It's cold outside: it must be time for the Whitbread shortlists. The children's shortlist really has lined up four of the best books of the year: Framed by Carnegie Medal winner Frank Cottrell Boyce about how a treasure trove of art ended up in a Welsh slate mine (Macmillan); The White Darkness by Geraldine McCaughrean (Oxford University Press) about Sym and her imaginary relationship with Antarctic hero Titus Oates; Permanent Rose by Hilary McKay, in the third book about the delightfully eccentric Casson family (Hodder Headline); The New Policeman by Kate Thompson, a story about music, the mysteries of time and a trip to Tir Nan Og which has already won The Guardian Children's Fiction award this year (The Bodley Head).
The poetry shortlist features two first collections - Lucky Day by Richard Price and Marabou by Jane Yeh (both published by Carcanet) - alongside Cold Calls by Christopher Logue and Legion by David Harsent (both published by Faber and Faber).
On the biography list, there's two accounts of contemporary troubled lives: Richard Mabey's story of his own recovery from severe depression through the recovery of his love of nature (Nature Cure, published by Chatto Windus) and Stuart: A Life Backwards (Fourth Estate) in which Alexander Masters links a homeless man's suicide attempts and life of crime to early learning difficulties and a violent childhood. The two straight biographies that make up the list are the second volume of Hilary Spurling's work on Matisse (Matisse: The Master, published by Hamish Hamilton) and Nigel Farndale on William and Margaret Joyce (Lord and Lady Haw-Haw) published by Macmillan.