NEW TITLES

This selection of picture books and early fiction for children aged five to seven years includes more sophisticated picture books that older children will enjoy, as well as texts for growing readers.

Oi Dog!
Jim Field

Hodder Children's Books

ISBN 9781444919592

The follow-up to the fantastic Oi Frog has been enjoyed just as much as the first book and reinforces all the fun messages from the first book, when Frog was trying to understand why dogs should sit on frogs. Bossy cat makes a return, too, with his rules: 'Cats sit on mats, frogs sit on logs, and dogs sit on FROGS!'. But this time, Frog is changing the rules and there follows and glorious flurry of animals sitting on things strange and wonderful - gnus on canoes, pigs on wigs, boars on oars etc. Children will love trying to remember the rhymes, or making up a few of their own - this is a great way to explore words that rhyme. And having caused pandemonium among the animals, Frog finds his own special way to end the argument of who sits on what! Lots of fun and an incredibly useful book for the classroom, together with Oi Frog! and also Quick Quack Quentin by the same team, Kes & Claire Gray and Jim Field. Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Alison Green.

Oi Dog!
The Darkest Dark
The Fan Brothers

Macmillan Children's Books

ISBN 9781509824083

Chris loves rockets and planets and pretending he's a brave astronaut exploring the universe. There's only one problem - at night he doesn't feel so brave because he is afraid of the dark. But while watching the first Apollo moon landing on television, Chris realises that Space is the darkest dark there is and that it can be beautiful and exciting. This realisation helps him overcome his fear and fuels his dreams and determination to become an astronaut; sometimes, with hard work and self belief, dreams do come true. This stunning picture book is based on the childhood of the first Canadian astronaut, Chris Hadfield. He vividly remembers watching the Apollo 11 landing at a neighbour's house on Stag Island in Southern Ontario, the only house on the island with a television. From that moment he did everything he could to enable him to become an astronaut, even though at that time Canadians couldn't join NASA. After becoming a fighter then a test pilot he was chosen by the newly formed Canadian Space Agency to be an astronaut. Subsequently he has flown on three separate missions, including five months as the first Canadian Commander on the International Space Station. Using a subtle palette of mainly blues, greys and black, mixing ink and graphite with digital art, the illustrators have created a magical exploration of the dark, and especially the dark of space. The facts of Chris Hadfield's life are skilfully woven in, and children reading the short biography at the end will be able to go back and find them in the pictures. There is also a message from Chris, accompanied by some of his photographs. Young readers who have been inspired by Tim Peake's mission will find much here to nurture further interest in space exploration and perhaps also the launch pad for their own ambitions. Picture book / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Jayne Gould, librarian.

The Darkest Dark
Odd Dog Out
Rob Biddulph

HarperCollins

ISBN 9780007594153

Odd Dog Out is a story about identity, being different and fitting in or not. Odd Dog is a sausage dog who lives in a town where all the other sausage dogs dress in exactly the same way, whether they are swimming, playing a violin or swimming. But poor Odd Dog is different: she looks different and feels very left out because of this. So she packs her bags and leaves to town in search of a new life. She finds this in 'Doggywood' where all the dogs look just like her and she is very excited by this. In this new town she then meets a male dog who is different and enjoys being so. He tells her 'I love to stand out from the crowd. And so should you. Stand tall. Be proud.' This sentiment rings true and she makes her way back to her odd town where all the residents are very pleased to see her. She then encourages them to be different and to find themselves. This is a lovely book in many ways. The illustrations give the sausage dogs real expressions and are very amusing. It would make it a very good book to use as a basis for discussion with a KS1 class. Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Fiona Collins, consultant.

Odd Dog Out
Meg in the Jungle
David Walser

Puffin

ISBN 9780141367408

It's wonderful to see a new, vibrant Meg and Mog adventure. This one takes the duo to the jungle, where they see lots of creatures, nearly get eaten by one, and Meg's magic spell helps to save the day for a tiger missing its stripes. The short, bold text supported by the iconic Meg and Mog imagery make these books a great choice for early readers, but they are also lively stories to share with younger children. Picture book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Alison Blake.

