NEW TITLES

This month's selection of picture books includes some favourites, now available in paperback, as well as books that can be used to prompt discussions about bullying, manners and special events.

Bully
Laura Vaccaro Seeger

Andersen Press Ltd

ISBN 9781783442133

This is a clever, deceptively simple picture book that gets to the heart of bullying, including why the bully acts as they do, and can be used to start discussions about the subject throughout KS1. The story is told using text very sparely and uses animals as characters to employ labels in a derogatory way, such as 'chicken', 'pig' or 'stinky' (told to a skunk). It begins with a young bull being told to 'Go Away' by a bigger bull. When three small animals then ask the unhappy young bull if he wants to play, he says 'No' and goes on to insult the three friends. Each time the young bull abuses one of the smaller animals, we see him getting bigger and bigger on the page - we realise that by being rude and unpleasant to the others, the bull is displacing his own feelings of inadequacy. It is only when a goat confronts the bull and calls him 'Bully' that the young bull realises what he's doing, comes back down to size (literally on the page) and says 'sorry'. What a great way to encourage children to explore what bullying means - both to the bully, and the bullied. Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by ReadingZone.

Bully

ISBN 9781447279617

All Mine also deals with a bullying character and this time, how he gets his comeuppance. It also shows us that manners can go a long way in helping us to make friends and get what we want - while a lack of manners will do the opposite. Mouse is hungry and ready for lunch but before he can tuck into his tasty sandwich, Seagull gobbles it up - as he does the crisps that Mouse finds, and as he nearly does to the cake that Mouse wants. By now, however, Mouse has a plan that sends Seagull on his way.... Children will enjoy the repeated 'All Mine' phrases and in discovering how Mouse teaches Seagull a lesson. There is also plenty of humour in the illustrations - Seagull trying to hide behind lamposts, his increasingly determined expression as he goes all out to get what he wants and the spread where he very nearly gets the cake - but not quite - will all raise a chuckle. The story can also be used to explore manners more generally and to get children discussing why we need manners. You can watch the book trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GfCxY5iXRuc&feature=youtu.be Picture book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by ReadingZone.

Please Mr Panda
Steve Antony

Hodder Children's Books

ISBN 9781444916645

Please Mr Panda, as its title suggests, deals with manners - although many children won't understand the message until they get to the final pages and that's part of the strength of the story. Mr Panda is holds a tray of delicious-looking doughnuts which he offers to a variety of (black and white) animals. But each time he asks, 'Would you like a doughnut', he changes his mind after the animal responds and walks off with them. It isn't until the ring-tailed lemur says 'please' that the Panda actually hands the doughnuts over, which is when most children will understand the message of the story. The oddness of the character and setting - a panda holding a tray of doughnuts - combined with the enticing images and the dead-pan expression of Mr Panda make this a winner. As well as an appealing story in its own right, Please Mr Panda is bound to spark discussions about manners and that magic word! Picture book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Anna Kendall.

Please Mr Panda
The Best Birthday Present Ever!
Ben Mantle

Macmillan Children's Books

ISBN 9781447266907

You know how children often spend more time playing with the box that their present came in, rather than the present itself? This fabulous picture book by Ben Mantle is a little like that. We love his story about Squirrel trying to find the perfect birthday present for his best friend, Bear. While all the other animals go to the toyshop to find Bear a present, Squirrel decides to give Bear - a stick! He has to search for a long time to find the right stick and when he does, it's perfect - but when all the other gifts Bear receives are more and more exciting, Squirrel worries that his stick might not be the best after all. Fortunately, Bear also realises that 'A stick this perfect can do absolutely anything!'. It can roast marshmallows, be a drum stick, catch fish or fly flags. Soon, all the other animals want one too. When children are continually asked to tell (grown-ups) what their 'best present' was, this is a reminder to us all that big and expensive presents aren't always the best.... Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by ReadingZone.

The Best Birthday Present Ever!
The Deep Dark Wood
Algy Craig-Hall

Orchard Books

ISBN 9781408325155

This is a fun picture book to explore alongside the Little Red Riding Hood fairy tale or the tale of the Dark, Dark Wood. This story is also set in a 'deep, dark wood' that is home to witches, trolls, giants - and the 'big bad wolf'. When the wolf spots a little girl walking in the 'deep dark woods', he can't believe his luck. He offers to travel with the little girl to her friend's house to 'keep her safe' but of course has other plans in mind... On the way, the pair are nearly eaten by a number of other inhabitants of the wood, but the wolf saves them time and again, and gets hungrier and hungrier. However, when they eventually reach the girl's destination, and the wolf discovers how scary her friend is, he runs away, still hungry. Children will enjoy seeing how a child manages to outwit a bad wolf, although as readers they will also enjoy feeling that they know more than the child in the story; or do they? The illustrations also provide a lot of discussion points, as the dark palate and different perspectives are used to good effect to create the 'deep, dark wood' and the different monsters that populate it. Perhaps children can come up with their own monsters and create a spooky wood as their home. Picture book / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by ReadingZone.

