NEW TITLES

This month's selection of books for 5+, reviewed by teachers and librarians, includes some stylish picture books for older children, but there is also a brilliant range of fiction for children developing confidence as readers, or for teachers looking for some great books to read aloud to their class.

I Don't Know What to Call My Cat
Simon Philip

Simon & Schuster Childrens Books

ISBN 9781471124136

This picture book takes a dilema children often face - the best name for a new pet - and takes it into very different directions. The pet in question is a very clever kitty who arrives on a young girl's doorstep one day, looking hungry, and she takes it in, delighted to have a new pet. There's just one question - what to call it. The cat happily tries out 'Princess High and Mighty' - only she turns out to be a 'he' - as well as Rambo, Butch and Mr Maestro but then disappears in a huff when the little girl gets it wrong. Luckily, she makes a new friend, Steve (a gorilla) - but the clever little cat has other ideas... This is a lovely story to read aloud with plenty of clever twists and humour, and starring a cat with bags of attitude (we know who is really in charge in this household!). Children can be encouraged to share their own stories about their pets and names they have chosen for them, and also to discuss what makes their pet special. Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Jane Allen.

I Don't Know What to Call My Cat
How to Find Gold
Viviane Schwarz

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406371642

Anna and Crocodile set out to find gold. Crocodile warns Anna it will be difficult and dangerous but Anna hears nothing that will stop her from having an adventure. A lovely, imaginative picture book for slightly older children, with lots of action and plenty of humour in both text and illustrations. Anna and Crocodile are warm and likeable chartacters who enjoy each others company and ther is as much fun in plotting the adventure as in the adventure itself. I look forward to more adventures for Anna and Crocodile. Picture book / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Dorne Fraser, librarian.

How to Find Gold
Three Little Monkeys: Book & CD
Quentin Blake

HarperCollins

ISBN 9780008164478

Hilda Stubbs has three rather unconventional pets - monkeys! This is the story of Hilda and her three rather naughty little monkeys called Tim, Sam and Lulu. Unfortunately for Hilda Stubbs, her monkeys cannot seem to stay out of trouble! Every day she leaves the house and her three little monkeys become rather bored. When she comes back, each room has been turned upside down, and her three little monkeys do not saying anything at all! Her best hat, her soup, her favourite shampoo are all ruined! Until one day her poor mother is sick and Hilda has to visit, things change for Hilda and her three monkeys - she loses the three monkeys! She becomes so upset she cries and cries until there are puddles. She goes to fetch a new towel to tidy up and there in the cupboard she finds three very cheeky, little monkeys! The illustrations by Emma Chichester Clark are beautiful and make the book come alive, especially the colour change to match Hilda Stubbs' emotions. For younger children, the book is aesthetically pleasing and humorous. The repetition in the book will allow younger children to join in. I would recommend this book for KS1. 30 pages/ Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Lauren Maidman, teacher.

Three Little Monkeys: Book & CD
There's a Snake in My School!
David Walliams

HarperCollins

ISBN 9780008172701

It was bring-your-pet-to-school-day, and Miranda had a pet with a difference ' a giant snake! Her classmates were terrified of Penelope the python, and their pets were terrified too. However, they soon came to realise that Penelope was great fun. She loved playing with children and could transform into a climbing frame, a slide and even a fireman&'s pole. Miss Bloat, the headmistress, had a terrible shock at the sight of Penelope. She shouted at Miranda for bringing a snake to school and then confiscated ALL the children's pets. She stuffed Penelope into a bin, and squeezed the other pets into a cupboard. When Miranda knocked on Miss Bloat's door to ask for Penelope back, she got quite a surprise. Miranda and Penelope rescued all the pets, but things were never quite the same for Miss Bloat. This book is a celebration of being different. Miranda is fun and brave, and she really doesn't care what people think. Walliams's mischievous humour shines through and the story is brought to life by Tony Ross's lively and characterful illustration style. The drawings of the snake are especially beautiful, and really capture the imagination - illustrating how great it would be to have a pet like Penelope. A creative use of typography adds to the visual charm of the book. The mildly dark sense of humour lends this picture book to a slightly older age group. It would be great to read aloud, and is the perfect length and style for a reception class story time. It would also be fun to share at bedtime with plenty to spot and discuss in the illustrations. Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Emily Fellah

