NEW TITLES

The following titles are aimed at readers aged five to seven years so the selection spans picture books as well as young fiction titles, and not forgetting poetry.

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
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. 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. He proves to be an observant neighbour and sets out to solve the mysteries in the road; a vanished diamond bracelet, a lost bag, and so on. These he solves, but it is when he saves a baby from disaster that the inhabitants of the houses 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 who the young Emily is before they turn the final pages. Satisfying and clever. Ages 5+ / Picture book / Reviewed by ReadingZone

Hermelin: The Detective Mouse
Sun Time Snow Time
Grace Nichols

A & C Black (Childrens books)

ISBN 9781408193006

This newly published anthology offers a welcome reprise for Grace Nichols' first two publications: Come into my Tropical Garden and Give Yourself a Hug, both of which were previously out of print. As the title suggests, this is a juxtaposition of the contrasting moods and colours of each original volume. So Nichols' 'bright hot 'floody' world' (her words from the foreword) of her childhood in Guyana is recreated in the Sun Time section, whilst the poems in Snow Time depict Nichols' response to life in England, a section marked with vivid poems about the seasons and weather (see how 'Weather-Moan' (p.91) captures so deftly mid-winter despair!). The anthology holds rich teaching opportunities for teachers at the top end of Key Stage 1 and in Key Stage 2. Running through the new National Curriculum is a strand of requirements for children to learn and recite poetry. Nichols has written mini poems that children will learn in no time at all ('Tree-Money', p. 82; 'Snowflake', p. 86) and her distinctive and memorable rhythms ensure there are poems here begging to be performed and easily committed to memory. ('Sea Timeless Song', p.50; 'Crab Dance', p.51; 'In with the rhythm', p.68).For teachers seeking poems about the weather, they are here in abundance for all seasons ('Sun is Laughing', p.55; 'First Spring', p.58; 'Autumn Song', p.81; 'Storm Man', p.88; 'Hail Me!', p.90 to name only a few). It's hard to do justice to the range and scope of Nichols' work. She captures so much with her economical, dialect rich language and her themes are wide-ranging. This is a book to buy and have at the ready at all times! 96 pages / Ages 6+ / Reviewed by Alison Kelly, educational consultant

Sun Time Snow Time
Pigsticks and Harold and the Incredible Journey
Alex Milway

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406340556

Pigsticks is the last in a noble line of explorers and finally decides to take the plunge himself and sets out to find 'The Ends of the Earth'. However, an explorer can't be expected to do all the heavy lifting himself and he advertises for an assistant to carry all the luggage. When none of the candidates come up to scratch, Pigsticks employs the hapless Harold Hamster, who has no experience but is keen to sample the promised Battenburg cake. They trek through jungles, deserts and over an ice-topped mountain, but with all their cake gone there is still no sign of the 'Ends of the Earth'. Yet maybe they will still achieve their goal in the last place they ever expected.... This is the first in a new series for children who are ready to move on from easy reader books but don't want to be faced with too many words and no pictures. There are plenty of visual jokes along with a humorous text that children will enjoy. Look out for the friends' next adventure. Ages 6+ / 4 pages / Reviewed by Dorne Fraser, librarian.

Pigsticks and Harold and the Incredible Journey
Macavity: The Mystery Cat
T. S. Eliot

Faber & Faber

ISBN 9780571312122

Could there be a more delightful way for Faber to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the publication of Old Possum's book of Practical Cats than the appearance of Macavity, one of the most famous of the cats from the poetry collection, in picture book form? The choice of Arthur Robins to illustrate the poem was another touch of genius, he can imbue such character into his comic creations - the suspect's line up of cats, for example, is hilarious. Some might say that the language of the poem is beyond the understanding of five and six year olds, but even younger children than these will relish the sound of the words and the pace of the rhyme as they are read aloud. The shocked tone and inflection as you say depravity will more than convey the context and meaning. The illustrations also very cleverly explain a lot of the action and visually literate children will fully understand the story of the clever cat outwitting the plodding bloodhound detective who always arrives too late. For those old enough to remember the cartoon I think there is more than a hint of Top Cat and Officer Dibble - particularly with the policeman's hat rather than a helmet! I am sure this will prove popular as a picturebook in its own right, but it is certainly a joyous introduction to the poetry of T.S.Eliot. Reviewed by Joy Court, librarian

