Reading Matters – children’s book news

Welcome to this week’s look at what has been happening in the world of children’s books.

What I’m reading…

The remaining books in my latest batch to read and review for Just Imagine made up my reading this week. I enjoyed Honesty & Lies by Eloise Williams very much, it’s definitely my sort of book. Wonderful historical fiction for children, it is a story rich in ideas, language and period detail. The plot includes friendship, secrets and storytelling and it would be a great class read, particularly if you are looking for a text to link with the teaching of the Tudor Period.

I’m halfway through October Witches, a debut by Jennifer Claessen, a great read for dark evenings and the first in a new series. It’s a mix of family relationships, magic and adventure and I will be sharing my review for Just Imagine next week.

Little Wandle Letters and Sounds invited me to write an article on how to transform your primary school library to support reading for pleasure. I’ve tried to include tips for those with a limited budget. There are links to other sources of advice and information too. I hope it’s useful.

News, articles and resources…

Book Blast Special:Christmas Crackers – Nikki Gamble is joined by special guests Jo Bowers, Ben Harris, Helen Morgan, Sam Creighton, Erin Hamilton, Sam Keeley, Roy Moss, and Mary-Rose Grieve. They talk about some of their favourite Christmas books and some recently published titles too. A perfect way to get into the Christmas mood. If you’re quick the giveaway is open until Sunday so there is still time to enter too.

Five of the Best Friendly Dragons – Author of The Ultimate Guide to Growing Dragons, Andy Shepherd, shares five of her favourite friendly dragons on the Book Trust website. Perfect if you are looking for books featuring dragons that won’t be too scary!

‘I absolutely believe that if a child might experience it, then it is the business of children’s literature to talk about it.’ – In the wake of recent global events, author Nicola Davies discusses how stories can help children explore and deal with difficult issues. A post on the School Library Association website from earlier this year and shared online again this week this thoughtful article continues to be relevant.

Reading: A Child’s Superpower – This virtual event was run by The Open University in Northern Ireland on 18th October 2022 as part of the event programme for Book Week Northern Ireland, in partnership with Libraries NI and the BBC. Professor Teresa Cremin of The Open University shares her expert knowledge on the benefits of reading in childhood, tips for engaging a reluctant reader and how you can nurture a child’s love for reading. This event is suitable for both parents and teachers or anyone interested in supporting young readers.

New findings from BookTrust shine a spotlight on representation in children’s books and its impact on children’s motivations to read – New research and analysis by BookTrust, drawing on insight and findings from two new reports, shines a spotlight on the role of representation in children’s books and the critical impact this has on children’s motivations and desire to read. Both reports and a summary can be downloaded from the article linked above.

Winners announced for SLA’s 2021 Information Book Award – at an award ceremony at Hachette Publishers this week the 2022 winners of the School Library Association Information Book Award (IBA) were announced. The awards are divided into three age categories, judged by a panel of educators plus children have also had the opportunity to vote for their favourite book from the shortlist in order to determine an additional Children’s Choice winner in each age category, and one overall. Congratulations to all the winners.

Using the School Library Association Book Award by Helen Cleaves – having heard Helen Cleaves talk about this subject at our SLA Surrey branch meeting in the summer I can wholeheartedly recommend this article by Helen on the Federation of Children’s Book Groups website. Helen gives advice and tips on using the IBA successful in secondary schools, particularly Years 7&8. Time to get planning for the 2023 Award!

A Character Based on a Child of Your Choice Could Join the Cast of a New Book – Following the success of You Can!,by Alexandra Strick and Steve Anthony the team is thrilled to announce that a second book will follow. We Can! will share real children’s views on the kind of world they want to live in and how we can all play a part in creating that world. The book will be published in 2024. And an exciting new competition will give one lucky child the chance to join the cast of characters pictured in the book. Find out more about this opportunity via the link.

Muddy Brilliant! – Roy James’ regular blogposts for Just Imagine are always interesting, entertaining and helpful. This latest one looks at the importance of soil in areas of learning such as plants, living things, and rocks/geology but also linked to climate change and sustainability too. Roy recommends a couple of great books too.

Books for Topics 2022 Christmas Book Gift Guides – If you are looking for gift ideas for children, these guides contain recommended books for different ages and a wide variety of tastes and are free to download from the Books for Topics website.

What books does our primary school library need? – There are three elements to the well-organised library – space, stock and staff – that lead to a fourth, personalisation, which will help your pupils get the best from your library resources. Here Gillian Harris from Tower Hamlets SLS looks at stock.

Knights Of Publishers: Resources – if, like me, you’ve missed out on these resources linked to a range of titles published by Knights Of they are well worth exploring. Divided chapter by chapter and covering comprehension and inference questions, writing tasks and suggestions for extra activities these would be useful for teachers and librarians.

National Literacy Trust: Diverse Libraries webinar 1: Representations of neurodiversity in children’s reading – the first in the 2022/3 Diverse Libraries free webinar series will take the format of an ‘in conversation’ event with a panel of authors who will be exploring the importance of representation and discussing how neurodiversity feeds into both their writing and the characters in their books. Special guest authors and illustrators include Elle McNicoll, Rose Robbins, and Abigail Balfe. This free event takes place on 29th November 4-5.15pm online and full details can be found on the link above.

Children’s and teens roundup – the best new picture books and novels – Imogen Russell Williams latest selection for the Guardian includes A colourful picture book; comforting stories; hope for the future; and a sweetly seasonal YA romance.

Shortlist Announced For Biblio-Buzz 2023, Alexandra Palace’s Children’s Book Award – this award was the winner of the School Library Association Community Award for 2022 and encourages children in Years 5-7 in Haringey to become enthusiastic about reading. A great shortlist and lots of activities and events planned for participating schools.

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

The Gecko and the Echo by Rachel Bright and Jim Field – one look at the vibrant cover of this new picture book tempted me to read Tom Slattery’s review. Tom says, ‘I loved the message of showing kindness to others and allowing everyone a chance to shine in their own way,’ so on to the wish list it goes.

Wildsmith: Into the Dark Forest by Liz Flanagan – sometimes it can be tricky to find fantasy stories suitable for slightly younger children in the ‘middle grade’ audience and this sounds as though it would fit the bill. Kate Heap says, ‘This book is exactly what readers in Years 3 & 4 need. The short chapters are accessible and non-threatening. Well-spaced print and plenty of illustrations will pull children into the warmth of the story.’