The Deep Dark Wood
The Emperor's New Clothes
Alison Jay

Templar Publishing

ISBN 9781783701469

The Emperor's New Clothes is a classic Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale and in this retelling the Alison Jay illustrations bring the story to life. The characters are all animals and the Emperor is portrayed as a lion, which is quite appropriate. He is shown to be vain throughout the story and we see him looking into a mirror to see what he looks like. Jay has used images throughout that will encourage the child reader to understand that the story is set in an earlier time. The Marcus Sedgwick text is written to read aloud and shared with a class of young children. The inclusion of the Hare and Tortoise as the Emperor's attendants, who lie to the Emperor about the clothes that the weasel tailors are not making, is an interesting variation. The story would be a good focus to discuss different issues with young children and would complement any collection of fairy tales in a EYFS or Key Stage 1 class library. Picture book / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Fiona Collins, consultant

The Emperor's New Clothes
The Velveteen Rabbit
Ruth Martin

Templar Publishing

ISBN 9781783701858

The Velveteen Rabbit was originally published in 1922 and was illustrated by the artist William Nicholson. It has been republished many times since then and adapted for screen as well. In this new version, Ruth Martin has retold the story so that the language and plot are up-to-date. However, she is faithful to the Margery Williams story that is still very relevant to children today. The story is of a toy rabbit; much loved by the boy who owns him. In the nursery the other toys talk about becoming real and the Skin Horse tells the Velveteen Rabbit that, if a toy is loved enough, then it will become real. The Velveteen Rabbit really wants this as the boy says he is real, but suddenly all changes as the boy becomes ill and is confined to bed. In the Williams story the boy has scarlet fever but in this recent version the illness is not mentioned. The Rabbit stays with the boy in the bed as he recovers from the illness. However, when it is decided to take the boy to the seaside to recover, he is not allowed to take his much-loved toy with him because the doctor thought the rabbit was full of germs. The Velveteen Rabbit is then put in a sack, carried to the end of the garden '...where the gardener promised to burn the whole lot in a bonfire the next day'. This is a crucial part of the story, as the Velveteen Rabbit is alone, vulnerable and threatened. But as he is lying there, with a real teardrop running down his cheek, the nursery magic Fairy appears to make him real. This delightful story is a classic and has been read by many children since its publication. The Sophie Allsopp illustrations in this new version are delicate and free in style, which complement the story well. This version could be shared with a class of children of any primary age and would complement any topic that explores toys in literature. It might also be interesting for older children to compare this with the original version so they can discuss the changes in both the language and the illustrations. Picture book / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Fiona Collins, consultant.

The Velveteen Rabbit
Blown Away
Rob Biddulph

HarperCollins

ISBN 9780007593828

This book is beautiful to look at; the cover is simplistic but intriguing, my class and I all couldn't wait to start reading it! My class of 7/8 year olds easily followed the plot of the story, and enjoyed the rhyme scheme, which was captivating but not repetitive! The story itself is humorous and original. Blown away is a rhyming book; this makes it flow easily and the small amount of text on each page makes it quite accessible to a range of readers. The main barrier to this book is that it has quite a few words that are quite advanced and the children needed explaining to them. This is a unanimous theme from discussing the book with them, most agreeing that it's a great book which is amusing but adults should read it to children to make sure they can understand it properly. Ages 4+ / Picture book / Reviewed by Lizi Coombs, teacher

Blown Away
Daisy's Big Dig
Angie Morgan

Frances Lincoln Childrens Books

ISBN 9781847804631

Daisy lives an Number 1 Magnolia Street with her mum, dad and Monty the dog. Daisy then introduces us to a number of other people who live in her road, such as Mr Hofmeister at number 2 who is 'about a hundred' and has a big garden where he grows vegetables, and the group of students at number 3 who are all called 'Dave' and who have a very messy garden. Each page is gorgeously illustrated to show what is unique about that particular inhabitant. Then Daisy uncovers a problem in her street; Mr Hofmeister can't dig his garden anymore, so she and her friend Lucy (from the big Lemming family at number 4) decide to organise a 'digging party' for him. Despite forgetting to tell him, when everyone turns up they have a great time, do lots of digging and lots of making of friends. By the end, instead of being a street of disparate houses filled with lonely or too many people, Magnolia Street becomes a community. It's a lovely book to encourage children to talk about the community they come from, or the street they live in, and to explore what makes a community and what is distinctive about their local area. Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by ReadingZone

