After a relatively quiet couple of months on the blog things are gearing up for 2015. Planning for our programme of events is underway, the CKG longlist announcement is but days away and with a wealth of new releases to choose from we’ve all got TBR lists as long as our arm. So let us share with you the committee’s most anticipated reads for the year ahead.
The book that I am most excited to read this year is Arsenic for Tea: A Wells and Wong Mystery by Robin Stevens. I read the first book in this series – Murder Most Unladylike last year and I really loved the way it had all the familiarity of a traditional boarding school story combined with the intrigue of a murder mystery. The well plotted whodunit had me gripped to the last chapter and I am hoping for much of the same from the second book.
Authors often say that being asked which of their books is their favourite is a little like being asked to choose a favourite child. As a keen reader, being asked to pick one book (just one book!), always feels the same. Apologies in advance for the fact that I’m cheating, but by my reckoning there are lots of different interest ages and ability levels to cover and it would surely be bad to leave any out wouldn’t it? First off for sharing with very young children, poet and former Children’s Laureate Michael Rosen is joining up with Kate Greenaway winning illustrator Chris Riddell for a collection of verse that’s perfect for sharing called A Great Big Cuddle this isn’t due to publish until September, which seems a long way off, but doubtless it will be well worth the wait.
For more confident readers, there’s The Key that Swallowed Joey Pigza by Jack Gantos. I have mixed feelings about reading this, it’s another Joey Pigza novel – hurray! – and he has to be one of the funniest, most high energy and endearing characters in modern children’s books. On the downside though, this is going to be the last book in the series – boo! – and I already have that looming sense of dismay that accompanies finishing a well-loved book, where one wishes for nothing more than to wipe one’s memory and simply start over again.
Young adult fiction is a burgeoning sector and one that is currently riding the crest of an enormous wave of experimentation, energy and creativity. One of my top tips is for A J Grainger’s Captive, it’s a debut novel that explores the kidnapping of a teenage girl and the uneasy relationship and the questioning of values and ethics that arises from this, It’s powerful, spare writing that leaves one thinking long after the final page.
Lastly, I’m also looking forward to Blindside by Carnegie medal winning author Aidan Chambers. This is one of Barrington Stokes books and it’s a sophisticated, carefully plotted and meticulously observed novel that explores the dreams and aspirations of Nate who suffers an accident that seems to hail the end of his athletic ambitions.
At the moment I am immersed in all things Harry Potter – I am one of a team of know-it-alls at our Harry Potter Night event at Smithills Hall on 5th February where local children will be testing our knowledge and trying to catch us out!
Once that is all over (and I am able to read something other than Harry Potter again!) I am very much looking forward to reading Apple and Rain by Sarah Crossan. I love stories about family relationships and why people sometimes do seemingly inexplicable things and this is one I have been meaning to read for a while and has been recommended to me by a few different people.
There will be Lies by Nick Lake also sounds like an intriguing read – there seems to be a bit of everything in there – a road trip, family tension, myth and strange creatures and, as the title suggests, lies (and truths) to be uncovered!
As our current CKG judge, Kathryn is understandably snowed under making her way through all the nominated titles, however, top of her list once the decision making is over is The Art of Being Normal, a powerful debut novel from Lisa Williamson exploring themes of sexuality and gender identity. Next on her list is The Earth is Singing, a tale of love loss, betrayal and survival closely based on the true story of the Jews of Riga, by Vanessa Curtis.
I am a huge fan of Shirley Hughes, particularly her Alfie books which tell beautifully simple stories about the ordinary, everyday things that happen to small children. I expect the illustrations and stories her in her latest collection Alfie and Grandma, celebrating grandmothers and grandchildren, will delight just as much and will be in good time for Mothers Day.
Jack Beechwhistle is known to readers of the Daisy chapter books as Daisy’s least favourite person in the whole world. Well now Jack gets his own book to star in – Jack Beechwhistle: Attack of the Giant Slugs. I’m really looking forward to more of Kes Gray’s humour and relaxed writing style in this new book.
I’m still playing catch up with 2014’s offerings so my most anticipated reads aren’t new releases; they’re actually Christmas presents that I haven’t managed to sit down with yet. The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Chris Riddell is a ridiculously beautiful book with its slightly translucent dust jacket and gold leaf. Add to that a that a corker of an opening line and you’re faced with a pretty irresistible reading experience. I’m savouring the anticipation of being swept away in its magic.
Marcus Sedgwick’s The Ghost of Heaven was clocking up the five star reviews in the latter part of 2014, indeed I’ve heard nothing but good things about this book. The idea of the four interconnecting stories all linked by the imagery of the spiral is intriguing but to be truthful I’m a bit of a fan so I’d have read this no matter what! It seems that the writing gets better with every new book and who knows this might be the one which finally wins him that elusive Carnegie Medal.
I’m really looking forward to reading The Door that Led to Where by Sally Gardner. I’ve enjoyed everything else by Sally Gardner and this sounds an intriguing time travel story.
Also, I am finally going to get round to reading Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy because I have never read it and am looking forward to finding out why it’s so popular (and why I keep having to buy more copies!)