NEW TITLES

This month's highlights for ages five to seven years includes some great new non-fiction that help explain the world around us, as well as picture books for older readers - plus some nicely-packaged adventure stories for more confident readers.

Could a Penguin Ride a Bike?
Camilla de la Bedoyere

QED Publishing

ISBN 9781781716649

Imagine if a king penguin came to stay... and so begins a day in which we learn more about what penguins can - and can't - do, and what to expect if you're ever visited by a penguin. This is a brilliant series (see also Could a Shark do Gymnastics, Could an Octopus Climb a Skyscraper) in which we learn more about animals by imagining them in our world for a day. A penguin would, for example, be great on a scooter because it's good at balancing, but it couldn't ride a bike because its legs are too short. If it went swimming, it could swim four times faster than a human being, but if you took it on a picnic, expect to be offered regurgitated stinky fish, which what a king penguin feeds its offspring - and baby penguins need to eat up to 200 fish a day! By imagining the creature living alongside us - playing football or visiting the supermarket - the reader learns a huge amount about how they live in their natural environment. Because the text is delivered in short chunks alongside bold and bright illustrations, the books look really appealing so will suit reluctant as well as confident readers. There is also a useful factfile about king penguins at the back of the book. 24 pages / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by ReadingZone.

Could a Penguin Ride a Bike?
My Little Book of Big Trucks
Honor Head

QED Publishing

ISBN 9781784930134

This may be part of QED's 'my little book of...' series, but once you dip into it, you discover it's quite a big book of 'big trucks'. The range of trucks it covers seems huge - I've certainly come across more kinds of trucks than I'd expected, and there are more than most children (and adults) will be aware of. The book is divided into cargo trucks and transporters; building, mining and farming trucks; and special trucks. As well as the obligatory digger trucks and tipper trucks, we also learn about road trains (a truck that pulls lots of trailers joined together), compactors (which work on landfill sites), robot trucks (they work on mines and are controlled via satellite) and pro-jet trucks, which have jet engines for speed. Each spread about a particular truck (and there are 27 spreads) includes a photographic image of the vehicle along with a short, written description and a scattering of facts about it. While the images and some of the facts will appeal to younger children aged four years plus, the text and layout will be just as appealing to older readers aged seven years plus and especially to those obsessed with trucks. This is a definite one for the class or school library as it's such a well-presented book to dip into, and you'll also find it very useful for your 'Vehicles' topics. 64 pages / Ages 4-7+ / Reviewed by Angela Simms.

My Little Book of Big Trucks
Nature's Day
Kay Maguire

Wide Eyed Editions

ISBN 9781847806086

I didn't know that the same birds start the dawn chorus every day - robins, blackbirds and song thrushes among them - nor that ladybirds can eat more than 50 aphids in one day. These are just some of the nuggets of information about our natural landscape that are scattered through the pages of Nature's Day, a wonderful introduction to nature and its seasons that can be used for displays, inspiring children to do nature trails and encouraging them to identify and draw plants and animals. On each page we have a landscape such as the woods, the garden, the vegetable patch and the street, with short paragraphs of information scattered across the pages illustrated with deft paintings of the pertinent wildlife and plant life. The book goes through the seasons, beginning with spring and ending with the barren lands and frozen waters of winter. We find out which creatures hibernate, which migrate and about those that remain - ready to turn to the first pages of spring again as the new year starts. A gorgeous book to have as the early days of spring arrive and our thoughts turn to planting, nature trails and the great outdoors. 79 pages / Ages 6-11 / Reviewed by Angela Husting

Nature's Day
Beautiful Birds
Jean Roussen

Flying Eye Books

ISBN 9781909263291

Flying Eye Books' gorgeous compendium of birds gives us a rare and colourful glimpse into birds from around the world, reminding us just how vast and precious these creatures are. It is a lovely book to start looking at birdlife and to encourage children to take an interest in the birds in our natural landscape and further afield. The book is an A-Z, told as a poem, and introduces some more unusual birds, including the zosteropidae and jacana, as well as more familiar creatures like the eagle, robin and peacock, each with a brief line of text to help us place the bird. What makes the book really stand out, though, is the artwork - it is stunning, with each bird depicted on its own full page in a slightly retro, stylised manner with the bright pink we see on the cover dropped in for effect. The colours and images glow off the page, especially the ultramarine of the kingfisher page, or the pinks and blues of the peacock - who gets a starring role! - and this makes it a lovely book to share. Dipping in like this can also be a starting point to follow through with one of the birds and to find out more about where and how it lives. Beautiful Birds can be linked with topics like the rainforest and migration, or used in art to encourage children to depict their own choice of bird. 56 pages / Ages 6+ / Reviewed by Anne Hastings

