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Alphonse, That Is Not OK to Do!

Alphonse, That Is Not OK to Do!

Daisy Hirst
Walker Books Ltd
ISBN: 9781406354317

Alphonse, That Is Not OK to Do!

The sibling relationship in this story will be recognised by many an older - and younger - sister or brother. 'Once there was Natalie, and then, there was Alphonse too,' is how it begins. 'Natalie mostly did not mind there being Alphonse' and the two do many things together. Until the day that Natalie finds Alphonse under their bunk beds, eating her favourite book.... something that Natalie thinks is "not ok to do!". She doesn't want to play with Alphonse any more until she discovers how much Alphonse wants to put things right - despite the disasters that follow! There is lots of gentle, warm humour in this book and some wonderfully expressive illustrations (these two little monster siblings are a treat!).

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Unstoppable Max

Unstoppable Max

Julia Patton
Oxford University Press
ISBN: 9780192744104

Unstoppable Max

Max has a huge amount of energy. But when he is given three tasks to do at bedtime - tidy his toys, put on clean pyjamas and feed the goldfish - it doesn't go smoothly and Max has to stop and think carefully about how to put things right. A creative story that will help children to make their own assessments of just how helpful (or not) they are being! Ages 4+.

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The Nativity

The Nativity

May Eliot
Picture Corgi
ISBN: 9780552567626

The Nativity

This Nativity story - 'The Story of Baby Jesus' - is a gorgeous retelling of the events leading up to the birth of Jesus as Joseph and Mary made their way to Bethlehem for the birth of their baby.

The story is told simply and clearly, highlighting the main points of the nativity to the Angel Gabriel's appearance to Mary, the journey to Bethlehem and the visiting kings and shepherds who come to see the new baby.

The illustrations add to the power of this story by depicting the ordinary people and animals, landscape and houses, alongside the stars twinkling and swirling in the sky and the more stylised angelic appearances.

Its power is in showing Mary and Joseph as a couple living an ordinary life until these extraordinary events unfolded.

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ISBN: 9780230769885

A little rocking horse is the star of the latest title from bestselling Julia Donaldson.

When the rocking horse decides that he’d prefer to be outside trotting along the roads and fields, with a swirl of magic from the unicorn, that’s where he finds himself. But he soon realises that pulling carts is hard work - he would rather be a race horse, and then a circus horse - but what life would be best for this little horse?

Donaldson once again delivers a beautifully-told story in addictive verse, especially its repeated refrain the very sparkly magical unicorn - 'Seven times she turned around and – the unicorn's wish came true!'

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Snowflakes

Snowflakes

Cerrie Burnell
Scholastic
ISBN: 9781407135038

Snowflakes

CBeebies presenter Cerrie Burnell has turned to writing and her first picture book, Snowflakes, is published by Scholastic this month.

In it, a little girl called Mia, 'Who came from a city of streetlights and stars', leaves her home in the town to live with her Grandma in a cottage deep in a forest. Mia feels alienated by the house and the forest; she has never feed a chicken or had a pet before. She sees snow for the first time and other children playing in the school, who are all as pale as snow, 'so different from the children in the city'.

But when the snow falls that night Mia realises that each snowflake is rare and beautiful and that while she feels different, she too is perfect – just like the snow. 'Every snowflake is different, every snowflake is perfect'.

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How to Wash a Woolly Mammoth

How to Wash a Woolly Mammoth

Michelle Robinson
Simon & Schuster Childrens Books
ISBN: 9780857075796

How to Wash a Woolly Mammoth

How to Wash a Woolly Mammoth is a warm and funny story about a small girl's attempts to wash her enormous woolly mammoth. It is told as a step-by-step guide through a series of instructions whose illustrations underscore the reality that washing a mammoth is never going to be an easy task....

The author Michelle Robinson has cited the internet story, 'how to give a cat a pill', as inspiration for her story, which also adopts a guide-like approach with increasingly unpredictable outcomes; although when your lead character is a woolly mammoth, nothing is going to be that predictable...

Will it be a crane, or cake, that entices the mammoth into the bath? What happens when the mammoth decides to climb a tree? How useful are trampolines for getting mammoths out of trees? - just some of the unexpected scenarios readers will enjoy.

Through the clever and entertaining illustrations by Kate Hindley, we see the girl's relationship with the mammoth as a patient and kindly one - despite all mammoth's attempts to evade the bath she perseveres and, eventually, succeeds in delivering a clean and happy mammoth.

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Elephant's Birthday Bells

Elephant's Birthday Bells

Carrie Grant
Egmont Books Ltd
ISBN: 9781405258340

Elephant's Birthday Bells

Carrie and David Grant, the faces behind CBeebies' former Pop Shop music show, have now put their considerable talents to writing picture books and in the Jump Up and Join In series from Egmont, we take a rumbustious and carefully-crafted path into the world of music.

Each of the stories - there will be six in all - focuses on an animal character who explores a particular musical theme, for example loud and soft in Elephant's Birthday Bells while others will feature fast and slow, keeping time, confidence, breathing and vocal care.

The stories are simple and the illustrations full of humour and colour so there is plenty to appeal to younger readers, but as you reach the activities in the back with the accompanying CD and notes, you realise that there is much more to these books than a simple story.

The CD, which links to the characters and the story, explores how sounds can be made and changed (softer or louder, faster or slower), but then it becomes more sophisticated with the idea of sequencing sounds and harmonising.

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And the Cars Go...

And the Cars Go...

William Bee
Walker Books Ltd
ISBN: 9781406309997

And the Cars Go...

This is a book which positively demands to be read aloud and has lots of opportunities for noisy sound-making audience participation! It follows the same linear format as the very popular 'And the train goes...' also by this author.

