Reading Matters – children’s book news

Welcome to this week’s look at what has been happening in the world of children’s books. Monday’s news got the week off to a great start as, along with every other children’s book lover I know, I was delighted to see the announcement of SF Said as the new Book Trust Writer in Residence. Another highlight was the launch of the Barnes Childdren’s Literature Festival Schools’ Programme. These free events for children in London boroughs are a golden opportunity for children to meet their much loved authors and illustrators.

What I’m reading…

This week I caught up with my reviews for Just Imagine and one of the joys of reviewing for this particular website is the range of books that I receive to read. Mum, Me and the Mulberry Tree by Tanya Rosie Illustrated by Chuck Groenink (Walker Books) is a gentle story of family and the importance of small rituals in our lives, highlighting the part they play both in appreciating the present moment and in the happy memories they create. For adult readers this has a nostalgic appeal and the lyrical text and subtle illustrations combine in a picture book that would be a perfect bedtime read but also a lovely book to use in Early Years and Infant settings.

The partnership of Timothée de Fombelle and Sarah Ardizzone is a longstanding and successful one and the simply beautiful book, A Swallow in Winter also contains wonderful illustrations by Thomas Campi add another layer to this compassionate story of hope and humanity. I found this an affecting read and do hope that its setting at Christmas time will not limit its readership as I think its message it contains is a valuable one all year round. It’s out now, published by Walker Books, and I would highly recommend it for all ages.

Bloomsbury Readers published by Bloomsbury Education are a series of book-banded stories aimed at encouraging children to read independently in KS2 written by well-known authors with engaging illustrations. The Mystery in Flat 6B by Karen McCombie illustrated by Thy Bui, a Dark Blue Band Level book in the series, combines themes of moving house, anxiety and loneliness in a short story in which questions are resolved with a satisfying outcome. Karen McCombie has managed to skilfully include contemporary social situations in a mystery that will hook young readers and has incorporated some important life lessons along the way.

News, articles and resources…

A Sprinkle of Author Magic for World Book Day – I feel quite sure that you don’t need a reminder that next Thursday 2nd March is World Book Day but just in case you are having a last minute panic about how to mark the day the Literacy Hive have come to your rescue. They have collated a selection of the many online events that are taking place over World Book Day week. There are events for pupils of all ages and many of them are free. Check out the schedule via the link to their website above and find the event that’s right for you and your pupils.

Barnes Children’s Literature Festival: FREE Schools Programme Announced – there is a fabulous line up for this year’s programme taking place Thursday 18 May – Friday 23 June 2023 including Frank Cottrell Boyce, Abi Elphinstone, Piers Torday, Vashti Hardy, Rob Biddulph and Joseph Coelho. Don’t miss out! Full details are available via the link above and booking is now open. Don’t forget you can win a set of books for your class by all the authors and illustrators through my giveaway on Twitter which closes on Sunday evening.

“Every child can be a reader”: SF Said will champion making reading more inclusive as BookTrust’s new Writer in Residence – this was perfect news to banish the Monday morning blues this week. SF Said is a wonderful advocate for children’s books and for reading for pleasure in addition to writing brilliant books! I am looking forward to following his thoughts and ideas over the coming months after he takes over the role on 1st March.

Why it’s important to include LGBTQ+ historical figures across the curriculum – Author and former teacher Ian Eagleton explains how broadening the range of historical figures studied can benefit all students in this article for Book Trust.

A Sport of One’s Own: Roy Moss blogs for Just Imagine – Wednesday, March 8th, is International Women’s Day. This year Just Imagine is focussing on women’s achievement in sports and also looking at how books and reading might open up spaces for girls to think about the potential in sports and sport-related jobs. Roy Moss examines the state of play and suggests some great books on the theme.

Why Rewrites to Roald Dahl’s Books Are Stirring Controversy – there have been numerous articles, opinion pieces and comments on this subject over the last week. This article in TIME contains comments from Professor Karen Sands O’Connor, co-author of the Beyond the Secret Garden articles for Books for Keeps. An update: Puffin will now release The Roald Dahl Classic Collection, featuring original versions of his children’s books in addition to the revised books.

