Let’s start with some music – favourite Christmas songs anyone? Who likes a brand new re-recording of a classic – such as Ed Sheeran and Anne-Marie singing Fairytale Of New York – you can listen to that here or Sam Smith performing Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas here. You’re welcome!
A nice bit of seasonal publicity from Carcanet - Alison Brackenbury will be discussing Christmas Poetry on the Boxing Day edition of the Today Programme on Radio 4, and she’ll be reading her poem Christmas on the Radio which is published in her latest collection Skies (£9.99, pb, 978 1784101800). Skies is Alison Brackenbury's ninth Carcanet collection and in these poems, Brackenbury sustains delicate proximities between war and love, joy and sadness, summer and winter. It is the poet's quiet conviction to savour life, to take seriously its succulent variety, that defines this collection: the poems attest to the special privileges of age: wisdom, self-sufficiency, a deepening patience with the world; the ability to be, as Brackenbury says of an apple, “self-sweet”. Also, Sinead Morrissey will be appearing on Radio 4's Woman's Hour as part of a day of poetry on 21 December, celebrating the Winter Solstice. She’ll be interviewed and reading her poem, Last Winter from her award-winning collection, On Balance (978 1784103606, £9.99, pb).
John Holmwood, author of Countering Extremism in British Schools: The Truth About the Birmingham Trojan Horse Affair, (£12.99, pb, 978-1447344131) was on BBC Radio 4's Thinking Allowed this week talking about his new book which has just been published by Policy Press. This important title highlights the major injustice inflicted on the teachers in this affair and shows how it was used to criticise multiculturalism, and justify the expansion of a broad and intrusive counter extremism agenda. John Holmwood and his co-author Therese O’ Toole challenge the accepted narrative on this story, and draw on the potential parallel with the Hillsborough disaster to suggest a similar false narrative has taken hold of public debate.
Lovely reviews coming in for The Good Pilot, Peter Woodhouse by Alexander McCall Smith (978 1846974090, £14.99, hb). The Yorkshire Post called it a “shaggy dog story infused with his familiar – and welcome – positivity. A gentle romp through the world of land girls, war-time romance and exceptional pets” while the Mail on Sunday made it one of their Books of the Year and called it “Period pet lit from a pro” which I think is a great strap line – maybe Polygon should put it on the paperback jacket?!
Always love a bit of twitter twaddle about a literary character – so am very much enjoying the current debate as to whether Roald Dahl’s Matilda would beat Stranger Things Eleven in a head-to-head! You can catch up on all the possible answers to that question here!
The BBC National Short Story Award 2018 is now open for entries. The new partner for the Award, Cambridge University, has just been announced, along with the judging panel which includes previous winner K J Orr. The head judge is TV personality and author Mel Giedroyc. It's the thirteenth year of the Award and for the ninth time, Comma will be publishing the shortlist anthology next year. The winning award is worth £15,000 and this will be presented to the author of the best, eligible short story, in the opinion of the judges. There will also be four awards of £600 for the other four shortlisted stories and the deadline for receipt of entries is 9am Monday 12 March 2018. You can find out more here.
We were thrilled to hear that The Recovery Letters edited by Olivia Sagan and James Withey published by Jessica Kingsley is going to be one of the titles given away on World Book Night – 23rd April 2018. The organisers have curated a “diverse selection of commercial and literary fiction, poetry, non-fiction and young adult” for the public, with a spotlight on mental health. The literacy charity aims to "harness” the link between reading and mental health through its selection this year. You can read more about World Book Night in the Bookseller here. Sue Wilkinson, chief executive of the Reading Agency said: “We know from our work on the Reading Well programme that there is a powerful link between reading and positive mental health. We are delighted to be able to include on the 2018 World Book Night list several titles that deal with this directly as well as others that we hope will lift readers’ moods or help them confront life’s difficulties.” De Waal, described the scheme as “a great opportunity for readers to discover new books and for books to find new audiences”. She added: “Reading and understanding different lives and experiences has never been more important.” The Recovery Letters (978-1785921834, £9.99, pb) is an anthology of letters from by people recovering from depression, addressed to those currently affected. They are interspersed with motivating quotes and additional resources and this powerful collection of personal letters will serve as a comforting resource for anyone on the journey to recovery.
Got any New Year resolutions yet? How about making them online here and then BuzzFeed will reveal your Patronus to you! And yes, I do think it’s a worry if it turns out to be a pig. Accio 2018!
