Book Buzz

Blue Peter Book Awards 2020 Shortlists

November 10, 2019

Since 2000, the enormously popular and influential Blue Peter Book Awards have been recognising and celebrating the best authors, the most creative illustrators and the greatest reads for children.


Blue Peter Book Awards 2020:

Best Story Shortlisted books

Owen and the Soldier

Author: Lisa Thompson Illustrator: Mike Lowery

A beautiful tale of a courageous young man who overcomes his fears when he finds an unlikely companion in a park statue. Complex ideas of young carers, social anxiety and remembrance are sensitively weaved into a light and accessible story.

Vote for Effie

Author: Laura Wood

Laura Wood brings us a contemporary book for fierce pre-teens who want to make the world a better place. Effie's aims to make her new school a more inclusive space will encourage everyone to fulfil their potential.


Author: Vashti Hardy

In a world where the spirits of dead people can be harnessed and given new life in mechanical animals, Prue takes on her late brother's apprenticeship in an effort to bring him back. A riotously enjoyable tale mixing fantasy, school stories, science fiction and big questions about life and death.


Blue Peter Book Awards 2020:

Best Book with Facts Shortlisted books

Fanatical About Frogs

Author: Owen Davey

The fifth in Owen Davey’s wonderful non-fiction series about animals adds frogs to the ranks of clear, fascinating reads, accompanied by truly amazing graphic illustration and just the right level of information to inspire all primary school kids. 

How To Be An Astronaut and Other Space Jobs

Author: Dr Sheila Kanani & Sol Linero

Lots of children think they might like to be an astronaut, but what other jobs could one do and still be involved in space exploration and study? Complete with a press-out model rocket to build and pages of stickers to play with, this is an original and inspiring read.

Rise Up: Ordinary Kids with Extraordinary Stories

Author: Amanda Li Illustrator: Amy Blackwell designed by Kim Hankinson and Jack Clucas

This is a fantastic and inspiring book, sharing the stories of normal kids from across the world and their amazing achievements. After the biographical information, there are interesting suggestions for activities based on that child’s message or passion.

Preorder New Exciting Books

November 10, 2019

There are lots of great new titles coming out soon.

Order your copies now to be one of the first people to get your hands on them.

Just give us an email on or tell us at the till point.


Thursday 21/11/2019

Little Leaders: Exceptional Men in Black History by Vashti Harrison


Tuesday 03/12/2019

Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi


Tuesday 10/12/2019

Dog Man: Fetch-22 (Book 8) by Dav Pilkey


Thursday 09/01/2020

Shadowsea by Peter Bunzl


One Of Us Is Next by Karen McManus


Tuesday 19/05/2020

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (A Hunger Games Novel) by Suzanne Collins

INDIE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF THE MONTH NOVEMBER: The Snow Dragon by Abi Elphinstone and Fiona Woodcock

November 02, 2019

The BA Children’s Bookselling Group has announced The Snow Dragon by Abi Elphinstone and Fiona Woodcock published by Simon & Schuster, as its Independent Booksellers’ Children’s Book of the Month for November. It's available in paperback and a special exclusive indie hardback that is signed with an art print included. 

You can be late for many things in life, but you should never keep an adventure waiting...

In Griselda Bone's gloomy orphanage, daydreaming is banned, skipping is forbidden and Christmas is well and truly cancelled. But for Phoebe and her sausage dog Herb, is it possible that, just when things seem at their bleakest, magic awaits in the swirling, snow-filled air? 

Join them on an enchanting adventure in this beautifully moving story by the bestselling author of Sky Song and The Unmapped Chronicles, Abi Elphinstone, and renowned illustrator Fiona Woodcock.

Abi Elphinstone grew up in Scotland where she spent most of her childhood building dens, hiding in tree houses, and running wild across highland glens. After being coaxed out of her treehouse, she studied English at Bristol University and then worked as a teacher in Africa, Berkshire, and London. She is the author of the Dreamsnatcher trilogy and the Unmapped Chronicles, among other books for young readers, and the editor of anthology Winter Magic. When she’s not writing, Abi volunteers for the children’s literacy charity Coram Beanstalk, speaks in schools, and travels the world looking for her next story. 

From an early age Fiona Woodcock knew that she wanted to earn her living drawing. Since graduating from Glasgow School of Art she has been working freelance in London on animated films, commercials, animation artwork for West End shows and illustration work. She explores a variety of subject matter through self-initiated and commercial work, deriving inspiration from new places, brilliant people, bold patterns, structures and subtle details in everyday life. All the projects she works on have a paper based handmade origin. She likes to work with a combination of pencil, paint, charcoal, children's blow pens, cutting stencils and experimenting with print techniques whilst dreaming up new characters and stories.