The Detention Detectives by Lis Jardine – school stories and mysteries have a wide appeal for young readers and I really like the sound of this debut. Tom Griffiths has reviewed it this week and says that Lis Jardine ‘has a unique voice which really sets this book apart from those currently on the shelves – I particularly liked the footnotes relating to Star Trek and classic whodunnit shows…’ Lis is a school librarian so has insider knowledge on what children enjoy reading!

That’s everything for this week and I hope you found something here helpful. Happy reading!

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Reading Matters – children’s book news

“I think a successful book is one that leaves the reader in a slightly different place from where they were before they read it.”

Marcus Sedgwick

Welcome to this week’s look at what has been happening in the world of children’s books.

What I’m reading…

Sunday 13th November in addition to being Remembrance Sunday was also World Kindness Day. One of the books that I had received to review for Just Imagine was Be The Change: Be Kind by Marcus Sedgwick illustrated by Thomas Taylor. It is a thoughtful guide to kindness in society. Practical, informative and optimistic it provides readers with the tools to use kindness in everyday life and to make a difference and I would highly recommended it for ages 9+. Only days after I wrote this review we learned the desperately sad news that Marcus had died suddenly. I always felt that his gentle kindness and understanding of others came across in his writing. He will be so missed.

I also read and reviewed two picture books for Just Imagine. First up is one that may well become a Christmas classic. We Disagree About This Tree by Ross Collins sees Bear and Mouse reunited and preparing for the festivities. Bold and bright illustrations and bags of humour give this lovely book an instant appeal however alongside the fun is an important message about learning to compromise. The Clown Said No by Mischa Damjan has just been reissued with new illustrations by Torben Kuhlmann sixty years after it was first published and contains a theme as relevant today as then. There are times when it is important to stand up for your rights and remain true to what you know is right for you and this story illustrates this rather tenderly for children.

A reading highlight for me has been Children of the Stone City, the latest novel by award winning author Beverley Naidoo. Set in a world where Adam and Leila and their friend Zak live as Nons under the Permitted ruling class this powerful story explores themes of prejudice, discrimination, grief and human rights. Although the world created is fictitious it has its inspiration in many societies today. Threaded through the drama is the importance of music and writing in offering solace and encouragement in difficult situations. An excellent book for discussion and I was disappointed not to be able to attend Nikki Gamble’s recent audience with Beverley Naidoo and the linked book club conversation.

News, articles and resources…

One in seven state primary schools does not have a designated library space – this week the National Literacy Trust published a new report into libraries and were in Parliament with the Primary School Library Alliance. Founded in November 2021 by the National Literacy Trust and Penguin Random House UK, the Alliance works with its flagship partners to address the chronic lack of investment in primary school libraries and bring together relevant parties to help solve this urgent issue. The Alliance aims to transform 1,000 primary school libraries by 2025. This new report on the current situation is vital reading for all of us involved with children’s books in any capacity.

Books For Keeps November 2022 – the latest issue of this excellent online journal is a special one. In addition to the regular Beyond the Secret Garden feature and reviews there is a Christmas Book Gift Guide and a Books of the Year selection. Plus wonderful interviews with authors Anna McQuinn and MG Leonard, a feature by illustrator Harry Woodgate, and a nonfiction special from Sue McGonigle. All in all a must read for children’s book lovers.

Emma Suffield Q&A with Author Andy Shepherd – the latest in school librarian Emma Suffield’s series if interviews is with Andy Shepherd, author of the popular The Boy Who Grew Dragons series. Discover which books were Andy’s childhood favourites, read her writing tips and the inspiration for her stories.

Big Book, Little Cook: A celebration of children’s cookbooks – another brilliant blogpost by Roy James for Just Imagine. This one includes discussion on how you can incorporate cookbooks into different curriculum areas in the classroom. For many children these books can introduce them to experiences from around the world and Roy has ideas and tips to help.

Mindfulness books for children are a runaway publishing trend – this article in the Guardian by Amelia Hill explores the data which shows that to date this year, there have been 18% more children’s titles published in the genre of mental health and anxiety than this time in 2021.

The Reader Teacher 2022 Christmas Gift Giving Guides – Scott Evans has created lists of books for different ages and within each list books are divided into sections such as classics, new titles, poetry and festive fiction. An excellent place to start your Christmas shopping!

Mr Dilly Presents Bumper Christmas Special – Mr Dilly Meets some of the biggest names in Children’s Books on 6th December 11.00am – 12.15pm in this FREE Festive Fun packed Author event for Schools. There will be plenty of chat, readings the author’s Christmas books, a chance to have your school’s questions put to the guests and a Christmas Quiz that all the authors and your classroom can play along with at the same time.

Book Trust: What to Read After… Horrible Histories – Once someone has read all the books in the iconic Horrible Histories series, where to turn next? The combination of Terry Deary’s gory facts and Martin Brown’s humorous illustrations is hard to beat. But there are other books that might keep a young history buff entertained and the Book Trust team have put together a great variety within their selection.

Mat Tobin: Whose worlds are we sharing with children? – this blogpost by Mathew Tobin, Lecturer in English and Children’s Literature at Oxford Brookes University, explores representation and authenticity in children’s literature and provides us with much to think about. Paired with the publication last week of CLPE’s most recent Reflecting Realities Report this is an important read.

Poetry By Heart 2022 -2023 Competition – Poetry By Heart, the national poetry speaking competition for schools, is celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2023. The competition is open now and an invitation to take part has been sent to every primary and secondary school in England. Registration, participation and competition entry are free, and the Poetry By Heart website offers a wealth of resources and support materials for teachers including a wide range of suggested poems, classic, contemporary and diverse, including many written by living poets. The grand finale of the 2023 competition is a special celebration taking place at Shakespeare’s Globe on Monday 26th June. The website is excellent and full of useful information and is a valuable resource for schools. There is a helpful step by step guide to the competition here.

Planning a poetry curriculum – another helpful blogpost from HFL Education (formerly Herts for Learning) which links well with the Poetry By Heart information above.

Foyles Books of the Year shortlists 2022 – there are three Foyles Books of the Year 2022 shortlists: Fiction, Non-Fiction, and Children’s. There are six books in the Children’s category and I was particularly pleased to see The Comet, one of my favourite picture books of the year and the wonderful Tyger included.

