Welcome to this week’s look back at what has been happening in the world of children’s books.
What I’m reading…
Circus Maximus: Race to the Death by Annelise Gray was one of my favourite reads last year so I was delighted to take part in the blog tour marking the launch of the sequel, Rivals on the Track this week. I loved being reunited with Dido, she is such a compelling character, and enjoyed the story very much. It’s a wonderful balance of high drama and thoughtful moments and I know this will be on my favourites list for 2022. You can read my review and Annelise’s fascinating thoughts on research and writing historical fiction, here.
This week marked the Lunar New Year and we are now in the Year of the Tiger prompting many to share favourite ‘tiger books’ online. A new information book for children published this week by Faber, The Big Book of Festivals, included this celebration plus many other cultural and religious festivals. I think it would be a helpful book for primary school libraries and classrooms as it is great for both browsing for pleasure and learning.
A couple of happy picture books arrived in the post this week. First, The Whales on the Bus by Katrina Charman and Nick Sharratt published by Bloomsbury, recent winner of the BookTrust Storytime Prize. This is a delight and every adult in my family approved of this one although I realise that we are not the target audience! Perfect for sharing with little ones you can get a taste of it in this lovely video with Katrina and Nick. Secondly, Clementine’s Walk by Annie White from New Frontier Publishing a charming rhyming story about a puppy determined that someone, anyone, will take her for a walk. Another gem for sharing at story time with younger children. There are some teacher notes available here that may be of interest.
A lovely article in the Guardian celebrating the joy of reading, writing and libraries made me smile this week. Eight year old Dillon now has a long waiting list for his self published story, “by Dillon His Self”, in his local library.
News, articles and resources…
BBC Radio4 Wonderlands hosted by Frank Cottrell Boyce – this evening, Saturday 5th February at 8pm Frank Cottrell-Boyce explores how and why books for children have become central to our reading culture. With contributions from Cressida Cowell, Phillip Pullman, Robert Macfarlane, Jacqueline Wilson, Onjali Rauf, Patrice Laurence, Dapo Adeola, Aimée Felone, Barry Cunningham, Andy Miller, Professor Karen Coats and David Fickling. A must listen for all children’s book enthusiasts I think!
The Reader Teacher: January 2022 Monthly Must Reads – Scott Evans has selected his favourite books published in January and every single one sounds like a book I would enjoy. There is a free poster of the titles to download too.
January’s World Kid Lit web round-up – this is an excellent source of information about books in translation, international awards and news. Well worth saving to investigate the numerous links included. The website includes resources and book lists too.
The Reader Teacher: February 2022 Children’s Books I’m Most Excited About Coming Soon Video – Scott Evans turns his attention to the children’s books being published this month. There are lots of tempting titles included.
The Refugee Experience – Authentic Representation and Inclusion in Children’s Books with A.M. Dassu – Hays Education, in collaboration with partners All Around Reading, are hosting a free online Author-led event for educators which will take place on Monday 7th February 2022 from 430-6pm. Full details via the link.
Books for Topics Booklist: Awesome Planet Earth – a new book list created by the Books for Topics team and one that is perfect for curious readers. You can take a trip around the globe to explore the Earth’s wonders with this selection of recommended children’s books.
National Storytelling Week: What Makes a Good Classroom Read-Aloud? – to mark National Storytelling Week Alison Leach, founder of Books for Topics, has written a helpful article for Peters Books about selecting stories that have the right ingredients to make a great read-aloud in the classroom.
Words and Pictures: James Mayhew – Representation LGBTQ+ Community – To mark LGBT+ History Month, Words & Pictures Editor, Gulfem Wormald, talks to Author and Illustrator James Mayhew about how he represents this community in children’s books and what it was like for him to grow up hiding his true self.
The Reading Agency’s February Booklist for Children and Young People – LGBT+ History Month – Discover The Reading Agency’s February booklist for children and young people celebrating the voices and stories of the LGBT+ community. With titles for a broad range of ages focusing on families, romance, grief, identity and self-love. The list is free to download.
