Welcome to this week’s round up of all the latest news from the world of children’s books. It has been a busy time with National Poetry Day, Libraries Week and Dyslexia Awareness Week all taking place. Today is Bookshop Day so if you really need an excuse to go and browse and buy today is perfect for you! The Books Are My Bag Awards shortlists were published this week to coincide with this celebration of bookshops and they are included in the links below.
What I’m reading…
I’m a bit of a nervous reader so am glad that I read A Hunter’s Moon by Danny Weston over a wet weekend afternoon rather than on a dark winter’s night. Published by Uclan Publishing in September this dark and dramatic tale is inspired by Scottish folklore and is aimed at the 12+ reader. This story prompted me to find out more about the myth of Cù-Sìth, a fearsome hound said to haunt the Scottish Highlands, and I also explored the Forest of Tay courtesy of Google maps. I love it when fiction opens doors to something you know nothing about and A Hunter’s Moon did just that. A good Halloween read for secondary age too.
Over the last couple of weeks I have kept returning to When Poems Fall from the Sky, the new collaboration between Zaro Weil and Junli Song. This is such a beautiful collection of poetry, combing rhyme, story and even rap in a joyful celebration of our natural world. Suitable for a wide age range and a gentle and thoughtful prompt to slow down and take a moment or two to appreciate our surroundings. Another beautiful poetry book that I’ve enjoyed this week is At the Height of the Moon published by Prestel Publishing. This is a sumptuous combination of poetry and short stories paired with stunning works of art. It would be a gorgeous present.
The highlight of my reading week has been Nikki Gamble’s Audience with Hilary McKay which was an event full of wisdom, kindness and hope. As I also re-read Swallows’ Flight this week in readiness I’ve much to be grateful to Hilary for, she and her gorgeous book have been such a comfort.
On Monday I shared Perfect Picture Books for Libraries Week and I think they would be lovely to promote a love of libraries every week. You can also read my Pick of the New Picture Books as I try to catch up with all the wonderful books being published at the moment.
New, articles and resources…
Why we need great school libraries and librarians – Guest blog written by award winning author Beverley Naidoo for the Great School Libraries Campaign. ‘’If we want schools that offer ‘education’, rather than narrow ‘schooling’, then libraries and librarians need to be at their heart… and properly funded.’’ Wise words indeed.
The Reader Teacher October Children’s Books Coming Soon Video – Scott Evans highlights books to look out for this month. A wide range is included each month including picture book, fiction and information books.
Animals have dwindled in novels since 1835. Is fiction undergoing its own extinction event? – this is a thoughtful and interesting article by author Piers Torday about whether animals really are going extinct in novels and how the climate crisis invites a radical reimagining of animals and nature in fiction.
Once Upon a Tune: An Interview with James Mayhew on the Reading Realm – Once Upon a Tune is an absolute treasure of a book and this is a fascinating and in depth interview. Covering the inspiration for the book, the stories which in turn inspired the music, the illustrative technique involved and the place of music and art in the school curriculum this is a must read.
CILIP School Libraries Group 40th Anniversary– this is fun and was shared this week as part of the Libraries Week celebrations. The School Libraries Group turned 40 in 2020 and invited writers Steve Cole, Jo Cotterill and John Dougherty to perform a musical set at their annual conference, sadly cancelled due to COVID. So when SLG invited them to their 2021 virtual conference they decided to put together this video to share with the attendees.
HarperCollins removes story from David Walliams’ book The World’s Worst Children – David Walliams’ story about a Chinese boy called Brian Wong, which was criticised by campaigners for its “casual racism”, is set to be removed from future editions of his short story collection The World’s Worst Children.
Book Trust Great Books Guide 2021 – this year’s version of this regular guide from Book Trust is full of books chosen to engage and excite children from babies all the way up to age 12+.
Kingston students spread Hope and raise funds with new picture book – Students from an alternative learning programme in Kingston have helped produce a picture book to aid children’s wellbeing and raise funds for Kingston Hospital. You can read more about this project and read the picture book online via the link above.
Barrington Stoke Home Learning Help – these publishers are renowned for their excellent ‘super readable’ books that appeal to all readers including those who are dyslexic or reluctant. To coincide with Dyslexia Awareness Week they have updated this free resource designed for parents & carers of children with dyslexia. It offers online resources, expert advice & useful links to specialist support.
Environmental Kids Literature Awards from Around the World – Anne Marie Cahill’s helpful article for Book Riot includes details of book awards designed for environmental literature written for children and young people and the winners of these awards in recent years.
I Saw a Beautiful Woodpecker by Michal Skibinski illustrated by Ala Bancroft – Jo Cummins hosts a poignant and fascinating post by the author and illustrator of this special book. This has added to my appreciation of Michal’s 1939 diary and the insight to the style of illustrations is lovely.
Books Are My Bag Readers Awards 2021 – This year’s awards, now in their sixth year, included six shortlists chosen by booksellers across the UK and Ireland, while the Readers’ Choice Award – nominated and chosen entirely by readers – completes the set. The winners will be announced on Tuesday 9th November. Take a look at the children’s shortlist!
Black History Month: Book Trust Book Selection – a booklist of historical stories from Black History around the world, from picture books to teen novels, spanning fiction and non-fiction.
What it means to be a Great Briton – a launch party speech by author Imogen Russell Williams – Imogen’s new non- fiction book, Great Britons: 50 Amazing People Who Have Called Britain Home, was published this week and Imogen’s wit and understanding of what makes children’s books work is evident in this great speech. You can also take a look inside the book.
Finally, some book reviews that caught my eye this week…
You Can! written by Alexandra Strick illustrated by Steve Anthony – this new picture book concentrates on overcoming your fears, being kind and learning how to be your best self. Joy Court says in her excellent and extremely positive review, “Inspirational, aspirational, reassuring and hopeful, this important book deserves a place in every classroom and will truly allow every child to feel seen, heard and respected.” This sounds like a must buy!
Little Horror by Daniel Peak – a story described as ‘comedy horror’ and under two hundred pages should have a wide appeal and Emma Kuyateh describes it as an “hilarious, laugh-out-loud, action-packed adventure” in her enjoyable review.
Lego Life Hacks by Julia March and Rosie Peet, models by Barney Main and Nate Dias – I think this would be a welcome addition to many school libraries as well as popular on family book shelves. Veronica Price provides an excellent insight into the book and evidence of what you can make using the instructions as well.
Following Frankenstein by Catherine Bruton – children’s fiction that plays with the classics always interests me and Kate Heap’s review has certainly whetted my appetite for this one. “The layers upon layers of meaning and key messages are sure to provide important topics of discussion.”
Maggie Blue and the Dark World by Anna Goodall – Ben Harris describes this fantasy novel as “very, very good indeed.” His considered review provides just enough to tempt us but without giving too much away. Ben recommends it for readers 11 plus. Including adults!
That’s it for this week. I hope you’ve found something among the links or reviews that you’ve found interesting or helpful.