Reading Matters – children’s book news

Hello and welcome to this week’s round up of children’s book news! There is rather a lot to get through so why not grab yourself a cuppa and settle down to read the latest book award news, check out some resources and tips, listen to interesting book related podcasts and watch enjoyable events and register for others.

What I’m reading…

Prompted by the Audience With Elizabeth Laird hosted by Nikki Gamble which I attended last week I finished reading A House Without Walls. This story told with care features a twelve year old girl named Safiya and her family who are forced to flee their home in Syria. I was struck by how much this book fitted with what Elizabeth Laird said during the interview; she writes about children in crisis but concentrates on the “big words” of courage, endurance, determination and love. I would recommend this for upper KS2 and KS3.

The First Names series published by David Fickling Books is a useful selection of biographies of inspirational people that is great for school libraries. This week I read the latest in the series, Albert Einstein by Haydn Kaye illustrated by Mike Smith in readiness for next week’s blog tour. It’s my turn on Monday 17th May so do join us and find out more.

I am greatly enjoying reading the books shortlisted for the Tir na -n-Og Award and have just started Where the Wilderness Lives by Jess Butterworth. You can find out more about the award and the books in the interesting podcast listed below which I can thoroughly recommend. On Thursday Ben Harris hosted a special #BooksNearBedtime chat on Twitter devoted to the award which was thought provoking and enjoyable and it was lovely to have the input of the authors of the books too.

News, articles and resources…

An Evening With Tom Palmer, Dan Smith and Barrington Stoke 20th May 6.30pm – Barrington Stoke have recently published action-packed new titles ‘Arctic Star’ from Tom Palmer and ‘The Beast of Harwood Forest’ by Dan Smith. Join them on Zoom as they celebrate these new releases, talk about the inspiration behind them, and discuss engaging reluctant or struggling readers. I’ve booked a ticket and am looking forward to this.

Jo Bowers and Simon Fisher discuss children’s literature in Wales – this is a fascinating podcast linked to the Tir na -n-Og Award but also a look at the importance of a sense of place and seeing oneself and one’s home in fiction. Another great interview by Nikki Gamble and I enjoy dipping into the Exploring Children’s Literature podcasts and learning more about both the books and the authors and illustrators who create them.

Crystal Kite Winners 2021 – The annual Crystal Kite Award is a peer-given award to recognise great books from 15 Society of Children’s Book Writers regional divisions around the world. The UK and Ireland division was won by A M Dassu for Boy, Everywhere and the Europe award went to Helle Norup for The Hungry Ghost. It is interesting to see which titles have won the other awards too and full details are available via the link.

How factual books can get children reading for enjoyment – following Andy Seed’s recent session at the CILIP SLG conference in which he talked about how information books are an excellent way to engage children in reading for pleasure he has generously made his notes available.

Children’s Books Reading Round-Up: March – April 2021 – deputy head teacher Aidan Severs’ reviews of books that he has read recently include a great range of genres and I always trust his reviews too. I like the sound of Can You Whistle, Johanna? which I didn’t know of until now.

Summer Reading Challenge 2021: Wild World Heroes – the official collection of books for this year’s Summer Reading Challenge was announced this week. Developed with WWF, the world’s leading independent conservation organisation the challenge is built around books on an environmental theme. The collection features information books, picture books, poetry and fiction and you can download the full list via the link.

Mr Dilly’s ALICE IN WONDERLAND – Celebrating 150 years since Macmillan first published Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There, Mr Dilly captures the magic and joy of the world of Alice, in an online show for your whole school community. Available from the 14th June for £25 with unlimited views along with a FREE learning pack. More information available via the link.

Why Alice is the ultimate icon of children’s books – Linking nicely to the event mentioned above this article on BBC Culture by Holly Williams examines the appeal of this famous literary character.

Michael Rosen to win the 2021 J.M. Barrie Award – Michael Rosen has been named as the recipient of the 2021 J.M. Barrie Lifetime Achievement Award. This is in recognition of his tremendous work championing the arts for children as well as his achievements as a performer and author. This is wonderful news and Michael will be receiving his award in a ceremony in the Autumn.

