Spring has definitely Sprung!

Faber & Faber, 9780571337804

Hayley, the Hairy Horse” by Gavin Puckett and Tor Freeman is a delightful story for younger readers in which a horse is kidnapped for her tail hair, because it is perfect for violin strings.  It is colourfully illustrated and has plenty of laughs to keep a young reader totally engrossed in the story

ZaZaKids & Troika, 9781909991897

Spot Guevara: Hero Dog” by Zaro Weil and Katy Riddell is set in New York City and is the story of a young puppy, Spot, who has been separated from his mother and siblings.This follows his adventures as he tries to find them, in what is a very big City.  There are ups and downs, heroes and villains  and above all there is the indomitable spirit of the young puppy.  It was a truly uplifting story with a happy ending, but with potential for more adventures.

Nosy Crow, 9781788004695

Clifftoppers: the Arrowhead Moor Adventure” by Fleur Hitchcock  can only be described as a ripping yarn as the young heroes find themselves trying to stop a jewellery robbery.  This definitely harks back to stories that many of us remember from our youth; although I must have been one of a small number of children who did not read Enid Blyton, because she was not stocked by our local library service.

Nosy Crow, 9781788000413

“We Won an Island” by Charlotte Lo is another story that harks back to a more laid back past, although there is plenty of action and adventure in this story.  When the children win a competition to gain an island it is very timely as their parents are about to be thrown out of their flat, due to non payment of their rent.  However life on a Scottish island has its challenges, not least having enough money to live on and the children come up with some exciting and very  interesting plans to try and make a success of their new life.

Faber & Faber, 9780571346301

“The Secret Starling” by Judith Eagle follows the adventures of the young heroine Clara after she is abandoned by her Uncle (and Guardian).  With the help of a young boy, Peter, she heads off to London to try and find out how her mother died and where her unknown father might be.  This is a lovely middle grade story with a fascinating twist at the end.

Little Tiger, 9781788950329

“The Golden Butterfly” by Sharon Gosling has a real sense of theatre about it, Victorian Theatre to be precise.  When her grandfather the Magnificent Marko dies his funeral is interrupted by a stage magician called Thursby who is searching for a magic trick called ‘The Golden Butterfly’. Luciana  and her best friend Charley decide to go to London to try and solve the mystery of this trick.  This is a wonderfully atmospheric story, with a real message about women being equal and the struggle that they have often had to be accepted.

David Fickling, 9781788450218

“Dragon Daughter” by Liz Flanagan is a real treat for those who love fantasy and dragons in particular.  When Milla witnesses a murder she also saves a small bag that appears to contain four eggs, only these turn out to be very special indeed.  How Milla and her friends bond with the four baby dragons and save them from the plotting of the ruling Duke makes for a truly exciting and magical story.  It is definitely a story to savour and recommend.

Bloomsbury Education, 9781472955999

“Golden Horsemen of Baghdad” by Saviour Pirotta is set in medieval Baghdad;  a complete change from the ancient Greek setting that the author is so well known for.  The young hero Jabir has to help his family survive after the death of his father, but their landlord is determined to throw them out of their home.  Can Jabir use his skill as a carver in order to make money and save his family, or will the evil landlord succeed?  This is a super story that introduces children to a culture that they might not be truly aware of.

“POG” by Padraig Kenny is a magical stand-alone story about two children (and their father)who move to their mother’s childhood home after her death.  They are struggling to come to terms with their grief and find that the appearance of a small very hairy individual might help them.  There is a very subtle underlying theme which has the story coming somewhat ‘full circle’.  It is an extremely thought provoking read.

Chicken House, 9781910655986

“A Witch Come True” by James Nicol is the final ? instalment of this magical series for young people.  Arianwyn has been taken to their hearts, so there will be great rejoicing that things seem to have worked out in the end.  However our heroine has to undergo even more tribulations in this final book before we can say that all is well.  This series is hopefully going to become a classic and I am delighted by the hint from the publisher that more adventures could be possible.

Chicken House, 9781911077008

“Against all Gods” by Maz Evans is the final book in this series featuring the Greek Gods.  Elliot is still trying to get his mother back from Hades and prevent his home being bought by the evil Patricia Porshley-Plum.  Everything seems to be going wrong and even the gods seem lost about what to do.  The book had me veering between laughter and tears, in the same way that a roller-coaster goes up and down, but it was worth all of the emotion.  What a brilliant series in the way it combines the serious and the silly.

