NEW TITLES

Fairytales and classic stories get a makeover in some of this month's highlights, in stories that also explore fitting in and friendship.

Sunk!
Rob Biddulph

HarperCollins

ISBN 9780008207397

Sunk! is a real treat - especially for fans of Blown Away, the picture book that preceded it. As in the first book, Penguin Blue is on his travels, this time on the look out for a pirate adventure! You'll recognise some of his old friends from Blown Away - the polar bear Clive, whose rubber dingy is requisitioned, and Wilbur Seal, the cabin boy, and then they are off! 'In Search of gold ... they ride the breeze.. and sail across... the seven seas'. There are maps, pirate talk and peril to be had in this adventure. When their dingy sinks, Penguin Blue hatches a clever plan to get them - and the stranded Captain Plank - safely home again. The last page is a gorgeous spread of a ship that has been turned into one of the best adventure play areas you'll ever see. There are many parallels to the first book, Blown Away, that children might pick up on, and you can also find a treasure trove of all things piratical; observant readers will follow the parrot for a parallel adventure story. The clever rhyming verse makes this a treat to read aloud, and the pictures are simply gorgeous. There are also opportunities to map out Penguin Blue's travels, draw your own pirate map, check out underwater sea life and explore the Antarctic for related topics. Lots of fun. Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Emma Roberts.

Sunk!
Town Mouse, Country Mouse
Richard Jones

Caterpillar Books Ltd

ISBN 9781848575462

A simply gorgeous peep-through picture book that introduces us to Aesop's fable in a simple rhyming text. The detail in the images is a delight and simply demands exploration. We see what each mouse has packed - what would children pack for their own trips away? - and the contrasts between the town and country couldn't be greater. What do the children love (or dislike) as town or country people? The cut-throughs on each page are used beautifully to help develop the contrast of town and country, and the unfamiliar dangers that the little mice face (poisoned berries, cheese in a mouse trap); the small images that line every page provide further snapshots of the mouse's experiences in these new worlds. Perhaps children could take their own photographs of their environment, to show the dangers it can pose and create their own book exploring their local environment? The final spreads, where each town and country mouse - safely home - sees their own familiar (but the same) moon is especially effective. A really lovely picture book. Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Emily Smith.

Town Mouse, Country Mouse
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.

Busy People: Librarian
Lucy M. George

QED Publishing

ISBN 9781784937294

The Busy People series (Frances Lincoln) is perfect for young children finding out about what grown-ups do all day and this one can also be used around topics for making books. Other books in the series include Builder, Teacher and Doctor. In Librarian, there is a special celebration taking place at the local library, which is now five years old. As well as the celebrations, we are shown what libraries are for - discovering wonderful new books, helped by a specialist librarian. All the children enjoy the storytime about parties and birthdays - and especially the surprise birthday cake - but one little boy doesn't enjoy looking for a book to read and wants to go home, until the librarian helps him find a book that is just right. The text is well paced for younger readers and there is a useful spread at the back of the book, explaining what a librarian does and the things she needs for her job - as well as the other people she might work with such as authors, teachers and parents. The 'Next Steps' at the back of the book has some useful ideas too for following up - for example, talking about their own visits to the library, books they enjoy and also making up a title for a book they would like to read, and even making one. 32 pages / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Emma Hunt.

Busy People: Librarian
Tiddlers: Tom's Tooth
Sam Hay

Franklin Watts Ltd

ISBN 9781445146157

This new title in Franklin Watts' Tiddlers series for children who are starting to read alone is about Tom who plays with his wobbly tooth throughout the day: in class, in the bath and so on. Eventually it falls out but when it comes to bedtime and putting it under his pillow for the tooth fairy he realises he has lost it. His older brother and sister offer him some false teeth instead but luckily he finds it just in time for bed. The lack of story is compensated by the interesting and interactive illustrations that include Tom's dog, who definitely captures your attention on each page it features, and the 'spot the tooth fairy' game. Despite not actually being referred to in the book as a possible activity, unlike some other picture puzzles, this is a fun detail of the illustrator's work in this book. For me, the illustrations definitely stood out more than the words which is a shame when the book is designed, in consultation with a University Centre for Professional Education, for children who are just developing their skills and hopefully their love of reading. 24 pages / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Natalie Plimmer, librarian.

Tiddlers: Tom's Tooth
The Magic Looking Glass
Tom Percival

Macmillan Children's Books

ISBN 9781447292159

This is a fantastic little story. I love the way that the story weaves in different fairytale characters and introduces them to the reader in a way that they may have not seen them before. Children will also love the whole idea of a Story Tree. It is a magical story which makes you want to read all the books in the series. I had trouble putting this book down and I am sure children will too. Great concept and a wonderful story. See also the recently-published Little Legends: The Secret Mountain. 176 pages / Ages 6-8 years / Reviewed by Beth Grant, school librarian.

