NEW TITLES

This month's selection of picture books covers a wide range of ages, 3-7 years, with teachers and librarians highlighting how they might use the books in class and how children are responding to them.

A Busy Day for Birds
Lucy Cousins

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406367607

What a wonderful story to read with little ones. Both of my children were immediately excited when I brought this story home, the colours and smiling faces on the front cover caught their attention straight away, and we were not disappointed by the story. I wish I had filmed my son's reaction to the story, the verbs used to explain the actions of each bird had my son acting out each bird much to all of our delight. Author Lucy Cousins has a lovely way of appealing to a younger audience. The story discusses what it would be like if you were a bird - 'can you imagine - just for one day - you're a bird? Page by page different types of birds are beautifully illustrated with exciting verbs used to describe their actions. My son's reaction was to immediately jump up and act out these verbs - exactly what I love about a good story. Starting at the beginning of the day with a cockerel and ending with an owl, the story has a lovely rhythm and rhyme to explore each bird - 'swoop up and down, swoop round and round', exciting a toddler into believing they are in fact a bird. Colourful and easy to read, this story is great for children starting to learn how to read and also for younger ones learning different types of birds - penguins, parrots, owls. The story is big and bold with a simple layout which really makes it very accessible for younger readers. Personally, I really enjoyed how simple it was, as my children were caught up in the actions with less focus on a narrative, which made a nice change for our reading activity. This story is brilliant for day time reading when you want to engage your child in the actions and play together. I would recommend it for ages 18 months - 4 years. Picture book / Ages 2+ / Reviewed by Joanna Hewish, teacher.

A Busy Day for Birds
Glitter!
Stella J. Jones

Little Tiger Press

ISBN 9781848694323

This gorgeous picture book will 'speak' to any adult who has ever mistakenly undertaken a project that involved glitter - and regretted it when trying to clear up glitter-strewn tables and children... Glitter is a celebration of just that - how one person with glitter can start a whole glitter trail, in this case it's Gloria whose 'favourite colour' was glitter! 'And everywhere Gloria went, she left a little bit of glittery happiness behind her...' until the whole town is covered in glitter. Children will see the glittery trails Gloria leaves in her wake, running across the pages. 'There was some on the tower and lots on the steeple, as well as the market and all of the people.' Fortunately, all the animals in the town do see the funny side and so Gloria's glitter spreads happiness. A lovely story that can also help children reflect on how their moods affect those around them. But watch out because reading this story aloud will get the children reaching for their glitter sticks! Perhaps you could limit the damage by getting them to create their own town map to run a trail of glitter, following Gloria's footsteps, through it. Picture book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Clare Fisher.

Glitter!
Lucy Ladybird
Sharon King-Chai

Templar Publishing

ISBN 9781783703920

Lucy is a Ladybird with no spots! This story follows Lucy as she meets many creatures who have spots and donate one to Lucy until eventually she has her own array of multicoloured spots! A great story for introducing the subject of 'difference' to younger children, Lucy eventually realises that even though she has tried to look the same as the other ladybirds, she is still different....and actually, that's a wonderful thing! The other ladybirds admire Lucy's multicoloured spots and the last page reveals a beautiful, fold out illustration of a lot of multicoloured ladybirds. This story is simple and easy to follow as it has quite a repetitive structure. Picture book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Lizi Coombs, teacher.

Lucy Ladybird
Knock Knock Dinosaur
Caryl Hart

Hodder Children's Books

ISBN 9781444928495

Any dinosaur-mad child is going to love this story, which is packed to the brim with chaos-causing dinosaurs! When he hears a knock on his door, the boy is surprised to discover a T-Rex who comes in for lunch - and is followed later by two triceratops, three stegosauruses, and so on until we get to ten pterodactyls! So it's a great counting book. It is also a useful cautionary tale about ordering things online... When his mum ordered the set of dinosaurs, she didn't realise that they would arrive 'actual size'! Fortunately, these dinosaurs prove to be very good at clearing up after themselves and the final spread will encourage children to ask just how much of the story was in the boy's imagination. The text reads aloud beautifully and will help children in counting to ten. I also loved all the funny details in the drawings, especially the spread where 'Eight gigantosauruses have knickers on their head...' The end papers also have all the dinosaurs from the story pictured, with tips on how to pronounce its name - very useful! Picture book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Ellen Green.