So we have a delightfully autocratic police traffic cop coming to a halt at the end of a line of traffic and he walks up the road past each very different and lovingly drawn road vehicle to find out what is causing the hold–up and to get the traffic moving again. Each quirky and beautifully detailed vehicle has its own story to tell.

Each vehicle also makes its own distinctive noise and the lovely rhythmic text builds to a climax as we come upon the cause of all the noise and mayhem - a farmer and some very stubborn sheep!

We all know cars are many little boys' obsession and one definitely gets the impression that Mr Bee has not grown out of his!

Reviewed by Joy Court.

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The Crocodile Who Didn't Like Water

The Crocodile Who Didn't Like Water

Gemma Merino
Macmillan Children's Books
ISBN: 9781447214717

The Crocodile Who Didn't Like Water

This story is about a crocodile who can't swim and who hates being in the water. But little crocodile finds that it's lonely being the only one who can't swim, especially when all his siblings are having fun in the swim club... We have to admire little crocodile's attempts at inclusion, which include buying himself a rubber ring (with money left by the tooth fairy!) and simply jumping in.

After an especially bad day in the pool, little crocodile discovers just why he can't swim - he isn't a crocodile at all... but what is he?

We love the illustrations in this story, they really engage you with the brave little crocodile and there's a lovely and satisfying twist at the end of the story. Watch out for somersaulting , synchronised, stupendously swimming crocodiles – and a small but rather fiery dragon.....

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Georgina The Giraffe

Georgina The Giraffe

An Vrombaut
Hodder Children's Books
ISBN: 9781444912982

Georgina The Giraffe

Keeping with the animal theme, it's good to see these 64 Zoo Lane stories (CBeebies) republished with their child-friendly illustrations and themes about friendship, helping others and working together.

In this story, talented Georgina the giraffe wants to put on a performance for her friends to show just how talented she is - she can sing and dance and do amazing things with her neck! Unfortunately, Georgina gets a bit carried away about being the best at all these things and her boastful behaviour gets her into a bit of a twist and leaves her with a huge knot in her neck!

Luckily, her friends know who can help her get rid of the pain in her neck. In doing so, they also remind Georgina that being a good friend is more important than being the best at everything.

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The Super Swooper Dinosaur

The Super Swooper Dinosaur

Leonie Lord
Orchard Books
ISBN: 9781408307816

The Super Swooper Dinosaur

The Super Swooper Dinosaur is the fast-paced story of Hal and his little dog Billy who are out playing in their garden, when the super swooper dinosaur flies in for some fun.

Of course there is only one problem which is finding a game that is suitable for a boy, a dog and a dinosaur to play together!

Leonie Lord's lively, child-friendly illustrations perfectly blend with the text and bring the story alive. The theme of 'Dinosaurs' will have particular appeal to many small boys for whom Dinosaurs is one of their favourite subjects.

The games Hal, Billy and the dinosaur play together; hide and seek, dancing and playing in the paddling pool, are games children can easily identify with and enjoy.

Reviewed by Valerie Christie, librarian.

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Big!

Big!

Tim Hopgood
Picture Corgi
ISBN: 9780552564878

Big!

The question posed by a little boy in this picture book is, 'How big am I?', and as he explores the question, he realises it's a tricky concept.

Compared to an ant, for example, he's a 'ginormous giant' but next to a bear, 'I'm really quite small'. These comparisons continue through the story as he compares himself to the size of popcorn, buildings, an elephant and a mouse.

What the book does know is that he knows he's growing - and one day, he will be even bigger than his dad.

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The Hundred Decker Bus

The Hundred Decker Bus

Mike Smith
Macmillan Children's Books
ISBN: 9780230754584

The Hundred Decker Bus

We can see this story, about a bus driver who changes his regular route to head off into the great unknown, becoming something of a classic.

The story itself is told in quite an understated way, which contrasts brilliantly with the what we see unfolding on the page. After turning away from his usual route, a bus driver invites passengers to board and go "anywhere", and that is what they do - across the sea, over mountains and through deserts, picking up more passengers as they go.

But where can all these passengers sit? An ingenious solution is the creation of more and more levels on the bus and the form these levels take is what makes this story so enchanting. We have boats and swimming pools, party decks and temples piled atop an ordinary red bus - and when it gets all too much for the poor overworked engine, another fantastical solution is presented on the final spread. Fabulous.

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Best Word Book Ever

Best Word Book Ever

Richard Scarry
HarperCollins
ISBN: 9780007507092

Best Word Book Ever

Richard Scarry's Best Word Book Ever is a nostalgic look at the world some 50 years ago when this book was first published, but it is also surprising how little things will have changed in the world of a young child.

These spreads are comfortably filled with animals going about their daily (albeit human) activities, from delivering the post to fighting fires and ploughing the fields, as well as the more ordinary tasks such as getting up, going to school and meal times.

The book can be adapted to suit younger children who are still learning words for everyday objects, as well as older children who are starting to read. While the book does not adhere to phonic-based learning, each identifying word on the page is illustrated it so can be used to help children develop word recognition.

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Nuddy Ned

Nuddy Ned

Kes Gray
Bloomsbury Childrens
ISBN: 9781408836590

Nuddy Ned

This is a terrific story by Kes Gray about a child who refuses to wear any clothes. The double joy of naughtiness and bottoms will delight children along with the strategically-placed flaps that protect Ned's modesty.

The rhyming text is energetic and catchy and I have already spotted children running around in the all-together shouting 'I'm Nuddy Ned'!

The fact that Nuddy Ned wins the day (his parents eventually follow his lead) will undoubtedly strengthen the story's appeal!

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Scruffy Bear and the Lost Ball

Scruffy Bear and the Lost Ball

Christopher Wormell
Jonathan Cape Ltd
ISBN: 9780857550118

Scruffy Bear and the Lost Ball

This is the second outing for Scruffy Bear who we first met in Scruffy Bear and the Six White Mice, by the award-winning Christopher Wormell.

