Reading Matters – children’s book news

Welcome to the first Reading Matters round up of the summer term. It would probably be futile to try and include everything that happened over the Easter break but I have attempted to sift through what people may have missed and highlighted a few events coming up and some interesting articles and podcasts you may enjoy.

What I’m reading…

In my final newsletter of the Spring term I mentioned The Silver Chain by Jion Sheibani and my review of this verse novel is now up on the Just Imagine website. This is a coming of age story, an insight into the impact of struggles with mental illness on a family and an exploration of the power of music to heal, encourage and restore. All of these subjects are conveyed through verse and illustration adding considerable impact to the theme of the importance of creativity to our wellbeing. Recommended for readers of about 14+.

Cover illustration by Paul Blow

Ravencave by Marcus Sedgwick is my outstanding read of the last couple of weeks. Moving, poignant and full of thoughtful kindness this is an emotional story of a family in crisis. The author’s writing style is beautiful in its spareness yet has a remarkable impact. It is, I think, a fitting and lasting legacy for an author who trusted his audience to understand and to care.

On a lighter note I have also enjoyed a lovely selection of picture books which have been published recently. My Pick of the New Picture Books includes making maths fun, teamwork and friendship, a celebration of Muslim women, nature in our own back yard and an invitation not to be too serious. Lots of choice and something for a range of tastes.

Barrington Stoke have published several retellings of the classics making them accessible to a wide readership the most recent of which is Laura Wood’s version of Louisa M Alcott’s Little Women. A perfect introduction to this much loved story of the four March sisters and great for readers of 10 up.

Last but not least my son bought me a copy of Richard Osman’s, The Bullet That Missed and I curled up with this whodunnit with a difference in the sunshine we had over Easter. It was great fun and I do very much enjoy getting to know the individual characters in this series.

News, articles and resources…

LIVE online announcement of the CLiPPA shortlist 2023 – CLPE, the National Poetry Centre for Primary Schools, is delighted to announce that for the first time in its 20-year history, the shortlist for the CLiPPA (Centre for Literacy in Primary Education Poetry Award) will be announced live at a virtual event at 2pm on Wednesday 3rd May to which all schools in the UK are invited. To receive their invitation, all schools need to do is to register for this year’s CLiPPA Shadowing Scheme. Chris Riddell, chair of this year’s CLiPPA judges, will host the event and it will include poetry performances from all the shortlisted poets.

Choosing Poetry for the Classroom – linking well with the announcement above, the Just Imagine review panel members share some of their favourite poetry books for the classroom in this helpful video.

Don’t forget to sign up for the National Literacy Trust Coronation draw-along with Rob Biddulph – a reminder that the live online draw-along with bestselling, award-winning children’s author and illustrator, Rob Biddulph takes place on Monday 24th April from 10 – 10.45am. Suitable for ages 7 to 11 (KS2/P4-P7), the live event will include the opportunity for children to craft their own coronation-inspired illustrations.

Love My Books Spring Newsletter April – in this latest issue find out about Michael Rosen on the new book in focus, Rigatoni the Pasta Cat, the top ten books to inspire young artists, an article by James Mayhew on his Katie’s Pictures series and three brand new activity pages plus congratulations to SF Said. A bumper issue and useful to both families and schools.

Blethering Together: Sustaining the Pleasure in Reading Conference – this event takes place on Saturday 17th June from 9.30-16.00. This conference will offer participants opportunities to explore research-informed practice and Norfolk Children’s Book Centre and UKLA bookshops will enrich the day. Workshops will be led by the OU RfP team and talented teachers, offering engaging ways forward.

British Translator-Author Daniel Hahn To Receive the Ottaway Award – Daniel Hahn has been named by Words Without Borders the 2023 winner of the Ottaway Award for the Promotion of International Literature. The honor will be presented to Hahn by the writer and translator Esther Allen on June 13 in New York.

Food and Farming in Children’s Books – this latest blog in the series by Roy James for Just Imagine is a fascinating and thought provoking read which encourages debate about the content of information books on this subject for children.

Bookwandering with Anna James is officially live! – The first episode of Anna’s podcast about the magic & power of children’s books is with Katherine Rundell on Charmed Life and can be accessed via the link above. Anna and Katherine also discuss Katherine’s 2019 essay, Why You Should Read Children’s Books Even Though You Are So Old and Wise, which does an excellent job of pitching the entire purpose of the podcast. I thoroughly enjoyed the first episode and have the second, focussing on The Little Princess, lined up for my weekend listening.

Free Virtual Event with Award Winning Author Phil Earle – to celebrate the launch of Phil Earle’s new book Until the Road Ends the publishers Andersen Press are hosting a live event for schools on 12th June at 2pm. Schools that sign up for the event by 5pm on 28th April have the chance to win 100 copies of Phil’s prize win game book, When the Sky Falls.

April 2023 Children’s Books I’m Most Excited About – Scott Evans’ selection for April includes several lovely picture books such as The Tree and the River by Aaron Becker and an excellent first chapter book, Budgie by Joseph Coelho and David Barrow.

Jhalak Prize 2023 Children’s and YA Shortlist – First awarded in March 2017, the Jhalak Prize and its new sister award Jhalak Children’s & YA Prize founded in 2020, seek to celebrate books by British/British resident BAME writers. This week the shortlists for both prizes were announced and the Children’s and YA list includes In Our Hands by Lucy Farfort and When Our Worlds Collided by Danielle Jawando.

