Children’s Laureate

Last Tuesday, 9th June saw the announcement of who would follow in the footprints of the fantastic Malorie Blackman and become the new Children’s laureate.  I think it was fair to say that most people were ecstatic when we found it was going to be the truly amazing and multi-talented Chris Riddell. His acceptance speech set the tone for the next two years and it promises to be a time when children’s and school librarians will feel supported in the work they are doing.



Chris has been illustrator for many years as well as a very well respected political cartoonist.  His children’s work has covered from picture books such as the “Emperor of Absurdia”, through “Ottoline”, “Barnaby Grimes”, “Goth Girl” and the “Edge Chronicles”up to “Wyrmeweald”.  He has written and illustrated books by himself but he has also worked in collaboration with others such as Paul Stewart and Neil Gaiman.  Chris was in the vanguard of those illustrators fighting for the acceptance of illustrated books for those past the age of about 7 years and he is firmly behind the campaign to give illustrators equal recognition with their authors.


I have to say that my personal favourites are the Goth Girl series, which combine historical backgrounds with the absurdities that we all knew and loved Terry Pratchett for. I can’t wait for the “Goth Girl and the Wuthering Fright” which is due out later this year.  Other titles to look out for are “Doombringer: second book of Cade” (Edge Chronicles) with Paul Stewart, “The book of Demons” with Daniel Whelan and “Witchmyth” with Emma Fischel. Keep your eyes open for all things Laureate related.  Sites to follow are

Twitter  @chrisriddell50    #ChildrensLaureate




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Summer sun and cakes

For those in the children’s book world this is a very busy time of year.  Not only do we have a swathe of book awards but we have book launches, publishers parties and book festivals and conferences as well as  advance notice of some of the wonderful offerings coming in the autumn.  It can be quite overpowering knowing what to read next, but this can be helped when you get to see some of your favourite authors.

Cakes in Space by Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre

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Oxford University Press, 9780192734563

For younger readers one of the most exciting books to look for this autumn will be the fantastic new offering from Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre called ‘Cakes in Space’.   Fantastic costumes

Fantastic costumes

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The pre-launch party was amazing and as always the two stars produced the best entertainment with a new song to go with the book. The book itself is about a young girl, Astra, who wakes from from a frozen sleep to find that robot like cakes are taking over the spaceship she is on.  All of this as a result of her asking the Nom-O-Tron computer for cakes “so delicious, it’s scary”, before she went into hibernation.  Science Fiction has never been such fun and this is going to be a real favourite for this Christmas.




Scavenger Zoid by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell

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Macmillan, 9781447231486





Keeping with the science fiction theme, the new book by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell is also set on a space craft but it is a very different world from that of the ‘Cakes’.  Aimed at the 9-12 years it is about the human survivors aboard a huge space vessel which has been taken over by ‘Zoids’ which have evolved from Robots intended to help and protect humans.  As you would expect, the illustrations are amazing and the story itself is quite dark as groups of people find each other and combine to try and overcome their increasingly sophisticated enemies.


Dragon Shield by Charlie Fletcher

Hodder 9781444917321


This is the first in a new trilogy by the author of Stoneheart.  Once again it is set in London and statues are coming to life.  However this time the source of the danger is  from the Egyptian gallery at the British Museum, a place full of mystery and an atmosphere that makes the plot really feasible.  This really is a great book for reminding you of places you have visited and those you would really like to go to .  I know that there have been walking tours based on the previous books, so perhaps this is another opportunity to add to the literary walks around central London. Aimed at a slightly younger audience than previous books, this will still find fans among those of us well past our 21st birthdays.




Destination earth by Ali Sparkes

I first came across the books of Ali Sparkes when she produced her Shapeshifter series and I really loved them.  However I have to admit that my favourite for several years has been ‘Frozen in Time’ but this latest book is absolutely fascinating.  Lucy is the last survivor from her planet and has spent the last ten years on a journey to Earth, where she hopes to find a safe haven.  Over the years she has been finding out about the world she is hoping to live in.  Unfortunately what she does not realize until it is almost too late is that she has got an unwelcome stowaway on the outside of her space ship – one of the creatures that has killed off the rest of her race.  Lucy, together with two children from earth are in a race to prevent the same catastrophe happening here.

Oxford University Press 9780192733443

Oxford University Press



Purely by accident I seem to have had a bit of a Sci-Fi Fest here.  However,  perhaps we are seeing a rise in the number of books that have been published recently within this genre, a move away from the dystopian and vampire/zombie stories which have been so popular over the last few years.  For those who enjoy Sci- Fi why not try and look out authors from the past such as Andre Norton and John Christopher, both of whom were read widely in the 1970s.