NEW TITLES

This age range, five to seven years, covers a huge range of abilities for children learning to read so here we include picture books that can be read aloud or individually and used across the curriculum, as well as non-fiction and fiction suitable for children aged 7+.

Top Top Secret
Claire Freedman

Simon & Schuster Childrens Books

ISBN 9780857071118

Secret Agent Sid has been given a top secret mission - to recover the stolen Royal ring from the clutches of the dragon! Once he has read the note, he sets off to find the dragon's lair and we see him scaling buildings, trekking through underground pipes and paddling through rivers during his quest. Find the dragon he does, and not only does he rescue the ring but he also gets it safely home, back to the king, without anyone knowing who did it....! The illustration and gadgets as well as the story's theme means it has plenty of boy (as well as girl!) appeal and there are moments of real tension when you wonder if Sid is going to make it. Luckily his 'go-fast telescopic skis, some 'secret glue' for climbing walls and his 'supersonic pulley' get him where he needs to be - but it's the 'very old toffee all covered in fluff' that really saves the day! In the classroom, it would be a great read-aloud with its distinctive illustration, blocks of background colours and rhyming text, as well as its humour. The story could also be used to inspire children to plot Sid's journey on their own maps - or even make up their own story and create a map for it. Reviewed by ReadingZone.

Top Top Secret
Ug-A-Lug: Four Cavemen and a Prehistoric Pencil
Jill Lewis

Simon & Schuster Childrens Books

ISBN 9781471117299

The picture book begins with a little boy who loved drawing and who loved drawing cavemen best of all - and he wishes that his cavemen were real! When he turns his back on the drawing and accidentally knocks over a pot of pencils, something amazing happens.... the cavemen do come to life on the page, and now they have a pencil to play with. Not sure what to do with it (they can't eat it or climb it), they carve it into a car (complete with go-faster flames...) and four wheels - which they have just invented! When a tiger enters the pages next, they have to race for safety. Various mishaps follow and the pencil undergoes a shape change again - into a table and umbrella - and just when it all seems to be resolved, an eraser lands on their page. This story could be used around discussions on inventions and what we have invented to make our lives easier. It could also spark discussions on what makes a story and how you can take very different things - such as a pencil and a caveman - and bring them together through story. Reviewed by ReadingZone.

Ug-A-Lug: Four Cavemen and a Prehistoric Pencil
The Dawn Chorus
Suzanne Barton

Bloomsbury Publishing PLC

ISBN 9781408839218

It is always exciting to have a debut author illustrator come along, especially with a delightful picture book such as this. Depending upon your own preferences for early mornings you may have been recently enjoying once again the beautiful birdsong which greets the spring in the eponymous dawn chorus. So it is the perfect time to launch this book and it will immediately compliment seasonal work in the classroom or indeed nature observation or work on times of the day. Peep is the endearing hero of this tale. Like us he wakes to beautiful birdsong and tracks it down to a glorious tree full of birds together with their conductor. Peep loves singing and wants to audition but just cannot manage to get there in time. Readers will really sympathise as he practises so hard that he oversleeps and then he determines to stay up all night, but is then too tired to sing at all. Finding out why he is not suited to morning song and what sort of bird he is will fascinate young readers. The book is beautifully designed with a warm and gentle palette of colours and the artwork successfully combines interesting paper collage, fine line drawing and painting. I look forward to seeing what this talented newcomer does next. Reviewed by Joy Court, librarian

The Dawn Chorus
The Troll and the Oliver
Adam Stower

Templar Publishing

ISBN 9781848771734

As everyone knows, for trolls there is nothing quite like a tasty munch on an innocent passing boy. Unfortunately for Troll, the Oliver is not entirely innocent and can be as elusive as the Scarlet Pimpernel: one minute,the Oliver is seen whistling along the lane, the next, he has vanished from sight. Poor Troll is left with little more than a rumbling tum and sticks and stones for his dinner. With an air of dejected resignation, he gives up on the chase. Or does he? And is this what the Oliver really wants, or did he relish the joys of the daily chase? This is a delightfully constructed and illustrated book which might remind the older reader of their own childhood collection. Echoes of a bygone age resonate on every page. The slightly muted colours of the landscape; the shapes of the trees; the glorious curly, titian hair of the Oliver; the distinct blue of Troll: all help to create a real sense of nostalgia. In places the text has a real rhythm and flow and young children will quickly join in with the Oliver's taunting song: simply perfect for sharing. Now available in paperback. Reviewed by Tracy Parvin, lecturer in Education

The Troll and the Oliver
Sugarlump and the Unicorn
Julia Donaldson

Macmillan Children's Books

ISBN 9781447240198

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. '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 the character into lots of different roles to find out what suits them best. Reviewed by ReadingZone.

