NEW TITLES

This month we are celebrating non fiction as part of 'National Non Fiction Month' and the following selection is a reflection of some of the wonderfully varied non-fiction available to younger children.

Following the Tractor
Susan Steggall

Frances Lincoln Childrens Books

ISBN 9781847806574

Stegall's beautifully-crafted collages illustrate this picture book wonderfully - every page is bright and interesting to look at. The images are detailed and really illustrate the text well, aiding a younger reader's understanding. This is a great book to stretch the passion for tractors that younger children often possess as it details the jobs that a tractor does on a farm all year round. As well as being a lovely book to share with younger readers, it also has many learning opportunities, from farm specific vocabulary to seasonal weather. This would be perfect to share with a KS1 class during a topic related to farms, and perhaps attempt to recreate some of Stegall's collages. Picture book / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Lizi Coombs, teacher.

Following the Tractor
An English Year: Twelve Months in the Life of England's Kids
Tania McCartney

EK Books

ISBN 9781921966866

It can be hard to track down books that support the 'British values' we're now meant to be teaching but An English Year and A Scottish Year are really useful resources for this (even if the publisher, Exile Publishing, is actually Australian...). An English Year gives you 'Twelve months in the life of England's kids', through the lives of five multicultural children and activities they experience each month. As well as the very British traditions like roast dinners and Christmas trees, we find out how children celebrate festivals like Holi and Chinese New Year. We learn about after school clubs, birthday parties, camping and puppet shows, intersperced with what is eaten and the events that take place each month. A Scottish Year follows a similar pattern. The books are a genuine celebration of our busy lives and our multicultural make-up and there are lots of opportunities to discuss traditions the children enjoy and what makes them feel 'British'. 32 pages / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Alice Holmes.

An English Year: Twelve Months in the Life of England's Kids
The Queen's Handbag
Steve Antony

Hodder Children's Books

ISBN 9781444925524

This is the wonderfully funny tale of the adventures of our one and only Royal Majesty the Queen as she travels the length and breadth of the British Isles looking for her handbag which has been stolen by a rather sneaky swan. I loved the fact that this book gave the queen a really human quality that my six year old found hilarious! Especially the queen flying a Red Arrow. I thought that it was a lovely way to introduce lots of new places in the UK and also create lots of 'We've been there' moments. This book took a few reads to really take in all the brilliant detail of the fabulous illustrations. We especially loved looking at all the police officers in all the different places - personal favourite was the selfie-taking police officers as the queen abseils down Snowdonia. As a teacher I can see that this book would be a fabulous resource especially anyone studying the British Isles, would be a lovely gateway into exploring the UK in a really funny and engaging way. I would highly recommend this book, definitely a bedtime favourite in our house. Picture book / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Marie Berry, teacher.

The Queen's Handbag
Green Lizards vs Red Rectangles: A story about war and peace
Steve Antony

Hodder Children's Books

ISBN 9781444920109

One of my favourite picture books this month, Green Lizards Versus Red Rectangles is one of those books that perfectly does what it sets out to do. It is a book about differences; the green lizards and red rectangles are 'AT WAR' and when one of the lizards questions what they are fighting for, that triggers an even bigger battle. But neither can defeat the other and eventually, they call a truce and find a new way to live together. You can't get more different than the lizards and rectangles in terms of shape, colour and personality; but ways can still be found to live in peace. I've used this in an assembly at our infants school to talk about British values and Remembrance. At KS1, you can ask lots of open questions about what is happening; it can also be used at KS2 to discuss issues around war and peace and even the human condition, that sometimes we need things to become really bad and chaotic before we can build a new and better future. Picture book / Ages 5-8 years / Reviewed by Louise Gahan, teacher.

Green Lizards vs Red Rectangles: A story about war and peace
Busy People: Doctor
Lucy Cuthew

QED Publishing

ISBN 9781784931469

The 'Busy People' series from QED is a great resource for teaching about 'what people do' and included in the series are a number of professions including Teacher, Firefighter and Vet, as well as Doctor. Aimed at children aged five years plus, the books are useful for setting the scene of each work place and then following the professional as they get to work. The Doctor book follows Doctor Miranda, a GP, beginning in her reception and then following up with some of her patients. We learn how the doctor examines them and what is wrong with them. The final page spread shows us what else the doctor does and what equipment she needs, and which other professionals she sometimes works with like ambulance drivers and pharmacists. The books are clearly illustrated and labled, and show a good gender balance, too! 24 pages / Ages 4-6 years / Reviewed by Alice Holmes.

