The New Year has been positively brimming with a mixture of home-grown talent and debut authors. Lucy Strange hit back after her popular debut novel, The Secret of Nightingale Words by bagging Waterstones first book of the month of the year with Our Castle by the Sea, and Ross Welford returned with another outstanding novel in The Dog Who Saved the World. Eva Eland and Samuel J. Haplin came onto the scene with both outstanding debuts and I'm excited to see what they do next.
January has also been exceptionally busy with anniversaries! Where the Wild Things Are and Elmer both celebrate their 30th birthdays, while The Gruffalo clocks up two decades. It was Tolkien's and Lewis Carroll's birthdays, and not to mention Winnie the Pooh day on the 18th! But Pooh knows best and 'let's begin by taking a smallish nap or two'.
January 2019 Preview
This beautiful and lyrical picture book by poet and playwright Joseph Coelho is now out in paperback, and it's without a doubt one of my favourite picture books out there.
If All The World Were... tells the powerful yet ultimately uplifting story of a young girls love for her granddad and how she copes when he dies. With beautiful bright illustrations, Coelho offers a gentle introduction to grief and death.
You can buy If All the World Were.. via Amazon here.
Also out this month by Joseph Coelho is the gorgeous A Year of Nature Poems. Through 12 inspiring poems Coelho journeys through the first blossoms through to the stark winter wonderland in December, whilst capturing the cycle of trees and plants and how animals behave through the seasons. Accompanied with vibrant, folk art style illustrations by Kelly Louise Judd, this is a must have for fans of the bestselling I Am the Seed That Grew the Tree and The Lost Words.
Also out in paperback this month is Lauren Ace's wonderful picture book of friendship and inclusion, The Girls. A simple and uplifting story about four little girls who meet under an apple tree and form a special bond that take them through the years. A celebration of kindness, possibility, individuality and above all else friendship. The illustrations are charming and the text is emotive. This book fitted perfectly within my ever growing collection of children's book celebrating women. Shop this picture book via Amazon here.
When Sadness Comes to Call by Eva Eland has already seen praises from the likes of The Bookseller, BookTrust and Publishers Weekly and it's at the top of my list of January recommendations as well! A powerful and profound picture book by a debut author/illustrator takes a look at empathy and action, and how to deal with uncomfortable and difficult emotions. An uplifting tale that encourages readers to be mindful of their feelings and to not be afraid when sadness arrives, but to instead give it a name, listen to it and spend some time together.
Another book out this month that deals with similar issues as When Sadness Comes to Call, is Usborne's new title, The Unworry Book. Whether it's about sadness, anxiety or worries it's so important to address these issues with children. Books addressing emotional and mental health and wellbeing are currently a significant and necessary theme right across children's published and They Unworry Book particularly stands out to me. Developed with a psychologist, this illustrated, write-in hardback has been specifically designed to ease anxiety. Described best as a 'worry toolkit', this book offers tips, techniques and activities, such as creating a worry box and making a mood grid to encourage calmness and relaxation.
Onto middle grade fiction and this sector has seen some of my favourite authors emerge with new titles that have become instant bestsellers. Lucy Strange has hit back after her popular debut novel, The Secret of Nightingale Words by bagging Waterstones first book of the month of the year. A worthy winner by all accounts as Our Castle by the Sea has been praised as an exciting wartime mystery entwined with magic and myth. Our Castle by the Sea tells the story of twelve-year-old Petra who has grown up in a lighthouse on the Kent coast. With the Second World War looming, and the clifftops a terrifying battleground, Pet's family is torn apart and Pet finds herself inextricably linked to a strange and ancient legend. A thrilling and atmospheric historical novel, perfect for fans of Emma Carroll.
The Peculiar Peggs of Riddling Woods by Samuel J. Halpin was one of the first books I tucked into this January and I was not disappointed. Set in a sleepy town called Subs, a place stepped in strange magic and plenty of secrets (think children who turn grey and disappear without a trace!) The Peculiar Peggs of Riddling Woods is a thrilling fairy tale read with a heartfelt friendship at its core. Deliciously dark in tone but glistening with imagination and heart. An impressive debut with fantastic illustrations by Hannah Peck. Perfect for fans of Helena Duggan's A Place Called Perfect.
I'm a massive fan of myths and fairy tales at the moment so I was thrilled to come across Rachel Burge's part ghost story, part Nordic mystery, The Twisted Tree. Set in the remote snows of contemporary Norway comes a creepy and chilling tale about a young girl Martha who can tell things about a person just by touching their clothes. Determined to understand her strange ability, Martha sets off to visit her grandmother, Mormor - only to discover Mormor is dead, a peculiar boy is in her cabin and a terrifying creature is on the loose. Then the spinning wheel starts creaking, books move around and terror creeps in...
Rooted in myth, with unexpected twists and turns, The Twisted Tree is genuinely terrifying ghost story to read on these cold, dark winter nights.
Nowhere on Earth, originally titled The Other Side of Lost, is a thrilling story of survival, hope and love beyond all understanding. When their plane crashes, 16-year-old Emily and her brother are lost in the Alaskan wilderness. But then the men arrive, and the hunt begins. Action packed, with a sci-fi twist.
Happy New Year Bluebirds, and as always, happy reading!
© 2018 Bluebird Reviews