NEW TITLES

The following titles cover a wide range of topics. Picture books at this age can be really helpful in beginning discussions and encouraging children to develop their own writing skills, and we also have some young fiction to recommend.

Thank you, Jackson
Niki Daly

Frances Lincoln Childrens Books

ISBN 9781847804846

In this picture book, set in an unspecified country in Africa, we follow a farmer and his donkey as he takes the family's produce to market, something the donkey, Jackson, has done without complaint until this day, when he stops and refuses to budge. The farmer is about to start beating Jackson when his son, Goodwill, arrives, whispers something into the donkey's ear, and they all continue to the market. What was the special thing he whispered? "Mama says," explained Goodwill, "that it's the little things, like saying please and thank you, that make a big difference in the world." This is a lovely story to explore why manners are important and the discussion could also be moved on to talk about the school's special rules of behaviour, and creating a classroom display of that. Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Louise McGahan, teacher.

Thank you, Jackson
Wild paperback
Emily Hughes

Flying Eye Books

ISBN 9781909263628

This picture book debut by Emily Hughes is a celebration of nature and unfettered childhood. In the story, a small child grows up in the forest where 'the whole forest took her as their own'. The crow teaches her to speak, the bear to hunt and the foxes to play, and all was well until she is found by some humans who try to make them the same as themselves. But trying to tame something 'so happily wild' proves to be a hard task.... The lushness of the forest spreads contrasts unhappily with the dreary indoor images where the wild girl finds herself and her return to the forest is a welcome release. There are some gorgeous spreads in the picture book, especially where the crow, bear and foxes teach her their unique skills. Children could use the story to imagine what growing up in a forest might be like, and could lead on to researching forest animals. They could also be encouraged to write a short piece about an animal teaching it a specific skill. Picture book / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by ReadingZone.

Wild paperback
Don't Think About Purple Elephants
Susan Whelan

EK Books

ISBN 9781921966699

'Sometimes Sophie worried', begins this picture book, which explores how children may find themselves awake and worrying about things at bedtime. While Sophie is busy and occupied during the day, she can't get to sleep at nighttime as she worries about running out of milk for breakfast, forgetting her packed lunch or whether there will be brussel sprouts for dinner.... Her mother provides the perfect solution - 'Don't think about purple elephants' which soon helps Sophie to drift off to sleep. This is a lovely picture book to begin a discussion about what kinds of things children worry about and whether any of the children can offer suggestions to take their mind off their worries. Thinking about purple elephants as they go to sleep could certainly be one solution and I'm sure some of them would love to try it out! Picture book / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by ReadingZone.

Don't Think About Purple Elephants
Mermaid
Cerrie Burnell

Scholastic

ISBN 9781407145938

Luka longs to swim, but even though they live by the sea, his family can't understand why anyone would want to go in something so cold and wild. Then, walking on the beach one day, Luka spots a girl bobbing in the waves, dipping and soaring like a fish. When she has finished her swim and is sitting in her wheelchair, Luka runs over to say hello and Sylvia offers to teach him. Spending all the next day together, the two enjoy a magical time, laughing and splashing. That night Luka dreams that Sylvia is a mermaid and they explore her underwater kingdom side by side. When Sylvie arrives in his classroom the next day, Luka knows that they are going to have many more adventures together. Illustrated in warm pastel shades with hints of sparkle in the seascapes, the words and pictures combine to produce a gentle and delightful story of friendship, acceptance and having the courage to follow your dreams. This is a book which works well with children from Nursery to Year 2, to encourage discussion without being didactic, as well as lots to explore in the pictures of sea life. Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Jayne Gould, librarian.

Mermaid
Recipe For a Story
Ella Burfoot

Macmillan Children's Books

ISBN 9780230753037

Recipe for a Story is a gorgeous book that I'd happily use as our daily mantra in the classroom before we start writing! "I am going to cook a book! I'll break some thoughts into a cup. I'll beat them, whisk them, mix them up." Big words and small words, characters and feelings, are all measured and added to the bowl as the story gets underway. Descriptive words and punctuation; 'a spoon of good and a pinch of bad' together with a good stir help the plot to thicken! This is a lovely picture book to use to introduce Reception children to the idea of writing a story; for older Year 1 and Year 2 children, it's a reminder of all the elements they need to think about as they begin to write their story. For older KS1 children, Recipe for a Story could even form the basis for a permanent classroom display; you could have your own cake bowl with story-making ingredients pouring in. The display could be made with velcro, so that children can use it as a review for their own stories, a self-assessment tool where they would take off what they have done and put it in the bowl. This would make a really effective, interactive 'checklist' for them when they start writing, and a plenary to check their work at the end. Children would 'get' this much more than a boring A3 checklist! Highly recommended. Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Louise McGahan,

