NEW TITLES

This month's selection of picture books covers themes such as belonging, talking about our worries, and being a good friend, as well as entertaining stories to read aloud.

Kiki and Bobo's Sunny Day
Yasmeen Ismail

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406361513

This is a charming picture book from up and coming writer and illustrator Yasmeen Ismail and I can see this dog and cat partnership becoming a firm favourite with young children. This is also a perfect book for sharing as we move into the summer and seaside trips. Kiki is really keen to spend the day at the seaside, swimming. However Bobo seems less keen - he loses his swimsuit, is quiet on the bus, doesn't feel like eating his icecream and keeps delaying when Kiki tries to swim. Eventually, Bobo admits that he is scared of swimming in the sea, and Kiki helps to put his fears to rest. What I liked about this story is how the child will be able to second guess what the real problem is well before Bobo admits it. This can lead to lots of discussion around how we behave when we're unhappy - and how to notice when our friends are unhappy and the best way to help reassure them. The flaps throughout the book add lots of fun detail to the story; I love the one where the sandcastle grows, and where we lift the icecream flap to see Kiki's face covered in chocolate icecream. These are details that young children will really appreciate and they help to keep a fun element to the story - and perhaps inspire them to create their own Seaside display. In all, there is lots to enjoy and share in this interactive story. Picture book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Alice Short.

Kiki and Bobo's Sunny Day
Diggersaurs
Michael Whaite

Puffin

ISBN 9780141375502

Diggersaurs is a bright and colourful debut picture book by Michael Whaite. This text is instantly appealing to boys through the mixture of diggers and dinosaurs and would be a great hook to lure in reluctant readers. The pictures are wonderfully created and the text layout compliments them well, with the words working around the images - almost becoming part of them. A huge part of what makes this book successful is the book flow seamlessly through the use of rhyme. This element made it very enjoyable for my class of year 1 children, especially a couple of reluctant boy readers who wanted to share it again independently. I would happily use this text as part of a sequence of learning about rhyming words. As well as this, the well illustrated pictures of the Diggersaurs themselves could be incorporated into English lessons by writing character descriptions as well as using them to writer their own 'spin off' stories. Despite not mentioning their names in the actual text, the children enjoyed finding them on the vehicles. The main target audience for the book would certainly be boys but it was refreshing to see a 'girl' diggersaur included in the text. An added bonus to the book is the way the diggersaurs are numbered, photocopied and cut up; pictures of them could easily be used to help children in their ordering of numbers 1-12. The more eager eyed readers will also notice the antics of the construction workers on each page, with some of them getting into trouble. My inner child certainly enjoyed reading this book and I am looking forward to sharing it with my own son in the future. Recommended for nursery and EYFS settings. Picture book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Kyle Matravers, teacher.

Diggersaurs
Bug Bear
Patricia Hegarty

Little Tiger Press

ISBN 9781848694514

This new picture book from Patricia Hegarty and Carmen Saldana makes a lovely play on the word 'bugbear' and, once you've been able to discuss its meaning, children can be encouraged to think what their own 'bugbears' are. In this story, told in pacy rhyming verse, little Bug decides to make its new home in Bear's fur, something that Bear finds rather trying, especially as he is trying to relax. While Bear wants to relax, Bug wants to explore and play, and it is Owl who eventually finds a solution to both their problem. As well as being a fun way to explore 'bugbears', the story has a message about respecting one's friends and appreciating that what we might find entertaining won't always be the same for them. Picture book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Alice Stormer.

Bug Bear
Little Explorers Dinosaurs
Dynamo Ltd.

Templar Publishing

ISBN 9781783708154

This is a 'lift the flap' book that tells children many different facts about many different dinosaurs. From the environment they lived in to how dinosaur eggs hatched and how different dinosaurs got their names, this is an engaging book which presents the facts in short, clear sentences. It has a good balance of introducing subject specific terminology whilst also being easy to understand. The images are all cartoon-like in style, so not scary for the more delicate readers! The book ends with a page about the death of dinosaurs, explaining how fossils form and also introducing some of the 'survivors' that are still alive today. This is a good book for younger children who are interested to find out more about dinosaurs, or as a first introduction to the topic. 16 pages / Ages 4-6 years / Reviewed by Lizi Coombs, teacher.

