Book clinic: what titles might help children deal with grief?

The Bookseller’s children’s and YA previews editor selects three titles offering a variety of perspectives on bereavement

Q: What books do you recommend for children aged four and up to prepare for, and deal with, a death in the family? What are the best kids’ books on grief?
Postdoctoral student, two book-loving kids (four and eight) and a terminally ill, much beloved relative

A: Fiona Noble, children’s and young adult previews editor for the Bookseller and member of 2017 Costa book awards judging panel
Talking about death can be overwhelming for adults; where to start with a child? Books are an invaluable way to open dialogue. Rebecca Cobb’s Missing Mummy is a straightforward but warm, tender look at the loss of a parent through the eyes of a small boy. Cobb excels at capturing a child’s perspective and a whole spectrum of emotions: anger and guilt, sadness and confusion. The child finds solace in being ...

Patrick Ness could land first ever Carnegie medal hat trick

Children’s author, who has won the UK’s most prestigious children’s book prize twice before, is nominated again alongside Angie Thomas and Lissa Evans

Patrick Ness could become the first author to win a Carnegie medal three times after his novel Release made the shortlist for the UK’s oldest and most prestigious children’s book award.

Real-life stories from both the present and the past feature strongly on this year’s shortlist for the Carnegie, which has been running for 81 years and which counts some of children’s literature’s brightest names amongst its former winners, from CS Lewis to Arthur Ransome. Ness, who won the medal for Monsters of Men and A Monster Calls, drew from his own experiences of growing up gay in a religious family when writing Release.

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Tracy Beaker, please never grow up | Claire Armitstead

Jacqueline Wilson’s bolshie girl is now a single mum on a council estate. Raymond Briggs’s wordless Snowman is becoming a book for ‘a new and older audience’. Why can’t we leave kids books for kids?

Stop the world, I want to get off. On 10 March, it was announced that Tracy Beaker has grown up and become a single mum, in a sequel to Jacqueline Wilson’s beloved trilogy aimed at adults and teenagers as well as preteens. And now it’s been announced that Raymond Briggs’s Snowman is flying towards a similar fate with a retelling by the (admittedly admirable) Michael Morpurgo that will transport the heart-melting carrot-nosed snowman to a “chapter book” for “a new and older audience”.

A chapter book! I ask you! The whole point of The Snowman is that there are no words. He exists in the magical storytelling space that enfolds parents and the smallest ...

Picture books for children reviews – strong mums and brave spirits

Naughty kittens light up Cressida Cowell’s latest, while another twist on the Rebel Girls formula is full of spark

“Can we EAT a story?” one hungry kitten asks her mother at the beginning of The Story of Tantrum O’Furrily (Hodder, £12.99, published 5 April). Resembling a modern-day folktale, the latest from bestselling author Cressida Cowell is such a lip-smacking pleasure to read, so playfully told, that you may well find yourself wanting to swallow it whole. Presented as a story within a story, it begins with ginger stray Tantrum O’Furrily telling her three kittens the tale of Smallpaw, a bored kitten warned not to go outside where the stray cats – “the story cats” – get up to mischief. Nevertheless, Smallpaw creeps out and is almost eaten by a sweet-talking fox: “‘Don’t be frightened, furry biscuit,’ said the foxy gentleman...” Thankfully she’s saved from his clutches by ...

My family and other Moomins: Rhianna Pratchett on her father’s love for Tove Jansson

On the anniversary of Terry Pratchett’s death, his daughter reflects on how Tove Jansson’s creations brought them together

I don’t remember the precise moment I was introduced to the Moomins. They were always just there; a cosy, comforting and slightly weird presence in my childhood that has stayed with me. My father called Tove Jansson “one of the greatest children’s writers there has ever been”, and credited her writing as one of the reasons he became an author.

My father’s family were the kind of postwar, no-nonsense British people who didn’t really do hugs or talk about their feelings. Instead, they showed their love by building things: toys, puzzles, go-carts, treehouses. It was a tradition that my father, still very much the awkward hugger himself, would continue during my childhood. He built me a market stall, a beehive (complete with toy bees), a stove and, most memorably, Moominvalley.

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Tracy Beaker is back … as a single mum fighting to make ends meet

Jacqueline Wilson shot to fame 27 years ago with the story of a girl in a care home. She talks about her new book on the now grown-up heroine

It has been 27 years since Jacqueline Wilson, then a little-known children’s author, got together with Nick Sharratt, a young illustrator, and conceived one of the most outrageous characters in children’s literature: Tracy Beaker, the feistiest, funniest 10-year-old ever raised in the dumping ground of a care home.

Now Tracy is back, in a new illustrated book set on a rough housing estate in modern-day London – and this time Tracy is a mother with a challenging nine-year-old daughter of her own.

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Tomi Adeyemi: ‘We need a black girl fantasy book every month’

Author of Children of Blood and Bone says her debut novel was a response to genre fiction in which the characters were always white

It has been called the biggest fantasy debut novel of 2018, drawing comparisons with everything from Game of Thrones to Black Panther, and has netted a movie deal reported to be worth seven figures.

But Tomi Adeyemi, the 24-year-old Nigerian-American author of Children of Blood and Bone, says that such success was the last thing on her mind when she sat down to write her epic tale of an oppressive world where magic has been outlawed.

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