NEW TITLES

This month's selection of picture books, from nursery to KS1, covers a range of subjects, from nature to fairy tales, from farmyards to pet shops, and our reviewers suggest ways to use them to support your teaching and to extend children's familiarity with different kinds of stories.

What the Ladybird Heard Next
Julia Donaldson

Macmillan Children's Books

ISBN 9781447275954

The sequel to the fabulous What the Ladybird Heard. Julia Donaldson's story telling is engaging and Lydia Monks's illustration again brings it all to life, with the added sparkle drawing in even the most reluctant of children. We see the return of Hefty Hugh and Lanky Len, who come up with a plan to steal the fat red hen to make their fortune. Unfortunately, they have not learnt from their previous exploits and are outwitted by the ladybird and her farmyard friends. The story begins by revisiting the farmyard residents, we are then presented with the mystery of the disappearing eggs. However, the clever little ladybird comes to the rescue and goes off to find out what is going on. She finds the not so bright pair of thieves discussing their plan to make it rich by, not just stealing a few eggs, but by taking the hen herself. The ladybird reports back and then informs the other animals that she has a plan to stop the thieves. As Hugh and Len go to steal the hen they are then led on a 'wild goose chase' to find the super-duper snuggly snerd, who is supposed to lay rugby ball sized eggs! Unfortunately, for the thieves they end up in a very smelly situation before they realise they have been tricked! This story has a great balance of familiarity and new story, to engage those familiar with the first book and those new to the adventure. This book would be great for use with EYFS and KS1. It provides opportunity for a variety of activities, including very simple activities such as matching e.g animals and names or animals and sounds; moving onto looking at directions, instructions and map work. Julia Donaldson's invention of the 'snuggly snerd' would also provide the children with the opportunity to create their own creatures with unusual characteristics! Picture book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Jennifer Niblett, teacher.

What the Ladybird Heard Next
Walter's Wonderful Web
Tim Hopgood

Macmillan Children's Books

ISBN 9781447277101

This is a simply gorgeous board book that is described as 'a book about shapes' but is so much more than that. Walter, a spider, struggles to make his webs look as good as everyone else's. At first, he succeeds in making a triangular web, then a square, a diamond and a circle, but each time he finishes, the wind blows it away because it isn't strong enough. Then Walter has a good idea - he will make up his own web that includes all those shapes and the one he goes on to create is 'a truly wonderful web'. The back page includes all the shapes that were used in the story, with questions about the number of sides in each shape, but the story can also be used to encourage children to rely on their own creativity, something they can struggle with. Walter's Wonderful Web tells us that making things that look like everyone else's is fine - but what you can create on your own might be far better. Board book / Ages 2+ / Reviewed by Alice Lamb.

Walter's Wonderful Web
One Hundred Bones
Yuval Zommer

Templar Publishing

ISBN 9781783703517

Being a stray dog like Scruff has its advantages, as no one tells him what to do or makes him wear a collar, and he can dig in the mud all day long! However, being homeless, Scruff is in need of some care and affection, and is a little lonely. That is until one day, when he sniffs out a pile of old bones, and manages to convince the neighbourhood dogs to help him. Together, they unearth 100 bones of different shapes and sizes, and make the most exciting dinosaur discovery of all time! Happily, Scruff's find wins him new friends and a new home. The illustrations are bold, endearing and humorous. They feature well-known sites in London and even the Queen makes an appearance! Dogs tend to be popular with children, and this book would read aloud very well to those in the Early Years and Key Stage One, alongside others such as Oh no, George! (Chris Haughton), Smelly Louie (Catherine Rayner) and The Dog who Could Dig (Korky Paul and Jonathan Long). Children would enjoy re-enacting this story, as it lends itself well to characterisation and sequencing. The story is also quite topical: in June 2015, a cousin of Tyrannosaurus rex was reported as the first meat-eating dinosaur ever to be found in Wales! Children could be encouraged to read about dinosaurs and fossils, and links could be made to Stone Girl Bone Girl: The Story of Mary Anning (Laurence Anholt and Sheila Moxley), a picture book which introduces younger children to this famous dinosaur expert. Picture book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Kerenza Ghosh, lecturer.

One Hundred Bones
Tree: Seasons Come, Seasons Go
Britta Teckentrup

Little Tiger Kids

ISBN 9781848691285

Tree is a delightful peek-a-boo picture book which follows a tree through the seasons. From the first end papers, as the reader opens the book, a little figure of an owl, an inhabitant of the tree, appears. Each page turn follows the changes for both the tree and for the animals that live in and around it. The deciduous tree grows blossom, leaves and fruit. Then the leaves change colour and fall in the autumn. To accompany these changes the Britta Teckentrup illustrations show how the young foxes, bears and squirrels use the tree to play in and around. The simple rhyming language which accompany the colourful illustrations will support young readers in reading and sharing the text. This is a very good information book for early years readers and will generate a great deal of discussion and could be a useful spring board to find out more about trees, animals and the changing seasons. Picture book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Fiona Collins, consultant.