Daisy's Big Dig
Wanted! Ralfy Rabbit, Book Burglar
Emily MacKenzie

Bloomsbury Publishing PLC

ISBN 9781408843130

A startled rabbit looks out from the front cover, slightly embossed and shiny, with a book in his hands. This is the engaging story of Ralfy Rabbit who wants to read all the time, but when he runs out of books he starts to steal them to supply his habit. However, Ralfy meets his match in Arthur who also loves books and, when his start disappearing and he spots Ralfy scurrying away, he contacts the police. They of course don't take this seriously until Ralfy makes a mistake by trying to steal a book from PC Puddle who puts him in a lineup. But all the rabbits look alike until a conveyor belt containing lettuce and carrots and all the things that rabbits like to eat rolls by. Guess who is it who doesn't eat these delights? It is of course Ralfy who saves his appetite for the book at the end! Arthur takes pity on Ralfy as he only stole because he loved books so much and comes to the rescue by introducing Ralfy to the library! This is a delightful story with a good message (as a children's librarian I have to say that but it is true!). Soft-coloured drawings on every page with different sized type in different places on each one tell the story usually with a pile of books somewhere so the message is clear. The lists of books he has read, must read etc. are perhaps a bit beyond a small child but will make the adult reader laugh - The 39 Lettuces for example! The line-up is beautifully described and pictured and clever, too. Children from five and up will enjoy this story with its very strong message about reading. Picture book / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Janet Fisher, librarian

Wanted! Ralfy Rabbit, Book Burglar
Oi Frog!
Kes Gray

Hodder Children's Books

ISBN 9781444910865

If you've not yet had the pleasure of Oi Frog (now available in paperback), then do try to seek out a copy. Oi Frog is a great story for reading aloud and early readers will also be able to manage it. As well as being a tongue-in-cheek look at phonics and learned rhyme (frogs sit on logs; woe betide the frog that wants to sit on something more comfortable, a sofa, say), it's a lovely introduction to rhyming words for younger children with the rhyming words picked out in bold throughout the story. Now, for the story: "Oi Frog! Sit on a log!" the bossy cat begins....and when frog protests about splinters, Cat responds, "You're a frog, so you must sit on a log." Frog's alternative suggestions - a chair? a sofa? stools? - are already taken (by a Hare, Goffas and Mules). '"It's not about being comfortable", said the cat. "It's about doing the right thing." Cat goes on to explain that lions sit on irons, parrots on carrots, foxes on boxes etc etc . And don't dare ask what dogs sit on.... The playful, inventive illustrations by Jim Field perfectly match the text and I can see this becoming a classroom favourite. Reviewed by L Voisey, teacher. Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by L Voisey, teacher.

Oi Frog!
Chicken Clicking
Jeanne Willis

Andersen Press Ltd

ISBN 9781783441617

Now available in paperback, Chicken Clicking really is a cautionary tale for the 21st century! Told in the inimitable style of this perfect pairing with a lovely jaunty rhyme and warm and witty pastel illustrations, which could easily lull you into a false sense of security, it tells of an endearing little chick who sneaks into the farmhouse at night and discovers the joys of the internet and online shopping. At first the diamond watches, shoes and handbags purchased just cause marital tiffs between the farmer and his wife, but then things get out of hand and the cows get a car, the sheep get scooters and the bull gets a holiday in sunny Spain which could, in itself, turn out badly judging by the boy on the beach brandishing a red towel! The chick then buys the hens a boat and finds herself alone and decides to find an online friend. She takes a photograph of herself, preening, she posts it online, she adds her name and age and lo and behold another chick appears and they start chatting. Chick had found the perfect friend and off she goes to meet her 'without telling Dad or Mum'. Fans of the Tadpole's Promise will not be surprised at the dramatic ending in the Wily Wood. In between the humour there are very clear messages to discuss with the class about exactly what you must not do. They may also choose to create a different ending for themselves and work out ways for her to escape since after all we do not see the conclusion that we leap to and this ambiguity is a real triumph. It can never be too early for children to learn how to be safe online and not getting carried away with online shopping is something that we could all bear in mind! Picture book / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Joy Court, consultant.

Chicken Clicking