NEW TITLES

We've been enjoying this month's fabulous selection of picture books, from the excitement of a new 'Underpants' book, to the shivery delights of Halloween, as well as picture books that touch on real life.

Aliens Love Dinopants
Claire Freedman

Simon & Schuster Childrens Books

ISBN 9781471120947

As the title suggests, this story brings an irresistible pairing of aliens AND dinosaurs into the 'Underpants' series, so it'll be a special treat for nurseries and reception classes across the country! In this latest underpants adventure, the characters from Aliens Love Underpants return to Earth. When they crash land in the jungle, the aliens are overjoyed to discover an enormous pile of treasured underpants! But when the prehistoric owners of the giant undies return, the trouble begins.... The easy rhyming text and bright, bold illustrations make this new 'pants' adventure just as much fun to read aloud as the earlier books, although the story has one or two more twists. This time, the aliens have another problem to solve that doesn't just involve underpants, but how to rescue these hidden dinosaurs (and their ginormous undies!) from planet Earth. Naturally, the solution is found and they all have a happy ending on another planet. There is lots of scope for drawings here, not just underpants but aliens and dinosaurs too, with lots of potential for classroom displays. Picture book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by ReadingZone.

Aliens Love Dinopants
A Great Big Cuddle: Poems for the Very Young
Michael Rosen

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406343199

What a treat! This great BIG book of poems comes from the work of not one, but two children's laureates and is a delight from start to finish. There is everything that you could possibly ask for in a collection of poetry for young children: Rosen's beautifully judged poems set alongside and in amongst Riddell's bold (and BIG) illustrations, all complemented by BIG, colourful fonts. There's a counting rhyme: 'Party Time' (p.4) populated by animals (some real, some imaginary) and a robot making their way to a little girl's party: 'Ten ten / Where? When? / Nine nine? Are we on time? /...' As we would hope from any collection for young children, there are plentiful opportunities to develop their phonological awareness. From the opening 'Tippy-tappy' (p.1) to the voice percussion of 'Boing! Boing!' (p.8) and the musicality and fun of 'Music' (p.11): it's all here. I particularly like the way Riddell counterpoints his BIG cuddly, friendly animals with charming illustrations of small, young children. In 'Finger Story' (p.20) a huge orangutan on one page delicately extends his fingers to play finger games with the diminutive little girl opposite him: 'Fingers in bed / Fingers wake up / Fingers stretch / Fingers shake up...' Are all the creatures benign? In 'Lunchtime' (p.24) a huge, green dragon towers over a small boy as they munch on sweetcorn together: 'Time for lunch / Munch munch / Time for a munch / crunch crunch... '. The typeface diminishes as the cobs are consumed. The child has slight look of alarm in his face... the dragon looks predatory... Who knows?! There's a narrative thread in 'Once' (p.32) although it's sheer, delightful nonsense: a family of blue beasts - Gom, Flom and Chom - encounter the terrible Berrible who roars 'like the stormy sea' / "Out the way, Gom, / The Flom and the Chom! / Your mom is dinner for me!" This one definitely has a happy ending. A BIG like for this book! 80 pages / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Alison Kelly, consultant.

A Great Big Cuddle: Poems for the Very Young
There's a Monster in My Fridge
Caryl Hart

Simon & Schuster Childrens Books

ISBN 9780857076137

There are monsters hiding everywhere, with pointy teeth and tangly hair! Can you find them? Dare you look, between the pages of this book? If any young reader does dare to venture within the pages, they will be delighted with a rollicking rhyme inviting them to discover what is hiding behind each flap. The witches, werewolves and vampires, helped by monsters, are getting ready for a party! Amusing, colourful illustrations have lots going on, with plenty of details to talk about, as we follow the crowd through a secret door where a big surprise awaits! Perfectly timed for Hallowe'en, this is an entertaining book to share with any little monsters of 3+ about to go to a party or out trick or treating. Picture book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Jayne Gould, librarian.

There's a Monster in My Fridge
Monster Max's Shark Spaghetti
Claire Freedman

Bloomsbury Publishing PLC

ISBN 9781408851555

Following on from last year's Spider Sandwiches when Monster Max enjoyed lots of revolting party food, in this story we go on holiday with Monster Max and his friends who can't wait to find out what kind of food the hotel has to offer! Naturally, they fly with Queasy Jet, and enjoy a delicious in-flight meal of 'moth mash with tapeworm sausages, washed down with pureed eel,' and their hotel is a 'delight' with slug trails on the walls and a ceiling draped with spiders. As well as the hotel food, they get to enjoy the hotel's 'pond slime pool' and the 'Gloop the loop' rides on the beach front. There's lots of monstery words and ideas to enjoy and the rhyming text and bright illustrations will help inspire children to create their own 'monster menues' which can be the basis for a great display around Halloween. Lots of fun. Picture book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Louise White.

