NEW TITLES

The following picture books have caught our eye this month and, as well as making great books to read aloud, will also help with class-based projects and discussions among younger children.

Shouty Arthur
Angie Morgan

Egmont Books Ltd

ISBN 9781405266772

Shouty Arthur is a humorous look at young children and wildlife and what happens when you try to mix the two. It is a must-read picture book for any nursery or reception class that's about to embark on a mini-beast hunt or wildlife topic, emphasising as it does the need to be quiet and careful if you want to get close-up to nature. Edith is busy reading her book about wildlife when she is interrupted by her little brother, Arthur, who wants to know what her book is about. She agrees to show him some wildlife but reminds him, 'Wildlife doesn't like loud noises'. Arthur promises to be 'as quiet as a mouse' but of course things don't go to plan and Arthur can't help but frighten away the squirrels, rabbits and frogs with his shouting. "We haven't see any wildlife yet, Edith!" shouted Arthur. "That's because you're too shouty," said Edith. "You promised to be quiet." "Being quiet is very hard," said Arthur. Only when he's asleep does Edith have a chance to see some wildlife for herself, although later that evening Arthur does finally manage to glimpse a few nocturnal creatures and to realise that 'Wildlife is Brilliant!' rather than boring. The well-paced story along with the Arthur's repeated phrase ('Come out you old rabbit / squirrel / frog') make this a great read-aloud and, as well as the gentle humour, there is a useful reminder for children about the need to be quiet when we are exploring nature. Ages 3+ / Picture book / Reviewed by ReadingZone

Shouty Arthur
Fiddlesticks!
Sean Taylor

Simon & Schuster Childrens Books

ISBN 9780857076151

This is a wonderful story about consequences, beginning with a crooked window fixed. Mouse loves his house but when he sees one of the windows is crooked, he asks Bear to fix it. While Bear fixes the window, he's caused a different problem and one thing leads to another, leaving each of Mouse's friends having to fix a bigger and bigger problem. Eventually, the mouse's house lies in ruins but luckily the friends who caused the mishaps know just how to put things right. This is an ideal book to use to explore the idea of story and how one step leads to the next in the story. There is a lovely fold-out spread on the final pages showing Mouse's new home which can inspire plenty of discussion around what features children would love to have in their own homes. Mouse's repeated phrases, 'Fiddlesticks, Rats, Hopscotch and Nang Dang Darn it" will also have children giggling and exploring their own alternative exclamations! Ages 4+ / Picture book / Reviewed by ReadingZone

Fiddlesticks!
Terrific Trains
Tony Mitton

Macmillan Children's Books

ISBN 9781447250753

The Amazing Machines series has been given a new look with these recent re-releases from Macmillan - Amazing Aeroplanes, Flashing Fire Engines and Tremendous Tractors also feature in the bestselling series - and these are a must have if you are covering vehicles for class-based projects. In the Terrific Trains book, for example, we are introduced to several different types of train, we learn about the noises they make and the terrain they cover and how points and crossings keep everything safe. All this is told through rhythmic text and using bold illustrations, so they make great read-alouds. At the back of each book is a section explaining some of the things we have been introduced to in more detail - such as the signals, electric rails and points. A similar format is followed in the other stories. Ages 3+ / Picture book / Reviewed by ReadingZone