Little Explorers Dinosaurs
Rapunzel
Bethan Woollvin

Two Hoots

ISBN 9781509842674

Bethan Woollvin's follow-up to Little Red, Rapunzel, is another fabulous retelling of a fairytale that defies the usual stereotypes, this time about a princess awaiting rescue. This is a young, modern and bold Rapunzel, who defies the witch again and again. "Was Rapunzel frightened? Oh no, not she!" despite the witch's threats to curse her if she attempts to escape. Rapunzel finds a way to leave her tower each day (although we're left wondering how she returns to the tower...) until the day she decides it's time to get rid of the witch and to leave for good - and embarks on a whole new career. The illustrations are - just like Rapunzel - bold and expressive. black and white with spot colour of gold, since Rapunzel's hair takes centre stage. The illustrations are also used to help predict what will happen next (Rapunzel hiding the scissors behind her back, for example), to develop character (we spot Rapunzel reading a book, 'How to defeat witches'), and for humour (a wonderful image of a frog with golden hair demonstrates the witch's threats). This would be a wonderful story to share after reading a more traditional Rapunzel story, for children to think about the comparisons. KS1 children could go on to overturn princess stereotypes in other stories - and imagine what careers those princesses might move on to... Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Alison Stead

Rapunzel
The Bad Bunnies' Magic Show
Mini Grey

Simon & Schuster Childrens Books

ISBN 9781471157608

The Bad Bunnies Magic show is a highly amusing tale of two bunnies, Abra and Cadabra. In the tale we hear that how, due to 'unforeseen' circumstances, there needs to be a change to the scheduled Magic Show and Abra and Cadabra step in to take over the show. Both Bunnies then partake in daredevil and death-defying tricks to astound the audience, but the illustrations tell the truth of how the Great Hypno has been locked in a box while Abra and Cadabra steal the show. The story is really funny as each of the tricks are a bit of a disaster and eventually the real magic team step in to save the day. In the final line of the story, however, we discover that maybe the Bunnies haven't learnt their lesson... This book is a really fun and interactive story, with lots of lift the flap features to keep young readers interested and excited. The fantastic illustrations create lots of talking points with readers and I will enjoy reading it with my children at school and home alike. A great one to use when looking at consequences of behaviour. Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Marie Berry, teacher.

The Bad Bunnies' Magic Show
The Nut Stayed Shut
Mike Henson

Templar Publishing

ISBN 9781783706938

This reminded me a little of The Ice Age animation, where you have two small creatures intent on getting a nut although in this case, the intensity of the actions are around cracking a nut. In this lively picture book, squirrel Rodney is the best nut cracker in the world! When he is challenged to crack three small nuts, he cracks the first two with ease but discovers that the third is quite a hard nut to crack! Rodney's attempts at doing so - from tickling it to using TNT - will have children giggling. Just as he's about to give up, he discovers what is needed to make the stubborn nut crack: patience. This is a useful message for children to learn - that not everything can be done at once - and that patience can pay off. It would be interesting to get children to talk about situations where they haven't been able to get the results they wanted straight away and why patience can be a good thing. You could also encourage early KS2 children to write their own versions of the story, replacing a squirrel and a nut with other creatures and foods. Picture book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Alice Short.

The Nut Stayed Shut
Everybody's Welcome
Patricia Hegarty

Caterpillar Books Ltd

ISBN 9781848575875

This is a story for young children that none-the-less covers some big themes of homelessness and finding a welcome among new people. It is an important message, sensitively told, through a group of animals who each find themselves alone and without a home for different reasons; frog's pond has dried up; everyone is scared of bear; the birds' tree has been chopped down. Tiny Mouse brings them together and gives them hope, encouraging them to build a new home together. The story is told in rhyming verse and illustrated in muted shades of browns and pinks that helps unify all the different creatures. Sometimes the pages are cut through or shortened, in order to help tell the story, and there is a lovely cut-through frame on the final pages that opens out to show all the animals in their new home. There is lots of humour within the illustrations that young children will enjoy, without detracting from the overall message. Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Elen Grace.

