NEW TITLES

It's good to see so many strong young fiction series emerging for readers who are still gaining confidence in reading, while we can also enjoy a range of picture books for children aged five years plus.

Fright Club
Ethan Long

Bloomsbury Publishing PLC

ISBN 9781408867549

Fright Club is THE club for monsters, who all want to be as scary as they can be - so there is no way that they'll let a cute little bunny join their gang. Until, that is, the cute bunny and all its friends show the monsters just how scary they can be... This is a perfect picture book to share pre-Halloween to get children rehearsing their own 'Fright Club' skills - but beware, those cute kiddies might surprise you with how frightening they can be! Apart from the obvious fun to be had in making scary faces, the book has another message about inclusion and children can be encouraged to talk about how important it is that no one gets left out if they don't appear to fit in. Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Alison Page.

Fright Club
Elliot'S Arctic Surprise
Catherine Barr

Frances Lincoln Childrens Books

ISBN 9781847806680

Elliot is on holiday by the sea, when he discovers a message in a bottle - and so begins a new, environmental adventure that sees Elliot along with hundreds of other children converging on an oil rig in the Arctic, begging the workers to stop digging for oil; without the North Pole and its ice, how will Christmas come to all the children around the world? The blues and greys of the icy Arctic landscape, with the shock of the black rigg at the centre of these spreads, is a very visual way of describing the damage that is being done to our environment as we continue to extract oil and gas from the Earth. Bringing Father Christmas into the story will, for children, really bring home the impact of the changing climate on us all and the story is a nice mix of fact and fiction. It could lead on to a wide-ranging discussion about climate change and what its effects will be, and children could be encouraged to talk about how we can all help to make a difference in our everyday lives. The book is supported by Greenpeace and there is a comment from its executive director on the back pages. Picture book / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by ReadingZone.

Elliot'S Arctic Surprise
Vikings in the Supermarket
Nick Sharratt

David Fickling Books

ISBN 9781910200353

Nick Sharratt's unique illustrations will entice children into his first collection of poetry. They dominate the pages providing a wonderful scaffold into the poems themselves. Populated by a host of appealing characters (including the Vikings of the title, a mermaid, pirate, vampire bat and a royal family), there are poems to suit everyone here. 'Fangsalot' is a fabulous bit of rhythmic fun in which a naughty vampire bat sets of a nasty series of fang-growing and biting, only to get his just deserts in the end. In 'Posh Paint' the king and family just can't agree on what colour they should use to cheer up 'dull grey Crumbly castle' and finally settle on a multi-coloured solution, thus creating the 'funkiest fortress ever'. There's lots of scope here for children to design their own funky castles. Similarly, 'The Mermaid and the Shoe' offers rich opportunities for further talk, writing and drawing. The poem suggests the shoe could be used as a boat, a box for shells and rocks and a home for a family of sea-horses (amongst other things): what other possible uses can the children think of the shoe? (As an aside for older children, there are opportunities here for some playfulness with modal verbs: try substituting 'must' for 'could' - 'She could use it as a box...'; and see what the impact on meaning is.) I have slight reservations, just occasionally, about the quality of the rhyme and the ease with which it can be read aloud. The delightful 'Vikings in the Supermarket' took me a few goes to get right - but it was worth the effort. Reviewed by Alison Kelly, consultant.

Vikings in the Supermarket

ISBN 9781447288039

For all Wolf and Emily Gravett fans out there - here is a deluxe, ten-year anniversary edition of Emily Gravett's Wolves. For those who haven't seen it, Wolves begins with Rabbit borrowing a book about wolves from the library. Unfortunately, Rabbit fails to spot that, as the pages are turned, Wolf is emerging from the pages.... The end is left to our imaginations. Wolves was Emily Gravett's ground-breaking debut and it won both the Macmillan Prize for Illustration and her first Kate Greenaway Award. This new edition comes with a shaped jacket that brings Wolf and Rabbit face to face. There is also a board game on the reverse of the jacket; the game pieces are found in an envelop in the pages at the back of the book. This would make a wonderful gift edition (only 2000 have been printed) and, if you do buy it for your classroom (lucky children!), there is plenty of inspiration for children to create their own board game and to talk about wolves in stories. Picture book / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by ReadingZone.

