Every year, the UK Literacy Association (UKLA) Book Awards, which is the only national children’s book awards to be judged by teachers, produces a longlist of outstanding titles from picture books to non-fiction.
These are a few of my favourites to be longlisted for primary aged children.
Join the brilliantly passionate and instantly loveable Rocket as she organises a peaceful protest to save her local library, in Speak Up! by Nathan Byron and Dapo Adeola.
Bookworm Rocket loves to collect new books on her weekly visit to the library, and to read all about inspirational figures like Rosa Parks. She is heartbroken when she discovers the library will be closing down! Can she use what she’s learnt from Rosa and speak up to save the day?
This empowering, heartwarming picture book is a love letter to libraries and the power of reading. And it shows the incredible power we ALL have when we find our voice and speak up about the things that matter.
More classic storytelling from the acclaimed author of Sky Hawk and Song of the River, as a shy rat is forced to undergo a perilous quest to return a diamond to its rightful owners, in Moonflight by Gill Lewis and illustrated by Pippa Curnick.
Can a timid rat ever become a hero? Tilbury is about to find out on the adventure of a lifetime, journeying across the sea to the realm of the dreaded White Death, to return a priceless diamond to its rightful owners. A marvellous adventure begins and a truly intrepid hero is born within a magical mix of mirth and mystery with enough of a pinch of peril to keep readers hooked to the end.
The blackbirds’ song uplifts and restores in Birdsong by Katya Balen and illustrated by Richard Johnson.
After a devastating car crash, Annie is unable to play her flute and retreats from the music she’s always loved. She exists in a world of angry silence – furious with her mum and furious she can’t seem to play her beloved flute any more.
Then she meets Noah, who shows her the blackbirds’ nest hidden in the scrubland near their flats. As their friendship grows, the blackbirds’ glorious song reignites Annie’s passion for music. But when tragedy strikes again, will her fragile progress be put at risk?
And finally, from the non-fiction section, Unspoken by Kwame Alexander and Dare Coulter, is a must-read for all children and adults alike from Year 5 up, and the perfect companion to Kwame Alexander’s award-winning picture book The Undefeated.
How do you tell a story that starts in Africa and ends in horror? About strength and pride and refusing to be broken? One that still hurts and still loves?
A powerfully moving, poetic exploration of the story of slavery: from Africa to the tall ships, from back-breaking work in a strange land to resilience and eventual emancipation, Kwame Alexander tells the story that’s hard to hear. Told through the lens of a teacher speaking to their young pupils, and in multiple art styles from award-winning artist and sculptor Dare Coulter, the story of slavery becomes one that you can tell with the bravery to lift your voice. Visually stunning, this is a book that will stay with you for a long time.
The full longlists, including books for secondary school children, can be found on the UKLA website.
Welcome back to the first Friday Library Recommendations of the school year! Congratulations to everyone who completed the Summer Reading Challenge. On Wednesday, it was Roald Dahl Day, so this week, I have picked books that have the same dark humour and dastardly villains.
Firstly, I have The Terribly Friendly Fox by Susannah Lloyd and Ellie Snowdon.
When Gerald the fox turns up at the Annual Woodland Creatures’ Ball, a few of the guests are a little concerned. After all, they’ve heard some rather alarming rumours about foxes and their appetites. But they needn’t have worried – Gerald is a vegetarian fox, and the life and soul of the party! In fact, he’s terribly friendly.
A darkly funny story, with artwork from the creator of Great Bunny Bakes, Ellie Snowdon.
Next, for newly confident readers, PESTS by Emer Stamp is the first is a fabulously funny series. When the lights go off, the PESTS come out! Meet Stix, the tiny but heroic mouse who might be living behind your washing machine. But is he naughty enough to join the PESTS?
Stix is the size of an egg cup, can jump the width of a dog’s bottom, and LOVES cheese. That’s because Stix is a mouse. He probably lives behind your washing machine, but you wouldn’t know it, because his grandma taught him to always stay out of trouble and never let the humans know he’s there. But now Stix has stumbled across P.E.S.T.S. – the Peewit Educatorium for Seriously Terrible Scoundrels – in the basement of his building, and along with a whole host of new pesty friends (and enemies), he’s about to rip up Grandma’s rule book and make a real pest of himself…
For Year 3 and up, I’ve picked The Magic Place by Chris Wormell, a thrilling, moving and funny adventure about looking for the most magical place of all – home.
