NEW TITLES

There is a wonderful range of picture books published this month, from fairy tale characters and dinosaurs to vehicles and friends. Many of these will provide a great starting point for discussions among young children, including the environment, being brave and what 'family' means.

All Aboard the Dinosaur Express
Timothy Knapman

Bloomsbury Publishing PLC

ISBN 9781408849361

The Dinosaur express would certainly brighten up anyone's train journey! Very brightly coloured dinosaurs, all looking completely unthreatening, people each page as the reader joins them on the platform full of excitement, waiting for the train to come. Told in rhyming couplets full of the tricky names of the dinosaurs, we follow them as they travel on the scaley train sitting on very comfy seats! The food trolley comes by staffed by the ankylosaurus who has food for the plant eaters and the carnivores and there is even monster cake - not sure myself about the green tendrils coming from that one! For one young dinosaur his trip is even more exciting as his ticket has a lucky flash of gold and so he wins the chance to drive the train! The reader follows his journey round the map helpfully supplied and he takes the train up the Great Volcano Run! This does look quite dangerous as it is full of very active volcanoes, but they make it and he gets a cap and a flag to mark the occasion before the train returns home. This colourful, vibrant story combines two favourites - dinosaurs and trains so how can it fail? It is so exuberant and has so many different sorts of dinosaurs which most children will be able to recognise if not spell, and leaves the reader happy and quite breathless as the dinosaurs arrive safely home, full of stories from their day that they tell until bedtime. Lovely for three and upwards - it will read aloud beautifully. Picture book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Janet Fisher, librarian

All Aboard the Dinosaur Express
Busy Wheels: Train is on the Track
Peter Bently

QED Publishing

ISBN 9781784930240

Train is on Track is one of the first books in a vibrant new pre-schooler series from QED that puts a vehicle of some sort at the heart of the story. In this adventure, Train is busy taking his passengers to their destination and along the way, we explore level crossings, sidings, viaducts and tunnels. When Train sees a red light ahead, he pulls on the breaks just in time - a fallen tree has stopped the mail train. Luckily Train can take the mail to its destination instead and the post is delivered on time. A final spread shows us all the different parts of the train as well as introducing a range of other rail vehicles, some of which we see in the story. Other books in the series include Plane's Royal Rescue and School Bus Saves the Day; plenty to keep young vehicle enthusiasts happy! Picture book / Ages 2+ / Reviewed by ReadingZone.

Busy Wheels: Train is on the Track

ISBN 9781447254744

The Giant of Jum is a 'grumpy old grouch', mostly because he is very hungry, so when he recalls a story his brother told him of a beanstalk and a boy known as Jack, the Giant decides to hunt down this Jack and to eat him. But every time he finds a group of children ready to be eaten, he ends up doing them a favour - fetching their ball, rescuing their cat, or giving them a ride on his broad shoulders. But when he finally discovers who young Jack is - the children come up with something that will persuade him that there are nicer things to eat than children! This is a very entertaining story, told through rhyme, that has nice echoes of the story of Jack and the Beanstalk including the use of 'Fee, Fi, Fo and Fum' - but with a difference: "Fum! he said and, "Fo!" he said, and "Fi!" he said and "Fee! Children, I feel, make a fabulous meal. I will gobble you up for my tea." Picture book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Alice Standing.

Adam Stower

ISBN 9781783700523

It's great to see the characters from Troll and the Oliver return for a second story about hungry trolls and cake. At the end of The Troll and the Oliver, Oliver and Troll have gone into business together running a cafe selling cake to hungry trolls. But when Oliver's little sister disappears up Munch Mountain - where the Grumbug lives - he and Troll set off after her, taking a special supply of cake with them. Children will love following the clues in the story that lead Oliver towards his sister. Sure enough, she is at the top of Munch Mountain - but is the Grumbug really as big and as green and as mean as people think...? Once again Adam Stower excels at juxtaposing the text and the images so that the child reader knows more about what is going on than some of the characters in the story - they will delight in pointing out the clues to the existence of a rather large creature in the mountains, even if Oliver doesn't believe it exists... The rather wonderful array of trolls in the story could also be used to encourage children to create their own troll or other cake-guzzling creature! Picture book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by ReadingZone.