Mr Dilly Meets – Christopher Edge & Jenny McLachlan – Free Love Books, Love Reading, Love Libraries Special for SCHOOLS on Tue, 8 February 11:00 – 12:00. Live streamed on YouTube and available to watch afterwards following registration via the link.
The Children’s Book Show: Michael Rosen Live Performance on Thursday 3rd March – if you are puzzling about how to celebrate World Book Day this online event sounds perfect. Suitable for all KS2 age 7-11, an inspiring hour of poetry broadcast live into your classroom with the legendary poet and author Michael Rosen at 1.30pm on 3rd March. Full details and registration, (£10 per log-in) via the link above.
Love My Books February Newsletter – This a great regular newsletter from Love My Books and well worth signing up to. Lots of brilliant ideas for getting the most out of wonderful children’s books at home or in school. This month’s focus book is Banana! by Ed Vere.
Annelise Gray: Reading Zone Teen Author of the Month – an interesting interview with the author of Rivals on the Track (see my review above) and links to excellent teaching resources for both this book and the first book in the series, Race to the Death.
ReadingZone Bookclub – free author events – a great programme of free virtual author events this term including Gill Lewis and Sam Sedgman. Events are suitable for ages 5-11 and are recorded for you to watch afterwards.
Ones to Watch: New Children’s Fiction for Spring 2022 – another helpful resource from the team of reviewers at Books for Topics. We are rather spoilt for choice by this selection of books published between now and April.
Nikki Gamble’s Book Blast for February – an excellent way of keeping up with new children’s books, Nikki shares some of her recommendations and there is the chance to win the great books too. Free to register via the link. Please note the change of date to Monday 7th February at 8pm.
BookTrust New children’s books we love for February – BookTrust’s selection for this month divided into age groups from babies up to teens.
Greenaway Greats – To celebrate the 20th Anniversary of Artsmark, CILIP has teamed up with Arts Council England and Peters Books to create a special selection of Kate Greenaway titles, ‘Greenaway Greats’, to offer young people a fantastic reading opportunity featuring outstanding illustration. The Greenaway Greats Reading Scheme will launch on World Book Day with the reveal of the 20 titles, 10 for primary and 10 for secondary and accompanying resources. This sounds wonderful and I’m already trying to guess which titles have made the top 20! Full details and how to register available via the link.
Finally, some book reviews that caught my eye this week…
Joyful January Reads: Picture Books – this is a great round up by Rachel on her Picture Book Perfect blog including Yes You Can, Cow by Rashmi Sirdeshpande and Rikin Parekh and Winter Sleep by Sean Taylor, Alex Morss and Cinyee Chiu both of which I’ve added to my wish list.
I am Not a Prince! by Rachael Davis illustrated by Beatrix Hatcher – following Rachael’s reviews above it is appropriate to share this excellent review by Fabia Turner of her debut picture book with illustrator Beatrix Hatcher. Fabia describes this as, “A modern take on traditional fairytale roles, this refreshingly non-conformist, joyful read is a must for young children today.”
What’s New Harper Drew? – by Kathy Weeks, illustrated by Aleksei Bitskoff – in my experience as a school librarian stories told in a diary format have high reader appeal. This new book should therefore be popular, particularly as Rich Simpson describes it as “perfect for fans of ‘Wimpy Kid’, ‘Dork Diaries’, Tom Gates and similar.” You can find out more in his review.
Grandpa Frank’s Great Big Bucket List by Jenny Pearson – “humour gilds a poignant heart.” Isn’t this just a perfect description by Ben Harris of what makes books by Jenny Pearson so popular. This blogpost includes a piece by Jenny describing the inspiration for her latest book and a lovely review by Ben too.
Aftershocks by Anne Fine – a new novel by our former Children’s Laureate and twice winner of the Carnegie Medal is always going to be worth a look but this positive review by Veronica Price has completely sold it to me. Veronica sums it up with the description, “There is much wisdom packed into this dramatic work of fiction which could open up discussion, and I highly recommend it to all secondary school librarians and Year 6 classroom libraries…”
That’s all for this week and I do hope that you have found something of interest among the links included here. A reminder that next week, February 7th – 13th is Children’s Mental Health Week and this year’s theme is Growing Together. The official website has more information and resources.