Reading Matters – children’s book news

Welcome to this week’s look at what has been happening in the world of children’s books. This week marked the start of National Non-Fiction November so there are several mentions of that in this round up. Also some great events and interesting articles from children’s literature guru Nikki Gamble. Thank you to all the generous people who write the articles and create the resources and events I share on here each week.

What I’m reading…

This week I managed to catch up a little with my picture book pile and reviewed my pick of the new picture books for children. They include a range of subjects including penguin peril, Christmas compromises and perfect pets and presents. Some lovely books to explore and share.

This week saw the start of National Non Fiction November and I am pleased to be taking part in the blog review tour organised by the Federation of Children’s Book Groups to mark the occasion. This week I have read It’s the Journey Not the Destination in readiness for my post next Friday and thoroughly enjoyed exploring the world at a gentle pace. Please do look out for the other reviews over the coming days and perhaps catch up with any you have missed.

Lastly, thanks to The Chestnut Roaster by Eve McDonell I have spent the last few days lost in nineteenth century Paris. This is a captivating read. The evocative writing, the lavish illustrations by Ewa Beniak-Haremska and the originality combine in a novel both unexpected and enjoyable. I’ve nearly finished and am hoping the loathsome villain gets his comeuppance!

News, articles and resources…

Love My Books October Newsletter – this latest newsletter is excellent and full of useful and interesting articles including Nikki Gamble on young fiction for newly independent readers, the new book in focus The King Who Banned the Dark by Emily Haworth Booth, new activity pages for picture books such as The Comet and The Littlest Yak and lots more. It’s well worth exploring both the newsletter and the helpful website.

No Shelf Control Newsletter – Dean Boddington’s monthly newsletters are great for both teachers and parents and the latest issue includes a Q&A with Natasha Hastings and some suggestions for Christmas books. The newsletters can be downloaded from Dean’s blog linked above.

The Reader Teacher October 2022 Monthly Must Reads – Scott Evans’ pick of the last month includes the superb Tyger by SF Said which is going to take some beating as my book of the year and Timid by Harry Woodgate a picture book that is high on my shopping list.

Where the Poppies Now Grow by Hilary Robinson – this is a thoughtful guest post by author Hilary Robinson on the Federation of Children’s Book Groups website. She writes about the inspiration for this poignant picture book so beautifully illustrated by Martin Impey. I can wholeheartedly recommend this book as one to share with children to mark Remembrance Day and the whole series by this duo are, I think, books that should be in every primary school library.

A Golden Age of Nonfiction? Nikki Gamble for Just Imagine – as we enter National Nonfiction November Nikki’s excellent article reflects on the current state of nonfiction publishing. Are we in a Golden Age? Or are there simply too many books, making it hard for the best to stand out from the crowd? This is a valuable article to keep as a reference when selecting information books for the school library or classroom in particular. Thank you, Nikki for this insightful piece which has given me a lot to think about.

MRS NOAH’S SONG: An interview with James Mayhew – the first two picture books featuring Mrs Noah are dear to me, she’s a wonderful character and the art by James Mayhew and text by Jackie Morris working perfectly together. This is a enlightening interview with James on the Reading Realm which I enjoyed very much and hope you do too.

Children’s books: a feast of sweet and spooky stories for autumn – Sarah Webb has reviewed a great selection of children’s books for the Independent.ie from colourful picture books that will delight your little ones, to bold and ambitious adventure stories your teens will love.

Book Trust: New Children’s Books We Love for November – Whether they’re a teeny toddler or a very particular teen the BookTrust team have selected a book to tempt them. Sorted in approximate age categories the titles include a couple of my recent favourite picture books, Zeki Rise and Shine and My Rhinoceros plus The Chestnut Roaster, my current read which I’m thoroughly enjoying.

The Reader Teacher: November 2022 Children’s Books I’m Most Excited About – this monthly preview video produced by Scott Evans is good for providing a taste of what to look forward over the coming month and could be shared in school and with parents.

HFL Education: Bring language to life – be more aardvark – In this blog Jane Andrews delves into the interconnectivity between reading and writing, and explores strategies for bringing language learning to life in joyful ways that develop reading for pleasure. An interesting article from which I learned a lot.

Resist & World Ballet Day ~ Guest Post by Tom Palmer – on 2nd November, World Ballet Day, Kate Heap welcomed award winning author Tom Palmer to her blog to talk about the significant part dance played in Edda’s story told in his WW2 novel, Resist.

Nikki Gamble’s Book Blast for November – Nikki’s brilliant previews of the best of the children’s books being published each month are well worth watching. This month’s takes place on Sunday 7th November. There will be the usual give-away to tempt you too! Available for attendees until 11th November midday.

An evening with Timothee de Fombelle and Sarah Ardizzone – Timothee and his English translator, Sarah Ardizzone, will be in conversation with Nikki Gamble. They will be talking about their latest collaboration, Swallow in Winter, and more generally, the importance of translation and different approaches to translating a literary text. It is a free event, but places need to be reserved via Eventbrite via the link above.

An Audience with…Beverley Naidoo – at the time of writing there are still single places available for this event taking place on Friday 11th November at 7pm. The format includes a discussion chaired by Nikki Gamble, and audience members are invited to ask questions. More information including booking details can be found via the link.

The Literacy Trust: National Non-Fiction November – an excellent overview to mark this month’s focus on non-fiction. You can read the Literacy Trust’s recent report on the effect of reading non-fiction and what our young non-fiction readers care about. There are also teaching resources and links to useful websites plus information about a free live online event on ‘Writing for the planet with National Geographic Kids journalist Tim Herbert’, for pupils aged 7-11.

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

Ballet Kids by Holly Sterling – to mark World Ballet Day this week Jill Bennett shared a lovely review of a book I didn’t know of but think sounds appealing. “In her inclusive illustrations, Holly Sterling captures that magic and the sheer joy of the young dancers both in their class and as they perform the winter show.

Leila and the Blue Fox by Kiran Millwood Hargrave and Tom De Freston – I thought Julia and the Shark was an original and thoughtful book so have been looking forward to finding out more about this couple’s new publication. Tom Griffiths’ review has whetted my appetite still further.

The Agency For Scandal by Laura Wood – publishing in January 2023 I do love the sound of this book, the new historical YA title from Laura Wood. “Danger, seduction and characters who are entirely brilliant make this a perfect page turner.” is how Erin Hamilton describes it in her review. Well, roll on January!

That’s everything for this week. Happy reading!

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