Tree: Seasons Come, Seasons Go
Grandad's Island
Benji Davies

Simon & Schuster Childrens Books

ISBN 9781471119958

Syd could let himself into his much loved Grandad's house any time he wanted, but one day - he wasn't in any of the usual places. After searching an empty house, Syd hears Grandad calling to him from up in the attic, a space that Syd had never seen before, containing all the things that Grandad had collected from his travels. The adventure begins. A hidden door in the attic takes Syd and Grandad onto the deck of a huge ship which then sails away to a magical island, an idyllic place where Grandad doesn't need his walking stick. They explored the island high and low. At every turn they saw new wonders. It was the most perfect place. Syd wished they could stay forever. After their experience Grandad tells Syd that he is planning to stay on the island but that Syd must return home. The vibrant artwork brings this touching story about loss to life. I don't think that children need to necessarily understand the analogy of death to enjoy the book. I read it with a four year old who was very interested in the 'magic' that turned Grandad's house into a ship and the secret door in the attic, as well as the colourful illustrations of tropical island life and jungle animals. The story has a poignant ending. An envelope is delivered to Syd with a picture of Grandad on the island - a reminder that in our minds we can see our loved ones in their 'happy place' whenever we feel like it. Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Ellie Williams.

Grandad's Island
Fairytales Gone Wrong: Rapunzel, Rapunzel, Wash Your Hair!
Steve Smallman

QED Publishing

ISBN 9781784931230

The latest title in the Fairytales Gone Wrong series from QED sees Rapunzel becoming just too lazy to do anything about her hair. Because it is never washed or brushed, each prince who tries to climb up her hair to rescue her comes to an ignoble end - her hair is too greasy to climb, or it makes the prince itch and fall. Until, that is, another prince comes armed with a hosepipe, head-lice lotion, shampoo and a selection of brushes and combs! He decides he doesn't want to marry the princess - but he does offer to give her a haircut! Like the other new book in the series, Don't Pick Your Nose, Pinocchio!, these Fairytales Gone Wrong stories provide all kinds of lessons for nursery-aged children in a story that they are likely to remember. By KS1, when children are learning about fairytales, these are good examples of how fairytales can be turned into different kinds of stories. Entertaining and nicely illustrated, too, so they make good stories to share. Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Sarah Green.

Fairytales Gone Wrong: Rapunzel, Rapunzel, Wash Your Hair!
Pirates in Pyjamas
Caroline Crowe

Little Tiger Press

ISBN 9781848691360

The beginning of Pirates in Pyjamas starts with a couple of questions posed for the reader by two young boys: Do pirates wear pyjamas and if they do, what do they look like? From this initial impetus we see pirates dressed in different styles and designs of pyjamas throughout the book. The pirates emulate young children by carrying teddy bears and one even a hot water bottle. Putting such sinister pirate figures into the cosy night clothing of young children, holding toys and showing different emotions is a most amusing juxtaposition. We see the pirates in a range of night time activities such as having a bubble bath, using talc and being given instructions of how to dry themselves. They then have a pyjama party, pillow fights and go to bed with glasses of milk and are rocked to sleep by the rhythms of their boat. The last page shows the initial two boys sleeping in their beds which are like boat bunks, surrounded by pirate memorabilia. The story's playfulness would be an interesting basis for discussion with children who can compare this with their own nighttime habits and could be accompanied by reading the poem My Bed is a Boat by Robert Louis Stevenson. Picture book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Fiona Collins, consultant.

Pirates in Pyjamas
What's Up MuMu?
David Mackintosh

HarperCollins

ISBN 9780007463091

Author and illustrator David Mackintosh has an instinctive grasp on children's moods and preoccupations and in this story, Mumu has woken up in a bad mood and, despite her friend's best attempts to cheer her up, she seems set to remain in that bad mood. Until her friend absorbs her grumpiness - which immediately gets her out of her bad mood as she focuses on cheering up him instead. This is a lovely story for encouraging children to think about the things that sometimes make them grumpy and how their mood might affect their friends. It could also make them think about the things their friends like. I also really enjoyed the detail of all the places that Mumu and her friend visited in his bid to make her happy - having tried all the things she liked (shopping, a film, nature and food), he then shows her something he likes - a skyscraper - which he finds really interesting (although she doesn't). Mackintosh's illustrations are bold and expressive and each spread is very distinctive, making it a lovely book to share with a group as well as individually. Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by ReadingZone.