Scruffy Bear is an appealing and inventive little bear who tries to do the right thing but is also a little mischievous and sometimes he can't help getting in trouble.

In this adventure, Scruffy Bear sees a beautiful red ball which he kicks - straight into a very high tree. When a group of bunnies come along looking for their ball, he knows he has to make things right and this means climbing the tree to retrieve the ball.

On the way he meets lots of animals that live in trees, including a squirrel, an owl and a stork, and he finally manages to find the ball when he is right at the top of the tree - where he also has a narrow escape.

The animals are all depicted more naturally than many picture books allow and the views through the tree’s branches give a child an inkling of all the pleasures to come when they start climbing trees themselves!

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The Dinosaur That Pooped Christmas

The Dinosaur That Pooped Christmas

Tom Fletcher
Red Fox
ISBN: 9781849417792

The Dinosaur That Pooped Christmas

You might be surprised to discover that McFly have turned their talents to writing Christmas stories but whether or not you're a fan, you will love what's in store in this Christmas tale.

The rhyming text is great and there are lovely snowy spreads that put you in the Christmas mood. Until, that is, a 'greedy young chap' named Danny writes his unusually long Christmas list....

Santa decides to teach Danny a lesson and leaves an enormous dinosaur egg instead of presents. When the dinosaur hatches, it starts to munch and into his mouth goes the Christmas tree, the presents, the parents, the granny and the house - and even Santa!

When he realises what he had done, the dinosaur relents - but there is only one way to eject Christmas from his tum.... you get the idea. Expect lots of poo - there's loads of it! - and look out for Santa surfing his sleigh through the biggest wave of poo you've ever seen!

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ISBN: 9780192758262

As small children prepare for their Christmas preschool shows, this endearing book will help reassure them that nerves and anxieties about performing are okay.

Most of the animals are very excited about the end of term play - all except Boris the bear who is nervous about the big show.

The children's teacher, Miss Cluck, has invited Pond Side Nursery to come and watch the children perform. After much practising, scene-painting and costume fitting, they are finally ready - but where is their audience?

It turns out that the ducklings and frogs from Pond Nursery have got stuck in the mud and can't make it! But Boris has a special superhero costume and it's given him an idea that could just save the day!

Expect lots of noise, lots of action, a lot of paint being splashed around, and a big, hairy, not-so-scary bear!

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Sir Charlie Stinky Socks and the Tale of Two Treasures

Sir Charlie Stinky Socks and the Tale of Two Treasures

Kristina Stephenson
Egmont Books Ltd
ISBN: 9781405253994

Sir Charlie Stinky Socks and the Tale of Two Treasures

Sir Charlie Stinky Socks, who is always ready for adventure, has found a treasure map! The bold, brave knight decides to embark on a quest to find the treasure along with his trusty grey mare and his faithful cat.

But watch out, Sir Charlie, for the Tomb of Doom, the River of Riddles, a Mine of Despair AND a Puzzling Pit. And is that someone following you...?

Sir Charlie and his faithful, fearless helpers face cobwebs and skeletons, rascally riddles and grumpy goblins before they reach the end of the quest and unlock the mysterious treasure chest to discover what's inside....

Sir Charlie's adventures are sparked by the everyday objects around him and his imaginative travels are great for girls and boys aged three to five years.

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ISBN: 9781444903027

This story has a big, fat, fire-breathing dragon, a grumpy, ugly little witch and a very big giant in a smart suit. They all think they are totally terrifying and scare themselves silly with how terrifying they are!

But when they meet up one day, they don't scare each other at all and instead of being scared, the terrifying three soon become firm friends.

And when a toddler dares to calls them 'nice', 'sweet' and 'dear', they have to decide if they really are that terrifying at all...

David Melling's illustrations are irresistible, and any child who has a fear of monsters or witches will find this story very reassuring.

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Bob and the Moon Tree Mystery

Bob and the Moon Tree Mystery

Simon Bartram
Templar Publishing
ISBN: 9781848777460

Bob and the Moon Tree Mystery

Bob, the Man on the Moon, already has a large fan base among young readers. Each day, Bob heads off to the Moon for a full day's work including looking after Moon tourists and tidying up the moon a bit.

In this story, a strange seed lands on the moon one day and by the next morning, when Bob returns to the Moon, it has grown into an enormous moon tree. A few days later, it sprouts lots of golden globe fruit and Bob has to guard it from moon tourists - helped by a few aliens.

Bob, however, still refuses to believe there is any such thing as aliens, even when one of the fruits land in his garden and hatches overnight - into an alien.

The luminous illustrations on each page are highly detailed and, like earlier books about Bob, the Man on the Moon, there are many visual clues for children to suggest that aliens are very much part of the Moon landscape - if they look hard enough, they can see them on Earth, too.

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ISBN: 9781409313229

Somewhere, hidden amongst thorny brambles, is the Little Kingdom with which fans of Ben and Holly will be very familiar.

In this story, fairy princess Holly, Ben Elf and their friends are on a visit to the Elf Farm with Nanny Plum to see where carrots and eggs come from. But when the Wise Old Elf explains that milk comes from cows on the Big Farm, they all excitedly decide to embark on a trip to see for themselves. Naturally, not everything goes to plan but a combination of magic and a little Elf wisdom save the day….

You can read this story on its own with children or along with the CD which delivers magical sounds as well as more familiar farmyard noises.

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ISBN: 9780192793058

It is unbelievably 25 years since the first Winnie the Witch book was published, and it is being reissued in a smart anniversary edition with new end-papers drawn by school children.

This was the first Winnie the Witch picture book story (there have been another 12 since then) and introduces Winnie, her long-suffering cat Wilbur and their deliciously black house - as well as Winnie's problematic spells: somehow, something will always go wrong....

