NEW TITLES

This month's picture book selection covers themes from counting and numbers to art and animals and they provide plenty of ideas for supporting your work in the classroom.

ISBN 9780857550156

Dog Loves Counting, which is the third picture book to feature Dog, is much more than a traditional counting book and comes with a perfectly-pitched message about the wonder of numbers and counting. When Dog can't sleep he decides to revisit some of the characters he has been reading about in his 'Big Book of Curious Creatures and their Habitats' (nice to see a non-fiction text at his bedside). He looks for creatures that can help him count - beginning with an egg, or a zero. Yates chooses to make it a dodo's egg and later, when Dodo disappears, there is an opportunity to reflect on 'zero' again as an end as well as a beginning. Children will enjoy spotting less familiar creatures such as a three-toed sloth and a five-lined skink, as well as ones they will know such as a spider (eight legs - and check out the eyes!) and a fly with six legs. There is plenty of humour too - the Venus Flytraps hoping for a munch of fly and in the creatures' wonderful expressiveness. The counting goes forward up to ten as well as backwards and the creatures' expedition takes them into the desert where they see how numbers reach far beyond what we can possibly count, in the sand and the stars. The end papers perfectly reflect the book's themes of animals and stars, whilst reminding us of the wonder of numbers everywhere around us. Reviewed by Lynnette Voisey, KS1 teacher

Chu's Day
Neil Gaiman

Bloomsbury Publishing PLC

ISBN 9781408828007

Chu's Day is a wonderful example of how dramatic stories can be told in very few words - about 100 words in this case - and the importance of visual literacy. Chu's Day is, itself, a greatly understated title that encapsulates a child's sense of perspective (it's all about themselves) and the artist's job in revealing the true story. When Chu sneezed, we are told on the first page, 'bad things happened' and the suspense builds from that point. As we turn the pages, we see each of Chu's parents anxiously wondering whether Chu is going to sneeze. But while we see Chu going 'Aaaah' successively, he manages to avoid sneezing at 'old book dust' in the library and at pepper in the restaurant. Unfortunately, his parents take their eye off the ball at the circus which is, of course, precisely when the 'Chu' comes. The result of his sneeze is devastation and there are some wonderful spreads detailing the outcome of his enormous sneeze (including several trucks being blown over!). What I really enjoyed in this book is its humour and the detailed illustrations showing, for example, a whale serving at a cafe bar, a tortoise's horrified look as it awaits Chu's sneeze to reach him, even a duck in a top hat. Children will love exploring these pictures and will enjoy the ending and Chu's insouciance at how 'naughty' he has been. They might also enjoy working out his name. Reviewed by ReadingZone.

Chu's Day
I am an Artist!
Marta Altes

Macmillan Children's Books

ISBN 9780230760400

Not only is this a genuinely hilarious story about an innocent little boy who just wants to be an artist and his long suffering mother who has to cope with the mess and mayhem that he leaves behind, it is actually a very useful book to use to introduce artistic concepts and language and can be a real stimulus to creativity. Children will learn all about shape, colour and texture, about art in the natural world and looking at things differently through artistís eyes. Young children will relish, as they always do, being able to talk about what they perceive to be the naughtiness of the young artist and in particular will delight in the shock the poor Mum is going to have when she wakes up and sees "The Ode to Mum" which has covered every available surface in an attempt to cheer her up! Adults will really enjoy the witty in jokes about art and these could even lead to explanations about Picasso's Blue period, for example! Marta's wonderfully expressive artistic style is perfect for this story and, of course, a picture book is the perfect vehicle to prompt discussion about art. Reviewed by Joy Court, SLS Librarian

I am an Artist!
Big
Edward Gibbs

Brubaker, Ford & Friends

ISBN 9781848777439

We have begun to instantly recognise with pleasure the distinctive style of Edward Gibbs' illustrations. They all have a gloriously vivid colour palette together with an impressionistic, expressive black line detailing the images of the animals which feature in his books. Each of his books for this imprint of Templar Publishing has also had an interactive feature; die cut peep holes or fold out surprise pages. This delightful book features a gatefold on each double page spread, to find out who is the biggest, smallest, thinnest and fattest of all the creatures. The interest for young children is not just in trying to predict the hidden animal, but in learning the names of these unusual animals and of course learning all about size and the language used to express that mathematical concept. The books are beautifully constructed and will stand up well to little fingers, which is good since this is another triumph of a book and one that is perfectly suited to this inquisitive age group. Reviewed by Joy Court, SLS Librarian