Stepping into Stories Competition

January 01, 2020

Kick Off Your Story...


A flying boot. A rabbit. Hair pins - and a wig? What are these strange metal objects that have appeared throughout Herne Hill? All are part of the public art trail project Flying Boots and Eyes on Fire by Caroline McCarthy - launched to help revive Herne Hill after the devastating floods of 2013. And now you can be part of this story too.


The next step in this journey is to launch an annual Storytelling Competition, which will put Herne Hill on the map, whilst fostering the next generation of story makers. 


All you need to do to enter is to pick at least one of the art trail symbols, and tell your own story about this icon, in any format you like. What's its significance? What's its history? Where did it come from? How? 


We will then let acclaimed children's illustrator, Katy Riddell, have the trickiest task of all - that of choosing some lucky winners...


Mission statement:

'To weave a captivating tale that brings our hidden histories to life'


How to enter: 

  1. View/download the art-trail map and entry form at or pick up copies from the Sunday Market Community Tent, or from the Competition information holder in the Station underpass.

  2. Complete the art-trail or simply pick out one of the symbols. The competition encourages 'Story Making' in its many forms and formats - drawing, writing, comic strip, drama, poetry, rap, digital animation. Find your own way to tell your story and pop it down on the entry form OR if you would like to create a digital animation or record / film your story (maximum 2 minutes in length) and complete info and upload HERE.

  3. Competition age categories: 5 - 7 years; 8 - 9 years; 10 -11 years; 12-15 years; 16 years +

  4. Entry Forms should be submitted to the Community Tent in front of Herne Hill Station - There every Sunday with the market 10-4pm, or to Tales on Moon Lane. Submission deadline: 22nd December 2019

  5. For each age category there will be a winner's bag of books, together with the following prizes: 1st place £125; 2nd place £75; 3rd place £50.

  6. Winners will be announced as part of the Herne Hill Literary Festival, 5 - 9 Feb 2020 - full programme details to follow shortly, to include a celebratory exhibition of all entries.       

Good luck and get creative! All day, every day we experience stories being told in 

all their different forms - here is your chance to kick off your own!

Readers Awards 2019

October 04, 2019

The Books Are My Bag Readers Awards are one of a kind. They're the only book awards curated by bookshops and voted for by booklovers.

This year's awards, now in their fourth year, include seven shortlists chosen by booksellers across the UK and Ireland, while the Readers' Choice Award – nominated and voted for entirely by booklovers – completes the set.


Vote in this year's Awards and you could win one of five £100/€120 National Book Tokens. Plus you could win a set of all 38 shortlisted titles over on Caboodle!

Discover some of the brilliant shortlists below and follow the link to place your vote using the form for your chance to win.


Children's Fiction Award shortlist


Julian is a Mermaid by Jessica Love

Malamander by Thomas Taylor 

No Ballet Shoes in Syria by Catherine Bruton

Pages and Co.: Tilly and the Bookwanderers by Anna James

Rumblestar by Abi Elphinstone

The Good Thieves by Katherine Rundell 


Young Adult Award shortlist


Becoming Dinah by Kit de Waal 

Heartstopper Volume One by Alice Oseman 

"I Will Not Be Erased": Our stories about growing up as people of colour by gal-dem 

On the Come Up by Angie Thomas 

Proud by Various Authors (foreword by Juno Dawson) 

Toffee by Sarah Crossan 

Poetry Award shortlist


A Year of Nature Poems by Joseph Coelho and Kelly Louise

Poems to Fall in Love With chosen and illustrated by Chris Riddell 

The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta 


 Vote in this year’s awards by clicking here!

INDIE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF THE MONTH OCTOBER: The Somerset Tsunami by Emma Carroll

September 01, 2019

The BA Children’s Bookselling Group has announced The Somerset Tsunami by Emma Carroll published by Faber & Faber, as its Independent Booksellers’ Children’s Book of the Month for October.

A sinking boat…
A girl in disguise…
A disappearing sea…

When Fortune Sharpe carves a boat from a tree with her beloved brother, Gem, she’s only having a bit of fun. But now is not the time for a girl to be drawing attention to herself. She is sent away to find work dressed as a boy. Luckily a rich manor house is hiring. Yet Barrow Hill’s inhabitants harbour dangerous secrets of their own, the suspicious owner is hunting for witches, and the house itself is a little too close to the sea…


Emma Carroll is a secondary school English teacher. She has also worked as a news reporter, an avocado picker and the person who punches holes into filofax paper. She recently graduated with distinction from Bath Spa University's MA in Writing For Young People. The Girl Who Walked on Air is Emma's second novel. She lives in the Somerset hills with her husband and two terriers.