Unfortunately Winnie keeps tripping over Wilbur (because he is black and so is the house), so she decides to turn him into a multicoloured cat! But when this drives Wilbur into a deep sulk, Winnie has to think again....

Winnie the Witch has developed a huge following - she is a warm and friendly soul who keeps getting into scrapes - and Korky Paul's illustrations have made her an instantly-recognisable character around the world. Each page in the books is packed with delicious details that help bring each story to life.

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The Queen's Knickers

The Queen's Knickers

Nicholas Allan
Red Fox
ISBN: 9780099413141

The Queen's Knickers

Republished to tie in with the Queen’s Jubilee, The Queen's Knickers provides a funny, warm and irreverent look at what might be going on under the queen's usual wardrobe.

Just what kinds of knickers might the Queen be wearing when she carries out her royal duties? In particular, a little girl wonders what knickers Her Majesty will choose to wear when she visits the school? Will they be her 'at home' knickers - adorned with corgis - or her 'garden party' knickers, or perhaps her woolly Balmoral ones...?

Look out for lost of cheeky humour, and some very special queenly knickers!

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ISBN: 9781408312735

This story has pirates galore, bags of treasure and peril on the high seas!

Small Knight's mum and dad are worried - their castle is old and in danger of falling down but they don't have any money to repair it. So they come up with a plan - Small Knight and his dragon, George, can become pirates and steal some treasure!

Now, while Small Knight's favourite game is pirates, he's not sure about being a pirate for real but he sets sail with a ship and a map and a pirate crew, and hopes for the best.

Soon he's on the trail of the Smelly Rose pirate ship which is laden with treasure! But things take an unexpected twist....

Look out for parrots galore, the nasty Captain Swashmebuckle, and treasure on the high seas!

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Whiffy Wilson

Whiffy Wilson

Caryl Hart
Orchard Books
ISBN: 9781408309193

Whiffy Wilson

'There was a wolf called Wilson
Who never brushed his hair.
He never washed his paws or face
Or changed his underwear.'

And as you can probably imagine, this meant that Wilson was a bit whiffy! So expect lots of gross beasties, wiggly things smelly things, and fungus-between-the-toes when you read this story (yeuch!).

Luckily, mucky Wilson has a good friend called Dotty who teaches him the difference between good dirt (muddy knees, grubby hands, mucky clothes from having fun in the garden) and bad dirt (smelly clothes, itchy skin, germy hands from never washing!). Not so whiffy Wilson now has a bath every day - and can enjoy playing with his friends.

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Frank'N'Stan

Frank'N'Stan

M. P. Robertson
Frances Lincoln Childrens Books
ISBN: 9781847801302

Frank'N'Stan

Frank often asked his mum if he could have a brother and sister but, without a proper answer, he eventually decides to make his own brother, a robot called Stan.

Stan turns out to be quite unusual as far as brothers go - he drinks oil for dinner, goes to bed cuddling a toy robot and most unusual of all, he helps with the housework!

But when a little sister called Mary eventually arrives in the household, Stan starts to feel left out. That is when Frank has to show what an amazing brother he can be - to Stan, as well as the newer arrival.

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ISBN: 9780857530301

With echoes of the classic Little Red Hen, this picture book about five plucky chicks outsmarting the cunning fox is bound to become a favourite with very small children – and it is perfectly times for Easter.

Jez Alborough, the author and illustrator, is well known for his popular series such as ‘Duck in the Truck’ and ‘Hug’.

In this story, mother hen becomes increasingly frantic about protecting her five young chicks as fox is on the prowl. The chicks, meanwhile, are busy cheeping, pecking, flapping and hopping, unperturbed by the threat of fox – until they come face to face with him; but he proves no match for their ingenuity.

Children will love the rhyming text and especially the repeated refrain of the little chicks, and the ending which sees the chicks win through – just in time for chick number six to hatch.

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Welcome to Alien School

Welcome to Alien School

Caryl Hart
Simon & Schuster Childrens Books
ISBN: 9780857072573

Welcome to Alien School

Albie is just getting ready to launch his new rocket when mum calls him - it's time for school. But this time when he buckles up, they don't head down the high street to his usual school but launch into space and land on an alien planet - just in time for Alien School to start.

This is a fun take on what school might really be like to small children - full of strange creatures such as teachers (a rather green version with lots of eyes, in this story), and very big children (purple with green spots here) who look scary enough to eat you....!

Albie learns that although they look threatening, these aliens are actually very friendly - and they are just as curious about him as he is about them, especially once the teacher reassures the aliens that the human child won't eat them....

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ISBN: 9780857560377

A socktastic, sockalicious, sock-a-zooming celebration of all things socks by one of the nation's favourite author / illustrators, and the creator of 'Pants'.

The 'sockywockydoodah' rhymes will take a little bit of practice but once you're in the rhythm, this sock-adventure flows.

'Sockywockydoodah!
A-tick-a-tick-a-tock
What's the time in Sockland?
It's always socks o'clock!

A girl and boy set out to explore Sockland where everything is made of socks. Look out for the 'sockerel' singing sock-a-doodle-doo, the teeny tiny sock ponies and even Goldisocks (and three cross bears) make an appearance.

The black and white illustrations are enlivened with an array of colourful socks, encouraging children to guess the names of the curiously sock-like creatures that fill the pages. The humour and the rhymes make this a brilliant story to read-aloud, while the illustrations will be endlessly explored and will raise many a chuckle.

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Ella

Ella

Alex T. Smith
Scholastic
ISBN: 9781407109640

Ella

Ella is a ladybird with a strangely familiar problem – two very horrible and spoilt wasp sisters who don't want her to go to the ball. Yes, this is a fabulous retelling of the Cinderella story, with a cast of bugs.

