Archive for February, 2016

Gala performance of War Horse for 1000 children kicks off anniversary year for Farms for City Children, charity founded by Clare and Michael Morpurgo

Monday, February 29th, 2016

Farms for City Children, the charity founded by Clare and Michael Morpurgo in 1976 celebrates its 40th anniversary this year with a programme of events beginning with a gala charity performance of the National Theatre’s production of War Horse at the New London Theatre on 25 February for nearly 1000 children and their teachers.


Farms for City Children, which the bestselling writer of War Horse and former Children’s Laureate has called his ‘ greatest story’, offers urban children from all over the UK the opportunity to live and work for a week on a real farm in the heart of the countryside.


Farms for City Children opened its doors on 27th January 1976 when teacher Joy Palmer and a group of children from Chivenor Primary School in Birmingham arrived at Nethercott House, the Charity’s first farm in the north Devon village of Iddesleigh. The Ward family, Farms for City Children’s farming partners in Devon 40 years ago, are still our partners today, working with groups of children out on the farm throughout the year. Understanding farming, the countryside and food production is at the heart of the Charity’s aims.


Today the three farms – in Devon, Gloucestershire and Pembrokeshire welcome over 3,250 children and 400 teachers a year. Over the 40 years, nearly 100,000 children have experienced the ‘muck and magic’ that is the hallmark of Farms for City Children. Ted Hughes, then Poet Laureate and close Devon neighbour to Nethercott, became the Charity’s founding President, and HRH, The Princess Royal is its Patron.


For many urban children this opportunity to live close to nature is something that stays with them forever. The experience can be life-changing, giving children in their formative years the chance to encounter something totally positive, challenging and rewarding. Children learn social and emotional development through teamwork, self-worth through rewarding work and completion of tasks, and about the importance of healthy eating and where their food comes from.


A teacher from Harris Primary Academy in London commented on their time at Treginnis in Pembrokeshire, “The success that the pupils have had, in what was at first an alien environment, will stay with them for the rest of their lives and have a positive impact in school in the short term. I would like to thank all the staff at Treginnis for the patience and love that they gave to an undoubtedly challenging group of pupils which resulted in astounding learning during a life changing trip.”


Michael Morpurgo commented on the anniversary, ‘All those years ago Clare and I arrived in Devon and with the money left to her by her father Allen Lane we bought a farm and rather idealistically set up a charity. Working with the teachers and with the neighbouring farmers, we pioneered a programme of work designed to extend children in every way possible out on the farm – physically, mentally, emotionally and intellectually. It is hard work, real work, and the children know their work is essential and important, that it matters to the animals, to the farm, that it simply matters. They matter.  Who knows what effect this has had long term? I hope some of these children will have treasured their time on the farm for the rest of their lives, that as parents themselves now they will remember and pass on the stories of their time in the countryside, on the farm.”


Dr Tessa Stone, CEO of Farms for City Children said, “I believe it is even more important today than it was 40 years ago that children have this experience. This internet generation are further removed from a real understanding of nature and the food chain than previous generations, and the area where they have freedom to roam has shrunk by 90% in that time. Spending 7 days on one of our farms provides immeasurable educational, social and emotional enrichment, and introduces children to the natural environment in a way that we hope will shape their lives for the better.”


The anniversary year for Farms for City Children will include the launch in early April of Love Mud#LearnWild, a campaign in association with the outdoor children’s clothing company Muddy Puddles to make learning outdoors and interaction with nature an integral part of education.


There will be alumni events at all three farms and the Exetreme Imagination Literature festival in association with Farms for City Children in Exeter in October with the theme of the ‘environment’. As part of the celebrations for 2016, Walker Books will publish a new story by Michael Morpurgo in aid of FFCC, inspired by the true story of a boy who visited the farm, Didn’t We Have a Lovely Time. This will be illustrated by Quentin Blake, Vice President of Farms for City Children.


During this 40th anniversary year, Farms for City Children is asking former pupils and teachers who visited the farm with their schools to get in touch via the charity’s digital channels to pass on their stories of their time on the farm. #farmersforaweek

David Walliams and Joanna Lumley to appear in special event to support Trust creating an enchanted land of children’s stories

Monday, February 29th, 2016

Award-winning and internationally successful children’s author David Walliams has teamed up with Joanna Lumley to support her charity – The Peter Pan Moat Brae Trust – in a special event for families at Cadogan Hall, London on Saturday 19th March, 10.30am.

