Welcome to this week’s catch up with what has been happening in the world of children’s books. Although this weekly round up of news concentrates on aspects of reading, literature, education and libraries any other news round up this week has been dominated by the Ukraine crisis. Inevitably even young children will have been exposed to the coverage so I wanted to highlight a couple of resources that have been shared this week that may be helpful if you have to answer children’s questions, be that at home or in an educational setting. Firstly, BBC Newsround have produced this helpful guide which includes an advice section. First News have also created an “explainer” which is free to download from their website.
What I’m reading…
This month sees the ten year anniversary of the publication of Wonder by R J Palacio, a book that became a phenomenon in children’s literature being followed by related picture books, a graphic novel and a film. It was always going to be a hard act to follow and when I saw the cover of her new book ‘Pony’ and read the accompanying descriptions I initially did not think it was “my sort of book.” However the online book community swayed me. A book recommended by Jon Biddle, Teresa Cremin and Bronnie from independent booksellers, Bookwagon, always piques my interest. I immersed myself in the world created by R J Palacio last weekend and am so glad I did. It is unlike anything I’ve read before and is impossible to apply a label as it is a beautiful mix of historical, western, coming of age and ghost story. By the final pages I believed totally in the character of Silas and cared very much about this young man.
Barrington Stoke have several new books being published at the moment and this week I read and reviewed The Raven Riddle by Vashti Hardy illustrated by Natalie Smillie. I am delighted to see this series continue to develop and do believe that Grace and Tom’s adventures will hook many young readers and encourage them to read for pleasure.
Turning to information books I have enjoyed many of the recent titles from b small publishing and their Big Book of Boats by Luogo comune translated by Catherine Bruzzone is published next week. I learned a lot from this well presented book and would highly recommend it for primary school libraries.
News, articles and resources…
Jan Pieńkowski obituary – the children’s book world was united in sadness last weekend at the news of the loss of Jan Pienkowski and also in celebrating his wonderful work. The power of pictures in stories was evident, they are lodged in our memories and is a reminder if one was needed of the importance of illustration. This Guardian obituary tells the story of his life and beautiful work.
Jan Pieńkowski – BookTrust Lifetime Achievement Award – In 2019 Jan Pieńkowski was awarded the BookTrust Lifetime Achievement Award and SF Said, one of the judges, this week shared the text of the speech he made at the ceremony. It summarises beautifully his contribution to children’s literature.
Michael Rosen BookTrust’s latest Writer in Residence – this news lifted our spirits on Tuesday. On Tuesday 1 March, Michael Rosen will become BookTrust’s next Writer in Residence – a project that has been running since 2009 – and he will be using the residency to promote the importance of reading and rhyming with children in their early years. I am sure he will inspire many.
An evening with Catherine Barr: Protect Freshwater and special guest Katie Alcott – on Mar 3, 2022 at 7pm Catherine Barr will be in conversation with Nikki Gamble about her new book Protect Freshwater to Save Life on Earth with special guest Katie Alcott, CEO FRANK water. Nikki and her guests will be talking about plans to mark World Water Day, on 22nd March, in school.
Updated Reading Roads from Dean Boddington – Dean’s popular Tube Maps were made to encourage children to read different genres and broaden their reading, these Roads help children to find progression within a genre. There are several different genres including animals, magical, science-fi and mystery in a variety of styles. For more information and to download a copy please visit Dean’s blog via the link above.
5 ways to show your library some love (and stop it becoming a store cupboard) – the latest #LifechangingLibraries tips from BookTrust identify some common problems and give advice on how to fix them even when time and space is limited.
World Book Day What to Read Next – This is a good resource. Find fresh reading ideas based on the 2022 World Book Day titles with a couple of follow on suggestions to each of the special £1 WBD books. A free to download poster from the National Literacy Trust that is perfect for schools.