Oscar’s Book Prize Winner Announced – The eighth winner of Oscar’s Book Prize is The Littlest Yak by debut author Lu Fraser and much-loved illustrator Kate Hindley. I have rather a soft spot for little Gertie and my little assistant reviewer, (now a great big four years old!) loves this book.

Empathy Lab: Empathy Shorts – in readiness for Empathy Day which takes place on 10th June the second collection of Empathy Shorts written especially for Empathy Lab featuring twelve brand new stories each one a unique take on seeing life from another’s perspective are now available in the official website. Suitable for a variety of ages these are lovely.

From Spare Oom to War Drobe: VIRTUAL BOOK LAUNCH – Author and journalist, Amanda Craig interviews Katherine Langrish about her new book From Spare Oom to War Drobe: Travels in Narnia with my nine-year-old self. I was unable to attend the virtual launch so am delighted that this interview has been made available and am looking forward to listening to this over the weekend. I have also treated myself to a copy of the book and once my review pile is reduced a little am very much looking forward to reading it.

2021 British Book Award Winners Announced – if you missed this event on you can now watch the award ceremony online with subtitles via the link to the website. It includes the winners of Children’s Fiction, The Highland Falcon Thief by M G Leonard and Sam Sedgman, illustrated by Elisa Paganelli, Children’s Illustrated and Non-Fiction, Black and British: A short, essential history by David Olusoga and Non-Fiction: Narrative Diary of a Young Naturalist by Dara McAnulty. Congratulations to all the winners.

Indie Book Awards 2021 Shortlist Announced – this week the shortlist for the Indie Book Awards curated by independent bookshops as part of Independent Bookshop Week (19 – 26 June) was announced and among the categories are Children’s Fiction and Picture Books.

Inclusion Labs Decade of Diversity -Decade of Diversity is a cross-industry coalition of organisations, individuals and schools committed to leveraging their individual and collective power to advance diversity and inclusion within the education system. Those involved have committed to two pledges that will help advance diversity and inclusion in schools. These are: To ensure 25% Diverse Literature in schools by 2030 and To ensure Diverse Governing Boards in schools by 2030. You can find out more about the school programme and how to get involved via the link.

Lancaster LitFest Picture Perfect – a reminder of this event taking place next Thursday 20th May at 12.30 which would be great for schools. Authors and illustrators Jackie Morris, Cathy Fisher and Nicola Davies, will discuss their books and creative practice in a special event hosted from Jackie Morris’ kitchen. Doesn’t that sound a treat!

Ones to Watch: New Children’s Fiction for Summer 2021 – Alison Leach and her team of reviewers on Books for Topics have been taking an advanced look at some of the brilliant new middle-grade books (ages 8-12) coming up this term. They have picked out ten top recommendations to watch out for from May to July 2021.

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

Grandad’s Camper by Harry Woodgate – over the last few weeks I have noticed this new picture book being mentioned online and thought it looked tempting. This lovely review by Rachael on Picture Book Perfect and the glimpse of the glorious endpapers and illustrations has increased my anticipation.

By Ash, Oak and Thorn by Melissa Harrison – the theme for Mental Health Awareness Week is ”Nature” and this new book is perfectly timed to coincide with increased understanding of the importance of the natural world on our own happiness but also as something that it is vital we protect. Lily’s review is beautiful and has really made me want to read this book. “Throughout a wistful yearning whispers to the reader; hold on to the magic, reconnect and find ourselves in nature.”

Keep Calm by Dr Sharie Coombes, illustrated by Katie Abey and Ellie O’Shea – Veronica Price has added this book to her children’s mental health collection and her helpful review provides details and thoughts on why this new title, a combination of advice and activities, will be valuable at school or at home.

That’s everything for this week. I hope that it is helpful and that everyone has a lovely weekend whatever you are doing. See you next week.

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2 Responses to Reading Matters – children’s book news

  1. Thank you for linking to my review Anne. I’m just off for a much-needed haircut and will look forward to reading all of your links whilst there 😊I hope you have a lovely weekend.


    • alibrarylady says:

      It’s a really helpful review, Veronica and I think the book would be valuable in schools. I’m now picturing you reading all the news in the hairdressers! Hope you have a relaxing morning 😊

      Liked by 1 person

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