Martin Brown

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.

NSTBA Past Winners-Information Books Category


Quality information books are so important in school-both for classwork and for reading for pleasure and we love investigating what’s available and considering how it can be used. The range of subjects and styles available is amazing and we are always learning about new things in our hunt for those special books for our list. We can’t wait to compile this year’s selection!

We have met so many lovely authors and illustrators of non-fiction books, many of whom have attended our award ceremonies.

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In 2015, this lovely book won. ‘Maps’ is beautiful and can be explored time and time again. You can read our review here. Sadly, no one was able to attend the award ceremony, but we have enjoyed sharing the book with our children.

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In 2016, Professor Astro Cat’s Atomic Adventure won this category. Full of fascinating facts and lavishly illustrated, this is an amazing book. The character of Professor Astro Cat is so appealing, explaining difficult concepts clearly. The lovely Ben Newman attended the awards and delighted us all by drawing pictures of Professor Astro Cat in our books. You can read our review here.


Martin Brown’s Lesser Spotted Animals won this category in 2017 with Martin attending the award ceremony. This is a wonderful book, focusing on endangered animals. Beautifully illustrated and full of Martin’s lovely humour, this is a real gem which we have enjoyed using, particularly for guided reading. You can read our review here.


Martin is absolutely lovely and was wonderful company. We are very much looking forward to his second book about ‘Lesser Spotted Animals’ which is coming soon! I can’t wait to read it and share it.


Last year, ‘The Histronauts An Egyptian Adventure’ was our winning book. This is brilliant fun and perfect for those teachers teaching the Egyptians. Grace’s wonderful illustrations lead the story in cartoon style whilst Frances delivers carefully researched historical detail through the story. You can read our review here. Frances was able to attend last year’s awards and was wonderful company. We look forward to many more Histronauts books!


Each of these books has been widely used in our schools and each has ideas for a book event and /or teaching notes to go with them which are available to our members. It is a pleasure to see them being used in classes and enjoyed by so many children!

What treasures will we manage to find for this year’s list? Next, we’ll look back and enjoy the winners of our Poetry Category.

Another year over...


What a book-filled year this has been! In many ways, it has not been the easiest; however, there is always so much to be thankful for.


We have read many marvellous books this year. Creating our long list was really challenging; whittling it down to the short list even more so, but we ended up with an amazing group of books. 


Twitter if full of people's lists of 2017 favourite books and I agree with many of the choices that are out there. I have read so many books that I have enjoyed- far more than I have time to review- enabling me to recommend and share with colleagues and children. Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to tell us when they have found our reviews useful- particularly those in education who we hope we are supporting with our awards. Please continue to get in touch and let us know if you have any ideas!

SO -favourites of 2017! Where do I begin..?


Mr Penguin and the Lost Treasure by Alex T Smith. I absolutely adored this one. Expect to hear a lot more about this in the new year as it is one of our current teacher reading group titles and will be discussed in January!


This is NOT the Zoo for You by Ross Collins. This has had such an excellent response from children I have shared it with. You can read our review here.

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Grumpy Frog by Ed Vere- I am married to the original! You can read our review here.

The Great Gran Plan by Elli Woollard and Steven Lenton.  A review of this treasure will be coming soon! Such a great book to engage children with story and illustration.


So gorgeous! Origami, Poems and Pictures from The British Museum. You can read about our attempts at origami here.


Best book of the year. If you haven't read it, why not? You can read our review here   and find out about my trip to Heligan here.


I know I shouldn't just choose our winners, but I love this book. It's humour- and the importance of its message- make it a real hit! You can read our review here.

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Such a beautiful book- both in words and illustrations. A Story Like the Wind by Gill Lewis, illustrated by Jo Weaver. You can read our review here.

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Running on the Roof of the World by Jess Butterworth. Such a gripping story. You can read about the book and the launch here.

Cell 7 by Kerry Drewery, follow up to Day 7, is a great read for older children. 

That's 10- but there are so many more I could add- the whole of our long list for starters! I have read well over 300 books this year and so many have been really enjoyable for a whole range of reasons. For this list, I tried to pick things that other people haven't mentioned, but that doesn't mean I didn't enjoy theirs too!  Some of the books I have read and loved recently belong to next year- we are already gathering titles for next year's awards.

All at NSTBA wish everyone a fantastic, bookish, safe and happy 2018. 

Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365 page book. Write a good one.