Meg in the Jungle
The Star Tree
Catherine Hyde

Frances Lincoln Childrens Books

ISBN 9781847806727

A lyrical, evocative story about a girl's night time journey to a snowy land where the Star Tree grows.... It begins at midnight, when Mia climbs onto her beautiful rocking horse and wishes on the Midsummer Moon. An owl comes to the window and she climbs onto its back and is taken on a journey; 'Climb onto my back, Fly away with me, Over the hills and Down to the sea....' Mia journeys with a Little Red Hare, the Big White Bear and the Giant Stag up into the hills to discover the Star Tree, where she plucks 'one small star from the gleaming tree', and is taken home by the Great White Goose. As she sleeps, her night light glows... The journey is in itself powerfully imagined and will draw in children, especially with the dreamlike imagery, and there is lots to discuss and explore in her journey, and whether is was real or a dream. Perhaps children could map out her journey, and discuss the light that Mia brings home from the Star Tree; is it magical, what will she do with it? Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Louise May.

The Star Tree
Midnight at the Zoo
Faye Hanson

Templar Publishing

ISBN 9781783703289

The story of Midnight at the Zoo begins as the young reader opens the book to be confronted with lovely end papers that show a map of a zoo. The map is beautifully illustrated and shows where each of the animals of the zoo reside. Max and Mia are going to the zoo with their class and they are very excited about this. We travel with them on their initial journey to reach the school bus and this is described through similes comparing their journey to the animals that they are hoping to see. So they 'Trundle like elephants', 'nibble like lemurs' and 'hide at the back like scaredy meerkats'. In the zoo the quirky, cartoon like illustrations show the class eagerly looking for the animals but with no success. The animals are all hiding and, although the children can't see them, we the readers can, which makes this book fun. At the end of the day the class leave disappointed all except Max and Mia who are accidently left behind. As the zoo closes, with the help of an animal guide, the pair get to see all the animals and enjoy themselves immensely. Finally they fall asleep with a small pride of lions and are found the next day. This is an amusing fantasy story which many KS1 pupils will enjoy reading. The language throughout is poetic and utilizes of both similes and alliteration effectively. Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Fiona Collins, consultant.

Midnight at the Zoo
The Building Boy
Ross Montgomery

Faber & Faber

ISBN 9780571314102

A small boy enjoys spending time with his grandma, reading books and looking at photographs together. Grandma had been an architect, building the tallest skyscrapers, beautiful palaces, museums and libraries. She promises that she will build a house for the boy, a house that would sit on the hill that lay on the horizon, over the city and beyond the sea, and that they will move there soon. But Grandma was getting old, and one day she was gone. However the boy has an idea and sets to work, making a giant, robotic, version of Grandma. And she takes the boy on a journey, to the house on the hill above the city beyond the sea, which she has built for him. And even though it is unfinished, he knows just what to do... A lyrical text, accompanied by pictures with a touch of the surreal which invite exploration, explores bereavement, hope and the resilience of the human spirit in a moving, multi-layered book. On another level, this is an entertaining tale of a boy building a robot and their travels which is perfect to share with young children. A book to provoke discussion and building projects in equal measure! Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Jayne Gould, librarian.

The Building Boy
It Starts With A Seed
Laura Knowles

words & pictures

ISBN 9781910277171

It starts with a seed is simple information book which outlines the life cycle of a sycamore tree. It begins with a clear illustration of the distinctive helicopter seeds. These are a pair of wings which spin like helicopter blades as they float down from the tree. The Jennie Webber illustrations follow the seed through the book as it germinates in the soil, develops into a seedling then finally, over many years, grows into a mature tree which is the habitat for variety of creatures. The cycle continues through to autumn and the seeds are once again ready to be taken by the wind and spin away to make new trees. The text is poetic and takes the young reader thoughtfully through the tree's life cycle. The book is an ideal starting point for exploring trees with a Key stage 1 class. Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Fiona Collins, consultant.

