It has been another busy week in the world of children’s books with some important awards news. I hope this week’s round up includes something special you may have missed or a new book to tempt you.
What I’m reading…
I was interested to see Wolf Road, Richard Lambert’s highly acclaimed YA novel, included in the Carnegie nominations list this week as I had only just finished reading his first novel for children, Shadow Town. This is the first in a new fantasy series and is a compelling and thoughtful read that I would recommend to readers of 11 plus.
Illustrated fiction can be perfect for encouraging children to read for pleasure especially when it is designed to be accessible to a wide audience. Swop the Satsuma-Sized Secret is a good example. A charming debut from Lucy Noguera it combines fun with reassurance and increases awareness of deafness and signing in a positive way. Sasha and the Wolf is a lovely reissue of classic stories by Ann Jungman with gorgeous new illustrations by Gaia Bordicchia. The setting in snowy 19th century Russia makes this a perfect wintry read and these two stories of friendship would be good for newly independent readers or as a class read aloud for Years 2 and 3.
This week’s non-fiction recommendation for Non-Fiction November is We All Celebrate by Chitra Soundar illustrated by Jenny Bloomfield. This is a joyful look at celebrations from all around the world. Crammed full of detail, every page bursting with colourful illustrations this picture book is a true celebration of both unity and diversity and a thoughtful guide to religion, history and heritage.
News, articles and resources…
Nominations announced for the 2022 CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals – an annual highlight for children’s book lovers is exploring the nominations for these prestigious awards. This year’s selection is excellent and I am delighted to see some of my favourites included. I don’t envy the judging panel who have to reduce these to a long-list by February.
Nikki Gamble’s Book Blast Christmas Special – Friday 3rd December at 7pm is a special date for your diary. Nikki will be previewing her personal picks of the month. Suitable for all adults interested in children’s books and reading. Attendance is free and you can register via the link above.
Books to Boost – Jo Cummins has selected a range of books that will helped boost children’s well being and provided helpful guidance on content and suitability. There are books to encourage confidence, to help cope with their emotions and to help children become more self award.
The Reader Teacher Christmas Book Gift Giving Guide – if you want to give a book to a child as a Christmas present this year Scott Evans has produced guides for different age groups. They include, classics, brand new titles, picture books, poetry, and non-fiction. Lots of suggestions for a variety of tastes.
John Agard, the first poet to be awarded BookTrust’s prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award – This award celebrates the body of work of an author and/or illustrator who has made an outstanding contribution to children’s literature. John Agard has published more than 50 books, including poetry for all ages, stories, and non-fiction. In 2012, he was presented with the Queen’s Gold Medal for poetry. You may like to read John’s interview with Emily Drabble too.
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. When the Sky Falls by Phil Earle won the children’s fiction award and I’m delighted that it did as this is definitely on my own favourite books of the year list. You can read about the other awards and watch the ceremony via the link.
Unleash your Creative Monster: Children’s writing workshop – workshop for 9 to 12 year-olds, organised by the National Literacy Trust during which Andy Jones and Olaf Falafel, author and illustrator of Unleash your Creative Monster, will provide inspiration and practical advice on writing stories that will keep readers hooked. The workshop is free to attend and takes place on Friday 26th November 10am-11am. Full details via the link.
David Olusoga: It is ‘critical’ to talk about black and imperial history – article in The Irish News in which the historian discusses the reasons for the publication this week of the children’s version of his book, Black and British: An Illustrated History. “We can’t have a history that makes sense, that is functional for the country that we are, if we don’t include the stories of black and brown people from the Empire, and from Britain’s entanglements with other parts of the world.”
Branching Out: Reading for Pleasure – an online debate about the limited range of books stocked in supermarkets this week reminded me of this excellent resource from Alison at Books for Topics. From Harry Potter and Tom Gates to Rainbow Magic and The Worst Witch and David Walliams these Branching Out booklists are free, printable display posters have suggestions to tempt children to read more widely.
Make Black History part of every month – this article on the School Library Association website refers to their partnership with the Inclusion Hubs and includes links to a variety of resources and sources of information.
Blue Peter Book Awards 2022 Shortlist Announced – there are six brilliant books shortlisted, three for Best Story and three for Best Book with Facts. All the books on this year’s shortlist are aimed at children aged between 6 and 12, a vital time when children discover which books they like and build their own independent reading habits. You can see which books made the list via the link above.
Finding kind words in great literature during Anti-Bullying Week – Anti-Bullying Week takes place from 15th – 19th November 2021 and in this excellent post by Michelle Nicholson on the Herts Primary English blog she recommends some quality books to share with children.
Scottish Book Trust November Book Discovery Guide – produced bi-annually these guides are full of book recommendations for primary and secondary school pupils, including, new highlights from Scottish publishers, recommendations from booksellers, librarians, themed booklists and top picks from Scottish Book Trust staff
Finally, some book reviews that caught my eye this week…
The Curiosities by Zana Fraillon illustrated by Phil Lesnie – I, like many others, found Wisp, a picture book written by this author, profoundly moving and this latest title sounds equally affecting. The glimpses of the illustrations by Phil Lesnie are stunning too. In his review Matt at Word About Books says. “The Curiosities is an open invitation to celebrate our own differences and to wholeheartedly embrace and accept the differences of others.” That sounds perfect.
Elisabeth and the Box of Colours by Katherine Woodfine, illustrated by Rebecca Cobb – this is a new Little Gems title from Barrington Stoke due out in February 2022. Veronica Price’s detailed review gives a taste of what to expect and the blend of historical fiction and information sounds appealing.
Grandpa Frank’s Great Big Bucket List by Jenny Pearson – frankly we could probably all do with a bit of a giggle at the moment and Jenny Pearson is a children’s author who has a gift for humour. This review by Andrew made me smile too as I love how he conveys the spirit of the book. Definitely one for our shopping lists in the new year!
Art of Protest: What a Revolution Looks Like by De Nichols – this new book, published at the end of the month, looks at some of the most memorable and striking protest artwork from across the world and throughout history. In her review Nicki Cleveland comments particularly on the section on Youth Leadership and Protest Art around the world. This sounds like an excellent book for school libraries and classrooms.
Medusa by Jessie Burton illustrated by Olivia Lomenech Gill – this new YA retelling of the Greek myth is receiving many accolades from expert book reviewers. Joanne Owen on LoveReading4Kids says it “blazes with intrigue and beauty courtesy of author’s elegant style and Olivia Lomenech Gill’s fabulously evocative colour illustrations.” When I’ve managed to bring my “review pile” under control this is definitely on my wish list.
That’s all for this week and I hope that you have found something helpful included in the links and reviews. One last thing, the Hidden Books Game is back! Each year this gets harder. Here’s the link Good luck!