What’s New And Exciting in Books from PanMacMillan South Africa…

I blogged about books throughout March, and now that it is April… nothing has changed. Brace yourself for a whole lot more book posts. First up is a post about the recent PanMacmillan showcase for children’s books, this is a highlight of our literary year and my gang is fully committed to it… year after year after year… what can I say… books + cake = commitment!!! In this post I am going to tell you all about PanMacmillan Kids books that will be launching this year… lots and lots of epic reads for all ages and stages…


The Theme for their showcase: The PanMacmillan Book Safari

You don’t have to say twice… there was an Animal Safari Theme and, “Would you like to dress up?” Apparently they did! They threw themselves into this project with boundless enthusiasm. Days were spent deciding and pondering, who or what to be… and the chaos that is an entire family working away on grand scale projects…


Needless to say they turned out well and won the dressing up prize of a big bag of books.

A very happy result!!!

The Feast: at Moyo Restaurant in Kirstenbosch Gardens


Always a fantastic themed feast, Moyo restaurant is great for banquets of the book safari variety…


And would you look at the cake… spectacular…

And the watering hole…

The Speakers

One thing I can say for the PanMacmillan speakers, who hail form South Africa and the U.K., is that they have very obviously read the books that they are presenting and they can tell you all about them with great enthusiasm. There is nothing like someone who has actually read the books, and loved them… telling you which books should be your next read.


First up was Macmillan Children’s Books:

  • There is going to be more Julia Donaldson, who is bigger than Harry Potter in sales… she is bringing our The Cook and the King, the king is looking for the very best cook and through a series of trials and errors, ends up cooking for himself. There are also going to be sound books and wait for it… a Room on the Broom Cook Book.
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  • There are going to be more Stories in the TreeHouse from Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton… just saying…
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  • And there is a new Emily Gravett, Cyril and Pat… and squirrel and rat who are best friends. We just can not wait!!!
  • Chris Riddell, unmissable of course… hooray, hooray!!! Once Upon a Time in the Woods… filled with his classic illustrations.
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  • Campbell Board Books are absolutely stunning… across the board (!!!) beautiful illustrations, packed with colour, simple yet lots to explore… great great books for little people and their grown ups to enjoy.
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  • Also from Campbell Board Books… have you met carousel books… have a look at Mermaid Kingdom… there are more in the series: enchanted forests, unicorns, and fairies. Very sweet, very hands on…
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  • For older readers… Children of Blood and Bone is my next read and apparently going to be the book of the year. A debut novel by Tomi Ayedemi, a quest for power and journey frought with struggle and a cliffhanger of note. Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian, a fantasy novel, where Princess Theodora’s country is invaded when she was six and she is renamed Ash a title of shame… a story of revenge and the invaders may well have underestimated the crown princess. Another one my teens are going to be reading.
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  • Meanwhile, Kat Wolfe investigates by Lauren St. John is a middle grade reader… that we have been enjoying together as a read a loud. Kat Wolfe is twelve years old, her mom is a vet and one night they have a break in, and her mum decides it is time to move to the country. Kat decides to start a pet-sitting agency to make pocket money, and finds herself in the centre of a mystery… fun reading.
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  • Not to mention piles of fabulous picture books…

Followed by Hachette Books:

  • Let’s start with the magical Oi Books by Kes Gary and Jim Field: These books are superb, superb. The next Oi book is Oi Duck-billed Platypus, and you can expect hilarious rhyming fun for word lovers of all ages and stages.
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  • The Brilliant Women Series: looks fabulous… encouraging girls to go on and do something brilliant!!!
    Brilliant Women, by Georgia Amson-Bradshaw and illustrated by Rita Petruccioli: Can I just say that I love this series: Amazing Artists and Designers; Pioneers of Science and Technology; Heroic Leaders and Activists and Incredible Sporting champions. I am all for the rise of women heroines in kids literature right now, but I especially like that these books cover activities that girls are interested in. So many books in this category are all about saying girls can be anything, and then look at a handful of famous women who might have done something in a male dominated career. The hidden message is of course, girls can be anything, especially if it is something that men traditionally did. My questions is: why can’t girls just be girls, there seems to be a less empowering message that says being a girly girl isn’t good enough. This series of books is great, it squashes the hidden agenda, it looks at famous women working in careers that would appeal to my girls. Coco Chanel, Caroline Herschel, Mary Anning, and Ada Lovelace, to name a few.
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  • Superpower Science: A series of fantastical and energetic vintage style comic book, super heroes, who ask incredible questions and live by them. For instance, “If you were a time traveler, what would be a consequence of your super speediness?” or “If you were a shape shifter what would happen to your clothes?” Solid scientific methodology and solid questions.
  • The Wizard of Once by Cressida Cowell: We totally loved this and are eagerly awaiting book 2 this year. If you haven’t read the first book in this series, then read it already!!! And while we are talking about book 2, there will be a second Nevermore… and there are people in our house that just can’t wait for that one either.
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  • Pat-A-Cake board books: Bright, chunky fun… you will want these for your coffee table… these books are so fabulous. Books that open up, stretch up, funky colours… and as appealing to the grownups of small people as they are to the small people.
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  • Rabbit and Bear by Julian Gough and Jim Field: We absolutely adore Rabbit and Bear. The cantankerous rabbit and wise wise bear, and all their woodland friends make a great couple. There are lots of hilarious incidents and perfect for beginner readers, just lurching out of the easy reader stage of reading. The stories are funny and engaging, with a pearl of wisdom buried inside them too.
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  • There is a Claude Collection by Alex T. Smithlaunching… Yes please!!! And a TV series to match. Claude and his most affable friend, socky, are just delightful… can never get enough of them.
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  • Two new middle-grade heroes on the block, Mr Penguin… another Alex T. Smith hero, and this fellow: Iguana boy by James Bishop and illustrated by Rikin Parekh, who happens to have the lamest super power ever… Dillon can talk to iguanas, and can I just say iguanas are all the same they are either called Paul or Pauline… I know my kids will love this!!!
  • Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes: This book was in our goody bags and I dashed home to read it. Contemporary fiction, the story of a young black lad shot and killed by a white cop… topical, I think so. When Jerome dies, he is able to look at the world from a very different angle. He can see his parents grief, and he can visit the home of the cop he shot him and he discover’s that there are some folk out there that are aware of him… his relationships with his one and only friend, his sister and the cops daughter are all brought into the story. It is gut wrenching, but nothing that your tween/teen kids can’t cope with. Jerome very quickly realises that he is not alone, there is an army of boys who have been through what he has been through and with the help of the cop’s daughter they start to raise more awareness. A powerful book about racial injustice, this book is a thought provoking must read, that will help kids to talk about a topic that is just so horrific to us that while we might want to turn away, we just can’t afford too.
  • Illegal by Eoin Colfer and Andrew Donkin: Is a graphic novel about a young boy from Ghana, called Ebo. It is the story of his treacherous and harrowing journey from Ghana to Europe… this is the story of so many refugee children. Looking forward to a chance to read this one. You can meet Eoin Colfer over here, and Andrew Donkin has a website here.
  • The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater: Another very topical book, this time looking gender… and the crazy things that teens do that, in a split second can change the direction of their life forever. The life of Sasha who identifies as agender, and attends an upmarket school in Oakland, California collides with the life of African American teenager, Richard from a local public school, on the 57 bus. Apart from their passing on the bus each day their lives should never have met… but one day Sasha falls asleep on the bus home and Richard and a couple of friends were playing a stupid game on the bus with a lighter and one thing leads to another and Sasha wakes up engulfed in flames… rushed to hospital and several operations and skin grafts later… Richard is charged for a hate-crime and life-imprisonment. The thing about this book is that it is a true story, you can read about it here.
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  • And amongst other great reads… I am just going to say it is the year of the Unicorn.