Busy People: Doctor
What Do People Do All Day?
Richard Scarry

HarperCollins

ISBN 9780008147822

This is a re-issue of Richard Scarry's classic stories looking behind the scenes at what people's jobs entail. While the smaller images and busy pages make this book harder to share with a group, the text makes it worth doing so - Scarry shows how a community 'functions' with each worker being paid and then using that money to buy other things from community shops and workers. He also poses questions - What does your mummy and daddy do? And what do you do to help? Each job is explored through incidents like a house fire for the firemen or a train trip for the train driver. Of course the illustrations and objects are gorgeously old fashioned, but that doesn't put off young readers. A lovely book for browsing to reinforce learning about 'what people do'. 64 pages / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by ReadingZone.

What Do People Do All Day?
Charlie and Lola: One Thing
Lauren Child

Orchard Books

ISBN 9781408339008

This book is like a mirror of my life with my six year old! For Charlie and Lola lovers this book is a must and for everyone else, buy this book for the most brilliant way to develop number awareness with you children. Lauren Child has approached children's continuous fascination with numbers in a brilliantly fun way. Those constant counting questions and number negotiations that we get with our preschool and early years children are explained really well in this book. I loved the use of early written calculations to develop real life problem solving. This is one I will be sharing with my Year 1s and recommending for other KS1 teachers. Such a refreshing approach to a number book for children and I loved the fact that instead of keeping it simple, it covers lots of more challenging topics such as time and numbers far beyond a thousand. You could really use some of the ideas in this book to develop lesson ideas which would link mathematical concepts with real life situations. Beyond the classroom, this is a lovely book to share with your children and would address and generate conversations about numbers during everyday activities like walks to the park and journeys in the car! Picture book / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Marie Berry, teacher.

Charlie and Lola: One Thing
Home
Carson Ellis

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406359428

This picture book, Home, has become a real favourite and is a must-have for classrooms exploring the topic 'Home' - but it also does so much more than this and is a wonderful book to encourage children to explore their own creative abilities. Each page focuses on a different kind of home and so we learn that 'home' can mean many different things - a wigwam, a palace or a hut on a mountainside. How the images are juxtaposed extends the apparently simple text into a story; the palace above has a thieve's cave below it; some sailors' home is on a ship but on the facing page, the peaceful tribal village they are about to visit gives us concern for how the two worlds will meet. There is so much opportunity for discussion, some of which will be prompted by the text, 'Who in the world lives here? And why?' for a futuristic building. Then there are the imaginary homes; 'A babushka lives here. A Moonian lives here'. Another home is under a teacup, and each deliciously-drawn image is filled with detail that will have children pouring over the pages, and creating their own stories about who lives there. On the final page we meet the artist in her home and she asks, 'Where is your home? Where are you? So much more to think about and discuss. A beautiful book. Picture book / Ages 4-8 years / Reviewed by ReadingZone.

Home
I (Don't) Like Snakes
Nicola Davies

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406342833

Nicola Davies, zoologist and writer, takes a look at a creature that many of us fear, the snake, and through a mix of fiction and non-fiction, we come to understand them better. A girl who hates snakes has the misfortune to be surrounded by them as her family are great admirers of these reptiles. Each time she says why she doesn't like them - they slither, are slimy and have 'flicky tongues' - we find out the facts behind how they move, shed their skin and smell (using their 'flicky' tongues). Armed with this information, the girl feels more friendly towards snakes and, once she has also learned about how they kill and have babies, she decides snakes are good things to have around. This is a fun and informative format with lots of appeal to children - I for one would love to see a similar book on spiders, or perhaps sharks? 32 pages / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by ReadingZone.

I (Don't) Like Snakes
Counting Lions
Virginia McKenna

Frances Lincoln Childrens Books

ISBN 9781847807212

This is a breathtaking and beautifully presented picture book that begins as a counting book but delivers so much more than this. You could use this with younger children to practice counting from one to ten (one lion, two gorillas, three giraffes etc) but you'll probably find that they are mesmerised by the images of African animals the book portrays, powerfully sketched in black and white by Stephen Walton. The text that accompanies the images is poetic, describing each of these magestic animals in their setting; 'One lion sits and watches his rough-and-tumble pride. He drinks in the golden savannah, and a flicker catches his eye...' Each of these can be used to inspire upper KS1/KS2 children to research and then create their own loosely-structured poetry about animals in their natural habitats. Then comes the environmental message. The final pages present some facts about each of the animals we have seen in the earlier pages, and tells us their protection status, so this is a useful research tool for KS2 children, and in her powerful Forword, Virginia McKenna hopes the book will 'awaken a sense of wonder in all who read it' and I can't but agree that, whatever your age, it does just that. Picture book / Ages 4-adult / Reviewed by ReadingZone.