Developing a Culture of Reading for Pleasure 3: RfP Pedagogy – Methods and Practice – the third in this helpful series of blogposts by Debbie Thomas for the Literacy Hive explores ways to support and encourage Reading for Pleasure in the classroom. There is a link to a wonderful primary school library example too.

Nen & the Lonely Fisherman by Ian Eagleton and James Mayhew wins major award – On November 15th 2022, Nen and the Lonely Fisherman was awarded the inaugural Children’s & YA Polari Prize. This is the only LGBTQi+ award in the UK and one of the biggest awards of its kind in the world. In this lovely post on James’ blog he writes about how much this award means.

Children’s perspectives on becoming absorbed in stories – a free online Open University seminar taking place on 23rd November 3-4pm. What does story reading feel like in the upper primary years, when it is still a relatively new skill? What embodied sensations are involved in becoming absorbed, “lost in a book”?

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

Colours, Colours Everywhere by Julia Donaldson Illustrated by Sharon King-Chai – at the moment I’m on the look out for picture books for a new addition to our family and this sounds perfect. A vibrant rhyming story, beautiful landscapes with animals of all colours, foldouts, flaps to lift and holes to peep through on every page. Jo Bowers’ gorgeous review for Just Imagine has completely sold this to me.

Every Word Tells A Story by Tom Read Wilson Illustrated by Ian Morris – the review blog tour to mark National Non-Fiction November continues and this is a helpful review by Jo Cummins of a book that would be valuable both in homes, libraries and classrooms. A book that covers the origins of over one hundred words and is “a perfect book for young wordsmiths, encouraging kids and adults alike to have fun whilst learning about language.”

Where The River Takes Us – Lesley Parr – this lovely review by Karen on Bonkers About Books has made me extremely nostalgic for the 70s. Although not published until March 2023 this is going on my wish list now. “Whether you’re a child who wants to dive into a heart-warming adventure, or a grown-up of a ‘certain’ age who wants to relive their childhood, Where The River Takes Us is the book for you.”

That’s everything for this week and I hope that something here has been useful to you. Happy reading.

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Reading Matters – children’s book news

Welcome to this week’s look at what has been happening in the world of children’s books. On Wednesday I welcomed school library consultant and former President of CILIP, Barbara Band to our Surrey branch of the School Library Association Autumn meeting. Barbara spoke about the wider aspects of diversity in the library and how school librarians can better serve their whole community. On Friday CLPE published their latest Reflecting Realities report highlighting why this is so important. You can read the report in the links below. Plus the Carnegie nominations were announced. What a hectic week it’s been!

What I’m reading…

The Chestnut Roaster is an utterly mesmerising read which I very much enjoyed. It is a story of good versus evil, imaginative and original, carrying the reader along in an adventure that defies labelling. Historical fiction and fantasy combine to create something refreshingly different and memorable. Bewitching writing by Eve McDonnell paired with atmospheric illustrations by Ewa Beniak-Haremska and highly recommended.

I was delighted to participate in the Federation of Children’s Book Groups’ blog tour to mark National Non-Fiction November this week. It’s The Journey Not the Destination written by Carl Honoré, illustrated by Kevin & Kristen Howdeshell is an excellent way to travel the world, exploring at a leisurely place. A great book to share either at home or school.

News, articles and resources…

Nominations announced for the 2023 Yoto Carnegies – Nominations were announced this week for the UK’s longest running children’s book awards. A total of 125 books have been nominated for the 2023 Medals. 67 books are in contention for the Yoto Carnegie Medal for Writing and 58 books for the Yoto Carnegie Medal for Illustration. This includes 6 titles that have received nominations in both Medal categories. There are many books I have read and enjoyed included in the lists and I don’t envy the judges who have to reduce this number down to the long lists.

Reaching for the (Night) Sky – in his latest blog for Just Imagine Roy Moss selects some super children’s books to encourage young astronomers to get out into the field and observe. I found this an interesting read and know from experience in the school library that this is a subject that enthuses and fascinates children. Some great titles suggested by Roy too.

Nikki Gamble’s Book Blast November ’22 – if you missed this live event on Sunday 6th November the recording is now available to watch via YouTube. Nikki shares a selection of the best children’s books published in November 2022. Now with chapter bookmarks for easy viewing, this is an excellent way to keep up to date with the latest books.

CLPE: Q&A with Lydia Monks all about Adoette – I enjoyed reading this blogpost on the CLPE website. Lydia Monks discusses the inspiration for her book, Adoette, gives suggestions on how the book could be used in the primary classroom, talks about her career in writing and illustration and her major influences.

The Portable Magic Dispenser from Lucas Maxwell – if you haven’t already signed up for this regular newsletter from ace school librarian Lucas Maxwell I can highly recommend it. There are always ideas for you to use in the library or classroom and this latest issue includes Quick Fire Reviews, Library Escape Room ideas, scary books and tips on weeding policy in the library.

Books Are My Bag Readers Awards 2022 – This year’s winners were announced at a ceremony at Foyles Bookshop on Tuesday 8th November. The Children’s Fiction category was won by Loki: A Bad God’s Guide to Being Good by Louie Stowell (Walker Books) and the Young Adult Fiction category by All That’s Left in the World by Erik. J. Brown (Hachette Children’s Group). You can watch a video of the award ceremony on the official website above.

National Non Fiction November 2022 Competition – to coincide with NNFN’s theme of Communication, this Federation of Children’s Book Groups competition has been inspired by Andy Seed’s brilliantly funny series ‘Interview with …’ published by Welbeck Children’s Books. Open to 5-12-year-olds living in the UK, we are inviting each entrant to choose either an animal or historical character and create an illustrated interview with them in a Q & A format. Closing date 5th December and full details available via the link.

The next chapter in children’s picture books – article in The Financial Times by Beatrice Hodgkin highlighting recent author/illustrator collaborations including Don’t Ask the Dragon by Lemn Sissay and Greg Stobbs and The Boy Who Lost His Spark by Maggie O’Farrell and Daniela Jaglenka Terrazzini.

BookTrust’s Just One Book Campaign – The BookTrust Christmas Appeal raises money to send surprise festive book parcels to children who are vulnerable or in care. Half of the parcels will be sent to children in care, and the other half will be given out through community foodbanks to children in families facing challenging circumstances. The charity have selected six beautiful hardback books and each child will receive one that is appropriate to their age. Find out how you can help via the link.