The two stars in conversation promise a hilarious, interactive morning of tall tales and quirky questions, they will share their comic chemistry and love of stories with a theatre full of young fans and avid readers of David’s incredibly popular books.  Every ticket-holder will also receive a copy of Grandpa’s Great Escape and can have it signed by author David Walliams himself!

The lucky audience will be treated to a marvellous morning giving a peek into the world of one of the biggest selling children’s authors who has captured the imaginations of a whole new generation and is getting more and more children reading. His books, including Awful Auntie, Gangsta Granny and The Boy in the Dress, which are all published by HarperCollins Children’s Books, have been translated into over 46 languages and sold millions of copies worldwide.

Often referred to as the new ‘Roald Dahl’, David Walliams is the perfect partner to help highlight the work of the Peter Pan Moat Brae Trust, of which Joanna Lumley is Patron.

The event at Cadogan Hall is suitable for all children and adults aged 4 and over. Tickets priced £25 (including a copy of Grandpa’s Great Escape by David Walliams) are on sale from Cadogan Hall Box Office: 020 7730 4500

World Book Day 3 March 2016

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2016

Find out more about all the events going on and don’t miss the £1 books that your child can get free with a World Book Day voucher. Click here to visit the World Book Day Site.


Mid February eNewsletter

Monday, February 15th, 2016

Mid February already and the chance of a bit of free time and fun for half term. Read on for news of shelves full of brilliant reads to keep toddlers to teens happy in a book.

Coming soon! – March Pre Pubs

Stay ahead of the rest and be ready for the best by reading snippets of great books before they’re published! Yup. That’s right. See what’s going to be new NEXT month!


Fun-packed Spring Book Festivals for Kids

Spring into storytelling at Cardiff Children’s Literature Festival (16-24 April) and get your children buried in a book, with encouragement from Jacqueline Wilson, Cerrie Burnell, Tony Bradman and many more.

Legendary Literature for Littl’uns! –  Little Legends by Tom Percival

A great concept, brilliantly realised. That’s the fairytale fun factory that is the brand new Little Legends Series by Tom Percival. Featuring characters from well-loved fairy tales in new and wonderfully imagined situations these books are, in the words of Freddie, aged 8; “An unexpected, exciting adventure story for people who enjoy fairytales…A real page turner!!!” Find out more, here.

Teen-Talk – YA Books by Martyn Bedford

Good writing that can speak to young adults is gold-dust in our book! That’s why we are introducing you to the brilliant Martyn Bedford.

His incisive writing combines great heroes and heroines with real-life issues, dealt with in imaginative and complex stories. 20 Questions for Gloria is a story about impressionability and the dangers of dreaming of being someone else.

His earlier two novels are Flip, an intense psychological thriller about waking up in someone else’s body and Never Ending is an evocatively edgy story of grief, guilt and self-realisation. Read more here.

A Feast of Fairytales and Magic – Baker’s Magic by Diane Zahler(7+)

We all know the magical qualities a well-baked pastry can have. Well, here’s a story to relish! Combining culinary conjuring with fantasy, fairytale and adventure. Diane Zahler’s Baker’s Magic is an irresistible treat for children aged 7+. Filled to the brim with great characters and lashings of excitement, this is Harry Potter with the crust on and the odd recipe too. See more.

Liked That? – They’ll Love THIS!

Well, that beloved series by a favourite author has come to an end and they don’t know where to look for the next one? Let us help you guide them to other authors and new adventures they’ll love just as much … perhaps even more.

If they like Rick Yancey’s 5th Wave they’ll love the page turning adventure fantasy thriller Burning Midnight by Will Macintosh. If they like Chris Riddell’s Ottoline or Goth Girl they’ll love the exciting and glamorous Violet and the Hidden Treasure by Harriet Whitehorn. If they like We Were Liars by Emily Lockhart they’ll love the thought provoking and gripping Follow Me Back by Nicci Cloke.
14 7 ya
If they like Non Pratt they’ll love the quirky, touching and unusual The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl by Melissa Keil. If they like Zoe Sugg they’ll love the fresh take on the rags-to-riches archetype that is Accidental Superstar by Marianne Levy. If they like Geek Girl they’ll love the funny, bittersweet Love Bomb by Jenny McLachlan.
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Julia Eccleshare’s February Favourites

The incomparably experienced Julia Eccleshare has been sifting and sorting through February’s new children’s books to give you her favourites. All guaranteed great reads and quite possibly award winners. Click on a cover on the shelf below.


