NEW TITLES

This month's selection of picture books for nursery and reception are great books to share with groups and offer many starting points for discussions ranging from sharing and learning how to help one another, to families and chicken pox!

The First Slodge
Jeanne Willis

Little Tiger Press

ISBN 9781848690394

'Once upon a slime, there was a Slodge. The first Slodge in the universe....' begins Jeanne Willis' new picture book for young children, which is all about sharing. For, having enjoyed the first sunrise and sunset, the first star and the first moon all by herself, Slodge suddenly discovers that she is not the only creature in the world - there are others, and that means she needs to share what is around her. It is a message that is key for nursery and reception-aged children, who are still learning that the world is not for them, and them alone. Jenni Desmond's illustrations are a treat, too, and the expressions on the Slodges' faces when they discover one another ('It was a terrible shock to both of them') and as they 'fought the first fight', are wonderful. Its presentation and the simple message make this a gorgeous picture book to share with a group. As well as beginning a discussion about sharing and what they find hard to share, even with their best friends, children could also be encouraged to imagine the beginning of the world and what kinds of creatures they might have liked to see in it. Picture book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Angela Layton.

The First Slodge
Pat-a-Cake Baby
Joyce Dunbar

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406323634

It's night time and everyone is sleeping, but the kitchen's wide awake and for baby, it's time to bake a cake! So begins this little one's energetic baking adventure helped by the playful trio of Candy, Jelly and Allsorts babies. This is all about having fun not just with baking - but with words! Rhyme, repetition, alliteration and plays on words fill the pages - 'With a mutter mutter mutter, pitter patter comes the butter oh so yellow shiny yellow, Holler, 'Hello Yellow', or my favourite, 'And here's the sugar, ditzy sugar, oh so glitzy of so glossy and we're frisking while we're whisking 'til it's flitter flotter fluffy. It's whisking time!' It doesn't matter that some of the words are made up, they are perfect for that moment. Children can begin to play with their own words and recipe, re-enacting the baking process but with their own words to express the fun in it; building a word bank that explores actions like pouring, stirring, sieving and yawning. Great fun. Picture book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Louise McGahan, teacher.

Pat-a-Cake Baby
Ten Little Dinosaurs
Mike Brownlow

Orchard Books

ISBN 9781408334003

The wonderfully energetic Ten Little Dinosaurs is the latest in a series of highly recommended picture books from Orchard that also includes Ten Little Pirates and Ten Little Princesses. With their rhyming text, unexpected humour and stylish illustrations, they are great books to read aloud and they will also support children as they learn to count up to ten and back. This story follows ten little dinosaurs as they set off to explore. Be warned - the roaring, stomping, slurping and grrr-ing is bound to make this a noisy storytime and there is plenty of jeopardy along the way - children will love it! All ends safely and well with mum dinosaur picking up the pieces and bringing all ten dinosaurs back together again. The story also provides a starting point for more counting work around dinosaurs, and to get children doing more research on dinosaurs. Taking it further, they could start to develop their own story based on this pattern but using different characters, perhaps aliens or sea creatures. Picture book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Clare Charles.

Ten Little Dinosaurs
Grandma Comes to Stay
Ifeoma Onyefulu

Frances Lincoln Childrens Books

ISBN 9781847802514

Along with Deron Goes to Nursery, these books explore children's first experiences but in an African setting. Each story is a photographic account of these children's experience, giving a glimpse of how different - and how similar - are the lives of children from backgrounds that are different from our own. In Grandma Comes to Stay, we meet Stephanie, who is three. Through the photographs, we meet her family and see her house. Stephanie helps to tidy because Grandma is coming and we later see the little girl playing with her toys - kicking a ball, riding a bike, using a counting book and playing on a drum, so the story could also be used alongside topics about home or toys. It will certainly help generate discussions about her life in Africa and the differences from and similarities to their own lives. Children, with their parents, could be encouraged to create their own photographic diary around the visit of a relative using simple text with pictures and share these with other children in the group. 32 pages / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Louise McGahan, teacher.

Grandma Comes to Stay
The Storytime: The Lion Who Lost His Roar but Learnt to Draw
Paula Knight

QED Publishing

ISBN 9781781716625

The Lion Who Lost his Roar but Learnt to Draw is among a series of books published by QED (see also The Greedy Rainbow, Batmouse) which are aimed at young children and which feature bold illustrations and simple text to help children follow the story and begin to develop as readers. In this story, Lionel the lion club likes to make loud noises but this scares the other animals. Only when Lional loses his voice does he discover the pleasure of drawing as he makes lots of simple notes to help his friends and family understand him. Children could be encouraged to make their own notes, with drawings and simple text such as water bottle or hat, to see how hard it can be to use notes instead of vocalising requests. There is also a range of other follow-up activities suggested at the back of the book, to extend the reading experience. Picture book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by ReadingZone.

The Storytime: The Lion Who Lost His Roar but Learnt to Draw
Nobody's Perfect
David Elliott

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406359442

I enjoyed the loose, rough pencil and colour illustrations in this book that takes us through the range of emotions experienced by a small boy who finds himself on the naughty step again.... As he sits there, he mulls over the idea that 'nobody is perfect' - his little sister can be much too loud, his friend can be a showoff and his mum won't listen to him. But he realises that he, too, isn't always perfect, especially when he makes a mess of his bedroom. But sometimes it's fun to be messy, a showoff, or loud.... and so the boy's gloom lifts as he realises that things don't have to be completely perfect to make everyone happy. This is a lovely story to begin a group discussion about how children feel, and how their actions can affect other people around them. They can talk about what makes them happy or sad, and what they can say or do to resolve those feelings. Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Louise Gahan, teacher.

Nobody's Perfect
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, teacher.

Recipe For a Story
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
Princess Mirror-Belle and the Dragon Pox
Julia Donaldson

Macmillan Children's Books

ISBN 9780230771970

Having itchy chicken pox isn't much fun, until Ellen finds a girl talking to her from the bathroom mirror. It is Princess Mirror-Belle, who warns Ellen that she might turn into a toad if she scratches just one spot! She declares that they are suffering from dragon pox and knows just how to cure it. Jumping out of the mirror, she joins Ellen in the bathroom and proceeds to make a soothing bubble bath, with the addition of toothpaste, shaving foam and shampoo. Ellen is not really sure this will work, after all, how will she clean her teeth later? But Mirror Belle has an answer to all Ellen's questions - things are done differently where she lives! Bubble bath is replaced by bubble fish, you don't wash your hair but cast a spell to change the style and your mum quite likes you to make the bathroom floor wet enough to paddle in! An appealing, entertaining and glittery story from two of today's most popular picture book makers which could be read aloud as the inspiration for some work on imaginative alternatives to real life. Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Jayne Gould, librarian.

Princess Mirror-Belle and the Dragon Pox