NEW TITLES

Friendship, fitting in, families and the environment are all some of the subjects covered in this month's selection of picture books for children aged 3-7 years, as reviewed by teachers and librarians.

We Are Family
Ryan Wheatcroft

Caterpillar Books Ltd

ISBN 9781848575516

We Are Family is a wonderful book to explore if you're talking about families and encouraging children to share their stories about their families and experiences. This beautifully illustrated picture book follow ten different families as they go about everyday activities and events - from getting ready for school to spending time together in the evening - through one day. The families are diverse - there is a single mother, a family with two fathers, others with either one child or four children - all warmly depicted. As well as the everyday events, the images show more unusual times such as spending time in hospital or facing a flooded home. The warmth of the imagery and the colours remind us that, whatever the situation, these families are supportive and the children, loved. A great addition to the class library! Picture book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Lora Strong.

We Are Family
How to Find Gold
Viviane Schwarz

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406371642

This is the story of Anna, her friend Crocodile, and their search for hidden gold. Searching for gold is difficult and dangerous, Crocodile points out, and they will need to be inscrutable, so no one will know what they are up to, and strong, so they can carry away all the gold. Having assured themselves that they have these skills, they create a map with a cross to show where the treasure is and set sail. Once they have found the gold, they clearly need some place to hide it so that no one else will know about it and they need another map so that they can find it themselves when they want to. Equally clearly, there is only one place to hide a map of such importance. Anna is an adventurous character; the more difficult and dangerous the challenge, the more she likes it. Crocodile, on the other hand, is a thinker and a planner and the dialogue between these two is very funny and engaging. The illustrations are bold and colourful but the text is always clear and easy to read. This would be a fantastic book to share with small children and use as a tool to encourage their own imaginative play. Picture book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by June Hughes, school librarian.

How to Find Gold
Love You Hoo
Rachel Bright

Orchard Books

ISBN 9781408331705

Perfectly described as 'a joyous, call it from the treetops celebration of love, perfect for sharing again and again', Love You Hoo will be a favourite for both those reading the book and those listening to the story. The book is centered around an owl and her baby during their bedtime routine. The story shows how much the mother owl loves her child and how she will help her grow throughout their life. The story will certainly tug on the heartstrings and is great to snuggle down with at bedtime. The story could even be used in school during a circle time/PHSE lesson when thinking about the special people in our lives. Picture book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Kyle Matravers, teacher.

Love You Hoo
The Koala Who Could
Rachel Bright

Orchard Books

ISBN 9781408331644

The Koala who Could is a beautifully written book which children will enjoy for many reasons. As with many successful children's picture books, the author has ensured that the story rhymes so to make the book engaging and memorable. Set in Australia, this book allows children to become accustomed to a new set of animals that they may not be familiar with (Koala Bears, Wombats, Kangaroos, Dingos etc.). The story is based around the main character of Kevin the Koala Bear. Kevin is an animal that likes to keep things the same. Exactly the same. Change is something that he is not bothered by, despite the best efforts of his animal friends. However, one day, the actions of a harmless woodpecker soon provide Kevin with the opportunity to see that change can be a wonderful thing. This book could be enjoyable for both a bedtime story or used during a PHSE lesson in school to introduce children to the concept of changes in our life. Picture book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Kyle Matravers, teacher.

The Koala Who Could
Counting with Tiny Cat
Viviane Schwarz

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406371024

I love the end papers in this picture book that introduce us to the mischievous Tiny Cat who is oozing charm and character. In the story itself, Tiny Cat gives us a glimpse into numbers and counting, and some concepts around 'number' - it's a really clever introduction to 'how many things' there are. Tiny Cat starts with nothing, then on the next page, has one ball of red wool. We count smoothly up to four, before things start to get muddled. After four, Tiny Cat has 'More', then 'Even more' and then 'About a dozen'. Tiny Cat has stopped counting - the perfect opportunity for young children to do the counting themselves. But the story also introduces the concepts of 'many' / 'too many', and finally, 'enough'. There is bags of humour and Tiny Cat is a really appealing character and young readers will immediately grasp his humour - and hopefully be up for helping his counting. Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Susan Hall.

