NEW TITLES

Here are some of our favourite picture books this month, which as well as delivering gorgeous stories also explore a range of opportunities, from talking about dreams and space to Aspergers, food and even a detective story.

Hugless Douglas and the Great Cake Bake
David Melling

Hodder Children's Books

ISBN 9781444919882

It's great to see Hugless Douglas, that very hugable bear, back with a new story, this time about cake! Douglas wakes up to find all his honey has gone and when he follows the sticky trail left by the culprit, he discovers that it's to be used in a baking session by the lambs, headed by a particularly bossy one. Douglas is looking forward to trying the cakes but when all the little lambs get there before him, none are left. However, Douglas is persuaded to try some of the ingredients - berries and nuts - without his favourite honey, and do you know what? He decides he likes them! So it's a lovely picture book to use around food and trying things that are new, as well as sharing, but what really stands out are the gorgeous illustrations that will have children and the adult reader giggling over the very toddler-ish scrapes that the lambs, and Douglas, get themselves into. I've never seen quite such a sticky mess as the one they manage to produce, and look out for that little lamb who finds himself entirely covered in grass! Children will adore this story which comes with bags of humour. Picture book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Alice Court.

Hugless Douglas and the Great Cake Bake
This Is Not A Book
Jean Jullien

Phaidon Press Ltd

ISBN 9780714871127

This is such a clever piece of work - yes, it IS a book, but the creator Jean Jullien has very cleverly used the book format to create something 'other'. As you open each page, it turns into something that isn't quite a book - a computer (the screen on one page, the keyboard on the other), a football pitch (an aerial view), a toolbox (you open the lid and the tools are inside), a tent, even, with a boy lying on one side, his bag and boots on the other. The final spread takes you back to the cover image, with the outside of a house - open up the folds and there is the room inside the house with a cat bounding through the catflap. Because it's a board book, the pages are sturdy and the objects on its pages (keyboard, butterfly wings, open doors of the fridge) can be played with and shared. Really clever, very neat idea, and the children I've shown it to adored it and found it really funny. You could use this to discuss what actually makes a book a 'book', and follow up with an art lesson where children make their own pages for a 'not book' that the class can put together as their own 'not a book'!. Board book / Ages 2 to adult / Reviewed by Alison Bell.

This Is Not A Book
Before I Wake Up...
Britta Teckentrup

Prestel

ISBN 9783791372464

The thoughtful and lyrical new picture book from Britta Teckentrup, Before I Wake Up, follows a young girl through her night time dreams, where she is accompanied by a strong and protective lion - a dream version of her favourite toy. Her dreams are by turns exciting and enchanting, but there are also dangerous moments during which the lion keeps her safe. The text, a series of short rhyming stanzas that describe her dreak journey, keep the story simple while allowing children - and adults - to be drawn into the dreamlike images, multilayered at times, at others bold with strong lines, swapping and changing to emphasis that this is a dream. After flying through the sky, swimming the oceans and travelling with a lion through a forest, the night draws to a close and it's time for the girl to return home as dawn - in all its red and gold glory - breaks. A warm and comforting story that allows children to reflect on their dreams - and which favourite toy they would take with them. Picture book / 56 pages / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Alice Barr

Before I Wake Up...
Goodnight Spaceman
Michelle Robinson

Puffin

ISBN 9780141365626

Goodnight Spaceman is a charming book about two little boys who imagine whizzing into space to visit their dad on the International Space Station (ISS). The rhyming text sets a gentle pace for the story, which is further explored in the detailed illustrations. This book would be brilliant for any child interested in space and who has been following the popular Tim Peake! It's a great read for 3-7 year olds. When I shared with with a reception class, they quickly noticed the rhyming text and enjoyed trying to guess the rhyme at the end of the sentence before I read it. We came to this book at the end of our topic on space, so the drawings were particularly great as they mirrored real life. There was much discussion on the names of the planets illustrated earlier in the book which were then clearly labelled further on. It is quite a tricky thing to do, crossing a fiction and non-fiction book, and this story manged it. As well as an enjoyable story in its own right, you could also use Goodnight Spaceman to begin discussions about missing family when they have to go away. Older children could write a letter to their dad in space, asking him about it and telling him what they are doing at home, or create a story map of the boys' adventures. Of course there's lots to explore around the topic of space, too, including what it's like to live in space and investigating the planets - which could also be useful in Maths as you explore how far away the planets are and how long it takes them to orbit the sun. The children in my reception class definately gave the book a thumbs up, and were convinced it was actually Tim Peake himself in the story "because the daddy has orange hair"! Picture book / Ages 3-7 years / Reviewed by Lynnette Voisey, EY teacher.

