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Launch, Support, Review: The Latest Developments in Children’s Publishing

Review: A Secret of Birds and Bone by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

The talented Kiran Millwood Hargrave wins the hearts of younger readers once again with her latest middle grade adventure: A Secret of Birds and Bone. Set in the beautiful city of Siena after the devastating outbreak of smallpox, we join a brother and sister on their search for their missing mother.

Sofia lives an isolated and quiet life on the outskirts of Siena with her brother, Ermin, their mother, Renata and their pet crow, Corvith. Renata is an accomplished and dedicated ‘ossuarist’. She makes a living by carving mementos from the bones of the dead. In doing so, she provides solace for the bereaved after a plague which has ruined the city.

But their peaceful artistic life is interrupted when Renata disappears in the crowds of Siena’s Palio, a brutal horse racing competition. Sofia, Ermin and Corvith are thrown into a dark and mysterious world where they must follow cryptic clues through underground tunnels into the heart of Siena’s secrets.

Hargrave sweeps you away into the past with her bold characters and the rich, historical flavour she gives to her writing. Drawing her readers straight into the Italian Renaissance, the atmosphere, customs and details which make her world so believable are weaved into every page of her storytelling. This is perfectly complimented by the decorative illustrations of Helen Crawford-White. This gift of a book is perfect for children of 10+ and adults wanting to step back in time.

The Marcus Rashford Book Club

On 17th November, Marcus Rashford MBE announced his partnership with Macmillan Children’s Books. The 23-year-old Manchester United and England footballer aims to increase access to books and help children develop essential life skills that he felt he missed out on.

"I only started reading at 17, and it completely changed my outlook and mentality. I just wish I was offered the opportunity to really engage in reading more as a child, but books were never a thing we could budget for.”

Macmillan will publish a range of titles for children aged 5-18 as well as launch The Marcus Rashford Book Club, with the aim of celebrating the work of creatives from all backgrounds.

“There were times as a child the escapism of reading really could have helped me. I want this escapism for all children. Not just those that can afford it.”

The first book to be published is You are a Champion: Unlock Your Potential, Find Your Voice And Be The BEST You Can Be (May 2021, Macmillan) which will be an illustrated non-fiction aimed at children 11-16 and will cover topics such as resilience and the power of your own voice. Co-written alongside Carl Anka, a journalist and Katie Warriner, a performance psychologist, Rashford has said:

“My books are, and will be, for every child, even if I have to deliver them myself. We will reach them.”

Recently a campaign created by Rashford resulted in the government overturning their decision and now providing free school meals to disadvantaged children of Christmas, and overall "will improve the lives of near 1.7 million children in the UK over the next 12 months.” With the success of this campaign I for one cannot wait to see positive effects of this project.

Ways to Support Children’s Publishing in the Run up to Christmas

Donate to Tiny Owl’s Crowdfunding Campaign

Independent children’s publisher Tiny Owl recently announced a Crowdfunder, asking for support after their application to be granted Arts Council England funding was rejected.

The COVID-19 pandemic has without a doubt hit independent publishing houses especially severely, with Tiny Owl revealing that they are now facing heavy financial pressure in the wake of the pandemic. At a time when it feels more crucial than ever to ensure that children do not miss out on their education and literacy development, what better way to support this than by donating to a publisher that stands out within the industry for publishing ‘picture books for everyone’ that feature diverse characters and storylines. This is something especially relevant in the aftermath of the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education’s latest Reflecting Realities Report, the findings of which show that a lack of diversity remains a pressing issue within children’s book publishing as a whole.

You can offer your support to Tiny Owl either by donating an amount of your choice to their Crowdfunder campaign via this link (with several exciting rewards from authors and illustrators up for grabs!) or, treat yourself or a loved one to something from their online store. Some of our favourites for Christmas include their Christmas bundles for young readers and the strikingly illustrated picture books Bloom, Paris Cat, and The Secret of the Tattered Shoes.


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