Counting with Tiny Cat
Safe & Sound
Jean Roussen

Flying Eye Books

ISBN 9781911171287

This gentle rhyming text introduces children to the idea that all baby animals - from chickens and birds to lions and bears - need their parents to keep them safe. The gorgeous illustrations by Loris Lora reinforce this message with the images of adult creatures and their and offspring safely side by side in distinct, colourful spreads. All animals, '...whether very, very big or very, very small / ...would not be safe all on their own and need some help until they're grown.' There are occasional threats - the bisson calf threatened by wolves, for example - but most of the images reinforce the sense of a special bond between parent and child, including The final spread of a child in a cosy bed with his parents by his side. Beautifully produced and with a soothing message for young children. Picture book / Ages 2-4 years / Reviewed by Susan Hall.

Safe & Sound
A Perfect Day
Lane Smith

Two Hoots

ISBN 9781509840557

What a simple but entirely clever story from Lane Smith, about a perfect summer day... until. Each spread oozes the sense of summer. Cat is sleeping in the flowerbed, enjoying the sun; Dog is enjoying the cool water in the wading pool; Bird is enjoying some birdseed and Squirrel a corn cob. It was a perfect day - and then bear appears and the emphasis shifts to it WAS a perfect day. Bear eats the squirrel's corn cob and bird's seeds, drinks the dog's paddling water and takes a nap in the flowerbed. Now it's bear's perfect day. The illustrations, especially the entirely happy Bear in the flowerbed and the anxious faces peering out from the window, are wonderfully expressive . Bear is big and hogs the images, just as he does the water, food and flowerbed, but this is no 'playground bully' story, it's just instinct, although the story could well encourage children to talk about when they have felt pushed out from something they've enjoyed. It's also a useful text for learning about present and past tense - what is the difference between 'It was a perfect day for cat' and 'It WAS a perfect day for cat'. But perhaps, having read it, the best thing to do would be just to think about what makes a perfect summer day for you.... Picture book / Ages 3-6 years / Reviewed by Julie Hill.

A Perfect Day
The Everywhere Bear
Julia Donaldson

Macmillan Children's Books

ISBN 9781447280736

I can see lots of children around the country renaming their class bear 'Everywhere Bear' after reading this wonderful story from Julia Donaldson, delivered in her inimitable rhyming text and with lively illustrations from Rebecca Cobb. Everywhere Bear sits on a shelf in Class 1 and each of the children has the chance to take him home for the weekend. 'With Lee Wu he's a pirate, with Kevin a king, And Callum and Clare push him high on the swing...' Everywhere bear has a wonderful time each week - until he falls out of a child's backpack and ends up floating out to sea, picked up by a seagull, dumped in a skip etc - but then ends up safely in the library (spot the 'Save Our Library posters!). I loved the spread of photograph-type images, showing what each of the children does with Everywhere Bear at home, which will encourage young children to think of things to do with their own class bear or toy - perhaps even to create a class rhyme, as Donaldson does, of what their bear or toy does with the children. Donaldson also recaps bear's journey at the end of the picture book, and children can join in with this in thinking back over the story - perhaps 'mapping' his journey as they go. The story could even be used around topics exploring what adults do, as lots of different jobs are mentioned. In all, another gem from Julia Donaldson that has lots of use for the classroom as well as being a thoroughly enjoyable story to share. Picture book / Ages 4-7 years / Reviewed by Louise Mills.

The Everywhere Bear
Mr Tweed's Busy Day
Jim Stoten

Flying Eye Books

ISBN 9781911171225

I enjoyed the quirkiness of this book and I think it has just the right kind of oddness that will appeal to young readers. Mr Tweed is a large dog in a tall hat who lives in a world peopled by animals and humans, with colourful and strange landscapes. Through each spread, Mr Tweed helps his neighbours - finding lost mice in the library, escaped goldfish in the pool or mislaid pineapples in the market place - hence his 'busy day'. The child reader is invited to help locate each of the missing things on each spread, something that offers lots of fun and engagement because there are so many strange things to find on each page. It is also a fun way to practice one-on-one counting with younger children. Definitely one to browse and dip into. Picture book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Mary Hall.

Mr Tweed's Busy Day
Frog and Beaver
Simon James

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406359862

Frog and his friends live a lovely, tranquil life on the banks of the river until Beaver moves into the neighbourhood. Beaver has an ambition to build the biggest dam anyone has ever seen and, in doing so, he causes trouble for Frog and his friends, eventually leaving them homeless. A kind deed from Frog brings gratitude from Beaver and, eventually, a return to the lovely tranquil life they all knew before, with the addition of their new neighbour. This book, with its beautiful watercolour illustrations, is perfect to share with small children and provides much to talk about together, from Beaver's decision to pursue a course of action without caring what effect it has on others, to Frog's kindly nature and desire to help others, even those who are at the root of the problem. There is also a message about respecting the natural environment and the habitats of wildlife. Picture book / Ages 3-5 years / Reviewed by June Hughes, school librarian.