Beautiful Birds
The Seeds of Friendship
Michael Foreman

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406356502

This is a story about belonging and hope from author and illustrator Michael Foreman. When a boy and his family move to the city from an unspecified country in Africa, the child is fascinated by the tower block they now call home but misses Africa and its rich array of animals. The landscape he now sees is grey and full of buildings. When he sees snow for the first time, he starts to build snow animals, and other children help him to build a 'zoo' of animals. Then, when spring comes, the seeds he has been given from school start to grow, first in a box on the windowsill and then on the roof as the children help him build a bigger garden. Before long, they have created a new garden on the ground, too, and neighbouring buildings are creating their own gardens. The landscape of the tower blocks is now green, not grey, and his world is full of friendship and hope. This story can be shared with children aged five or six years plus to encourage them to talk about their local landscape and whether that is different from one where they used to live? How do they feel about their new home and new friends? It can also be used around topics of 'my neighbourhood', with children describing and drawing the landscapes they can see where they live. 32 pages / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Anna Butler

The Seeds of Friendship
Foxy Tales: The Great Jail Break: Book 3
Alex T Smith

Hodder Children's Books

ISBN 9781444909333

This third volume of stories about Foxy DuBois and Alphonso the Alligator sees the "two rogues" put into jail. There, Foxy must outwit Warden Gordon in her attempts to escape and hopefully lose Alphonso along the way. This very entertaining, funny, and engaging escapade would make a brilliant class read and ties in nicely to World Book Day Celebrations as Smith was last year's official illustrator. Being the third story in the series, it makes sense to read the previous titles first, and although they will give some background details such as why Foxy wants to leave Alphonso behind and why Eric-the-Devil is later referred to as Billy Bongo, they will not make much difference to the understanding or enjoyment of this story. The interweaving of text and illustrations across the pages will make the book especially appealing to either those children who struggle with their reading or are newly confident readers, and the mass of white space and quite large font allows you to speed through the book. Children will love elements such as what Alphonso does to the guards and Foxy's encounter with frilly knickers plus the silly slapstick humour which enables the plot to race along - I found neither a dull moment or the story lagging. The 22 pages of extras including activities, character interviews, and games are also appealing for individual or group use. A lovely read and I may just go and get the previous two Foxy Tales plus Smith's other series Claude - "the extraordinary dog with an extraordinary life" too. 175 pages / Ages 7+ / Reviewed by Natalie Plimmer, librarian

Foxy Tales: The Great Jail Break: Book 3
Stephen Biesty's To The Rescue
Rod Green

Templar Publishing

ISBN 9781783701544

Stephen Biesty's famous cross-section books takes us into the world of rescue, with an absorbing look at rescue vessels and how they work. Through these intricate images, we visit an ambulance, police car, fire engine, rescue helicopter, waterbomber, lifeboat and others and find out how they work and the special features are needed to support their rescue work. While I'd normally be a little cautious about books with lots of flaps, those included in this book are very sturdy, despite often being quite small, and they definitely add to the enjoyment of exploring these vessels. As well as a useful strand in 'vehicles' topics, the book gives children a glimpse into the world of rescue. I could see many exciting 'rescue-themed' stories being developed after they'd had a chance to browse this and discuss possible emergency situations when the rescue vehicles would be needed. Ages 7+ / Reviewed by Martha Dashna.

Stephen Biesty's To The Rescue
Tim All Alone
Edward Ardizzone

Frances Lincoln Childrens Books

ISBN 9781847806284

Four of the 'Little Tim' books by Edward Ardizzone have been republished by Frances Lincoln, complete with QR codes that will take the reader to an audio reading by Stephen Fry. The books are packed with adventure although contemporary children may find Tim's adventuring all alone and the unpleasant treatment metted out by some of the adults he comes across rather odd, but they will nevertheless be swept along by the adventures he has - from burning ships to learning to be a cabin boy in Tim All Alone, which won the Greenaway Medal when it was first published. The black and white illustrations are also just as appealing now as then and perfectly balance the text, making these books great for reluctant as well as confident young readers. 56 pages / Ages 7+ / Reviewed by ReadingZone

Tim All Alone