NEW TITLES

This month's picture books explore a range of themes and ideas, from how we use our ideas to bullying and friendship, which are all presented using a variety of techniques and approaches.

The Bus Is for Us!
Michael Rosen

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406337143

Michael Rosen's new picture book, The Bus is for Us, has the power of poetry in its simple message that out of all modes of transport, real and imagined, the bus is the best because 'The bus is for us!' It's a message that children will love to hear. After all, which child hasn't delighted in bus journeys, a mode of transport that does seem more of a treat than any other for young children - and they will soon be joining in with the repeated phrase, 'The bus is for us!'. Although we might like bikes, cars, planes and trains, and even though we like to imagine floating on clouds or floating with butterflies, 'The best is the bus. The bus is for us'. Gillian Tyler's lovely illustrations show more and more children gradually getting on board the bus in this story and these pictures, along with Michael Rosen's text, deliver a message that will resonate with young communities everywhere. Buses are for everyone - but especially small children! Picture book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by ReadingZone

The Bus Is for Us!
Her Idea
Rilla Alexander

Flying Eye Books

ISBN 9781909263406

This beautifully-presented picture book takes a playful look at ideas - and what we do with them once we get them. In this story, Sozi gets lots of ideas but doesn't know what to do with them all; finishing any one of them seems such a hard task. So one by one, the ideas slip away until Sozi is left with just one that her 'book friend' has been caught in its pages. Having caught one of the ideas, Sozi goes on to recapture many more helped by her book friend and then sits down to write her story. But the ending isn't quite what we think it's going to be.... The simple rhyming text in the story leads us through Sozi's adventure, helped by spare, bright illustrations on a restricted palet of red, turquoise and blue. While there are some lovely picture books that explore where ideas come from, this is the first I've seen to look at what to do with the ideas once you've had them. It's a lovely way to encourage children to value their ideas - and to do something with them! Ages 5+ / Picture book / Reviewed by Louise Alen

Her Idea
A Spot of Bother
Jonathan Emmett

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406347999

In this 'tale of consequences', we see Pig getting more and more distressed as a small mark on his bottom becomes bigger and bigger as his friends, while trying to help get him clean, inadvertently make it much worse until he eventually ends up completely blue and covered in mud! For Pig, its a 'Monstrous Misfortune', a 'Terrible Tragedy' and a 'Dreadful Disaster'; children might enjoy creating some of their own alliterative sequences in a similar vein! Eventually, when he thinks things are never going to get better - they do, and we end up with a 'perfectly pristine' pig. This is a playful story that shows that, even when we think we're being really helpful, things can still go wrong.... The story could also be used as a template around which children can develop their own ideas of something going from bad to worse, and how it is resolved. 32 pages / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Anna Lent

A Spot of Bother
All Mine!
Zehra Hicks

Two Hoots

ISBN 9781447279624

All Mine 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.

All Mine!
The Storytime: The Greedy Rainbow
Susan Chandler

QED Publishing

ISBN 9781781716618

This playful story for younger children explores what happens when a monkey meets a little rainbow and takes it back down through the trees to meet his friends. As the rainbow descends through the forest canopy, it can't help but take the colours from nature as they travel until it has sucked all the colour from the forest and has become a huge rainbow. But when it sees how unhappy this has made its new friends, the rainbow cries and in so doing, restores all the colours back to where they were before - well, almost! It's a lovely story for the PSHE box if you want to discuss things like sharing or being selfish, and there are plenty of ideas for getting some discussions started at the back of the book. This is one of a series of picture books exploring a range of issues by publisher QED. 32 pages / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by ReadingZone.

The Storytime: The Greedy Rainbow
Lemur Dreamer
Courtney Dicmas

Templar Publishing

ISBN 9781783700837

Louis the Lemur has an unfortunate habit of sleepwalking. Which isn't a problem when it is only the other apartments at 32 Pebbly Lane that is he snoozing around; his friends are all very understanding. But when he tiptoes down a washing line and out on to Pebbly Lane itself, they decide that they must walk with Louis to keep him safe. And so they do, following fearlessly night after night, wherever he goes, making sure he gets safely home. Until one evening when Louis, dreaming he is about to go scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef, steps off a cliff. Shouting a warning doesn't wake him - can they reach him in time? Louis feels terrible at all the trouble he has caused his friends but they don't mind, they just want him to be safe. And a special gift solves the problem! Courtney Dicmas has created a delightful tale about the power of friendship, as Louis wanders far and wide, oblivious to the danger, whilst dreaming of amazing adventures. The muted pastel palette is perfect for portraying Louis' nocturnal travels and the expressive line drawings capture the concern of his animal friends. Louis is an endearing character in a story which would be enjoyed by children in Early Years and Key Stage 1. Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Jayne Gould, librarian

Lemur Dreamer
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 Dawn Chorus
Suzanne Barton

Bloomsbury Publishing PLC

ISBN 9781408839225

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. 32 pages / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Joy Court, librarian

