CONTENTS January 2021

2 Editorial _________________________________________

3 Jump into Super-Readable


Rollercoasters: new accessible reads from OUP and Barrington Stoke.

4 Books to Watch 2021 The best books of the year ahead, selected and described by their editors

Editorial 246 _________________________________________

10 Authorgraph: Lisa Williamson interviewed by Joanne Owen

12 Ten of the Best: picture books to reassure, selected by Carey Fluker Hunt

16 The Red Thread of

Hello and welcome to the first issue of Books for Keeps in 2021. It’s become something of a custom for us to open the January issue with a feature in which we ask leading figures to suggest what will be the talking points for the year ahead. We haven’t done that this time. After the year we’ve just had, making predictions of any kind seems a mug’s game. Instead, we’ve made a list of positives, things we can be thankful for and celebrate both now and in the months ahead.


So here are the BfK Reasons to Be Cheerful 2021:


14 Windows into Illustration: Harriet Muncaster

_________________________________________ _________________________________________

Reading for Pleasure untangled by Teresa Cremin

18 Beyond the Secret _________________________________________

20 Roopa Farooki interviewed by Michelle Pauli

Garden: Drawing Conclusions: the Kate Greenaway Medal by Darren Chetty and Karen Sands-O’Connor

_________________________________________ 21 I Wish: Alex Wheatle chooses


22 Writing Funny: an interview with Sam Copeland


23 Reviewers and reviews List of reviewers


Books about Children’s Books Under 5s (Pre-School/Nursery/ Infant) + Ed’s Choice 5-8 (Infant/Junior) 8-10 (Junior/Middle) 10-14 (Middle/Secondary) + New Talent 14+ (Secondary/Adult)

36 Classics in Short No. 145 Some Old Men and Others Brian Alderson turns to some much- needed unalloyed entertainment

_________________________________________ COVER STORY This issue’s cover illustration is

from A Shelter for Sadness by Anne Booth, illustrated by David Litchfield. Thanks to

Templar Publishing for their help with this January cover.

1. Children reading more and enjoyed reading more during lockdown

According to a survey by the National Literacy Trust, children’s enjoyment of reading increased during lockdown (from 47.8% pre-lockdown to 55.9% post-lockdown), having reached a 15-year low before lockdown.

More than a quarter (27.6%) of children and young people said they were enjoying reading more during lockdown and a third (34.5%) of children and young people said they were reading more during lockdown.

2. Value of reading recognised

It was recognised that reading provided a refuge in this difficult time, supporting children’s mental wellbeing

3 in 5 (59.3%) children and young people told the NLT during lockdown that reading made them feel better with 3 in 10 (31.6%) saying that reading helps them when they feel sad because they cannot see their family and friends.

3. CLPE’s Reflecting Realities report

Data collected over the last three years in report shows a steady year on year increase in the number for children’s books featuring ethnic minority characters. 10% of the children’s books published in 2019 featured ethnic minority characters, compared to 7% in 2018 and 4% in 2017. It is important to remember that these figures still illustrate the significant extent of under-representation of ethnic minority characters in children’s literature - in the whole of the last three years only 7% of the entire industry output

Books for Keeps

January 2021 No.246 ISSN 0143-909X © Books for Keeps CIC 2016

Managing Editor: Andrea Reece Editorial advisor: Ferelith Hordon Assistant Editor: Eloise Delamere Editorial assistant: Alexia Counsell Design: Louise Millar

Editorial correspondence should be sent to Books for Keeps, 30 Winton Avenue London N11 2AT.

2 Books for Keeps No.246 January 2021

featured ethnic minority characters while 33.5% of children in our schools are from a Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic background – but at least it’s an upward trend and 2021 is promising more good news of this kind.

The BookTrust Interim Report, published on the same day as the CLPE report notes insights into the makeup of children’s literature creators and comments on trends of contributions from UK authors of colour to the publishing landscape. We have a wealth of tremendous UK talent from icons like Malorie Blackman, Sita Brahmachari, Jamila Gavin, Catherine Johnson, Patrice Lawrence, Alex Wheatle, Verna Wilkins, Ken Wilson-Max and Benjamin Zephaniah to the stars of recent times Dapo Adeola, Sufiya Ahmed, Joseph Coelho, Sharna Jackson, Savita Kalhan, Irfan Masters, Zanib Main, Poonam Mistry, Onjali Q Rauf, SF Said, Holly Sterling, Chitra Soundar and many more.

4. Independent bookshops thriving More

than three-quarters of independent

booksellers responding to The Bookseller’s 2020 Christmas trading survey saw a rise in business year-on-year for the festive period. Meanwhile, a separate survey conducted by the Booksellers Association found 57.7% of booksellers it polled reported that trading was up compared with Christmas 2019—that survey also found participating bookshops earned an average fee of £1,647 through over Christmas 2020.

5. Books for Keeps – still here!

Our 40th anniversary year didn’t go quite the way we’d planned, but we are still here and almost ready to launch our new website. We managed to publish our regular six issues plus a Poetry special and are excited for the year ahead. Thank you to everyone who has contributed to our fundraising to date – we are still looking for another £4,000 and if you can’t make a donation, please help spread the word. https://www.givey. com/booksforkeeps

Happy new year to all our readers and thank you for your support.

Books for Keeps is available online at A regular BfK Newsletter can also be sent by email. To sign up for the Newsletter, go to and follow the Newsletter link. If any difficulty is experienced, email addresses can also be sent to*


Website: *Email addresses will be used by Books for Keeps only for the purpose of emailing the Newsletter and will not be disclosed to third parties.

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