From her cellar bedroom, Clementine dreams of a magic place. And she’s determined to find it one day. But first she must escape from her wicked aunt and uncle and from the Great Black City. With the help of her best friend, Gilbert, a very clever cat, she sets off on an epic journey that just might make her dreams come true.
And finally, one of my favourite children’s series, Beetle Boy by M.G. Leonard.
Darkus can’t believe his eyes when a huge insect drops out of the trouser leg of his horrible new neighbour. It’s a giant beetle – and it seems to want to communicate. But how can a boy be friends with a beetle? And what does a beetle have to do with the disappearance of his dad and the arrival of Lucretia Cutter, with her taste for creepy jewellery?
Full of charm and quirkiness, with characters to both love and loathe, M.G. Leonard creates a tale of mystery, adventure and beetles with a side order of slapstick that just cries out for one more chapter, which is how I finished it in a day!
We hope you have had a relaxing and enjoyable summer holiday. School will reopen on Tuesday 5th September.
It’s the final theme challenge of the year, and Reception have chosen food. Grab your (healthy) snacks and get ready to read some delicious books!
Food Fight by Alex Latimer is a laugh-out-loud picture book about conflict resolution as we join Grape and Mushroom on their mission for peas on Earth.
The Fruits and the Vegetables have been fighting FOREVER! But best friends Grape and Mushroom decide it’s time for things to change. They meet in secret and hatch a plan to end the fighting once and for all. And so, they set off on an epic journey to the very top of the fridge to ask the legendary Wise Old Cheese for help-that is, if he even exists. Join these tiny peace envoys on their courageous mission as they eventually find the solution in an unexpected place…
Highly illustrated throughout, Bad Food: Game Of Scones by Eric Luper and Doodle Boy is a laugh out loud epic tale of a fight for power as the heat rises in Belching Walrus Elementary.
Somewhere deep within the walk-in pantry at Belching Walrus Elementary lives an array of different foods that live in harmony. There are baskets of fruits and veggies, a cooler filled with chocolate milks and apple juices, and a freezer for ice-creams and yet-to-be-nuked chicken fingers.
One day, the Supplies from the Principal’s office show up and insist on sharing the coolness of the cooler. Their ruler is a ruler (pun intended) named Baron von Lineal. The Baron argues that they work harder than anyone in Belching Walrus Elementary while food just sits around. As such, the residents of the pantry have no choice but to open their doors. Anyhow, there’s plenty of room in the cooler for everyone, right? Wrong! The Baron and his cohorts take over the pantry in no time!
To free their fellow food, it’s up to three young heroes Slice, Scoop and Totz to venture out of the pantry and foil the Baron’s plan for good.
There is a special kind of everyday magic in Bridget Vanderpuff and The Baked Escape by Martin Stewart. Love and hope triumph over misery in this riotously funny, laugh-out-loud, hug of a book.
Bridget Baxter is the very last orphan at the Orphanage for Errant Childs, left at the mercy of the awful Miss Acrid and her foul-smelling fish sandwiches. Miss Acrid’s mission is to make Bridget’s life a misery. But Bridget is more than a match for her.
When kindly Mr Vanderpuff arrives at the Orphanage in search of a child to care for, Bridget thinks her luck has finally turned. Mr Vanderpuff is the village baker, and his shop is a world of wonders. But they soon discover that Bridget is absolutely terrible at baking. When Miss Acrid returns for the ultimate revenge, Bridget must open the Locked and Secret Door, navigate Miss Acrid’s spiderweb of booby traps and use her unique baking skills to save herself – and Mr Vanderpuff – from certain disaster.
Join Bridget as she dons her chef whites and gets the kwassongs at the ready… Baking isn’t such a piece of cake.
Midnight Feasts: Tasty Poems chosen by A.F. Harrold, and illustrated by Katy Riddell will have the poetry and food fans in your life licking their lips as this scrumptious illustrated hardback contains over 50 poems about every type of food imaginable!
Food is the one thing that unites us all – across time, nations and peoples. From chocolate, rice pudding and sandwiches to breakfast in bed, marmalade in the bath and the fruit of a mythical jelabi tree, in Midnight Feasts A.F. Harrold brings together a wonderful and diverse collection of poems to tickle your taste buds.
Poets include Ian McMillan, Brian Patten, Choman Hardi, Imtiaz Dharker, William Carlos Williams, Salena Godden, Joseph Coelho, Sabrina Mahfouz, Lewis Carroll, W.S. Gilbert and A.E. Housman, as well as A.F. Harrold himself.