Hello and welcome to this week’s look at what has been happening in the world of children’s books. There is most definitely a touch of Christmas about some of the latest reviews and forthcoming events with ideas being shared about which books to buy for your loved ones. Each year the charity Book Trust organise an appeal to help purchase Just One Book for vulnerable children and those in care. I have included a link in the resources section below for you to find out more if you would like to help.
What I’m reading…
My exploration of new non-fiction for children to mark Non-Fiction November continues this week and I have been rather spoilt for choice. The Most Important Animal of All by Penny Worms and Hannah Bailey is a beautiful book from an independent publisher, Mama Makes Books. It encourages young children to think critically, to learn about the interconnectedness of the natural world and to protect it. There is a link to some brilliant free teaching resources in my review too.
Flying Eye books create some visually stunning non-fiction and Beetles for Breakfast by Madeleine Finlay and Jisu Choi is a good example. This book is crammed with detail and numerous weird and wonderful ideas on how to reduce the impact climate change is having on our planet. Children are encouraged to use their imagination to solve problems that may seem insurmountable and to explore practical ways to help. Polly Bee Makes Honey by Deborah Chancellor and Julia Groves published by Scallywag Press is a picture book teaching children where their food comes from in an appealing story format and enabling them to find out about bees and their importance. This would be lovely for Early Years and KS1 and a great introduction to non-fiction.
My children’s book highlight of the week was the online interview between Michael Rosen and Sita Brahmachari to mark the publication of their new books. This was a joyful hour and a half full of thoughtful comment and discussion about aspects of reading and writing and the power of children’s literature. The event was recorded and when I know where you may access it I will share it on the blog.
News, articles and resources…
Jon Biddle’s Reading for Pleasure Padlet – this is a fabulous resource. Jon has generously created a Padlet with links to some of the various RfP resources he has put together over the past few years (maps, surveys, booklists, articles.) Jon intends to add to this in the future. Definitely a resource to bookmark!
Books For Keeps Christmas Issue – this brilliant on-line children’s magazine is my favourite source of information and this special issue is brimming with lovely stuff. Interviews with Michael Rosen, Nadia Shireen and Eoin Colfer; Yuval Zommer Windows into Illustration; plus Books of the Year and a Christmas Gift Guide. A new Beyond the Secret Garden article too and lots of reviews. Highly recommended.
Children’s books roundup – the best recent picture books and novels – another excellent selection chosen by Imogen Russell Williams who always manages to convey the essence of a book in a few words. There is something here to appeal to a wide range of ages and tastes.
WRITING FEATURE Literary vs Commercial – this is a fascinating article by Chrissy Sturt for Words and Pictures, the SCBWI British Isles online magazine. This gave me a great deal to think about and would prompt an interesting debate about children’s books and their role and impact on readers.
Reflecting on Reading for Pleasure Pedagogy – Open University Reading for Pleasure video interview with Sonia Thompson, Headteacher from St Matthews, Birmingham, on sustaining RfP pedagogy. Two minutes of wisdom and worth a watch. Sonia and her staff are ‘enabling children to read for life’ and all supported with research and evidence.
Jason Reynolds: The Books of My Life – the award wining American YA author on discovering Stephen King, growing into Toni Morrison – and the perfect novel. “Books weren’t really my thing as a child. I didn’t read on my own until I was 17 or 18. It just wasn’t my life.”
The BookTrust Christmas appeal – this annual appeal raises money to send surprise festive book parcels to children who are vulnerable or in care. This year half of the books will be sent to children in care who may be spending their first Christmas away from their families, and the other half will be given out through community foodbanks to children in families facing challenging circumstances.
Children’s Fiction: 10 You Might Have Missed – There has been a large number of newly published children’s books recently and often just a handful claim the spotlight. Alison Leach and the Review Panel on Books for Topics have highlighted some of the brilliant books that may have passed you by but deserve not to be missed.