DON’T FORGET!! – Mother’s Day 6 March

Right you lot. Listen up. It’s Mother’s Day next month. She does LOADS for you and you know it. Let’s do something a bit special this year shall we? Right. How about making her smile “that” smile with Five Minutes’ Peace by Jill Murphy (3+) which is still going strong after 30 years! Wonder why! Or I Want My Mum with Tony Ross’s brilliant touches of characterisation and silliness.

ALSO, you could win a special “pamper hamper for her, so that when she finally does get some peace, she can truly relax!

Two other perfect choices are I Love Mum with the Very Hungry Caterpillar, full of Eric Carle’s luminous, kaleidoscopic images, or Alfie and Mum by Shirley Hughes. Her portraits of Alfie and Mum holding hands are the simply best celebration of motherhood you’ll ever see.

Calling all Oompa-Loompas and aspiring Matildas – Roald Dahl Centenary

This year the world is celebrating 100 years since the birth of Roald Dahl! Fresh new covers have just been released, a new BFG movie (directed by Steven Spielberg) is out this summer and a new World Book Day title; The Great Mouse Plot tells how a young Roald tricked a mean sweetshop owner!

It’s the perfect time to delve into your own childhood faves and introduce them to your kids. Make sure you have plenty of chocolate to hand though! It’s what Roald Dahl would have wanted. Do you know he never threw the wrappers away?

Find out more in our special category with exciting news and events celebrating the Roald Dahl Centenary.

Oh Boy! – Great Books for Boys

This is not about whether a cover is pink or blue; it’s a section dedicated to books that boys will love but we know some girls will love them too. Divided into easy-to-search age groups, these are the best books to entice boys to gain a love of reading for pleasure. This month, don’t miss; Zoo Boy (5+, 7+) a delightful and hilarious debut from Sophie Thompson and Simon Thorn and the Wolf’s Den by Aimee Carter (9+) a superbly satisfying, shapeshifting story of gifted kids and powerful adult adversaries.

Also new this month are more Alex Rider Graphic novels (9+) – great for avid and reluctant readers alike. Escape into your own world with brilliantly visualized versions of the best-selling spy series terrific titles by Anthony Horowitz.

Failure is the new success

Who would have thought the hapless adventures of the world’s worse school boy detective and his polar bear in the Timmy Failure series would have been so riotously successful! Any 7+ readers, including even the most struggling or reluctant readers, are missing out if they haven’t read these pant-wettingly funny books. AND we have a special free prize draw to win Timmy books and goodies (but rest assured no live Polar Bears).

Waterstones Children’s Book Prize 2016 – Shortlist Announcement

Just announced are the influential shortlists for this key prize and this year fiction reflecting the concerns and issues of modern day children and teenagers is highlighted. Spilt into 3 categories; Illustrated, Younger Fiction and Older Fiction they will all be worth checking. Our favourites are shown below.


And that is February’s finest from us to you! See you in March as we spring into action to bring you even more great recommendations for kids. Happy Reading!

P.S. Don’t miss the chance to win a set of Joanna Nadin books (Joe all Alone and her new one White Lies, Black Dare) perfect for 10+ readers. We have 10 up for grabs.

test festival

Monday, February 15th, 2016


Lovereading4kids. Most popular books, by age range, 7 – 14 February 2016

Monday, February 15th, 2016

Books for Babies and Toddlers

Blown Away Blown Away
Rob Biddulph
Winner of the 2015 Waterstones Children’s Book Prize  A brilliant adventure for a bold Penguin who gets swept up, up and away on a brand new kite on a windy day. Penguin’s original and richly-imagined adventure is beautifully told and …
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Five Minutes' Peace Five Minutes’ Peace
Jill Murphy
Celebrate thirty years of the Large family in this stunning anniversary edition of a modern picture book classic.
There can’t be a mum in the country who doesn’t identify with Mrs Large, wrapped in her comfortable dressing gown, doing her best …
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Dozy Bear and the Secret of Sleep Dozy Bear and the Secret of Sleep
Katie Blackburn
This book is dedicated to tired parents, grandparents and children and could prove a real godsend to them all. It’s designed and written specifically to help children relax and ready themselves for a good night’s sleep and uses proven techniques …
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Featured Books for Young Adults

