NEW TITLES

From picture books to early readers as well as non-fiction titles that help explain the world around us, there is a great selection of books publishing this month for readers aged five to seven years.

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
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!
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 Girl with the Parrot on Her Head
Daisy Hirst

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406352634

Isobel and Simon are close companions enjoying a myriad of activities together. Isobel is happy. But suddenly Simon 'went away in a truck.... and he never came back'. The stark lines fill the reader with dread. On the next double page a series of illustrations convey the depth of Isobel's anger and loss. However, Isobel finally 'felt quiet inside' and decided to make the most of being alone. Her resilience is commendable as she tackles task after task aided only by the parrot. But all is not well; the box of wolves Isobel has packed away at the top of her cupboard along with other things she has 'put away' is growing, and Isobel is worried. Thankfully, help soon arrives; a new friend, Chester. A great book for the PHSE shelf. It will open up many conversations about loss, grief and anger and how to deal with such strong emotions; how to cope and how to let go. An empowering book as Chester shows Isobel that she can do something about the wolves; she can send them away. A limited palette of red, blue and brown with a touch of green; the illustrations appear hastily drawn. However, they are a strength to the spare text. 'A picture tells a thousand words' comes to mind. 32 pages / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Sue Gillham, librarian

The Girl with the Parrot on Her Head
Squishy McFluff: Meets Mad Nana Dot
Pip Jones

Faber & Faber

ISBN 9780571302543

A sweet and simple tale told in a,b,c,b, rhyme by little Ava. Like many young children she has an invisible friend to share her experiences. All through the summer they had played together having fun in the garden and Ava hadn't noticed her mum's tummy getting bigger. Then it is time for the baby to be born and Ava goes to Nana's house. Nana is a delight. She embraces life and isn't afraid to try new things or be different. Ava has a great time at the hairdressers, the fishmongers and posting a letter. McFluff is the instigator of the hair brained ideas and Ava a very willing accomplice. Ella Okstad limits the simple painted illustrations to a palette of red, pink and green, which works beautifully. The book is presented in a neat size; just right for little hands to hold. 76 pages / Ages 6+ / Reviewed by Sue Gillham

Squishy McFluff: Meets Mad Nana Dot
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
The Story of Life: A First Book about Evolution
Catherine Barr

Frances Lincoln Childrens Books

ISBN 9781847804853

The Story of Life - 'a first book about evolution' - is an ambitious but clearly-explained guide to how life on Earth may have started, ideal for children who want to know more about 'how we got here'. Evolution is told like a story, 'At first, nothing lived on Earth', and the text is accompanied by colourful, dramatic drawings with additional notes to explain what we are looking at. Each spread explains a certain phase in our development, starting at the time when there was no life on Earth, through the dinosaur age and moving all the way through to life on Earth today. A timeline, at the bottom of each page, tells us how many millions or billions of years ago this was happening. The book touches on very complex subjects, like the development of life from the first cells and man's evolution, but does so in a way that makes it understandable for those coming to these concepts for the first time. It could be used to encourage children to make their own 'timeline' display of evolution, working as a class or in groups, and will certainly prompt lots of discussions about life on Earth - and what we as humans have done to change the world we live in. 32 pages (illustrated) / Ages 7+ / Reviewed by ReadingZone

The Story of Life: A First Book about Evolution
The Leaky Battery Sets Sail
Gareth P. Jones

Stripes Publishing

ISBN 9781847155931

Shiver m' timbers! This was a good book! For those not in the know, Steampunk in a new type of fiction that puts a science fiction twist on Georgian/Victorian history. The twist is that there is crazy technology all powered by steam engines. In the case of this book: steam-powered robots who become pirates. This is the first in a new series from establish author Gareth P. Jones and it is a stonking good start. The action starts right on page one and the simple little blurbs that start each chapter are a great way of teasing the reader in. The list of main characters at the front of the book mean that there is no story wasted on explaining who each character is; we just dive right in and head for adventure! I'm not going to tell you the plot, as I want you to read the book, but I will warn you that is it a proper pirate story: there are cutlasses and cannonballs, mischief and mutiny, parrots and plank walking and, most importantly, heaps and heaps of gold!! What is really cleaver about this book, though, is the amount of things you will learn, without evening knowing that you are being taught. 160 pages / Ages 7+ / Reviewed by Hayley Nicholson, librarian

The Leaky Battery Sets Sail
The Shark-Headed Bear Thing
Barry Hutchison

Nosy Crow Ltd

ISBN 9780857632692

The Shark-Headed Bear-thing has ravaged the village of Loosh and tiny Paradise Little comes seeking a warrior to kill the monster and rescue the villagers. Benjamin Blank has been desperate for such an opportunity. The pair set out following the monster's trail through forests, across ravines and finally into the monster's underground lair. Along the way they literally 'pick up' a failed young wizard who joins the quest. Despite their limitations of size, strength, wizardry and weapons, the children's courage, fortitude and perseverance win the day. Individually they are weak; but together, especially with Ben's empowering manner, they are strong. The first in a new series, an exciting, humorous independent read for Primary age children. Chris Mould's pen and ink drawings depict major disasters and confrontations adding to the enjoyment of the story. 209 pages / Aged 7+ / Reviewed by Sue Gillham

The Shark-Headed Bear Thing