There's a Snake in My School!
Able Seacat Simon: The True Story of a Very Special Cat
Lynne Barrett-Lee

Simon & Schuster Childrens Books

ISBN 9781471158919

When an orphaned kitten is found hiding on the docks in Hong Kong, he is smuggled aboard HMS Amethyst to become the ship's cat, with the very important job of being chief rat-catcher. Based on real events, this is the story of what happened to the ship and its crew while on a peace keeping mission during the Chinese Civil War, as told from Simon's perspective. A heartwarming tale of courage and companionship, highlighting the bravery of the men and animals of the British Navy, without ever feeling like a history lesson. The glossary at the end provides explanations of all the Naval terminology used throughout the story. 272 pages / Ages 7+ / Reviewed by Nicki Cleveland.

Able Seacat Simon: The True Story of a Very Special Cat
The Fox and the Ghost King
Michael Morpurgo

HarperCollins

ISBN 9780008215774

The foxes love football, and foxes in every part of the country support The Foxes; Leicester City Football Club. Win or lose, they love them, and all the food scraps left behind by the human fans. When returning home from another defeat, across a car park that is being excavated, Dad and son fox hear a voice, a noble voice, that seems to be coming from underground. The voice makes them a promise, if they will dig a tunnel to him, so that he can be found by the archaeologists, he will make their dream come true! With facts any football fan (especially Leicester City fans) will enjoy, and historical links to King Richard III and William Shakespeare, this is a lovely story of trust and believing that dreams can come true. The newspaper excerpts and further information provided as background to the historical aspects of the story are a real bonus. Michael Foreman's illustrations are beautiful, as always. An utterly charming modern fairytale. Great for fans of Michael Morpurgo, football and foxes. 144 pages / Ages 7+ / Reviewed by Miss Cleveland.

The Fox and the Ghost King
Me and Mister P
Maria Farrer

Oxford University Press

ISBN 9780192744210

Arthur Mallows desperately wants an ordinary day, with an ordinary family and most especially he wants an ordinary brother. But the meltdowns, the unusually behaviour and the constant pressure of a brother who is different is all getting too much for Arthur. That is until a rather unexpected guest turns up on the doorstep of number 29 Ellis Street in the form of a polar bear! From the moment Mister P arrives, he and Arthur are best friends and the other problems in Arthur's life seem a little more manageable. A polar bear hidden in your bedroom never says hidden for long and soon mum and dad find out. However, Arthur miraculously convinces mum and dad that Mister P is tame enough to stay and they make room for him in the garage. Brilliant plan! It would be, if only Mister P wasn't afraid of spiders. Who knew polar bears were afraid of creepy crawlies? It doesn't take Mister P long to make himself at home and Arthur begins to feel more comfortable with a polar bear for company than his own family. What do you do when you have a polar bear living with you? You take him to school of course. Arthur finds out that a school that welcomes diversity is very amicable towards a polar bear. He also discovers that he is instinctively able to help his teacher and friends adjust to their new classmate because of the things he has learnt through having a brother who is different. You need to learn to be flexibility, help them feel safe and avoid load noises at all costs! It turns out that taking a polar bear to school is a huge success and even Mister P enjoys himself. Arthur loves having a polar bear around and Mister P is even helping Arthur to accept and understand the needs of his brother. Together they take on the class bully during the football tournament and even enter a competition to win tickets to the cup final, two things Arthur never thought he would be able to do with his brother by his side. Hooray for Mister P! This is a beautifully written story about brotherly love. It's well balanced, containing both humour and some very thought provoking and moving moments. A great read for anyone who enjoys a family drama, an animal adventure or has a love of football. Also highly recommended to young carers or siblings struggling to coping with the responsibility of supporting a family member with additional needs. I'd award it a gold star and a tin of sardines! 224 pages / Ages 7+ / Reviewed by Emily Beale, school librarian.