Actual Size
Steve Jenkins

Frances Lincoln Childrens Books

ISBN 9781847806338

It's good to see Actual Size back again in this new edition - you might remember the original paperback with the gorilla's hand (it's actual size) on the cover. This book is beautifully produced and is such a useful tool for lessons on size and comparative size. I still love the spread that compares the huge gorilla's hand with that of the tiny pygmy mouse lemur, but I know that children will be most excited by the saltwater crocodile, where the page folds out to show the size of its truly awesome jaws, and not forgetting the glimpse we get into the mouth of a great white shark! Other revelations incude the giant earth worm, a massive stick insect and the eye of a giant squid - and many more. There are two pages of facts at the end of the book explaining more about each creature included in the book. A classic. 32 pages / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by L Steal, teacher.

Actual Size
Aliens! (Dirty Bertie)
David Roberts

ISBN 9781847155122

Dirty Bertie is back with three more trouble-filled adventures to delight young fans. Whether it is hiding supposed aliens in his bedroom, going birdwatching or faking his school report, Bertie causes mayhem whatever he does. Sure that he has seen a UFO whilst looking through a friend's telescope, Bertie is convinced that aliens have landed on Earth. Having attended a talk by an expert who assures him that anyone to make first contact would become rich and famous, Bertie determines to do just that. He outlines his plans to friends Eugene and Darren, and is astounded when later that night there is a ring on the doorbell. Could aliens really want to meet him...? Birdwatching with Eugene and his dad is not really Bertie's idea of fun but when the alternative is to spend the afternoon playing dollies' tea parties with Angela Nicely, he has the perfect excuse. Eugene's dad is hoping to spot the rare marsh warbler, but Bertie has trouble keeping quiet and still in the hide. When he needs the loo, Eugene suggests he finds a convenient tree. A friendly, fat little bird is twittering away on a branch; it even eats some of the crisp crumbs Bertie throws down for it. A rather annoyed Mr Clark realises that Bertie, of all people, has been the lucky one to see the warbler. Bertie is desperate for his parents not to receive his school report so contrives to lose it on the way home. He's sure he can improve on what Mrs Boot has written about him, but will his mum and dad believe the report he gives them? And what will happen at Parents' Evening when they come face to face with his teacher? This funny series is ideal for encouraging reluctant and newly confident readers, with plenty of line illustrations to add to the enjoyment. 96 pages / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Jayne Gould, librarian.

Aliens! (Dirty Bertie)
Nixie the Bad, Bad Fairy
Cas Lester

Oxford University Press

ISBN 9780192742582

It's lovely to find a fairy in a book for young readers who isn't all sweetness and light and although Nixie doesn't set out to be bad, she is certainly a little naughty, and definitely rather mischievous. The Fairy Godmother has her hands full trying to keep Nixie out of trouble and in this story, Nixie's troublesome wand, which doesn't always do quite what she had planned, gets her into rather a lot of trouble as the fairies begin to prepare for the Fairy Queen's visit. The story moves along at a nice pace with manageable chapters for young readers - and listeners - and the stylish black and white drawings help to break up the pages (although it would be nice to see them in colour). A nice addition to a class library that Rainbow Magic fans will also enjoy. 110 pages / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Alice Watson.

Nixie the Bad, Bad Fairy
Pocket Pirates: The Great Cheese Robbery: Book 1
Chris Mould

Hodder Children's Books

ISBN 9781444923650

An appealing title for newly independent readers, the tiny Pocket Pirates live in a dusty ship in a bottle in an old junk shop where they have a variety of adventures. In this volume, Button and Lily must rescue Jones, the ship's cat, who has been kidnapped by the skirting board mice When issued with a ransom note specifying cheese in exchange, the pirates must venture to the very cold place called 'fridge'. Being small there are many hazards and obstacles to encounter, keeping the reader turning the page to see how they will overcome. Cunning plans and ancient stories help to save the day. Full of food and clean after a bath, the pocket pirates settle down for a good night's sleep before their next adventure. The premise of tiny people facing large obstacles, while not totally new, is given a new spin here with the pirate theme, ensuring clear characterisation and an appeal to a broad audience. A strong female character will also attract a wide readership and the reader is able to see the world through the eyes of the tiny pirates, with the junk shop providing much opportunity for ingenious adaptation of everyday cast offs for their use in everyday life and adventures. With plenty of black and white illustrations on every page, the text is accessible to readers aged 6-8 growing in confidence and a map and character list provide extra interest. 144 pages / Ages 6-8 years / Reviewed by Lucy Russell, teacher

