NEW TITLES

During these years children move from beginning reading to developing confidence as a reader and the following books cover this wide range of abilities and interests, from picture books to strong early readers.

ISBN 9781447257486

In this brilliantly funny and perceptive book (now available in paperback), we watch as Bobby learns to decipher his teacher (the 'monster') and gradually comes to see her as human after all (well, almost). At the start, Bobby is terrified of his teacher Miss Kirby, who shouts a lot, tells him off and forbids him from doing things like flying his paper aeroplane. But when he meets Miss Kirby outside school one day, and they are reluctantly forced to talk to each other about ducks, hats and paper aeroplanes, each begins to see the other differently. Miss Kirby, who can quack-talk with the ducks and has a favourite hat, isn't as scary as Bobby thought. The illustrations are gorgeous and, a bit like the Nanny McPhee transformation, we see Miss Kirby steadily losing her monstrous features until she's a normal person (mostly). This picture book really taps into children's view of teachers and other grown ups as 'other' and would be a brilliant story to introduce at the start of the school year to break the ice between a teacher and the new class! Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Angela Green.

Ace Dragon Ltd
Russell Hoban

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406357011

It's lovely to see this series of picture books by Russell Hoban and Quentin Blake being brought back to life by Walker. This story begins with a wonderful moment - a 'klonk' noise coming from a manhole cover that only John hears. When he stamps on it three times, something amazing happens - there's a voice that says it can make fire come from its mouth, fly and spin gold into straw! Readers are left guessing until John gets to their meeting point - the Underground at 'Dragonham East' - and discovers, that's right, a dragon! After they do battle and John wins, his prize is a ride on the back of the dragon, all the way to the moon. But when the dragon runs out of fuel, they have to work out how they can get back home. This is a wonderfully simple but inventive story from this pair of master storytellers. There are plenty of moments that are left open for children to guess what might happen next and that are brilliantly portrayed when the page is turned. I loved Blake's illustrations showing how John and the Dragon, despite being surrounded by city people, are simply left to get on with their adventure (grown-ups just can't see magical things) and Hoban is an expert at taking strands from fairytales - golden straw, knights fighting dragons - and twisting them for his story. The single page, where John hears the initial 'Klonk' - would provide a great story starter, too, for children to decide who or what might be inside their manhole. What an adventure! 40 pages / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by ReadingZone.

Ace Dragon Ltd
Honk, Honk! Hold Tight!
Jessica Souhami

Frances Lincoln Childrens Books

ISBN 9781847805409

Skilled storyteller Jessica Souhami (The Strongest Boy in the World, Foxy) has based Honk, Honk on widespread stories about a princess who doesn't laugh. In her version, a young man hears about this princess who never smiles and decides to go and see her. Along the way he gives his bread and wine to a beggar woman and is rewarded with a golden goose. Every time someone tries to touch the feather, the goose calls 'Honk, Honk' and the boy must say, 'Hold tight'. When this happens, no one can let go and in this way, the young man leads a strange procession of people to the palace where the princess sees them, smiles, the spell is broken and the king gives the man half his kingdom. I enjoy Souhami's stylised images and the spread of the baker, clown and boy with balloons is bound to get children giggling. This story could be compared with others about princesses who don't laugh and golden geese. Children could also be encouraged to think about their own version of this story, replacing the golden goose with another object that has a different magical trick. Souhami's text is also a perfect demonstration of clear, simple and effective storytelling. 32 pages / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by ReadingZone

Honk, Honk! Hold Tight!
Where the Bugaboo Lives
Sean Taylor

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406324143

For children at the upper end of KS1 and into KS2, Where the Bugaboo Lives is an exuberant and exciting 'choose your own adventure' style of picture book that pits two young siblings against a varied and nicely-imagined range of dangers, from crocodile ogres to a gigantic spider, a hobgoblin, a ghost disco and even the 'Freakyflibbertigibbets House of Fun'! When Floyd asks his sister Ruby why they can't go down in the valley, she says, "If I tell you, YOU MIGHT NOT BE ABLE TO GO TO SLEEP EVER AGAIN!" The valley is filled with scary things - but the Bugaboo is the scariest of all.... And so the next day, when Floyd's ball runs away into the valley, the children's adventure begins. Turning the pages, the reader is offered a range of options for the children to take next - leading them further and further into danger, although they (mostly) find ingenious solutions to help themselves get out - and into the next spot of bother. As well as a lovely individual read, this is a great book to share with the class, getting the children to vote for each choice and seeing where the pages lead them. It is a wonderful introduction for this style of storytelling that could encourage children to go on and explore some of the fiction series of 'choose your own adventure' available. You could also create your own alternative adventures as a class, or with children working in small groups. I love Neal Layton's slightly sketchy, comic-style illustrations that I am sure would also help inspire children to illustrate their own alternate adventure story. 56 pages / Ages 6-10 years / Reviewed by Jane Swift, librarian.