Get Ready for Empathy Day on Thursday 8th June – the EmpathyLabUK team have announced geared up plans for Empathy Day 2023. These include: An assembly with Children’s Laureate, Joseph Coelho to be beamed into UK classrooms; An event with over 800 children at Manchester Libraries, featuring Rob Biddulph, Rashmi Sirdeshpande and Sophy Henn plus a free online festival. The link to the full press release giving more details plus how to register for the linked free resources for schools can be found on the official website above.

The Children’s Book Show Autumn Performances 2023 – The Children’s Book Show is a charity that inspires school children with a love of reading through an annual programme of in-theatre and digital performances and in-school workshops with the very best authors and illustrators from around the world. The team are busy finalising our autumn programme and booking opened on 19 April. Speakers include Michael Rosen, Frank Cottrell Boyce and Benji Davies with more performances announced very soon.

London Book Fair 2023: Klaus Flugge Honored for Lifetime Achievement – The award recognizes “an individual who has made a truly significant mark in the sphere of global publishing.” Klaus Flugge founded Andersen Press in autumn 1976 and went on to publish acclaimed writer/illustrators such as David McKee, Tony Ross, Satoshi Kitamura, Sir Quentin Blake, and Chris Riddell.

Mr Dilly Meets – Emma Carroll, Natasha Farrant & Christopher Lloyd – Join Mr Dilly and award-winning authors Natasha Farrant and Emma Carroll celebrating Earth Day 2023 and chatting about their latest environmentally themed books and the importance of protecting our planet. If you missed this event earlier in the week the recording is now available via the link above. A great event for primary aged (7-12 yrs) children.

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

Brilliant picture books about books… – Catherine Friess shares three brilliant picture books about books which take different approaches to celebrating books and reading on her Story Snug blog.

Clutch by M.G. Leonard Illustrated by Paddy DonnellyClutch is the third instalment of M.G. Leonard’s Twitchers Club series and I frequently read positive comments about these books. This lovely review by Stephen Connor for Just Imagine explains its appeal, “it seems that each story is uniquely written, and the twists and turns come thick and fast. As a reader, you never quite know who to trust…”

The World that Feeds Us by Nancy Castaldo Illustrated by Ginnie Hsu – another Just Imagine review this time of an information book mentioned in Roy James’ blog linked above. Nicholas Carter says, “Informative, clearly structured and beautifully illustrated throughout by Hsu, this excellent non-fiction text about our food, sustainable farming and the environment is perfect for KS2 classrooms.”

Today, 22nd April, is Earth Day and to mark this event Faber Publishers have organised a blog tour to celebrate Natasha Farrant’s The Rescue of Ravenwood, a book that urges its readers to look after the precious places in our natural world. The tour kicks off today and I will be participating on Monday. Full details are shown below.

That’s everything for this week and I know I will have missed out quite a bit but hope this taste helps a little. Happy reading!

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12 Responses to Reading Matters – children’s book news

  1. Calmgrove says:

    Welcome back, and thanks for another packed post! You remind me I still have an Emma Carroll novel waiting to be read, but first I have Katherine Rundell’s Rooftoppers to finish.

    Liked by 2 people

    • alibrarylady says:

      Thanks Chris! Emma Carroll is such a prolific writer that I’ve fallen behind in reading her novels but enjoyed her early ones very much. Hers are the sort of stories that I enjoyed as a child. The interview with Katherine Rundell was interesting and reminded me that I need to read some Diana Wynne Jones.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Calmgrove says:

        Oh do find some DWJ to read, Anne! Rather than recommending titles (as I may have once before) can I suggest you just plunge in with two or three titles that you can find? Each one is very different from another, as she didn’t like to plough the same furrow in terms of plot or even theme. Even the series – Chrestomanci, Howl, Dalemark etc – very often come at things from a very different direction.

        The Carroll I’ve got to read next is The Girl Who Walked on Air – other than it’s about a circus I have no expectations!

        Liked by 1 person

      • alibrarylady says:

        A check of my public library catalogue is now on my to do list to see what I can find written by DWJ!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. setinthepast says:

    I’m never sure about children’s versions of classics like Little Women, but it sounds interesting.

    Liked by 2 people

    • alibrarylady says:

      Yes, I feel the same way, especially when it’s a classic that I’m particularly fond of. However there is a need for these versions and I live in hope that those who read the retellings may be tempted to read the real thing in time.

      Liked by 1 person

    • jb5jane says:

      My 84 year old mum, who is the biggest critic of poor writing and a huge fan of the original ‘Little Women’, read Laura Wood’s version side-by-side with the original and pronounced the retelling as ‘flawless’. High praise indeed! I had the good fortune to interview Laura Wood at a recent conference and she felt an enormous responsibility for ensuring her retelling remained true to the character, plot, and tone of the original. She even includes some of the most well-known lines.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Welcome back Anne! Weekends are not quite the same without a Reading Matters to enjoy 😉 I loved the first episode of Book Wandering and I’m pleased to hear that the third Richard Osman book lived up to your expectations, I am waiting for the paperback which I think is due next month 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for linking to Story Snug Anne 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. jb5jane says:

    Thank you Anne. I have gained so much from this week’s edition. A brilliantly informative and thought-provoking read.

    Liked by 1 person

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