NEW TITLES

To follow is a selection of new books aimed at readers aged six years plus including ideas for using the books in the classroom.

Here be Monsters
Jonathan Emmett

Macmillan Children's Books

ISBN 9781447203155

Here be Monsters is another book by the successful partnership who created The Princess and the Pig. Here be Monsters' story focuses on a group of pirates, who are all animals, lead by Captain Cut-Throat, a very unpleasant character. As the story says, 'He was the meanest mariner to sail the Seven Seas' and is wanted for many crimes as the reader is informed by the wanted poster at the beginning of the book. Captain Cut-Throat is a typical pirate who loves treasure. He hears about an island full of Giant Gemstones and decides to sail there against the advice of the first mate, who says that monsters live in the mist near the island. Against this advice the captain sails forward to find the treasure. Of course the first mate is correct and as the ship nears the island out of the mist emerge monsters of all shapes, colours and sizes which the crew have to battle with. All the crew are lost to the monsters and it is only Captain Cut -Throat who lands on the island, only to find that the vividly coloured Giant Gemstones, which cover the sandy beaches, are giant monster eggs! Poly Bernatene's illustrations are wonderfully colourful and full of expression. They dominate each double page spread and will give children real pleasure in exploring them. The written text is rhyming which makes the book ideal to share with a Key Stage 1 class. This is a very good read aloud book which can also be left in the reading corner to be explored independently. Picture book / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Fiona Collins, consultant

Here be Monsters
On Sudden Hill
Linda Sarah

Simon & Schuster Childrens Books

ISBN 9781471119293

On Sudden Hill is a classic story of friendship, jealousy and reuniting. Two friends Birt and Etho spend their time playing with cardboard boxes on a hill by their homes. The boxes give the boys hours of fun as they delight in creating different scenarios. This all changes when a third boy arrives on the scene with his own cardboard box. Brit becomes jealous of Su and decides not to play any more. However, the story ends happily with Su and Etho making a cardboard truck and inviting Birt to play with them. Benji Davies' illustrations really bring the story to life especially in relation to the boys' facial expressions. The countryside setting gives the feeling of a childhood full of freedom and adventure. The written language is however a little awkward at times as the story is written in poetic form and uses short cuts and ellipsis which at times stops the language flow when reading aloud. Apart from this teachers will find the book useful in exploring the themes of friendship with early years children.

On Sudden Hill
Follow the Firefly / Run, Rabbit, Run
Bernardo Carvalho

Book Island Ltd

ISBN 9780994109828

This picture book, originally published in Portuguese, wordlessly tells two stories in one and will make a great addition to your visual literacy resources. In follow the Firefly, told from the 'front' to the back of the book, we see a firefly setting off on a journey from the middle of forest. He is directed by a range of other animals towards the town, where he eventually finds true love in the form of a flashing traffic light! In the background of this final scene at the back of the book, we see a traffic accident in which a rabbit escapes from a car and heads into the forest, pursued by a little white dog. This is the start of the second story, which is called 'Run, Rabbit, Run' and which has its own 'cover' on the back of the book. Children will really enjoy following both stories and trying to work out how, depending on where our eyes are focused, each story develops. My only criticism is that it would have been good to have had the firefly be a bit more brightly coloured, to enable children to follow it more easily, but that is a small distraction from what is a clever and intriguing book that I will enjoy sharing with my Years 1 and 2. The book is published by New Zealand company Small Island and distributed in the UK by www.CentralBooks.co.uk. Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Louise Gahan, teacher.

Follow the Firefly / Run, Rabbit, Run
The Farmer and the Clown
Marla Frazee

Beach Lane Books

ISBN 9781442497450

The Farmer and the Clown by Marla Frazee ('The Boss Baby') is another gorgeous example of how effective wordless picture books can be in encouraging children to understand and develop the storyline themselves. In this story, a farmer working in a rather bleak and understated environment notices a train travelling across the bottom of the field and he spots something falling from the back of the train. It's a little clown who demonstrates what has happened to him before they both set off across the field back to the farmer's house. At this point, the clown is the only brightly-coloured being in the landscape and the only one of them to be smiling. It's only when the little clown washes its face that we see it as a little boy, and an unhappy one at that. Now it's the farmer's turn to try to cheer it up and lovely scenes unfold as their relationship develops - until the train comes toot tooting back.... There are lots of little clues in the pictures that will help children understand the subtext of the story and it is bound to generate plenty of discussion. Picture book / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by ReadingZone.