Everybody's Welcome
What the Ladybird Heard on Holiday
Julia Donaldson

Macmillan Children's Books

ISBN 9781509837328

What the ladybird heard on Holiday is the sequel to the well-loved book, What the Ladybird heard. This beautiful book sees our friend the ladybird going on holiday to London. While there she visits London Zoo and meets all the animals. However then she spots Lanky Len and Hefty Hugh, those dastardly villains from the previous stories, and in her familiar quiet manner rounds up all the animals to help her stop them from stealing the monkey that they want to use to rob the Queen of her Crown. For any lovers of the previous books - What the Ladybird Heard and What the Ladybird Heard Next, What the ladybird heard on Holiday is sure to win adoration. The familiar style of this story engages children brilliantly and the rhyming couplets encourage children to respond and call back the words that are coming next. As with the previous books, the illustrations are just stunning with the added bonus of glitter on every page! This book and the sequence of books by Julia Donaldson and Lydia Monk are brilliant to use as part of classroom teaching. This most recent story compliments the KS1 teaching objective to name and locate characteristics of the four countries of the UK. We have recently done a project based on The Queen's Handbag by Steve Anthony and this story would add a fantastic narrative link to this project. It would be great to look at narrative from another character's point of view and story maps and 'Talk for Writing' techniques would fit in brilliantly with this text. The repetitive nature of all three books makes them excellent texts to use with Talk for Writing and there would be great opportunity for innovation to write a different story eg 'What the ... Heard'. The use of descriptive language in this text is excellent and every page offers a hook to use to develop writing. I can see this book becoming a firm favourite on the bedtime reading list, but also a valuable tool to help inspire, develop and encourage younger writers. Picture book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Marie Berry, teacher.

What the Ladybird Heard on Holiday
Daddy Long Legs
Nadine Brun-Cosmes

Two Hoots

ISBN 9781509842711

A lovely, and wonderfully illustrated story, that addresses children's fears and delivers an imaginative response to the kinds of things children might worry about. Matty is worried because the old green car had lots of problems starting that morning; what if it won't start again in the evening, how will Daddy pick him up from nursery? After thinking for a bit, Matty's dad comes up with some ever-more fabulous suggestions - starting with borrowing the neighbour's tractor and moving on to birds that will fly him to the nursery or a boat he can sail on. It's a lovely starting point for talking about children's worries and how they find solutions to the things that trouble them. Older KS1 / early KS2 children could use the story as inspiration to develop their own problem-solving scenarios, inventing imaginative ways to overcome a problem. Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Alice Short.

Daddy Long Legs
Never Take a Bear to School
Mark Sperring

Orchard Books

ISBN 9781408339725

A reassuring story about starting school and making new friends, that also reminds us that those we leave at home will still be waiting for us at the end of the day. In punchy rhyming text, we discover why it's not a good idea to take your bear to school - and this could represent a child's teddy bear or a younger sibling - because of the chaos they would cause. But even if you can't take bear, we discover so many other things to do at school that you will enjoy doing - learning to count, drawing and making new friends. The illustrations by Britta Teckentrup are retro style with reassuring, warm colours and child-friendly images. It's a lovely story to share in nursery settings with children who are about to start school or nursery, and to encourage children to talk about their memories of starting school. Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Alice Short.

Never Take a Bear to School
The Thing
Simon Puttock

Egmont Books Ltd

ISBN 9781405283717

The Thing is a book that constantly leaves you asking questions. Throughout the book, we never find out just what is The Thing that just suddenly appears one day. We are left to use our imaginations. My Y1 children decided that it was an alien spaceship, an egg, a cocoon, a butterfly and most interestingly of all, Mickey Mouse (the shape of it does look similar). The book is set around four strangers who are brought together by chance after they stumble upon The Thing. None of them have any idea what it is and as the story develops, their curiousity towards The Thing draws them closer together. Before too long, The Thing has become a huge part of their lives and has become a global phenomenon. It is very clear to see that author has deliberately chosen to use strangers at the beginning as a way to show the journey friendship can take. This allows the book to be used as a great tool during PHSE lessons around making and maintain friendships. The sense of mystery around the object is something that I enjoyed - even if we never find out what The Thing is. It would be quite interesting to see this text used within English lessons as initial discussions around a picture of The Thing could inspire some excellent deeper level thinking. Work around writing questions using correct punctuation could also be a lesson linked to the text as the animals think about what to ask The Thing. Lots of art opportunities could be woven in a learning sequence and I would even be inclined to allow children to create their own 'Things' With many hidden meanings and massages, this text could easily be used across the primary age range. Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Kyle Matravers, teacher.