Hans Christian Andersen Awards 2022 – The Hans Christian Andersen Award is the highest international distinction given to authors and illustrators of children’s books. Given every other year by IBBY, the Awards recognise lifelong achievement and are given to an author and an illustrator whose complete works have made an important, lasting contribution to children’s literature. The shortlists were announced this week and you can view them and find out more about the award and past winners via the link above. Like many others I’m sure, I was delighted to see Sydney Smith feature on the illustrators list.
Great School Libraries Campaign launches Phase 2 – CILIP, CILIP School Libraries Group and the School Library Association have announced the second phase of the Great School Libraries campaign, responding to the increasing educational and literacy gaps brought about by the Covid pandemic. This second phase will position great school libraries as a key part of academic recovery and the successful provision of formal education.
The school library: A powerful weapon in the battle for wellbeing – this is a wonderful article by the co-chairs of the Great School Libraries Campaign (see above) highlighting the vital role the school library and librarian play in pupils’ wellbeing. From my own experience as a school librarian I know that this is true and also that it can be overlooked. A must read piece, thank you Alison and Caroline.
World Book Day and the Importance of Translated Texts – this is an excellent article by librarian Roy James for Just Imagine highlighting the value of translated books for children. Perfectly timed for World Book Day I really like how this emphasises the global nature of reading for pleasure and learning.
Children’s and teens roundup – the best new picture books and novels – Two vivid picture books from noted poets – plus Loki’s secret diary, the return of Mayor Bunny, and the pick of the new middle-grade and YA fiction all selected by Imogen Russell Williams for the Guardian.
Reading for Pleasure: Responsibility, Rigour and Relevance – free webinar hosted by Oxford Primary on Wednesday 2nd March at 4pm. Professor Teresa Cremin will focus on the benefits of being a reader in childhood, and the 3 R’s of reading for pleasure: responsibility, rigour and relevance. Those who register will receive a link to a recording of the event so you will be able to watch later.
David Fickling Books Virtual Showcase – this sounds fabulous. These publishers have some exciting books coming out this year and this event promises to be a treat. Hear more about new books from all the amazing authors on the list including S F Said, Lissa Evans, Julia Green, Philip Reeve. March 8th at 6.30pm. RSVP firstname.lastname@example.org for Zoom invitation.
Finally, some book reviews that caught my eye this week…
One Camel Called Doug by Lu Fraser illustrated by Sarah Warburton – I have a soft spot for The Littlest Yak by Lu Fraser illustrated by Kate Hindley and this new picture book sounds to have a similar appeal. A lovely combination of bedtime story and counting rhyme that gets the thumbs up from Rachael on her Picture Book Perfect blog (and her daughters!) Her review also includes an interview with the author and the peep at the illustrations made me smile.
Marv by Alex Falase-Koya illustrated by Paula Bowles – Jo Cummins introduced a brand new series of highly-engaging first chapter books featuring a new hero, Marv (and his robot sidekick, Pixel.), this week. Jo says, “The well-spaced text and action-packed illustrations make this series the perfect read for anyone aged 5+ who’s looking for a wordier read alongside continuing to enjoy picture books.”
You Are 25% Banana by Susie Brooks illustrated by Josy Bloggs – I had missed this new non-fiction book published last month but it sounds great. A funny first guide to genetics that is perfect for children aged 5 years and over and described by Joy Court in her review for LoveReading4Kids as “not just an important scientific concept beautifully explained, but, through words and images, it carries the message of understanding, empathy and tolerance for others.”
Nick Sharratt’s Super Silly Museums – another non-fiction book for younger readers this time reviewed by Ben Harris and this sounds fun too. Ben says he was “completely won over by this quirky and utterly child-centric approach to non-fiction.” His review has completely won me over too and I will be buying this for a little person I know.
The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate Di Camillo – Tom Slattery’s Books I Should Have Read feature on his blog continues with one of my personal favourites. As a school librarian I have frequently recommended this kind and thoughtful book to teachers and they have read it aloud to their classes with great success. You can read Tom’s lovely review to find how why this book is rather special.
That’s all for this week and I do hope that something included here is helpful to you or you have noticed a book that you would like to read. Happy weekend and I hope you have time for some reading.