Terrific Trains
The Farmer's Away! Baa! Neigh!
Anne Vittur Kennedy

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406356533

Sometimes a book arrives and as soon as you unpack it, you cannot wait to share it with children. An all time favourite of mine is the glorious Tanka Tanka Skunk by Steve Webb where there is no story as such, but a tremendous musical repetition of words and syllables that has young readers dancing around the room. I was not surprised to discover that the author of this delightful picture book was a music teacher before she turned to illustration, because we have the same rhythmic quality to the sounds to read aloud here, but there is also very much a story. It is the familiar story of while the farmer is away, the animals will play. But oh what fun they have and what fun little children will have poring over the detail in the pictures. The endpapers allow the child reader to identify all the animals and their sounds. These are the very sounds by which young children first begin to name familiar animals and so they will soon be pointing and joining in as they realise that the sounds are the only text and their order on the page is directly related to the order of the animals in the pictures. Combined and read aloud we have this glorious rhythmic sound poem. However, the pictures convey much more than this and children will delight in talking about the picnic where Splish (the fish) jumped into Neigh’s glass. All the time in the distant background you can see the farmer tootling up and down in his tractor. But as the day draws to a close we have a sudden alarm from Arf the dog who sees the farmer almost home and the double page spread where the animals dash back and the sssh ssh page as they try to creep over the fence is very comical indeed. This is a great book to share and very young children will really enjoy being able to demonstrate their reading skills as they tell it to each other. Ages 3+ / Picture book / Reviewed by Joy Court, librarian

The Farmer's Away! Baa! Neigh!
The Big Blue Thing on the Hill
Yuval Zommer

Templar Publishing

ISBN 9781848777606

The Big Blue Thing on the Hill is a VW campervan, but the animals on the hill don't know this; all they can see is a big blue monster? elephant? that has overtaken the hill that usually hosts their nighttime chorus, and they want it to go. The wolves try growling, the bears try howling, and the boars try to digging to chase it away but nothing works until Owl comes up with the perfect plan to send it on its way. Look out, though, for the twist on the last page! The humour is in the animals' interpretations as they try to guess what 'the big blue thing' is and in the gorgeous illustrations which do a perfect job of conveying their puzzlement and which help make this a delicious read-aloud; children will also happily join in with the 'grroowwlls' and the 'hhooowwwlls' of the forest animals and you could encourage them to think what might be happening next. You could also use Owl's plan - which has 'four very important steps' - alongside work on writing instructions. Ages 4+ / Picture book / Reviewed by ReadingZone

The Big Blue Thing on the Hill
Never Ask a Dinosaur to Dinner
Gareth Edwards

Alison Green Books

ISBN 9781407136936

The familiar bedtime routine, from eating and brushing teeth to finally getting into bed, is given a dangerous twist in this picture book as we are reminded of the things you shouldn't do before bedtime. Never ask a dinosaur to dinner, don't share your toothbrush with a shark, and never choose a bison for a blanket.... just some of the tips we're given in this exuberant bedtime story, which is illustrated with great panache by Guy Parker-Rees. After all, the dinosaur will eat the kitchen table, the shark 'may make a rude remark' - look out for some fabulous rows of teeth! - and the bison 'is a bully' with clumpy hooves and sharp horns. The rhyming text makes it perfect for sharing aloud but it's the flamboyant spreads that will really catch children's eyes as sharks, tigers and owls leap from the pages. The ending, though, is reassuring and the little boy's adventures end with him firmly in charge. Guy Parker-Rees talked about creating the illustrations for the story here: http://readingzone.com/index.php?zone=sz&page=interviews Reviewed by ReadingZone.

Never Ask a Dinosaur to Dinner
Found
Salina Yoon

Bloomsbury Childrens Books

ISBN 9781408854402

This gentle story, about a bear who finds a lost toy, will chime with many young children who have treasured a toy. When Bear finds a lost bunny, he tries hard to find its owner and in doing so, has lots of fun with the bunny and cares for it well. When bunny's owner is discovered at the end of the day, Bear knows the right thing to do is to hand bunny back, but doing so makes him sad until the toy's rightful owner finds the solution. The bold colour and simple text of this story make it a great read-aloud, but it is also a useful story to help children understand how stories work; that there is a beginning, with steps that follow to the conclusion. Perhaps children could be encouraged to think about their own story, or in groups, that involve a lost toy and how it is reunited with its owner. Ages 3+ / Picture book / Reviewed by ReadingZone