Goodnight Spaceman
Through My Window
Tony Bradman

Frances Lincoln Childrens Books

ISBN 9781847807564

A beautifully simple children's classic. Through the window is the story of little Jo, and her wait for mum to return from work one day when she is ill. This very sweet story is all about what Jo sees from her window while waiting for her mother to return. All the different visitors of the day and what she sees form her window, move this story along and the text is simple enough for my six year old to read along by himself. For those of us old enough to have been the six year olds when this book was first published Jo's dream picture is a really funny moment of reminiscing my own childhood, with dreams of all the things she loves, He-Man, Fraggle Rock, to name a few. A lovely book to share which stands the test of time. Picture book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Marie Berry, teacher.

Through My Window
Who Is Happy?
Jarvis

Frances Lincoln Childrens Books

ISBN 9781847807229

'Everyone in Happyhop house experiences lots of feelings'. This book is aimed at getting young children to carefully look at the pictures and answer questions to work out who is feeling what. The questions would be asked by someone older and the child could be encouraged to look for the picture of a person, or animal character, showing that emotion. The book is supposed to help children to understand 12 key emotions and recognise them in others. I like the book and the idea behind it, but I am not sure the illustrations are clearly defined enough for a very young child to spot the emotions. I will certainly try it at school and see how it works in practice with children. Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Clare Raley, school librarian.

Who Is Happy?
Isaac and His Amazing Asperger Superpowers!
Melanie Walsh

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406344455

"I'm a superhero called Isaac! I might look like everyone else, but I have a kind of autism called Aspergers. Inside this book I'll tell you all about what it's like to have my Asperger superpowers." This book is a good starting point for younger children who may have peers or siblings with autism, and need help to understand what autism is. Written with the support of the National Autistic Society, this book takes a positive and engaging approach to the superpowers (differences). The superhero element will draw young children in, whilst giving them an understandable analogy through which they can gain some sense of what it is like to have autism. I have shared this book with colleagues at the Primary school where I work and the general response to the book was very positive, the only slight negative is the simplicity of the book and the fact it does really only cover a few of the possible issues. However, after discussion the conclusion reached was that as a starting point for younger children it is more than adequate. Where I work we have had several young children diagnosed with autism and I feel this book would be a good, positive starting point to help them gain a better understanding of their own "superhero powers". Picture book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Jennifer Niblett, teacher.

Isaac and His Amazing Asperger Superpowers!
Steven Seagull Action Hero
Elys Dolan

Oxford University Press

ISBN 9780192738707

I really enjoyed Steven Seagull Action Hero although it took me a couple of reads of the picture book to get there and to realise what a great introduction to the mystery / detective genre this provides. The details and clues on each page are easily missed the first time around so it rewards re-reading and I think this would make it a great reluctant reader as the theme can appeal to children throughout KS1. The story begins with Steven Seagull 'retired off' - I see him as a good cop rather than the 'action hero' of the title - but his ex-partner Mac (a goldfish) needs him back to help solve the clue of the disappearing beach. Someone is digging lots of holes in the beach and taking away the sand - and no one knows who is behind it. Children might begin to spot the suspicious-looking characters at this point, and all the characters we meet have a role in confronting and bringing justice to the culprit that is finally unveiled (clue: look out for the crabs!). Older children can use the story to help inspire or plot their own detective story. The picture book also manages to introduce the dead pan humour that we often see in detective stories and the gags litter the pages - something for the adults as well as the children to enjoy. Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Alice Hunt.

