Reading Matters – children’s book news

Welcome to this week’s look at what has been happening in the world of children’s books. Of course the highlight has undoubtedly been the announcement of our new Children’s Laureate, Joseph Coelho. What an inspired choice! I was lucky to attend the Federation of Children’s Book Groups conference in April at which Joseph was a member of the Poetry Panel hosted by Nikki Gamble and was impressed by his thoughtful comments then. The next two years should be exciting as he embarks on his mission to highlight poetry, new talent and libraries.

Unfortunately there was some disappointing news too as we learned that the Blue Peter Children’s Book Awards have ceased. This prompted many online discussions on the subject and it was heartening to see people such as author Elle McNicol responding with positive plans for new awards. Children’s books receive little enough attention in the main stream media as it is and awards do much to raise their profile so are much needed.

What I’m reading…

This week I was transported to the Lake District of the 1940s courtesy of Cuckoo Summer by Jonathan Tulloch. This is a lovely story full of brilliant, believable characters, sparky dialogue between the two children and running through the whole book a love of the landscape in which the children live. This is a Second World War story for children with a subtly different tone. First and foremost Cuckoo Summer is about the friendship between the two children and the importance of family and community to them both in very different ways.

On Thursday evening I attended the final event in Nikki Gamble’s Audience with series and she ended in grand style with Jon Klassen. Jon was entertaining, interesting and amusing, despite having Covid. Listening to him read The Rock From the Sky was a brilliant example of the importance of reading picturebooks aloud to all ages. It was probably a good job the audience was muted at this point as I was helpless with giggles! A wonderful event. Nikki will be back in the autumn and I can wholeheartedly recommend these events.

News, articles and resources…

New Children’s Laureate Announcement – Award-winning poet, playwright and author Joseph Coelho was announced as new Waterstones Children’s Laureate this week. Joseph Coelho also performed a new poem at the ceremony written to mark the occasion, entitled ‘The Power of a Poem’ and there is a video of Joseph performing the poem in the article linked above. His Laureateship will focus on three main areas: showcase new talent within the industry and spotlight their work, celebrate the power of poetry in all its forms and champion local libraries, highlighting the vital role they play within the community and inspiring a love of reading in young people.

Children’s books world reacts to ‘horrible loss’ of Blue Peter book awards – Guardian article focusing on the reaction to the announcement that these popular awards for children’s books are ending.

Scholastic expands The Lollies after closure of Blue Peter Book Awards – The Lollies originally started in 2015 after the Roald Dahl Funny Prize came to an end. They celebrate the best and funniest children’s books in the UK and Ireland annually, with the winners decided by children’s votes. The awards will now have categories for Best Laugh Out Loud Poetry Book, Non-Fiction Book, Book for Teens/YA and Illustrator of the Year.

Mr Dilly Meets – Big Kids Summer Reading Bonanza! – Free Big Summer Reading Bonanza online event for primary schools with live chat from Anna Fargher, Henry White & Aisha Bushby. Tuesday 12 July 2022 11:00 – 12:15 It’s not too late to book for this event next week and more information and details of how to register can be found via the link above.

Announcing the English-language Wales Book of the Year Short List 2022 – Awarding across four categories in both Welsh and English –Poetry, Fiction, Creative Non-fiction and Children & Young People– the Wales Book of the Year Award celebrates some of the best literary works in the previous calendar year.   The Children and Young People category shortlist is made up of three excellent books: Daydreams and Jellybeans, Alex Wharton The Shark Caller, Zillah Bethell and The Valley of Lost Secrets, Lesley Parr.

The Winners Of the UKLA Awards Announced – the teachers’ highest accolade went to Carnegie winner Katya Balen for October, October. This year saw the first ever joint winners in 3-6+ category and it was great to see diverse and inclusive choices celebrated. You can read more about the winning books in each category on the UKLA website linked above.

Audio interview with Nigel Gray author of Phyllis and Grace – this is definitely worth a listen. First is the beautiful review of Nigel Gray’s tender picture book illustrated by Bethan Welby on the Living Arts Canberra website and then a thoughtful and interesting conversation with Nigel about the inspiration for this picture book exploring the subject of dementia through the eyes of a friendly, little girl. Nigel also discusses his life of activism and interest in social justice.