Macavity: The Mystery Cat
Operation Sting
Simon Cheshire

Stripes Publishing

ISBN 9781847154378

Imagine how useful it would be to have secret agents who could go to places undetected or who could get through the smallest gaps and eavesdrop on criminal masterminds. That is exactly what the Department of Micro-Robotic Intelligence has at its disposal - a team of eight tiny robotic bugs under the command of Queen Bee. They all have different abilities ( Widow for example can make webs with thread stronger than steel) which they put to good use when asked to protect the country from evil criminals. In the first book of this new series, SWARM are searching for a deadly weapon that can change civilisation as we know it in seconds. At the same time, the dastardly villains who stole it are searching for someone with the brain power to crack the code that will enable them to unleash its power. This exciting adventure is sure to appeal to readers who enjoy a fast moving story with plenty of twists and turns. The bugs, though miniature robots that can be repaired should they be damaged, all have different characters which will surely be developed in future adventures. The villains are suitably unscrupulous and double crossing, though luckily not as clever as the SWARM operatives, and the plot rattles along to its thrilling conclusion. There is also a sneak preview of the next book in the series when even more villainy is afoot. 144 pages / Ages 7 9 / Reviewed by June Hughes, school librarian

Operation Sting
Animal Diaries: Frog
Steve Parker

QED Publishing

ISBN 9781781711637

This is an intriguing and comprehensive look at how Frog survives through the year - the predators and threats he faces as well as his day-to-day life. Frog's story is told in a diary format which makes it engaging and the lifelike drawings that accompany the text - which is nicely broken up into chunks - will help to keep children hooked. It's also refreshing to read a story about a frog that isn't simply about a lifecycle, from tadpole to fully fledged frog, although this is also covered in the book. Instead, the diary begins when Frog awakens from his hibernation and ends as the next winter approaches, so we cover what happens each season. We learn about where Frog lives, what he eats, other creatures that share his habitat and how he avoids predators. There are also sections dedicated to how frogs breed and grow. This is a lovely story to accompany projects or for children who prefer to read non-fiction narratives. 32 pages / Ages 6/7+ / Reviewed by ReadingZone

Animal Diaries: Frog
The Jolley-Rogers and the Ghostly Galleon
Jonny Duddle

Templar Publishing

ISBN 9781848772403

Under the light of each full moon, strange and eerie pirates venture ashore to raid and pillage the usually sleepy town of Dull-On--Sea. Who are they and why do they come? The townsfolk are only keen to lock up their valuables, but Matilda and her pirate friend - Jim Lad - are determined to get to the bottom of this strange mystery. With the help of Grandpa Jolley-Roger and Jim's dog, Bones, the children embark upon a spooky adventure to free the town of the scourge of the ghostly pirates. Following on from the brilliant picture book 'The Pirates Next Door', the Jolley-Rogers return to Dull-on-Sea where Jim Lad and Matilda team up once more. As is Duddle's style, there are a range of comedy characters in this book, with equally comical names, e.g. Chief Inspector Klewless. However, there are also subtle comic effects in the writing and images like the mystery of Miss Pinky's missing dog, which is only solved through the final illustration of the book: this will appeal to readers who still enjoy a rich visual offering within their reading. This is Duddle's first venture into writing for older readers and is a brilliant juxtaposition of novel and picture book which will certainly appeal to newly independent readers. My middle son is an emerging reader who still enjoys 'The Pirates Next Door' and 'The Pirate Cruncher', and he instantly recognised Duddle's familiar style on the front cover and was eager to read the book. Although there are some slightly tricky 'pirate' words (which are explained in a glossary at the end of the book), the main text is simple to read and includes lovely sections of rhyming language too. This is a super book which leads effortlessly on from the picture books of the author. 149 pages / Ages 6+ / Reviewed by Mikeala Morgans, teacher

The Jolley-Rogers and the Ghostly Galleon