NEW TITLES

This month's selection of books covers more sophisticated picture books as well as strong fiction titles for individual children or for reading aloud. It's good to see such beautifully-produced books for this age range.

A Beginner's Guide to Bearspotting
Michelle Robinson

Bloomsbury Publishing PLC

ISBN 9781408845554

I loved this book, which reads as a more sophisticated follow up to We're Going on a Bear Hunt. My children really enjoyed this book and it got a few laughs from my six year old along the way, especially when he used the bubble gum on the bears. This book provides loads of links to curriculum work in many areas. I am currently doing a wildlife topic and we are making fact files, I will definitely use this book as a stimuli to further work creating How to ....? Guides. I loved the way the author speaks directly to the character/ reader, which is a writing skill we teach when writing instructions and explanations. This book would be a great hook when covering either genre. But this book is also a very good story, with super illustrations which really capture the reader's imagination throughout. Although what happened at the very end is anyone's guess? I hope he wasn't really eaten by the bear? Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Marie Berry

A Beginner's Guide to Bearspotting
Fairytales for Mr Barker
Jessica Ahlberg

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406355888

Jessica Ahlberg's story is very reminiscent of her parents' marvellous books. Fairy Tales for Mr Barker is a clever story that takes the reader on an interesting journey with well-known fairy tale characters. However, for the story to work well and for the humour to be understood the child reader needs to know fairy stories and fairy story characters. In the story Lucy follows her dog, Mr Barker, into fairy story land. The first place the two visit is the three bears' cottage where they find Goldilocks eating a bowl of porridge. She joins the two of them as Lucy tells her that the three bears will be cross with her for eating the porridge. From cottage the three visit the three little pigs and help them escape from the big bad wolf and then they visit Jack and Sleeping Beauty. On the journey they are constantly chased by their foes: the three bears, the big bad wolf and the giant. Lucy leads her characters back to her bedroom where she tells them they can have a sleepover and she reads them a another fairy story which includes gruesome character. This is a fun book, which has a delicious ending. Picture book / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Fiona Collins, consultant.

Fairytales for Mr Barker
The Red Prince
Charlie Roscoe

Templar Publishing

ISBN 9781783702213

The Red Prince is a sweet adventure story book based around the theme of friendship, family, team work and courage. When the poor Prince is left to look after his Island of Avala, when his parents go away, he is kidnapped and taken by a mysterious group of people, who soon take over his beloved island. It is up to the Prince to escape from these wicked people, however, this is very difficult to do when dressed all in red! With the help of some unexpected people, the Prince must make his way back home and take back his island. The illustrations are the main aid to this story and capture the feelings and emotions the Prince might going through with the colours used. However the only issue would be the boxes around the text that sometimes make it difficult to read due to colour choice. This could be problematic with early readers. However the books lends itself to so many themes and opportunities to explore in the classroom around friendship and teamwork within PSHE lessons. The story could also help with looking at courage and achievement and how we can achieve even what seem impossible with people's help. The illustrations in the book would also be perfect to use for creative writing as a starting point or to use a sole image to create a story or imaginative writing piece. I think the book would be enjoyed in KS1, however for creative writing use it could be used in Lower KS2. Picture book / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Lauren Maidman

The Red Prince
A River
Marc Martin

Templar Publishing

ISBN 9781783704330

What a lovely book this is with rich and stunning illustrations and an evocative text. A child takes an imaginary journey on the river that runs outside her home. Each double-page spread is a different landscape to be explored, including rainforest, jungles, factories and farmlands, until the boat reaches the open sea. The beautifully-detailed spreads could be used to encourage children to create their own cityscape or natural landscape, or to 'map' the course of the river. Having explore the illustrations and the deceptively simple text, older children in KS1 or KS2 could write their own poem or descriptive text about a river flowing through varied landscapes. There is so much to see in the pictures; it is a book to be visited again and again and is a beautiful book to share. Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Dorne Fraser, librarian.

A River
Dr Dominic Walliman, Ben Newman

ISBN 9781909263079

My son and I loved this book and the accompanying app! We received the app first, my six-year-old dived straight in and started his first space mission. The app seemed easy to use and visually appealing. It taught us both a lot about our solar system. The competitive element of the app really motivated my son to read and absorb the information given; he soon learnt that you couldn't be successful just guessing the answers! The book arrived a bit later and was immediately snatched out of my hands by my son and devoured on the sofa. The beautiful illustrations really helped explain the concepts being discussed and greatly add to the book. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this book and app to other children and would probably suggest it's suitable from Key Stage 2 due to some technical scientific vocab but there is no reason why younger readers couldn't enjoy it if supported by an adult. A real must-have for any budding space explorer or astrophysicist! 64 pages / Ages 7+ / Reviewed by Jo Cummins, literacy manager.

