NEW TITLES

Merry Christmas, Blue Kangaroo!
Emma Chichester Clark

HarperCollins

ISBN 9780007197149

Lily and Blue Kangaroo are one of our favourites so the children were thrilled to discover there is a Blue Kangaroo book just for Christmas! Emma Chichester Clark is so good at finding just the right tone for these stories, and at recognising so many of the issues young children need to learn about. Often in these stories Lily has things to learn but this picture book is about Lily sharing the joy of Christmas - which is what it is all about - with her very best friend, Blue Kangaroo. In doing so, she reminds us, too, of all the excitement of putting up the Christmas tree, making cards and wrapping presents. It's all for you, Blue Kangaroo, she tells her toy again and again - but Blue Kangaroo desperately wants to give Lily something special back. Luckily, Father Christmas is able to help out. This is a lovely story for sharing with children as you embark on the pre-Christmas activities, and a beautiful reminder of how Christmas is about sharing special things with our friends. Perhaps children could be encouraged to talk about the things they will be sharing and helping with this Christmas. Picture book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Helen Knight.

Merry Christmas, Blue Kangaroo!
The Queen's Present
Steve Antony

Hodder Children's Books

ISBN 9781444925630

The Queen&'s Present is the latest in a series of books by Steve Antony in which Queen has various adventures around her homes and the UK. Remember the Queen's Hat, in which the Queen chased her at across London, or The Queen's Handbag, which saw the queen travelling across Britain's landmarks on a wild chase? In The Queen's Present, it's the world she's travelling across, this time in the company of the only person who could do this trip in the blink of an eye - Father Christmas. The Queen is looking for the perfect present for her grandchildren, but despite visiting some of the world's marvels - including the Leaning Tower of Pisa and the Eiffel Tower, and even Father Christmas's home in the North Pole, she still can't find the perfect present, although Santa turns out to have just the right idea! A lovely book for sharing in the run-up to Christmas, and a great journey to follow on a globe. Picture book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Alice Green.

The Queen's Present
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. What a wonderful, funny, story-led way to introduce or reinforce their phonics learning! In this book, bossy cat makes a return and steadfastly stnads by 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 also 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!
A Visit to City Farm
Verna Wilkins

Firetree books

ISBN 9781911402077

Publisher and author Verna Wilkins worked alongside children at Chalkhill Primary School in Brent, London, to help the Year 5 children create this special picture book about their class visit to City Farm. We join the children on their journey, from the excitement of getting ready and their journy Underground, to their arrival at City Farm and finding out about the animals they see. There are a number of facts to support the story and also short poems provided by the children. The text is beautifully illustrated by Karin Littlewood; her images also reinforce the idea of diversity, without labouring it; we later find out that 85% of the children at this school have English as a second language. This story provides a wonderful 'template' for any other classes embarking on a school visit who might want to write up what they did and saw, and to create their own images for their story to make it into a picture book. I loved the sense of excitement you get from this story and the small details - like the children's reaction to the galloping horses - that show it is a personal story as well as one we can all enjoy. Any child aged 4+ who has gone on a school trip would enjoy this story; and it's a must share for those classes about to embark on a school visit! 32 pages / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Alice Green.

A Visit to City Farm
Danny McGee Drinks the Sea
Andy Stanton

Hodder Children's Books

ISBN 9781444928761

Andy Stanton has written an interesting and engaging story about Danny McGee's adventure eating the world around him. The story is written in attractive rhyming couplets which help create a fun and responding rhythm to the story. This kind of story is really fun to read with younger children as they predict the final word of the line. Danny McGee created lots of giggles along the way and Neal Layton's excellent illustrations create a very exciting visual. I especially liked the way he combined real life photos with drawn illustrations. I enjoyed reading this story up until the end, which I did find rather abrupt and silly! This book was a sweet bedtime read, and got a lot of predictive response from my son, but I'm not sure this is one we'd pick up lots in the future.

