It’s been another busy week in the world of children’s books so if you have not been able to keep up with it all here’s my round up of all the latest news plus some reviews of new books to add to your shopping lists.
But first, in my role with the Surrey Branch of the School Library Association I would like to highlight our branch meeting being held on 2nd November from 4.30pm – 6.30pm. We are delighted to welcome Joy Court as our visiting speaker. Joy is well known to children’s book lovers in her roles as former Chair of the Carnegie and Greenaway Medal Judges, Expert Book Reviewer for LoveReading4Kids and her involvement with both UKLA and CILIP Youth Libraries Group. She will be talking about the importance of Visual Literacy for all age groups plus the benefits of shadowing the Greenaway Medal. Full details are given in the flyer shown and we would love to see you there. School librarians, teachers, TAs, all very welcome so please do get in touch with me if you have any questions.
What I’m reading…
I had been looking forward to reading Storm Tide, the final book in the Flood World trilogy by Tom Huddleston, for ages and this week I finally got the opportunity. It is just as exciting, dramatic and gripping as its predecessors, Flood World and Dust Road. I loved how the characters and their relationships have developed over the three books and the importance of hope as an overriding theme. I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour next week so do please join us to find out more about this great series.
Still on a nautical theme but at a more gentle pace I have reviewed some picture books celebrating life on the ocean waves, one a republished classic and the other a new title with a historical flavour. Two very special books have captured my attention over the last few weeks and I would highly recommend both I Saw a Beautiful Woodpecker and This is a Dictatorship, beautifully illustrated translated works covering important subjects.
On Thursday evening I joined two wonderful and extremely cheering online events. Firstly the book club linked to last week’s Audience with Hilary McKay expertly hosted by Nikki Gamble and Ben Harris. I am gaining so much insight from these thoughtful and thought provoking club meetings. Then the unstoppable Nikki hosted the launch of The Song That Sings Us by Nicola Davis, with Jackie Morris who illustrated the cover. This event left all who attended, I think, both moved and inspired.
News, articles and resources…
The Guardian view on children’s books: take them seriously – editorial comment from the Guardian. It is good to see the importance of school libraries get a mention too. A return of the Guardian Children’s Books section would be welcomed by many of us.
National Non Fiction November 2021 – the Federation of Children’s Book Groups’ annual celebration of all things factual. The theme chosen for this year is a nod to all the real-life superheroes out there. Ordinary people who do the most extraordinary things to make a positive difference to the world we live in. The link takes you to more information plus a “heroes’’ book list to download.
A Letter to My Young Dyslexic Self by Jane Elson – although Dyslexia Awareness Week took place last week this thoughtful post by children’s author Jane Elson on Jo Cummins blog is a valuable read at any time.
Black literature timeline – This literary timeline explores the history of Black literature and writing in Britain through around 50 texts. It includes works by writers living and working in Britain, as well as titles first published here and authored by people who were born in former British colonies in Africa, the Caribbean and Americas. The British Library have also produced a poster version to download that would be useful for secondary schools.
Connor Allen is the Children’s Laureate Wales for 2021-2023 – the announcement of this appointment was made on National Poetry Day. This was extremely fitting as Connor’s vision for the next two years is to make poetry accessible, fun, and relevant to children and young people across Wales.
Michael Rosen is the Winner of CLiPPA 2021 – The CLiPPA (Centre for Literacy in Primary Poetry Award) is the only award for published poetry for children in the UK. Michael Rosen won the award for On the Move, Poems About Migration, published by Walker books and illustrated by Quentin Blake). The award ceremony is available for schools to watch here. If you are interested in the CLiPPA Shadowing Scheme for Schools you can register here.
Book Blast October titles 2021 – if you missed this at the end of September here’s your chance to catch up on all the fabulous titles recommended by Nikki Gamble in her monthly must watch video.
What Does The Everyday Work Of A School Librarian Look Like? – an excellent article in Princh by school librarian Megan Hamilton. The final sentence sums up the role of the school librarian so well, “Being a librarian is never just about the books, it’s about the people. We are here to serve you.”
BBC and 9 Story Media Group bring A Kind of Spark to UK screens – this is exciting news. Elle McNicoll’s award winning, A Kind of Spark (Knights Of) will be dramatised in a live action series telling the story of 11-year-old Addie, a neurodivergent girl.
British Library Comic Competition – the British Library are asking children to create their own comics starring heroes of all sorts – whether they have the power to fly, save forests or make someone smile. There are full details of how to enter the competition, running from 11th October to 30th November, via the link plus a great article featuring several children’s comics, illustrated books and picture books. A wonderful resource to share both in schools.
Win an amazing illustration by Dapo Adeola – and the chance to appear in his new book! Another great competition, this time run by Book Trust. Writer-Illustrator in Residence, Dapo Adeola, provides creative tips and encourages children of primary age to enter by the closing date in January.
Explorer Notes: Once Upon A Tune – a simply fabulous resource created by James Mayhew and Siu Chui Li on the Otter Barry Publishers’ website. The book itself is wonderful for schools and these comprehensive teaching notes complete the perfect package. A must have for primary schools to encourage cross-curricular study and a love of story, orchestral music and art.
Free Remembrance Day resources from Tom Palmer – these are brilliant and will be helpful for schools and libraries. They are based on Tom’s excellent, award winning WW1 and WW2 fiction and include activities, posters, an assembly, videos and more.
Library Lifeline: Recommending books when you’re short on time – this is a new feature from the Literacy Trust designed to support anyone working in a school library by answering their questions directly. SLA’s Member Development Librarian, Dawn Woods gives advice to those who are struggling to keep up to date with new children’s books. Thank you to Dawn for including Reading Matters in her suggested resources!
100 Funny Books – Lucas Maxwell, School Librarian of the Year 2017 has produced another of his helpful lists. This one consists of titles for a wide age range guaranteed to raise a giggle or two.
Finally, some book reviews that caught my eye this week…
The Bear and Her Book by Frances Tosdevin and Sophia O’Connor – this sounds lovely. Rachael Davis describes it as, “a beautiful, rhyming picture book about self discovery, friendship and belonging.” I enjoyed the opportunity to see the preliminary sketches for the book too.
Writing History: An interview with Frankie Durkin The Histronauts: A Greek Adventure by Frances Durkin and Vicky Barke – this is not just a review, this is a Ben Harris review and interview! Definitely worth a read. I have a copy of this great non-fiction book and this piece both sums up and explains its appeal perfectly.
Grimwood by Nadia Shireen – Nadia Shireen’s picture books such as Billy and the Beast are a witty, delight so I was interested to read about her new junior fiction title. Andrea Reece’s review for LoveReading4Kids says, “It’s gloriously silly but still totally credible and a proper page turner…”
The Beatryce Prophecy by Kate DiCamillo and Sophie Blackall – Kate DiCamillo is a children’s author whose books always have an impact on me and I was already looking forward to reading this one. John Lloyd’s wonderful review for the Bookbag has nudged it up my list, “this wondrous story, which feels an instant classic with the freshness and the agelessness it has in equal proportion.”
That’s it for this week and apologies that this has turned into a bit of a mammoth edition. Perhaps you are able to pick out something special that appeals to you. I do hope so. Happy reading!