Little Ella slaves away for her sisters (who NEVER say 'thank you') and she is always very tired. But all that is about to change as Pierre, a famous artist spider in Paris, is throwing a Grand Bug Ball at the Candelabra Café and Ella's fairy godmother, a bee called Mrs Buzzbottom, is determined she shall go!

Naturally, Ella and Pierre fall in love – but how can this romance blossom if Pierre doesn't know who Ella is?

Look out for some stylish bug sunglasses, some stunning spotty outfits, and a trés chic spider.

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ISBN: 9781408309261

'My family has a secret, I'm not allowed to tell. They'd chase me if I told you, And then chase you as well...'

And the secret is – granny is a pirate! She has sailed the seven seas, captured pirate ships, climbed the rigging and kept a pirate parrot.

After every adventure, though, granny was always home in time for tea. Now granny has promised that if her secret is kept, she'll make us all pirates!

Look out for lots of pirate treasure, secret passages, scaredy cat pirates (granny made them walk the plank), skeleton robbers, and pirate grog!

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ISBN: 9780230747685

The holidays may be over, but there is still plenty of time for fun for these two small boys - especially at night time.

These boys LOVE bedtime! On Monday nights, they play Super Boy and Little Flash, on Tuesday night they are Triceratops, Wednesday night is when they do the Big Jump from the top of their beds, and on Thursday, they dress up. And every night, Mum shouts, 'Not on a school night!'

Friday nights, though, are special. It's Not a School Night, and that means plenty more time for lots of fun....

A very real book about boisterous boys at bedtime that will have the adults giggling, too.

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The Boss Baby

The Boss Baby

Marla Frazee
Simon & Schuster Childrens Books
ISBN: 9780857073129

The Boss Baby

Boss Baby is in charge from the very moment he arrives at the house and sets a very demanding schedule, including drinks 24/7, round the clock meetings and perks such as music, a spa and a private jet. But one day his demands don't get the response he expects and he has to try new tactics to achieve the attention he deserves.

This is a very funny take on bringing a new baby home, where baby is a demanding Managing Director and mum and dad are running round like a badly paid workforce. The illustrations show baby in a very smart and sharp suit and tie, with expressions that clearly show who is in charge.

There are lots of details in the pictures that parents and older siblings with a new baby in the family will recognise.

It is a very funny take on new parents welcoming their baby home.

Marla Frazee has twice won the Caldecott Honour Medal.

Reviewed by Dorne Fraser, librarian

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ISBN: 9781847800404

Mrs Muffly has always been rather strange but now her actions make everyone feel she has a monster in the house. Each day she buys something special from the shops, including sugar to keep the monster sweet and butter to soften his feet. The surprise at the end of the story shows us just what Mrs Muffly has been up to and there is chance to copy her at home.

A warm and amusing story, about not jumping to conclusions.

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Mouse's Christmas Wish

Mouse's Christmas Wish

Judi Abbot
Picture Corgi
ISBN: 9780552563246

Mouse's Christmas Wish

This story has a special message about the importance of friendship and sharing, perfectly wrapped up in a sparkly, seasonal cover. If you are looking for a stocking-filler with a warm Christmas message, this will tick all the boxes.

Rabbit decides to invite all her friends – Duck, Bear, Dog, Mole and Mouse – to stay with her for Christmas. Mouse goes into a frenzy of activity to get ready to go, while the other animals set off at a leisurely pace on their journeys to Rabbit’s house.

After a number of mishaps, Mouse decides it is safer to stay at home in bed – but Rabbit’s guests soon arrive to change his mind and there is a funny twist in the final pages, too.

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ISBN: 9781405253970

Sir Charlie Stinky Socks, a small boy with a thirst for adventure, has collected a strong fan following.

In this story, Sir Charlie is off to explore a castle on top of a hill, but when he arrives he discovers that things are not as they should be.

There are odd sounds coming from the dungeons, the castle is crumbling and there are strange creatures in the gardens.

Naturally, Sir Charlie manages to get to the bottom of it all...

Fans of the Sir Charlie Stinky Socks books will be delighted to see a new adventure. The stories are great for boys and girls, and this particular adventure has a clever message about being brave and telling the truth.

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Monstersaurus!

Monstersaurus!

Claire Freedman
Simon & Schuster Childrens Books
ISBN: 9781847389046

Monstersaurus!

From the creators of Aliens Love Underpants comes a brilliant new story about monsters and the very big Monstersaurus.

In this story, a little boy called Monty loves to invent things but sometimes his inventions go wrong; the walking toaster ran away and the robot went beserk. Then, Monty finds a book of instructions of how to make something really special - Monsters!

Unfortunately, his efforts also backfire and the monsters he creates aren't what he wants at all - but he does, finally, discover how to make a perfect monster.

Children will love the illustrations of huge monsters that take up most of these pages and the very reassuring ending. They will also love to hear what goes into the recipes for making perfect monsters – mouldy cheese, strawberry jelly and bellybutton fluff included!

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The Pirates Next Door

The Pirates Next Door

Jonny Duddle
Templar Publishing
ISBN: 9781848772199

The Pirates Next Door

The Jolly-Rogers are a pirate family and they are moving in to Dull On Sea! Matilda loves their new pirate neighbours - but the other townsfolk don't agree. They say the pirates smell, they have rats and cutlasses, they dig up the roads and their ship spoils the view!

Matilda, though, befriends the pirate boy, Jim Lad, and has a brilliant time with the Jolly-Rogers, until the time comes for them to set sail again. When the pirates leave each of the townsfolk a special gift, the people realise that maybe, just maybe, they were wrong about the pirate family....

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ISBN: 9780192757470

Winnie the witch and her cat Wilbur need a holiday so they pack their cases and whiz off to a beautiful tropical island for some sun, sea and sand.

