Book Blasts Top 5 Reads from The Children’s Bookshow 2023 (pt 3)

Top-5-Reads-from-The-Childrens-Bookshow-2023

Although The Children’s Bookshow hits the road in the Autumn, tickets to many shows have already sold out and the remainder are selling fast. All performances include a free book for every child.

Marina Warner, the historian, mythographer, art critic, novelist and short story writer, forms a persuasive case for fairy tales being a crucial repository of human understanding and culture in her very short introduction published by OUP. After all, they have the same core ingredients as most adult fiction: archetypal characters, conflict, desire, injustice, high octane drama, overcoming challenges, hope and heroism, beauty and blissful immersion in alternative worlds which reignite creativity and inspire new ideas. Their surreal magical quality and captivating illustrations make for a visual feast and offer a form of escapism from the real world around us.

Children’s books are not exclusively for children of course but satisfy appetites of all ages, so all of you out there who’d like to join in the fun best not hang about! Come and see the writers perform and tell stories in person.

“There are good books which are only for adults, because their comprehension presupposes adult experiences, but there are no good books which are only for children,” W.H. Auden

Kate Wakeling grew up in Yorkshire and Birmingham. Her first collection of poems for children, Moon Juice – illustrated by Elīna Brasliņa and published by The Emma Press – won the 2017 CLiPPA Prize and was nominated for the 2018 Carnegie Medal. Kate’s second collection of children’s poems, Cloud Soup – also illustrated by Elīna Brasliņa – came out in summer 2021 and was a Book of the Month in the Guardian and the Scotsman.

“Bodies, bodies everywhere:
knees and noses, hands and hair,
bodies big and bodies small,
bodies keen on volleyball,
hairy nostrils, lengthy shins,
juicy ear lobes, pointy chins”

Cloud Soup is extremely popular with young readers and their families because of its engaging and imaginative content. Filled with rich and descriptive language involving rhyme, rhythm and wordplay, it’s a great way to introduce children to poetry. Its whimsical and imaginative themes transport readers to magical worlds and surreal scenarios, and the way friendship, bravery, resilience, and the power of imagination are explored provides much to think about and discuss, whether a parent is reading to a child or a teacher is reading to a classroom. Its vibrant and imaginative illustrations are a feast for the eyes. 

BUY Cloud Soup

Frank Cottrell-Boyce is an award-winning author and screenwriter. Along with Danny Boyle, he devised the Opening Ceremony for the London 2012 Olympics. He has written for the TV series, Dr Who, and was the screenwriter for the film, Goodbye Christopher Robin. Millions, his debut children’s novel, won the CILIP Carnegie Medal. He is also the author of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Flies Again, Cosmic, Framed, The Astounding Broccoli Boy and Runaway Robot. His books have been shortlisted for a multitude of prizes, including the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize, the Whitbread Children’s Fiction Award (now the Costa Book Award) and the Roald Dahl Funny Prize. 

“A writer of comic genius, he has something of Roald Dahl’s magic, but more heart,” –  Sunday Telegraph

Frank Cottrell Boyce Newcastle Theatre Royal © The Childrens Bookshow
Frank Cottrell Boyce Newcastle Theatre Royal © The Childrens Bookshow

The Wonder Brothers is a brilliantly heart-warming read, featuring fun and capers from beginning to end. Middy is all about practising her skills and Nathan is the born showman and together they are the Wonder Brothers. Older cousin Brodie is supposed to be looking after them, but all he cares about is his giant rabbit, Queenie, who turns out to be the real star of the show. Together they are trying to find the Blackpool Tower which vanished after superstar magician Perplexion’s last ever show there. They wind up in Las Vegas with a world-famous illusionist and a world-weary Las Vegas Police captain trying to pin down what’s going on. The Wonder Brothers is storytelling at its very best. Steven Lenton weaves his own magic with the illustrations to complete this perfect treat.

BUY The Wonder Brothers

The father of performance poetry, John Agard was born in Guyana and lives with his wife, the poet Grace Nichols, in Lewes. His adult poetry includes the collections, Listen Mr Oxford Don and Half Caste. His picture book poem for children, Windrush Child, illustrated by Sophie Bass, is full of hope and promise as it movingly evokes the journey made by children and their families as part of the Windrush Generation. He has won many awards, including the Queen’s Gold Medal Award for Poetry, the Smarties Award, the Paul Hamlyn Award, the Cholmondeley Award, the Casa de las Americas Poetry Award, the Guyana prize, the CLPE Award and BookTrust’s Lifetime Achievement Award (2021).

 John Agard © Jack Latham Square
John Agard © Jack Latham Square, Reproduced by kind permission. All rights reserved

Follow That Word is a masterclass in wordplay. There is so much to treasure and enjoy in this collection! A must for teachers,” Through the Bookshelf  

A dazzling collection of over sixty poems, Follow That Word delivers Agard’s riotously funny musings on people and places from the modern and historical world, interwoven with myths, legends, history and wisdom. With gorgeous black-and-white illustrations by Momoko Abe, Follow That Word takes you on a wondrous ride into the world of words. This collection belongs on every bookshelf.

It’s been around from Creation dawn,
And it only takes two to catch on,
Try it people, and you’ll soon see,
This is a dance that can set you free,
It’s called the dance of diversity.” – John Agard

BUY Follow That Word

Grace Nichols was born and educated in Georgetown, Guyana, but has lived in Britain since 1977. Nichols is well known for her exploration of identity, heritage, diaspora, cultural displacement and the experiences of the Caribbean diaspora. She won the Commonwealth Poetry Prize in 1983 with her first collection of poems that challenged stereotypes, I is a Long-memoried Woman. Since then she has read and performed her poetry widely. Her books include the collections, The Fat Black Woman’s Poems, Lazy Thoughts of a Lazy Woman, Sunris, Startling the Flying Fish and The Insomnia Poems among others, and a novel, Whole of a Morning Sky. Her children’s books include: The Poet Cat and Paint Me a Poem (awarded the Children’s Poetry Book-Shelf Best Single Author’s Collection). Twinkle, Twinkle, Firefly, co-written with her husband John Agard, features illustrations by Satoshi Kitamura.

Cosmic Disco combines poetry with the science of the stars, the universe and nature, from the rings of Saturn and the Hubble telescope to the change of the seasons. Written to inspire wonder in younger children, some poems are humorous, like SN2007bi, a poem about a supernova with a name like a barcode (‘If only they’d asked my opinion / I’d have named you/ Firecracker of Mighty Oblivion.’) Other poems, like Brian, about a friend who died, are far very poignant (‘In dreams he’s still my good friend, Brian / Laughing, lanky, a touch of spark / a floating black question mark.)’

The title poem can be used in many ways – both scientific and creative – in the classroom as it is fuelled by the very real science of magnetic fields, orbits and gravity that are worked into Nichols’s idea of a cosmic disco.

BUY Cosmic Disco

The Children’s Bookshow is a charity founded in 2003 that inspires children with a love of reading. Through its annual theatre tour, children are introduced to world-class authors and illustrators by way of a programme of theatre performances and in-school workshops. The artists selected are chosen from a wide variety of countries and cultures to give young people access to the very best stories, poems and illustrations from all over the world. The Children’s Bookshow helps teachers to provide their students with a rich and exciting experience of literature.

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About Georgia de Chamberet 367 Articles
Bilingual editor, rewriter, anthologist, French-to-English translator. Has written for 3am magazine, words without borders, The Independent, The Lady, Banipal, Prospect Magazine, Times Literary Supplement. Currently writes for The BookBlast Diary. Founder (1997) of London-based writing agency BookBlast.