Reading Matters – children’s book news

Welcome to my last round up of children’s book news for 2022. This week there has been more attention given to children’s literature in the main stream media than I have seen for a long time. This is a positive step and I’m sure I’m not alone in hoping that this is something that will be developed further in the coming months.

What I’m reading…

Cover illustration by Geraldine Rodriguez

There’s not been much time for reading this week but I have started Saving Neverland by Abi Elphinstone and am enjoying being transported back to my childhood. This has Abi’s trademark love of adventure plus a kind, sensibility that ensures it will be welcomed by today’s readership. I’m hoping to have time to curl up and finish this soon. In the links below you will find information about the online launch of Saving Neverland, hosted by Nikki Gamble of Just Imagine, on 4th January.

News, articles and resources

Christmas Reading Times 2022 – a great big thank you to wonderful school librarian Helen Smith of Eckington School who once again has produced this guide to books on TV this Christmas for both adults and children. You can view the primary age version here.

Just Imagine Favourite Books of 2022 – Jo Bowers reviews editor at Just Imagine, working with Nikki Gamble, Director of Just Imagine, asked their book reviewers for their top choices for 2022. A wonderful selection to browse for gift ideas or suggestions for titles to add to your reading lists at home or school in 2023.

Children’s books: 56 cracking reads to keep kids entertained this Christmas – Sarah Webb has chosen books for different age groups in this excellent and varied range of books. Perfect if you are looking for ideas for Christmas presents.

The best children’s books of 2022 – Imogen Carter’s picture books of the year, Kitty Empire’s chapter books of the year and Fiona Noble’s YA books of the year make up the selection in the Guardian. More temptation!

Love My Books December Newsletter – the latest brilliant newsletter includes top ten picturebooks 2022, Christmas stories, a focus on Tyger by SF Said including a terrific range of teaching ideas and activities in a free to download booklet. Highly recommended.

Steer clear of ‘mediocre writing’ by celebrities for Christmas, authors plead – there are contributions from authors Piers Torday and Anthony McGowan and literary agent Claire Wilson in this Observer article with which many children’s book lovers will be nodding in agreement.

Frank Cottrell-Boyce and Robin Stevens on BBC Radio4 Today – following on from the article above, award winning authors, Frank Cottrell- Boyce and Robin Stevens were interviewed on the Today programme on 13th December (at 2hrs 23mins) about the lack of discussion of children’s books in the main stream media. Includes book recommendations from them both and Frank saying ‘schools need librarians.’ Yay, hurray for Frank!

Author Katya Balen on BBC Radio4 Today – children’s books on national radio twice in one week! A discussion focusing on the current situation regarding the representation of children’s books in the media and the importance of the Carnegie award. The interview is available via this link until 20th December.

Celebrity has ruined children’s books – but we are going to fight back! – article by Ben Lawrence in the Telegraph (which is behind a paywall) but he makes a pledge that from January the paper will review one new children’s book per week. This article resulted in both Ben Lawrence and Michael Rosen being interviewed on BBCRadio4 Today on Friday. You can listen here at the end of the the programme, the last five minutes of the recording. Three days on the trot! Could this be the start of something?

The best children’s books of 2022 – plus a chance to win them! – Start children off on a lifelong journey of reading with Big Issue books editor Jane Graham’s pick of the best children’s books from 2022. Then check out our competition at the end to win all 15 books.

Shirley Hughes remembered by Clara Vulliamy – a beautiful tribute to the much loved author and illustrator who died earlier this year by her daughter, Clara Vulliamy.

Quentin Blake: The Drawing of My Life – this week marked the 90th birthday of Sir Quentin Blake and this BBC programme, originally shown last year, tells the story of his 70-year-long career in his own words and with his own pictures.

Lucas Maxwell’s Last Minute Book Gift Guide – super school librarian Lucas Maxwell shared this guide with parents at his school this week and I’m sure it will be helpful to others too. Suitable for readers aged 10+ and divided into genres.