Winnie loves swimming with the fish and wants Wilbur to come and look at them too. Wilbur also wants to come and look at the fish (yum yum!) but cats hate water. So with a wave of her wand, Winnie turns Wilbur into a cat fish.

That works well, but turning herself into an octopus could be a magic trick too far... How will Winnie and Wilbur get back to shore...?

Look out for lots of fish, underwater treasure and a yellow submarine! There are also lots of things to spot in the drawings, including lots of number 13's (it's Winnie's favourite number!) fish eating fish, a hairy octopus and a special witchy ipad!

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ISBN: 9781407129075

This book has pirates, princesses and roller skates - what more could any discerning preschooler want?!

Princess Spaghetti is already a firm favourite in our household, and in this story she has to pit her wits (and her roller skates) against a group of pirates who are after treasure!

Children will enjoy pouring over the detailed (and quite delicious) drawings.

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Five Minutes' Peace

Five Minutes' Peace

Jill Murphy
Walker Books Ltd
ISBN: 9781406330120

Five Minutes' Peace

This anniversary edition of Five Minutes Peace celebrates all those occasions when mum does, somehow, manage to snatch a few minutes of peace from a very busy schedule.

Mrs Large heads off for her morning bath with a cuppa and the paper, only to find the endless demands from her three children follow her to the bathroom. As her children each leap into the bath to join her, Mrs Large manages to escape downstairs where she enjoys precisely 'three minutes and 45 seconds of peace' before they find her!

This is a very recognisable story within a real family setting that has been enjoyed by mums and dads - as well as their offspring - for many years.

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Don't Wake Mr Bear!

Don't Wake Mr Bear!

Jill Newton
Egmont Books Ltd
ISBN: 9781405249669

Don't Wake Mr Bear!

Autumn has begun and the forest animals are getting ready for winter. It's time to hibernate and the woodland orchestra begins to play a lullaby that will help the animals get to sleep.

Bossy Dormouse warns them all, "Don't wake Mr bear", but when a pack of noisy party wolves turns up, the woodland orchestra soon finds it's playing to a different, noisier beat.

Poor old Mr Bear is unlikely to get his shut-eye this night, but will it be him, or Mr Dormouse, who minds the most...?

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ISBN: 9780370331942

Alfie may be small, but his life is packed with adventures and this book celebrates 30 years of Shirley Hughes' much-loved character with two new stories, fun and poems.

In one of the stories, there's a very special birthday in store - Great Grandma Hilary is turning 90 - and in the second, Alfie faces a challenge when he and his mum go to stay in a cottage in the country.

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ISBN: 9780192792648

What ghosts do best is haunting and this little ghost, Bertie, is desperate to be good at haunting, but he finds it just a little bit scary... So he sets off on a journey to find somewhere that is small, cosy and just right for a small ghost like himself.

As Bertie makes his way through the scary woods, look out for a gobble-me wolf, a squeeze-me snake and a sizzle-me dragon... but will Bertie also find a house that is just right for him?

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Barry the Fish with Fingers and the Hairy Scary Monster

Barry the Fish with Fingers and the Hairy Scary Monster

Sue Hendra
Simon & Schuster Childrens Books
ISBN: 9781847389770

Barry the Fish with Fingers and the Hairy Scary Monster

This is another deep sea adventure for Barry, the very special fish with fingers.

Barry loves playing games and his favourite is hide and seek. But when his little friend Puffy fish hides inside an old wreck and discovers a hairy scary monster, Barry has to go to the rescue.

The hairy scary monster is very hairy, and very scary! And very purple. Luckily, Barry realises there is more to the hairy scary monster than meets the eye and finds a way to sort out the monster, and all his friends.

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What the Ladybird Heard Sound Book

What the Ladybird Heard Sound Book

Julia Donaldson
Macmillan Children's Books
ISBN: 9780230756090

What the Ladybird Heard Sound Book

Animals, bugs and burglars abound in this brilliant story by the creator of The Gruffalo.

Two crafty robbers hatch a cunning plan to steal the farmer's prize cow, but there is a tiny flaw in their plan in the shape of a ladybird.

When Ladybird hears the robbers' plan, she hatches one of her own and things are going to get noisy; very noisy.

This sparkly and fantastically colourful book comes with ten animal noises that help tell the story. As Ladybird's plan unfolds, the robbers don't realise that they are being fooled by the animals into going the wrong way.

Children can help Ladybird save the prize cow by pressing the wrong animal noises to make the dog quack, the cats go 'oink' and the fat red hen say 'baa baa baa'.

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ISBN: 9781408309469

This bestselling duo, behind books such as Rumble in the Jungle and Commotion in the Ocean, is back and they have now turned their attention to minibeasts.

'At the bottom of your garden
You might just hear a sound
A chirrup from the treetops
Or a scuttle on the ground...'

The minibeasts are out and about and ready to play! Andreae's exuberant verse combined with Wojtowycz's lively illustrations make this book a treat to hear and see.

Worms, slugs, spiders and earwigs each come under the spotlight and as well as being fun, the verse is also educational, teaching small children more about these small creatures and how they live.

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A Day with the Animal Doctors

A Day with the Animal Doctors

Sharon Rentta
Alison Green Books
ISBN: 9781407116440

A Day with the Animal Doctors

Terence is joining his mum for a day at the animal hospital. She's a doctor, and today Terence is going to be one too.

Look out for the dog with a barky cough, a crocodile who has lost his false teeth, a giraffe with a crick in his neck, and the leopard who has lost his spots.

Doctor Terence learns wonderful bedside manners and is great at entertaining the patients in the waiting room. But he also finds that putting on bandages and helping give out the patients' meals is a little more tricky...
Thrills, spills and fun galore!