Frog and Beaver
The Unexpected Visitor
Jessica Courtney-Tickle

Egmont Books Ltd

ISBN 9781405283656

A moral tale and a gentle introduction to sustainability. A fisherman lives all alone yet catches and cooks many fish, he hopes someone will call to share the feast but no one ever comes and the food is wasted. One day a whale arrives. They have fun playing together in the sea but when the fisherman tries to catch some fish for tea, there's none left! However, with a promise never to take more than he needs in the future, the whale helps the fisherman build a new house near seas teeming with fish. The fisherman thinks of all the other fisher folk who have also lost their food source and invites them to share with him if they too promise not to take more than necessary. So all is well. There's fish and friends for all. This story would lead to conversations about sharing, not being greedy and also our responsibility to look after the world's resources. Soft, misty seascapes but look closely and there's plenty of detail and progression where you can discover more about the fisherman from the design of the houses, the washing on the line and his art work. Picture book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Sue Gilham, librarian.

The Unexpected Visitor
Fairytales Gone Wrong: Who's Bad and Who's Good, Little Red Riding Hood?: A Story about Stranger Danger
Steve Smallman

QED Publishing

ISBN 9781784937263

The latest in Steve Smallman's Fairytales Gone Wrong series glances at the story of Little Red Riding Hood to explore the subject of who is good, and who is bad. In fairytales, we're used to the 'bad guys' being just that - dark and dangerous looking; what you see is what you get. However, in this story, Smallman subverts that so that the cute little bunny turns out to be the one we need to watch out for (he tries to steal Granny's jewellry), while the big bad wolf - who is actually a good friend of Granny's - keeps a careful eye on our over-trusting heroine. This story is a perfect and fun way to introduce the subject of 'stranger danger' and to encourage children to be careful in their choice of friends. They can be encouraged to spot the clues within the illustrations and could go on to act out the story themselves to reinforce the message. The subject is handled in a light way, without losing the importance of the message. 24 pages / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Alice Greenham

Fairytales Gone Wrong: Who's Bad and Who's Good, Little Red Riding Hood?: A Story about Stranger Danger
The Little Gardener
Emily Hughes

Flying Eye Books

ISBN 9781911171249

The cover of The Little Gardener reveals a tiny figure resting inside a flower, which gives the reader an immediate sense of his size. He introduces us to his huge garden full of stones and weeds. The book invites opportunities for talk about relative sizes and scale as you try to locate the little gardener and his tiny hut in the pictures. As the gardener works hard and attempts to live off his land he admits to not being very good at gardening. The illustrations and simple text complement one another well. A beautiful flower appears in the garden which gives him hope even though he is struggling to cope. Later, he sees someone else admiring his flower and then the little gardener falls asleep for a month. When he awakes, he realises that something has changed - others have helped with the burden of the garden. There are lots of changes to spot and discuss. Returning to the gardener the language used shows that he now belongs to the garden instead of the other way around. This heart-warming story is useful for introducing topics on growth or plants. Follow up activities might include sowing some sunflower seeds in different types of soil and monitoring the growth or making some seed collage pictures. Picture book / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Pat Chandler.

The Little Gardener
The Curious Case of the Missing Mammoth
Ellie Hattie

Little Tiger Press

ISBN 9781848694484

The curious case of the missing mammoth is a brilliant story which mixes the fact finding interest of a non fiction book with a interesting story of a journey around a museum. The story tells how Oscar helps Timothy the mammoth to find his baby brother. As they search, they move around the museum, encountering all the animals, creatures and historical figures held within the museum. They eventually find success when they find Timothy's brother with his mum in the extinct animals exhibit. This book is highly engaging as it's interactive fact flaps will keep children hooked finding information around the book. Each page offers a different section of the museum and facts that link to the area, for example when they enter the underwater world there are lots of flaps under the bright illustrations which give lots of information about different sea creatures. This book would be a great inspiration to fact and non-chronological report writing. Creating children's own stories with fact files hidden within would be a great hook to writing and create lots of opportunities to write lots of different genres under one outcome. This will be a popular book off the shelf and I am sure will prompt lots of like texts. Picture book / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Marie Berry, teacher.