The Beatryce Prophecy’ Film Based On Kate DiCamillo Novel In Works From Amazon, Netter Films; Brad Copeland To Pen The Script – this may I think be of interest to fans of Kate de Camillo, and there are many of us! Amazon Studios has locked down film rights to the #1 New York Times bestseller The Beatryce Prophecy from two-time Newbery Medalist Kate DiCamillo, tapping two-time Emmy nominee Brad Copeland (Arrested Development) to script an adaptation.

CLPE Reflecting Realities Report 2017-2021 – the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education (CLPE) ReflectingRealities report is an insight into minority representation in children’s literature for the period 2017-2021. There are both significant growth & glaring gaps, which CLPE will continue to highlight in their pursuit of the authentic portrayal of children in books. The report is important reading for anyone involved in children’s books in any capacity.

LoveReading4Kids Top Children’s Christmas Book Recommendations for 2022 – the John Lewis advert is out so I’m admitting defeat and sharing this selection of books. Everything from Lift the Flap books to eco reads, super readable dyslexia friendly books to festive fiction. This will probably be helpful to many.

The Case for Non-Fiction by Dan Nunn – a guest post by Dan Nunn of Raintree Publishing on the FCBG website for National Non-Fiction November. Dan was a guest speaker at our Surrey SLA branch meeting in June and it is fascinating to get a publisher’s perspective on the role of information books for children. An interesting read.

Diverse Libraries webinar 1: Representations of neurodiversity in children’s reading – the first in the Literacy Trust’s 2022/3 Diverse Libraries free webinar series which focuses on representations of neurodiversity in children’s reading. Special guest authors include Elle McNicoll and Rose Robbins. Taking place on 29 Nov 2022 4:00pm – 5:15pm, full details and registration available via the link.

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

The Faber Book of Bedtime Stories – the blog tour to mark the publication of this new collection, written by an impressive array of current children’s authors, started with this Q and A from Sarah McIntyre whose joyful illustrations bring each tale to life. Thank you Sue, @scoobiesue at Through the Bookshelf for this lovely read which has tempted me to put this on my Christmas shopping list.

The Ministry of Unladylike Activity by Robin Stevens – a new series by the creator of the hugely popular Murder Most Unladylike books will tempt many. This enthusiastic review by Ruth Ng for The Bookbag provides you with a taste of what to expect.

The Woodcutter and The Snow Prince – Ian Eagleton, ill. by Davide Ortu – this review by Rich Simpson, part of the blog tour to mark publication of this new book includes some some poetry ideas generously created by Ian to use in the classroom. I really like the sound of this and the suggestions are lovely to share in the run up to Christmas or through the winter months.

Iceberg by Claire Saxby Illustrated by Jess Racklyeft – the eye catching cover of this new book caught my attention and then this excellent review by Ros Steward completely sold it to me. She says, “This is a book that will be read again and again, and hopefully will inspire young people to explore issues around climate change and global warming without intimidating them.”

The Haunting of Tyrese Walker by J P Rose – a LoveReading4Kids Book of the Month for November this chiller for readers aged 11+ has an excellent review by Joanne Owen. “With a rich and palpable evocation of Jamaican landscapes, communities, culture and folklore, this chilling mystery has tremendous heart.

That’s everything for this week. One more thing that book lovers may be interested in…the Hidden Books Game! Yes, you too can now share my frustration. In case you missed it here’s a link Good luck!

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It’s The Journey Not the Destination written by Carl Honoré, illustrated by Kevin and Kristen Howdeshell

I am delighted to be participating in the blog tour to mark National Non-Fiction November, the annual celebration organised by the Federation of Children’s Book Groups highlighting the books that provide information and facts for eager readers.

One of the joys of nonfiction books for children is not only that readers learn as they read but they can also experience, albeit through their imagination, other parts of the world, other peoples and important places without leaving home. It’s the Journey Not the Destination encourages children to read forty slow adventures undertaken by boat, bike, foot and train. The slower pace of these explorations will inspire children to take their time and notice the details that make places unique and special.

The book is divided into four sections covering each mode of transport with a world map depicting the locations of the different journeys and the places visited on each route. Each section then takes the reader on an exploration, slowly savouring the landscape, the wildlife, the vegetation and the smells and sounds associated with each place. The muted colours and slightly retro feel of the illustrations fit the gentle pace of the text perfectly. This, just like the journeys themselves, is a book to read slowly and carefully.

I was tempted by several of the walks including the Way of St James to the city of Santiago de Compostela in Spain and closer to home, the Great Stones Way in the south of England. The cycle routes take the reader along the famous Silk Road, part of The Marvin Braude Bike Trail in Los Angeles and through the ruins of Angkor in Cambodia and many other fascinating places. The canal boat trip through Amsterdam brought back happy childhood memories for me and I would love to travel down the Danube. Kayaking in the Komodo National Park I may leave for the more adventurous! A stream train ride through the Scottish Highlands is now on my wish list too. The range of journeys takes in the more familiar, alongside the more unusual and this combination is a great balance. This would be a wonderful book for families to share prompting discussion about places already visited and those that have caught the imagination of the reader. However it would also work well in the classroom to support the teaching of geography and would definitely be an excellent addition to the primary school library.

The author has included key facts and observations that satisfy a child’s curiosity and give a taste of each country or place and importantly the people who live there too. The extra ‘12 Ways to Travel Slow’ at the end of the book are both timely and wise. It’s the Journey Not the Destination is published by Magic Cat Publishing and you may like to visit their website for a browse of their other publications too.

Thank you to the Federation of Children’s Book Groups (FCBG) for asking me to take part in the events this month and also to the publisher Magic Cat for providing a copy of the book for review.

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The Chestnut Roaster by Eve McDonnell illustrations by Ewa Beniak- Haremska

The Chestnut Roaster is an utterly mesmerising read. It is a story of good versus evil, imaginative and original, carrying the reader along in an adventure that defies labelling. Historical fiction and fantasy combine to create something refreshingly different and memorable.

Cover by Holly Ovenden

Set in Paris in 1888 during the period known as the ‘Belle Epoque’ or ‘beautiful era’ the story opens at a busy street corner where a tiny girl stands at her chestnut roaster. Piaf, named after the sparrow she resembles, is approached by a mysterious, sinister stranger who claims to know her. Piaf is equally sure that he does not. She is confident in this assertion as she is able to remember everything. Every small detail since the day she was born twelve years ago on All Fools’ Day is lodged in her memory. This could be a blessing or a curse but is key to the thrilling adventure that then unfolds.