Recipe For a Story
The Strongest Boy in the World
Jessica Souhami

Frances Lincoln Childrens Books

ISBN 9781847806031

Now available in paperback, The Strongest Boy in the World is based on a traditional Japanese tale about a grown-up warrior. In Jessica Souhami's retelling, we follow a boy, Kaito, who is the strongest person in his village, as he sets off to compete in the city in the world-famous Sumo wrestling tournament. Along the way he meets a girl called Hana, who is even stronger than he is, and who offers to train him with amazing results. The story shows us that following a dream - and working hard to achieve it - gets results. It also shows the girl as the one with the real strength. Souhami's retelling of the original tale holds true to the original story but adds a quirky humour. Hana tells the boy at one point, "I can't work miracles and you really are very weedy," for example, as she feeds him ever-larger bowls of 'raw rice and the boniest fish and meat stews". Souhami's bold, stylish illustrations remind us of the simple lines of traditional Japanese artwork and each page is beautifully laid out. As well as using it to explore traditional storytelling, the book could be used as an introduction to Japanese culture, particularly Sumo wrestling, clothing and diet, and to encourage children to think about their own retellings. It could also begin discussions about sports or hobbies that children take part in and what they might be able to achieve one day if they work hard at it. Picture book / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Lina Voisey, teacher.

The Strongest Boy in the World
Foxy Tales: The Great Jail Break: Book 3
Alex T Smith

Hodder Children's Books

ISBN 9781444909333

I was excited to pick this up; I'm familiar with Alex T Smith, having seen him whilst doing my teacher training - I enjoy his Claude series, and so do my current class of year 3s! The story itself is entertaining. The characters, Foxy Dubois and Alphonso the Alligator, are well introduced and supported by a range of entertaining others, Eric-the-Evil, Warden Gordon... this book certainly aims to make children laugh. The story is relatively short but not repetitive as the main characters find themselves in Jail and needing to escape! Their escapades are funny and light hearted, the relationship between the witty fox, and the not-so-witty alligator who keeps threatening to eat her, is one that will captivate children! This book is on its way to becoming a graphic novel, the illustrations are key to the story, not there to support. In fact, I can't really pinpoint any two pages as looking the same; the layout changes, type faces, size of text, background and pictures. It's aesthetically a really interesting book to read. No page has a great amount of text on it, and I think this would please reluctant readers, or those who are a little less confident, but want to read paperbacks. I've recommended this book for those 7+, but think that older primary children would also enjoy it. Some of the vocabulary is adventurous, using higher level words that children may not otherwise come across. Overall, I'd recommend sharing this book with reluctant readers; it's accessible and short, but doesn't look like a 'baby book'. Children must have a good sense of humour to fully appreciate this novel, but I can't wait to share it with my class!! 176 pages / Ages 7+ / Reviewed by Lizi Coombs, teacher.

Foxy Tales: The Great Jail Break: Book 3
The Secret Kitten
Holly Webb

Stripes Publishing

ISBN 9781847155924

The Secret Kitten, published this month by Stripes, is bestselling author Holly Webb's 30th book about animals and it will have plenty of appeal for her young fans aged seven years plus. In the story, Lucy and her younger brother have moved to a new house and a new school. When Lucy finds a stray kitten in their back garden, she is determined to keep it but her gran has made it clear that she doesn't like pets in the house. Can Lucy keep the kitten a secret? Like earlier stories from Holly Webb about animals and pets, the story of The Secret Kitten revolves around a moral heartbeat; will Lucy be brave enough to speak the truth? Webb's stories demand empathy from the reader and especially from children who want or have pets. But her stories with animals are also for a wider audience as the apparently simple storylines also touch on the difficulties and challenges that many children face in their day to day lives. 128 pages / Ages 7+ / Reviewed by ReadingZone.

The Secret Kitten