Macmillan, 9781509871223

“Kat Wolfe Investigates” by Lauren St John and Beidi Guo is the story of a young girl  who moves to a small seaside village in Dorset when her mother takes up the role of local vet.  She starts animal sitting as a way to earn pocket money, but doesn’t expect to find that there are mysterious goings on in the local area.  Before long Kat finds herself caught up with possible spies, the army and the British secret service.  It is a great adventure for those who love mysteries.

OUP, 9780192771568

“The House of Light” by Julia Green is set in a dystopian culture that feels as if it is on the Scottish coast or Islands.  The people are tightly controlled by officials and armed police and there appears to have been a major ecological disaster in the past.  Bonnie’s mother had left several years before, in an attempt to find a better place, leaving her daughter with her Granda.  When a boy called Ish has his boat beached near her home it brings the idea of leaving closer to being possible.  This is a story to make you think about the world we are creating and what the future could mean for our grandchildren.  Yet another superb story from a wonderful writer.

 

This has been just a look at the tip of the iceberg when it comes to new books this spring.  Whilst looking through my collection I found another great selection of books that I have really enjoyed over the winter months.  I hope to be able to bring them to you in the next few weeks, but before then I am off to the Federation of Children’s Book Groups Conference, so there are bound to be even more titles to go on my TBR pile.

London Book Fair

This visit to the London Book fair seems to be turning into an annual pilgrimage for me.  For those who have never been to it, this is the biggest event for publishers in the UK.; it is also a showcase for publishers from around the world and one of the most prestigious events of its kind. It takes place over 3 days in April and there are a huge range of workshops, launches, showcases and parties (if you are lucky enough to be invited).  The main reason for the fair is to promote publishers, sell rights to other countries and buy rights from overseas concerns.  Teachers and Librarians are not the central audience but there is still plenty for them to enjoy and learn from.

This year the focus was on the Baltic states, so there were sessions about publishing in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia as well as the broader issue about translation.  There was also a wonderful exhibition of illustration from these states, which showed the sophistication and skill that is being used in their picture books and even books for an older audience.

There were so many sessions that I wanted to attend, so I stayed in London and visited the fair on two days.  On the Tuesday, the day started off with a discussion panel comprised of

Speaker Sarah CrossanAuthor Peter KaluAuthor Emily DavidsonYoung AmbassadorInclusive Minds Heather LaceyAmbassador for InclusionInclusive Minds Alexandra StrickCo-FounderInclusive Minds Nikki MarshCommittee MemberIBBY UK”  who were talking about “MInd the Gap: celebrating authentic inclusion”  There was an additional member of the panel, but I did not catch her name unfortunately. This was a fascinating discussion about the way disability in particular is represented in children’s and YA fiction and it really made the audience think about what is acceptable as both a writer and as an audience.  In the afternoon I sat in on the first part of a long session about Illustration in which art directors and designers shared their insights into becoming a published illustrator.  As someone who is not good at art this was of great interest and helped with understanding the broader picture (sorry about the pun).

On Wednesday I had arranged to meet up with a couple of friends during the day, but I started off by having a wander around the Children’s hub and also the larger stands on the ground floor which had children’s elements; these included Bloomsbury, with some amazing pictures from Chris Riddell, Hachette, Penguin/Random House and Scholastic.

At lunchtime I went to the launch of a new book at the Firefly stand; this is a really great Welsh publisher which has produced some fantastic books.  The one we were celebrating at the Fair was called “Dog Town” by Luize Pastore, a young writer from Latvia.  I was also able to meet up with the lovely Tricia Adams and the author Saviour Pirotta for a good chat.  Also there were Megan Farr from Firefly and authors Miriam Halamny and Eloise Williams.

The highlight of the afternoon was the publishers presentations, where about 13 publicists tried to woo us with their up and coming big   titles.  I must admit that I came away with several pages of titles that I want to read.  There were several titles from Michael Morpurgo, a new book from Jacqueline Wilson and follow ups from Cressida Cowell Kieran Larwood, P G Bell and Philip Reeve among many.  I am particularly looking forward to a new book from Emma Carroll, Patrick Ness  and the team of Sarah McIntyre and Philip Reeve.  It looks  as if we are in for a bumper crop of great titles with a wide range of themes ranging from WWI (to commemorate the end of the conflict), Christmas, fantasy, witches and science fiction.  Definitely something for everyone.

 

 

 

By the time I got home at about midnight I was feeling exhausted and yet very happy with the events I had attended, the friends I had met and the book suggestions I had received.  All being well I will be going back next year.