Where, Oh Where, is Rosie's Chick?
Pat Hutchins

Hodder Children's Books

ISBN 9781444918281

Since it was published more than 40 years ago, Rosie's Walk has become a classic so it's a real pleasure to see Pat Hutchins' follow-up picture book, Where, Oh Where, is Rosie's Chick? The new picture book has many echoes of Rosie's Walk, including its style of story telling where the text tells us one thing (Rosie is looking for her chick) while the images tell us something else (each of Rosie's actions inadvertently help her chick, who is following Rosie around the farmyard). Children who have read Rosie's Walk will pick up other motifs, including the return of the fox and the bee hives at the end. Rosie's Chick has retained the same distinctive colour palette as Rosie's Walk with the yellows, red and oranges glowing from the pages and her patterns in the vegetation around the farmyard really stand out. Like Rosie's Walk, children will enjoy pouring over the images and understanding the play between the images and text. They could 'map out' the little chick's journey around the farmhouse, marking up the hazards along the way, and perhaps add a few more obstacles of their own. Picture book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Lizzie Steer

Where, Oh Where, is Rosie's Chick?
Miss Hazeltine's Home for Shy and Fearful Cats
Alicia Potter

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406362381

This is a wonderfully understated story about being brave - and cats. Miss Hazeltine's Home for Shy and Fearful Cats opens its doors to any cat that needs to learn how to be more cat-like, whether that's chasing birds, arching their backs or pouncing. Soon, Miss Hazeltine has so many cats to teach, that she runs out of milk. Although it's getting dark, she has to go out for extra supplies but on the way home she falls and hurts herself. Will the cats, especially the most timid of all, be brave enough to go and find her? There is lots to explore in the book's pages, starting with the fantastic array of cats and all the different places they find to snooze in Miss Hazeltine's home, and there is plenty of quiet humour in the images, such as learning lessons from Miss Hazeltine and their adventures when they rescue her - pouncing at the dark shadows and 'staring down' the mushrooms! The cats have learned to be brave - and that they are more than the 'worthless' label that they arrived with at Miss Hazeltine's school for cats. Children could be encouraged to discuss what scares them and what helps them to be brave. Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Lynne Voisey.

Miss Hazeltine's Home for Shy and Fearful Cats
A Forest
Marc Martin

Templar Publishing

ISBN 9781783702084

This textured hardcover picture book with vegetation on the front cover has been created by new picture book author and illustrator Marc Martin. The graphics are stunning and are supplemented by simple but appropriate text. The story is told of how a forest grew into woodland and was eventually destroyed by the actions of humans. Watercolours and pen and ink are married to great effect with the colours mingling and darkening. The plants, human figures, machines and then buildings all start small and become more significant as the trees are all cut down to make way for roads, factories and dwellings. Opportunities are plentiful for discussion about the reasons why trees are important in the environment. The issue of poor air quality is raised as there are no trees to clean it. As the storm brews and the rain starts to fall, inevitably the built-up area is washed away. After the storm just one tree remains. This tree becomes the foundation for the new forest. The book would be useful for looking at sustainability, how man affects nature and climate change in its simplest form and could be used as an introduction to plant growth and linked in with growing seedlings inside the classroom and monitoring its growth. Picture Book/Age 3+/ Reviewed by Pat Chandler, librarian

A Forest
Footpath Flowers
Jon Arno Lawson

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406362084

This charming, wordless picture book, first published in the US, leads us through a monochrome urban landscape which bursts into life as a small girl accompanies her father on a walk. The only splash of colour at the beginning belongs to the little girl in her red coat. There are many questions to ask about their destination and predictions regarding what they are going to do. From observing closely it is clear that the pair have been shopping. The story continues in cartoon style picking out details in the surroundings from a child's point of view. Colours highlight the wild flowers growing in out-of-the-way places that only the little girl notices. She starts to collect the flowers that she can reach as she walks. As the walk progresses, colour seeps into the pictures. The father is absorbed in a phone call and barely glances down. There is so much vocabulary to be teased out from the move from street scene to traffic and through the park. Having spotted a dead bird on the path the girl adds a small bunch of flowers to rest on top of the bird. The colours begin to deepen at this point and the emotional issues can be tackled. Lots of everyday activities are in progress giving rise to discussion and observation. The walk leads to home having dispensed flowers on the way. This is an excellent book for sharing and retelling of the story with small groups or individual children and would be an ideal prelude to nature walks. There is also a lot of inspiration for artwork, colour mixing and collage. Picture Book/ Age 4+ / Reviewed by Pat Chandler, librarian

Footpath Flowers
The Great Big Book of Families
Mary Hoffman

Frances Lincoln Childrens Books

ISBN 9781847805874

Now available in paperback, Ros Asquith's The Great Big Book of Families looks at the variety of families that there can be - times have moved on from the mum, dad, two children and pets that we once always saw in children's stories. Families, we learn, can be single parents, two mums or two dads, mixed race or step parents and step children. The book also takes a wonderful look at how differently families live - the kinds of houses they might live in, how they travel, what clothes they might wear and food they might eat - will it come from the supermarket or will they grow it themselves? The book is bursting with the warmth of families - whatever shape they take - and it's packed with starting points for discussion about what makes a family. It's an ideal book to use around the topic of families - there is also a page on family trees - and can also be used with upper KS1 children to explore the kinds of families they can create for their own stories. See also The Great Big Book of Feelings. 40 pages / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Louise Allen.

