Welcome to this week’s look at what has been happening in the world of children’s books. There have been a few highlights including the announcement of both the Little Rebels and Branford Boase Awards shortlists details of which are included below.
What I’m reading…
Last weekend I finished reading the first of the Enola Holmes series by Nancy Springer, The Case of the Missing Marquess. These stories are now well known thanks to the Netflix series but I had never read the books so was interested to find out more about their appeal. Enola is, I think, a character with a relatable quality for readers and the scene setting descriptions of Victorian London are well done. With dastardly villains, clues to solve and occasional touches of humour this book is a winning combination of styles. You can find out more in my review for Just Imagine.
My Name is Sunshine Simpson is a charming debut by G M Linton inspired by her own family background and told with tenderness, humour and kindness. Ten year old Sunshine is part of a loving extended family, with good friends and an enthusiastic approach to life. However when friction develops in a new friendship, the challenge of a stressful school event approaches and worst of all her beloved Grandad’s health starts to deteriorate Sunshine’s smile begins to slip. There is laughter and tears, joy and heartbreak in this poignant story celebrating the Windrush generation and their achievements and a lovely message of hope, trust and the importance of self belief and positivity. The good news is this is the first in a new series.
News, articles and resources…
Top tips for helping children to become readers – Book Trust Writer-in-Residence, SF Said, has spoken to expert teachers and leaders in education to find out what really works to help children discover a love of reading. A must read and full of helpful and encouraging advice.
National Literacy Trust announces new primary school libraries partnership with Portal Trust – The National Literacy Trust has partnered with London-based charity, The Portal Trust, to help improve library and reading spaces in primary schools across the capital. Initially in Lambeth, the first year of the three-year programme, will work with nine primary schools, providing them with new reading spaces, teacher training and 300 books.
Children read almost 25% more books last year, UK and Ireland study finds – The 2023 What Kids Are Reading report, which surveyed children in the UK and Ireland, was published this week. The links with social media trends is an interesting point highlighted in this article in the Guardian. The report itself is organised by Renaissance, the company behind Accelerated Reader.
CLPE’s March’s New Books Round-Up – Each month CLPE’s Librarian, Phoebe Demeger, will reveal some of her favourite books she has recently added to their Literacy Library.
The Reading Agency’s April booklist for Children and Young People – A Race Against Time – The Reading Agency’s April booklist is full of exciting and gripping reads. From books exploring the climate crisis and planet Earth to heart-stopping thrillers and tales of magic and wonder, there’s something for everyone.
The Portable Magic Dispenser Vol 5, Issue 7 – this regular newsletter from school librarian Lucas Maxwell is always full of helpful suggestions and tips. You can sign up to receive it via email too.
Kate Saunders obituary – the sad news of the death of the prize-winning novelist, Kate Saunders, who won the Costa award for Five Children on the Western Front and whose Belfry Witches stories were adapted for TV was announced this week.
Comic Boom – Comics in Education – a reminder of this regular podcast exploring graphic novels, their appeal, their creation and their place in the classroom and school library. Recent episodes include chats with primary school teacher and graphic novel enthusiast, Richard Ruddick and Paul Register, founder of the Excelsior Award, the biggest book award for graphic novels and manga in the UK.
Book Wandering With Anna James – I’m running a week behind with this great new podcast from author Anna James and enjoyed her chat with bestselling author Gabrielle Zevin about the children’s classic A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett, both its joys and its problems. This week’s episode is with Nikesh Shukla talking about his lifelong love for Spider-Man. What a variety!
Little Rebels Award Shortlist Announced – The Little Rebels Children’s Book Award celebrates radical fiction for children aged 0-12. The award is given by the Alliance of Radical Booksellers and was established in conjunction with Letterbox Library. This year’s shortlist includes books on subjects such as racism, disability, gender identity, political activism and the criminal justice system.
Whole class guided reading in KS2: Finding the right balance for all children (Part 1) – this blog from HFL Education, the first of two parts, will guide teachers to reflect on strategies to ensure that all children can access learning in all class reading lessons and develop a love of reading.
The Branford Boase Award Shortlist Announced – Founded in 2000 to commemorate prize-winning author Henrietta Branford and influential Walker Books editor Wendy Boase, the Branford Boase Award is given annually to the author of the year’s outstanding debut novel for children. Uniquely, it also honours the editor of the winning title and highlights the importance of the editor in nurturing new talent. This year sees an all female shortlist for only the second time in the award’s history and explores themes including threats to our environment; toxic masculinity; identity and belonging.
Pyjamarama is back for 2023 – On Friday 16 June, children all around the country – in schools, nurseries, and at home – will spend the day reading, enjoying, and sharing stories all in the comfort of their pyjamas to raise vital funds to help every child get a bedtime story. You can find out more and sign up for the event via the Book Trust website link above.
Words and Art in Picturebook Poetry – another thoughtful blog on the Just Imagine website by Roy James. This time Roy discusses the varying role of illustration in poetry books, depicting the poems themselves, conveying emotions or helping to explain meaning.
Poetry for Primary Schools – this excellent and extremely comprehensive feature by Nikki Gamble is definitely worth saving for future reference as an aid to bringing poetry to life in the classroom. Nikki uses her considerable knowledge to bring together some suggestions by age group to help schools make selections so that children meet a wide variety of poets and forms of poetry throughout their primary years from Early Years to Year 6.
Explore the Ready, Set, Read! Book Collection – Get ready for a whole load of team spirit, your fave sporty heroes, and plenty of fun with The Reading Agency’s latest collection for the 2023 sports and games themed Summer Reading Challenge: Ready, Set, Read! Each book has been specially chosen by an expert group of readers for everybody taking part to enjoy. There are picture books, early readers and middle grade fiction to choose from.
The Reader Teacher Monthly Must Reads April 2023 – Scott Evans’ selection each month is always worth a look and he has provided a poster which you can download for free too.
Finally, some book reviews that caught my eye this week…
Silver Linings by Fiona Woodcock – I have read many positive comments about this new picture book about different perspectives and this lovely review by Jo Cummins and interesting guest feature by Fiona Woodcock, part of this week’s blog tour, has completely sold it to me.
The Ship of Doom by M A Bennett – the first in a new series this adventure linked to the Titanic is highly praised by teacher/reviewer Tom Griffiths. “With a captivating, original sci-fi concept which will have you gripped, along with some lingering questions which will mean you must get book 2, The Ship of Doom is far from doomed like that fateful ship but is the thrilling start to a marvellous series.”
Graphic Novel Review: School Trip by Jerry Craft – this is an excellent review of the third in the series of novels about Jordan Banks and published by published by Quill Tree an imprint of Harper360UK on 27th April. Veronica Price describes it as one of her books of the year and says, “There is humour, warmth, and real character growth as students and teachers learn lessons about themselves and each other as they navigate a foreign city.”
That’s everything for this week. I hope you have a happy and restful Bank Holiday weekend.
Bit of a shock about Kate Saunders – I’d meant to read her Nesbit sequel straight after re-reading and then reviewing The Story of the Amulet but it slid down the pile; and I also fancied trying a couple of her other titles too.
But it was good to see there was a significant jump in numbers of kids reading in GB and Ireland, though it would be interesting to see how that compared to previous years, before and during the pandemic.
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I agree, Chris, Kate Saunders was highly regarded.
The research report does make interesting reading and I would like to compare it with reports from the National Literacy Trust too.
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