It Starts With A Seed
Elliot's Arctic Surprise
Catherine Barr

Frances Lincoln Childrens Books

ISBN 9781847806697

Elliot is on holiday by the sea, when he discovers a message in a bottle - and so begins a new, environmental adventure that sees Elliot along with hundreds of other children converging on an oil rig in the Arctic, begging the workers to stop digging for oil; without the North Pole and its ice, how will Christmas come to all the children around the world? The blues and greys of the icy Arctic landscape, with the shock of the black rigg at the centre of these spreads, is a very visual way of describing the damage that is being done to our environment as we continue to extract oil and gas from the Earth. Bringing Father Christmas into the story will, for children, really bring home the impact of the changing climate on us all and the story is a nice mix of fact and fiction. It could lead on to a wide-ranging discussion about climate change and what its effects will be, and children could be encouraged to talk about how we can all help to make a difference in our everyday lives. The book is supported by Greenpeace and there is a comment from its executive director on the back pages. Picture book / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by ReadingZone.

Elliot's Arctic Surprise
Motor Miles
John Burningham

Jonathan Cape Ltd

ISBN 9780857551740

Miles is a dog. A difficult dog. A dog who doesn't like anything....apart from a trip in the car to the local cafe. His owner, Alice, decides she can no longer drive Miles around. Thankfully her neighbour, Mr Huddy, comes to the rescue by building Miles his very own car. With his human friend Norman beside him, Miles learns to drive and goes on many adventures. I would have liked to have read more about the adventures that Miles and Norman went on in secret before the book comes to a close with a lovely link to a potential sequel. When reading 'Motor Miles', you can't help but like the character of Miles and his relationship with Norman. It may strike a cord with children who have their own dogs and may even ignite their imagination of what adventures they would go on if their dog could drive. It would be quite easy to make some mathematical links to direction whilst reading the books, particularly when Miles is learning to drive his car. Overall, a beautifully illustrated, feel good story that I felt was only missing a little more content. Picture book / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Kyle Matravers, teacher.

Motor Miles
Isadora Moon Goes to School
Harriet Muncaster

Oxford University Press

ISBN 9780192744319

Isadora is not your average fairy because, while her mum is a fairy, her dad is a vampire! For Isadora, this means she sits between two very different worlds and when she tries out fairy school and vampire school, Isadora starts to discover just how far apart these two worlds are. She loves black, not pink, but flies like a fairy rather than a speedy vampire; her fairy spells are a disaster but she hates the tomatoes that vampire children eat. Each of the pages is gorgeously illustrated (in pink and black!) and the expressive drawings help bring Isadora's dilema to life. Eventually, though, Isadora comes to realise that being different isn't such a bad thing, and she discovers her own solution to the problem of school. A fun and beautifully presented story; I look forward to finding out what Isadora does next! 125 pages / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Claire Green.

Isadora Moon Goes to School
Daisy and the Trouble with Vampires
Kes Gray

Red Fox

ISBN 9781782956082

Daisy is not sure whether to look forward to Halloween or not. Her mum refuses to celebrate the event and Jack Beechwhistle is filling her head with allsorts of scary stories about werewolves, ghosts and vampires. When Daisy's neighbour volunteers to take her 'trick or treating' there are plenty of surprises in store and just how many of Jack's stories are true? Fans of Daisy will enjoy this new story with it's familiar format of lively illustrations and text. Enjoyable and entertaining for confident young readers. 320 pages / Ages 6+ / Reviewed by Dorne Fraser, librarian.

Daisy and the Trouble with Vampires
Knight in Training: Spots, Stripes and Zigzags: Book 4
David Melling

Hodder Children's Books

ISBN 9781444922325

The fourth Knight in Training book, Spots, Stripes and Zigzags, continues Sam J Butterbiggins's journey to become a knight. Sam has already, in previous books, found his knightly steed, a sword and his companion - his cousin Prunella - but in this story he has to win his shield. Only to do so, there is a monster to face.... Each of these books is beautifully illustrated by David Melling with black and white drawings and the pages are well laid out to entice both reluctant readers and those gaining in confidence with chapter books. While the focus of the books is Sam and Prunella, other characters like his uncle Archibald, are engaging and help to flesh out the story, and there is lots of humour. It is, though, the idea of a knight in training that will grab young readers' imaginations and each of these books delivers an enticing adventure as Sam's quest progresses. 122 pages / Ages 6+ / Reviewed by Alice Young.

Knight in Training: Spots, Stripes and Zigzags: Book 4