Big
Monkey Nut
Simon Rickerty

Simon & Schuster Childrens Books

ISBN 9780857075765

This is deceptively simple book that is great for getting children to think creatively. When two small spiders find a monkey nut, they imagine all the different things it could be - a telephone, a skateboard, even a boat - but neither wants to share. As they argue, a bigger spider comes along and solves the problem by taking for himself. Finally, an elephant eats the nuts and throws away the shell and happily, each spider now has its own half to play with. There are several ways to use this story, including encouraging children to predict what will happen next in the story and guessing how the spiders will use the nut next. You could also give them an everyday object that they can 'imagine' into being lots of different things and see if this inspires their own story-telling. There is also the message of the story itself, which explores the themes of sharing and bullying.

Monkey Nut

ISBN 9780192745446

One of a series of books featuring Hugo (a long-suffering hippo) and Bella (an over-enthusiastic bird). In this story, Hugo wants to do his own thing but Bella insists that copying him is fun. There is plenty of humour in these pages, with Hugo claiming he is 'unique' while Bella copies his every move! Eventually Hugo takes himself off to the swimming pool to practice his dives but Bella comes too and again, copies his actions. Luckily, the audience applauds their 'synchronised swimming' and Hugo is mollified - while Bella realises that, sometimes, doing HER own thing is fun, too. Being unique is important, and there are many times when children want to 'do their own thing' and we should all learn to respect that. However, there are also times for working together. The vibrant illustrations make this a great book for reading aloud and children will enjoy spotting the humour in the illustrations.

Pirates Love Underpants
Claire Freedman

Simon & Schuster Childrens Books

ISBN 9780857072658

A wonderful rhyming text is the trademark of the creative duo behind the 'Aliens Love Underpants' brand, and Pirates Love Underpants is no exception. Pants, pirates and a treasure hunt also give it plenty of child-appeal. In this adventure, the Pants Pirates are on a treasure hunt for the fabled Pants of Gold - only to find another group of pirates have got to the golden pants first. But never fear, the pants pirates have a cunning plan to win back the golden underpants.... Children will have a lot of fun creating their own pants for the pirates and they could also work on creating a map of the island where the pants were found, including features such as Long-John Bridge, Three Pants Ridge and Big Knickers Bay!

Pirates Love Underpants
Snug as a Bug
Tamsyn Murray

Simon & Schuster Childrens Books

ISBN 9780857071088

Here we have another counting book with a difference. It, too, counts up to ten and back again but this time in a catchy rhyming verse, so it makes a great read-aloud. The other reason we like it is the way it features adjectives and similes (including 'Snug as a bug'). The story begins, 'The morning was grey, it was gloomy and dark...' and continues with some arresting descriptions such as 'sizzling goats', 'frozen frogs' and 'fancy ants'. The adjectives are introduced on the back of the rhyming text but make a great exploration of poetry and how you can make words fun. The similes also continue apace throughout the text - 'like four polar bears with tears in their flares, as cool as three mice in skates on the ice' - for example, so it's a really effective way of introducing similes and using them to build distinct images. It is also, for younger readers, a lovely supportive text for learning to count up and down.

Snug as a Bug
Red Riding Hood and the Sweet Little Wolf
Rachael Mortimer

Hodder Children's Books

ISBN 9781444900675

This is a light-hearted take on the traditional Red Riding Hood story told from the perspective of the wolf, in this case Sweet Little Wolf who prefers to listen to fairy tales than eat little girls. Sweet Little Wolf, however, has two big bad wolf parents who are determined that she (for little wolf is a girl wolf) should learn to be a big, bad wolf as well. Sweet Little Wolf is, therefore, determined to catch Red Riding Hood for dinner but she keeps getting distracted by stories. Eventually, the little wolf falls asleep in Grandmother's bed and is found by the woodcutter - and saved by Red Riding Hood. It is a nice example of twisting a fairy tale story so that the traditional bad guy becomes something else. Like little wolf, children could also be encouraged to write a letter explaining why the don't want to be bad.

Red Riding Hood and the Sweet Little Wolf