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Nat Fantastic and the Brave Knights of Old

Nat Fantastic and the Brave Knights of Old

Giles Andreae
Orchard Books
ISBN: 9781408305188

Nat Fantastic and the Brave Knights of Old

He is brave, he is bold, and he is ready for adventure. Nat Fantastic looks just like any ordinary boy but when he sneezes, the magic takes over and whisks Nat off into new adventures.

After his first sneeze, Nat becomes a knight of old, rescuing a damsel in distress. After his second sneeze, Nat has to rush to save his castle from some more baddies, and after his third sneeze, he has a feast of sausages and is crowned king.

Is it all his imagination, or are his sneezes truly magical? You decide!

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The Rhyming Rabbit

The Rhyming Rabbit

Julia Donaldson
Macmillan Children's Books
ISBN: 9780230741034

The Rhyming Rabbit

This story has a hungry fox, a blind mole, a deaf worm and a caterpillar who doesn't like sums.

It also has lots of rabbits and one special Rhyming Rabbit, who loves to make up rhymes although none of his friends like them.

This makes Rhyming Rabbit feel sad and he decides to go off on his own, making up new rhymes as he meets each new creature on his travels.

However, it isn't until Rhyming Rabbit reaches the end of his journey that he discovers he is not the only creature with a love of rhyme.

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ISBN: 9781849390736

This story celebrates children's imagination (even if it can get a little out of hand...)

One morning a little boy wakes up to find he is a hippopotamus and, because hippos don't have to get up, nor does he.

As the day goes on, there are lots of other things he can try out; robots don't have to eat breakfast, monkeys can have lots of fun at school, and monsters rule in the playground.

He also tries being a statue, a rocket and even a giant that stamps very loudly - but he is soon in a whole lot of trouble with mum and dad and so he decides that, for a while at least, he'll just pretend to be himself.

There are some brilliant pictures - look out for the three-eyed alien, the toothsome shark and a very creepy spider.

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How to Grow a Dinosaur

How to Grow a Dinosaur

Caryl Hart
Simon & Schuster Childrens Books
ISBN: 9781847385949

How to Grow a Dinosaur

Think gardening is boring? Then think again! Weeding and digging will never seem the same after you’ve read this brilliant story about dinosaurs, jungles and jellybean trees!
The sun is shining, it's a gorgeous day and the last thing Albie wants to do is help his mum dig a vegetable patch.
However, Mum promises the seeds she gives him will grow into something really exciting and sure enough, the next morning the garden has turned into a jungle! Albie's seeds have grown into a prehistoric landscape - complete with a hungry Tyrannosaurus Rex or two.
What other exciting things have sprouted overnight? And what else has Mum got planned for the vegetable patch...?
A brilliant story that begins with the everyday and turns into something fantastic. See how many dinosaurs you can spot lurking behind the bushes....

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ISBN: 9781849392099

This is a brilliant picture book story about frogs, toads, and lots and lots of tadpoles! Little Frank's life in Pond City is disrupted by the bug-eyed monsters of the deep. One night, they 'frog-nap' hundreds of tadpoles and Little Frank turns into Superfrog and saves the day (and lots of tadpoles). A great picture adventure story.

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ISBN: 9780340997451

Children with younger siblings will recognise Oliver Donnington Rimington-Sneep's exasperation with a baby sister who refuses to sleep. He escapes in his plane and explores different landscapes around the world - but home is where he wants to be and thankfully, he has the best idea for getting baby to sleep.

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ISBN: 9780230747616

Stan is not your average delivery man – as well as a van, his deliveries demand motorbikes, aeroplanes and even a space rocket to get parcels safely into their rightful owner's hands. He even has to go to space!
There are gatefold pages for children to open up and the story is supported by bright, bold artwork.

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Slightly Invisible

Slightly Invisible

Lauren Child
Orchard Books
ISBN: 9781408307908

Slightly Invisible

It's wonderful to have a new story from Charlie & Lola creator, Lauren Child. In this story, Lola is once again getting under the feet of her brother and his playmate and interrupting their game at crucial moments - but Lola also proves that she can play a starring role in their imaginary world.

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ISBN: 9781405243353

Daisy's family has just moved house and the new house is strange and unfamiliar. Then, during the night, she starts to hear the whisper of stories... An inspiring story about the power of stories, beautifully illustrated by Gwen Millward.

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ISBN: 9780192729873

This is a perfect storybook for any young child who adores trains, dinosaurs and drawing - and even those who don't.

Titus is going on a train journey; his Uncle Henry is waiting for him at the end of the journey. But along the way he has to face bandits, T-Rex's, avalanches and breakdowns. Fortunately, he manages to sort them all out.

Children who look carefully at Titus's surroundings may spot what has inspired each of his adventures. The colourful, action-packed spreads demand attention and will keep children busy looking for clues. Adventurous, imaginative and fun.

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ISBN: 9781849391238

This picture book is awash with pirates, treasure, aliens, space ships, volcanoes and dinosaurs as well as a hefty dose of adventure!
Milo's Granny has forgotten her umbrella and he is charged with returning it to her. Fortunately, he has the umbrella when it starts to rain. Unfortunately, he doesn't watch where he is going - and so begins an adventure that takes him inside a whale, onto a volcano and into a spaceship. And, eventually, safely home.

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ISBN: 9780340981399

There's a rhino about - so watch out for squashed food, stolen clothes, trampled toys and a collapsed tree house!
Rhino is bored and makes a dash for freedom from the Zoo but he leaves a trail of destruction in his wake and all the other animals are blamed. Soon Cow, Sheep and Pig work out that rhino is behind all the problems - but can they get him to go back to the zoo? Or will Rhino mend his ways?

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ISBN: 9780192732187

Winnie the Witch is back in this gloriously colourful adventure in space.

After looking at the stars and moon one night, Winnie decides she wants to explore space and, with a whoosh of her wand, makes a rocket. With another wave of her wand, she's off.