Stepping Into Stories Story Competition Launch Event

September 28, 2019

Stepping Into Stories Story Competition Launch Event, Sunday October 6th, 10am - 2pm at Station Hall above Herne Hill Station.  

Join us to explore the magical world of storytelling through arts and craft, poetry, and creative writing.


Visit our story stations and be inspired by images from the Herne Hill Art Trail.


Find out about the story making competition and how you can enter.


Including an appearance from renowned illustrator Katy Riddell (judge of our story making competition) and other fantastic children's authors and illustrators!


No need to book, just come along.


August 31, 2019

There are lots of great new titles coming out before the end of the year, even some exclusive indie editions!


Order now and you are guaranteed to be one of the first people to get your hands on a copy.


Just give us an email or visit us in store.


Thursday 03/10/2019


Oi Puppies! by Kes Gray

Another brilliantly funny, rhyming read-aloud picture book, jam-packed with cute puppies and silliness. From the bestselling, multi-award-winning creators of Oi Frog!. Dog is looking after some puppies. Quite a few puppies, actually, and none of them will sit! Not even on guppies, like they're supposed to! They're getting a little out of hand. But luckily Frog's got a cunning plan...

The Secret Commonwealth: The Book of Dust Volume Two by Philip Pullman
The second volume of Philip Pullman's The Book of Dust sees Lyra, now twenty years old, and her daemon Pantalaimon, forced to navigate their relationship in a way they could never have imagined, and drawn into the complex and dangerous factions of a world that they had no idea existed. Pulled along on his own journey too is Malcolm; once a boy with a boat and a mission to save a baby from the flood, now a man with a strong sense of duty and a desire to do what is right. Theirs is a world at once familiar and extraordinary, and they must travel far beyond the edges of Oxford, across Europe and into Asia, in search for what is lost - a city haunted by daemons, a secret at the heart of a desert, and the mystery of the elusive Dust. The Secret Commonwealth is truly a book for our times; a powerful adventure and a thought-provoking look at what it is to understand yourself, to grow up and make sense of the world around you. This is storytelling at its very best from one of our greatest writers. 


Thursday 31/10/2019


Deeplight by Frances Hardinge

From Frances Hardinge, the Costa Award-winning author of The Lie Tree. The gods of The Myriad were as real as the coastlines and currents, and as merciless as the winds and whirlpools. Now the gods are dead, but their remains are stirring beneath the waves. On the streets of the Island of Lady's Crave live 14-year-old street urchins Hark and his best friend Jelt. They are scavengers: diving for relics of the gods, desperate for anything they can sell. But there is something dangerous in the deep waters of the undersea, calling to someone brave enough to retrieve it. When the waves try to claim Jelt, Hark will do anything to save him. Even if it means compromising not just who Jelt is, but what he is...


Tuesday 05/11/2019


Sofia Valdez, Future Prez by Andrea Beaty

In the newest picture book in the mega-bestselling Questioneers series, Sofia Valdez fights for change and finds her voice as a community leader! Every morning, Abuelo walks Sofia to school until one day, when Abuelo hurts his ankle at a local landfill and he can no longer do so. Sofia misses her Abuelo and wonders what she can do about the dangerous Mount Trashmore. Then she gets an idea-the town can turn the slimy mess into a park! She brainstorms and plans and finally works up the courage to go to City Hall-only to be told by a clerk that she can't build a park because she's just a kid! Sofia is down but not out, and she sets out to prove what one kid can do.


Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Wrecking Ball (Book 8) by Jeff Kinney

The latest book from international bestselling author Jeff Kinney! In Wrecking Ball, an unexpected inheritance gives the Heffley family a chance to make major improvements to their home. But they soon find that construction isn't all it's cracked up to be. When things get rough, will the Heffleys be able to stay, or will they be forced to move?


Thursday 14/11/2019


Mr Penguin and the Catastrophic Cruise (Book 3) by Alex T. Smith

From the international bestselling creator of the Claude series Alex T Smith. Mr Penguin is boarding a luxury cruise ship. He doesn't like water, and he can't swim, but his friend Colin is performing with the Ladies Choir on board - and anyway, Mr Penguin feels like a rest after some busy Adventuring. What's more, fish finger sandwiches are apparently available twenty-four hours a day. Despite the glamorous film stars and party atmosphere, Mr Penguin can't help but feel that something shifty is happening on board. And when he befriends a young stowaway with a mystery of her own to solve, he soon finds that Adventures are lying in wait after all... This is the third Mr Penguin book with plenty of slapstick humour, mystery and adventure.