Monster Max's Shark Spaghetti
Lion Practice
Emma Carlisle

Macmillan Children's Books

ISBN 9781447257431

Laura loves pretending to be lots of different animals - a kangaroo, a crocodile, a parrot - but the day she pretends to be a lion is when her parents start to lose patience. Laura is very good at being a lion, hiding, leaping and running, but when she does a very load lion roar, she is told off for waking the baby. Laura apologises but is sad, 'I just wanted to be a good lion', until mum and dad comfort her with a new game, a bear hug, and Laura starts to think what animal she might want to be the next day.... This is a wonderful book to read aloud to a group of children who will, invariably, want to act out the different animals you read about. If they look at the drawings carefully, children will also see the animals she is imagining appearing on the pages with Laura - the monkeys on the last pages are especially fun - and there are clues in the drawings as to how Laura might be feeling, like the cosy nest of birds when Laura is on the swing on her own. The pencil and coloured drawings compliment the text beautifully, making this a fun and reassuring story to share with young children. Picture book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by ReadingZone.

Lion Practice
The Cow Who Climbed a Tree
Gemma Merino

Macmillan Children's Books

ISBN 9781447214885

The Cow Who Climbed a Tree is a story about being daring, and daring to be different. Tina isn't like the other cows - she loves to discover things, to explore, and when she finds a (vegetarian) dragon sitting in a tree, she knows she was right; there is more to life than chewing grass. Her sisters disagree. They know that cows can't climb trees and that they can't fly. But when Tina does just that, they begin to see that the world is a much more exciting place than they had believed. This is a lovely story to encourage children to try new things and to be brave and sometimes take the lead, too. I really enjoyed the illustrations, especially the characters who are full of expression and the gorgeous trees in the woodland. Picture book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Louise Gahan, teacher.

The Cow Who Climbed a Tree
Mad in the Back
Michael Rosen

Barrington Stoke Ltd

ISBN 9781781125090

I'm a big fan of Michael Rosen - I like his funny real-ness (It is a word - honest!) and this book is no exception. Mad in the Back is a car journey that we've all had - infact, we've all been the two children who go 'mad in the back'....and we've all had the Mum who threatens (and then does!) stop the car! The book itself is well written, easy to understand and even has an activity on the back page for children to have a go at. This is a funny book, with fantastic illustrations. It's entertaining for kids and parents alike - my only fear is that it might inspire more children to go 'Mad in the Back' more often!! Brilliant! Picture book, suitable for dyslexic readers / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Lizi Coombs, teacher

Mad in the Back
The Bear and the Piano
David Litchfield

Frances Lincoln Childrens Books

ISBN 9781847807175

This beautifully illustrated debut story is charmingly magical. The reader is transported into an enchanting world from the moment Bear finds a "strange thing" in the woods and it makes an "awful sound". The strange thing is a piano and I love the fact that where it came from or why its sat in a clearing is never explained or questioned - its classic picturebook magic encourages readers' imaginations to go wild. After much practice, Bear becomes an accomplished pianist and gives popular recitals to the other bears and inhabitants of the woods. This is until a little girl and her dad hear him and, suitably impressed, arrange for him to perform in New York to packed grand theatres. After becoming a runaway success, he feels homesick and soon his longing for home gets too much, so he returns to the woods but his old piano and his bear community are not there. Worried that they are annoyed with him for leaving, he is despondent. However, he soon finds his old friends have not forgotten about him but in fact have followed all of his successes and even kept his piano safe for his return. The way Litchfield has created a sense of environment, and the light and atmosphere that imbue his illustrations, are breathtaking, specifically those images of inside the theatre and the cityscape. The dual messages of how success comes only with hard work and perseverance is subtly implied and the importance of home as well as having adventures further afield is evocatively captured. I think this is a lovely addition to the picturebook box and will prove to be a popular read. Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Natalie Plimmer

The Bear and the Piano
One Hundred Bones
Yuval Zommer

Templar Publishing

ISBN 9781783703517

Dogs and dinosaurs! A winning combination! Young children will love this tale of Scruff the dog who is homeless and friendless, but who nevertheless exudes positivity and energy. He loves to dig , anywhere and everywhere, much to the disapproval of other - better brought up - dogs and their owners. Eventually he digs down so far that he unearths such a giant cache of mysterious bones that even the other dogs cannot resist getting involved. Via a trip to the Natural History Museum in London,they solve the puzzle together and in doing so , find fame and a home for Scruff. This is a very pleasing looking book, with nice 'splodgy' collage-style artwork in a calming colour range. The perspective is always Scruff's, so we see only the bottom half of the humans and never their heads, although we see every charming detail of the doggy cast of characters. There is plenty of amusing alliteration and a good breadth of vocabulary. Useful themes of friendship, teamwork and belonging and handy for KS1 Dinosaur topic. Picture book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Rose Palmer, librarian.

One Hundred Bones