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 recently. World Book Day prompted media attention and it was heartening to see our Children’s Laureate, Joseph Coelho on BBC Breakfast TV on Monday talking eloquently about the value of World Book Day, reading choice, libraries, his Poetry Prompts for BookTrust and his Bookmaker Like You Project. Children’s books being discussed in the main stream media is exactly what is needed to raise its profile.

What I’m reading…

World Book Day saw the publication of a rather special picture book and although ‘celebrity children’s books’ may not usually require much additional publicity from me I do want to highlight this one. This is Me by George Webster and Claire Taylor and illustrated by Tim Budgen is published by Scholastic Books. It is inspired by an original poem featured on CBeebies, read by presenter George Webster and the publication comes just three weeks before Down Syndrome Awareness Day on 21st March. This lovely picture book highlights the importance of celebrating our differences and is full of kindness and positivity. The joyful illustrations match the tone of the text perfectly and include diverse and inclusive representation. It would be a great way of encouraging all children to feel as though they matter and belong and make them smile too. You may be interested in this interview with George about all his many achievements.

The Rescue of Ravenswood by Natasha Farrant (Faber) reminded me of my favourite childhood reading for all the best reasons. The story covers a great deal, looking at what makes a family, the importance of somewhere to call home and, central to the plot, the need to protect our natural world from those who may despoil it either by greed or lack of understanding. It encompasses so much, empowering its readers but does so with a gentle touch. The beautiful setting, the believable characterisation and the exciting plot all add to the appeal of this thoughtful story. A book with an important message and one that I thoroughly enjoyed reading.

What the World Doesn’t See by Mel Darbon (Usborne) was among the flurry of books published on World Book Day but was also timed to coincide with Disability Awareness Month. Inspired by Mel’s beloved brother this book gives a voice to those who have been sadly neglected in fiction up to now. This tender story, written with understanding and love, provides an insight into the lives of both those with a learning disability and their families. I found this profoundly moving and I hope to do justice to this important book in a full review in the coming days.

News, articles and resources…

Children’s Book Award Top Ten Announced – The Children’s Book Award, organised by the Federation of Children’s Book Groups, is the only national award voted for solely by children from start to finish. This week the shortlisted titles in the three categories, Books for Younger Children, Books for Younger Readers and Books for Older Readers were announced. The Top Ten titles are now sent to the testing groups for more votes to be cast so that one winner in each category as well as an overall winner can be chosen. Winners are announced at a ceremony held on the 10th of June in Central London. It is fascinating to see which books are chosen by children themselves.

World Book Day’s Profound Purpose, by Pippa Goodhart – a guest article on the Picture Book Den Blog by World Book Day author Pippa Goodhart exploring some of the background to this annual celebration of books and reading.

No Shelf Control February Newsletter for Children, Parents and Teachers – the latest issue of this great resource created by teacher Dean Boddington includes a Q&A with Liz Flanagan, author of Wildsmith into the Dark Forest, this month’s book reviews and a selection of books by this year’s World Book Day books authors and illustrators.

The Reader Teacher Must Reads February 2023 – Scott Evans has selected five of his favourite books published in February and there is a free poster showing the different books for you to download too.

Parents and carers spending less on books as cost-of-living crisis impacts families across Britain – New research from the National Literacy Trust and digital bank, Chase, reveals the impact that the cost-of-living crisis is having on children’s access to books and the vital role that school libraries are playing in the current economic climate. Fuller details of the research can be found here.

Fears over school library provision: Scottish Government urged to act – in light of the research published by the National Literacy Trust mentioned above this article about the proposed closure of many school libraries in Scotland is a disturbing read.

Blog Tour: Moonflight by Gill Lewis illustrated by Pippa Curnick – the blog tour taking place to mark the publication of Moonflight this week includes this interesting interview with Gill Lewis by Jo Cummins on her Library Girl and Book Boy blog.

