy Book Club article. This one looks back at this book creator’s childhood which I found both interesting and enjoyable. The ‘frozen moments’ aspect is something that I recognise and I do hope you enjoy this as much as I did.

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

Beach Explorer by Heather Buttivant – Heather Buttivant, award-winning wildlife blogger invites the reader on an adventure to meet the mysterious creatures that live on the beach and discover what you can do to protect them. Chosen as one of the weekly staff picks by LoveReading4Kids this would be an excellent companion for the summer holidays and it contains a section on how to “Be a Wildlife Champion.”

Bigfoot Mountain by Roderick O’Grady – I already had this book on my to read list and this great review on Fallen Star Stories blog has highlighted some interesting aspects of the story so it will not be long before I read this one. “Adventurous, brave, moving, filled with hope and heart, and totally enthralling;” doesn’t that sound tempting.

Rumaysa A Fairy Tale by Radiya Hafiza illustrated by Rhaida El Touney – I do love children’s fiction that plays with well known fairy tales and this sounds right up my street. Book of the Week on the Books for Keeps website and Lucy Staines says “Three interlinked fairytales form the heart of this sparkling story, all reimagined in fresh and exciting new ways.” in her lovely review.

Jane Austen Investigates: The Abbey Mystery by Julia Golding – a mix of Nancy Drew and Jane Austen sounds a great deal of fun and I am tempted by this review by Kate Heap: “the perfect introduction to the world of Jane Austen novels for new readers as well as a deliciously nostalgic journey for those who are already long-time fans.”

That’s everything for this week, I hope it’s been interesting and helpful. This weekend I’m going to be reading The Short Knife and listening to Nikki Gamble’s interview with Jon Klassen which I didn’t get round to this week. Happy reading.

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4 Responses to Reading Matters – children’s book news

  1. Rachael says:

    Lovely post. I just read the review of Rumaysa and it does sound fabulous! I’m a big fan of twisted and modernised fairytales too. Have you read Gender Swapped Fairy Tales by Karrie Fransman and Jonathan Plackett?

    Liked by 1 person

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