Reading Matters- children’s book news

Welcome to this week’s catch up with what has been happening in the world of children’s books. With January behind us many are looking forward to discovering what February holds in the way of new books to enjoy. There are many and some of the links below will help you choose titles for the young readers in your life. Next week is Children’s Mental Health Week and the National Literacy Trust have prepared a range of resources which you can see below. Last but definitely not least there are some tempting free online events with Tom Palmer, Sita Brahmachari and Jane Ray to look forward to.

What I’m reading…

Life has rather got in the way of any reading this week but I did manage to read and review three new books from one of my favourite publishers, Barrington Stoke. The Little Lost Kitten by Holly Webb illustrated by Abigail Hookham, Next to Alice by Anne Fine illustrated by Gareth Conway and The Broken Dragon by Karen McCombie illustrated by Anneli Bray. These are a perfect partnership of thoughtful publisher and established and respected authors creating entertaining stories conveying wise life lessons for young readers.

My latest batch of books to read and review for Just Imagine arrived on Thursday and I have just started reading Laura Wood’s new YA novel, The Agency for Scandal. Two chapters in and I am utterly gripped!

News, articles and resources…

Children’s and teens roundup – the best new picture books and novels – the latest selection chosen for the Guardian by Imogen Russell Williams ranges from a picture book where rhinos race on roller skates; fiction involving a footballer finding his feet or an adventure where magic goes wrong and a title for teens featuring an influencer who embraces life offline.

Comic Boom: Comics in Education – episode 4 of this new podcast includes tons of pupil engagement ideas and even more recommendations from school librarian Lucas Maxwell.

The Reader Teacher Monthly Must Reads for January 2023 – Scott Evans’ choices for last month include The Night Animals by Sarah Ann Juckes illustrated by Sharon King-Chai, a book that is being recommended by many. You can read the reviews and download a free poster from the Reader Teacher website above.

Luqman-Dawson, Salati, and Tahir Win Newbery, Caldecott, Printz Awards – Amina Luqman-Dawson has won the 2023 John Newbery Medal for the most outstanding contribution to children’s literature, for her novel Freewater edited by Alexandra Hightower. Doug Salati has won the 2023 Randolph Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished picture book for children, for Hot Dog edited by Rotem Moscovich. And All My Rage by Sabaa Tahir edited by Ruta Rimas, has won the 2023 Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in literature written for young adults. The Youth Media Awards were announced Monday morning, January 30, during the American Library Association’s LibLearnXconference in New Orleans and you can find out more in this article in Publishers Weekly.

Young writers invited to “Be the Change” with new writing competition from musical WICKED and the National Literacy Trust – The National Literacy Trust have partnered with thestage musical Wicked and children’s author Sharna Jackson to create a brand-new writing competition all about changing our world – for the better.Open to all UK schools, the Wicked Writers: Be the Change competition asks students to write persuasively about something they want to change for the better. Entries will be judged in two age group categories: age 9 to 11 (upper KS2, P6 to P7) and age 12 to 14 (KS3, S1 to S3). The competition opened on 30 January 2023 and entries must be submitted by 31 March 2023. Full details can be found in the National Literacy Trust website above.

TOPPSTA: Favourite New Children’s Books February 2023 – this month’s selection includes illustrated fiction, a picture book, middle grade fiction and a self help guide.

Nikki Gamble’s February Book Blast – Join Nikki Gamble on YouTube Sunday, 12th February 5.00 pm. Discover the pick of the finest books published this month. You could win a wonderful selection of titles in the Big Bonanza book Blast giveaway too. Highly recommended if you want to keep up with the best new books being published.

The Reader Teacher Children’s Books I’m Most Excited About: February 2023 – Scott Evans’ selection of books to look forward to this month include The Song Walker by Zillah Bethel which I think is going to be one of my favourite reads of the year! There is also a mention for a new picture book by Phil Earle and Jess Rose, Two Places to Call Home a kind and thoughtful look at parental separation and divorce.

Books That Help: Community – Clare Helen Walsh has created a new category in her website devoted to highlighting books that may be helpful for a variety of circumstances. This new selection includes several empowering and hopeful stories.

Read for Empathy Collection – this year’s Read for Empathy Collection will be announced on the 8th February and you can hear the selection panel talking about the books and the importance of this initiative in the video trailer link above. You can also find out more on the official website here.

Books for Topics Best Books for February 2023 – the Books for Topics reviewers have selected five rather special books that they would like to recommend this month. I’m delighted to see Saving Neverland by Abi Elphinstone included, a great adventure which I would highly recommend.

Children’s Mental Health Week 2023: National Literacy Trust Resources – Children’s Mental Health Week, taking place this year from Monday 6 February to Sunday 12 February, was set up by children’s mental health charity Place2Be. This year’s theme Let’s Connect focuses on making meaningful connections during the week and beyond, encouraging healthy connections within families, friendship groups and communities to help support mental health and wellbeing. The National Literacy Trust has been working in partnership with REY paper and in collaboration with Counsellor and Poetry Therapist Charmaine Pollard and Poet Caleb Parkin. They have created daily writing prompts to inspire pupils to explore their emotions, make meaningful connections and write for their wellbeing. The article includes links to other resources for a range of age groups.

World Book Day Event with Tom Palmer – if you are planning your World Book Day activities you may be interested in this free online event for children aged 9+ Tom Palmer will be talking with the Anne Frank Trust about the work of the Dutch resistance in Nazi-occupied Netherlands, as featured in his new book, Resist. It takes place from 10am – 11am on Thursday 2nd March and you can sign up via the link above.

An evening with Sita Brahmachari & Jane Ray for the launch of Corey’s Rock – Otter-Barry Books and Just Imagine invite you to an evening with Sita Brahmachari & Jane Ray for the launch of Corey’s Rock. This free event takes place on 23rd February 20237pm-8pm and is for adults but children may watch with you.

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

Glitter Boy by Ian Eagleton – former teacher, founder of Poetry Realm and writer of picture books, Ian Eagleton has now written his first full length novel and judging by this positive review by teacher Paul Watson he has been successful. The final sentence of his review sums things up nicely… “When life gets dark, let yourself shine – when life gets dull, grab a copy of Glitter Boy!”

Big Questions About the Universe by Alex Frith & Alice James Illustrated by David J Plant – as a school librarian I noticed how often children ask for and select information books about space. It is topic that excites and inspires many and this new book published by Usborne is tailor made for that audience. The science has been fact checked by an expert from the Royal Greenwich Observatory so adults can be secure in the knowledge that this is a reliable reference source for children. It sounds perfect for libraries for upper primary age group onwards.

Frankenstein: A Retelling by Tanya Landman – I have highly rated Tanya Landman’s previous retellings of the classics for Barrington Stoke, including Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights and her version of Frankenstein is Book of the Week in Books for Keeps Children’s Magazine so clearly she has got it right again. Another valuable book for secondary school classrooms and libraries in particular.

Dig in for spring, a feel for words and amazing memoirs by various authors – children’s book reviews – a really lovely selection of reviews by Pam Norfolk for the Lancaster Guardian. Pam’s choices are for a range of age groups and her feature is worth browsing for inspiration.

That’s everything for this week. In between must-do chores this weekend I plan to read more of The Agency for Scandal even if it necessitates hiding away somewhere! Don’t forget that the new Read for Empathy collections are announced on Wednesday 8th February and there is a special blog tour providing more information, dates and details shown below.

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