NEW TITLES

To follow is a range of picture books that our reviewers have selected for June, covering ages from three years upwards.

The Mouse Who Reached the Sky
Petr Horacek

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406365641

The Mouse who Reached the Sky is another delightful picture book with flaps and holes from a successful author/illustrator. This cyclical story centres on a round red shape nestled high in a tree, which intrigues Mouse. She initially thinks the shape is a marble that she can play with. She tries and tries to reach it but it is too high for her so she asks Mole to help. Mole does not think it is a marble but a balloon to fly. Mole stretches up to grab it but with no success. So the two ask Rabbit to help them because he is taller. Conversely Rabbit thinks it is a ball to catch but he unfortunately cannot get it. Then Mouse has an idea, to reach it they could stand on each other's shoulders, but they wobble and as they fall they knock the tree and are surrounded by lots of red cherries for them to eat. The red ball is a cherry! This pcture book would be an excellent addition to any early years story corner.

The Mouse Who Reached the Sky
Never Shake a Rattlesnake
Michaela Morgan

Macmillan Children's Books

ISBN 9781509817047

Never shake a rattlesnake, don't lend your hat and coat to a goat, and try not to alarm and iguana - just some of the hilarious propositions in this catchy and colourful picture book by Michaela Morgan and Nick Sharratt. A little reminiscent of 'Don't Put Your Finger in the Jelly, Nelly' by Sharratt, the two books would work nicely together in and exploration of rhyme and funny combinations. The rhyming text and bright illustrations make it a perfect book to read aloud. Having explored some of the rhymes, children could be encouraged to make their own 'don't evers' and to write and illustrate them, combining them all into their own picture book. Picture book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Alice Hyde.

Never Shake a Rattlesnake
The Colour Monster
Anna Llenas

Templar Publishing

ISBN 9781783704231

The Colour Monster is a wonderful way into exploring emotions for children as colour is used to represent different feelings through the little Colour Monster. When the monster wakes up feeling confused - and the colours swirl on his chest - a little girl helps him. She explains his colours are mixed up 'because your feelings are all stirred together, so your colours are too'. She helps him by putting each 'feeling' into a different jar. Yellow, for example, is happiness, "It shines yellow like the sun and twinkles like the stars', while blue is sadness: 'It's gentle like a blue rainy day'. The collage imagery brings the pictures off the page - although if you want to see this to best effect, seek out the original hardback of The Colour Monster which was produced as a pop up book. Once all the colours are separated, the Colour Monster feels calm. This would be lovely to use with Early Years children to talk about how they feel and perhaps create 'colour jars' to demonstrate how they are feeling, and how many different emotions you can feel at any one time. I would also use it with older KS1 children to begin writing about feelings through colour, using some of the sentences in the book and similes to inspire their own writing - for example, for green: 'This is calm. It's quiet like the trees and soft like their leaves'. They could plan this out with their own drawings of little monsters, too. A very useful little story! Picture book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Alice Munster.

The Colour Monster
The Fox and the Wild
Clive McFarland

Templar Publishing

ISBN 9781783703876

The Fox and the Wild is a beautifully illustrated picturebook with clear, colourful pictures. The story is about Fred, a fox, who lives in a city, which is smoky, noisy and fast. Fred is not like his cousins, as he doesn't like the city and wants to live in the countryside where there are wild leaves and plants. Fred finds his idyllic countryside and is happy. Interestingly Fred the fox gives an alternative view of a fox's life and the usual representation of foxes in children's literature. It is a charming story that children who live in a city (as well as the countryside) will relate to as often foxes are seen on city streets. The book will read aloud well to either an individual child or a group of young children. Picture book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Fiona Collins, consultant.

The Fox and the Wild
The Tree: An Environmental Fable
Neal Layton

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406358216

This simple yet powerful story begins with an ordinary looking tree. Through a few select words and delightful illustrations, the reader is quickly introduced to its inhabitants: the birds who have built a nest between the spruce's branches; the scurry of squirrels whose dray balances amongst the limbs; the hoot of owls who dwell in a hollow in the tree's trunk; and the family of rabbits whose burrow is beneath the tree&'s roots. This single tree is home to a whole host of wildlife who live side by side. When a man and a woman arrive with a plan to build their dream house they are unaware of the creatures that already call the land their home and hastily begin their construction work. The first task is to cut down the tree! To their horror, a nest falls from the tree and lands on the ground. The new arrivals appear to be upset by the consequences but soon get back to work: measuring, lifting, hammering, painting - Could it be that they are going to continue on with their plan to build their dream home? Is it possible for animals and humans to live in harmony on the same land? This excellent picture book, which at first glance is perfect for younger readers but promotes themes that can be explored by all ages, highlights the importance of understanding the environment around us and how our actions, deliberate or not, can harm it. It is a perfect starting point for learning about habitats and seeing how even a small habitat (one hedgerow, a pond, a tree, a hedgerow) can be the home to countless creatures. Children could easily study a habitat within their garden or school grounds and investigate the animals that call it home, as well as the ways the habitat could be threatened. Children could explore their impact on the environment and discover ways of living more in harmony with wildlife and nature both at home and in school e.g. setting up a wildlife garden, making birdfeeders. The theme of actions and consequences extends beyond the powerful environmental message. We see the new arrivals working hard to make up for their mistake, even though they had meant no harm, and the positive outcomes that result from their efforts. Picture Book / Ages 4+/ Reviewed by Torie Walton, teacher.