Knock Knock Dinosaur
This Bear, That Bear
Sian Wheatcroft

Templar Publishing

ISBN 9781783706280

This is a charming rhyming book that lists lots of different bears in a 'bear parade'. The pictures are wonderfully detailed and engaging and the text is easy to follow. I read this book to my class of 4/5 year olds; they thoroughly enjoyed the book as they loved looking at the different bears, commenting on ones that looked similar to their own bears, or ones that were doing humorous things. The rhyming text makes it easy for younger children to follow, and my class enjoyed the singsong nature of the book. When I asked them what they liked about the story, they mostly named different bears from the pictures - I agree with them, some of these are a real treat for the eyes! This is an easy-going book that would be great as a pre-bedtime read with younger children.

This Bear, That Bear
Storytime: Snip Snap Croc
Caroline Castle

QED Publishing

ISBN 9781784937447

The lastest in QED's Storytime picture books, Snip Snap Croc, has a ferocious cover and the story, therefore, comes as something of a surprise. When the animals along the Nile see Snip Snap Cros basking in the sun, they warn their little ones to keep close. Snip Snap Croc is busy, though, with a newly-hatched clutch of tiny croc - but the other young animals are horrified to see her lifting each croc into her mouth. However, she does so to take them safely to the water so the other young animals learn that while she looks fierce, Snip Snap Croc is just as loving as all the other animal mums. There are some suggested activities in the back of the book, including making a display of the animals in the story or around a habitat in Africa. Or children could build a list of rhyming words around each of the animals mentioned in the story, and create their own animal rhymes from the list. But the real message from the story is the special love of mothers and children could think about all the things their mums and carers do to keep them safe. Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Clare Fisher.

Storytime: Snip Snap Croc
SPLAT!
Jon Burgerman

Oxford University Press

ISBN 9780192749543

This picture book is enormous fun and will have young children demanding to be allowed to turn the pages of the book. The reason is that each time a page is turned - to the sound 'splat!' - whatever is on the right hand pages splatters onto the facing page! Children see eyes 'splat' onto a shape - which now has eyes - before moving on to food that can be splattered onto the facing page, too. Splat gets more and more messy, before being joined by a host of insects and little chicks. They eventually decide to treat splat to lots and lots of icecreams. But we know that no child will be able to resist turning the page and 'splatting' the treats! Big bold illustrations add to the fun and the humour. A really engaging picture book! Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Clare Fisher.

SPLAT!
When Grandad Was a Penguin
Morag Hood

Two Hoots

ISBN 9781509814015

A hilarious case of mistaken identity leaves a young girl wondering why Grandad is acting so strangely? Something is not quite right - something is rather fishy. During a visit to Grandad's house, it becomes very clear that Grandad is not quite himself. The text balances perfectly with the illustrations: showing the little girl's thoughts and confusion through the words alongside the reality in the illustrations. The illustrations are brimming with humour and show Grandad - who is very clearly a penguin - doing all sorts of things that you would not expect of Grandad. As well as his clothes not fitting anymore and his strange obsession with fishing, he keeps turning up in the most unlikely of places: in the toilet, upside down in the fish tank, and in the refrigerator! Grandad is even shown sliding down the banister on his belly! Could it just be that Grandad's behavior is because he is getting older, or is something more fishy going on? Perplexed and a little concerned, the child eventually gets a call from the zoo, where it appears that there has been a mix-up. The little girl heads to the zoo to sort out the muddle and hopefully swap a penguin for her Granddad. She leaves the penguin safely at the zoo, heading home with Grandad. Or at least that was the plan, but Grandad seems to have other ideas... This book is simple yet filled with possibility. Children could use the format to write their own case of mistaken identity. They could also write from Grandad's point of view or the penguin's, keeping a journal of their time away from home. A newspaper article, reporting this hilarious mix-up, could also been inspired by the main points of the story. This could also open up the way for researching the animals within the story and their natural habitat, moving on to discussions about zoos and the positives and negatives. What would it be like to live like Penguin, in an enclosure? There is so much that could be done with this book so despite its simplicity, it will appeal to all ages and can open the doors to a wealth of writing and discussion opportunities for all abilities. Simple, comical illustrations tell the story beautifully and provide even more points of discussion, as well as a good giggle! Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Torie Walton, school librarian.