Dates for your diary in January: Just Imagine and Nikki Gamble have some exciting events for you to look forward to in the New Year. There are 4 free book launches for teachers, librarians and booksellers but the Just Imagine team suggest that children may like to watch with an adult as there will be no inappropriate content.

4th January – 7.00 – 8.00 Abi Elphinstone – Saving Neverland

18th January 7.00 – 8.00 Richard O’Neill – A Romani Story

26th January 6.30 – 7.45, James Carter, Neal Layton, Brian Moses, Ed Boxall – An Evening of Poetry

31st January 7.00 – 8.00 Gill Lewis – Moonflight

January Book Blast is on 3rd January at 7.00

Another January date that schools may wish to prepare for is Holocaust Memorial Day 2023 which takes place on Friday 27th January. With the help of funding support from the Marks Family Charitable Trust, the Association of Jewish Refugees and The Blue Thread, award winning children’s author Tom Palmer has teamed up with the National Literacy Trust to produce free resources for use in the classroom or at home, to help schools commemorate this day. The resources are designed to be used throughout the week beginning Monday 23 January 2023, for use with students aged 10 to 14 (Upper Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 3). Please visit Tom Palmer’s website to find out more and to register for a reminder.

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

Southgate – Ultimate Football Heroes By Matt & Tom Oldfield – as I write this newsletter there is debate in the news about whether Gareth Southgate will call it a day after England’s defeat in the World Cup quarter finals. Whatever his decision I imagine there will be quite a large audience for this particular biography aimed at readers aged 7+. Joanne Owen of LoveReading4Kids provides an insight.

The Octopus, Dadu and Me by Lucy Ann Unwin – there is something rather lovely about a children’s book that is able to capture the special relationship between a child and their grandparent and this sounds like one that does. Tom Griffiths says in his review, “There is so much to love about this story but what struck me was the power of connections.” One to watch out for in January.

The Terror of Hilltop House by Dan Smith – another January highlight. This is not a review but a guest post by author Dan Smith on Kate Heap’s blog that has whetted my appetite for this creepy tale.

Moving Towards The Shortest Day…Books To Take You There – Mary Esther Judy selects some of her favourite children’s books, both old favourites and newer titles, that are perfect to read on long, dark winter evenings.

That’s everything for this week and for this year. Thank you for reading and for the kind feedback which helps more than you may realise. Wishing you a very happy and healthy Christmas with family and friends. I’ll finish with an illustration by the wonderful Shirley Hughes who we said a sad goodbye to this year but whose books will always remain with us.

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8 Responses to Reading Matters – children’s book news

  1. Tom G says:

    Have a lovely Christmas Anne. Thanks for mentioning my review of The Octopus, Dadu and Me.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Have a wonderful Christmas Anne! Thank you for another year of lovely bookish chat on here and Twitter. Hope you have a relaxing Christmas with your family 😊🎄…& a few 📚

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Calmgrove says:

    Some common threads among this year’s-end offerings, Anne, such as avoiding sleb pennings in favour of the genuine articles, and the delights of book illustrators whether the late lamented Shirley Hughes or the still-living Quentin Blake. And I end with a heartfelt seasonal Nadolig Llawen a Blwydden Newydd Dda to all school librarians and of course to one in particular! Have a restful time and enjoyable reading. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • alibrarylady says:

      It’s been a year of sad farewells to illustrators, in addition to Shirley Hughes there was David McKee, Raymond Briggs and Jan Pieńkowski all of whom leave a remarkable legacy. On a happier note I’ve been quite heartened by the positive media focus on children’s books this week. Fingers crossed for 2023!
      Thank you for your lovely message, Chris. Wishing you and your family a happy Christmas and hoping that the coming year is a good one for you.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for this article which was packed full of great book suggestions. I told myself that once I retired, I would have time to read the “grownup” books. I tried but kept coming back to the children’s literature, what I love!

    Liked by 1 person

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