Found

ISBN 9781444919141

The Queen and her corgi set out to visit someone very special but their journey has barely begun before a gust of wind whisks her majesty's hat away, leading the Queen, her dog and lots of the Queen's Men on a splendid adventure around some of London's most well known sights This is a lovely picture book, presenting a witty celebration of London, the Queen and one very special baby. As the wind blows the hat around London Zoo, Tower Bridge,The Houses of Parliament and the London Eye it is chased by a determined, dare devil Queen, her brave dog and guards. Created in red, blue and black the illustrations are a delight to explore and will be enjoyed by adults and children alike. Each page has so much detail to spot that it will need to be revisited many times to fully enjoy the content I look forward to more books by Steve Antony Ages 4+ / Picture book / Reviewed by Dorne Fraser, librarian

Tree: Little Hare Books
Danny Parker

Little Hare

ISBN 9781742978604

This is a simply gorgeous picture book that describes the life of a tree, first growing as a sapling at the roots of its parent tree before standing tall and proud on its own. The story is told very simply through spare text but it's the dramatic illustrations by Matt Ottley that really convey its meaning as we see the tree from multiple perspectives during its lifetime. The story begins with us looking up from the sapling's position on the ground into the branches of the much larger tree towering over it, before broadening out to show us the small tree in a changing landscape as a city grows in the distance. On the final pages, we look down through our tree's branches to see a new young sapling cradled in its roots - all ready for the next cycle of growth. As well as helping children in nursery and reception classes learn about life cycles, this picture book could be used with older children in KS1 to show how simply a story can be told, as well as children who are learning about perspective. They can discuss why it is we see the tree from different viewpoints and what this tells us about the tree's story and how it is growing. Ages 4+ / Picture book / Reviewed by ReadingZone

Tree: Little Hare Books
My Daddy's Going Away
Christopher MacGregor

Picture Corgi

ISBN 9780552567251

This heart-warming, insightful story introduces the idea of Daddy going away because of work and explores what this means to the two small children he has to leave behind. The rather wonderful alien imagery ensures that this is a story about 'every family', not allied to any particular culture, and also that Daddy's work could be any type of work. The story builds up to the moment that Daddy has to leave and explores the coping mechanisms the family has put in place - from discussing Daddy's departure in advance, to ways of counting the days until his return, how they stay in touch online and with mail etc. It balances the everyday things, like going to school and bed time, with the absence of the father and how that sense of absence underlies their day to day activities. The exploration of the kinds of emotions that children might feel in the father's absence make it a strong story to use to discuss feelings, perhaps in circle times, encouraging children to discuss times when they have felt sad or lonely and how they have coped with those feelings. All in all, a clever story, delivered in beautifully simple way with great rhyming text, sweeping spreads and wonderfully detailed imagery that children will love to explore. Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Louise Gahan, teacher

My Daddy's Going Away
Hermelin: The Detective Mouse
Mini Grey

Jonathan Cape Ltd

ISBN 9780857550231

Mini Grey's work always deserves a close inspection and Hermelin the Detective Mouse rewards the careful reader and although it is a picture book, its intended audience is children aged five years plus. Since much of the story is told through series of images, it is a useful story for developing visual literacy and can even be used to introduce children to the idea of graphic novels. On the first page we see a small box tumbling from the back of a van and, over the next pages, get to know the small white mouse that has emerged from it. He calls himself Hermelin, because that is the name on the box, and finds himself a new home in the attic of one of the houses in the street. There, he starts his work as a detective and he proves to be an observant neighbour and finds several mysteries in the road that need to be solved; a vanished diamond bracelet, a lost bag, and so on. These he solves, but it is when he saves a baby from disaster that those who live in the road decide to seek him out. Only one person, however, accepts Hermelin for who he is, a girl called Emily, and I hope we see many more adventures from this detective duo. There are plenty of visual clues through the pages to help readers solve the various mysteries as the tale unfolds and, should they do so, they will feel very rewarded at guessing whose house Hermilin lives in before they turn the final pages. Satisfying and clever. Ages 5+ / Picture book / Reviewed by ReadingZone

Hermelin: The Detective Mouse