Coding for Beginners Using Scratch
Jonathan Melmoth

Usborne Publishing Ltd

ISBN 9781409599357

Computing and coding are two of the biggest buzzwords in education in recent times, particularly at primary level. Initiatives like the Hour of Code and programs like Scratch offer a simple yet informative and entertaining entry into the world of coding. The book offers a guide to 15 different Scratch activities, starting from the most basic of tasks to activities of increasing complexity. Steps are explained simply and in plain language and blocks of coding are illustrated on each page as an easy to follow guide. Simpler activities are explained in a double page spread. As the activities become more complex, activities are explained over six pages and can sometimes be difficult to follow. Activities can be matched to different targets within the Computing curriculum (but not identified as such in the book - you'll have to do that yourself). All instructions are related to the online version of Scratch; if you have the downloaded version, some of the instructions may have to be adapted. In addition, the book has a guide to saving and sharing on Scratch, an extensive menu listing and explaining every instruction available on the program, and a useful glossary. There is also a link to a website which offers additional support for the activities in the book and a range of other coding resources. Illustrations are simple and of limited appeal to what would appear to be the target audience. However, the ring-bound format is very useful when using the book for reference purposes. Activities and outcomes are enjoyable and satisfying, and lessons learned can be applied to the reader's own projects. This book would be of use to KS2 children, parents who would like to support their children and teachers unfamiliar with Scratch. Some activities could even be used as the basis for lesson plans. 92 pages / Ages 7+ / Reviewed by Paul Gormley, teacher.

Coding for Beginners Using Scratch
Rise of the Slippery Sea Monster
Gareth P. Jones

Stripes Publishing

ISBN 9781847156648

The fourth book in the Steampunk Pirate series tells the story of role reversal for the crew of the Leaky Battery. Still wanted by their owner, the King of England, they find themselves the targets of piracy when their own stolen gold is stolen from them. Captain Clockheart, Lexi, Gadge and cabin boy/girl Pendel at first suspect one of their own - First Mate Mainspring. After a dubious trial, the proposed punishment is to be marooned on a desert island. The Steampunk Pirates learn they are not the only ones to have lost their recent treasure haul, when the dread captain Inkybeard arrives on the scene with his new cabin boy Kidd. When Kidd suggests that the stolen treasure is linked to the Slippery Sea Monster the Pirates are convinced that they should follow the monster to its underwater lair to take back what is rightfully theirs. Unbeknown to them, cabin boy Kidd has masterminded an elaborate plot to recover his father's lost fortune. In the end, the crew of the Leaky Battery triumph, recover their treasure and then some, and learn that freedom is more important then gold and jewels; and most importantly - you can't trust a pirate! With more twists then the storyline of a Star Wars movie, and hilarious, fast-paced dialogue from well-constructed characters, the forth book in the Steampunk Pirates series is hard to put down. Recommended for anyone who enjoys a fast paced pirate tale, or a book with gadgets (especially of the steam powered variety). 160 pages, illustrated / Ages 7+ / Reviewed by Emily Beale.

Rise of the Slippery Sea Monster
Thunderbot's Day of Doom
Alan MacDonald

Bloomsbury Publishing PLC

ISBN 9781408825266

This is the forth book in the 'Superhero School' Series. Superheroes in training - Stan, Minnie, Miles and Pudding the Wonderdog are again put to the test, when disgruntled local weather man Dennis Trigg highjacks the winning weather robot from the school science fair. High jinks ensue in this fast paced meteorological tale. The students have to battle through tornadoes, blizzards and the odd crash landing in the school compost heap whilst Thunderbot holds Britain's Summer to ransom! The adventure culminates on the doorstep of Buckingham Palace where, despite the difficulties of parking the school mini bus, 'Mighty High's' students are victorious. The story is interspersed with excerpts from 'The Pocket Guide for Superheroes' which adds an interesting break in the flow of the plot and added enlightenment on everything you might need to know to save the world. Well-imagined whole page illustrations throughout the book make the story even more enjoyable. This is a great series for emerging independent readers, especially those with a fascination with all things 'super'! 146 pages (with illustrations) / Ages 7+ / Reviewed by Emily Beale, librarian.

Thunderbot's Day of Doom
Hamish and the Neverpeople
Danny Wallace

Simon & Schuster Childrens Books

ISBN 9781471123917

Hamish and his friends are back in action again! Having saved the world once, they now need to face a new threat. Something strange is happening. When the Prime Minister comes to Starkley (one of Britain's most boring towns) to film an episode of Question Me Silly, he suddenly announces to the nation, 'I really like my little blue pants'. Hamish notices a strange blank look in the Prime Minister's eyes and realises something is wrong. It's time for the PDF (Pause Defence Force) to swing into action! This is a very funny, very readable book that will appeal to younger readers looking for a longer read, older readers looking for a quicker read and everybody in between! Full of jokes and word play, the story moves at a pleasing pace and keeps you laughing throughout. What I particularly liked about this book were the characters. Hamish is essentially a very 'normal' little boy- he misses his dad; he has worries; he has good friends. He is a hero because he wants to do the right thing even though it is not easy for him. Alice is an excellent friend, supportive and feisty- and 'always prepared!'. Hamish's family are also appealing personalities - I share many of his mother's worries! (Or so my son would tell you!) & A fun read with plenty of humour and plenty of action - and someone else who struggles to spell tarquise/torkoyz- a sort of aquamarine colour! 368 pages / Ages 7+ / Reviewed by Sue Wilsher, teacher.

Hamish and the Neverpeople