Danny McGee Drinks the Sea
Snail Mail: With Pull-Out Postcards
Sharon King-Chai

Hodder Children's Books

ISBN 9781444922547

As a teacher you once in awhile find a little diamond of a book that you think, 'I must find a way of using this text in my teaching', and Snail Mail is such a book. For starters, I just loved this books itself. Cute story, fab illustrations and the pull out postcards were a really engaging and exciting touch. But the potential learning opportunities that this book offers are endless. I think the geographical skills that are focused on are brilliant. This books creates a fantastic way of learning about all different countries around the world. I would envisage having a world map on display alongside this book and as I read each page, pinning the destaination on the map. If you are doing an 'under the sea' topic, Snail mail would be a great text to look at lots of different creatures and give lots of different research stimuli. I loved all the little clues on the sides of the envelop before each postcard was opened. I can see lots of use for this text with Years 3 & 4 children. Researching different countries, writing their own versions of the story. Perhaps writing a version of the story from Sam's adventures, including lots of new countries. I have already presented this text to my team in KS1 and we will be discussing how to use this text in future topics. Highly recommend, a must read and treasure to have on your bookcase!

Snail Mail: With Pull-Out Postcards
Paws McDraw: Fastest Doodler in the West
Connah Brecon

Little Tiger Press

ISBN 9781848692749

Introducing Paws McDraw, the fastest doodler in the west! He can doodle his way out of any danger. He always saves the day. When the bunnies get into trouble - which it seems they do a lot - they turn to Paws McDraw for help. After his heroic rescue of Little Timmy, who had fallen down a well, the bunnies throw a crazy cupcake carnival in Paws's honour. And what an extravaganza of icing and sprinkles it was. Everyone is having a rootin'-tootin' time until the Rascally Racoon Gang burst onto the scene. Sending bunnies running and stealing cupcakes, those lean-mean cupcake rustlers terrorised the town. Somebody had to stop those racoons and Paws was just the doodler for the job! Paws was quick on the draw, but no matter what he doodled or how much he sharpened his lead, the racoons were always out smarting him. But with the help of the bunnies, Paws has a marvellous idea - a marvellously magical idea! The vibrant and action-packed illustrations in this book are a real hoot and hugely appealing. Adding to the humour is the use of speech bubbles for the bunnies and the cowboy-style language used throughout. This would make a great read aloud, children will certainly be rooting for Paws. The plot of the story also follows that of a 'defeating the monster' story. Children could create different outlaws for Paws to defeat, and plan cunning ways for the hero to be victorious. Paws also gives you the perfect excuse to indulge in a bit of cupcake baking and decorating because it turns out that cupcakes (with sprinkles on top) can help a hero save the day - again! Three cheers for the mighty Paws McDraw! Picture Book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Torie Walton, teacher

Paws McDraw: Fastest Doodler in the West
Pandora
Victoria Turnbull

Frances Lincoln Childrens Books

ISBN 9781847807496

This is not just a book to entertain; it's so much more. There is so much to provoke good healthy dialogue with little ones about resourcefulness and care of the environment. It's beautifully illustrated using a limited palette of muted colours. Victoria makes the most of the double page to depict the vastness of Pandora's broken world. She doesn't 'fill up' the pages - she also uses space and blankness to great effect. Pandora is industrious and creative; her work and fortitude influence the small area she's made her home but it takes a miracle to change the whole world. One day a little bird falls from the sky, Pandora takes care of it and her loneliness is dispelled as she finds joy and companionship with the bird. However, one day the bird doesn't return and Pandora is thrown into despair; she's bereft. On the left hand side of the double page Victoria shows Pandora in her bed 'she thought her heart would break' - but tucked down in the bottom right hand corner of the facing page is the little box containing the twigs and seeds the bird had brought back as gifts. Then using four rectangular panels we see Pandora unable to face the world but, in the little box there is life, things are growing. I found this sequence very moving. Very few words are needed as the illustrations say it all. This is a special book; not only a message of hope and regeneration but also a pleasure to look at. On the opening page the world of broken things offers the opportunity to develop observation skills as you recognise and hunt for objects. Even the cover is amazing, contrasting broken with whole, dead and useless with life and beauty. This is a positive book that underlines the fact that even when life is hard and difficult, there is hope and change can come from the smallest things. A useful resource for Primary schools. Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Sue Gillham, librarian.

Pandora