The Thing
The Night Box
Louise Greig

Egmont Books Ltd

ISBN 9781405283762

The Night Box is a truly wonderful tale of how day becomes night and night becomes day. Centred around the main character of Max, we see how day slowly begins to get ready to 'sleep' and how the environment around him begins to show these signs, too. What I really enjoyed was how the author made day and night feel like 'real' beings, with their own feelings and senses. Max, without referring directly to it, comes across as someone with immense power purely because of the fact he has the special key. A key that opens the night box, a midnight blue box where night is stored away until day has finished. I found myself asking why has Max been chosen to have the box? What made him so special? Does his mum know about his special key and what he is responsible for? This book, although initially aimed at a younger audience, would be fantastic to use across the whole primary school range as each year group would find a deeper and different level of meaning. The text is supported by some beautiful illustrations which are in keeping with the calm nature of the book. Open to innovation, this book could be used within a English lesson or sequence in both KS1 and KS2. I read this to my Y1 class and they all enjoyed the way day was drawn back into the box as night swooped out. I also feel that a wonderful art project could stem from this book with children creating their own night boxes and filling them with 'night' or 'day'. A lovely text which I enjoyed very much. Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Kyle Matravers, teacher.

The Night Box
There Is a Tribe of Kids
Lane Smith

Two Hoots

ISBN 9781509814008

There is a Tribe of Kids (now available in paperback) is one of the most beautiful books I've seen in a long time! No doubt why this is a Kate Greenaway winner! Lane Smith has produced a stunning book that has endless possibilities for use with children. Firstly as a read aloud story - the gorgeous illustrations will create rivers of discussion. I could spend hours on each page exploring everything going on in each picture. I'm a big fan of The Power of Reading programme and immediately can see this book becoming a future text to use to support a unit of writing. I would love to write a narrative with children to accompany the illustrations! However the simple description of all the collective nouns running through the book create their own resource that is incredibly valuable. Such a wealth of rich vocabulary is used through the text and would stimulate further development of more examples and getting children to use them within their writing. I'm a firm advocate of quality books that inspire imagination and encourage children to want to write! There is a tribe of kids is just such a text. If you're a parent - buy this book to share with your children, it'll be a treasured addition to your family library. If you're a teacher, buy this book to read and use with your class- it'll make a beautiful class read and a valuable asset to use alongside English, art, music and many other areas of the curriculum! Picture book / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Marie Berry, teacher.

There Is a Tribe of Kids
King of the Sky
Nicola Davies

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406348613

Starting a new life in a new country is never easy. Living under grey skies where he feels like an outsider, a boy misses everything about his homeland until he finds comfort in the company of an old man, Mr Evans, and his racing pigeons. Given a bird to train as his own, the boy names it 'Re del Cielo' (King of the Sky) and from Mr Evans learns about homing pigeons and the role they played during the war. Whilst waiting for his bird to return from a race starting in Rome, the boy shares all his worries with Mr Evans. Will his bird return? Will the sun and the fountains make King of the Sky want to stay? As his bird at last comes back, the boy realises that he has come to terms with his life in a new country and thinks of it as home. Anyone who has moved home - whether to another town, another area or another country - will recognise that feeling of longing for home, for the familiar, that Nicola Davies captures perfectly in this lovely picture book. The contrasts of weather, language, smells, sounds are all used to create the deep mood of homesickness which permeates the first pages. The intensity of this is brilliantly developed by the powerful illustrations. Although the main themes of the story are migration and the meaning of home, the book also introduces the topic of how pigeons were used in wartime and how valuable cross-generation relationships are. King of the Sky would be a great book to use with a class to explore any of these themes and to inspire further work. Laura Carlin's wonderfully evocative illustrations could also be enjoyed and explored further. 56 pages / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Sue Wilsher, teacher.

King of the Sky