Counting Lions
Hare
Zoe Greaves

Old Barn Books

ISBN 9781910646038

Hare, which mixes a picture book text with non-fiction facts, is a beautifully-presented book that explores the majesty, playfulness and mystery of the hare, a creature that has appeared in folk tales for hundreds of years around the world. The first half of the book is dedicated to simply admiring this fleet of foot creature as he darts through the countryside, evading the ever-present danger of fox, with playful text around the word 'hare'. Towards the end, we find out more facts about the hare, and an exploration of how we have perceived the hare through the centuries. Everything in the book has been carefully researched and all the plant and wildlife represented is based in fact. There are also some useful notes to tell us the difference between the hare and the rabbit. 24 pages / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by ReadingZone.

Hare
A Stork in a Baobab Tree: An African 12 Days of Christmas
Catherine House

Frances Lincoln Childrens Books

ISBN 9781847806055

This is a charming Christmas book that shares 12 different African village Christmas Traditions. Using the classic Christmas carol 'Twelve Days Of Christmas', the reader learns about houses, food, clothing and culture in a variety of different places - at the market, in the huts, with the grazing goats etc. The book is easy to understand and the big, glossy pictures are interesting to look at. I've said this book for 5+, obviously they'd need an adult to share it with them, but it's a great book for introducing different cultures to younger children. The book includes a page which tells you where each tradition comes from, enabling children to further research what interests them. Picture book / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Lizi Coombs, teacher.

A Stork in a Baobab Tree: An African 12 Days of Christmas
Tell Us a Story, Papa Chagall
Laurence Anholt

Frances Lincoln Childrens Books

ISBN 9781847806581

A great way to introduce children to the artwork and life story of Marc Chagall, Anholt's book tells us of his paintings, muses and the key events in his life all through two twins asking for stories. Papa Chagall recounts his childhood, going to art school, moving to France, fleeing from the Nazis to America and then becoming a successful artist all in easy to swallow little stories. This format is engaging and a great way of introducing children to biographical writing, as well as learning about the artist himself! Anholt has written a whole series of books that focus on different artists - through the children that knew them. This is a great way of engaging children and getting them to think beyond the classic pieces of art that they often encounter in schools or museums in a passive way. The narration is simple and easy to access, and the illustrations are bright, colourful and incorporate some of Chagall's original pieces of artwork. I enjoyed this book - I'll definitely be using Anholt's books where appropriate for artist studies in my classroom! Picture book / Ages 7+ / Reviewed by Lizi Coombs, teacher.

Tell Us a Story, Papa Chagall
Ommie and the Magical Garden
Sirkka Fisk

Amemo Ltd

ISBN 9780993288401

This 'active yoga story book' for children, written by yoga teacher Sirkka Fisk, is a simple and useful introduction to yoga for children, which takes you through some of the basic positions and shows how each one is inspired by a particular animal, making it very enticing for children. They can 'become' a crocodile, a butterfly, a lion and so on as the story introduces us to each of the animals and gives us a gentle reminder, on the final pages, that our world is for everyone. Yoga helps stretch the muscles and can be a good introduction to relaxation techniques - which children are bound to need further in their school careers. A useful book to have in a class library, as children can work through it themselves by following the story, or one that can easily be shared with a group. 38 pages / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by ReadingZone.

Ommie and the Magical Garden
Children's Animal Atlas
Barbara Taylor

QED Publishing

ISBN 9781784932916

This year's theme for National Non-Fiction Month is maps, and I really liked this one from QED. It's in the same style as their earlier Children's Activity Atlas, with full-continent maps on each page and a pocket at the back filled with additional items like stickers, post cards and quizzes. The Children's Animal Atlas is colourful, easy to manage and nicely organised. There isn't too much information provided for a KS1 child to absorb but with the extra material provided at the back, you can develop more thinking activities, for example encouraging children to create their own quiz from the information in the book, or using it in partner work for the children to ask each other questions. You can work on answers being detailed and precise, so they'd need to use page references, or build in writing exercises based on the postcards and posters in the book. This is not just a one-dimensional information book. 32 pages / Ages 6/7+ / Reviewed by Louise Gahan, teacher.

Children's Animal Atlas
The Pebble in My Pocket: A History of Our Earth
Meredith Hooper

Frances Lincoln Childrens Books

ISBN 9781847807687

This is one of those books that school librarians are challenged to classify; is it non-fiction or is it a story that has some true parts?! It teaches the reader about the journey of a pebble, beginning 480 million years ago with the eruption of a volcano... but the text itself is quite descriptive, and almost story like. This is a good book to encourage children to remember the history of our planet; the text is accompanied by full page, detailed pictures that help to communicate meaning, useful as some of the text is perhaps a little overly descriptive for a child to comprehend. The book is rather wordy, and I think most children would need the help of an adult to understand some of the phrasing. This book would be useful for any Stone Age to Iron age topics - which may be being taught under the new curriculum!

The Pebble in My Pocket: A History of Our Earth