The Dawn Chorus
Dangerous!
Tim Warnes

Little Tiger Press

ISBN 9781848957428

Dangerous! is the new picture book from Tim Warnes in which we meet Mole, who likes to label things, and a large crocodile that Mole struggles to identify. Instead of labelling Croc with a noun, Mole has to use lots of descriptive words to try to understand what is this 'lumpy-bumpy thing with snippy snappy teeth'. As he gradually finds out more about Croc, Mole also applies the word 'Dangerous' (but it all ends happily!). With a warm, engaging story and humorous illustrations, Dangerous! will be enjoyed by children across ages four to seven years. Because the book follows Mole's obsession with labelling, children will also learn something without even realising it. In the first part of the story, Mole is labelling the things he knows as nouns - snail, butterfly, leaf - but when he comes across the unknown crocodile, Mole has to resort to adjectives for his labels - slimy, sharp, bumpy etc. So as well as a great story, Dangerous! provides a beautiful demonstration of nouns and adjectives in play. You could also use the story to inspire KS1 children to create their own descriptive labels for objects they bring back from a nature trail. Picture book / Ages 4-7 years / Reviewed by Angela Inns

Dangerous!
The Girl with the Parrot on Her Head
Daisy Hirst

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406352634

Isabel, the girl with a parrot on her head, has a good friend called Simon. They play imaginative games together until one day Simon moves away. Isabel is lonely, angry and upset, hating everything until she decides she likes being on her own. She has fun by herself, finding a system of boxes useful for storing everything. Though Isabel does worry that one of the wolves might be too big for the system, so she is delighted when she finds the biggest box she has ever seen. But Chester is inside and he was going to use it for a den. When Isabel explains about the wolf, Chester tells him all about the forest far away, where wolves are supposed to live. The wolf leaves straight away and the box is turned into a space station, with two astronauts. With its bright, bold pictures and use of white space to give a fresh, open feel, this story is an exploration of friendship, fears and the power of the imagination. It is ideal for sharing with young children, to show that everyone has worries but they can be overcome, especially with a good friend. Picture book / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Jayne Gould, librarian

The Girl with the Parrot on Her Head
I Am Henry Finch
Alexis Deacon

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406357134

Henry is one of a flock of finches, who together make a good deal of racket all day long, so noisy that you can't hear yourself think. From saying good morning to wishing everyone good night, with warnings about the ravenous Beast approaching in between, there just is not the time or opportunity for thoughts. Until the night when Henry wakes up in the dark and the quiet and has a thought and hears it. As he sat still and listened to his thoughts, he had more of them and liked them, especially that which said "I could be great". When the Beast comes back the next day, Henry decides it is the time for greatness and attacks, only to be eaten. In the dark and quiet inside the Beast Henry thinks and thinks, but they are mostly bad thoughts, as he has been a fool and is now someone's dinner, along with a mouse and a worm. But listening to the Beast's thoughts, Henry realises he can influence its behaviour, by getting it to think about eating different food. Once Henry is back amongst his flock he tells them about everything that has happened and they listen, before discovering thoughts of their own. A delightful and entertaining introduction to philosophy for young children, the story also explores what everyone can do to make a difference, especially when they have the courage to follow their good ideas. Henry and his flock are depicted using red fingerprints, with simple but expressive black lines giving the birds individuality. This is a book for sharing with children of all ages, opening up discussion and also provides inspiration for creating artwork using fingerprints. Picture book / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Jayne Gould, librarian

I Am Henry Finch
Black & White
Dahlov Ipcar

Flying Eye Books

ISBN 9781909263635

This is a gorgeous new edition of Black and White, which was originally published in 1963 by Alfred A Knopf during the height of the US civil rights movement. Black and White was intended to promote equality within the turbulent political landscape of its time - it is a tale of friendship and dreams. In the picture book, we see a black dog and a white dog who are friends. When they fall asleep, they meet in their dreams and set off on adventures in far-flung lands and there meet a range of other animals, from the ebony elephants of the Congo to the white polar bears of the Artic. Each of the pages is printed with restricted spot colours of black, white and variations of turquoise and pink. Having been created some years ago, Ipcar's work has a gorgeously retro feel to it, and the images remain just as appealing now as then. The simple, rhyming text plays with the abundance of black and white imagery in the story and the story could be used to encourage children to develop their own ideas around black and white animals and landscapes and to create their own poems around colour. 40 pages / Ages 6+ / Reviewed by Elen Strange.

Black & White
The Great Big Green Book
Mary Hoffman

Frances Lincoln Childrens Books

ISBN 9781847804457

For those who are familiar with the 'Great Big Book Of...' series from Mary Hoffman and Ros Asquith, there will be delight in discovering a new 'big book', this time The Great Big Green Book which explores environmental issues. It begins with an exploration of wonder - the Earth's place in space and how wonderful our world is with its oceans and trees, before starting to explain issuse like pollution, climate change and endangered species, and the damage that humans are inflicting on Earth. There are, though, lots of practical suggestions and ideas for how we can start to help change things, and children are encouraged to ask lots of questions like, 'How could you feed everyone in the world'? From the initial exploration of green issues, questions like these can lead on to broader discussions about why we do what we do and who really benefits? The final few pages also suggest that it will be up to children - our future generation - to create the inventions we will need to clear up the mess we have created. So despite the problems it outlines, this is an ultimately upbeat book that challenges all of us to make the change and provides plenty of ideas for how to start that at home and in the classroom. There are also some useful weblinks on the back page. 40 pages / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by ReadingZone

The Great Big Green Book