Steven Seagull Action Hero
The Three Ninja Pigs
David Bedford

Simon & Schuster Childrens Books

ISBN 9781471121913

This is a wonderful and quite sophisticated picture book for children aged 4+, which draws on traditional fairytales while introducing children to comic conventions. In the story, three 'ninja pigs' confront a rebellious 'big bad wolf' who is causing havoc at Granny's cottage, the Three Bears Building Supplies and at Cindy's boutique. It isn't until the ninja pigs manage to corner the wolf at Rapuzel's hair salon that they manage to outsmart him - and have him confined to a tall tower, much like the one from Rapunzel's story - although the clever wolf soon finds an escape root....! The story is lots of fun and there are enough clues and characters to find on the pages to keep individual readers happy, although it can also be shared as an exciting, action-packed group read. Older children might like to find new stories that they can put the three ninja pigs into, or they might want to take the disruptive wolf into another tale. You might also encourage children to explore comic book formats in this story. Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Alice Hunt.

The Three Ninja Pigs
Nibbles: The Book Monster
Emma Yarlett

Little Tiger Press

ISBN 9781848691933

What a wonderful story to illustrate how readers 'devour' books - although in this case, the mischievous Nibbles the Book Monster does so literally, escaping from his wooden crate and diving into a pile of books where he promptly chews his way through, changing the endings of the stories beyond recognition as he does so. "It wasn't me, it was a MONSTER!' declares Cinderella at the chaos Nibbles leaves in his wake. Nibbles becomes the hero in Little Red Riding Hood (who is not happy about this at all!). And he helps Jack make a quick getaway down the beanstalk by biting the giant on his bottom. The pages he chews through from each of the fairy tales is presented as a 'book within a book', giving it lots of appeal to young readers, and the reader is also involved in Nibbles' capture at the end (although that's not a total success....) Nibbles is a wonderfully appealing 'monster' and children will love the mayhem he causes. The story can also be used with older KS1 children to explore the idea of changing fairy tale endings by bringing in a new character. They will also enjoy reading the blurbs at the end of each story which have been chewed through - and so changed - by Nibbles; something they can practice when re-writing their own fairy tales! Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Alice Davies.

Nibbles: The Book Monster
Intergalactic Ed and the Space Pirates
Ella Denton

Oxford University Press

ISBN 9780192739407

For the pirate-loving kids, Intergalactic Ed is one they will enjoy and want to read again. Ed is a space-spotting little boy who, when watching through his telescope one night, spots the moon being stolen by a bunch of space pirates. Ed and his sidekick cat Sputnik leap into action to save the moon from these dastardly pirates. When he is caught, Ed uses his knowledge of space facts to trick the Pirates into releasing the moon. This is a fun story with super illustrations. This would be a good addition to classrooms learning about space or earth, sun and moon. There are lots of topic starting points in this book so as a teacher I'd recommend this one for your book corners. Picture book / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Marie Berry, teacher.

Intergalactic Ed and the Space Pirates
The River: An Epic Journey to the Sea
Hanako Clulow

Caterpillar Books Ltd

ISBN 9781848574816

Through a round hole on the cover right through to the last page, the reader follows the journey of the little fish from the icy mountain stream down to the sea. Flat pastel pictures on each double page spread complemented by a rhyming text follow the fish through the pine forest, the wider river with the beavers, through the dark night, down to the estuary and then to the open sea. Of course the most famous book with the hole is the Very Hungry Caterpillar (The River is appropriately enough published by Caterpillar Books!) so this concept has been done before but it is very appealing and the goldish colour of the fish glitters nicely on the last pages. A simple story nicely done, perhaps the text could have been in a less uniform font, but the story is a good way of explaining the story of the salmon returning to the sea. Picture Book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Janet Fisher, librarian.

The River: An Epic Journey to the Sea
The Magical Garden of Claude Monet
Laurence Anholt

Frances Lincoln Childrens Books

ISBN 9781847808134

I already own a couple of Anholt's books and, as a teacher, think they are a fantastic way of introducing famous artists to younger children. This story follows Julie, a young child, as she goes to visit Mr Monet at his house in Giverny. Together, they explore his beautiful gardens, introducing the reader to many of Monet's works of art in the process. This book's main triumph is its pictures - they're beautifully detailed and Monet's works form the background for many of them. This book includes a 'fold out' page, as the characters row across the pond. It's a great book to involve children in Monet's artwork, and the large scale illustrations make it easier to look at the colours and techniques he used. The story itself is simple and a biography page is included at the back of the book to give further information. Picture book / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Lizi Coombs, teacher.

The Magical Garden of Claude Monet