Sugarlump and the Unicorn
Zeraffa Giraffa
Dianne Hofmeyr

Frances Lincoln Childrens Books

ISBN 9781847803443

I was intrigued by the name of this book so when I learnt that it was a real name, the real name of a real giraffe, I was further intrigued to read the story. Zeraffa, it appears, was a giraffe sent from Egypt to France in 1827. Why? I hear you ask, because she was to be a gift to the king of France. Taking a giraffe, even though at the start of the journey Zeraffa was only a baby, to France was to be no mean feat. First a boat, a felucca, had to be built to convey the giraffe and her human party down the Nile River. Next they had to transfer to a boat to cross the ocean and then walk all the way from the port to Paris. As Zeraffa travelled France she attracted much attention - she was a very unusual sight. Poems and songs were written about her and she was well cared for and so it is that we now learn of her story through the words of Dianne Hofmeyr who tells it perfectly for a very young audience and is complemented by the gorgeous colour palette used by Jane Ray in her stunning illustrations. Better still an author's note at the end of the book tells us that it is still possible to go to the home of Zeraffa in Paris and possible even to feel the hot wind of Africa and imagine yourself there with the giraffe. A charming and touching story. Reviewed by Louise Ellis-Barrett, librarian.

Zeraffa Giraffa
Snowy
Berlie Doherty

Troika Books

ISBN 9780957301399

This is a reissue of a previously-published book that caught our eye once again so we wanted to share it. Berlie Dougherty's simple but beautifully-paced text about a girl called Rachel, who lives on a narrow boat, is lovingly brought to life by artist Keith Bowen; the horse, the Snowy of the title, almost breathes out of the pages. As a reader, you connect immediately with the predicament of Rachel who wants to take Snowy to school on the day that the children are allowed to bring their pets into class. Rachel is upset when her mother says that Snowy has to stay and work - pulling their boat - and she endures teasing from the other pupils when she explains that her 'pet' has to go 'to work'. However, her teacher arranges a surprise visit for all the pupils to Rachel's houseboat where they all fall under Snowy's spell. As well as being a perfect read-aloud, the story can be used to inspire discussions around where we live and different kinds of homes as well as encouraging children to talk about how we perceive differences. The historical roots of narrow boats can also be explored for transport topics, looking at how goods were once transported across thousands of miles of canal networks around the country. 30 pages / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by ReadingZone.

Snowy
Up For The Cup
Simon Bartram

Templar Publishing

ISBN 9781783700189

Simon Bartram distinctive style works brilliantly in this football setting and football-loving fans will thoroughly enjoy his warm look the at sport through the ups and downs of the 'Seaburn City' football team (loosely based on Bartram's favourite Sunderland team). As it says on the cover, this is: 'A Story for Complete and Utter Football Nutters'! A young fan, Charlie Horsewill, is thrilled when his favourite team, Seaburn City, finally reaches the Cup Final and this highly illustrated story is his account of the events leading up to that match. Seaburn City is in with a chance thanks to its striker Julio Poom. But Julio is highly superstitious and he needs a plate of tinned spaghetti spelling out the message 'Today Julio, you will shine like a star' before each match. When the tinned spaghetti letters are sabotaged, it looks like Seaburn City will be overcome - but a last-minute discovery by Charlie saves the day. Adults as well as youngsters may recognise a few faces and names from the real world but what really makes this book work are the 'football facts' that decorate the pages - all made up but with a vague ring of truth about them - as well as the 'crowd scenes' that Bartram excels at and which really bring over the excitement and anticipation of the football season and which give plenty of detail to explore. Definitely one for the library shelves as the World Cup looms.... 32 pages / Ages 7+ / Reviewed by ReadingZone

Up For The Cup
How Pirates Really Work
Alan Snow

Simon & Schuster Childrens Books

ISBN 9780857079558

From the author of How Dogs, Really Work and How Santa Really Works, Alan Snow's latest title (now available in paperback) does not disappoint. In a similar style to earlier books this is a sumptuous feast of piratical details. Ideal for readers of 7+, text is creatively presented in a range of forms including labels, speech bubbles and scrolls, appealing particularly to reluctant readers. Young pirate lovers will pore over the detailed maps and cross section of the ship, and with lists of sea monsters to find, codes to crack and groan-worthy jokes scattered throughout the book there is plenty to sustain interest. Loosely narrated by a trainee pirate the book covers aspect of life on a pirate ship: routines, food, weapons, how to deal with sea monsters, all presented in full colour and packed with illustrative detail and variety. Some content could be taken seriously but beware, this is largely a tongue in cheek guide to pirates! 30 pages / Ages 7+ / Reviewed by Lucy Russell, teacher.

How Pirates Really Work