Branching Out: Books for Fans of Roald Dahl by Books for Topics – it felt like a good time to share this again.

The Reading Realm: ART SHAPED: An interview with Darrell Wakelam – Ian Eagleton interviews Darrell Wakelam about the inspiration behind his new book ART SHAPED which is proving to be a big hit with schools as it is packed with creative ideas to share with children.

An Audience with….Aaron Becker – Join Aaron Becker, the author illustrator of teachers’ favourite wordless books Journey and A Stone for Sascha for an Audience With Aaron Becker on 10th March. 7-8.30pm. Aaron will be in conversation with Nikki Gamble plus audience questions. Aaron’s new book, The Tree and the River is published on the 6th April, but you can be one of the first to get hold of the book when you book a ticket to attend the event. Tickets are £15 and include the book (RRP £12.99) and postage. Books will be sent before the event (while stock lasts) Booking via the link above.

In praise of “slow librarianship” by Nick Poole CEO of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals – I was made aware of this interesting article by this quote shared online recently, ‘It is slow librarianship that allows a school librarian to nurture a ‘reading community’ in their school, to create a place of safety and empathy for their learners and to build connections with teaching staff that enhance and extend Curriculum-based teaching.’ The whole article is well worth reading as it stresses the need for making connections and building communities.

British Science Week Resources – British Science Week is a ten-day celebration of science, technology, engineering and maths that takes place every year in March. British Science Week 2023 will take place between 10th – 19th March. The theme for this year is Connections. The Literacy Hive has come to our rescue again with a selection of links to resources, activities, recommended book lists and magazines, competitions and much more. A valuable resource all year round.

The Federation of Children’s Book Groups Q&A with Karen McCombie – having just read Karen’s latest book for Just Imagine (see above) this blog post about her book, The Broken Dragon, published by Barrington Stoke was well timed. It’s an interesting interview and as Karen said on Twitter this week, “Just because a book is a quick-read, it doesn’t mean it’s not a rich read.”

School Library Association Webinar: Empathy Lab book collection 2023 – Sarah Mears MBE, Empathy Lab Founder and Libraries Connected Programme Manager, will be talking attendees through her selected highlights from the collection, explaining the ‘empathy angles’ that guided their book selection and outlining the skills they hope using the books will build. 3:30 – 4:30 Monday 27th February Free for SLA members £30 for non-members. Apologies for the last minute inclusion.

The Gruffalo writer Julia Donaldson becomes UK libraries’ most borrowed author – Data shows that crime writer James Patterson’s 14-year run as readers’ overall favourite has come to an end, with the children’s author taking the top spot.

Children’s and teens roundup – the best new picture books and novels – How to care for a pet cloud; overcoming bullies; a powerful tale of Muslim identity; a YA sci‑fi thriller, and more are among the latest books selected by Imogen Russell Williams for the Guardian.

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

The Kindest Red by Ibtihaj Muhammad with S. K. Ali Illustrated by Hatem Aly – The Proudest Blue is an inspiring picture book so when I heard about this new title by the same team I was interested to find out more. Prue Goodwin has written an excellent review for Just Imagine that gives a taste of what to expect. ‘Page by page, it acknowledges and celebrates the importance of children of having loving families, making reliable friends and attending schools where pupils feel confident and comfortable.’

The Girl Who Rowed the Ocean by Alastair Humphreys – this epic adventure sounds exciting and, according to teacher Paul Watson, has the added bonus of incorporating a range of text types making it a valuable resource as a writing prompt.

One More Mountain By Deborah Ellis – a Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month title on the LoveReading4Kids website this is the fifth book in the series that started with The Breadwinner. Set during the withdrawal of the US and UK forces in the August 2021 the latest episode of the story tells of Parvana’s work protecting girls and women suffering under the un-liberated rule of the Taliban.

That’s everything for this week and I hope something included here has been interesting or helpful to you. Happy reading and I hope you enjoy World Book Day.

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4 Responses to Reading Matters – children’s book news

  1. Thank you Anne. I love the sound of Mum, Me and the Mulberry Tree, I’m adding to gift list for the youngest relative when I see her next month 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  2. setinthepast says:

    The Roald Dahl rewriting debate’s certainly got people talking!

    Liked by 1 person

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