And of course Walker Books…

Lots of familiar friends… Timmy Failure will be back, there will be more of our friend Where’s Wally… Atinuke’s Baby Goes to Market is delightful, as is Giraffe Problems by Jory John.

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Not to mention Roger and Sally from Priddy Books…

My love for bright and beautiful, picture rich Priddy books doesn’t end…


I cannot begin to express how excited I am about see Priddy classics like First 100 Words, in local languages. It is so critical for children to have books in their own language… full marks to Priddy Books for this new feature. Otherwise lots of lovely wipe-clean books, and let’s pretend books and the Smart Kids series, that my guys really wanted to get inside and explore. these books are so great and they are always coming up with new and intriguing ideas… tactile books, that you want to touch and feel, brilliant illustrations and photographs… truly engaging books that you can rely on always appealing.
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The Book Table

Obviously there was a book table smothered in the latest and greatest reads and this is where we really stopped and took our time exploring… here are our favourites:

Living on the Veg by Clive Gifford and Jacqueline Meldrum: This looked like the most fabulous vegetarian book for kids, not because we are vegetarian ourselves… but because quite frankly… nobody eats enough fruit and veg ever and if I was looking for a book to inspire my kids… to want to try something new, or venture into eating food they already love with a vegetarian twist, then I am all for that. This is not just a recipe book, it covers all sorts of vegetarian topics… why be vegetarian, famous vegetarians, be a healthy vegetarian… all introduced in a bright, fun and readable way. This book would be great for curious kids and their parents, there is lots of information in there, its not preachy at all, just presenting the facts, followed by lots of delicious recipes. You can meet the author Clive Gifford here, and Jacqueline Meldrum, whose blog Tinned Tomatoes is fabulous, here.

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Three Cheers for Women by Marcia Williams: There is a theme in children’s literature right now… and it is all about women. I am all for it. To be honest, when I read a pile of biographies to my kids they don’t really mind if the hero is a male or a female, what I love is that there are a lot more heroine’s around for my children to emulate, than they were when I was a child. Not to mention, we are huge Marcia Williams fans… and quite a few of our favourites are in there… Let’s hear a “Hoorah!!!” for Wangari Maathai!!! Marcia Williams detailed comic strips are perfect for readers of all ages and stages, there is plenty to read on every level in here. We love her comic strips and you can take a look at Marcia Williams’ website here.

Books We Can’t Wait to Read


The Glorious Goodie Bag

One of the many treats of a Panmacmillan book showcase is the absolutely lovely goody bags… and as soon as we could escape to the Kirstenbosch Gardens we did, for a collapse and a perusal of our goody bags.


We dashed out into the gardens to fins a shady spot to enjoy them in… tons of books to read and explore… all the fun!!!


Blast from the Past

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We would really like to thank PanMacmillan South Africa for this fantastic event, for the invitation and of course the extra special treatment. This post is not sponsored in any way and the opinions expressed are as usual our own.

2 Replies to “What’s New And Exciting in Books from PanMacMillan South Africa…”

  1. Oh my so much work went into your post!!
    Nodding away totally agreeing with you regards female mentors and girls books!!
    Off to check out many of your links 🙂

  2. Hay Erin, thank you so much… yup this post was a big one!!! Hope you find some lovely reading inspiration in here… Have a wonderful weekend!!!

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