How Hard Can Love be? How Hard Can Love be?
Holly Bourne
February 2016 Book of the Month  Holly Bourne’s new novel demonstrates that with the right female friends, and a decent supply of cheesy snacks, a girl can get through anything. Amber is in America spending summer with the mum she …
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Beautiful Broken Things Beautiful Broken Things
Sara Barnard
February 2016 Debut of the Month  16-year-old Brightonians Caddy and Rosie have been best friends all their lives, their relationship enduring even when Caddy’s aspirational parents send her to a private school. But when an enigmatic new girl arrives at …
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All the Rage All the Rage
Courtney Summers
February 2016 Book of the Month A deeply powerful novel for emotionally mature readers about surviving rape, speaking out and the ways in which women are forced to burden the blame for misogynist brutalities.With her alcoholic dad out of the …
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Featured Books for 3+ readers

Alan's Big, Scary Teeth Alan’s Big, Scary Teeth
Julia Eccleshare’s Book of the Month, February 2016 Glorious illustrations tell this story that is both nicely scary and neatly resolved. Everyone knows that alligators are scary! Right? Alan comes from a long line of scary alligators and, with his …
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What Pet Should I Get What Pet Should I Get
Dr. Seuss
More than 60 years after they were first published Dr Seuss’s books continue to work their magic on children: his rhyme and rhythm, nonsense humour and wordplay and sudden bursts of anarchy have strong child appeal. All of these Seussian …
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I am Bear I am Bear
Ben Bailey Smith
February 2016 MEGA Debut of the Month Rapper Doc Brown’s Bear cheekily bounces his way through this simple picture book that is full of surprises. This is a Bear who enjoys playing cunning tricks on his friends. He can …
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Featured Books for 5+ readers

There's a Dragon in My Dinner There’s a Dragon in My Dinner
Tom Nicoll
February 2016 Debut of the Month   Dragons come in all shapes and sizes in children’s stories, but the one that Eric finds in a box of beansprouts is small, friendly and lots of fun.  Pan is a mini-dragon, lost en …
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Wild Adventures Wild Adventures
Brita Granstrom, Mick Manning
This outstanding nature book demonstrates to children the myriad exciting possibilities for fun and adventure in the world outside their door.  It is packed full of suggestions and information on how to explore the natural world, from how to build …
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My Stinky New School My Stinky New School
Rebecca Elliott
Toby’s little brother Benjamin goes to nursery and loves it. His big sister Clemmie goes to special school, and she loves it too. But Toby is starting at a new school, and he hates it. He hasn’t any friends, doesn’t …
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Featured Books for 7+ readers

Hamish and the Neverpeople Hamish and the Neverpeople
Danny Wallace
February 2016 Book of the Month Hamish and the Worldstoppers was one of my favourite kids’ books of 2015, and the follow up is even better. The world is in danger again, or should that be still, and the monsters …
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Zoo Boy Zoo Boy
Sophie Thompson
Julia Eccleshare’s Debut of the Month, February 2016  When Vince turns eight years old he discovers he has the most amazing secret. Although he has always hated animals, which is embarrassing because his father is a zoo keeper, Vince suddenly …
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Roald Dahl
This is a delightful, funny and exciting story about a special friendship between two people from different worlds – a giant and a child. As the story develops it shows how trust and love develops between them. It also shows …
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Featured Books for 9+ readers

Awful Auntie Awful Auntie
David Walliams
February 2016 Book of the Month Best-selling David Walliams is back on top form with Awful Auntie. Stella Saxby is the unfortunate owner of the awful auntie! Throughout her life, the dreadful aunt Alberta has squandered the family fortunes. Following …
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Haunters Haunters
Thomas Taylor
The dead and the living exist side by side in this thrilling time-travelling adventure. In David’s recurrent dream, Eddie seems real and it seems like he’s got something to tell David. That’s scary enough but then David gets picked up …
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Simon Thorn and the Wolf's Den Simon Thorn and the Wolf’s Den
Aimee Carter
February 2016 Debut of the Month  Like Harry Potter, Aimée Carter’s twisty, original thriller stars a gang of kids with special abilities up against a cast of powerful adults, some of whom are decidedly untrustworthy. Instead of being trainee wizards …
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Featured Books for 11+ readers

How to Look for a Lost Dog How to Look for a Lost Dog
Ann M. Martin
February 2016 Book of the Month  The heroine of Ann M Martin’s fine novel has a unique voice, and the story she tells is very touching. Rose (rows) has a diagnosis of autism and struggles to understand the unspoken social rules …
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Wild Lily Wild Lily
K. M. Peyton
K. M. Peyton published her first book aged just fifteen, and has been loved by generations of readers ever since. She said once, “I write to entertain”, and Wild Lily will certainly do that.  Set in the 1920s, in those …
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White Lies, Black Dare White Lies, Black Dare
Joanna Nadin
A compelling story for 10+ readers about falling in with the wrong crowd, and standing up for what you believe in. Full Lovereading4kids review to follow.
Click here to read why Joanna Nadin believes books are important beacons for children. …
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Featured Books for 13+ readers