What an opening this is! We are instantly part of Paris, the sights, the sounds, the smells and the feel of the city are conveyed superbly in the writing and with no preamble we have already met our wonderful lead character and the villain who will together dominate the book. Piaf soon discovers that everyone on Paris has forgotten the entire last year including the disappearance of several gifted children. Piaf and her twin brother Luc are quickly drawn into a dangerous journey through the streets of the city and then into the depths of the underground tunnels, the Catacombs, in an effort to defeat the memory thief and find the lost children.

The exploration of memory is fascinating as we watch the twins, the girl with the ability to remember everything and the boy who has lost his memories of all that has gone before. Eve McDonnell was inspired by her research into the phenomenon known as hypothymesia, an extremely rare condition where people are able to relive every life event in great detail. Piaf copes with this by distraction techniques such as fidgeting and this is incorporated into the story realistically. She is a wonderful character carrying the responsibility she bears with a strength and determination that belies her tiny size. As the story progresses she grows in confidence and is a thoughtful role model for children in many ways.

The adventure is thrilling with moments of drama and tension and the writing intensifies the experience. As Piaf and Luc crawl through dark tunnels the reader feels the sense of claustrophobia and fear of the unknown alongside the children. I particularly liked the authentic ‘French feel’ created by the author. The French words used occasionally throughout, the dual language chapter headings and the locations plus of course the references to food all create a realistic sense of place. The historic references together with the interesting afterword by the author provide a background to the story that many children will learn from.

The plot weaves its way through the underground tunnels, including some distinctive characters along the way such as Madame Legrand and Bertie Pufont. The bond between brother and sister, Piaf and Luc is touching in its intensity despite the difficulties caused by Luc’s loss of memory and these two become characters we care about. There are times when an enthralling adventure can culminate in a too speedy, neat or predictable ending but Eve Mc Donnell provides a thoughtful and satisfying conclusion.

It is impossible to write a review of this dramatic and intense adventure without mentioning the wonderful, atmospheric double page illustrations by Ewa Beniak-Haremska as they so perfectly fit the story. The striking cover by Holly Ovenden completes an excellent package.

The Chestnut Roaster was published by Everything With Words on 27th October and I should like to thank Mikka Haugaard for my review copy.

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Reading Matters – children’s book news

Welcome to this week’s look at what has been happening in the world of children’s books. This week marked the start of National Non-Fiction November so there are several mentions of that in this round up. Also some great events and interesting articles from children’s literature guru Nikki Gamble. Thank you to all the generous people who write the articles and create the resources and events I share on here each week.

What I’m reading…

This week I managed to catch up a little with my picture book pile and reviewed my pick of the new picture books for children. They include a range of subjects including penguin peril, Christmas compromises and perfect pets and presents. Some lovely books to explore and share.

This week saw the start of National Non Fiction November and I am pleased to be taking part in the blog review tour organised by the Federation of Children’s Book Groups to mark the occasion. This week I have read It’s the Journey Not the Destination in readiness for my post next Friday and thoroughly enjoyed exploring the world at a gentle pace. Please do look out for the other reviews over the coming days and perhaps catch up with any you have missed.

Lastly, thanks to The Chestnut Roaster by Eve McDonell I have spent the last few days lost in nineteenth century Paris. This is a captivating read. The evocative writing, the lavish illustrations by Ewa Beniak-Haremska and the originality combine in a novel both unexpected and enjoyable. I’ve nearly finished and am hoping the loathsome villain gets his comeuppance!

News, articles and resources…

Love My Books October Newsletter – this latest newsletter is excellent and full of useful and interesting articles including Nikki Gamble on young fiction for newly independent readers, the new book in focus The King Who Banned the Dark by Emily Haworth Booth, new activity pages for picture books such as The Comet and The Littlest Yak and lots more. It’s well worth exploring both the newsletter and the helpful website.

No Shelf Control Newsletter – Dean Boddington’s monthly newsletters are great for both teachers and parents and the latest issue includes a Q&A with Natasha Hastings and some suggestions for Christmas books. The newsletters can be downloaded from Dean’s blog linked above.

The Reader Teacher October 2022 Monthly Must Reads – Scott Evans’ pick of the last month includes the superb Tyger by SF Said which is going to take some beating as my book of the year and Timid by Harry Woodgate a picture book that is high on my shopping list.

Where the Poppies Now Grow by Hilary Robinson – this is a thoughtful guest post by author Hilary Robinson on the Federation of Children’s Book Groups website. She writes about the inspiration for this poignant picture book so beautifully illustrated by Martin Impey. I can wholeheartedly recommend this book as one to share with children to mark Remembrance Day and the whole series by this duo are, I think, books that should be in every primary school library.

A Golden Age of Nonfiction? Nikki Gamble for Just Imagine – as we enter National Nonfiction November Nikki’s excellent article reflects on the current state of nonfiction publishing. Are we in a Golden Age? Or are there simply too many books, making it hard for the best to stand out from the crowd? This is a valuable article to keep as a reference when selecting information books for the school library or classroom in particular. Thank you, Nikki for this insightful piece which has given me a lot to think about.

MRS NOAH’S SONG: An interview with James Mayhew – the first two picture books featuring Mrs Noah are dear to me, she’s a wonderful character and the art by James Mayhew and text by Jackie Morris working perfectly together. This is a enlightening interview with James on the Reading Realm which I enjoyed very much and hope you do too.

Children’s books: a feast of sweet and spooky stories for autumn – Sarah Webb has reviewed a great selection of children’s books for the from colourful picture books that will delight your little ones, to bold and ambitious adventure stories your teens will love.

Book Trust: New Children’s Books We Love for November – Whether they’re a teeny toddler or a very particular teen the BookTrust team have selected a book to tempt them. Sorted in approximate age categories the titles include a couple of my recent favourite picture books, Zeki Rise and Shine and My Rhinoceros plus The Chestnut Roaster, my current read which I’m thoroughly enjoying.

The Reader Teacher: November 2022 Children’s Books I’m Most Excited About – this monthly preview video produced by Scott Evans is good for providing a taste of what to look forward over the coming month and could be shared in school and with parents.

HFL Education: Bring language to life – be more aardvark – In this blog Jane Andrews delves into the interconnectivity between reading and writing, and explores strategies for bringing language learning to life in joyful ways that develop reading for pleasure. An interesting article from which I learned a lot.