The Farmer and the Clown
The Magic Bojabi Tree
Dianne Hofmeyr

Frances Lincoln Childrens Books

ISBN 9781847802958

Now available in paperback, this is a joyous and exuberant re-telling of a traditional tale from Gabon is taken to another level by the fresh and lively illustrations. I love the colour palette of the watercolour washes that beautifully evoke the African landscape, and the intricately inked detail and pattern in the individual animals and the variety of decorated text types. But these are not just flat and stylised drawings, there is real character and passion in the animals portrayed. The King of the Jungle for example, who is the only animal that knows the secret name of the tree guarded by the giant python, gets increasingly annoyed by the animals who continue to ask him the same question and his increasingly bad mood is very evocatively captured until eventually we see a genuinely scary picture of a very angry lion! Each of the animal group who are desperate for food fails to remember the secret name by the time they return to the tree until the steady little tortoise and his lovely repetitive song manages the task and all the animals get to feast on the lovely mango-melon-pomegranate fruits. This 'tree of life' story has many variants around the world but this is a particularly enjoyable version that gives lots of opportunities for audience participation and predictive language play with the different versions of the magic word that the animals produce. The class can enjoy making their own mnemonics for important pieces of information they have learnt. The witty, well crafted text is a delight to read and the book is a beautiful addition to any school library. Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Joy Court, librarian.

The Magic Bojabi Tree
The Promise
Nicola Davies

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406355598

Few picture books are told in the first person so it's good to find The Promise doing this so effectively. The story is narrated by a girl who tells us what happened to her the day she tried to steal an old woman's bag and how that action changed her life. The woman she stole from made her promise to plant what was inside. The girl promised, but found herself with a bag full of acorns. 'I held a forest in my arms and my heart was changed.' She sets about fulfilling her promise to plant the little acorns and through her actions transforms the city where 'Nothing grew. Everything was broken. No one ever smiled.' into a lush, green and happier landscape. By this point, the girl tells us, she had already moved on to another city and she continues her work of planting trees until she, too, is robbed of her acorns and forces the same promise from another young person. The narrative is delivered beautifully, supported by Laura Carlin's brilliant illustrations which highlight the bleakness of the girl's surroundings and the changes she makes. I'd recommend this for year 1 and 2 upwards for work alongside narratives and the environment. Picture book 48 pages / Ages 6+ / Reviewed by Angela Core.

The Promise
Time to Read: The Egg
M. P. Robertson

Frances Lincoln Childrens Books

ISBN 9781847805515

MP Robertson's stories, which also include The Dragon Snatcher and The Great Dragon Rescue, have been republished by Frances Lincoln's Children's Books as part of their Time to Read series for those who are just beginning to depart from phonics series. Each book has new words to learn, listed on the back cover, such as 'pictures', 'right' and 'knew' but it is the gorgeous illustration and imaginative stories that is likely to keep young readers going. The stories are kept simple, there are only two or three lines of text on each page and only about 24 pages in total, so this is a great series to transition from picture books to more text-heavy stories. There are also many opportunities to use the stories with children at KS1 and KS2 to inspire them to write their own dragon-based stories. 26 pages / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Lisa Handle

Time to Read: The Egg
Poppy the Pirate Dog and the Treasure Keeper
Liz Kessler

Orion Children's Books (an Imprint of The Orion Publishing Group Ltd )

ISBN 9781444003772

The latest in the Poppy the Pirate Dog sees Poppy charged with guarding treasure for the children as they build their pirate ship - only in true dog and pirate form, Poppy decides to hide the treasure and in the process, loses the children's birthday gift for their mother. This new title from the Orion Early Reader series is perfect to help children develop confidence as readers with short text and chapters, colourful images on each page, and stories that will hold their attention without being too complicated. Orion's Early Reader series, whose sales have now topped four million, also includes authors such as Francesca Simon (Horrid Henry), Tony Ross and Sally Gardner and the stories are ideal for those aged five to seven years. 74 pages / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by ReadingZone.

Poppy the Pirate Dog and the Treasure Keeper
Alonzo and the All-Eyed Monster
Debbie Kelly

Digital Leaf

ISBN 9781909428508

This is a rather mad-cap story about geese, twin chickens, monsters, thieves and a dazzling diamond, which is published by a young publishing company Digital Leaf and which forms part of The Adventures of Alonzo the Chicken. In this story, we learn that there is a dastardly plan afoot that will involve casting the citizens of Sunnyville into darkness so that the All-Eyed Monster can leave the swamp where he lives. Alonzo, a chicken, has already proved his hero credentials in earlier stories and in this adventure, he saves the day once again. The story is bound to have plenty of appeal to readers aged six years plus who like lots of action and adventure in their stories; the story is told in the present tense and uses a lot of dialogue to explain the action, supported by some great illustrations. It is also produced to be dyslexia-friendly, including the use of off-white paper, a simple font and spaced text. 116 pages / Ages 6-8 years / Reviewed by ReadingZone

Alonzo and the All-Eyed Monster