What to look forward to from Penguin Children’s Books for 2014

5th February 2014 No Comments

It’s been a busy few weeks here at Being a Mummy, not only has Ned decided to expand his vocabulary massively, Fifi got a certificate for being fabulous at everything at school and the boy even got one for improving his reading dramatically. This has led to a frenzy of Lego building, mess making and the  descent into chaos in our household.

Coupled with that I’ve had the most brilliant time thinking about ways to modernise the blog a little bit (it hasn’t really changed in format since I set it up all those years ago) and making a real effort to accept some of the offers to meet people and go places which roll in.

Monday saw me visit the Penguin Books/ Random House HQ to hear all about what treats they have in store within their children’s and young adults books for 2014. This was one of the best events I’ve ever been invited to so I made a real effort to go along. The last year or so has seen me regain my love of reading, something I’ve written about before. One of the results of this new found interest is that, not only (I’m sure you will have noticed) I have written a lot of book reviews which I love doing, but I’ve also become part of the team setting up the best literary festival in the world, well, St Albans at least!

Penguin Children’s offer consists of Ladybird, Puffin and Penguin books. The brand is really growing from strength to strength with certain key titles proving instant hits. The Peppa Pig series for example is worth £22 million! This year there are some fab things coming up; its the 45th Anniversary of the Hungry Caterpillar, 50 years since Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was published.  Penguin are also working with Disney Infinity on some really exciting stuff.

Books to look out for include the special 50th anniversary edition of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and a special book by Lucy Mangan about the background to it which sounded fascinating.

I’m looking forward to reading Danger is Everywhere: The notebooks of Doctor Noel Zone, Dangerologist by David O’ Doherty and Chris Judge. This looks like an incredibly amusing book which is sure to have me and the boy is fits of laughter and may well prove to be the bonding experience we need at the moment!

Where Bear by Sophy Henn is a lovely picture book about a little boy and his bear, I was lucky enough to get a pre-publication copy of this and it came in very handy as little Ned has lost his teddy bear, lets hope teddy also finds a place called home…

Lauren Child gave a wonderful presentation all about her new book, A New Small Person. This book is all about a little boy who suddenly finds himself with a new sibling. I identified with this, I was that little boy, well, except I was a girl, but the feelings are the same. I think this will be useful in our household as I know that despite everything, my children so struggle with issues of jealously, attention and sharing between each other.

I can report that if you like Young Adult fiction (a genre which I’m rediscovering) you will absolutely love Half Bad by Sally Green. This is Puffins biggest debut of 2014 and his already been sold in 42 languages with the film rights snapped up by Fox 2000 pictures. I was fortunate enough to pick up a pre-publication copy and I’ve been unable to put it down. Half Bad is a thoroughly compelling story about white and black witches, obviously there are a lot of social metaphors within the story and it can be read on many different levels. I’m totally captivated by this story of Nathan, a half white and half black witch. It’s brilliant reading and I actually preferred it to Harry Potter, you’ll have to get a copy!

Another book which is a must buy is Dandelion Clocks by Rebecca Westcott Smith. This is a compelling book which follows the life of a girl before and after her mother dies. There are very few books which actually make me shed a tear and this is one of them. It’s a very emotional read which perfectly captures what it is like to be a girl at the cusp of puberty. I loved the descriptions of family life and I don’t think I have ever read anything which captures a modern young girls relationship with her mother so well. For one thing, its a book which makes you really value what you have in amongst the ups and downs of family life. It isn’t a book for a fragile young reader, but it does deal with an important issue brilliantly.

I cant mention everything, but I hope you’ll return to my blog as each book is released to find out a little more.

Claire Walsh

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