Tuesday 10/12/2019


Dog Man: Fetch-22 (Book 8) by Dav Pilkey

Howl with laughter with the EIGHTH book in the wildly popular Dog Man series! Petey the Cat is out of jail, and he has a brand-new lease on life. While Petey's re-evaluated what matters most, Li'l Petey is struggling to find the good in the world. Can Petey and Dog Man stop fighting like cats and dogs long enough to put their paws together and work as a team? Dav Pilkey's series appeals to readers of all ages and explores universally positive themes, including: empathy, kindness, persistence, and the importance of being true to one's self.

The Lollies Shortlist 2020

August 23, 2019

We’re very excited to announce the Lollies shortlist for 2020!

Baby’s First Bank Heist by Jim Whalley and Stephen Collins

Spyder by Matt Carr

Ten Fat Sausages by Michelle Robinson and Tor Freeman

You’re Called What?! by Kes Gray and Nikki Dyson

Bad Nana: Older Not Wiser by Sophy Henn

The Legend of Kevin by Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre

The Nothing to See Here Hotel by Steven Butler and Steven Lenton

The World’s Worst Children 3 by David Walliams and Tony Ross

Kid Normal and the Rogue Heroes by Greg James, Chris Smith and Erica Salcedo

I Bet I Can Make You Laugh by Joshua Seigal and Tim Wesson

I Swapped My Brother on the Internet! by Jo Simmons and Nathan Reed

Planet Stan by Elaine Wickson and Chris Judge

Vote for your favourite books that make you laugh out loud the most here


September 01, 2019

The BA Children’s Bookselling Group has announced Starbird by Sharon King-Chai, published by Two Hoots, as its Independent Booksellers’ Children’s Book of the Month for September

A stunning book to treasure from the astonishingly talented illustrator of Animalphabet by Julia Donaldson.

Starbird is an original fable about freedom and love. This unique book shimmers with shiny silver foil throughout pages filled with stunning illustrations of plants and animals as the magical Starbird seeks to escape the clutches of the Moon King.

Starbird's songs weave the richest dreams and delight all who hear him, but when the Moon King traps him in a cage as gift for his daughter, the colour and life in his voice begin to drip away. What follows is a story with the feel of a timeless myth, with the message that captivity dims even the brightest star.

A heartfelt, lyrical story, and an exquisite gift for any child or adult.



INDIE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF THE MONTH AUGUST: Kids Fight Plastic: How to be a #2Minutesuperhero by Martin Dorey

August 02, 2019

The BA Children’s Bookselling Group has announced Kids Fight Plastic: How to be a #2Minutesuperhero by Martin Dorey, illustrated by Tim Wesson, as its Independent Booksellers’ Children’s Book of the Month for August.

From the author of bestseller No. More. PlasticKids Fight Plastic: How to be a #2Minutesuperhero challenges readers with 50 missions to fight plastic at home, school and on their days out, with each task taking only 2 minutes to do. Kids Fight Plastic: How to be a #2Minutesuperhero is available to buy now, from Walker Books. 

Commenting on the importance of independent bookshops, Martin Dorey said, “Who can resist the lure of a well-loved independent book shop? Not me. I am lucky enough to live in a town with a thriving indie, Spencer Thorn, and I absolutely love it. And when I travel, which is a lot, I can’t walk past an indie without popping in, just to see what they’ve got, driving my partner mad. I wonder what’s new? Have they got mine? For a writer who is still absolutely thrilled to be published at all, there are few more exciting places.”




June 29, 2019

The BA Children’s Bookselling Group has announced Anna at War by Helen Peters as its Independent Booksellers’ Children’s Book of the Month for July.

From the author of Evie’s Ghost, Anna at War follows Anna, a young German Jew who is sent to England to escape the dangers of World War Two. But as the war comes to Kent and Anna is caught in a web of secrets, she comes up with a dangerous plan to prove whose side she is on. Anna at War is published by Nosy Crow.
On hearing of the book’s selection, Helen Peters said, “I am thrilled and honoured that Anna at War has been chosen as the Independent Booksellers’ Children’s Book of the Month. For my whole life, independent bookshops have been my favourite places. They are at the heart of every community that’s lucky enough to have one. They’re a haven of civilisation, connecting writers and readers by giving their customers personal attention in beautiful spaces where book-loving people will always find a home. I’ve never left a bookshop without feeling happier, calmer and more enriched. Booksellers are amazing people and independent bookshops are magical places.”   



Guardian's Best New Kids Books Summer 2019

June 28, 2019

Our very own Manager Tereze Brikmane has featured reviews in the Guardian's Best New Kids Books Summer 2019.