Pocket Pirates: The Great Cheese Robbery: Book 1
Mango & Bambang: The Not-a-Pig (Book One)
Polly Faber

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406361438

This is a collection of short, quaint stories about a young girl (Mango) who discovers a Tapir trying to hide himself on a zebra crossing. The text is easy to follow and has some good, old fashioned themes - of friendship and bravery - set in a more modern, humorous background. The book reminded me a little of the Milly-Molly-Mandy books I enjoyed so much as a child; this felt like an up-to-date version, with a funny little animal as one of the central characters. Mango lives with her father and the stories follow her life after discovering her Tapir and trying to integrate him into her life. It's a charming tale which is very simple and would appeal to a wide audience of children, probably being more popular with girls who like characters who have gumption! Aesthetically, the book is wonderful! It's delightful to hold in your hands; it's smooth, beautifully illustrated and the candied purple and white stripes reminded me of old fashioned sweet shop bags! I enjoyed reading this book, there's nothing ground-breaking about it, but it's just enjoyable. It makes you smile and would make a wonderful gift for a reluctant reader - there's not too much text on each page and the pictures are wonderful. 144 pages / Ages 7+ / Reviewed by Lizi Coombs, teacher.

Mango & Bambang: The Not-a-Pig (Book One)
Vivian French, David Melling

ISBN 9781444922288

Knight in Training: A Horse Called Dora Vivian French and David Melling Young trainee knight, Sam J Butterbiggins, and his cousin Prune, his 'true companion', are trying to complete several 'Noble Deeds' so that Sam can become a fully fledged knight. In this instalment, they are told they must obtain a snow-white steed by noble deeds. But first Sam and Prune must return a warthog to its owner, without getting muddy. Along the way they encounter a bored and angry tree, throwing hazelnuts at confused villagers. After fixing that problem with cunning and quick thinking, Sam and Prune compete in a cabbage throwing competition, where a neat turn of events leads to a satisfying conclusion for all concerned. A perfect story for younger readers, gaining confidence with independent reading, text is easily accessible with black and white illustrations on almost every page. At 116 pages, the book feels substantial and the story is very satisfying. Boys and girls alike, aged 6-9, will be drawn to Sam and Prune, who are plucky and likeable characters. Secondary characters such as Aunt Egg are also nicely portrayed and readers are sure to be keen for the next volume in the series to follow Sam's training. 128 pages / Ages 7+ / Reviewed by Lucy Russell, teacher

Oxford Reading Tree TreeTops inFact: Level 8: Story of our Lives
Sue Graves

Oxford University Press

ISBN 9780198306382

This book links the family history of the Hancock family from Liverpool to historical events over the past 100 or so years. This is a very attractive book, cleverly combining family pictures and artefacts with photos of world events. The use of 'tape' to label the photos is effective, combined with a printed font to demonstrate the need to use different writing styles for different purposes. This text would be particularly useful for guided reading as it offers plenty of opportunities for discussion, exploring the features and style of a non-fiction text and independent tasks. It could also be used as a way into exploring history with a class using a similar model - perhaps local study. Touching on events in this way, the book is a great starting point for further research. Story of our Lives would work well with older children whose reading is less secure and younger children reading at age expected because the subject matter and presentation are appropriate to either. The book contains a contents page, a glossary and an index. Although these features are clear and easy to use, the glossary was perhaps missing some key words, e.g. Sherpa. The use of the time line at the foot of each double spread is a nice touch, clearly showing the chronology of events. 24 pages / ORT Book Band 8 / Ages 7+ / Reviewed by Sue Wilsher, teacher.

Oxford Reading Tree TreeTops inFact: Level 8: Story of our Lives