NEW TITLES

This month's selection includes picture books that can inspire older children in visual literacy and to discuss themes like friendship and the environment, as well as young fiction for developing independent readers.

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
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
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
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
Immi
Karin Littlewood

Otter-Barry Books Ltd

ISBN 9781910959534

This is an interesting story about friendship. The story is about a girl named Immi. She lives by herself in a frozen, white land with nobody else to talk to. She spends her time fishing and sometimes catches extra fish in the hope that she will have some visitors, but they never come. One day, Immi catches a beautiful wooden bird on the end of her fishing line. The bird is made up of striking colours and she is very excited to find something to brighten up her frozen, white world. Over the next few days, Immi finds many more colourful objects including a red flower, an orange starfish and a purple feather. She uses these to decorate her igloo and soon after, visitors begin to arrive. Immi enjoys sharing food and stories with her visitors who keep her company through the long, dark nights. The story ends with a small boy who lives on a beach; each day, the boy throws colourful objects into the ocean and wonders where they go. He doesn't realise what a difference they have made to Immie, worlds apart as they are from each other. The picture book can be used as a good way in to a discussion about friendships and morals with children in KS1; it may be a useful book for PSHE lessons to focus on relationships. There are also some beautiful illustrations which enhance the story. Picture book / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Lucy Newton, teacher

Immi
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?
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
Prehistoric Actual Size
Steve Jenkins

Frances Lincoln Childrens Books

ISBN 9781847807618

It can be hard for adults, never mind children, to comprehend the sheer size of prehistoric creatures and this book, like its sister title Actual Size, gives us a good glimpse into the size of the creatures that once roamed the Earth. Could you imagine a dragonfly with a wingspan of 60cm? Or a bird that was big enough to eat a horse? The images on the pages show us how some of these creatures might have looked by showing the size of their wings, teeth - or claws! It's exactly the kind of information that young children will devour - especially the young dinosaur fans among them! Picture book / Ages 5-8 years / Reviewed by Alice Green.

Prehistoric Actual Size
My Little Book Of Trains
Rod Green

QED Publishing

ISBN 9781784934620

The 'My Little Book Of...' series is a wonderful introduction to non fiction for young children and with subjects like trains, cars and emergency vehicles, the books are great support for topics on vehicles and transport. Each colourful photographic spread introduces us to a different aspect of trains - steam, diesel and electric, for example - but there are also spreads dedicated to exploring the world of trains further, so we learn about train tracks, engineering trains, the underground system and commuter trains, as well as finding out about the world's fastest / longest etc trains. The words on the pages in bold are explained in a Glossary at the back, and there is also an index that again is really useful for showing children how non fiction works. Young train enthusiasts will also be in their element! 64 pages / Ages 6+ / Reviewed by Helen Young.

My Little Book Of Trains
Little Collectors: Animal Art: Make art from nature
Jenny Bowers

Frances Lincoln Childrens Books

ISBN 9781847807731

The follow-up to Nature Art, Little Collectors: Animal Art encourages young children to explore and collect interesting things from nature (feathers, shells, leaves) and to create their own art from it. There are 'picture frames' for them to display their collections and a large poster for them to fill with pictures of what they have seen in nature. The set comes with a 24 page booklet of things to look for during the passing seasons, advice on how to build and display their collections, and lots of nature facts about bugs, birds, butterflies etc. It's a lovely resource to have when you're planning nature trails in the summer or autumn with lots of ideas for how to encourage children to grow their collections and display them - individually or as class displays. 24 page booklet plus activities / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Louise Brown.

Little Collectors: Animal Art: Make art from nature
Footpath Flowers
Jon Arno Lawson

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406365672

Footpath Flowers (now available in paperback) is delicate, beautiful and carries a poignant message. Through its exquisite ink and watercolour illustrations, Footpath Flowers tells the story of a young girl and her distracted father. As they walk home, through the bustling city, she finds beauty in the most unlikely of places, gathering the flowers that have grown through the gaps and cracks in their grey concrete surroundings. All the while, her father is oblivious to the little treasures his daughter gathers and does not notice as she shares the flowers with the animals and people she meets. With each little gesture of kindness, whether it is noticed or ignored, the world around her is transformed. Footpath Flowers is a testament to the joy and innocence of childhood, a time when magic can be found where you would least expect it. Wordless pictures are an invaluable resource for the home and classrooms, and this one is a particular gem as it can be enjoyed and used with children of all ages but most importantly, in depth discussions can take place without the need to be able to decode any text - perfect for older readers who may have excellent comprehension and reasoning skills but a lower reading age. Through discussion of the illustrations, comprehension and inference skills can be practised and children can be encouraged to ask questions: How do they know? Why do they think that? Children would benefit from discussing the messages Footpath Flowers carries - that even the smallest gesture of kindness is mutually beneficial - and linking them to their own experiences. The beautiful illustrations, and careful study of the artist's use of colour, create an excellent canvas for descriptive writing and children could use carefully selected language to describe contrasting scenes, focusing on building atmosphere with their chose vocabulary. This could develop into a written narrative of all or part of the story. Footpath Flowers is a real treasure and belongs in every school library and classroom. Picture Book /Ages 7+ / Reviewed by Torie Walton, teacher

