Welcome to this week’s round up of what has been happening in the world of children’s books. There have been award announcements, news of forthcoming events and, inevitably, the Best of the Year lists have started to appear. I hope something here catches your eye and is useful to you. If you have time I can recommend the Sita Brahmachari and Michael Rosen conversation, the recording of which is included in the news and resources section.
What I’m reading…
As Non Fiction November comes to a close my non-fiction recommendation for this week is William Grill’s beautiful new book, Bandoola The Great Elephant Escape. Based on a true story this book illustrated in William Grill’s trademark style is a moving story set in Myanmar during World War 2 and highlights the trust and empathy that can be found in relationships between man and animals.
I have booked Nikki Gamble’s Audience With Paul Jennings next Thursday and this week I read his novella, A Different Boy. My experience of his books previously was his humorous fiction popular with my own sons when they were young. This was rather different. A carefully crafted story that certainly packs a punch. I was impressed at the way in which a short story contained such depth of emotion and serious themes. It would be great for reluctant readers aged 11plus. Its size is deceptive and a degree of emotional maturity is required of the reader.
As a last minute Christmas kind of person I’ve finally admitted defeat and have been reading some new “Christmassy” books. The Christmas Carrolls and Wishyouwas certainly put me in the mood and I defy anyone to resist How Winston Came Home For Christmas which is a total delight. There’s a blogpost in preparation telling you more.
News, articles and resources…
30 best children’s books for Christmas 2021: from Dogs in Disguise to Striking Out – Marianne Levy looks at the best new writing for children both big and small for the i newspaper, from a lift the flap book for tinies to a seasonal rom-com.
Nikki Gamble’s November Book Blast – for those who missed the live event here’s your chance to catch up via YouTube. Join Nikki as blasts through over 30 of the best books publishing in November 2021.
Nikki Gamble’s Christmas Book Blast – following on from the recording of Nikki’s most recent look at newly published children’s books a reminder that Nikki’s special Christmas edition takes place on Friday 3rd December. You can register via the link above.
Books for Topics: 2021 Christmas Book Gift Guides – this is a helpful resource from Alison and her team at Books for Topics if you are looking for good books as Christmas presents for children. They have put together a list of recommended books to give to primary school aged children in different age groups from 3-11.
Sita Brahmachari in conversation with Michael Rosen – if you missed this event live the recording is now available and I can recommend this fascinating discussion about children’s literature. Sita Brahmachari, talks about her novels for children and young adults and why diversity matters in her stories. It also celebrates the launch of Sita Brahmachari’s powerful YA novel, When Shadows Fall and Michael Rosen’s new picturebook about perseverance, hope and overcoming fear, Sticky McStickstick illustrated by Tony Ross.
Non Fiction November Jo Cummins’ Selection – if you are looking for beautifully presented information books to give as presents Jo has selected some real treasures here. All suitable for the primary age group. A lovely round up to end Non Fiction November.
Costa Book Awards Shortlists Announced – Launched in 1971, the Costa Book Awards is one of the UK’s most prestigious and popular book prizes. There are five categories and the shortlist for the Children’s Book Award consists of: Maggie Blue and the Dark World by Anna Goodall, The Crossing by Manjeet Mann, The Midnight Guardians by Ross Montgomery and The Boy Who Made Everyone Laugh by Helen Rutter. More details available via the link.
Bishop’s Stortford College Festival of Literature – Available to watch live in early 2022 or on catch up, the digitally devised Festival programme is intended to bring authors straight from their homes into school classrooms and even to pupils learning from home. There is a fabulous line-up for this festival, suitable for both primary and secondary, and each event will include teaching materials, to help support and encourage further learning. Full details including dates, cost etc are available via the link above.
School Library Association Information Book Award Winners Announced – Now in its eleventh year, this award aims to emphasise the importance of non-fiction by highlighting and celebrating the high standard of children’s information books available. Full details of the winners in each of the categories can be found via the link. It is good to see the contribution made by Anita Ganeri acknowledged as this year’s winner of the Hachette Children’s Group Award for Outstanding Contribution to Information Books.
What To Read After… I Am A Tiger – this year’s Book Trust Time to Read book, given to every Reception-aged child in England and Wales, is I Am A Tiger by Karl Newson and Ross Collins. If you are looking for something similar to recommend for a child who enjoys this story Book Trust have some suggestions for other books to try.
Best children’s books of 2021 – Author-illustrator Raúl the Third and Washington Post reviewers share their picks of the year in picture books, fiction and non-fiction. I am tempted by some here that I have still not read. Thank you to Mat Tobin for sharing this article this week.
Best Picture Books 2021 – a selection chosen by the School Library Journal contains Grandpa’s Camper recently nominated for the Kate Greenaway Medal. Thank you to Melanie McGilloway for sharing this list online.
The Reading Agency Winter Mini Challenge – The Reading Agency has announced a new reading adventure partnership with WWF-UK, the Winter Mini Challenge. This will encourage children to continue reading over the winter holidays with a free, digital platform offering rewards and prizes for continuing to read. The Winter Mini Challenge will launch on 1 December and run through until 16 January.
Burberry and Marcus Rashford MBE pledge support for National Literacy Trust work on school libraries – British fashion house Burberry, has partnered with English international footballer Marcus Rashford MBE, to help organisations enhance library experiences for children and young people from disadvantaged communities.
Finally, some book reviews that caught my eye this week…
Snow Ghost by Tony Mitton illustrated by Diana Mayo – although published this time last year Snow Ghost is a weekly staff pick on LoveReading4Kids this week. Andrea Reece says it is, “The perfect picture book for this time of year, a heart-warming celebration of hope and belonging.”
The Girl Who Talked to Trees by Natasha Farrant illustrated by Lydia Corry – although you should not of course judge a book by its cover this one is particularly tempting! Erin Hamilton’s review says this book contains “brilliant messages of friendship, environmental issues and speaking up to protect that which you love.” It sounds and looks perfect.
Roar Like a Lion by Carlie Sorosiak, illustrated by Katie Walker – a self-help guide for young readers which incorporates key traits from the animal kingdom. This sounds different but also extremely helpful. Veronica Price says, “Whether you want advice on making friendships, reaching out to other groups in an inclusive manner, finding your inner bravery or accepting your own unique self, there is a story for you in this book.”
That’s everything for this week. I hope it’s useful to you. Happy reading!