Welcome to this week’s look at what has been happening in the world of children’s books. There have been awards announcements, details of forthcoming events, helpful book lists and reviews you may have missed so I hope this selection of links is helpful.
What I’m reading…
One of my favourite recent reads was published on Thursday this week, Seed by Caryl Lewis. As promised in the last Reading Matters my review is now up on the Just Imagine website. I can wholeheartedly recommend this, it’s a delight and a fabulous book to read aloud to children in Upper KS2, encouraging children to believe in themselves, to be kind and to have hope in the future.
Another book I read and reviewed for Just Imagine is Major and Mynah by Karen Owen and Louise Forshaw. This is great fun and is both inclusive and accessible in content and presentation and would be great for lower KS2. Both this story and Seed feature protagonists who wear hearing aids or cochlear implants and in both cases this aspect is described with sensitivity and positivity.
Regular readers of the blog will know I enjoy historical fiction and this week I was pleased to be able to take part in the blog tour marking the publication of Claire Mulligan’s English debut, The Hunt for David Berman. If you are looking for a new children’s book set during the Second World War I can recommend this one.
I have just finished reading The Map of Leaves by Yarrow Townsend, a beautifully atmospheric and original debut that truly does give nature a voice. My review for Just Imagine will be available next week but this is definitely one to look out for. So many great books being published at the moment!
News, articles and resources…
Children’s and teens roundup – the best new picture books and novels – I missed this last week and in case you missed it too I have included it in this week’s collection. Imogen Russell Williams’ excellent selections in the Guardian are always worth browsing as they are wide ranging in age appeal and content.
Children’s author Simon James Green: ‘I just wanted to show LGBT+ kids that it’s not all doom and gloom’ – in this article Simon James Green discusses why young LGBT+ people need representation more than ever.
The Reader Teacher May 2022 Books I’m Most Excited About – each month Scott Evans compiles a ‘coming soon’ video highlighting his most eagerly anticipated books. I’m delighted to see Seed and The Hunt for David Berman included and like the sound of Fake by Ele Fountain and Peter Bunzl’s new book, Magicborn.
National Share a Story Month Book Lists – National Share-A-Story Month is an annual celebration of the power of storytelling and story sharing, providing a fantastic opportunity to fulfil the core aim of the Federation of Children’s Book Groups of bringing children and stories together. This year’s theme in belonging and you can found out more and see the helpful book lists compiled on this year’s theme on the official website above.
Neil Gaiman: The Books of My Life – author Neil Gaiman interviewed in the Guardian on the books that have influenced him. I found his comments about “these lovely friendly asides to the reader” in the Narnia books interesting as it is something I have noticed during my recent re-reads and wonder if I was aware of it as a child. He also mentions Nicholas Stuart Gray, an author I don’t know of so must now investigate.
The 2022 Little Rebels Award Shortlist – now in its 10th year the Little Rebels Award celebrates radical fiction for readers aged 0-12. The award is given by the Alliance of Radical Booksellers and was established in conjunction with Letterbox Library. This year’s shortlist includes titles that tackle complex social issues and makes them accessible for the youngest of readers.
CLiPPA The CLPE Poetry Award Shortlist Announced: The Centre for Literacy in Primary Education this week announced the shortlist for the UK’s leading award for published poetry for children. The list illustrates the diverse energies of children’s poetry and a new confidence amongst publishers and poets. It is possible for schools to register for the excellent Shadowing Scheme via the website. You can found out more about the books on the shortlist, the judges, the shadowing scheme and forthcoming events linked to the award via the link above.
The 2022 Empathy Conversation 25th May 7.00 – 8.15pm – In the lead-up to Empathy Day 2022 (9th June), Empathy Lab invite you to join them for a thought-provoking debate about empathy, our human superpower. The panel of leading authors includes Lemn Sissay, Katherine Rundell, Manjeet Mann. They will be joined by Professor Robin Banerjee, Head of Psychology at Sussex University. The event will be hosted on Zoom. Register for your FREE tickets via Eventbrite through the link above.
Book Trust New Books We Love for May – Every month, BookTrust review dozens of books for children and teenagers. The ones they like best in May are suitable for toddlers to teens and are divided into age categories as a rough guide to suitability although of course there will be an overlap.
The Sunday Times Sports Awards – the shortlists for these awards, in several categories, were announced this week. The titles on the Children’s Book of the Year in association with The Reading Agency include Marcus Rashford’s You Are a Champion and Run Like a Girl by Danielle Brown. You can see the full list plus details of the other categories via the link above.
YALC – the UK’s Young Adult Literature Convention – YALC returns 8th – 10th July bringing you a 3 day celebration of the very best in young adult books and authors. YALC has fast become a popular event bringing together fantastic authors, publishers and readers for three packed days of YA events, writing workshops, book signings, book-themed activities and more.
Books for the Classroom Free Webinars – In May and June, Nikki Gamble is joined by teacher and librarian guests for a series of webinars looking at the principles of book selection for different year groups. There will of course be plenty of new book suggestions too. The first one, CHOOSING BOOKS FOR YEAR 1 with special guest Sam Keeley on Monday 16th May 4.15 – 5.00 can be booked via the link above, and the second on Tuesday 17th May 4.15 – 5.00 CHOOSING BOOKS FOR YEAR 2 with special guest Kiran Satti can be booked here.
The Young Quills Shortlist 2022 – The Historical Association announced the shortlist for the Young Quills, the annual awards for children’s and young adult historical fiction this week. There are three age categories, 5-9yeaes, 10-13 years and 14+. The Young Quills books for each year must be published for the first time in English in the year preceding the competition and this year’s selection is brilliant. I’m delighted to see Tom Palmer, Phil Earle, Hilary McKay and Lesley Parr included and am keen to read all the other books too.
Finally, some book reviews that caught my eye this week…
A Perfect Spot by Isabelle Simler – I love the look of this beautiful picture book and Paul Watson’s helpful review includes a glimpse of the stunning illustrations and advice on how to use the book in the classroom.
The Station Cat by Stephen Hogtun – another beautiful picture book this time reviewed by Tom Griffiths. The blurb describes it as “ a story of hope” and Tom says “The Station Cat is a story of kindness and hope, underpinned by connection and the power we have in sharing with others.” I’m finding this one hard to resist.
Middle Grade Spring Collection – this is a really helpful round up of reviews of recent fiction from Kate Heap. Her selection includes mystery, social issues, humour and time travel so something for a range of tastes here.
Super Questers: The Case of the Stolen Sun by Lisa Moss and Dr. Thomas Bernard illus. by Amy Wilcox – this new series of interactive, STEM related books is the sort of thing I know would be popular in school libraries. They are the type of books that encourage children to share and talk about what they’re reading. This helpful blog post includes Jo Cummins’ look at the first of the series and an interview with the authors and founders of a new children’s publishers.
That’s everything for this week and I hope it’s been useful to you. I’m hoping to tackle my enormous pile of books to review this weekend in between doing battle with the garden. Happy reading!