David Fickling

Oxford Literary Festival part 2- Martin Brown


Last week, I went to see Martin Brown at Oxford Literary Festival where he was talking about his new book, Lesser Spotted Animals 2. The first Lesser Spotted Animals was our 2017 Information Category winner, a wonderful book which uses humour and empathy to introduce the reader to animals - many endangered- which are less well known than perhaps they should be. It is a fascinating book being very successfully used for guided reading in addition to being a fabulous book for the library.


Martin’s session was wonderful. His brilliant sense of humour instantly engaged the audience as he skilfully introduced us to some fabulous creatures: the black and rufous sengi- also known as the black and rufous elephant shrew, for example and Blainville’s beaked whale for another. Martin explained that although he could have used photographs or made very realistic drawings for his books, he decided to use the cartoon style of illustration so that he could adopt a more light-hearted approach.

Martin set out to convince the audience that anyone can draw- that no one is born playing the piano or able to do maths. These are skills that are learned and developed just as drawing can be. He then set about engaging everyone in making suggestions and showing how a face can be built with different features and showing different expressions.


This second book introduces more wildlife we rarely get to hear about, making the argument that we can’t help any creature- endangered or not- if we don’t even know of its existence. In Martin’s very chatty and accessible style, the plight of each creature introduced is shared with the reader as well as fascinating facts about them and where they live. Although humour is successfully used, Martin does not shy away from conveying the danger many of these creatures are in. When talking about the grey slender loris, for example, he ends with the words ‘The problem is, us big primates are not going away.’


Every bit as enjoyable as the first book, ‘Lesser Spotted Animals 2’ is as entertaining as it is fascinating. Bravo, Mr Brown- another triumph!

Lesser Spotted Animals 2 Martin Brown

David Fickling Books ISBN:978-1788450393


You can read our review of Lesser Spotted Animals here.

Oxford Literary Festival 2019


Today, I enjoyed the beautiful spring sunshine in Oxford for the festival. Last year, I drove through snow to get here; this year, it was fog, but by the time I arrived it was a lovely day.


I spent some very happy time in Blackwell’s which I absolutely adore. No book was left unturned in my quest to add to the amazing selection of suggestions we already have for this year’s awards. The staff were so lovely and friendly and the time flew by!


My first event was at St Cross College where David Fickling, Dan Freedman and Candy Gourlay were discussing what makes a great children’s book. The setting was lovely- the college courtyard looking beautiful in the sunshine.


David Fickling is one of the most inspirational, enthusiastic people I think I have ever had the pleasure of listening to. His passion for good stories and his pride in his ‘village’ of a publishing house was infectious and no one could doubt the warmth and mutual respect between him and his authors.


Dan Freedman explained how he had never really seen the point of writing until he realised that he could make a career of watching sport and writing about it as a sport journalist. The led eventually to his writing his Jamie Johnson books, a hugely popular football based series. He then spoke about his new book, published by David Fickling, called ‘Unstoppable’. Focusing on twins with very different sporting dreams , it is a gripping read which follows the many obstacles and complications which they face. Dan read two short extracts, one focusing on each twin. ‘Unstoppable’ will be reviewed very soon.


Candy Gourlay was completely captivating as she spoke about her childhood in the Philippines and how she came to reading and then to writing. Her latest novel, ‘Bone Talk’ has just been shortlisted for the Carnegie award and she explained how she had come to write about the Bontoc people and the American invasion of the Philippines. Candy was fascinating to listen to and ‘Bone Talk’ is a must read which I reviewed for Reading Zone a while ago. I will post my review here soon.


It was a fascinating session for everyone!

Unstoppable Dan Freedman

David Fickling Books ISBN: 978-1788450492

Bone Talk Candy Gourlay

David Fickling Books ISBN: 978-1788450188

2018 Read Aloud Shortlist

So here it is...

the 2018 NSTBA Read Aloud shortlist.


Nevermoor- The Trials of Morrigan Crow   Jessica Townsend

Orion     ISBN:  978-1510103825

You can read the long list review here.


The Book Case - An Emily Lime Mystery      Dave Shelton

David Fickling Books       ISBN: 978-1910200544

You can read the long list review here.


Fabio The World's Greatest Flamingo Detective: The Case of the Missing Hippo

by Laura James, illustrated by Emily Fox

Bloomsbury     ISBN: 978- 1408889312

You can read the long list review here.


You Can't Make Me Go to Witch School!       Em Lynas, illustrated by Jamie Littler

Nosy Crow        ISBN: 978-1788000130

You can read the long list review here.

Congratulations to all! The winners will be announced at the awards ceremony on the 10th November.