NEW TITLES

Winter's Child
Angela McAllister

Templar Publishing

ISBN 9781848775459

It's good to see the duo behind Leon and the Place Between return with another stunning picture book. This is a story about winter - but it also reminds us that behind winter, comes spring. Tom wishes that winter would never end and then he meets another boy who shares his love of snow and ice. Each day, they set off to play in the snowy wilderness, loving every moment of the cold outdoors. However, these happy scenes are interspersed with scenes from Tom's home where, because of the long winter, the fuel is running out, food is in short supply and Tom's Nana is ailing. The reader wonders who Tom's playmate is, and we also sense a presence that lingers at the background of each spread - a voice calling out from the mountains, an icy hand reaching down from the sky. Eventually we discover the identity of Tom's playmate and the mysterious background presence and we learn that, until the child leaves, spring cannot return. This is an enchanting story that juxtaposes childhood pleasures with their growing responsibilities to the world around them, children's love of freedom and playtime with care for their family. It is also very optimistic and the end papers, which ushered us into the story through an open, icy gate, close with a glorious depiction of spring. Between these two spreads, Grahame Baker Smith's illustrations perfectly reflect the text with sweeping, icy landscapes, mystical surprises and an other-worldly creatures. It reminds us of the snow and ice to come with winter and the beauty - as well as the harshness - that winter has in store. Picture book / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by ReadingZone

Winter's Child
Help! We Need a Title!
Herve Tullet

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406351477

The usual cast of children's story characters are at a bit of a loose end, and the tale is still unfinished! When they suddenly spot the reader looking in, they decide it is about time they created a story for them to read. But what, exactly, are the necessary ingredients for a story and who might they need to help them? This is a typically quirky and interactive offering from Hervé Tullet; fans of his will not be disappointed! His characters talk to the reader and encourage them to join in by touching, shouting and questioning(even Hervé himself makes an appearance). It was very lively in my Year 3 to 6 class when we read this, with some of my oldest children diving to turn the light on and off – one of Tullet's interactive devices. We all loved the way the characters spoke out from the book enticing the reader to answer out loud. The characters' dilemmas led to some excellent discussions about how to create the perfect narrative! This book is very bright and colourful and lends itself to being read in a group. Although the illustrations are childlike and a bit rough around the edges, the children I read this with thought this was all part of the charm. Indeed, the simplicity of the images only adds to the informal, spoken style of the text making this book accessible to a very wide age range. If you like to curl up with a gentle, quiet bedtime story then this book might disappoint you. If, however, you enjoy sharing a book that is a bit different from the norm, laughing out loud and talking about what you have read for days to come then this is a heartily recommended read. 36 Pages / Ages 4-11 years / Reviewed by Mikeala Morgans, teacher

Help! We Need a Title!
Ike's Incredible Ink
Brianne Farley

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406349900

This picture book, like the one above, also involves the craft of storytelling. Ike wants to write a story, an incredible story, but he just can't get started, even after cleaning his room and phoning a friend. Then he realises that what he needs is new ink, his own ink made from just the right ingredients - but where can he find them? This is an insightful picture book that explores every child's (or adult's!) struggle to start something new. Every child and adult can sympathise with not being able to get started on a story. As a creator, you have this feeling that you have to come out with something extraordinary but how does extraordinary begin? Most children will be able to relate to that crippling moment of not being able to get a story started and that lack of trust in their own ideas and the direction of their story. But Brianne Farley's picture book also teaches us that not everything has to be amazing, that the start can be very simple and that the progression of ideas will lead to a story. Perhaps, after reading this, a teacher could bring a bag of everyday objects for children to choose and to begin a story with - what is the object, where would you find it, where will its story take place and what might happen around it...? This is a clever story that could help to stimulate children to start with a very everyday object, and see where it goes.... Picture book / Ages 4-7 years / Reviewed by Louise Gahan, teacher.

Ike's Incredible Ink
Yeti and the Bird
Nadia Shireen

Jonathan Cape Ltd

ISBN 9781780080147

What a delightful, warm and quirky story - just what we've come to expect from the creator of Good Little Wolf. Yeti is the fiercest-looking thing anyone has ever seen, so all the other creatures leave him alone. Until, that is, the arrival of a solitary bird who giggles at Yeti's growl and adopts him as a companion to share the story of her travels with. When they both realise that she is lost (and not in the tropical land she was expecting), Yeti befriends her and together they play, sing and laugh together. And although Yeti is sad when she has to fly on, he soon finds that he has many more friends in the making. This is a wonderful story about seeing beyond our differences that could get children discussing what is important in friendship, as well as how being excluded from groups can make them feel. They will also enjoy pouring over the details in the drawings, from the plentiful humour in the bird's antics to the creatures spying out at them from the safety of the trees. You could also touch on bird's migratory habits - and even follow a map, as Yeti does, to see how far certain species fly during their migration. Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by ReadingZone

Yeti and the Bird
Enormouse
Angie Morgan

Frances Lincoln Childrens Books

ISBN 9781847804488

Our eponymous(e) hero is much, much larger than all the other mice in the Mouse House but he is very handy to have around for carrying particularly large lumps of cheese and for reaching high cupboards. But when his best friend Tinymouse finds a book with pictures of large furry animals called rats, then Enormouse becomes a figure of fun for all the other mice and sadly he leaves to find his true identity. When he finds some fellow rats, they are very friendly, but the rat house is a terrible mess and they just laugh at him too when he wants to clean up. So even though he may look like a rat, he is not like them at all. Meanwhile the mice are very sorry for the way they have treated their friend and set off through the perilous night to find him and bring him home. This is a very rewarding story about accepting each other's differences as well as providing discussion about size and animal families. The attractive mixed media illustrations are quirky and humorous and, from the mouse family portraits on the endpapers to the disgusting squalor of the rats' house, there is much delightful detail to pore over and enjoy. Picture book format / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Joy Court, Librarian

Enormouse

ISBN 9780230769885

Julia Donaldson's inimitable text is once again paired with Lydia Monks to deliver a sparkling, action-packed story featuring a rocking horse, a unicorn, and a sprinkling of magic. Like many of her stories, it can be used across a wide age range from children in reception through to Year 2 or 3. 'Sugarlump was a rocking horse. He belonged to a girl and boy. To and fro, to and fro, They road on their favourite toy.' Happy as he is, Sugarlump soon gets the urge to travel and a magical unicorn gives him his wish each time he wants to try something new. But each time he changes, he feels there is still something not quite right and after trying out the life of a cart horse, a racing horse and a circus horse, Sugarlump finds himself back where he started only alone and in the attic - but the unicorn has a final, perfect transformation for him. Donaldson's books are known for their repeated refrains and this story and this time it is in the unicorn's delivery of each magic wish. The story is a great starting point to discuss role play and opens the door to children taking a character - perhaps an ordinary boy or girl like them, or an animal or toy - and putting them into lots of different roles. The magic phrase could also help inspire their own magical 'transformation' chant. Picture book format / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by ReadingZone.