NEW TITLES

The following selection includes some remarkable picture books aimed at slightly older children, as well as fiction for newly confident readers - and we're celebrating some wonderful non fiction titles during National Non-Fiction Month.

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! Picture book / Reviewed by: Marie Berry, teacher.

Snail Mail: With Pull-Out Postcards
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
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!
Monsters' Nonsense: The Green Gobbler: Practice Phonics with non-words
Peter Bently

QED Publishing

ISBN 9781784935924

What a lovely idea to include non -sense words within a story. I read Green Gobbler to the class who have only been in school for 3 months and it was interesting to see who could hear the phonemes and blend them in their heads in order to say the word. At this stage of the year they are developing those skills and so I was pleased to see that some manged it. It did break up the story line a bit to stop and sound out so in the end I picked and mixed the opportunities for them to listen to and sound out the word. I'm not sure if the illustrations were clear enough to be seen for a large group on the carpet, so this is definitely for smaller groups and would be fine for cuddling up at bedtime. I would definitely use these books in a 1 to 1 session to help cue in a child who was struggling to sound out and blend words. The storylines are great and quite funny so may help tune a child into stories. Also good for predicting endings and talking about how the characters felt. Also I think a strength of these books is the glossary and explanations for mums and dads. Unless you have had a phonic session in school you may not know what a nonsense word is and why your child would be expected to read them!! Really helpful for those Year 1 parents who are aware of the phonic screening that takes place. These would also make great independent readers for year 2 and 3 children. So they cover a good age range. I lent the book to the year 1 teacher to see what the children thought. They loved the storylines but got very hung up on what the words actually meant. In the end she let them attribute meaning to the words and then they were happy!! 24 pages / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Lynnette Voisey, teacher.

Monsters' Nonsense: The Green Gobbler: Practice Phonics with non-words
Penguin Problems
Jory John

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406375992

The Penguin Problem gave us a hearty chuckle - starring a little penguin who doesn't like snow, being hungry, being hunted(!) or when the sea is 'too salty'. He also has problems finding his parents among the multitude of penguins who all look just the same, and he looks silly when he waddles. It's tough, he says, being a penguin. Then a walrus comes along and gives the little penguin a handy life-lesson about looking at the bright side of life - the blue of the skies, the gorgeous mountains and the love of his penguin family. And it works - for a bit, before Penguin gets too cold again.... A beautifully-illustrated and quietly sophisticated story that plays on the utter focus of young children on themselves and their needs while also giving us a gentle lesson about community and exploring the positives that life can offer, with much humour along the way. Picture book / Ages 5/6+ / Reviewed by Helen Watts.

Penguin Problems
The Christmas Eve Tree
Delia Huddy

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406365955

The Christmas Eve Tree is a beautiful book to share at this time of year, exploring as it does what Christmas really means - especially for those who have nothing, not even a home, of their own. In this story, which echoes The Little Fir Tree, a small, slightly scruffy and twisted fir tree is taken from the forest to the town to be sold as a Christmas tree. No one wants it until, late on Christmas Eve, a boy asks to have it for free. He plants the tree in a box, and takes it to his home, a cardboard box under the arches of a railway bridge. As busy commuters rush homewards, he spends what little money he has on some candles for the tree and, as other homeless people gather around, they started to sing carols. Others join in and the traffic is brought to a halt. 'The magic of Christmas Eve was everywhere'. When the boy moves on, leaving the tree behind, it is planted in a park where it continued to grow, straighter now, and to give happiness to the children and families who come to play around it. The story doesn't resolve the issue of the homeless boy as its focus is very much the tree itself and, through its growth and service, we are reminded of what Christmas is all about. The story can be compared with other retellings of The Little Fir Tree and can also be used with KS2 children to discuss wider issues like homelessness and how we can help others at Christmas. Above all, The Christmas Eve Tree is a gorgeous reminder of the magical time of Christmas Eve, beautifully depicted in illustrations by Emily Sutton. Picture book (40 pages) / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Anna White

The Christmas Eve Tree
The Star Tree
Catherine Hyde

Frances Lincoln Childrens Books

ISBN 9781847806727

In many ways The Star Tree is a dreamy book. The story follows Mia who dreams of flying away, which she does. Her night time adventures see her flying on a horse and an owl through the night sky, then sailing on a boat with a red hare and flying in a balloon with a white bear. The delightful chalk-like illustrations add to dreamlike quality of the narrative. The reader follows Mia to pick a star from the star tree and then finally back into her bed. The text is poetic and rhythmic in nature and will read aloud well during a book sharing time for a Key Stage 1 class. Picture book / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Fiona Collins, consultant.