The Lie Tree The Lie Tree
Frances Hardinge
WINNER of the 2015 COSTA BOOK OF THE YEAR and Winner of the Costa Children’s Book Award – Andrea Reeces’s Pick of the Year 2015 – Shortlisted for the 2015 Guardian Children’s Book prize – Julia Eccleshare’s Pick of the …
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More of Me More of Me
Kathryn Evans
February 2016 Debut of the Month   We all live with our past selves – and it can be pretty uncomfortable – but Teva does so literally: once a year Teva splits into two, the new version goes out into the …
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Am I Normal Yet? Am I Normal Yet?
Holly Bourne
August 2015 Book of the Month  Evie is starting sixth form college and like any normal young person wants to fit in and make friends, and she’d like a boyfriend too. It’s challenging for Evie though because she’s also coping …
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Author Joanna Nadin discusses Books as beacons

Friday, February 12th, 2016

When I wrote Joe All Alone and its follow-up White Lies, Black Dare I had a checklist of “things I wanted to say” – about child poverty and child neglect, about toxic friendship and family breakdown, about bullying amongst children and adults alike. Fiction has the power to bring new light to these difficult subjects and illuminate not just gory details, but also paths out of the darkness, which is why I will always weave hope into a story, however bleak. But there is another idea lurking in both novels, one that paints books as beacons in a more profound capacity: that books make us who we are, and can change that too.


Books matter. Of course I’m going to say that: the ability to pay my bills depends on me writing and selling enough of them. But my belief in their transformative power goes far beyond personal monetary gain. And it’s not writers who think so. There are government studies that point to reading for pleasure as raising test scores in subjects as seemingly unconnected as maths and science. There is research that highlights how stories encourage empathy. But there is evidence too that books penetrate deeper than that, changing our very selves as they show us new ways to be, offering us a pick and mix menu of characters to incorporate into our own.


As a child I worked my way through an array of fictional role models – George from Enid Blyton’s Famous Five, Velvet Brown from Enid Bagnold’s National Velvet, even Pandora from Sue Townsend’s The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole. The academic Francis Spufford describes this appeal in his homage to the power of children’s fiction The Child That Books Built: “Be a roman soldier, said a book by Rosemary Sutcliffe. Be an urchin in London, said a Leon Garfield… Be an Egyptian child beside the Nile, be a rabbit on Watership Down. Be a King. Be a slave. Be Biggles.” In other words, reading helps us try out new lives for size. It helps us try out being better or bigger or just different people.


It was this in mind that I gave both Joe in Joe All Alone and Asha in White Lies, Black Dare books not just as background reading, but as talismans, magic amulets that would change the course of their lives on and beyond the page. For Joe, the eponymous Huckleberry Finn gives him the courage to face up to his situation. It helps knowing that someone else has been where he is – been alone in the world – before. It helps him work out who he wants to be – brave like Huck. It helps knowing that Huck finds a friend. It helps knowing that Huck can evade the adults who are closing in on him.


For Asha it’s Sodapop and Ponyboy in S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders that drive her final dare and damnation, as well as her ultimate salvation. “So I do what I always do,” Asha says. “ I pick up my book and bury myself in story, glorious story. I read until it’s so real I can feel myself right there in Ponyboy’s house, smelling the eggs and chocolate cake he’s cooking for breakfast, and smoke from Two-Bit’s cigarettes. McCardle’s right, I think, that books get you through stuff.”


This is what books can do. They can teach us, they can show us the way. They can give us hope. And more than that they can make us. They have certainly made me – I am part George, part Velvet, part Pandora, and so many others besides. I am even part Asha now, and all the better for it.

Cardiff Children’s Literature Festival 16-24 April 2016

Wednesday, February 10th, 2016

Star Storytellers Set for Next Chapter of Cardiff Children’s Literature Festival

A programme of over 50 exciting events featuring a literary line-up including multi-best-selling children’s favourite Jacqueline Wilson will be welcomed at this year’s fourth Cardiff Children’s Literature Festival.

The popular family event will return to the capital from 16-24 April 2016 featuring local and national, English and Welsh speaking authors and illustrators. Events will take place at iconic venues across the city centre including City Hall, Cardiff Central Library, Cardiff Castle and Reardon Smith Theatre, National Museum Cardiff.

