Hello and welcome to another look at what has been happening in the world of children’s books. It has been a week when I’ve struggled a little to keep up so I hope I haven’t missed anything hugely important. This is what I’ve noticed and enjoyed so maybe you will too.
What I’m reading…
This week I wrote and submitted my review of The Weed by Quentin Blake for Just Imagine. It has a fable like quality and is a story that celebrates the power of nature and our connection with it. It contains a positive message of hope and would be excellent as a spark for discussion on its different themes.
On a similar subject I have been exploring some fabulous picture books from Scallywag Press that inspire a love of nature. I’m impressed by the range and quality of the books being produced by this new publisher and would highly recommend these. There are links to related activities too and all are lovely for the summer term.
The Short Knife by Elen Caldecott, shortlisted for The Tir na n-Og Award, exceeded all my expectations and it had come highly recommended by people whose opinion I value. A remarkable read and historical fiction that truly does transport the reader to another time. I loved it.
News, articles and resources…
Ten tips for creating an unforgettable school library – As part of Cressida Cowell’s Life-changing libraries project Book Trust are supporting six primary schools across the country to transform their libraries into amazing spaces that encourage a lifelong love of reading. Here are ten excellent tips for creating an unforgettable school library, from Alison Tarrant CEO of the School Library Association.
Children’s books roundup – the best new picture books and novels – books for a range of ages selected by Imogen Russell Williams for the Guardian include some already on my radar such as Geraldine McCaughrean’s The Supreme Lie and Barbara Throws a Wobbler by Nadia Shireen but also a debut that sounds fun, Amber Undercover by Em Norry.
Q&A: Sophy Henn, Author of ‘Older Not Wiser’ – this is a lovely interview with Sophy Henn and I also like the sound of her new book because apparently, “Bad Nana shows that you can be old, but also young!”
The Forgettery: An interview with Rachel Ip and Laura Hughes – this is a simply lovely interview from which I learned a great deal about the creative process behind this picture book which is receiving some wonderful reviews.
Empathy Day Line-up Announced – on Tuesday the organisers of this annual event announced the programme for Empathy Day on 10 June 2021. A wonderful team of authors, illustrators and poets including Children’s Laureate, Cressida Cowell, Michael Rosen, Malorie Blackman and Joseph Coelho will be participating in the day.
Empathy Day – 5 diverse books for kids + classroom activities – a collaboration by Jon Biddle, Rich Charlesworth and Sarah Mears for Teach Wire providing advice on how to use these diverse titles to encourage compassion and help pupils gain insights into the lives of others.
Books featuring disability and neurodiversity (age 9-11) – a selection of titles chosen by Scottish Book Trust from gripping historical adventures, to graphic novels and sci-fi, this list is packed with inspiring stories which celebrate uniqueness. They have also created a similar list for the 12-14 age group.
The shortlist for the 2021 Branford Boase Award announced – Since 2000, the Branford Boase has been awarded annually to the author of an outstanding debut novel for children. Uniquely, it also honours the editor of the winning title and highlights the importance of the editor in nurturing new talent. This year’s list shines a light on a wide range of genres and books suitable for different age groups.
The Tir na n-Og Award 2021: Jess Butterworth Interview – Where The Wilderness Lives is one of the wonderful books shortlisted for this award and Family Bookworms had the opportunity to ask author Jess Butterworth questions on authenticity, folklore and writing about survival in the wilds of Wales. I’ve read this a couple of times now and am fascinated by the links to setting and folklore. A lovely interview and a big thank you to Jess and Simon at Family Bookworms HQ.
The Egmont Reading for Pleasure 2021 Teacher Awards – The deadline for entries to these award is Sunday 8th May and there are several categories. This is the opportunity to raise the profile of reading for pleasure champions within schools and the wider community.
The Children’s Book Show Theatre Performances for Schools Autumn 2021 – an event run by a charity that inspires school children with a love of reading through an annual programme of in-theatre and digital performances and in-school workshops with the very best authors and illustrators from around the world. The tour takes in several cities around the country and the line-up is wonderful. Full details via the link.
National Share a Story Month 2021 – National Share-A-Story Month (NSSM) is an annual celebration In May of the power of storytelling and story sharing, providing a fantastic opportunity to fulfil the core aim of the Federation of Children’s Book Groups of bringing children and stories together. This year’s theme is Myths, Magic and Mayhem and there are book lists, resources and details of a competition on the official website above.
National Literacy Trust Take Ten Reading Challenge – On May 10th at 10am, the National Literacy Trust are calling on the nation to Take 10 and read. Their research has shown us that reading can be an effective way of helping people take care of their mental health and wellbeing – and it only takes 10 minutes a day to see the benefits. There are links to leaflets, resources and ideas for both primary and secondary via links on the website.
World Kid Lit April Round-up – your monthly update on what’s happening in the world of books in translation for children and young adults. Lots of reviews, news and information to read here.
The Reader Teacher April Must Reads – Just when I think I’m making headway with my to read lists Scott Evans flags up some more tempting books! You can read Scott’s reviews and download a poster via the link.
Finally, some book reviews that caught my eye this week…
My Dad Is A Grizzly Bear by by Swapna Haddow and Dapo Adeola – this really does sound like a picture book dream team. I love the glimpses of the amusing illustrations and the story sounds fun too. Rachael’s blog is full of tempting picture book reviews and I’m adding to my wish list on an almost daily basis!
Cardboard Cowboys by Brian Conaghan – Brian Conaghan usually writes for teenagers and his new title is aimed at a slightly younger audience, aged 10-14. Selected as Book of the Week by Books for Keeps this sounds like just the thing to engage readers as it is described as “funny, authentic and heart-warming.”
Factopia!: Follow the Trail of 400 Facts by Kate Hale & illustrated by Andy Smith – non-fiction that engages and informs is always valuable, in school libraries, classrooms and homes, and this book sounds just the ticket. Kate Heap’s children rate it highly and if the target audience is happy that’s the best sort of praise. You can find out more in Kate’s review.
That’s everything for this week, I hope you’ve found it helpful or enjoyable or maybe even both. This weekend I’m going to read Arctic Star, Tom Palmer’s latest which I’m looking forward to very much. The highlight however, (sorry, Tom!) will be celebrating my Dad’s 90th birthday.