Me and Mister P
Lyttle Lies: The Pudding Problem
Joe Berger

Simon & Schuster Childrens Books

ISBN 9781471146244

I was not sure whether I was going to enjoy this book as I find that there are so many 'we're like diary of a wimpy kid' type books out there that they all seem to blend into one. The other problem with some of those types of books is the amorality within them, where the lead character seems to be justified in behaviour I would not like in my own children, because they are 'goofy/funny/nerdy'. Perhaps I am just a tad old fashioned?! I was pleased to find that this book exceeded my expectations. The illustrations for the book are engaging and funny. I particularly like the cat with it's huge eyes. The story was funny but not too knowing. Some of the 'cartoony' books aimed at children have a word count that younger children can read but a sense of humour or references that go over their heads. This story was clear and well told, although it took me a moment to realise who his imaginary alter ego was. I think the story would appeal to those aged seven years upwards and equally to boys and girls. It would make an interesting basis for work in PHSE on lies and truth, even if his story turns out not to be true in the end. It also deals with the issue of bullying as he has to 'look him in the eye' and stand up to Feeny. You could also do some nice creative writing around what you might ask someone to do if you hypotised them! Both of my children (7 and 10) enjoyed the story although the 7 year old did ask what 'iffy bladder control' was! I predict it will be a popular addition to the KS2 library for those who want a funny, diverting story but still like a good number of illustrations to guide them through the text. 240 pages / Ages 7/8+ / Reviewed by Alison Urquhart, school librarian.

Lyttle Lies: The Pudding Problem
A Jar of Pickles and a Pinch of Justice
Chitra Soundar

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406364675

The sequel to the wonderful 'A Dollop of Ghee and a Pot of Wisdom' where we again join Prince Veera and his best friend, Suku, as they work together to solve the problems of their small kingdom in India exerting both fairness and justice. This fabulous book, based on traditional Indian folk tales, is full of wit and wisdom mixed together with the best Indian spice. Veera and Suku's tales are told in eight short stories, where they listen to the problems of the people and work out the riddles of their petty disagreements. In 'All's Well' the boys must deal with the unique problem of the sale of a well between neighbours. The well has been purchased but the contract does not include the water in the well! In the story of the 'Mango Pickles' it appears that a serious crime has taken place and Veera and Suku attempt to settle the mystery of how jewels have turned into pickled mangoes. In each tale the boys draw upon their knowledge, experience and differing backgrounds to help them come to an amicable and fair resolution. Prince Veera and Suku are enjoying their summer holding court for the people of the kingdom until King Bheema returns home with a rather unwelcome guest, Veer's uncle Raja Apoorva, infamous for handing out harsh punishments. The boys now have a new challenge to face, that of diplomacy. The Raja disapproves of the boys' friendship and their court, and tries his best both to outwit and humiliate them. Undeterred, Veera and Suku help solve the problem of the number of crows in the capital and come to the aid of poor man seeking employment in the royal palace, all under the judgemental eyes of Raja Apoorva. As the summer court continues, Veera and Suku find justice for the palace guard who demands a bribe for letting people into the court and help a man whose bout of sneezing could bring about war! Suku' Aunt Chandra is the next worthy recipient of the court's justice when her braying donkey lands her in trouble with her neighbour. The final tale in this collection involves washing elephants to save the reputation of King Bheema. and Veera and Suku again prove that an ounce of 'Soloman's Wisdom' will help them in any situation. This is a wonderful book of very clever problem solving stories, perfect for newly confident independent readers. It would be a valuable addition to any library but in particular this book would be useful to primary schools wishing to add to their collection of books that foster philosophy and thinking skills. 96 pags / Ages 7+ / Reviewed by Emily Beale, school librarian.