It's quite trip and, after avoiding satellites and shooting starts, she and her long-suffering cat Wilbur find a planet that is perfect for their picnic - or so Winnie thinks.

Wilbur is not so sure and soon enough, he's proved right as hundreds of space rabbits come to join them. Instead of eating the picnic, though, they tuck into the spaceship! How on Earth will Winnie and Wilbur get home?

A fun story that rewards exploration - the detail in the drawings is staggering and full of humour. Children will love the cheeky space robots - and look out for the extra little rascal they bring home with them.

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ISBN: 9781406316896

Peek-through eyes on the cover and three surprised cats on page one confirm that there are in fact cats in this book, but these cats are desperate to escape the book and to see the world.

When we open the book, the cats are in the middle of packing; but how will they get out?. Escaping isn't easy and neither pushing nor jumping works but at last they hit upon the answer - wishing their way out, helped by young readers.

Youngsters will be delighted when the cats return from their holiday on the last pages. Like every good holidaymaker, these moggies bring back a little present for the reader, too.

Full of humour and packed with adorable cats, adults will enjoy this as much as their children. See also, There are cats in this book, which is equally appealing.

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ISBN: 9781862309456

This is a story about bullying, played out by some fearsome dinosaurs and a younger dinosaur called Fin who gets the better of the bullies.

Fin has spindly legs, knobbly ankles and a bony tail but he can still run, swim and climb and does each of these as he tries to escape the four bullying dinosaurs chasing him.

However, when his escape route ends at the edge of a cliff, Fin is forced to discover one more hidden talent that finally puts him out of the reach of the other dinosaurs. He can fly!

There are some explanation notes about dinosaur discoveries at the end that young dinosaur fans will enjoy. This edition also has an audio CD with music, sound effects and page-turn sounds. See also Dinosaur Disaster by the same author.

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Cars and Trucks and Things that Go

Cars and Trucks and Things that Go

Richard Scarry
HarperCollins
ISBN: 9780007357383

Cars and Trucks and Things that Go

The Pig family has decided to pile into the car and head for the beach but on their way they are distracted by lots of different kinds of vehicles. From tractors to trucks and sports cars to unicycles, there is plenty to see and talk about.

There is also a lot happening on the road - as well as (for adults) the all-too-familiar roadworks and broken-down cars, there's a tipped-over water melon truck, a tractor in the pond, a tank, and a car being dropped off the side of a boat.

Any child (and especially boys) will be fascinated by the detail and the variety of vehicles and activities taking place on every page. This is definitely one to pack in your holiday suitcase.

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ISBN: 9780553822373

This full-colour picture book gives a simple outline of the story and is a great introduction to the film. Shrek is living in his swamp with his family but is bored - and makes an unwise deal with Rumplestiltskin.

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ISBN: 9781849390576

When a little knight asks his mother for a sword to 'woosh and swoosh' in the air and pretend to slay dragons, she gives him a sunflower instead. Disappointed but philosophical, the little knight climbs Dragon Hill and slays three imaginary dragons - but when a real dragon appears, little knight only has a sunflower to defend himself with...

This story is bound to be a favourite with young readers not just because of its theme of dragons and brave knights, but because a small boy changes the world around him when he and the dragon become friends.

Despite its theme, the illustrations are very contemporary and there are nice touches of humour, such as the colander on the boy’s head, his imaginary helmet, and the expression of the dragon who gets the first sunflower. Ideal for sharing with children aged three years plus.

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ISBN: 9781408302743

'Sir Laughalot is a very brave knight, He needs to find some foes to fight.' Sir Laughalot is on a quest to find a foe. Children will enjoy seeing traditionally 'scary' fairytale characters turned on their heads - the huge, green and mean dragon has hairy nostrils, which makes Sir Laughalot laugh. The big, tough and bristly giant has a funny hat, which also sets him off. Finally, Sir Laughalot confronts a mean sorceress who isn't funny at all...

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ISBN: 034098838X

Jacob O'Reilly really, really wants a pet but cats make Mum sneeze and Dad's sure that dogs have fleas. So Jacob turns to pet-sitting. Before long he is looking after four dogs, five hamsters, six cats, one mouse, a python, and donkeys, sheep and a horse. With a kitchen full of rabbits and a zebra blocking the stairs, Jacob finally decides that pet-sitting isn't for him. And that is when he finds the perfect pet - a snail!

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ISBN: 0340988940

Remember Sid, the irrepressible black cat who enjoyed six dinners every day with his six different owners? In this story, a sequel to the original Six Dinner Sid, all Sid�s owners want to go on holiday at the same time. But what should they do about Sid?

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ISBN: 1845394240

Tongue-twisting, rhyming story about a grumpy Hedgehog who learns to share and make new friends.

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ISBN: 1405232595

A mouse needs a new house, since the father is out to trap him (humanely) and the cat wants to eat him. Can the daughter save the day....?

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ISBN: 0230704220

For those that love dogs - good dogs, bad dogs, big or small - and those that don't. This is a wonderful introduction to opposites that will have children and grown-ups alike giggling at the illustrations and the twist in the tail....

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ISBN: 0340930462

A gentle story about making friends and being loved for who you are, with an environmental theme. Other books by David Melling include 'The Kiss that Missed' and 'Scallywags'. This book was created following a class visit to his daughter's school, St Nicholas Primary School in Abingdon.

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ISBN: 0746089228

This book offers a series of fun activities, created by specialists in preschool playing and learning. Download an extract to see one of the 11 activities included.

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Book of the week

The Wizards of Once

Cressida Cowell

The Wizards of Once

~ Babies & Toddlers
~ Pre School
~ Early Readers
~ Confident Readers
~ Young Adult

Meet the Author


Clara Vulliamy, daughter of 'Dogger' creator Shirley Hughes, tells us more about her DOTTY DETECTIVE books in which friends work together to solve mysteries at home and at school.

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