And while we’re on the subject of the wizarding one, I wonder how good our colleagues at Birlinn and all those booksellers north of the border would be at translating the Scots version of Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone? Does Hoggiehaugh mean Hogwarts, Hagrid, or Hogsmeade for example? You can take that quiz here!
What would you say is the newest superfood trend? Well, I can tell you, it is seaweed, which as you can read in the Telegraph here has seen “sales soar as it swims into the mainstream.” Waitrose has announced that it will stock fresh seaweed in its stores, while sales of the green stuff soared by 125 per cent after Jamie Oliver claimed it had helped him lose weight. “Seaweed is one of this year’s biggest trends in veg which we’re seeing on the menus of some of London’s top and most creative restaurants," says Waitrose’s product developer. And I’m pleased to say that we have the perfect book to capitalise on this; The Seaweed Cookbook: A Guide to Edible Seaweeds and How to Cook with Them (978 0754832874, £15, hb) which has just been published by Lorenz. Its authors Caroline Warwick-Evans and Tim van Berkel are mentioned in the Telegraph piece and there has been loads more recent seaweed related press coverage! The Guardian wrote here about “a cry for kelp” suggesting that its “complete nutrient profile” means “it can heal the world”. The Huffington Post wrote about its many health benefits here, the Daily Mail called it “the latest nutritional powerhouse set to take over from kale as the trendy new ingredient to add to your diet” here and BBC Good Food wrote about its many health benefits here. The Seaweed Cookbook, as you’d expect from Lorenz is gorgeously illustrated and a great price too. It explores the different types of seaweed, tells you where to find them, and includes lots of creative recipes. Whether dried, rehydrated or eaten raw, treated as a vegetable, flaked and sprinkled as a seasoning, or munched as a crispy snack, there is plenty of inspiration with photographs that will leave you eager to get foraging and feasting. Go to the authors’ website www.cornishseaweed.co.uk to see spreads and recipes from the book – and also find out more about how much media coverage they’ve been getting recently! This is already big – but is going to get even bigger – the authors Caroline and Tim have recently been filmed recently for a new series with Jamie Oliver (Jamie's Friday Night Feasts) which is broadcasting in January.
Primary schools should use books featuring transgender parents or celebrating gender identity, according to fresh guidance from the National Association of Head Teachers. The new guidance has also been endorsed by Stonewall, the government and Ofsted. It covers a range of issues aiming to help schools "become places where all staff can thrive and feel confident to be authentic about who they are” adding "Primary school leaders may want to ensure books featuring trans parents or celebrating gender identity and difference are included in the curriculum". Not everyone agrees with this of course – there was a big piece in the Times this week which you can see here where Chris McGovern, head of the Campaign for Real Education, said: "Indoctrination in the politically correct anxieties, passions and neuroses of adults has no place in school. This latest intrusion into childhood will cause upset, confusion and trauma for many youngsters." Whatever your opinion, here is bound to be a surge in demand for titles addressing this issue for children – and Jessica Kingsley are the market leaders. You will want to stock, A Practical Guide to Gender Diversity and Sexuality in Early Years (pb, £14.99, 9781785922893) by Deborah Price which is an easy-to-read and practical guide for early years professionals on how to discuss this with very young children. How to Transform Your School into an LGBT+ Friendly Place: A Practical Guide for Nursery, Primary and Secondary Teachers (pb, £14.99, 9781785923494) by Dr Elly Barnes MBE and Dr Anna Carlile is coming in April and also do look out for some really excellent picture books on the subject which JKP are publishing in spring and summer 2018. Vincent the Vixen (hb, £9.99, 978 1785924507) by Alice Reeves and Phoebe Kirk is about a fox who is assigned male at birth, but who knows they are actually a girl. With the help of family and friends, Vincent begins to understand their gender identity and the importance of accepting and being authentic to who they truly are. Phoenix Goes to School (hb, £9.99, 978 1785928215) is an empowering and brightly illustrated book for children aged 3+ which is co-authored by a mother and daughter – the main character being based on the daughter who identifies as trans. A House for Everyone is by Jo Hirst who is one of the leading transgender advocates in Australia (well known for their previous children’s book The Gender Fairy) This title includes a guide for parents and professionals and also a lesson plan.
That’s all for 2017 folks! More in the New Year!
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