The Magic Looking Glass
The Cherry Pie Princess
Vivian French

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406368970

Princess Peony is the youngest of the royal family, with six older sisters, who as all good princesses should, only care about things like pretty dresses and shoes. Peony would rather be finding out and doing practical things, something their strict governess, Miss Beef, with her well-ordered timetable, definitely does not encourage. One of their activities is to visit the library, but not to read or borrow a book, that is beneath them, but just because Miss Beef thinks it a good idea. The only princess remotely interested is Peony, who asks if they have a book about cooking. Unfortunately, under an edict known as Required Behaviour, the librarian is not supposed to speak to royalty and answering leads to his arrest. Peony is unaware of this and despatches a page boy to borrow one for her. A Thousand Simple Recipes for Pies, Puddings and Pastries becomes her sole reading over the next few years and Peony makes wonderful cherry pies, her father's favourite. However, when he learns that she has been in the kitchens, she is instantly banned from setting foot there again. A growing realisation that her father might be a tyrant, with his nasty habit of throwing people in dungeons, comes to a head during the preparations for the christening party for the new baby prince, when he absolutely refuses to invite the wicked hag. This can mean only one thing...trouble! It is up to Peony to save the day, with the help of the still imprisoned librarian, a failed jester who is his cell mate, and a talking cat. Vivian French uses fairy tale conventions to weave a delightful, entertaining magical tale with a resourceful heroine. This is perfectly pitched for readers of 7+, with black and white line illustrations.

The Cherry Pie Princess
Find Your Way In Space
Paul Boston

QED Publishing

ISBN 9781784936587

I've seen two of the The Find Your Way series by Paul Boston - In Space and Underground. In this series of games, mazes and puzzle books readers embark on problem solving quests. In Underground, the task is to retrieve gold stolen from Gnomes by Luna the Dragon; in In Space the reader is on a mission to find the Zeebies' rocket, which has crashed in Crater Canyon. The reader follows maps and instructions for tasks, finds objects, chooses alternative routes and solves maths puzzles. Each double-page spread has map coordinates, which are included amongst the various puzzles to solve. The illustrations are colourful, jaunty and appealing and each scenario, from Spaghetti Junction in In Space to Tree Root Tangle in Underground, contains zany elements to develop the imagination and keep readers interested. There is plenty of witty detail to study and enjoy as well as educational puzzles to solve. These books will appeal to children aged 6 - 8, especially reluctant readers. 32 pages / Ages 6-8 years / Reviewed by Lucy Chambers, primary school librarian.

Find Your Way In Space
The New Adventures of Mr Toad: A Race for Toad Hall
Tom Moorhouse

Oxford University Press

ISBN 9780192746733

The New Adventures of Mr Toad bring Kenneth Grahame's irrepressible Mr Toad from The Wind in the Willows back to life in an adventure that has bags of charm and car-fulls of adventure.... Whether or not children have read the original stories on which this new series is based, this story about friendship and hoping for the best will win them over - together with Holly Swain's excellent illustrations. When Mo, Ratty and Teejay (ancestors of the original friends) discover the old ice house of Toad Hall, they get an unexpected surprise - Toad, now defrosted after 100 years frozen in ice. Naturally, Toad wants to move back into his old house, Toad Hall, but the weasels have other plans for his property and Toad and his new friends will have to come up with an unlikely plan to win it back... Toad's irrepressible character shines through the story and the wonderfully expressive illustrations. These, together with the careful layout and design, make it a perfect independent read for children still growing in confidence, although it would be a wonderful story to share aloud to a class, especially if children know the original story. While the original text is aimed at older readers than this story, I still think this classic has been successfully revisited and brought bang up to date - I can't wait to see what Toad gets up to next.... 160 pages / Ages 6/7+ / Reviewed by Alison Gray.

The New Adventures of Mr Toad: A Race for Toad Hall
A Bear Grylls Adventure 1: The Blizzard Challenge: by bestselling author and Chief Scout Bear Grylls
Bear Grylls

Bear Grylls Publishing

ISBN 9781786960122

This new Bear Grylls Adventures series pits children against natural survival challenges, supported by non other than Bear Grylls. As well as teaching children some possibly useful survival tactics, the books' real strength is in guiding them to think about how they can contribute as one of a team and also to keep going, even when challenges get tough. In this story, Olly - who has never been camping before - is sent off on a camping weekend by his working parents. Olly is reluctant to get involved in the camp activities, putting up the tent and building a den, and disappears back into his tent. A special compass, however, takes him on a thrilling mountain adventure that night where Bear Grylls helps him to survive against the harsh climate - and a few of Olly's poor decisions. When he wakes up in the morning, however, he is back in his tent at the camp, but is a reformed character and helps lead his team to victory in the next challenge. The next book in the series, The Dessert Challenge, sees a girl Sophie heading off on her adventure with Bear Grylls. As well as good adventures, these are great motivational reads that remind children to take responsiblity for their own actions, and attitudes. The stories are well paced and nicely illustrated, great for those aged 7+ who are developing confidence as readers. 120 pages / Ages 7+ / Reviewed by Emily Smith.

A Bear Grylls Adventure 1: The Blizzard Challenge: by bestselling author and Chief Scout Bear Grylls