Reading Matters – children’s book news

Hello and welcome to this week’s round up of the latest children’s book news. There are updates and news from authors and illustrators, resources from organisations and charities, reviews to read and events to watch or listen to and I hope a little something for everyone.

What I’m reading…

My longstanding admiration for the publishers Barrington Stoke went up another notch this week. Having been following their progress for more than twenty years it’s wonderful to witness their success. There are some authors whose style is, in my opinion, perfect for their approach, accessible novella style stories written to capture the reader’s interest from the opening page. The Carnegie winning Lark by Anthony McGowan is one example and the other is Tom Palmer’s historical dramas. Tom’s latest, Arctic Star, dominated my reading this week despite being a relatively quick read. Brilliantly written, this story of incredible bravery and endurance in unimaginable conditions has made a big impact on me. You can read my review to find out why.

Another highlight of the week for me was attending the Audience with Elizabeth Laird hosted by Nikki Gamble. It was a fascinating evening and it was interesting to learn about this author’s travels and their influence on her writing. I have in the past enjoyed both Welcome to Nowhere and The Fastest Boy in the World and am currently reading The House Without Walls and although only early on in the story at present it already has Elizabeth Laird’s usual compassionate tone.

News, resources and articles…

PEPLT Mini Picturebook e-lessons: Overview – a useful resource from Picture Books in European Primary English Language Teaching. It offers an overview of the title, a book synopsis, related themes & values and world event days. I became aware of this as some of the lessons have an additional signed read-aloud by Leanne Signed Stories. Picture books featured include newer titles such as Rain Before Rainbows and Amazing plus old favourites like The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

Chapter Book Round-Up: What We’ve Been Reading – the latest chapter books reviewed by the panel on the Books for Topics website. This is a great way of catching up with titles you may have missed.

Euro 2020 – A Ghost Story with Tom Palmer – as if he wasn’t already busy enough Tom Palmer is doing a live story for schools to tie in with EURO 2020, just like he has done for recent World Cups and Euros. EURO 2020: A Ghost Story will be brought to you by the FA and National Literacy Trust during June and July 2021. There is more information and full details of how schools can get involved on Tom’s website. This sounds great!

Book News for 2021 from James Mayhew – I’ve long been a fan of James’s books and in this blogpost he tells us what he has been up to over the past year and the treats he has in store for children’s book lovers. I am particularly looking forward to Once Upon a Tune as there’s been such a long wait for this one but all his projects sound tempting.

Boredom, mischief, mayhem and the magic of imagination – a guest post by author and illustrator Sally Anne Garland on the Federation of Children’s Books Groups site marking National Share a Story Month. She has included a list of her recommended books for mischievous, bored children that need a magical adventure.

Picture books for children – reviews – a round up of recent picture books by Imogen Carter for the Guardian includes The Boys by Lauren Ace and Jenny Lovelie, Jon Klassen’s latest, The Rock from the Sky and Barbara Throws a Wobbler by Nadia Shireen.

CLPE announces their 2021 back to school campaign – To support primary schools with the back to school transition in September, CLPE will be creating a FREE whole school teaching unit focusing on three different children’s books for different age groups. Full details, including a link to register are available via the link above.

Celebrate Elmer Day on 29th May – This year the organisers of Elmer Day are spreading some positivity with free resources for schools, libraries, bookshops and families to use. There are lots of great activities and ideas for KS1 aged children.

Things Don’t Start Finished! – the British Library Learning Discovering Children’s Books website is bursting with messy notebooks and drafts by much-loved authors. There are superb new free activities created by Seven Stories suggesting ways to use these to help children plan and draft their own stories. A brilliant idea!

Reading Newsletters – Adele Darlington from Leighfield Primary has been offering a Reading Newsletter for a while and has generously shared her ideas via the Open University Reading for Pleasure website. This would be a fabulous way of creating a reading community within schools involving staff, children and parents.

The Reader Teacher May 2021 Children’s Books I’m Most Excited About | Coming Soon – this new monthly initiative from Scott Evans is a great idea. In each monthly video Scott previews forthcoming new releases and this would be great to share in school libraries, classrooms, book groups and helpful for parents too. Children’s books receive little attention in the main stream media and these type of resources are so useful for keeping up to date.

Tiny Voice Talks: Empathy Day with Miranda McKearney – In this episode, Toria Bono talks to Miranda McKearney OBE about Empathy Day on June10th 2021. 

Information Book Award Longlist Announced – the School Library Association’s annual award celebrating information books for children is full of fabulous and fascinating titles in three different age groups. This can be a wonderful way of promoting books full of facts to children and a helpful overview of the best books around for use in both supporting learning and reading for pleasure. Definitely worth a browse.


YA Book Prize – winner announced Thursday 6th – Ten amazing books and authors were shortlisted for this year’s YA Book Prize. The winner was Loveless by Alice Oseman – a coming-out story about Georgia, a romance-obsessed teenager who realises that she is aromantic and asexual. You can read about al, the shortlisted titles via the link above.

The Brighton Festival – there are some fantastic children’s book events starting 8th May with authors and illustrators including Laura Ellen Anderson and Smriti Halls.

Primary School Book Club – a reminder of this monthly chat taking place on Twitter. This month’s read is How to Be Me by Cath Howe and the chat will take place on 28th May. Just follow #PrimarySchoolBookClub to join in with the discussion. Full details below:

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

Interview with a Shark and Other Ocean Giants by Andy Seed illustrated by Nick East -Non- fiction Book of the Month on the LoveReading4KIds site I think I may use the term used by Nikki Gamble during one of her recent interviews and describe this as “a wonder book”. It sounds wonderful for young children. Andrea Reece describes it as, “a quirky but really effective information book.

Escape: One Day We Had To Run by Ming & Wah and Carmen Vela – this picture book was published this week and Jill Bennett’s review of both the subject matter and its presentation have encouraged me to seek this book out. A collection of twelve stories featuring different people in desperate situations and “this moving book fittingly concludes with two Articles from The Universal Declaration of Human Rights relating to movement and asylum.

Twitch by M G Leonard – due out next month this first in a new series by this popular author sounds extremely appealing and a little different too. In her review for the Bookbag Ruth Ng says, “This is just one of those really, really good books that is very readable, with a great story and characters you’re interested in and care about. It’s written perfectly, with a good pace to the plot, and a lovely warmth to it throughout.” Another for my wish list!

Marvellous Middle Grade Reads – Jo Clarke has, in addition to being a super school librarian, been writing children’s books of her own but has miraculously found time to review some of her favourite books for middle year readers. A lovely selection for a wide range of tastes here and well worth checking out.

That’s everything for this week and I hope that you found something of interest within the links. This weekend I’m off to deliver a birthday present to the youngest member of our family who is four today. Picture books of course! Happy reading.

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