As this year’s festival coincides with the Centenary of Roald Dahl, one of the most famous children’s writers of all time, celebrations will include a host of themed events such as ‘Word Wizards Guide to Roald Dahl,’ craft sessions, and a free, jump-squifflingly fun treasure hunt across the city centre.

More free activities include Storytime sessions held in the Children’s Department of John Lewis, where throughout the festival weekends children can enjoy listening to stories and even meet some very special guests including Maisy Mouse, Kipper and Walker Bear.

Cerrie Bernell

The festival’s biggest line-up yet also includes Bardd Plant Cymru (Welsh Children’s Poet Laureate) Anni Llŷn, CBBC’s Sam and Mark and CBeebies’ Jess French and Cerrie Burnell, Kristina Stephenson and Kes Gray. Once again the festival hosts a week of free sessions for school children, which includes Tony Bradman on Shakespeare, Simon James, Jon Mayhew, and the Welsh Poets from Stomp Fach.

There are also events for adults, which include Writing for Children with Barry Cunningham the man who discovered J.K . Rowling and author Jon Mayhew, literary discussions with Catherine Butler and the chance to hear from the publisher and contributors to the forthcoming University of Wales Press publication Roald Dahl: Wales of the Unexpected.

All of these events, aimed at young people and grown-ups, aim to inspire, nurture and encourage a life-long love of reading and books.

The festival has continued to grow over the years and will now run across two weekends with the free school sessions, supported by the John Lewis; Bringing Skills to Life project, being held during that week.

Cabinet Member for Community Development, Co-operatives and Social Enterprise, Cllr Peter Bradbury said: “Since the first Cardiff Children’s Literature Festival in 2013, over 5000 school children have attended free sessions with a further 5000 book lovers – from toddlers to teens – attending public sessions across the festival. The 2016 festival will be even more special as we celebrate the centenary of Roald Dahl, the world’s number one storyteller.”

Leading up to the Festival, primary school children from across Cardiff and the surrounding areas will take part in Roald Dahl Themed workshops in storyboarding, scriptwriting, poetry and prose. Workshops are supported by Literature Wales and will be led by six writers and illustrators from Wales: Dan Anthony, Francesca Kay, Mike Church, Mab Jones, Huw Aaron and Casia Wiliam.

The work produced will be celebrated in a free exhibition supported by John Lewis and Genesis Marketing at Cardiff Central Library and The Place to Eat Restaurant on the third floor of John Lewis from 1 April – 24 April 2016.

Lleucu Siencyn, Chief Executive of Literature Wales said: “Literature Wales is delighted to support the Cardiff Children’s Literature Festival’s outreach programme for the fourth consecutive year. At these workshops high-profile Welsh writers will share their skills and their passion for words with children all over the capital, enabling them to engage with literature in all its forms and develop the skills they need to create their own stories.”

The festival aims to create lifelong readers with tickets currently on sale via Ticketline UK (02920 230 130 or ) and

See (English) or or follow @CDFKidsLitFest or @GwylLlenPlant on Twitter for more information.

Longlist for the 2016 Branford Boase Award announced

Thursday, February 4th, 2016

The longlist for the 2016 Branford Boase Award is announced today (Wednesday 3 February 2016). The Branford Boase Award is given annually to the author of an outstanding debut novel for children. Uniquely, it also honours the editor of the winning title and highlights the importance of the editor in nurturing new talent.


In what chair of the judges Julia Eccleshare describes as “an extraordinary year for debuts”, 23 books have made it onto the longlist. These include Lisa Williamson’s much acclaimed story of transgender teens The Art of Being Normal and Aubrey and the Terrible YootHoratio Clare’s sensitive tale of depression, from new Welsh publisher Firefly Press. Comedians turned children’s authors Julian Clary and Danny Wallace have both made the longlist with The Bolds and Hamish and the Worldstoppers respectively.


Frances Hardinge last week announced as Costa Book of the Year winner won the Branford Boase Award in 2006 with Fly By Night and said that the award made her feel “a real writer” for the first time. The BBA judging panel has an extremely successful record in picking future best-selling and critically acclaimed authors. Other previous winners and shortlisted authors include Kevin BrooksSiobhan DowdMeg RosoffMal PeetPhilip ReeveFrank Cottrell Boyce and Patrick Ness who all went on to win the UK’s most prestigious children’s book award, the CILIP Carnegie Medal; 2011 winner Jason Wallace won the Costa Children’s Book Award.


