Starting the new year with bookish delights

posted in: 2. Illustrators and Authors | 29

So first up, some wonderful news! Yesterday Playing by the book was named as the top UK Parent Blog of 2011 by the UK’s largest community of active British parent bloggers, the Tots 100. This wonderfully exciting news came out of the blue and put a huge smile across my face.

Next up, having tried a little experiment on Twitter over the holidays whereby I shared information about upcoming radio programmes (available to listen online worldwide) that featured children’s literature, children’s authors, children’s illustrators and book news I’m now going to try to share that information once a week here on the blog too. So this coming week, here’s what I hope to listen to (and what you should be able to listen to online either live, or for one week after the show is broadcast):

  • Herge’s The Adventures of Tintin BBC Radio 4 Extra Sunday 1st January 9.00 and 16.00
  • 1st episode of dramatisation of The Jungle Book BBC Radio 4 Extra Sunday 1st January 9.30 and 16.30
  • E Nesbit’s Five Children and It BBC Radio 4 Extra Sunday 1st January 13.30
  • In Our Time week long special dedicated to “the written word, and how it has shaped our intellectual history” BBC Radio 4 Monday 2nd January – Friday 6th January 9.00 and 21.30

  • If you know of any radio stations around the world which have regular slots for children’s books (or indeed, any radio programme I’ve missed) AND which can be listened to online around the world, please let me know in the comments so I can also check and link to them.

    Apart from the new slot dedicated to listening to children’s books/authors/stories and illustrators, I’m also hoping to take part in a few community events this year on Playing by the book. Perhaps you’d like to take part too?

    First up is the Award Winning Books Reading Challenge over at Gathering Books. I shall be focussing on translated prize winning children’s books and hope to start with something from this list:

  • Annelie in the Depths of the Night by Imme Dros, illustrated by Margriet Heymans – Winner of the Golden Paintbrush (The Netherland’s highest prize for illustration) in 1988
  • Little Sophie and Lanky Flop by Els Pelgrom illustrated by Thé Tjong-Khing – Winner of the Golden Paintbrush in 1985
  • Invisible by Katja Kamm – Winner of the Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis for best picture book in 2003
  • One Two Three Me by Nadia Budde – Winner of the Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis for best picture book in 2000
  • Is Grandpa Wearing a Suit? by Amelie Fried illustrated by Jacky Gleich – Winner of the Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis for best picture book in 1998
  • Letters to Anyone and Everyone by Toon Tellegen – Winner of The Marsh Award for Children’s Literature in Translation 2011 (translated from Dutch)
  • Eye of the Wolf by Daniel Pennac – Winner of The Marsh Award for Children’s Literature in Translation 2005 (translated from French)
  • A Dog’s Life by Christine Nöstlinger – Winner of The Marsh Award for Children’s Literature in Translation 1996 (translated from German)


  • Please feel free to suggest any books I might read as part of this challenge – I’m especially looking for picture books.

    Last but not least, I’ve a special giveaway! To say thanks to all of you who read my blog (last year about 75,000 different people read my blog!!), and especially to all of you who chat with me about books and play, whether via the comments, email or twitter there are some gifts up for grabs. All you need to do is leave me a friendly comment and you could win…

    A beautiful, handmade pencil case full of chocolate pencils plus a copy of The Pencil by Allan Ahlberg and Bruce Ingman, and also Bear Hunt by Anthony Browne.

    Thanks to my very talented sister Kate for making this pencil case!

    This giveaway is open worldwide until 6am Sunday 8th January (the only thing to note is that depending on your country’s postal regulations I may not be able to post the chocolate to you). Please don’t tweet or blog about it – I want this giveaway to be for regular readers of this blog!

    I couldn’t resist including this pencil themed video to go along with the pencil themed giveaway!

    So that’s it folks, 2012 has kicked off. Please do leave me a comment, say hello and join in the conversation about wonderful children’s books. Thank you to all of you for making 2011 such a great year here on Playing by the book.

    29 Responses

    1. Maxine

      Let me be the first to say Happy New Year, and thanks for such an entertaining and helpful blog!
      … and chocolate pencils! Cheers!

    2. Damyanti

      Congrats again, looking forward to reading about your adventures this year & giving me lots of ideas for books to explore with my kids.

    3. Ramona

      Congratulations and a happy new year!
      And finally, a giveaway for us, overseas readers, too!
      Oh, And I wanted to say that I bought a lot of books for my daughter maya after I read about them on your blog.
      Keep up the good job!