What's Up MuMu?
Katie McGinty Wants a Pet
Jenna Harrington

Little Tiger Press

ISBN 9781848691391

Katie McGinty is reminiscent of The Tiger who came to Tea by Judith Kerr and The Bear by Raymond Briggs. Katie desperately wants a pet but her father says she has to wait until she is bigger. He keeps his word and when the time comes, he walks her to the pet shop. On the way he asks Katie the kind of pet she would like. He suggests numerous animals but her answer is always a resolute no. Finally she announces that she wants a zebra. Her father cannot believe this and says zebras live in Africa where it is hot. Katie responds to her father's reasoning with thoughtful responses accompanied by wonderfully lively Finn Simpson illustrations. Thus we see the zebra dressed in a nice woolly jumper knitted by Katie's granny, eating pizza and spaghetti with the family and being bathed in a swimming pool. He even sleeps in the bunk bed below Katie and reads books such as Black Beauty and The Jungle Book. All of these imaginary scenarios are explored as the pair walk to the pet shop. As they are nearly at the shop Katie's father is brave enough to tell her honestly that she cannot really have a zebra; Katie replies in a rather adult way that she knows she can't have ONE. The page is then turned and we the sign in the pet shop window: 'Buy one zebra get one free!'. The hilarious illustrations on this page show Katie and her poor father leaving the pet shop on two galloping zebras! This is a wonderfully funny story which features a little girl who knows her own mind. It is an ideal read for a KS1 class and could even be used as part of a project on stories which feature fantasy animals that come to live with children. Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Fiona Collins, consultant.

Katie McGinty Wants a Pet
The Bear and the Piano
David Litchfield

Frances Lincoln Childrens Books

ISBN 9781847807175

One day in the forest, a bear comes across something strange and unusual - a piano - which he slowly begins to learn until, eventually, he is an accomplished player. When a man and his daughter overhear him in the forest, they persuade the bear to come and play for audiences in the city, which the bear - who has always wanted to travel - does. He has a wonderful time and grows famous, but he also yearns to see the country and his friends again. When he returns to the woods, he thinks he has been forgotten only to discover that his piano has been kept safe and that his friends have followed his fortune, so he plays once again for 'the most important audience of all', his friends and family. This is a lovely starting point to encourage children to talk about things they love to do and it could lead into discovering more about music - how different kinds of music makes them feel, what is distinctive about the sound of the piano. Perhaps they could write their own stories about a different animal playing another kind of instrument. They could also create a 'scrapbook', as a class, like the bear's friends have done for him. A lovely story to share for group reading. Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Alice Long.

The Bear and the Piano
What's Hidden in the Woods?
Aina Bestard

Thames & Hudson Ltd

ISBN 9780500650530

This interactive picture book encourages children to discover what they can see beyond their first glance at the page, to find what is hiding in the woods. As they turn the pages, children as asked what they can see using the different coloured 'magnifying glasses'; each colour reveals different secrets hidden on the page. It provides a clever, interactive introduction to themes such as camouflage, seasons and animal habitats - and is also beautifully done. I can see children spending hours pouring over the book, discovering its many secrets like what is inside the beehive, or under the surface of the pond. It would be a lovely book for children to see before they go out on a nature trail, either in the spring and summer, or the early autumn, as it encourages them to look beneath objects to see what might be hiding behind leaves or inside logs. This could lead on to them drawing their own small creatures, perhaps with flaps on the page to hide them, or map out their nature walk. The design is also gorgeous and could be used to encourage children to really study the patterns on the trees, leaves and other natural objects they find. Picture book / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by ReadingZone.

