Welcome to this week’s round up of what has been happening in the world of children’s books. I have not managed as much reading as I would have liked as things have been pretty busy this week but I hope the links I’ve gathered here appeal to you.
What I’m reading…
The Kiss by Eoin McLaughlin and Polly Dunbar is a bedtime story with a difference. A flip book telling the parallel stories of bedtime for Tiger and Crocodile and snuggles with parents, this picture book is a lovely way of introducing blended families to little ones. Out now from Faber Children’s Books.
The Shark Caller by Zillah Bethell was one of my favourite reads of 2021 so I was eager to read her new story, The Song Walker set in the Australian Outback, published next month by Usborne Books. I finished this yesterday and will need to ponder for a while before I formulate my thoughts into a coherent and helpful review. Zillah has a writing style that I find deeply affecting. She manages to convey great emotion in an understated manner and there is wisdom in her stories too. The Song Walker is an excellent example of why children’s literature is for everyone. There are themes of identity, spirituality, discrimination and loss wrapped up in a compelling and profoundly moving story that leaves the reader enriched by the experience. I’ll try to write a review before next Saturday.
News, articles and resources…
Books for Topics: Best Books This Month – January 2023 – It’s easy to feel lost in the flood of so many new children’s books available. Each month the Books for Topics review panel reads scores of new books and highlights five of their recently published favourites.
Register for the 2023 Yoto Carnegies Shadowing Scheme – a reminder that you have until Friday 3rd February to register for the shadowing scheme linked to these prestigious awards. You need to register for your group to submit their reviews and artwork inspired by the shortlisted books and to vote for their favourite books to win the Shadowers’ Choice Awards. Shadowing can take place in any location in the world through access to our online resources and there is also a publicity pack available.
Lucas Maxwell’s Portable Magic Dispenser – this regular newsletter from school librarian Lucas Maxwell us always full of useful ideas and tips. This latest issue includes a free Dungeons and Dragons webinar and 30 books for people who say they don’t like reading.
Book Award Winners 2021-2022 – this helpful list is free to download from the Open University Reading for Pleasure website. This printable list contains the winning titles, author, publisher and ISBN for each award and category, so you can find and order the books quickly and easily.
Free Author Event with Louisa Reid – Hays Education and All Around Reading are hosting a free online author event with Louisa Reid on January 25th at 4.30pm suitable for secondary school teachers and librarians. During the session various themes from Louisa’s recent verse novel ‘Activist’ will be discussed and the panel will explore topics including how schools can facilitate difficult discussions around consent & respect and how schools can combat the rising tide of misogyny, sexist bullying and fear of sexual violence. Registration and full details via the link above.
Winter stories for older children (8-12) – BookTrust have selected some perfect reads to curl up with on dark winter evenings and you can find their suggestions for younger readers aged 5-8 here and also a range of picture books.
An evening with Abi Elphinstone – Abi Elphinstone joins Nikki Gamble to talk about her latest book, Saving Neverland. Abi talks about her first encounters with J M Barrie’s Peter Pan and what she loved about the book, as well as some of the problems for a 21st-century audience. She also talks about where she felt she could legitimately use her imagination to remiagine Neverland and what she felt she need to retain. I enjoyed this very much and would highly recommended it if you missed this event live earlier this month.
Quacked Spines: The Children’s Books Podcast – just before Christmas the lack of coverage of children’s books in the mainstream media was highlighted in several discussions on radio and online and this new venture by Drake the Bookshop was created in response. You can listen to the introductory trailer and the first episode via the link above.
Invention and Creation with Shane Hegarty – Join Shane Hegarty in this free Reading Agency event as he whisks us away into a world of invention and creation with The Impossible Shop of Ice Creams. Shane will deliver an inspiring talk – perfect for children aged 9-12 – and conclude with a Q&A. Wed, 25 January 2023, 10:00 – 11:00 and suitable for KS2.
Comic Boom – Comics in Education – A brand new education podcast exploring the use of comics in education. Each episode Lucy Starbucks Bradley will be joined by a special guest from a wide range of backgrounds, from passionate education professionals to academics and industry experts. The first two episodes are now available featuring school librarian Gemma Sosnowsky and cartoonist Neill Cameron.
Founder Fabia Turner’s initial reflections on Jericho Prize 2022/23 – The submission window for this award for unpublished and self-published Black-British children’s writers has recently closed. In this blogpost founder Fabia shares some insights from this year’s submissions data, and what she hopes to see in scripts from the current crop of picture book writers. There are points made about the similarities between drama and picture books that I also found fascinating.
An Educator’s Guide to Picture Books by Jacqueline Woodson – This guide accompanies the following picture books written by Jacqueline Woodson: The Day You Begin and The Year We Learned to Fly, both illustrated by Rafael López, and The World Belonged to Us, illustrated by Leo Espinosa. The guide is divided up, presenting each book with discussion questions and suggested activities and concludes with ideas about how to incorporate all three books into your classroom to encourage work with broader themes and to extend young readers’ reading experiences. Many thanks to Dr Mary Roche for making me aware of this valuable resource.
The value of representation by Kiran Satti – excellent article by Assistant Principal Kiran Satti on the Pearson’s Education’s blog expanding on the findings of the CLPE Reflecting Realities research.
Holocaust Memorial Day 2023 Resources and Event– a reminder of these resources from the National Literacy Trust and author Tom Palmer to help schools commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day on 27th January. Full details were shared in last week’s Reading Matters but the website is well, worth exploring.
FREE virtual event from Tom Palmer and the Anne Frank Trust – Thursday 2nd March 2023 (World Book Day) 10.00-11.00am. A discussion of Tom Palmer’s book Resist and the different experiences of Anne Frank and Audrey Hepburn in the Nazi occupied Netherlands during WW2 as well the theme of resistance.
Finally, some book reviews that caught my eye this week…
Pick A Story A Dinosaur Unicorn Robot Adventure by Sarah Coyle illustrated by Adam Walker-Parker – for those that remember the pick your own adventure stories from their own childhood this picture book format version sounds great for inspiring today’s younger readers. An excellent review in Books for Keeps suggests that this will be popular with both families and schools.
The Curio Collectors by Eloise Williams & illustrated by Anna Shepeta – a tempting review by Kate Heap that has whetted my appetite for this historical mystery due to be published in March.
Frankenstein: A Retelling by Tanya Landman (author), Helen Crawford-White (illustrator) – I have been favourably impressed by Tanya Landman’s previous retellings of the classics for Barrington Stoke and this review on the LoveReading4Kids website suggests this new one is just as good. “Mary Shelley’s ground-breaking classic retold in concise, compelling, accessible style”
That’s everything for this week and I hope you have found something here of interest. Happy reading!