When Grandad Was a Penguin
I'm Going To Eat This Ant
Chris Naylor-Ballesteros

Bloomsbury Publishing PLC

ISBN 9781408869901

With a determined Anteater eyeing him up on the front cover, things aren't looking good for the Ant of this story.... This is an unexpected and playful story from Chris Naylor-Ballesteros, his debut picture book, and I'm looking forward to seeing what he comes up with next. In I'm Going to Eat This Ant, the Anteater decides he is bored of eating plain old ant; wouldn't 'this Ant' taste better sliced or squashed, smoked or stir fried? We see Ant putting up with each of these imagined scenarios - but that glint in its eye suggests that the Anteater isn't going to get his way and, sure enough, Ant wins the day. For children who love their stories with a touch of the gruesome, this picture book will have lots of appeal, but it is also a fun way to play with letter sounds (especially for words beginning with 's') and it's perfect for demonstrating alliteration ('simmering in a soup and scooped with a spoon' for example). The illustrations are brimming with expression and beautifully drawn and laid out. Of course this picture book could also form the start of investigations into the lives, diet and habitats of ants and anteaters, and perhaps children could think of their own pairing of two creatures from nature to create their own picture book story. Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Alice Fisher.

I'm Going To Eat This Ant
Message in a Bottle
Matt Hunt

Scholastic

ISBN 9781407159188

Living in the busy, rainy city Lion is fed up and dreams of escaping to somewhere warm, where he can relax and play his guitar. It is his lucky day, with an island beach house advertised for sale in the newspaper and he packs his bags that very evening. Besides his guitar, he takes lots of bottles of his favourite treat - strawberry smoothies. But after a while, Lion realises that life on the island isn't quite so perfect; he's lonely and needs a friend. With no telephone or postbox, there is only one way to send a message - in a bottle! In fact, he sends sixty bottles bobbing away over the waves. Animals of all shapes and sizes, with all types of instruments, start arriving. And although he really wanted a friend with a guitar, he soon comes to realise that other types of music are just as good. This debut picture book celebrates difference with cheerful, expressive illustrations and a toe-tapping conclusion. This is a book to have fun with besides thinking about the main theme, perhaps writing messages in bottles and exploring the music and instruments. I will be sharing this with teachers in Key Stage 1 at my school, for their Fantasy Islands topic next term. Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Jayne Gould, school librarian.

Message in a Bottle
Also an Octopus
Maggie Tokuda-Hall

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406373387

Also an Octopus is a humorous and engaging story which had my children in fits of giggles throughout. Although it is a very different narrative from the usual story I read with my children, we all really enjoyed it. This story was busy, with lots going on per page so we spent lots of time finding objects and talking about each piece. The narrative is very good for learning how to write creatively, it is almost a teaching tool story and could well be used in a Primary School setting. It begins with explaining how every story comes from nothing, 'each story starts the same way' with nothing. The narrative then goes on to explore how to introduce character, setting and plot, but it does this in a very humorous way, including a purple shiny space rocket made of waffles. What is so engaging about this story is that it is teaching your child how to write a story, but that message is hidden beneath the humour of a ukulele-playing octopus on a mission to space. What I particularly liked about this story was its 'older style' print and use of colour. It reminded me of a story one might have found in the 1980's as the colours are darker and the images less intricate. It stands out because of its more unique style and children are drawn to it, my children would often pull it off the shelf for bedtime reading; we all loved the different expressions on the Octopus. Brilliant as a teaching tool for younger years but also as a lovely story, I would recommend this story for ages 3+. Picture book / Ages 3-6 years / Reviewed by Joanna Hewish, teacher.