When the Sky Falls by Phil Earle Teaching Resources – Scott Evans, (The Reader Teacher) has created some free resources, (comprehension questions, writing opportunities & cross-curricular activities ready to use in the classroom), to accompany this award winning book. They can be downloaded from the publishers’ website via the link above.
What’s Great About Non-Fiction? – a guest post by author and illustrator Martin Brown for Non-Fiction November on the Federation of Children’s Book Groups website. He looks at the appeal of illustrated non-fiction and discusses how information can be conveyed through pictures.
Q&A with Kevin Crossly-Holland – this is a treat. Kevin Crossley-Holland, award-winning author of the Arthur Trilogy, discusses the influences, meaning and legacy of the Arthurian legends, as his new book ‘Arthur: The Always King’, illustrated by Chris Riddell is published. Thank you to Chris Soul for posting this interesting read. There is a link to Chris’s review of the new book too.
Register for the 2022 Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Shadowing Scheme – the nominations for these awards were announced last week and now you can register your Shadowing Group to take part in the online shadowing to celebrate the 2022 Awards Shortlist from March onwards. Registration is required to submit reviews and artwork inspired by the shortlisted books and to vote for favourite books to win the Shadowers’ Choice Awards.
Book Trust: Books Featuring Transgender and non-binary characters – Its Transgender Awareness Week (November 13th – 19th) and to mark the occasion Book Trust has produced a list of non-fiction and stories with characters who identify as Trans, non-binary or gender fluid.
Christmas Event for schools- Mr Dilly Meets Mel Taylor-Bessent & AF Harrold – Wednesday 8th December 11:00am – 11:45am.To celebrate Christmas Mr Dilly Meets author Mel Taylor-Bessent to talk about her new book, The Christmas Carrolls. Mr Dilly will also be joined by poet Mr A.F. Harrold, to speak about his poetry and latest collection The Book of Not Entirely Useful Advice. This show will also feature some Christmas poem recitals brought to you by Poetry By Heart. Full detail and registration via the link.
Deliver the Joy of Reading reading guide 2021 – Published by Children’s Books Ireland, The Deliver the Joy of Reading reading guide highlights books by Irish authors, illustrators and publishers for children and young people aged 0–18. There are reviews of over 144 books, in English and Irish, for children and young people aged 0 to 18. You will find ghost stories, Christmas tales, historical fiction, funny books, board books for babies, songbooks, nature themed non-fiction and romance for young adults. Free to download via the link.
Finally, some book reviews that caught my eye this week…
The Lights That Dance in the Night by Yuval Zommer – this picture book imagines the Northern Lights’ fleeting journey from space to Earth and how they weave a special magic for the animals and people living in the frozen lands below. Joanne Owen’s really lovely review on LoveReading4Kids has persuaded me to buy this as a Christmas present for my little assistant reviewer.
November Non-Fiction Round Up – a lovely selection of books reviewed by Rachael on the Picture Book Perfect blog. Suitable for a range of ages and Rachael includes a look at the illustrations which does help in assessing suitability.
Nisha’s War by Dan Smith – Kate Heap reviews a large number of books on a regular basis so when she says, “Every once in a while, a book comes along that causes the rest of the world to melt away leaving only the story.” it makes me sit up and take notice. This story set in World War 2 sounds excellent and Kate recommends it for Year 5 and above.
Loki: A Bad God’s Guide to Being Good by Louie Stowell – this has been receiving a lot of praise on Twitter so I checked out one of my trusted reviewers to find out more. John Lloyd’s review on The Bookbag made me smile. “I’d never have turned to this thinking at last, the Diary of a Wimpy Kid-meets-Norse-myth book I’d always hoped for – but that’s because this idea is actually rather a genius concept.” Due to be published in early 2022 and one to watch out for.
The Song That Sings Us by Nicola Davies – ever since I attended the online launch for this book I have been looking forward to reading it. Andrew Rough’s enthusiastic review has whetted my appetite still further. “The Song that Sings Us really is a book worth singing about. I hope it gets read far and wide, it deserves to.”
I hope this week’s round up has been helpful and you have found a useful link or a new book to tempt you. Happy reading.