This year the judges are Russell Allen team leader for children’s services across the West Sussex Library Service, recently awarded Public Librarian of the Year; Simon Key, bookseller from the Big Green Bookshop in Wood Green; Marion Lloyd, former children’s editor; and Rosie Rowell, author of Leopold Blue, winner of the 2015 Branford Boase Award. The panel is chaired by Julia Eccleshare, children’s books editor of The Guardian.


Julia Eccleshare says: “It’s been an extraordinary year for debuts, and our longlist includes an enormously varied collection of interesting, well-written books. The boundaries of what is possible in books for children seems to be ever expanding. We read fantasy adventures, mysteries, time travel stories, political satires and more – all of which are designed to entertain children, for sure, but also to help them navigate the complexities of growing up in this hectic decade. As ever, the longlist demonstrates the might of children’s publishing in the UK, and the healthy state of what Frances Hardinge calls ‘the beautiful jungle’ of fiction for children and young people.”


The shortlist for the Award will be announced on 4 May 2016.  The winner will be announced in early July at a ceremony in London.


The Branford Boase Award longlist in full:


Othergirl by Nicole Burstein, edited by Charlie Sheppard (Andersen Press)

Aubrey and the Terrible Yoot by Horatio Clare, edited by Penny Thomas (Firefly)

The Bolds by Julian Clary, edited by Charlie Sheppard (Andersen Press). Illustrations by David Roberts

The Baby by Lisa Drakeford, edited by Rachel Leyshon (Chicken House)

The Dreamsnatcher by Abi Elphinstone, edited by Jane Griffiths (Simon & Schuster)

Captive by A J Grainger, edited by Elv Moody and Christian Trimmer (Simon & Schuster)

Seed by Lisa Heathfield, edited by Ali Dougal (Egmont)

Deep Water by Lu Hersey, edited by Sarah Stewart (Usborne)

Stone Rider by David Hofmeyr, edited by Ben Horslen (Penguin Random House)

13 Days of Midnight by Leo Hunt, edited by Jessica Tarrant (Hachette)

The Next Together by Lauren James, edited by Annalie Grainger (Walker)

The Unlikely Mabel Jones by Will Mabbitt, edited by Ben Horslen (Penguin Random House). Illustrated by Ross Collins.

Me and Mr J by Rachel McIntyre, edited by Stella Paskins (Egmont)

The Accidental Prime Minister by Tom McLaughlin, edited by Clare Whitson (Oxford). Illustrated by the author.

Girl on a Plane by Miriam Moss, edited by Charlie Sheppard (Andersen Press)

The Sin Eater’s Daughter by Melinda Salisbury, edited by Genevieve Herr (Scholastic)

My Brother is a Superhero by David Solomons, edited Kirsty Stansfield (Chicken House)

Birdy by Jess Vallance, edited by Emma Matthewson (Hot Key Books)

Hamish and the Worldstoppers by Danny Wallace, edited by Jane Griffiths (Simon & Schuster). Illustrated by Jamie Littler

One of Us by Jeannie Waudby, edited by Rachel Leyshon (Chicken House)

Time Travelling with a Hamster by Ross Welford edited by Nicholas Lake (HarperCollins)

The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson, edited by Bella Pearson (David Fickling Books)

The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow by Katherine Woodfine, edited by Alison Dougal and Hannah Sandford (Egmont)

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016

Fun-filled February is fizzing with fantabulous frolics for your family’s favourite fledglings. Whatever their age or ability, we have some ice-cracking recommendations to keep them aglow with inspiration this winter. Read on to see what’s hot for tots to teens this month.

Top of the Class – February Books of the Month

Every month we identify the cream of the crop, so that you can be guaranteed a great read. This month, don’t miss:

Awful Auntie by David Walliams (9+) – One of the UK’s leading children’s writers on his very top form and full of ghosts, mystery and adversity! Plus you can win a signed book! And for teens, How Hard Can Love Be? by Holly Bourne – No one speaks to this audience better than Holly Bourne. This is a relatable, heart-rending, exhilarating and captivating relationship tale. Perfect for Valentine’s Day!


Feb’s Fantastic Firsts! – Debuts of the Month

Yet again, we have scoured the shelves to bring you the very best of first time authors for children to fall in love with! especially MEGA DEBUT I am Bear by Ben Bailey Smith & Sav Akyuz (3+) – With funny word play and bold imagery, actor Ben Bailey Smith and artist Sav Akyuz introduce a trickster to remember.