Also an Octopus
Lazy Cat
Julia Woolf

Templar Publishing

ISBN 9781783706402

Doodle Dog tries really hard to be a good friend to Lazy Cat, he plays with him, shares with him and helps him. However, Lazy Cat takes full advantage of Doodle Dog's friendly nature and makes life very hard for Dog. Until one day when Doodle Dog takes full advantage of Cat's laziness and gets revenge on him whilst he's asleep! A great story for young children, which has many opportunities for discussion and learning about being equal, compromising and friendship. Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Maria Faithorn, teacher.

Lazy Cat
Grandad's Secret Giant
David Litchfield

Frances Lincoln Childrens Books

ISBN 9781847808479

Billy has been helping to paint the town mural, but nobody can reach the top of the wall, even with a ladder. But Grandad knows just the chap to help, someone who has been doing good deeds for a long time. Someone with hands the size of tables, legs as long as drainpipes and feet as big as rowing boats. The trouble is Billy doesn't believe his granddad; how could a giant stay hidden and why would he keep himself a secret? Billy finds out the answer and realises how to put a mistake right in this heartwarming story of friendship and belonging. Illustrated in glowing, jewel like colours there is a lot of detail in the double page spreads for children to pore over, with the giant there but not noticed by those he's helping - Grandad is the only one who knows. David Litchfield has combined his atmospheric, distinctive pictures and economical text to produce another superb book, ideal for sharing with children of all ages to promote discussion around its themes. Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Jayne Gould, school librarian.

Grandad's Secret Giant
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
Lots: The Diversity of Life on Earth
Nicola Davies

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406360486

This deceptively simple text, beautifully illustrated by Emily Sutton, carries a hugely important message, that of diversity on Earth. Author Nicola Davies, a trained zoologist, explains what we mean by diversity on Earth through the eyes of a girl as she explores different environments. She discovers some of the species Earth is home to, ranging from tiny microbes to huge elephants - and has a glimpse of how many amazing and wonderful creatures there are on our planet, the 'Lots' of the title. All these creatures, she finds, are interconnected; it's like a huge pattern on Earth. But she also learns about the threats faced by so many creatures through the damage done to our planet by humans - pollution, global warming and the loss of habitats. These are powerful messages to deliver through a few pages of a picture book and it is a credit to both the author's and illustrator's talents that they have achieved this, without losing the joy of learning about life on Earth. As such, the book would make an invaluable resource for those exploring themes around the environment and endangered species, habitats and wildlife. But it also stands beautifully on its own - a love song to our planet and a plea to the next generation to provide good stewardship of all we are responsible for. 40 pages / Ages 6+ / Reviewed by Alice Fisher.

Lots: The Diversity of Life on Earth
Pigeon P.I.
Meg McLaren

Andersen Press Ltd

ISBN 9781783444830

Before you read this book. Set yourself up- watch a few episodes of Magnum PI or Columbo, get those voices in your head and apply when reading to get the best effect. I loved Pigeon P.I. - this is a fabulously illustrated book telling the story of Pigeon PI and how he takes on the case of the missing canaries. The story walks us through his adventure to solve the case. But there is an amazing mix of illustrations and humour. I loved the way the author uses the traditional American private eye style to tell the story, for grown ups this will be very funny to read, but also the illustrations and their subtle play on words - when they go to the red herring bar and grill, look at the names on all the bird boxes, for example. This would be a great vocabulary exercise - could the children think of more of their own? The story sticks with the traditional good over evil and in the end Pigeon PI get the crook and all is well. I think this is a great read with children, but I think the adults will enjoy it just as much especially if your a fan of those 1920s cop shows.... this one is for you! For any teachers reading - I think this could be a good Talk for Writing text, and would be a great story to innovate from. Picture book / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Marie Berry, teacher.

Pigeon P.I.