The Tree: An Environmental Fable
There Is a Tribe of Kids
Lane Smith

Two Hoots

ISBN 9781509812882

A small child explores the natural world in this colourful journey of discovery. Coming down from the snowy mountains, he waddles across the ice with penguins, dives under the ocean, flies with ravens that leave him on top of rocks and weaves through the jungle. Along the way he meets an array of creatures, joining in their adventures. But all he really wants is a tribe to call his own. A trail of seashells along the beach leads him to a happy conclusion. The text consists entirely of a playful selection of collective nouns including a band of gorillas, a parade of elephants and a troop of monkeys, whilst the story is told through the pictures, which are made to be pored over. The technique used for the stunning illustrations give them texture and an almost luminous quality. The pictures are very expressive, with simple lines and colour conveying the emotions of the child as he travels; some of them are quite melancholy, highlighting his loneliness. But the last spread is a joyous celebration of play and togetherness. This is a perfect book to share with children in Early Years and Key Stage 1, but should by no means be confined to these age groups- there is so much for every reader within the pages. 40 pages / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Jayne Gould, librarian.

There Is a Tribe of Kids
Bee: Nature's tiny miracle
Britta Teckentrup

Little Tiger Kids

ISBN 9781848692886

Bee: Nature's Tiny Miracle is such a gorgeous picture book - beautifully produced and so useful in describing the job of bees in pollinating plants. The hexagonal cut-out on the front cover - which reminds us of the bee's honeycomb cell - keep the tiny bee firmly at the centre of this story as we turn the pages and follow Britta Teckentrup's gentle, rhyming verse about the role of the small bee in finding flowers and collecting nectar. But when there are too many flowers for the bee it brings others to help, "Stopping at every flower they find, Leaving the gift of pollen behind". In the closing pages, we see a profusion of glorious flowers and are reminded: "For every plant and flower you see / Was given life by one small bee". It's a beautiful story to use in discussions around nature, mini beasts and their very big role in life on Earth. With older children, you could also bring into the discussions news stories about the plight of bees and what we could all do to help - planting particular flowers, keeping hedgerows and building bee houses. Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Anna Black.

Bee: Nature's tiny miracle
Naughty Naughty Monster
Kaye Umansky

Templar Publishing

ISBN 9781783705740

Naughty Naughty Monster is a rhythmic, rhyming story, which Key Stage 1 children will find it easy to join in with. The story focuses on a monster who rampages in the woodland and scares the different woodland animals until he is confronted by a fierce Fairy, who, although stereotypical in dress and appearance, is a strong character and is not at all scared of the Naughty Monster. The fairy acts in a most disciplinary manner and punishes the Naughty Monster for scaring everybody. All comes right in the end as she succeeds in making him a friendly, sweet Monster. The story is told in an interesting manner, supported by different size fonts, as it is divided between a third person narrator and the voice of the monster or fairy respectively. This is an interesting technique and will help young children understand the concept of narrative voice. Picture book / 5+ / Reviewed by Fiona Collins, consultant.

Naughty Naughty Monster
Archie Snufflekins
Katie Harnett

Flying Eye Books

ISBN 9781909263376

Reminiscent of Six Dinner Sid, but with a very different ending, Archie is also a cat who likes to explore different homes and different lives in Blossom Street. He visits Mr Green and number three for breakfast, has a nice cup of tea at number nine with the Hoskins, and does some gardening at number fourteen. Then, one day, he disappears and the neighbours start to look for him. When a little girl realises they are all looking for the same cat, they visit the only house on the street that isn't out looking for him - lonely Mrs Murray at number eleven. Archie has decided he likes the peace and quiet at number eleven, and has made this his permanent home. Which means that all the neighbours now must visit number 11 to say hello to him. This is a lovely story to share with its simple text and painterly drawings - and there's lots of humour in the details. But it is also useful for showing how the tone of a picture book is developed as it moves from the busy and happy pages showing Archie's life in the street to the empty and lonely space occupied by Mrs Murray. It could also be compared with Six Dinner Sid and children could go on to create their own road of houses and imagine why a cat might visit each of them. Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Helen Arnold.