Where the Bugaboo Lives
Vanishing Trick: Poems by Ros Asquith
Ros Asquith

Frances Lincoln Childrens Books

ISBN 9781847805393

Life is dull for a dragon. / For a dragon, time drags on. / Frighten kid, eat princess, / Breathe fire, cause distress. / Day after deadly day, the same. / Eat, scare, sleep, flame. / Ros Asquith is well known for her novels and picture books but now the multi-talented author and illustrator turns to poetry with her debut collections. As you'd expect after reading her earlier work, the collection is quirky and funny and offers a lot to think about. There are poems that touch on illness, colour, dyslexia and differences, sometimes framed with humour and each delivered with sensitivity and warmth. She has a perfect pitch in achieving a child's voice and touching on things that happen in a child's life - moving on to 'harder' books in Reading or rooms that scare you for no reason. The collection also explore writing and creating, so there are poems about words, fonts, similes, imagination and 'Poetree': 'Planted a thought / Fed it a phrase / Left it alone / For several days... 112 pages / Ages 7+ / Reviewed by ReadingZone.

Vanishing Trick: Poems by Ros Asquith

ISBN 9781445139500

Robbie's room is a mess and mum says there will be no more pocket money until it is tidy. Robbie quickly finds a solution by buying a 'Clean-O-Matic Robot'. The robot quickly tidies the room but Robbie can't keep it clean and the robot decides on a final, very drastic action. This is part of the Froglets series and provides children with the chance to build up their reading confidence. It is a lively and amusing story with bright, bold illustrations that perfectly match the text. It reminded me a little of 'The Tale of Georgie Grub'. There are some fun activities at the end of the book to support children's language development. 32 pages / Ages 6+ / Reviewed by Dorne Fraser, librarian.

Nixie the Bad, Bad Fairy
Cas Lester

Oxford University Press

ISBN 9780192742582

As its title suggest, Nixie the fairy does bad things that get her into trouble, especially with her 'wonky wand' that frequently does the wrong spell. This is a little fairy with attitude and she's up against a very good fairy, Adorabella, who never gets into trouble. Between the two comes Tabitha Quicksilver, the Fairy Godmother, who is frequently tasked with preventing arguments between the two young fairies and trying to set Nixie on the right path. Nixie is a little like a girl version of Horrid Henry in that she doesn't think too carefully before she acts and she is always out to get Adorabella, who frequently lands her in trouble. Children will enjoy the imagined fairy world of these stories. The story is filled with action and the nicely-spaced text and illustrations all help to encourage children who are still developing confidence as readers. 110 pages / Ages 6/7+ / Reviewed by Alice Green.

Nixie the Bad, Bad Fairy
Creature Teacher
Sam Watkins

Oxford University Press

ISBN 9780192742650

Have you ever wished that your primary school teacher had brought more fun into the classroom? When new boy Jake meets his new teacher Mr Hyde outside the Headteacher's office, fun is not on the curriculum. Headteacher Mrs Blunt has over 140 rules and a punishment system which includes moving rocks. However, Mr Hyde is an innovative teacher with a scary secret - when he becomes emotional he turns into Creature - a cross between a monkey and Tasmanian Devil! This is a humorous story about friendship, working together and celebrating diversity. Perhaps a little predictable it is nevertheless a book which will appeal to students who enjoy 'toilet humour' and wish that their teacher was less strict and more fun. Fans of Tom Gates and World of Norm will be in their element. This is the first book in a proposed series featuring Creature, Jake and his classmates. 192 pages / Ages 7+ / Reviewed by Jennifer Hambleton, librarian

Creature Teacher