NEW TITLES

Croc and Bird
Alexis Deacon

Red Fox Picture Books

ISBN 9780099451228

Croc and Bird begins with two eggs on sand. From one hatches a crocodile and from the other, as the title suggests, a bird. At first you wonder if Bird will survive the encounter but Crocodile takes Bird under his wing, so to speak, and they become 'brothers' who share every growing-up experience, from singing and nest-building to floating and catching buffalo. When they meet a host of other 'croc and birds', however, they have to re-think their identity and decide how important their friendship is to them. This is a simply told but also beautifully detailed picture book whose strength is in its warmth and humour. There are certain images that just stand out, such as Bird getting 'dunked' while he's learning to be a 'log' and Croc trying to climb a tree. Because of their friendship, they both persevere with actions that are completely alien to their nature and while giving us a chuckle, this dedication is also where the warmth of the story lies. Picture book / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by ReadingZone.

Croc and Bird
Stick!
Andy Pritchett

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406340341

This debut picture book from Andy Pritchett follows an adorable puppy as he finds a stick and then looks for someone to play with. The other animals have their own interests, which makes him very sad. But then puppy finds someone who shares his enthusiasm, and in the end, everyone wants to join in with their game. The story finishes with two puppies beaming, each having found a new friend. This story is told very simply, in only six words. However, the bold and colourful illustrations beautifully capture puppy's excitement and enthusiasm for his new toy. Young children will understand and respond to the idea of the joy of playing and of friendship. This picture book would be ideal to share with pre-school children, and also as a first independent reading book. Picture book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Elizabeth Roberts, school librarian.

Stick!

ISBN 9780857077509

Young children who are testing their boundaries and capabilities will often decide what they are better at doing than their friends. You'll see groups of friends deciding among themselves who is best at writing, drawing, skipping etc and Ping and Pong takes this idea and explores what happens when 'being the best' comes between two friends. It's a good story to use when you can see children's confidence dipping because they don't feel they are 'as good as' their friends at doing something, or to deal with sibling rivalry. In Tim Hopgood's story, Pong seems to do everything better than Ping, whether that's ice-skating, painting or fishing. Eventually, Ping gives up trying and does - nothing, which he finds he can do much better than Pong. But eventually, both friends realise that doing things without the other isn't much fun - and Ping finds that what he is very good at is being a friend. This story can be a starting point for discussions about friendship, showing off, and trying your hardest at whatever you want to do. Picture book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Lynnette Voisey, teacher

Maisy Grows a Garden
Lucy Cousins

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406340860

Just as we are beginning to hope that Spring is finally on the way, with a few rare sightings of sunshine, we have the perfect book to accompany all those Spring topics on plants and growth! With her customary clarity of presentation and very clever paper engineering, this is another Maisy First Science Book that is a must-have in the nursery or classroom. I particularly like the way that each double page spread has a clear column with the new vocabulary to practice, as we talk about what is happening and what plants need in order to grow. There is so much detail in the background too - the useful insects doing their bit and the changes in the tree at the edge of the garden, with the blossom which produces the bright red apples at the end, and the birds building the nest and laying eggs. The pull-tab which shows Maisy sowing seeds is a perfectly executed active demonstration, as is the watering can with sprinkling water on the next page. The excitement builds as we get to the plants growing and we learn about roots and shoots. Adults will then appreciate the page about weeding and will explain that not all growth is desirable in our vegetable plot! The triumphant products of all the hard labour and the beautiful blooming flowers really do make gardening seem like magic and will get lots of young helpers keen to try it out! Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Joy Court, school librarian services.

Maisy Grows a Garden
What's the Time, Mr Wolf?
Debi Gliori

Bloomsbury Publishing PLC

ISBN 9781408819418

This gorgeous 'telling the time' book by the talented Debi Gliori draws in a number of traditional nursery rhyme and fairy tale characters who Mr Wolf meets during his day. It turns out that it's rather a special day for Mr Wolf - but will your children be able to guess what that day is, before the gorgeous spreads on the final pages reveal all...? Children I've used it with love identifying the nursery rhymes and the characters that we meet in each of the pages - such as the Red Riding Hood postman and the cat and the fiddle - and we have repeated many of the nursery rhymes together. There are a number of repeated phrases, particularly 'What's the time Mr Wolf', and I would find that the children happily reminded me what time we have got to in the story, if we have had to pause it. This is a useful book for supporting work in telling the time - I would use a clock face to show each hour the story refers to - and you could ask children what they would normally be doing at those times of the day. I also loved the humour in the picture book, from the moment Mr Wolf is woken up by the 'four and 20 blackbirds' to the dancing scenes at the end. It's a wonderful treat for class and teacher alike! Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Lynnette Voisey, teacher

What's the Time, Mr Wolf?
When Tom Met Tallulah
Rosie Reeve

Bloomsbury Publishing PLC

ISBN 9781408836996

This books takes the idea of 'looking after your pet' and turns it on its head when a small cat decides it's time to learn 'human'. Tallulah is delighted when she gets a small kitten and sets about making it feel at home with the right food, somewhere to sleep and things to play with. Cat decides to repay Tallulah's kindness by learning 'human' and is soon brushing his teeth, wearing dresses and combing his hair. But when Cat decides that Tallulah needs to learn 'cat', things become mixed up with Tallulah living in a cat box and Cat snuggled up in her bed.... There is much to discuss in this story, including what makes a good friend and whether Tallulah's cat has done the right thing. Children are likely to become quite indignant at how cat has repayed Tallulah's kindess.... You can also look at things like role play - have children ever imagined what it would be like to be one of their pets, to live like a cat or a dog - and what their favourite things might be. It also ties in to discussions around pets and how we need to treat and look after the animals we care for. Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Lynnette Voisey, teacher

When Tom Met Tallulah
The Black Rabbit
Philippa Leathers

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406343687

This story, which the author says was inspired by her own two rabbits following each other around, explores the idea of shadows and the fact that we each have one. In this story, however, Rabbit is scared of his shadow which follows him everywhere, no matter how fast he runs or swims. When he really needs help, however, his huge black shadow does the trick! The story can be used to inspire some perfect summer activities exploring shadows, and what makes them, and perhaps to show that shadows can be different sizes at different times of the day. The pacing of this story can also be used to explore the idea of 'what happens next' as many of the page-turns anticipate the next thing in the story. Picture book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by ReadingZone

The Black Rabbit
And the Cars Go...
William Bee

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406309997

The masterful, bold and detailed illustrations of William Bee entice you into the pages of all his picture books which always deliver something a little special. In this story, we have a number of different vehicles being held up, one by one, in a traffic jam - but we don't find out what's behind the jam until the last few pages. The range of vehicles on display, from an ice cream vans and police motorbike to a school bus, make this a great picture book for supporting topics on vehicles, and there is also a host of road signs. The story also explores the different sounds vehicles make within a repeated framework - 'Here is the racing car ..... And the racing car goes.... Pop pop pop...bang bang, hisssss....' There are incidental details on each page that children will take great delight in spotting, including what two seagulls get up to and whether the apple thrown out the school bus will hit the policeman... The final pages remind us that working together is often the best way out of a fix.... Picture book / Ages 2+ / Reviewed by ReadingZone

And the Cars Go...