Resist & World Ballet Day ~ Guest Post by Tom Palmer – on 2nd November, World Ballet Day, Kate Heap welcomed award winning author Tom Palmer to her blog to talk about the significant part dance played in Edda’s story told in his WW2 novel, Resist.

Nikki Gamble’s Book Blast for November – Nikki’s brilliant previews of the best of the children’s books being published each month are well worth watching. This month’s takes place on Sunday 7th November. There will be the usual give-away to tempt you too! Available for attendees until 11th November midday.

An evening with Timothee de Fombelle and Sarah Ardizzone – Timothee and his English translator, Sarah Ardizzone, will be in conversation with Nikki Gamble. They will be talking about their latest collaboration, Swallow in Winter, and more generally, the importance of translation and different approaches to translating a literary text. It is a free event, but places need to be reserved via Eventbrite via the link above.

An Audience with…Beverley Naidoo – at the time of writing there are still single places available for this event taking place on Friday 11th November at 7pm. The format includes a discussion chaired by Nikki Gamble, and audience members are invited to ask questions. More information including booking details can be found via the link.

The Literacy Trust: National Non-Fiction November – an excellent overview to mark this month’s focus on non-fiction. You can read the Literacy Trust’s recent report on the effect of reading non-fiction and what our young non-fiction readers care about. There are also teaching resources and links to useful websites plus information about a free live online event on ‘Writing for the planet with National Geographic Kids journalist Tim Herbert’, for pupils aged 7-11.

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

Ballet Kids by Holly Sterling – to mark World Ballet Day this week Jill Bennett shared a lovely review of a book I didn’t know of but think sounds appealing. “In her inclusive illustrations, Holly Sterling captures that magic and the sheer joy of the young dancers both in their class and as they perform the winter show.

Leila and the Blue Fox by Kiran Millwood Hargrave and Tom De Freston – I thought Julia and the Shark was an original and thoughtful book so have been looking forward to finding out more about this couple’s new publication. Tom Griffiths’ review has whetted my appetite still further.

The Agency For Scandal by Laura Wood – publishing in January 2023 I do love the sound of this book, the new historical YA title from Laura Wood. “Danger, seduction and characters who are entirely brilliant make this a perfect page turner.” is how Erin Hamilton describes it in her review. Well, roll on January!

That’s everything for this week. Happy reading!

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Pick of the New Picture Books for Children

Over the last month there have been many picture books published and I would like to share just some of them with you here.

My Rhinoceros by Jon Agee (Scallywag Press)

How can you resist a picture book that has on its back cover a quote from Maurice Sendak describing it as ‘a genuine masterpiece.’ It’s also quite difficult to know how to follow that in my review! My Rhinoceros is witty, refreshingly different and full of surprises. When a small boy buys a rhinoceros at the Exotic Pets shop he has little idea what to expect. Initially he is a bit disappointed with his new pet. He won’t chase a ball, or a stick; he won’t roll over, he doesn’t really do anything. He does actually wear an expression of superior disdain in Agee’s illustrations. A handy rhinoceros expert tells the child that rhinos only do two things: pop balloons and poke holes in kites. However the small pet owner soon discovers that his rhinoceros wants to be a bit different.

This has grown on me with each reading. The wry humour, the expressions in the illustrations, and the clever build up to the finale all add up to a refreshing and enjoyable read. This is quirky but definitely good fun.

Well Done Mummy Penguin by Chris Haughton (Walker Books)

When Mummy Penguin sets off to find a fishy dinner for her family she encounters setbacks galore but overcomes each of them because Mummy, thank goodness, is good at everything. Watched by baby penguin and his daddy we observe Mummy’s adventures and the mild peril she faces on the way. The illustrations are deceptively simple yet Chris Haughton manages to convey numerous emotions, particularly through the penguins’ eyes. The use of shades of blue to portray the icy Antarctic landscape work well and the vibrant orange on the beaks and breasts of the adult penguins stand out beautifully.

This joyful celebration of mothers contains all the special elements that ensure picture books by Chris Haughton always work perfectly when read aloud. Another book in the tradition of Oh No, George! and Shh! We Have a Plan, this delightful story encourages little ones to participate through the repeated phrases, the elements of the story so cleverly conveyed in the illustrations and the perfect ending that invites another story. I simply love this book and think young children will do too.

The Perfect Gift by Alan Durant and Marian Vafaeian (Tiny Owl)

This gentle story of kindness and friendship introduces young children to the idea of generosity through friendship, hospitality and kindness. Rabbit is kindhearted and caring and loved by all the other animals. When the queen has a baby all the animals are off to celebrate the new arrival at the party but poor Rabbit can’t find a gift that is quite right for the occasion. Several of her friends offer to hare their presents but Rabbit persists in her quest for something just right. Eventually she has to go empty handed but on her arrival at the party she discovers that she had the perfect gift all along.

The subtle illustrations combine well with the kind and thoughtful text and the overall look of the book is one of comfort and light. The story would be excellent for prompting discussion about the relative value of ‘gifts’ and that sometimes the important things are not ‘things’ at all but the offering of friendship and care. This would be a thoughtful book to share in the run up to Christmas for that reason.

We Disagree About This Tree by Ross Collins (Nosy Crow)

Last but definitely not least the squabbling duo return in this funny and enjoyable picture book perfect for Christmas. Although Bear and Mouse have agreed to some sort of truce and are now living together in relative harmony Christmas preparations can prove testing for the best of relationships and our two friends are no exception. As they come to decorate their tree one wants dazzling lights and the other want gigantic baubles. Should there be tinsel or candles? It looks doubtful they will ever agree. Brilliant, vibrant illustrations full of humour and expression give this lovely book an instant appeal and the bouncy text is great to read aloud. Beneath the fun and the smiles this happy book also explores the importance of learning to compromise with others. Great fun and no doubt a book that will be shared over many Christmases in the future.

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Reading Matters – children’s book news

Welcome to this week’s look at what has been happening in the world of children’s books.

What I’m reading…

Last week I mentioned The Haunted Hills by Berlie Doherty, an emotional story told with an understanding of human nature and of our native landscape and folklore. I have attempted to convey its impact in my review. A wonderful book and highly recommended for readers of about 11+.

