Reading Matters – children’s book news

Welcome to this week’s round up of what has been happening in the world of children’s books. Real life has rather interrupted things for me recently so I’m sure I’ve missed things this time but hope that this week’s selection does at least provide a flavour of what is going on.

What I’m reading…

I don’t know quite how Jenny Pearson balances laugh out loud hilarity with poignant themes of love and loss so well but I’m glad she does. At the start of the week I finished reading Jenny Pearson’s Operation Nativity, so packed full of joy, appealing characters and a kindly look at the true meaning of Christmas that it should be on prescription as a life enhancing read. Oscar and his adorable little sister, Molly, the ‘actual Angel Gabriel’ plus Donald the Donkey and their attempts to save the first Christmas were a real mood lifter for me. My proof copy had a few jolly illustrations by Katie Kear and the published version is illustrated throughout. Recommended for about 8+ and adults will enjoy it too.

Marya Khan and the Incredible Henna Party, written by Saadia Faruqi and illustrated by Ani Bushry, is a great early chapter book for younger readers. Friendship and family relationships are portrayed realistically and with understanding. This is the first in a new series from Abrams Books and would be just right for children in Year 3&4.

This week I also read two rather special books, Christmas by Jan Pienskowski and King of Kings by Susan Hill illustrated by John Lawrence both of which are beautiful in different ways. I bought my second hand copies from Tygertale’s excellent Etsy shop. Jake has many more treasures to explore here.

News, articles and resources…

Best children’s and YA books of 2022 – a lovely selection from Imogen Russell Williams. She recommends the brilliant Britannica Baby Encyclopedia and SF Said’s excellent Tyger among a range of titles ranging from journeys through music, history, magic and more, plus the standout books for young adults.

Resist – an extra FREE Christmas story ” Silent Night” by Tom Palmer – A Christmas story based on the true story of Audrey Hepburn’s wartime childhood. In which Audrey – age 15 – helps the Dutch resistance to distribute presents to local children, presents that the Nazis had looted from Dutch shops to take home to Germany. You can read the story online on Tom’s website linked above or watch him read it on YouTube

‘I love writing for children’: Emma Thompson and Axel Scheffler on their amazing shaggy dog story – The Oscar-winning actor and the Gruffalo illustrator have teamed up to create a tale about a scruffy hound. They discuss corgis, comic books and how their friend

Flint High School Reading Advent Calendar – apologies that I missed this last week but it’s not too late to catch up with the first week of recommended books in this brilliant video. Created by two teachers from Flint High School the video presents a fabulous selection of contemporary children’s, tween and YA books introduced by the authors themselves.

Midwinter magic: Robert Macfarlane on the enduring power of The Dark Is Rising – Susan Cooper’s 1973 novel, newly adapted for a BBC audio series, has enthralled generations of children and writers with its folkloric tale of an English boy caught in a battle between light and dark.

Christmas Card Draw-a-Long with BookTrust Writer-Illustrator in Residence Nick Sharratt – this is fun. Learn how to make Christmas cards with popular illustrator Nick Sharratt.

Seven Super Christmas Picture Books – and more from Nick Sharratt here as he shares some festive books to snuggle up with.

Welcome to the wonderful world of Noodle Juice – I noticed a bit of a buzz online about this new publisher and this guest post in the Federation of Children’s Book Groups website has encouraged me to look out for their books in future.

Book Clubs in Schools Entered in the Smiley Charity Film Awards – The Charity Film Awards have been created to celebrate the success of film in fundraising, to increase exposure of charity films and to encourage donations for good causes. You can watch the video created by Book Clubs in Schools via the link, find out more about the awards and vote via the link above.

BookTrust New children’s books we love for December – Every month, the BookTrust team review dozens of books for children and teenagers. This month’s selection, divided into age categories, includes the excellent Britannica’s Baby Encyclopedia, Operation Nativity mentioned above, plus a range of picture books, fiction and nonfiction for all tastes.

Federation of Children’s Book Groups Annual Conference 2023 – a date for your diaries. Early Bird booking is now available until mid-January for the FCBG 2023 conference taking place at Rugby School 14th -16th April 2023. The theme this year is, Portable Magic: How To Catch A Reader. More details including confirmed speakers so far are a via the link.

A Winter Book List from CLPE – a wonderful selection of picture books and fiction to bring some winter warmth and Christmas cheer chosen by the the book experts at the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education.

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

The Snow Bear by Holly Webb – the tenth anniversary edition of this magical take set in the Arctic would probably be a lovely Christmas gift. Tracy Evans in her review for Just Imagine says ‘…it has lost none of its magic and is as relevant today as it was in its original form.

You Are History by Greg Jenner illustrated by Jenny Taylor – a Book of the Week in the Books for Keeps online journal is definitely worth looking out for. A great review suggests that this would be an excellent addition to primary school library and classroom shelves.

Winter Magic edited by Abi Elphinstone – this is an old review on the Bookbag website but this is quite possibly my favourite ‘winter collection’ so I would like to highlight it again. A wonderful range of stories by some of the very best current authors for children there is not a weak link among them and this is lovely to share at home or in the classroom.

That’s everything for this week. Happy reading!

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4 Responses to Reading Matters – children’s book news

  1. Thank you for keeping us all informed Anne. I hope that you are able to relax over the Christmas break 😊

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Calmgrove says:

    I hope to catch the World Service broadcasts of TDiR, either live or, if available soon after, on BBC Sounds. Tyger is in the local bookshop so I hope to treat myself to it over the Christmas period, but I’ve also ordered The Collectors, another of Pullman’s mini-story spin-offs from His Dark Materials and starring Marisa Coulter apparently.

    (It’s in recompense for the BBC saving the third HDM series to nearer Christmas even though HBO has already started streaming episodes, for goodness sake!)

    Ooh, and Pieńkowski’s Christmas book, I didn’t know that existed, how delightful! I’ll see if I can borrow it from the library.


    • alibrarylady says:

      I was discussing Tyger with a group of school librarians the other day and we said it’s a book to re-read as there’s so much to think about. When you do get round to reading it I’m really looking forward to your thoughts on it, Chris. I feel sure you can add more to my understanding of some of the literary links.

      Pieńkowski’s Christmas book was one of my favourite versions of the Nativity in the school library. It’s a present for our baby grandson whose mum is Polish. Jake Hayes has another second hand copy in his Etsy shop if you’re interested.

      Liked by 1 person

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