Here in Norfolk, we’re officially half-way through the Spring term; time has definitely flown by! Other things that have crept-up on us unexpectedly: the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway longlists, due to be announced next week (Thursday 16th February, to be precise). We don’t like to pick favourites, but the prestigious award is one we always love following; it’s steeped in literary history and in 2017, is celebrating a couple of big anniversaries. The Carnegie Medal is 80 this year and the Kate Greenaway Medal is 60, and these birthdays aren’t going unrecognised. There’s a whole timetable here, plus there’s an anniversary blog on which past Carnegie winners are being read and reviewed by resident blogger Jake Hope. We’ll be sharing the lists here once they’re announced, but we’d recommend keeping an eye on the CILIP CKG website and their twitter account for up-to-date news. We can’t wait to see what made the cut!
While we’re waiting for the CKG longlists, we turn our attention to some shortlists, namely the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize 2017. Announced this week, the award is separated into three categories: illustrated books, younger readers and older readers and the variety of titles recognised is, as always, brilliant (find them here). One of the authors in the running is even a Norwich resident- Matt Robertson, who wrote and illustrated Super Stan!
We’ve read and reviewed some of those shortlisted titles (see below!) and we’re looking forward to making our way through the rest- hopefully before the winners are announced at the end of March!
- Super Stan by Matt Robertson (reviewed by us here)
- Beetle Boy by M.G. Leonard (reviewed by our Fiction Discussion Group here)
- The Girl of Ink and Stars by Kiran Millwood Hargrave (reviewed by us here)
- Time Travelling with a Hamster by Ross Welford (reviewed by us here)
This week’s Friday Reads are below; we’ll be having a break for half-term, but you can find our archive of past reviews here, just in case you’re in search of something to read next week…
Apryl: I Need a Hug by Aaron Blabey
What a struggle it must be when, as a porcupine, you want a hug but the rest of the animal kingdom is reluctant to embrace, on account of your spikes. But wait? They’ve changed their mind? I wonder why…
This picture book with its simple rhyming story is brief but fun and certainly made me smile, even if I myself would be reluctant to cuddle a prickly porcupine, regardless of how polite it was…!
(Scholastic, £6.99 paperback, ISBN 9781407171586, find it at a Norfolk Library)
Harriet: The Journey by Francesca Sanna
This, on the Waterstone’s book award shortlist, is a very beautiful, stylised picture book telling the powerful and harrowing story of one refugee family’s struggle to escape danger. The text is spare and calm, but the illustrations have great emotional impact.
There is no obvious happy ending – the journey is not over, although there is hope. It is as though the fate of the family is now in our hands – it is up to us the readers to give the story a happy resolution.
(Flying Eye Books, £12.99 hardback, ISBN 9781909263994, find it at a Norfolk Library)
- Not today, Celeste! by Liza Stevens
Celeste is a dog, and she is very proud and fond of her human Rupert. But he begins to act strangely, and Celeste is very upset because she doesn’t understand what the problem can be. A kindly neighbour steps in, recognises the depression which has struck Rupert down, and gradually he then begins to get better. There are notes for adults at the back of the book, and it is a gentle way in to explaining a difficult illness to young children.
(Jessica Kingsley, £10.99 hardback, ISBN 9781785920080)
Zoë: The Case of the Missing Moonstone by Jordan Stratford
This is the first book in The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency series and in it, we meet Lady Ada Byron who, at eleven, is a gauche, isolated genius. Circumstances change for Ada’s education and she is to be taught by a tutor, who will also teach Mary Godwin, a fourteen year old girl who lives locally. Mary becomes Ada’s first friend and together they form the Wollstonecraft Detective Agency, with plans to catch clever criminals. This is a classic detective partnership as Ada is more likeable and tolerated because of Mary’s empathy and friendliness (akin to Holmes and Watson).
Their opening case pays homage to what is believed to be the first ever detective novel written in English in that a moonstone is the item stolen. It also features real characters from history, albeit some in the wrong time period, with maths, science and analytical thinking used to find the culprit.
American spellings aside this is an enjoyable mystery story that could be used to promote STEM fields for girls. There is some information about the featured historical figures included at the back of the book. The illustrations are humorous, supporting the story and sustaining enjoyment. It is suitable for independent readers although it would also make a good class story in a (particularly girl heavy) KS2 class as there is enough to keep boys interested too.
(Yearling, £6.99 paperback, ISBN 9780440871163)