Anna McQuinn: The Inspiring Beauty of Kanga – I’m a big fan of Anna McQuinn’s picture book series featuring Lulu and Zeki and have noticed the amount of detail included by the illustrators, Rosalind Beardshaw and Ruth Hearson, However this fascinating article by Anna about the background to the stunning African fabrics and patterns incorporated into the story has made me look anew at these lovely picture books.

Just Imagine: A Planet of Plants by Roy Moss – Roy’s latest blog explores the portrayal and role of plants in children’s fiction and non-fiction and is an informative read. It includes input from authors Yarrow Townsend and Skye McKenna and links to suggestions of further reading. A subject clearly dear to Roy’s heart and I’ve added some more books to my wish list.

Non-fiction is fabulous: encouraging reading across the curriculum – the always excellent Herts for Learning Primary English blog explores some of the best new non-fiction for children and provides advice on its use in the classroom.

Love My Books Summer Newsletter – a special newsletter marking the 7th birthday of this excellent website. Both the site and the newsletter are packed with book based resources for families, schools and early years settings to promote reading for pleasure. This month’s book in focus is Pirate Stew by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Chris Riddell plus there are six great ideas for summer-long story fun and much more.

Young Quills winners 2022 – the Historical Association this week announced the 2022 competition winners for Young Quills Awards for Historical Fiction for children and young adults. Many congratulations to Ages 5–9 years category The Chessmen Thief by Barbara Henderson,
Ages 10–13 years category: The Swallows’ Flight by Hilary McKay, 14+ years category: We Played With Fire by Catherine Barter. Full details of the shortlisted books plus the background to the award can be found above.

CLiPPA – The CLPE Poetry Award Winner – it has been a good week for children’s poetry and yesterday Valerie Bloom won the 2022 CLiPPA (CLPE Children’s Poetry Award) with a collection described as “a passport to the whole world.” Stars with Flaming Tails is an inspiring collection invites all children to engage with poetry. The award was announced live by Michael Rosen at the Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall at an exuberant Poetry Show attended by and starring children from schools across the UK.

The Alligator’s Mouth Award for illustrated early fiction – Pippa Curnick has won The Alligator’s Mouth Award 2022 with her book Indigo Wilde and the Creatures at Jellybean Crescent, published by Hodder Children’s Books. Celebrating highly illustrated fiction, the award is run by The Alligator’s Mouth bookshop and the Bright Agency, in association with Gardners Books. Pippa Curnick was awarded The Alligator’s Mouth trophy during a special awards ceremony
at The Bright Agency on Thursday 7th July.

Finally, some book reviews that caught my eye this week…

Dinos Don’t Give Up! by Smriti Halls Illustrated by Richard Merritt – a book of the month on the LoveReading4Kids website this sounds like great fun but with a positive message about having fun even when you can’t win at everything. In her review Andrea Reece says, “Little Dinah is a fun and inspiring companion and this is an entertaining and positive story.”

The Whale Watchers by Dougie Poynter illustrated by Amberin Huq – Owlet Press publish some excellent picture books so there first children’s novel was already on my book radar but thanks to this great review by Tom Griffiths I have shuffled it up my to read list. Tom describes it as “a must-have title for school and home bookshelves.”

The Midnighters – Hana Tooke – I didn’t know much about this title until I read Richard Simpson’s enthusiastic review and really like the sound of this “funny, feelgood, gripping fantasy…perfect for fans of Katherine Rundell and Kirsty Applebaum…”

Curious Creatures Working With Tools by Zoe Armstrong Illustrated by Anja Susanj – Information books about animals have a broad appeal and can be popular in school libraries for both reading for pleasure and for information and this new title reviewed for Just Imagine by Erin Hamilton. Erin says, “An absolutely fascinating look at animals and their use of tools that help them survive and thrive in their own habitats. Children are generally keen to learn more about animals and this is a new perspective that will ignite some brilliant discussions about the use of tools by humans and animals.’

That’s everything for this week and I hope that something included here has been of interest or helpful to you. Next week sees the award ceremony for the Branford Boase Award which I’m very much looking forward to. Happy reading!

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4 Responses to Reading Matters – children’s book news

  1. Thank you for this roundup! I think you are right: there is not enough press about children’s books.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It has been a busy week in the kidlit world! (So happy for Joseph Coelho…a brilliant choice.)

    Liked by 1 person

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