8 Of The Best Middle Grade Books to Read Aloud – Lucas Maxwell has selected some of favourite books to read aloud to children aged 11+. Lucas also provides tips and advice and his choices are a great balance of genres and this list would be particularly helpful for secondary school librarians and teachers.

Roald Dahl is the last thing we should worry about on World Book Day: Frank Cottrell-Boyce – Frank Cottrell-Boyce yet again raising the profile of children’s books and making some important points in this article for the Guardian.

The Reader Teacher: March 2023 Children’s Books I’m Most Excited About – Scott Evans’ video highlights some cracking books that are being published this month. He mentions That’s Mathematics by Chris Smith and Elīna Brasliņa and Can You Get Rainbows in Space? by Dr Sheila Kanani and Liz Kay, two great books that have impressed me too and that I’ve not yet had time to review.

500 Words: BBC Breakfast to relaunch children’s writing competition – I know from personal experience how much children enjoyed participating in this competition so its return is good news. Teachers and librarians are being invited to join the 2023 judging panel alongside World Book Day ambassador Sir Lenny Henry. Other judges include authors Frank Cottrell-Boyce, Francesca Simon, Charlie Higson and the former children’s laureate Malorie Blackman.

Book Trust New children’s books we love – Every month, the Book Trust team review dozens of books for children and teenagers and share the ones they like best and group them by age. The selection for March includes a wide variety to tempt a range of tastes.

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

The Toy Bus (The Repair Shop Stories) by Amy Sparkes and Katie Hickey – this is a lovely review by Sue Magee on the Bookbag website. A picture book linked to the popular TV series but also subtly inclusive and with kindness threaded through the story. I really like the sound of this one.

Otter-ly Cute Illustrated Fiction for Young Readers – Veronica Price has reviewed a selection of illustrated first chapter books on her blog this week all of which feature otters! These are all now on my list as possible birthday presents for a young reader I know as all of them sound appealing. They would be perfect for primary school libraries too.

Dragonracers by Peter Bunzl – a tempting review by Kate Heap of this new book from Barrington Stoke based on the story of the first London to Manchester Air Race in 1910. Alongside the review is an interesting guest post by Peter giving the background to his book and a little about the research process.

Nic Blake and The Remarkables: The Manifestor Prophecy by Angie Thomas – this is the first story for a younger audience by this highly regarded author of YA fiction and if Tom Griffiths’ review is anything to go by this will be just as popular! “From the first page, I loved Nic’s voice and it shows Angie’s talent for pop culture and being relatable to children as I can see the Nic Blake and the Remarkables series being massively popular when it’s released.”

That’s everything for this week. If you would like to find out more about the Top Ten Books on the Children’s Book Award List don’t forget to follow the special blog tour celebrating all the books. Full details are given below. My weekend reading is to be the latest book by Gill Lewis, Moon Flight. Happy reading!

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4 Responses to Reading Matters – children’s book news

  1. Calmgrove says:

    Ooh, a couple or so items leaped off the virtual page at me: your mention, following your review, of the Ravenwood book; the imminent Gill Lewis novel, which sounds interesting; and the blog post about Dragonracers which promises to be fun!

    Liked by 1 person

    • alibrarylady says:

      It was listening to Natasha Farrant as part of a panel discussion at the Federation of Children’s Book Groups conference last year that prompted me to read something by her. Voyage of the Sparrowhawk won the Costa children’s category in 2020 and I’d like to read that. I thought her book The Girl Who Talked to Trees was a delight.
      I’ve just started Moon Flight by Gill Lewis and it’s very different to the others by her that I’ve read. Peter Bunzl, author of Dragonracers, visited my school and I found talking to him about his research process fascinating so that blogpost appealed to me.

      I’m sinking a bit under the flurry of children’s books at the moment and if I had more time would love to follow up on some of the titles you’ve reviewed recently, Chris.

      Liked by 1 person

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