December 16

Special Feature

A pick of this year's author interviews!
Matt Haig's The Girl Who Saved Christmas will bring a festive feel to classroom's, while Moira Young's The Road to Ever After is one of our favourite winter reads and Clover Moon is another appealing read from Jacqueline Wilson. For YA readers, Natasha Farrant's Lydia stood out for us, alongside SJ Kincaid's Diabolic. The Dotty Detective books by Clara Vulliamy and Phil Earle's Superhero Street are great for younger readers, and among the picture books we loved are Rob Biddulph's Odd Dog Out and and Kes Gray's Oi, Dog.

Read more


Christmas highlights, giveaways and competitions

Treat your Class Libraries this Christmas!

Teachers and librarians have selected some of their favourites to share with children this Christmas, and some special treats to update your class library shelves for the New Year!

Read more


Free books to review this Christmas

We have a great selection of books for teachers and school librarians to review for us this Christmas. The books include picture books, middle grade and YA fiction. We'll draw two reviewers for each title - just email us the book title(s) you'd like to review to enter the draw!

Read more


UK reading and writing progress stalls

The UK has made little progress in international rankings for reading and maths in the last three years, according to the latest results from PISA (the Programme for International Student Assessment).

Read more


Festive fun on television

Look out for some of our favourite stories on our television screens this Christmas, including Revolting Rhymes and We're Going on a Bear Hunt - with more programmes coming up in 2017.

Read more


Line-up for 'Biggest Book Show' unveiled

Next year's 'Biggest Book Show on Earth', organised by World Book Day, will include events with children's laureate Chris Riddell as well as authors Chris Hoy, Francesca Simon, Holly Smale and Cressida Cowell.

Read more


ReadingZone World Book Day Picture Book competition

We're thrilled to be launching our competition for children to create a picture book in January 2017. This is a great World Book Day activity and there are some fantastic prizes to be won!

Read more


Cartoonist and script writer Andy Riley joins ReadingZone Live!

Author Andy Riley (King Flashypants) joined us for a ReadingZone Live event focused on drawing and writing children's stories. You can watch the event here, together with earlier ReadingZone Live events with Michael Morpurgo, Andy Seed and Alex T Smith

Read more


Hard-hitting novel wins Guardian children's prize

Alex Wheatle won the Guardian children's fiction prize for his gritty urban novel Crongton Knights, the second in a planned trilogy set on a fictitious inner-city estate.

Read more


The best science books for children

A book about an adventurous sloth has won the Royal Society's Young People's Book Prize 2016, which champions the best science books for under-14s. Find the full shortlist here.

Read more


Costa Book Awards 2016 shortlist announced

The shortlist for this year's Costa Book Awards children's category includes authors Francesca Simon, Brian Conaghan, Patrice Lawrence and Ross Welford. Last year's overall Costa prize was won by children's author Frances Hardinge.

Read more


Special Feature


A pick of this year's author interviews!

Matt Haig's The Girl Who Saved Christmas will bring a festive feel to classroom's, while Moira Young's The Road to Ever After is one of our favourite winter reads and Clover Moon is another appealing read from Jacqueline Wilson. For YA readers, Natasha Farrant's Lydia stood out for us, alongside SJ Kincaid's Diabolic. The Dotty Detective books by Clara Vulliamy and Phil Earle's Superhero Street are great for younger readers, and among the picture books we loved are Rob Biddulph's Odd Dog Out and and Kes Gray's Oi, Dog.

The Girl Who Saved Christmas
Matt Haig

After the success of A Boy Called Christmas, author Matt Haig returns to the magical Elfhelm to explore what becomes of Father Christmas in his new role. This story is driven by Amelia, a child mentioned in the earlier book, whose hope has helped made Christmas possible. However, devastating changes in Amelia's life have all but extinguished her hope - and so this year, Christmas might not arrive at all.... We asked Matt Haig about elves, Christmas and his latest book.

Read full interview

The Road To Ever After
Moira Young

The Road to Ever After is an evocative and warm portrayal of the relationship between the aged Miss Flint and Davy David, an orphaned boy she persuades to help her fulfill a final journey; revisiting her childhood home and a tragic event that has cast a long shadow over her life. Here, Moira Young tells us how the story developed.