Archie Snufflekins
Fairytales Gone Wrong: Rapunzel, Rapunzel, Wash Your Hair!
Steve Smallman

QED Publishing

ISBN 9781784931292

From QED's Fairytales Gone Wrong series - and now available in paperback - Rapunzel becoming just too lazy to do anything about her hair. Because it is never washed or brushed, each prince who tries to climb up her hair to rescue her comes to an ignoble end - her hair is too greasy to climb, or it makes the prince itch and fall. Until, that is, another prince comes armed with a hosepipe, head-lice lotion, shampoo and a selection of brushes and combs! He decides he doesn't want to marry the princess - but he does offer to give her a haircut! Like the other new book in the series, Don't Pick Your Nose, Pinocchio!, these Fairytales Gone Wrong stories provide all kinds of lessons for nursery-aged children in a story that they are likely to remember. By KS1, when children are learning about fairytales, these are good examples of how fairytales can be turned into different kinds of stories. Entertaining and nicely illustrated, too, so they make good stories to share. Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Sarah Green.

Fairytales Gone Wrong: Rapunzel, Rapunzel, Wash Your Hair!
Monster in the Hood
Steve Antony

Oxford University Press

ISBN 9780192739797

Steve Antony really can do no wrong and this picture book has a perfect mix of great imagery, brilliant characters and just the right amount of jeopardy. We loved it. The cover - there is a monster lurking - tells us from the start that this monster isn't a figment of the characters' imaginations and on the first page of the story, there's a poster - 'Beware the Monster in the Hood'! But while Sammy Squirrel, Henri Hedgehog and Marvin Mouse had hears all about the Monster in the Hood - they wanted to see it with their own eyes! So follows a kind of chase only with the monster-hunters and the monster drawing closer together, while every other creature flees the neighbourhood. The repeated rhyme - 'Come out, come out, wherever you are! You might scare a pack of rats / cloud of bats / clutter of cats but you won't scare us!' is reminiscent of What's the Time, Mr Wolf, and just like that game, the monster and the hunters draw ever-closer. Children love the thrill of the scare and they can see what the characters can't - the location of the monster. Naturally, when monster and hunters do meet, it's not what we are led to expect and each of the characters finds a new friend. Lots of fun with just the right amount of scariness! Picture book / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Alison Hall.

Monster in the Hood
My Dad Used To Be So Cool
Keith Negley

Flying Eye Books

ISBN 9781909263949

Keith Negley has previously given us the picture book, Tough Guys Have Feelings Too, which explores our assumptions that if you appear tough, you can't be sensitive. In this picture book, Negley remains focused on male figures, this time fathers, and how their children see them. A boy knows that his dad 'used to be cool' because his old drum kit is still under the stairs and he knows he used to be in a band; so what happened? What made his dad stop being cool? As he asks the questions, we see the boy and the father playing together in a park and the father giving the child all his attention; as readers, we are given the answer of why his dad 'stopped being cool'; and eventually, the child admits that maybe he's still quite cool - until dad starts singing in the car... This is a wonderful story for celebrating the father / son relationship. In the classroom, it is also a great tool for developing visual literacy; so many answers are given through the images, while the boy's questions are in the text; careful readers will be able to infer what is really going on. It is also a great read-aloud, its bold and bright illustrations making it perfect for sharing. Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Alison Hart.

My Dad Used To Be So Cool
Neffy and the Feathered Dinosaurs
Joe Lillington

Flying Eye Books

ISBN 9781909263895

This picture book gives us a gloriously colourful glimpse as to what feathered dinosaurs might have looked like, incorporating all the latest research into the story. While the story follows Neffy, a young Microrapter from the Cretaceous period, on her attempts to glide, a series of well-placed factual quotes that run alongside the story help explain what other kinds of dinosaurs might have had feathers and been able to fly. As the opening pages tell us, "For a long time we thought all dinosaurs looked like big scaly lizards! But after many amazing fossil discoveries, we now know that some of these creatures were actually covered in feathers." The book also explains that the feathers were more like hairs, to help keep dinosaurs warm rather than for flying, until some dinosaurs evolved to be able to fly. It's fascinating how the discovery of feathered dinosaurs has changed our perceptions of them and, as we follow Neffy discovering her own means of flight, this story will undoubtedly help children to understand these discoveries better. Useful to use around dinosaur topics, and also to explore ideas around evolution. Picture book / Ages 5/6+ / Reviewed by Annie Black.

Neffy and the Feathered Dinosaurs
Would You Rather: Dine with a Dung Beetle or Lunch with a Maggot?
Camilla de le Bedoyere

QED Publishing

ISBN 9781784931971

The second 'Would you Rather' book that I've encountered (and now available in paperback), I enjoyed this one so much more! This fantastic book is full of marvellous mini-beast facts all presented to young readers through thought provoking questions such as 'Would you rather have a queen bee for a mum, a water bug for a dad, a stick insect for a brother or a millipede for a sister?' Great for starting a discussion, this book is amusing, revolting but mostly captivating - the illustrations are entertaining. Cartoon bugs living different scenarios with a little boy - I've learnt facts from this book, as well as seriously considered the pro's of being a dung beetle.... Fantastic for Key Stage One children looking at 'Mini-beasts', this book could also provide a good discussing point for older children developing their verbal reasoning skills. Picture book / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Lizi Coombs, teacher

Would You Rather: Dine with a Dung Beetle or Lunch with a Maggot?