Also Simon Thorn and the Wolf’s Den by Aimee Carter (9+) – Superbly satisfying, shapeshifting story of gifted kids and powerful adult adversaries. Super stuff! And Zoo Boy by Sophie Thompson (5+) – Hilarious and delightful animal-adventure debut from the Olivier award winning actress (yes, sister of Emma).


Valenteeny’s Day! – Sharing the love with your Youngsters!

As Wet Wet Wet once reminded us: “Love is all around”. Especially near Valentine’s Day. This year, why not share the love with these fantastic timeless tales for toddlers all celebrating the loveliness of love. Aaaah!


Not Sure What Pet to Get? Ask Dr. Seuss!

Just don’t expect a straight-forward answer in this recently discovered rhyming romp of a picture book from the one and only Dr Seuss of Cat in the Hat fame!

Firing their imaginations and helping them understand that decisions can be difficult, this is a thought-provoking and conversation initiating fun-filled foray that will doubtless be a firm favourite for years to come. Learn more here and have the chance to win a special Gift Edition of a Dr Seuss book.

Chocolate Box Girls Series of the Month!

We think it’s time to celebrate Cathy Cassidy’s brilliant, soulful and sweet series; Chocolate Box Girls as the final one is published in paperback. From the first title Cherry Crush, readers have loved following the hopes, dreams, trials and tribulations of this wonderful group of sisters. Our Kids Reader Reviewers adored them. “I loved (Cherry Crush) … so much, I borrowed the next book Summer Dream from the library!” (Jenny, aged 9). The sixth and final book, Fortune Cookie, in paperback now, is an insightful, captivating and thrilling end to the series. See the whole lot here.


More Winning Ways

A cracking bunch of goodies up for grabs, this month including:

Allegiant by Veronica Roth (13+). To mark the release of the movie (the 3rd in the series) we are giving away a whole box set of the Divergent books. Don’t miss your chance to win. And

Books by Rob Biddulph. The author of the awesome Grrrrr! (3+) is a firm favourite with kids and parents alike. Here’s a great chance to win signed copies of this modern kids’ classic! Find them all in our Free Prize Draws category.

An unmissable award-winning story for 13+ readers

From the author of Lovereading4kids favourite We Are All Made of Molecules, Susin Nielsen, this is another book from her that grips from the first chapter. The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen (13+) is a heart-breaking yet uplifting story of survival and recovery through friendship. Tackling tough subjects it still manages to make readers laugh and leave them feeling better about the world. Find out what our Teen Reader Reviewers thought

Badge of Honour! – Blue Peter Book Award

One of the leading book awards for Children’s writing, the Blue Peter Book Awards, which aims to guide kids towards quality literature, is celebrating its 16th year! The 2016 shortlist is out now and it’s as strong as double-sided sticky-tape! Here’s some we prepared earlier:

And so to Bed! – Great Bedtime Reading continues

Our category of favourite bedtime books to share with your kids had a refresh in January but these two slipped a little in the schedule but are out now. We love bedtime books and as George Bernard Shaw said: “Make it a rule never to give a child a book you would not read yourself”. Among the new night-time stars is:

I Want a Bedtime Story by Tony Ross – Even the most demanding princess can discover the joy of reading for herself! and Dozy Bear and the Secret of Sleep – A calming story that uses tried-and-tested relaxation techniques to help both adult and child unwind at bedtime. And from the horse’s mouth, the author said: “This book is born out of many a night of desperation and panic trying to get my own child to sleep, I really hope it helps parents everywhere.”

And talking of Books for Bedtime …

Why not rediscover the work of superlative pen-smith, Jean Julien? The illustrious illustrator who created Hoot Owl (one of our Books of the Year 2015) has brought to life a new adventure for little ones.

Ralf is a charming and quirky picture book which parents have described as; “hilariously funny” and “memorable” (see other Parent/Toddler Reader Reviews here). Find out more.

Positively Blooming! – Wild Lily by K.M. Peyton

From the author of Flambards and more than 70 years since her first novel was published for a fee of just £75, K M Peyton sees her 70th novel published by the brilliant publisher David Fickling who also discovered Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nightime and The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. Wild Lily is vivid story telling at its very best. Readers will grab the hand of Peyton’s heroine, Lily, and experience every rush and whirl in this coming of age tale and literally grow up with her. Read more here.

Read on for our hand-picked selections of February books in the age ranges you have said you would like to be kept up to date with, to change them just Log in to your account Privacy Policy Disclaimer