NEW TITLES

There are some wonderful picture books being published with themes that older children will enjoy exploring, like the wordless Footpath Flowers, as well as some great new fiction series for independent readers.

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
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
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
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
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
Nixie the Bad, Bad Fairy
Cas Lester

Oxford University Press

ISBN 9780192742582

Finally, a book about fairies and magic that isn't twee and which newly confident children can read by themselves! Nixie, as the title suggests, is a naughty little fairy who can't help but get antagonised by the too perfect fairy Adorabella. When Nixie also has a wand that seems to have a life of its own, you know that trouble is just around the corner. Sure enough, when the trouble comes, mischievous little Nixie is in the thick of it. Luckily, Nixie is also very inventive - and does try to be good - and generally finds a way out of the scrapes she gets herself into which in this story, comes just in time for the fairy ball. As well as Nixie herself and the other fairy characters like Tabitha Quicksilver the fairy godmother, we loved the fairy world the story builds, including 'blueberry phones', cobweb thread and pumpkin houses. This is the first in a series and there will be lots of young girls who can't wait to find out what Nixie gets up to next! 128 pages / Ages 6/7+ / Reviewed by Sophie Smith.

Nixie the Bad, Bad Fairy
Creature Teacher
Sam Watkins

Oxford University Press

ISBN 9780192742650

Jake's first day at his new school is definitely one to remember. He is sitting outside the Headteacher's office when he first meets Mr. Hyde who does seem rather weird. Just how weird becomes clear when it transpires that, while trying to motivate 5b to learn the 142 rules for the Founder's Day evening, Mr Hyde comes up with the most interesting classroom, full of the planets, the sun and the universe all spinning round. Barnaby has unhappily been fed sweets by the nasty Amelia and gets very excited as a result, managing to send the universe spinning even faster which upsets Mr. Hyde, who unfortunately glows, goes red, and then turns into the Creature! Fortunately Jake and his new found friends Nora and Woodstock manage to get the Creature into Barnaby's school bag so that Mrs. Blunt the Head Teacher does not discover what has happened to her new teacher. But they need to discover what to do to get Mr Hyde back. The children realise they will have to practice the recitation of the school rules by themselves as they do not have a teacher, and discover that singing them with new words makes them much easier. This performance in the classroom makes the creature very happy and so Mr. Hyde returns in time to see his new class win the day at the Founder's Day evening and even better, the dreaded Amelia gets her come-uppance. This is great fun, well written with just enough outrageous humour to make it almost believable! Short chapters would make it perfect to read aloud perhaps at the end of the school day if teachers could bear it? The punishment for misbehaviour is building a rockery, one of the nice touches that make this such fun to read, as well as the School Reports that appear at the end of the story. A sequel is already in the pipeline. 192 pages / Ages 7+ / Reviewed by Janet Fisher, librarian

Creature Teacher