The Curious Case of the Missing Mammoth
The Lumberjack's Beard
Duncan Beedie

Templar Publishing

ISBN 9781783706884

Jim is a lumberjack who lives in a forest. Each day after exercising and breakfast he sets off to the forest to chop down trees. After each busy day, different animals come to his cabin and angrily express their situation... they are homeless because Jim has destroyed their homes. Jim takes on each of the animals and provides a home for them in his big beard. Until one night when he can't take the chirping, prickling and thwumping any longer and demands they leave. With nowhere for the animals to go, Jim shaves off his beard to make a den for the animals. The next morning, Jim wakes up to a bare, stubbly chin and also realises that where a forest once was, there is now bare ground. Saddened by the sight, he has an idea to dig hole after hole and plant tree after tree. This is a fun story for children to use to learn about forest habitats and the consequences of destroying woodlands. It could lead to work about plant growth, habitats, animals, survival and changing landscapes. Picture book / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Maria Faithorn, teacher.

The Lumberjack's Beard
John Kelly and Steph Laberis

ISBN 9781848694361

Many children at one time or another have a problem fitting in. For whatever reason, whether it be making friends, not following the current trends etc, children have challenges with groupings and friendships at lots of different points. Can I Join Your Club? is a lovely story for tackling the issues surrounding accepting yourself for who you are and being happy in your own body. The story focus on Duck, who wants to join a club, but every time he tries he isn't lion, snake or elephant enough to get through the application process and each time, his application is denied. After being left feeling dejected he decides to open his own club. And he accepts everyone. As Duck accepts all sorts of members who are all very different, it is soon very apparent which is the best and most popular club to be in. And even the exclusive Lion, Snake and Elephant quickly decide that it will be much more fun to be part of a club everyone wants to join. I think a message of acceptance and diversity is portrayed really well here and this book would work on many levels to discuss all sorts of issues. I would particularly recommend this book as a PSHE resource looking at friendships and treating people fairly. How lonely people can get when they are left out. Being resilient and bouncing back from disappointment. This book would also be a good way of approaching current news topics such a accepting those from different countries and cultures. How our differences should be celebrated and accepted and that you shouldn't have to follow a certain way to be part of a society. I enjoyed this book and will be adding it to our library to be enjoyed as a great picture book and used as a super teaching resource. Picture book / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Marie Berry, teacher.

Lucky Lazlo
Steve Light

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406374261

This is a delightful book - a simple story of Lazlo trying to deliver a red rose to his beloved at the theatre where she is appearing in a production of Alice in Wonderland. Things do not go smoothly, however, when a mischievous cat, for reasons best known to itself, steals the rose and causes chaos in the theatre as Lazlo chases him in pursuit of his precious rose. For such a simple story, there is an awful lot to interest the reader in this book. Firstly, Steve Light's black and white pen and ink illustrations which are beautifully intricate, interspersed with the odd flash of colour, are truly eye-catching. Secondly, Lazlo's chasing of the cat mirroring Alice's chasing of the rabbit in in the play links the two stories in an imaginative way and the reader will enjoy identifying the characters from Alice in Wonderland as they pop up. Thirdly, the last page contains an author's note in which Steve Light describes the various superstitions associated with the theatre and invites the reader to spot them in the illustrations. All in all, this is a book which has much to offer young children, who will enjoy sharing the book with an adult, and also older children who will pore over the illustrations having been set the challenge to find the superstitions. Picture book / Ages 3-7 years / Reviewed by June Hughes, school librarian.

Lucky Lazlo
Dr Seuss: What Pet Should I Get?
Dr. Seuss

ISBN 9780008183400

I am a big fan of Dr Seuss and his classic, zany books but have never read What Pet Should I Get? I thought it was fantastic and just as brilliant as all Dr Seuss books. This is the story of a boy and his sister, Kay choosing their first pet. They go to visit the pet shop and they start to look at the different animals. The more they look, the more confusing it becomes to choose and the more obscure the animals become! I read this to my class aged 7-9 and they loved it. By the end of it the whole class was shouting and voting for different animals and trying to convince their friends to pick their animal. They loved the cliff-hanger the book ended on and the conversation lasted all day about what pet should they get! A great start to writing - and involving an entire class! 31 pages/ Age 4+/ Reviewed by Lauren Maidman, teacher.

Dr Seuss: What Pet Should I Get?