A Jar of Pickles and a Pinch of Justice
Spangles McNasty and the Fish of Gold
Steve Webb

Andersen Press Ltd

ISBN 9781783444007

Spangles McNasty has a heart as cold as a box of frozen fish fingers and with a love of shiny spangly things, he's bound to cause trouble in Bitterly Bay. Spangles McNasty refers to himself as a collector, a collector of things that do not belong to him and in this bonkers, fast-paced adventure, he is on a mission to appropriate the town's gold fish to melt into gold! With his best friend Sausage-Face Pete, who is as nutty as a custard sandwich, Spangles plans and carries out a dastardly goldfish heist. Armed with fake beards and a bathtub strapped to the handle bars of their tandem bike, what could possible go wrong?When their fishy thievery plans include the town's new tourist attraction the 'Fish of Gold', the residents of Bittery Bay take action. Local boy Freddie Taylor, who just wants a pet goldfish of his own, candy floss stall owner Wendy Mckenzie, and fortune teller Horatio Spectacles, band together and set off in hot pursuit of Spangles and Sausage on a daring goldfish rescue. The adventure almost ends with a picnic of goldfish and chips but luckily Wendy has brought her portable candy floss machine and isn't afraid to use it! Fortunately for Spangles and Sausage, 'He who runs off and don't get caught, lives to collect another day'! A completely crazy adventure for newly independent readers that will leave then wondering what crazy plan Spangles McNasty might possibly come up with next? 176 pages / Ages 7+ / Reviewed by Emily Beale, school librarian.

Spangles McNasty and the Fish of Gold
Wed Wabbit
Lissa Evans

David Fickling Books

ISBN 9781910989432

After an accident involving her younger sister, Minerva (known as Minnie), Iphigenia (also known as Fidge) finds herself plunged into the land of the Wimbley Woos accompanied by her annoying cousin, Graham, Dr Carrot (a human-sized plastic carrot mounted on small orange wheels) and Eleanor, a purple cloth elephant in a pink skirt. A dangerous dictator - Wed Wabbit - has taken over the land and is draining it of all colour and hope. Fidge must solve a series of almost impossible clues to make her way home and put everything right again. Will she be able to work things out in time? This is a story about the importance of family and friendship. Although Minnie only features in a small part of the book, it is her favourite book - The Land of the Wimbley Woos - and her favourite toys - Eleanor Elephant and Wed Wabbit - which are at the heart of the story. Her love for and understanding of her little sister makes Fidge able to achieve her quest and solve the problems facing the Wimbley Woos. In the process, she learns more about the importance of understanding others and playing to people's strengths. Lissa Evans is a great story teller and the book is very funny as well as reminding us of the importance of celebrating and valuing the differences which make us all special and unique. Full of humour, Wed Wabbit would also make a wonderful read aloud story for enjoying and sharing. 250 pages / Ages 7+ / Reviewed by Sue Wilsher, teacher.

Wed Wabbit
The Snow Cat
Holly Webb

Stripes Publishing

ISBN 9781847156631

This is a beautifully presented hardback , just perfect for winter reading with its snowy scene and silver lettering. It tells the story of 9 year old Bel whose grandmother has just moved into some sheltered accommodation which has been converted from an old Victorian mansion with extensive gardens. Bel is feeling a little sad and unsettled about Gran moving out of her old house and we get the feeling that Gran, too, is trying hard to adjust to her new home. They come across some old photographs reproduced in the accommodation brochure, including one of a sad faced girl in old fashioned dress, holding a big white cat, and also a brief history of the house. During a stay with her Gran while her parents go away before Christmas, Bel encounters a strange white cat in the gardens and is led into a delicious time shift adventure in which she meets the girl in the photo and finds out why she looks sad. This is a great read for girls Y3/4 and possibly older who love animal stories with added mystery. It is strongly redolent of Philippa Pearce's Tom's Midnight Garden and would be a perfect 'gateway' story to this classic. Excellent for reading aloud and for stimulating creative writing. 160 pages / Ages 7+ / Reviewed by Rosaleen Palmer, school librarian.

The Snow Cat