Reading Matters – children’s book news

Welcome to this week’s look at what has been happening in the world of children’s books.

What I’m reading…

The Last Post by Keith Campion is a slender book that belies its emotional impact. Told in a series of letters between father and son this story of life in the trenches in World War 1 is both deeply poignant and important. The author, a primary teacher, understands how to provide hope to his young readers yet still conveys the horror and waste of war effectively. This would be perfect to share in the classroom to mark Remembrance Day and the suggested activities and discussion ideas at the end of the book are an added bonus. A little gem that I would highly recommend for both upper KS2 and KS3.

The Haunted Hills is an atmospheric story exploring childhood friendship, loss, grief and guilt set in a landscape that adds much to this multi-layered and thoughtful book. I found this an emotional read as the characters had a relatable quality and a depth that increased my engagement with the story. Its links to folklore were written with care and an obvious love and knowledge of the local area. I will try to write a more detailed review over the next few days.

Cover illustration by Tamsin Rosewall

News, articles and resources…

PeriodiCOOL by Roy James – I’m very much enjoying Roy’s regular blogposts for Just Imagine and this one explores the long-standing popularity of magazines and comics for children. His recommendations are well worth following up.

Q&A With Author Emma Carroll – school librarian Emma Suffield finds out about Emma’s writing process, favourite books and more in this latest in her series of interviews with children’s authors.

Book Trust Writer-Illustrator in Residence Nick Sharratt launches new competition – children are invited to use their imagination to ‘Invent your own Animal’. Entries should take the form of a picture, showing just what your creature looks like. It could be a drawing, a painting, a collage… any kind of artwork. There are three age categories and the closing date for entries is 11pm on Friday 30 December, 2022.

Picture books for children – reviews – Imogen Carter’s latest selection for the Guardian includes a magical zebra, fat cats in lockdown and a bus-riding chipmunk.

Halloween Fright Night with author Serena Patel – Authors Aloud UK & Usborne Books invite you to join author Serena Patel for a spooky Halloween event to celebrate publication of Fright Night, her new book in the Anisha, Accidental Detective series. Suitable for Years 3,4,5. October 31st 10:00 AM. Full details and how to register via the link.

Book Clubs in Schools: Q&A with Alex Wheatle and Jason Reynolds – this interview which took place in the summer is free for schools to watch until 11th November if you subscribe to Book Clubs in Schools newsletter via the link above. After that date it will be available to subscribing member schools. You can find out more about the scheme on their website.

2023 Branford Boase Award Judging Panel Announced – this week the organisers of this award that rewards the most promising new authors and their editors announced that the judges of the next award will be Maisie Chan, winner of this year’s award, Sajeda Amir, an English teacher and KS3 coordinator, Darren Matthews a Primary Advisory Teacher at the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education, Joanne Owen, a writer, reviewer and workshop presenter and Julia Eccleshare, a regular contributor to Radio 4’s Front Row and Open Book programmes and children’s director of the Hay Festival.

How to use books to explore worries about siblings – in this article for Book Trust Jion Sheibani, author of The Worries series, explains how parents can use reading and drawing to help children articulate their feelings about anything.

Toby Jones, Harriet Walter and Noah Alexander to star in The Dark Is Rising from the BBC World Service – Robert MacFarlane as adapted Susan Cooper’s classic novel, The Dark Is Rising, for a 12-part audio drama/podcast on the BBC World Service in December. This should be a Christmas treat. It is the first time in 25 years that Cooper’s cult 1973 book – which has sold millions of copies worldwide – has been dramatised for radio and podcast by the BBC.

Books for Topics Book List: Politics and Democracy – it’s impossible to avoid the subject of politics in the media at the moment and if children are asking questions this helpful list of books on the subject may be a good place to start.

The World Cup Reading Challenge – LIVE – taking place on 18th November 10.30 – 11.00am this online event is ideal to share with pupils aged 7 to 11 (Years 3, 4, 5 and 6). Full details of the event, the related book lists and how to register are all available on the Literacy Trust website link above.

An Post Irish Book Awards Shortlist 2022 – The shortlist for the An Post Irish Book Awards 2022 features a diverse mix of exceptional writing from new and established writers across 18 categories, including, Children’s Junior, Children’s Senior, and Teen and Young Adult

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

Cress Watercress By Gregory Maguire & David Litchfiel – any book illustrated by David Lichfield draws my attention. Bruna De Luca in her review on My Book Corner describes it as , “At times humorous and always touching, this story manages to be both timeless and modern, and would make a wonderful gift for fans of Charlotte’s Web and Wind In The Willows.” Definitely one for my list.

Edie and the Flits in Paris by Kate Wilkinson, illustrated by Joe Berger – I have been on the lookout for illustrated fiction that may appeal to the younger end of the ‘middle grade’ audience and for those who find longer books a bit daunting and this sounds just right. Veronica Price sums it up in her review: I cannot recommend this story highly enough for anyone of 8+…With half-term arriving, put this story into the hands of a young reader and let them travel by book this holiday period!

The Butterfly Club: The Mummy’s Curse by M A Bennett – a review with added extras! Erin Hamilton includes her own questions for the author of this book, second in the series, plus questions from Year 5 at Cliff Lane Primary School and a link to discussion notes to use in the classroom.

The Vanishing of Aveline Jones by Phil Hickes & Keith Robinson – this spooky story is perfectly timed for Halloween and dark winter evenings. In her review Kate Heap says, “This is truly creepy book. Expect shivers and goosebumps as you follow Aveline into a world of tricksters, traps and torture.”

That’s everything for this week and I do hope that it’s helpful to you. Wishing a happy half term break to those who are on holiday at the moment.

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