    4. Lynne Rickards

      Congratulations on your latest award! Well deserved indeed. If you’re looking for more children’s books on radio have you thought of the BBC Desert Island Disks website? Jacqueline Wilson, Quentin Blake, Michael Morpurgo and Julia Donaldson have all been on, and their programmes are available in the archive. I’m sure there are more I’ve missed – it’s a great resource!

    5. Kim

      Challenging and inspiring list of books there. I’ll have a look for them. Looking forward to getting to know your blog better in 2012.

    6. Actually Mummy...

      Congrats on the Tots100 – lovely news. And well-deserved, yours is one of the blogs that actually informs me of useful stuff as opposed to the many that just entertain me (not that there’s anything wrong in that!). As my 7 yr old bookworm exhausts my repertoire I will be back for more suggestions. On that note, do you have any advice for a child that wants to read more complicated books than those aimed at her age, and a Mum who doesn’t want her to learn about stuff she’s not ready for, if you know what I mean?

    7. Library Mice

      Happy New Year! I am looking forward to 2012 and the beginning of a new adventure together!
      Have you read Toby Alone? If you want a wonderful French prize-winner, choose this one, it is one of my favourite books ever. Let me know and you can borrow my copy, I can bring it on the 14th!

    8. Library Quine

      Congratualtions! I read your blog regularly and love it. If you are looking for radio programmes about children’s books, you could look at the USA’s National Public Radio. There is a very good programme called ‘All things considered’ and a new children’s book club at http://www.npr.org/series/141728003/nprs-back-seat-book-club. The programmes are syndicated, so broadcast times vary, but seem to be available as podcasts.

    9. macondo mama

      Congratulations, Zoe, and happy new year! I’ve found your blog invaluable for finding great English-language kiddie books from far away and asking for piles of them every time we have a visitor. Thanks for all your work!

    10. Charo

      Happy New Year, best desires and best reading with you.

      (Useful links and great ideas! Thank you!)

    11. sophie

      Happy new year Zoe !!
      Lets wish all of us the best books for 2012 !
      Thank you for your great posts, thank your girls for their great creations !!

    12. se7en

      Everything to love in this post!!! EVERYTHING!!! Tell me I saw you first on Tots100. Actually I am a bit in awe, here I just tweet to and fro asking radio info and you are numero uno!!! I loved that you started sharing the kids audio it has been brilliant and I know we are going to use it a lot this summer – when it is just too hot to go out!!! Thanks of your fab blog – totally love it!!!

    13. Clara

      Wonderful news, fabulous site, amazing year in store! Especially love to see that it’s a family affair, with your girls and now your sister too – what a creative gang you all are… now I’ve found Playing by the book I’ll be calling by ALL THE TIME!

    14. Stacey

      Yeah!! What fantastic news. How very exciting! Like so many of your commenters, I get so, so many ideas from this wonderful place. Keep up the great reading and writing!

    15. Tasha Goddard

      Congratulations and very well deserved place. 75,000 visitors? That’s astounding, though with the fabulous stuff you write about, I shouldn’t be surprised. I partiuclarly love your book-inspired activities and the interviews with illustrators.

    16. Myra from GatheringBooks

      Hi Zoe, we are thrilled that you have decided to join the reading challenge! I particularly love the fact that you have a specific focus in mind – can’t wait to read through your recommended titles. And yes, truly well-deserved recognition of your blog – hard work, passion, and a keen eye for reading materials always always pay off. Lovely giveaway too. Do tell your sister that she’s mighty mighty talented. 🙂

    17. Katherine

      Happy new year to you and your family! Can’t remember how I came across your blog but I love it. Hopefully I will blog some of my own children’s book adventures when our baby arrives in a few months (oops, nearly typed ‘next year’ there!). Looking forward to reading all about the book-related activities you and your girls get up to this year.
      Katherine recently posted..The year in Chatiryworld

    18. AngelaG

      Congratulations on the award! Love your site – have found so many fun books and activities for my kids here.

    19. Alice

      Happy new year and thank you for inspiring our family with lots of lovely books we wouldn;t have heard of without you! Are those pencisl really chocolate, I thought they were real!!

      Alice x

    20. lucy

      Chocolate pencils? oh yes!

      Happy New Year!!

      I have to say a big thank you … I got ‘there are cats in this book’ for my youngest for Christmas, following your recommendation – and she absolutely loves it … and my son adores the ‘amazing flying machines’ – I don’t think I would have come across either of them if I hdn’t seen them here first.

    21. Jen

      Congratulations, that’s quite the accomplishment!

      I have been searching for picture books translated from Japanese that have also won prizes for the translated version and have come up empty handed. 🙁 I’m going to keep searching and stalking to see if anyone else comes up with one too!
      Jen recently posted..Most anticipated picture books of 2012

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