Read full interview

Clover Moon
Jacqueline Wilson

We speak to Jacqueline Wilson about her new character, Clover Moon, a Victorian girl from an impoverished family whose story includes a brief appearance by Hetty Feather. Determined, feisty and a talented artist, will Clover Moon be able to overcome her difficult start in life?

Read full interview

Lydia: The Wild Girl of Pride and Prejudice
Natasha Farrant

Natasha Farrant's latest novel follows one of Jane Austen's most spirited characters, the teenaged Lydia in Austen's Pride and Prejudice, to reveal what motivated her to elope with the young officer, Wickham, during her visit to Brighton. We spoke to Natasha Farrant about why she wanted to explore Lydia's story - and the challenges she faced in doing so.

Read full interview

The Diabolic
S. J. Kincaid

THE DIABOLIC by SJ Kincaid enjoyed a considerable online buzz even prior to its launch and it is sure to get YA readers talking, especially fans of sci-fi and dystopian fiction. Nemesis, the Diabolic of the title, has been created to serve and protect one person only; the galactic senator's daughter, Sidonia. So when the senator's political meddling puts Sidonia's life in danger, it is up to Nemesis to protect her, even if this means becoming more human than she - or her makers - ever thought possible. We asked author SJ Kincaid to tell us more.

Read full interview

Dotty Detective and the Pawprint Puzzle (Dotty Detective, Book 2)
Clara Vulliamy

If you're looking to introduce young readers to the detective genre, then the new Dotty Detective series from Clara Vulliamy is the perfect way to do so. Starring Dot, her trusty sidekick Beans and McClusky the dog, the trio set about solving mysteries that are close to home. We spoke to Clara Vulliamy about her new series.

Read full interview


Phil Earle

Michael J Mouse is desperate to be a superhero but he struggles at school and home life isn't at all easy either, especially when his magician dad disappears! But after his mum accidentally foils a robbery, Mouse finds himself with his own band of superheroes - but one of them isn't quite what she seems..... This book for 8+ readers is full of heart and humour, and deals with some tough issues with a light touch.

Read full interview

Odd Dog Out
Rob Biddulph

Odd Dog Out is a beautifully presented story about a little dog who likes to wear pink and yellow while everyone else is in black and white. But what if she found herself in a world where everyone is like her? We asked author / illustrator Rob Biddulph to tell us more about his latest picture book.

Read full interview

Oi Dog!
Jim Field

If you're teaching phonics and rhyming words, then Kes Gray and Jim Field's Oi, Frog and Oi, Dog books - and not forgetting Quick Quack Quentin - are brilliant, funny stories that bring phonics unexpectedly to life. They also help children learn about rhyme and spelling, too, through clever storytelling and lots of humour. Kes Gray tells us how the books came about.

Read full interview


Watch out for...
Bookclub Highlights

We have free copies to give away for reviews. Please email your school details to info@readingzone.com for the chance to win a copy.


Three Little Monkeys: Book & CD
Quentin Blake
Hilda Snibbs had three little monkeys. Their names were Tim and Sam and Lulu. They were very lively... But how can Hilda make sure that they behave while she is out? A funny and anarchic story from two giants of the picture book world. Read and review it this Christmas.

Read more



The Snow Cat
Holly Webb
This time-slip novel sees Bel transported into the past where she meets Charlotte, a Victorian girl her own age who desperately needs Bel's help. But time is running out... Read and review it this Christmas.

Read more



What Light
Jay Asher
Sierra lives two lives: her life in Oregon and her life at Christmas. And leaving one always means missing the other. Until this particular Christmas, when Sierra meets Caleb, and one life begins to eclipse the other. Read and review it this Christmas

Read more



We would like to thank publishers Macmillan Children's Books, Hachette Children's Books, HarperCollins Children's Books, Stripes Publishing, Simon & Schuster Children's Books, Frances Lincoln, QED, Chicken House and Penguin Random House for supporting our ReadingZone newsletters.

©Readingzone 2018.