The Flower Boy by Keith Campion features a character, eleven year old James, with whom many young readers will probably identify. A quiet child who feels a little different to his classmates James finds it difficult to make friends and as the end of his time at primary school approaches his worries mount. This is a story incorporating many themes including dementia, local history and transition to secondary school but it highlights the importance of acceptance and kindness to others. I particularly liked the depiction of friendship across the generations and the caring attitude of James’s teachers. This would be a reassuring read for children of a similar age to James.

News, articles and resources…

Remembrance Day Free Resources for Schools from Author Tom Palmer – A wealth of free Remembrance Day resources for schools are now available for schools on Tom Palmer’s brilliant and extremely helpful website. These include: video assembly for 2022 (Commonwealth topic). Posters.Stories. Certificates. Black out poetry. Videos on location from the battlefields. And lots more. Plenty to explore before Remembrance Day on 11th November.

National Non-Fiction November – a reminder that this annual celebration of information books for children organised by the Federation of Children’s Book Groups starts next week. The whole month celebrates all those readers that have a passion for information and facts and attempts to bring non fiction celebration in line with those of fiction. The theme this year is communication and there are events, a blog tour, suggested book lists, a competition and much more to look forward to. Please check out the website linked above for details.

Children’s and teens roundup: the best new picture books and novels – this month’s selection from Imogen Russell Williams for the Guardian includes a pet rhinoceros; a young guide to emotions; an intrepid aviator; and a YA debut to please Buffy fans. I’ve also added Nicola Penfold’s new novel to my wish list.

Jamie Oliver and Geri Halliwell-Horner become the latest celebrities to announce children’s books – this article in the Guardian about the arrival of more ‘celebrity children’s books’ in shops around the country includes contributions from Piers Torday and literary agent Alice Sutherland-Hawes.

The Diverse Book Awards Winners 2022 – this article in Books for Keeps provides full details of both the winners and the runners up in both the Children’s and YA categories.

Recreational reading. Reading for learning. Reading for life. – an interesting article by School Library Consultant, Elizabeth Hutchinson that includes a link to a podcast of the recent discussion on this subject.

Astrid Lingdren Memorial Award 2023 Nominations – Have a look through the complete list of nominees for the 2023 award—a full 251 names from 64 countries including some of the world’s foremost creators of literature for children and young people, as well as reading promoters.

Olga da Polga: Paddington Bear author’s much-loved guinea pig comes to the small screen – Michael Bond’s 1971 creation – inspired by his daughter’s pet – is starring in a new CBeebies series this autumn.

Supporting reading for children with ADHD – Rachel Varney from the ADHD Foundation shares some useful tactics for helping children with ADHD enjoy reading.

Journeying Back: A Conversation with Catherine Johnson – In an online event hosted by Listen to This Story! on Thursday 3rd November 6pm – 7pm, author Catherine Johnson (Freedom 2018; A Nest of Vipers 1999) will read from her latest book, Journey Back to Freedom: The Olaudah Equiano Story (2022) and discuss aspects of British history with Professor Karen Sands-O’Connor.

Evaristo and Cadwalladr among 2022 CILIP Honorary Fellowships – although not featured in the headline for this article I was delighted to read that Caroline Roche, Chair of the CILIP School Libraries Group since 2017 and co-Chair of the Great School Libraries campaign since 2020 has been rewarded for the tireless work she has done for so long advocating for school librarians. Congratulations and thank you, Caroline.

Waterstones Book of the Year 2022 – now in its tenth year the 2022 award shortlist features a middle grade title, Skandar and the Unicorn Thief by A.F. Steadman and Heartstopper vol 1 by Alice Oseman (the first graphic novel to make it onto a Waterstones Book of the Year shortlist).

The Three Rs by Roy James for Just Imagine – not the traditional three Rs but reduce, re-use and recycle. In this interesting and informative article Roy suggests titles both fiction and non-fiction on this subject for children with an emphasis on reducing our impact on the environment.

Open University Reading For Pleasure Case Study: Staff Book Club – Have you ever thought about setting up a staff book club? Year 6 teacher and reading lead Helen Morgan from the South West London TRG at St Mary’s University outlines how she set up a ‘Staff Book Club’ in this example of RfP practice.

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

Non-fiction to Make You Think – if you are looking for information books to share during Non Fiction November this selection reviewed by Kate Heap would be an excellent place to start. They cover subjects including space, habitats, climate change.

How To Be More Hedgehog by Anne Marie Conway Illustrated by Danielle Dey – I like the sound of this book very much and think it would be a valuable addition to primary school libraries. The story features a protagonist with a stammer and as Jayne Truran in her positive review says, “We could all learn a lot from this little gem of a story.”

Pizazz Vs Everyone by Sophy Henn – I like the sound of this latest instalment in this highly illustrated, comic strip style series featuring a super hero with wide appeal. In her review Nicki Cleveland says, “This would make for a fantastic class read…with massive scope for discussion around personal strengths, making good choices and being kind to yourself.”

The Boy Lost in the Maze by Joseph Coelho illustrated by Kate Milner – this new verse novel by our Children’s Laureate blends Greek myth with contemporary quest and follows his successful novel, The Girl Who Became a Tree. Nick Swarbrick’s review for Just Imagine says “this new work is even better.”

That’s everything for this week. Happy reading!

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The Haunted Hills by Berlie Doherty

The Haunted Hills is an atmospheric story exploring childhood friendship, loss, grief and guilt set in a landscape that adds much to this multi-layered and thoughtful book.

Cover illustration by Tamsin Rosewell

When we meet Carl he and his parents have recently arrived at a lonely cottage in the Peak District and it soon becomes apparent to the reader that this is not a typical family holiday. Carl is recovering from a personal tragedy and his mum and dad have brought him away in the hope that a period away from home and the constant reminders will enable him to recover. However local stories of a ghostly local lad soon have an effect on Carl with the losses of the past quickly becoming entwined with his own loss and he becomes enveloped in his sadness and guilt. The reader accompanies this young boy as he struggles to learn how to cope.

I found this an emotional read as the characters had a relatable quality and a depth that increased my engagement with the story. As Carl deals with the aftermath of the death of his best friend, Jack, in an accident it is clear that this loss is also felt by Jack’s parents. Their primary concern however is the impact this tragedy has had on Carl and the attempts by them to help their troubled son are touching. As an adult reader I empathised with their desperation to make things better for him and their frustration at their own inadequacy to do so. April, the girl who works at the neighbouring farm, is an interesting and slightly elusive character yet she has an important role in Carl’s stay in the Peaks.