What's Hidden in the Woods?
What's the Opposite? (The Hueys)
Oliver Jeffers

HarperCollins

ISBN 9780007420711

What's the Opposite? is the fourth in an Oliver Jeffers' series which features The Hueys who are two non-gendered creatures. Young children often ask questions in order to find out about their world and Oliver Jeffers has used inquisitiveness as a starting point for this amusing book. As the book begins, one of the Hueys is standing next to a sign which says The Beginning. On turning the page one Huey asks the other "What's the opposite of the beginning?". On consideration the second Huey replies "Is it yes?" And the first replies "Uh...no?". This lovely initial dialogue is amusing and quirky because although the initial question is not answered another is: the opposite of yes! The book continues with a second question being asked, the opposite of up and the answer is accompanied by an illustration of a cat running up a tree. And so the questioning continues with the Hueys in role play situations exploring different opposites: high/low, cold/hot, unlucky/lucky and happy/sad. The opposites are not linked in any particular way but when reading with a group of young children would generate a lot of discussion. At one point the narrator intercedes with: 'Now for a trickier one' as the question is about half full and half empty with the question accompanied by two images which are exactly the same: a glass with orange liquid in the bottom half, obviously a real conundrum. The book concludes with the question which was asked at the beginning of the book: 'What IS the opposite of the beginning?' and the reader turns the page to find a sign stating: 'The End'. Once again Oliver Jeffers has created a book which will generate a great deal of laughter and discussion between young children as well as encouraging them to create their own Huey opposite questions. Picture book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Fiona Collins, consultant.

What's the Opposite? (The Hueys)
Levi Pinfold

ISBN 9781783700554

From the award-winning illustrator, Levi Pinfold, comes a modern fable about natures power, Greenling. Previous credits include Django and Black Dog. 'Mr and Mrs Barleycorn live a quiet life, alone and quite forgotten by the world. But something is growing on Barleycorn land. Something that Mr Barleycorn decides it would be best to take. And, with this, for better or worse, he brings the outside, inside'. This is a truly enchanting tale, Templar publishing use the term 'ensorcelling', meaning enchanting or to fascinate, and I think this is a great description. Greenling definitely requires reading more than once. The illustrations alone are so detailed that they draw the reader in and will keep you going back to spot more detail. Although a picture book, this could easily be used across the entire Primary range, depending on the focus. Greenling provides a variety of opportunities for discussion and debate on morality and the consequences of choices we make. As the story progresses the world beyond that of the Barleycorn's life begins to feel the impact of their choices and we are told of the world's reaction, which again provides an interesting discussion point, as you look into whether the response is justified or not. We also see Mrs Barleycorn move from a negative response, to one where she comes to Greenling's defence. There is then a sense of Greenling appreciating the support and as such there appears to be a positive response. Even though we know the premise of this story, there is still plenty of opportunity for individual interpretation of the story and its message, enabling an entire other level of interaction with the text and illustration. Picture book / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Jennifer Niblett.

Ella Bella Ballerina and A Midsummer Night's Dream
James Mayhew

Orchard Books

ISBN 9781408326435

James Mayhew's retelling of ballet stories through Ella Bella's ballet adventures have developed a real fan base and in this latest story he explores A Midsummer Night's Dream. What a wonderful way to introduce young children to this story - which can be quite complicated to explain - although Mayhew's version is wonderfully simple and yet still full of magic. Ella Bella is dancing alone on the stage to the music of A Midsummer Night's Dream when she is called by Puck to come and help in his midsummer mischief - he needs the flowers that are in her hair. Ella Bella stays with Puck while he works his mischief, and sees Titania falling in love with Bottom in his guise as a donkey. The focus is very much on the world of the fairies and it conjures up all the mystery and wonder of the play. A lovely story to share with a group and individually. Picture book / Ages 5+ / Reviews by Alice Bell.

Ella Bella Ballerina and A Midsummer Night's Dream
William Heads to Hollywood
Helen Hancocks

Templar Publishing

ISBN 9781783703333

William is an international cat of mystery and detective extraordinaire! Amongst others, he has already solved the case of The Missing Masterpiece, and in this sequel he must now find out who has stolen the golden Cuckoo statues from the famous Cuckoo film studio. Can he crack the crime and impress the loveliest star in Tinseltown, Audrey Mieowski? Picturebook creator Helen Hancocks varies the design and layout of each page so that it presents William's hunt across the studio and Hollywood in different ways, emphasizing his experiences along the way. This is an enjoyable element of the book and there is plenty for children to look at in the illustrations as William sets off in hot pursuit. A notable example of this is when the cats drive across Sunset Boulevard, and the words are written on the road they take as it winds through the land. The humorous tone of the story is appealing, and language is also a source of play: William catnaps on an aeroplane, exclaims 'Oh, fishsticks!' when there is a chance he may not find the culprit, and at a party asks for milk, frothed not stirred. Though each element of the story is well thought-out, more could have been made of the criminal mastermind behind this mystery, as it seems fairly obvious who is responsible near the start. Perhaps two further suspects would have given the storyline a little more credence, though the comedy caper William embarks on is fun. I liked the ending, which suggests William's foray into acting alongside his beloved Audrey, and children who enjoyed Hancock's first book to feature this hero (William and the Missing Masterspiece) will likewise enjoy this one too. Picture book / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Kerenza Gosh, lecturer.

William Heads to Hollywood