Recently I read an article on the Just Imagine website with which I found myself nodding in agreement. Roy James is a school librarian and writes regular blogs for this website specialising in excellence in teaching reading and writing, each of them highlighting a particular aspect of children’s literature. This recent article was Small Publishers are a Big Deal and focused on the role of smaller publishers in providing books with an individual flavour or catering for a particular type of reader. Roy’s blog mentioned that sometimes these books may ‘fly under the radar.’ This has prompted me to share a few new books from this type of publisher that you may otherwise have missed.
One of the publishers mentioned was b small publishing, who are on a mission to empower all readers with critical literacy skills and produce an excellent range of non-fiction books. The Encyclopedia of STEM Words by Jenny Jacoby and Vicky Barker is a comprehensive look at 100 essential concepts that will fascinate scientifically minded young readers and is published this month. I think this is an excellent book. It includes a wide range of topics in alphabetical order, discussed in an engaging manner, with definitions provided and ideas that will encourage children to learn more. The layout and presentation is clear with an index and contents page and the How to Use this Book section is extremely helpful. I would highly recommend The Encyclopedia of STEM Words for school libraries and think it is suitable for both upper KS2 and KS3.
Tiny Owl Publishers also received a mention in the Just Imagine blog and I have long been a fan of this independent but impressive publisher of picture books. This month sees the publication of The Name Game by acclaimed author Elizabeth Laird illustrated by Olivia Holden. This is gentle tale focusing on the importance of nature and the power of the imagination. A little girl sitting bored at home watches the activity of the natural world outside her window. This sparks an idea. She then gives each visitor a special name to match them perfectly using her imagination. This charming story introduces young children to a butterfly, a magpie and an oak tree and encourages them to notice and name the natural world around them. The delicate illustrations pair with the text perfectly in this picture book that would be suitable for very young children.
Although not mentioned in the Just Imagine blog Scallywag Press are another small publisher, now three years old, whose books are worth seeking out. They specialise in publishing talented newcomers and re-issues of established creators and classics. Eye Spy by Ruth Brown complements The Name Game perfectly and was published in May. This stunning book takes the reader on a journey through the day set in a countryside landscape. Each page offers the reader, or young listener, an opportunity to solve a riddle and guess which animal is hiding and then search for it in the accompanying illustration. Those familiar with Ruth Brown’s work will not be surprised to learn that this is a visually beautiful book. Each gorgeous page is worth lingering over and talking about particularly as some of the creatures are quite tricky to spot at first. The riddles provide a little snippet of information to help identify the animals and this is a delightful way for young children to learn about our native wild creatures such as snails, ladybirds, foxes and deer. Perfect for sharing with little ones and with a lovely traditional feel to it.
Each of these publishers provide helpful resources and activity ideas on their websites linked to the books they publish and I would recommend a browse to find out more. The Just Imagine website provides lists of books by smaller publishers too and you can find links to these in Roy’s article mentioned above. I hope this small taste has whetted your appetite to find our more about these publishers and to look out for their books in future.
I should like to thank the publishers for providing my review copies.