It is Berlie Doherty’s own knowledge and love of the local landscape and folklore that gives this story its greater depth. The brooding scenery around the cottage and the nearby farm, the stories of Joseph, the lost lad, and his dog, combine with Carl’s own sense of desolation to give this story a haunting and atmospheric air. The mist, the darkness and the rugged mountains perfectly fit the mood of the characters and their personal difficulties.

The Haunted Hills is a multilayered tale full of emotion. It is an exploration of grief and loss and its impact on our lives yet told with a touching understanding of human nature and our capacity both for healing and for resilience.

The Haunted Hills was published on 6th October by Uclan Publishing and I should like to thank the publishers for my advance proof copy. The finished copy has a stunning cover and artwork by Tamsin Rosewell.

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Reading Matters – children’s book news

Welcome to this week’s look at what has been happening in the world of children’s books.

What I’m reading…

The Last Post by Keith Campion is a slender book that belies its emotional impact. Told in a series of letters between father and son this story of life in the trenches in World War 1 is both deeply poignant and important. The author, a primary teacher, understands how to provide hope to his young readers yet still conveys the horror and waste of war effectively. This would be perfect to share in the classroom to mark Remembrance Day and the suggested activities and discussion ideas at the end of the book are an added bonus. A little gem that I would highly recommend for both upper KS2 and KS3.

The Haunted Hills is an atmospheric story exploring childhood friendship, loss, grief and guilt set in a landscape that adds much to this multi-layered and thoughtful book. I found this an emotional read as the characters had a relatable quality and a depth that increased my engagement with the story. Its links to folklore were written with care and an obvious love and knowledge of the local area. I will try to write a more detailed review over the next few days.

Cover illustration by Tamsin Rosewall

News, articles and resources…

PeriodiCOOL by Roy James – I’m very much enjoying Roy’s regular blogposts for Just Imagine and this one explores the long-standing popularity of magazines and comics for children. His recommendations are well worth following up.

Q&A With Author Emma Carroll – school librarian Emma Suffield finds out about Emma’s writing process, favourite books and more in this latest in her series of interviews with children’s authors.

Book Trust Writer-Illustrator in Residence Nick Sharratt launches new competition – children are invited to use their imagination to ‘Invent your own Animal’. Entries should take the form of a picture, showing just what your creature looks like. It could be a drawing, a painting, a collage… any kind of artwork. There are three age categories and the closing date for entries is 11pm on Friday 30 December, 2022.

Picture books for children – reviews – Imogen Carter’s latest selection for the Guardian includes a magical zebra, fat cats in lockdown and a bus-riding chipmunk.

Halloween Fright Night with author Serena Patel – Authors Aloud UK & Usborne Books invite you to join author Serena Patel for a spooky Halloween event to celebrate publication of Fright Night, her new book in the Anisha, Accidental Detective series. Suitable for Years 3,4,5. October 31st 10:00 AM. Full details and how to register via the link.

Book Clubs in Schools: Q&A with Alex Wheatle and Jason Reynolds – this interview which took place in the summer is free for schools to watch until 11th November if you subscribe to Book Clubs in Schools newsletter via the link above. After that date it will be available to subscribing member schools. You can find out more about the scheme on their website.

2023 Branford Boase Award Judging Panel Announced – this week the organisers of this award that rewards the most promising new authors and their editors announced that the judges of the next award will be Maisie Chan, winner of this year’s award, Sajeda Amir, an English teacher and KS3 coordinator, Darren Matthews a Primary Advisory Teacher at the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education, Joanne Owen, a writer, reviewer and workshop presenter and Julia Eccleshare, a regular contributor to Radio 4’s Front Row and Open Book programmes and children’s director of the Hay Festival.

How to use books to explore worries about siblings – in this article for Book Trust Jion Sheibani, author of The Worries series, explains how parents can use reading and drawing to help children articulate their feelings about anything.

Toby Jones, Harriet Walter and Noah Alexander to star in The Dark Is Rising from the BBC World Service – Robert MacFarlane as adapted Susan Cooper’s classic novel, The Dark Is Rising, for a 12-part audio drama/podcast on the BBC World Service in December. This should be a Christmas treat. It is the first time in 25 years that Cooper’s cult 1973 book – which has sold millions of copies worldwide – has been dramatised for radio and podcast by the BBC.

Books for Topics Book List: Politics and Democracy – it’s impossible to avoid the subject of politics in the media at the moment and if children are asking questions this helpful list of books on the subject may be a good place to start.

The World Cup Reading Challenge – LIVE – taking place on 18th November 10.30 – 11.00am this online event is ideal to share with pupils aged 7 to 11 (Years 3, 4, 5 and 6). Full details of the event, the related book lists and how to register are all available on the Literacy Trust website link above.

An Post Irish Book Awards Shortlist 2022 – The shortlist for the An Post Irish Book Awards 2022 features a diverse mix of exceptional writing from new and established writers across 18 categories, including, Children’s Junior, Children’s Senior, and Teen and Young Adult

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

Cress Watercress By Gregory Maguire & David Litchfiel – any book illustrated by David Lichfield draws my attention. Bruna De Luca in her review on My Book Corner describes it as , “At times humorous and always touching, this story manages to be both timeless and modern, and would make a wonderful gift for fans of Charlotte’s Web and Wind In The Willows.” Definitely one for my list.

Edie and the Flits in Paris by Kate Wilkinson, illustrated by Joe Berger – I have been on the lookout for illustrated fiction that may appeal to the younger end of the ‘middle grade’ audience and for those who find longer books a bit daunting and this sounds just right. Veronica Price sums it up in her review: I cannot recommend this story highly enough for anyone of 8+…With half-term arriving, put this story into the hands of a young reader and let them travel by book this holiday period!

The Butterfly Club: The Mummy’s Curse by M A Bennett – a review with added extras! Erin Hamilton includes her own questions for the author of this book, second in the series, plus questions from Year 5 at Cliff Lane Primary School and a link to discussion notes to use in the classroom.

The Vanishing of Aveline Jones by Phil Hickes & Keith Robinson – this spooky story is perfectly timed for Halloween and dark winter evenings. In her review Kate Heap says, “This is truly creepy book. Expect shivers and goosebumps as you follow Aveline into a world of tricksters, traps and torture.”

That’s everything for this week and I do hope that it’s helpful to you. Wishing a happy half term break to those who are on holiday at the moment.

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