Welcome to this week’s look at all the latest news from the world of children’s books. We have new books to enjoy, award announcements to celebrate and events to entertain and inspire us. It’s been a busy week.
What I’m reading…
The Lulu series by Anna McQuinn and Rosalind Beardshaw is a shining example of picture books that capture those everyday details that matter most to young children. This week I read and reviewed the latest in the series, Lulu’s Sleepover, it turns a rite of passage that may trouble little ones initially into a joyful and positive life experience. It’s pretty much perfect and excellent for Early Years.
When I was sorting through my packed bookshelves recently I realised that I had still not read The Crackledawn Dragon, Abi Elphinstone’s final Unmapped Chronicles adventure. How on earth had that happened? Last week I put that right and you can read my review to find out more about this cracking adventure story.
Chris Priestley is a master of the horror genre for children and his latest for Barrington Stoke, Freeze, is a story that is perfect for young readers who enjoy reading books that teeter just over the edge from exciting and unsettling to down right scary. It unsettled this older reader too!
Once Upon A Tune: Stories from the Orchestra by James Mayhew was published this week. It is wonderful; stunning, evocative illustrations paired with beautiful storytelling. This is a gorgeous book and perfect for introducing children to the world of classical music. I hope to be posting a full book review in the near future. Thursday’s launch hosted by Nikki Gamble was inspiring and happy, a real treat. Here is a video of the launch event and I highly recommend making time for this as it’s simply wonderful.
I am so glad that I signed up for Nikki Gamble’s ‘Audience With’ season as this week we had our first book club get together hosted by Nikki and Ben Harris, discussing Jane Ray’s books. The hour flew by and was a real joy to be part of so thank you very much to book buddies Nikki and Ben. Next month’s author is Hilary McKay!
News, articles and resources…
The North Somerset Teachers’ Book Awards 2021 – the shortlists for these awards were announced last weekend and you can find out more about the books and read an introduction to the award in this Books For Keeps article.
50 Recommended Reads for Reception – Alison at Books for Topics has hand-picked 50 recommended books for 4 and 5-year-olds. Update your Reception class library or home book collections with this list of top reads, covering everything from grumpy unicorns and greedy monsters to dreams of space travel and expeditions into faraway places.
Love My Books September Newsletter – I mentioned the excellent Love My Books website last week and their latest newsletter includes a selection of books raising awareness of climate change plus new activities and features on David McKee and Jill Murphy. It’s definitely worth subscribing to this regular update.
Dapo Adeola is new Writer-Illustrator in Residence at BookTrust – this was happy news on Monday morning. Award-winning illustrator and author Dapo Adeola the co-creator of science-mad chatterbox Rocket from the bestselling picture book Look Up! with Nathan Bryon and illustrator of We’re Going To Find The Monster written by Malorie Blackman, hopes to use his residency to support emerging illustrators, with a focus on under-represented voices in children’s books and to champion the art of storytelling.
When the Sky Falls by Phil Earle Videos – regular readers will know how highly I rate this brilliant book and I know I am not alone. Now Phil Earle in conjunction with Andersen Press has produced a series of ten videos for use in schools. They cover everything from the inspiration for the story to what to read next. A wonderful resource and interesting even if you are not involved in education.
Become a Blue Peter Book Awards Judge! – this is a great opportunity. Book Trust are looking for 12 primary schools across the UK to recruit pupils from Years 5 and 6, or P6 and P7 in Scotland and Northern Ireland, to select the winning books for 2022 in two Award categories: Best Story and Best Book with Facts. You can find out more via the link above.
Nikki Gamble’s Book Blast September 2021 – if like me you couldn’t make the date for this preview of new books to look out for this month Nikki has made the video available on YouTube. September is an incredible month for publications and this is a great way to catch up with what is available. Thank you, Nikki!
15 Brilliant Books to Bridge the Gap Between Primary and Secondary – Kate Heap has chosen some wonderful stories in this article for Global School Alliance. They include historical, adventure, fantasy and humour plus a super readable title from Barrington Stoke. A useful list.
The Little Rebels Award – congratulations to A M Dassu author of Boy, Everywhere, published by Old Barn Books, who has won the 2021 Little Rebels Award. You can read more about the winning book, the award and this year’s shortlist via the link.
Nikki Gamble: In the Reading Corner with Kiran Millwood Hargrave and Tom de Freston – Julia and the Shark is one of my favourite books of the year. This thoughtful and insightful interview has increased my understanding and appreciation of this stunning book and I would highly recommend listening to this.
CLPE Power of Pictures Project Research – CLPE’s the Power of Pictures project, (which has run since 2014 in primary schools across the UK) revealed this week that using picture books in primary schools and allowing drawing into the learning process improves writing and reading skills in primary age children. More details are available via the link.
Cover Reveal: ‘Cress Watercress’ by Gregory Maguire and illustrated by David Litchfield – I think this interview in Publishers Weekly is excellent. Along with information about the forthcoming book it explains how children’s books may help their readers and discusses the collaboration between author and illustrator. I can’t wait to “follow the rabbit whither she hoppeth.” in March next year.
CLPE Happy Here Initiative and Resources for Schools – This week, every primary school in England will receive a free copy of Happy Here, a new anthology from 20 of our best Black British writers and illustrators. You can find out more about the accompanying resources and events available via the link.
Book Launch for You Can with Alexandra Strick and Steve Antony – Created in collaboration with real children, ‘You Can!’ is written by author and co-founder of Inclusive Minds, Alexandra Strick, and award winning illustrator, Steve Antony. Join Alexandra and Steve at a special free online event, on 6th October, to mark the publication of ‘You Can!’ featuring: a reading from Alexandra; a live drawalong from Steve; a screening of a short film made with the book’s young contributors; and a Q&A session with the author and illustrator,
Nominations for the 2022 Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals – CILIP members are invited to nominate one title per Medal which they feel meets the Medal criteria and mission for the Awards. Nominations are open between Friday 10 September and Friday 24 September and the list will be announced on Monday 8th November.
Finally, some book reviews that caught my eye this week…
What a Wonderful World by Leisa Stewart-Sharpe and Lydia Hill – this illustrated tour of our planet through the eyes of scientists, eco-warriors and activists sounds wonderful. A great review and an interview with the author.
Diary of an Accidental Witch by Honor and Perdita Cargill illustrated by Katie Saunders – this book for young readers aged 7+ has been receiving a lot of positive attention recently and I really enjoyed this review by Nicola Mansfield Niemi for The Reading Zone. It sounds perfect for lovers of the Worst Witch series.
Peanut Jones and the Illustrated City – Rob Biddulph – this wonderful review by Jon Biddle made me smile. It is full of such enthusiasm that I now definitely want to read this book too. Apparently it is one of Jon’s favourite books of recent years and Jon has read a lot of books!
Lightning Falls by Amy Wilson – I enjoyed reading this book over the summer and this post on BookLoverJo’s blog captures so much of its appeal. A lovely review and a guest piece by Amy Wilson too.
The Ash House by Angharad Walker – this review by Nicki Cleveland has tempted me to find out more about this book. She describes it as “a deliciously dark, dystopian fantasy that is as unsettling as it is unputdownable.”
That’s everything for this week. Reading this back it’s clear my reading week owes a great deal to Nikki Gamble. Thank you Nikki for sharing your extensive knowledge with such enthusiasm, it really does make a difference. My weekend plans include finishing reading The Hideaway by Pam Smy. Happy reading!