The Star Tree
Raven Child and the Snow-Witch
Linda Sunderland

Templar Publishing

ISBN 9781783704194

Raven Child and the Snow Witch is a sparklng, wintery-themed story about love that is aimed at slightly older children aged 5/6+. The wintery wastes and brooding danger of the early pages takes us straight to the land of the Snow Witch. Anya is the Raven Child of the title -Raven has grown up with nature, she wears a dress of feathers and can speak with ravens. When Anya's mother fails to return from a trip to the mountain to collect the glowing gentian flowers, Anya knows something is wrong and she and her father set off to find her. Anya calls on the wild animals to help trace her missing mother who has been snatched by the Snow Witch, along with with many village children. But it is Raven's love for her mother that helps save her family, and the children that the Snow Witch has also kidnapped. This picture book is a visual treat for the winter month; a swirling, glittery cover opens to reveal stunning landscapes in this land of winter while the slightly anime characters help keep it from feeling too threatening. It is an exciting, satisfying story that can be compared with versions of The Snow Queen as well as folk tales about the powerful raven. Children could also be encouraged to create their own hero or heroine with special powers gifted by an animal. A perfect winter's tale that would also read well aloud. 48 pages / Ages 5/6+ / Reviewed by Alice Hall

Raven Child and the Snow-Witch

ISBN 9781444926491

The irrepressible little dog Claude has a lot of young fans. In this Christmassy adventure Claude, togehter with his very good friend Sir Bobblysock surprise Santa when he pays his visit. Unfortunately, mistaking him for a burglar, they handcuff Santa to the furniture, leaving Claude and Sir Bobblysock in charge of delivering all the presents. As you can imagine, that doesn't go well, but there is help in the end. These books are beautifully presented and this Christmas version is the icing on the cake with silvery and red covers and festive red, black and white pages. The short sections of text together with a high degree of illustration, fast pacing and bags of humour make these ideal to help build children's stamina and confidence as readers. This is also a beautiful, seasonal gift. 93 pages / Ages 6+ / Reviewed by Alice Green.

A Child of Books
Oliver Jeffers

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406358315

'I am a child of books, I come from a world of stories.' Exquisite, unique and inspirational, A Child of Books is a true celebration of children's literature, the power of imagination and that magical moment when you become lost in the world of stories, and everything else falls away. A young girl - a child of books - sails upon her raft, over a sea of words, until she arrives at the house of a young boy. Here, she invites him to come on an adventure with her, into the world of stories, where with only a little imagination, anything at all can happen. This book is simply beautiful. From its very end papers, to the stunning illustrations and poetic use of words, it is perfect. The typographical landscapes within the story are a real treat. Unusual and simple, yet incredibly emotive, they are created with the words from classic children's literature: treasure is found within a cavern created from 'Treasure Island'; the children travel through a woodland with fairy tales held within its branches; and they sleep in clouds amongst the words of lullabies. This is a book to read again and again, a book to share and a book to inspire children to explore the world of stories. A Child of Books is a treasure that belongs on every books shelf, in every classroom and in every library. Picture Book / Ages 7+ / Reviewed by Torie Walton, teacher

A Child of Books
The Invincibles: The Hamster Rescue
Caryl Hart

Nosy Crow Ltd

ISBN 9780857637925

The Invincibles: The Hamster Rescue is the latest instalment in the adventures of Nell and Freddie. The two best friends are always looking for adventure and good times but in this instalment there is an unlikely hero. The day has come for Freddie to celebrate his birthday and like any best friend, Nell wanted it to be amazing.....except she forgets all about it AND nearly starts a riot at the wrong party....some friend eh?! Thankfully though, Hamish the hamster is on the scene to help save the day. Written in the first person, this story very much reminds me of many other diary-esk stories on the market. I recognise some similarities with the Diary of a Whimpy kid books but the use of a strong girl lead will be appealing to the girl target audience. The use of animals is also a clever trick to lure a particular audience into reading the book and maybe even the series. A solid story for children 5-8 and great for those looking to try something longer for themselves. Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Kyle Matravers, teacher.

The Invincibles: The Hamster Rescue
Dixie O'Day on his Bike
Shirley Hughes

Red Fox

ISBN 9781782952336

Dixie and Percy are dogs. Dogs who are best friends. Best friends who love to go on adventures together. In their latest adventure, the friends swap four wheels for two. They may have less wheels to worry about but there's more trouble in store for them with plenty of bumps, bangs and of course crashes. Will the two pooch pals survive whizzing around the world - especially when a new friend enters the frame? This is a lovely book with short chapters and beautiful illustrations that help guide the reader through Dixie and Percy's latest adventure. Children will enjoy trying to read this text as an introduction to longer stories but will equally enjoy listening to a chapter before they are put down to bed. Recommended for children aged 5 - 8 and especially those who love dogs, adventures and fun. Reviewed by: Kyle Matravers, teacher.

Dixie O'Day on his Bike
Would You Rather: Have the Teeth of a T-Rex or the Armour of an Ankylosaurus?
Camilla de le Bedoyere

QED Publishing

ISBN 9781784932008

This book is one of the 'Would you rather...' series and offers children the chance to learn all about dinosaurs. The idea behind the book is children are faced with a series of multiple choice 'would you rather' questions which lead them to learn something about a dinosaur with a particular skill or attribute. The book is very informative and a lot of fun for all children, particularly any with a keen interest in dinosaurs. The answers to the questions are delivered in the form of short paragraphs which would benefit from adults to help read and understand. The illustrations that accompany the book are lovely and certainly help children imagine what the dinosaurs would have been like if they were still around today. Over the course of the book you are introduced to a large number of dinosaurs and none are repeated. I was pleasantly surprised by the number of dinosaurs I had never heard of! One thing that would benefit this book would be if the names of the dinosaurs were spelt phonetically, maybe in brackets, so parents and teachers could be sure of the pronunciation of the names. Overall, an enjoyable and educational book. 24 pages / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Kyle Matravers, teacher.

Would You Rather: Have the Teeth of a T-Rex or the Armour of an Ankylosaurus?