She reviewed her top 5 books for 6-8 year olds:

An Otter Called Pebble - Helen Peters 

Football School: Star Players - Alex Bellos 

Spaced Out - Brain Moses and James Carter 

Planet Omar: Accidental Trouble Magnet - Zanib Mian

What a Waste - Jess French

Click HERE to read her reviews on page 9, alongside more fantastic recommended books. 

Independent Bookshop Week Book Awards Winners

June 28, 2019

Independent Bookshop Week is over, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some great books and vising indie bookshops!

​The Winners of the Independent Bookshop Week Book Awards were:

If All the World Were… - Joseph Coelho illustrated by Allison Colpoys

The Storm Keeper’s Island – Catherine Doyle 

Follow @booksaremybag on social media and for all things IBW and bookshops.



YA Book Prize 2019 Winner: Goodbye, Perfect by Sara Barnard

June 07, 2019

Introducing the winner of the YA Book Prize 2019: Goodbye, Perfect by Sara Barnard.

"Sara Barnard's writing is an absolute triumph: this book is unputdownable and beautiful, unflinching in its exploration of important and complex topics and also a joy to read. A tender portrayal of the nuanced reality of teenage experiences and the journey to discovering who you are and what you stand for."
Laura Bates, Everyday Sexism founder and writer 

"An utterly riveting read—it wouldn’t let me go."
Alex Wheatle, award-winning author

"The most authentic teenage voice I've read in a long time, Goodbye, Perfect navigates the complexities of being a teenager and friendships beautifully." 
Daphne Lao Tonge, Illumicrate founder and Knights Of marketing director 

"A well-written book with a powerful message told in a very sensitive manner." 
Emma Suffield, SLA School Librarian of the Year 2018 

Find out more about the YA Book Prize 2019 shortlisted books and authors here

We know you love YA fiction so our aim is to showcase the best YA from the UK and Ireland, awarding the YA Book Prize annually to a novel our expert judges, including young people, think is something special. The prize of £2,000 was presented to Sara at Hay Festival. 


 Previous winners of the prize are Louise O'Neill's Only Ever Yours (2015), Sarah Crossan's One (2016), Patrice Lawrence's Orangeboy (2017) and Will Hill's After the Fire (2018).

Blue Peter Book Awards 2019

March 09, 2019

Since 2000, the enormously popular and influential Blue Peter Book Awards, managed by Booktrust, have been recognising and celebrating the best authors, the most creative illustrators and the greatest reads for children.


The Blue Peter Book Awards 2019 celebrates children's books published in the last year in two categories: the Best Story and the Best Book with Facts. 


Winner of the Best Story

The Boy at the Back of the Class by Onjali Q Raúf

This is the story about how four classmates have a massive impact on the life of Ahmet, a boy that comes to their school as a refugee from Syria. An inspiring and sweet tale that should help children be the best they can be and realise the power of kindness.


Discussing the award Onjali Q Raúf said:

'What a wonderful, surreal and truly epic honour it is to win this wonderful award! I can hardly believe that my childhood dream of owning a Blue Peter badge one day has come true in the most unexpected way possible! I am utterly bowled over by the love and support The Boy at the Back of the Classhas received not just from the marvellous Blue Peter Judges, but all the children who voted for its place as a winning title this year – thank you.'


Winner of the Best Book With Facts

The Colours of History by Clive Gifford, Illustrated by Marc-Etienne Peintre

Full of fascinating facts about colour, this book focuses on a topic that is not often covered in children’s books. It offers a wide range of opportunities and new ideas for parents and schools, working across the curriculum through art, history and beyond.


Author Clive Gifford said:

'To be recognised by a show I watched and loved as a child (and still do as an adult) is a remarkable thing. I’m tickled pink! I want to thank all the children who voted for The Colours of History. And a big thank to BookTrust for the remarkable work they do. Awards like these are so important in getting across how books with facts can tell incredible and important stories and excite, inspire and entertain young minds as much as fiction.'


Illustrator Marc-Etienne Peintre commented:

'I was very lucky to get to work with Clive and the Quarto team on such an interesting subject. I am extremely honoured to have won this prize, and most of all, to know that the children the book is intended for have read and enjoyed The Colours of History.'


The winners for the Blue Peter Book Awards were chosen by schoolchildren across the UK, who selected their two favourites from the shortlist put together by our judges: Alex T Smith (Author-illustrator), Louise Pentland (Author, parenting, lifestyle and beauty blogger and vlogger), Darren Chetty (Teacher, writer and researcher), and Ewan Vinnicombe (Editor, Blue Peter).

Find out more at:

Please reload