Footpath Flowers
Pigsticks and Harold and the Pirate Treasure
Alex Milway

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406346053

I was delighted to see a third Harold & Pigsticks title - these books are great for emergent readers who are ready for a more sophisticated read but who might be put off by pages of standard text. Harold is a long-suffering hamster who puts up with being told what to do by Pigsticks, who has the gift of the gab, much optimism and very little common sense - although things generally turn out alright for the duo. The stories are also based around detective-style plots so will help introduce young readers to this genre. In this story, Tuptown is in trouble when Sir Percival Snout claims the whole town belongs to him. Pigsticks and Harold need to raise a fortune to buy it back - and fast. Luckily, Pigsticks' great-great-grandpig was a pirate, and his buried treasure has never been found so Pigsticks and Harold head off to track it down. There is lots of humour in the story and detail in the colourful spreads that children will enjoy exploring. As well as a great individual read, this would work as a read aloud. The treasure hunting theme of this story could also be useful If you're doing projects around maps. 64 pages / Ages 5-8 years / Reviewed by Alice Hutchins.

Pigsticks and Harold and the Pirate Treasure
World's Greatest Liar: 2016
Barry Hutchison

Stripes Publishing

ISBN 9781847156730

Dylan Malone aka Beaky, could possibly be the world's greatest liar. Whether he's leading expeditions to the north pole, boasting of his psychic abilities, boxing swans in the park or dodging deadly deceases - Beaky will have a creative answer for everything. However, when extended family members come to stay for the weekend Beaky's antics go too far. During a failed family outing, Beaky and his sister Jodie find themselves at Madame Shirley's Marvellous Emporium of Peculiarities. Amongst the oddities of the emporium is a 'Truth Telling Machine' and at her wits end, Jodie persuades him to give it a try. Much to everyone's astonishment, Beaky emerges from the machine unable to tell a lie. When even the threat of sharing an awful picture of Beaky via social media isn't enough to force a lie out of him, Jodie is convinced too. Creative chaos ensues, as Beaky's truth telling causes big problems. He just can't help himself! If only he could just keep his mouth shut; it looks like the family secrets won't stay secrets for much longer. Recommended for anyone who isn't offended by toilet humour and the banter of modern day families, this book is a real giggle. It would be fun to explore some of the lies told by Beaky and whether readers can be even more creative? For example, what would Beaky say about not handing in his homework on time? It would also be interesting to investigate other literary fibbers, most notably the wonderful Pinocchio - readers might notice that both Beaky and Pinocchio have rather large noses in common! Beaky's lies, whilst very creative, aren't very convincing - not to his family and friends anyway! It would be a challenge to create more convincing tall stories and to share them along side true stories them with the intention of calling out the bluff! 192 pages / Ages 7/8+ / Reviewed by Emily Beale, school librarian.

World's Greatest Liar: 2016
Knitbone Pepper: The Last Circus Tiger
Claire Barker

Usborne Publishing Ltd

ISBN 9781409580386

The inhabitants of Starcross Hall are all really quite unusual. It's a place where normal house rules simply don't apply. It's where generations of beloved Pepper ghost pets, a goose, monkey, hamster, amongst others, play hide and seek. Winnie, the youngest Pepper is the only living person who can see them and is an honorary member of the Spirits of Starcross, as the owner of Knitbone and his beloved. Knitbone Pepper is a dead special ghost dog, he's the ghost pet that all the others look up to. When Lord Starcross has a dream, he decides 'hats are where it's at' so the family hat collection should be expanded and opened to the public, nothing can stop him. At the last minute, the Beloved Pet ghosts have to step in and create order out of the Pepper chaos, setting up all the displays so that the collection can open. Winnie and the Spirits of Starcross are essential in making a success out of the exhibition, getting free advertising and making their ghostly presence felt to amuse the public. Just when you think all is well, the circus arrives and Knitbone senses something strange. Roojoo is the last circus tiger and he is lonely. The story races on with the National Hat Museum of India arranging a loan of the Eye of Mumbai, a jewel thief and the spirits trying to find the last page of the Good Ghost Guide in order to reunite with his Beloved before time runs out. Claire Barker's characters are warm and full of life, she has included lots of fun and frolicks throughout the story to keep the momentum going. I loved the interaction between the spirits and the Security Guards, but the description of Magpie McCracken's attempt to retrieve the Eye of Mumbai was hilarious. Ross Collins' beautiful drawn little vignettes add humour and even more personality to the characters, bringing the story and the individuals to life. 256 pages / Ages 7+ / Reviewed by Kerra Dagley, school librarian.

Knitbone Pepper: The Last Circus Tiger