The Great Big Book of Families
Heather Has Two Mummies
Leslea Newman

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406359404

Heather Has Two Mummies is now available in the UK and is a wonderful companion story to The Great Big Book of Families. Like that, it also explores what a family is but through on particular family, Heather and her two mums. Heather's favourite number is two because she has two pets and two mummies but when she spends her first day at school, Heather realises that her family is not like the other children's; should she have a daddy too? When the children each draw a picture of their family, Heather begins to see that all families are different; there are grandmas and stepfathers, little sisters and two dads; no family is alike. Children can, like those in the story, be encouraged to draw pictures of their own family for a wall display to encourage children to discuss what a family is and what makes their family special. Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by ReadingZone.

Heather Has Two Mummies
Eddie's Tent: and How to Go Camping
Sarah Garland

Frances Lincoln Childrens Books

ISBN 9781847804082

Eddie's Tent is a great addition to a series that already includes Eddie's Garden / Kitchen / Toolbox. Each book delivers a warm and thoughtful story, as well as hints and tips for practical things to do in that setting. In this story, Eddie and his family are going camping and there is a lot to learn, from building campfires and cooking to making knots and first aid; there are tips about each of these at the back of the book. When the family finally arrive near the beach and pitch their tents, there is plenty to do and to explore and Eddie finds ways to be useful around the campsite. When they head towards town, Eddie draws a map to help find their way back, which later proves very helpful when Eddie and his new friend Max get lost. The story can be used to encourage children to discuss their own experiences of camping and the different types of holidays you can have. Children can think about the variety of survival skills you need to have when you're outdoors, such as lighting fires and reading maps, and can go on to create their own maps to help guide them around their local area or an imaginary campsite. 40 pages / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Victor Smith

Eddie's Tent: and How to Go Camping
Poppy Pickle
Emma Yarlett

Templar Publishing

ISBN 9781783701766

What an extravaganza of colour and imagination! Poppy Pickle has bags of energy and an amazing imagination, so amazing that the things she imagines start to come to life. Instead of cleaning her room, Poppy Pickle starts to daydream and as each creature she imagines comes to life, her rooms starts to fill with this fabulous array of creatures. Unfortunately, though, not all of them are as friendly as Poppy would have liked and, when the crocodile tries to eat her, she realises it is time that they all left - but how? There is one spread that shows all the fun things that Poppy has dreamed up, from a castle made of cake to never-ending pocket money, which is bound to help encourage children to create their own list of imagined things. But as you turn the page, you find all the other kinds of things you might find in your imagination - and children could list the things that sometimes worry them. But this story really is a celebration of children's imagination and would be an excellent story to share before they start writing their own. Picture book / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by ReadingZone.

Poppy Pickle
Space Dog
Mini Grey

Jonathan Cape Ltd

ISBN 9780857550903

Mini Grey does it again with Space Dog, creating a delicious mix of the recognisable and the other-worldly as we head into the vast deeps of space 'To Bravely Go Where No Carton of Milk has Gone Before', as it tells us on the front cover. Space Dog has been away on missions, saving the 'Breakfast Cluster' from a milk drought and saving Bath Time 37 with the 'evacuation of a Colossal stink' from the drain, and finally judging a hat competition! Now he is returning home, somewhat lonely, but ready to relax. Until, that is, distress messages calls him back into the Dairy Quadrant, where he first rescues Astrocat from a cream planet ('Holy Cream Crash!') and then Moustronaut from an unstable cheesy planet ('Shivering Stiltons!'). There is so much clever humour in this that it's hard to know where to begin, but let's start with the end papers in which Grey lays out the universe Space Dog is traversing - complete with The Pudding Zone, Cake Space, The Cistern System and Outer Spooniverse. Children can use this as a 'map' to help chart Space Dog's travels and adventures. The newspaper sections on the opening spread confirm that Space Dogs, Astrocats and Moustronauts are 'Sworn Enemies' and yet, once the rescued creatures are on board with Space Dog, they discover that they actually have a lot in common - especially a fondness for Dogopoly (although 'Nobody is completely sure about the exact rules for Dogopoly...') and a thirst for adventure. I do hope we see the trio back again for more! Just as Grey's Traction Man has been a starting-off point for exploring heroes and imaginary new worlds in our home environment, Space Dog will surely inspire explorations of space and the creation of new home-themed universes which can be drawn, mapped and modeled. Wonderful! Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Anna Paul.

Space Dog