NEW TITLES

The weather, fairy tales and magic are some of the subjects covered in this month's selection of picture books and young fiction for children aged 5-7 years.

Class One Farmyard Fun
Julia Jarman

Hodder Children's Books

ISBN 9781444927160

This is the latest in the series that began with Class Two at the Zoo, in which a group of children visit a farmyard to find out about the animals. But while they are happily spotting a goat eating the farmer's coat, and a giggle goose in a rowing boat, they fail to spot the the bull, who is in a strop; there is far too much red in his farmyard! All the children are sporting something red - so when the bull's rampage begins, the results are predictable but some quick thinking from one of the children saves the day. The rhyming text is wonderfully fun and the progress of the bull through the farmyard will keep young children engaged. The illustrations, too, are colourful and detailed with plenty to draw on about animals and the work that takes place in farmyards. The text also offers lots of opportunity to work on rhyming words, and phonics, and for encouraging children to create their own farmyard rhymes. Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Nicola Child.

Class One Farmyard Fun
Fairy Tale Pets
Tracey Corderoy

Little Tiger Press

ISBN 9781848694415

Imagine if the fairy tale characters - Goldilocks, the three little pigs, Jack from the beanstalk and the troll in the Three Billy Goats Gruff - needed to tend to the animals that have a role in each of their stories? How tricky might they be to look after? When Bob, who is broke, decides to set up a pet-sitting company, he doesn't realise that these are the kinds of pets he'll be given to tend to... and they aren't easy customers. Little Bear has tantrums, the goose is terrified and the trip-trapping goats are just plain noisy - but none of them are quite as bad as wolf.... This picture book gives us a fun new way to look at fairy tales, although children will need to know each of the stories to understand the humour. There are lots of opportunities to develop work around the story. Children could talk about their own pets, or a fairy tale pet, and how they might look after it. What would be the worse fairy tale pet they can think of to look after? How about setting up their own pet-sitting corner and creating fairy tale pets to fill it, or making a display for the classroom walls? Older children in KS1 could recreate the story with different pets, and act it out. This picture book is great fun, and a must-have for work around fairy tales. Picture book Ages 4+ Reviewed by Alex Young.

Fairy Tale Pets
There Is No Dragon In This Story
Lou Carter

Bloomsbury Publishing PLC

ISBN 9781408864906

There is definitely no dragon in this story! He has gone off in a huff because he doesn't want to capture icky, frilly princesses today or to fight brave, shiny knights. This dragon wants to find a story where he can be the hero for a change! But it proves a little difficult when everybody he approaches to offer help, including the Gingerbread Man, the Second Little Pig and Goldilocks, remind him in no uncertain terms, that 'there is NO DRAGON in this story'! His turn to prove that even dragons can be heroes comes when a giant's sneeze blows out the sun and he re-lights it. A delightful picture book in which a number of fairy tale characters appear, so it does help if young listeners are familiar with them and their stories. There are plenty of visual jokes and talking points to extend a reading of the book. Recommended for sharing with children in Key Stage 1. Picture book / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Jayne Gould, librarian.

There Is No Dragon In This Story
Rain
Sam Usher

Templar Publishing

ISBN 9781783705474

Who wouldn't want to be out playing in the pouring rain? Rain, written and beautifully illustrated by Sam Usher, is a book about a little boy who wakes one morning to find the rain tapping at his window. He can't wait to get outside and his imagination is running wild with all the things he could do in the rain. The little boy asks his Grandad if they can venture outside but Grandad tells him to wait for it to stop. Excitement grows for the boy and plans are building in his mind but still Grandad says they should stay indoors until the rain ends. Whilst waiting, both Grandad and the boy are busy - the little boy exploring books that give him visions of sea voyages with monsters and floating cities, full of carnival celebration, and Grandad busying himself writing an important letter. Eventually, Grandad decides it is time to go outside as he needs to post his letter and the little boy finally gets his adventure in the rain. When the pair return Grandad and the boy agree on the poignant message from the story; 'the very best things are always worth waiting for'. I love the watercolour illustrations in the book, especially those on the double page spread. These are excellent lesson starters to get the children talking and engaged in setting description, brainstorming powerful vocabulary to describe the scene. Lots of links to be made with Science, this alongside Sam Usher's other books in the series; Snow and Sun would work well to support learning on weather changes. I really like that you can make links through the writing style and I think children will enjoy becoming familiar with the little boy and Grandad's adventurous relationship. Children could write poems about the rain - 'list poems' with descriptive phrases built up using the double page images. Writing opportunities could also include letter writing. Who is Grandad writing to? What is he writing? Children could write a letter as though they were Grandad. The illustrations have lots of little details to spot and encourage discussion (the little heart on the envelope, for example). Picture book / Ages 4-7 years / Reviewed by Nikki Styles, teacher.

Rain
Sun
Sam Usher

Templar Publishing

ISBN 9781783707959

Another of Sam Ushers brilliantly illustrated stories following his series of books based on the weather. This is the third in the series and having read 'Snow' and 'Rain' before, I looked forward to revisiting Grandad and the boy and seeing what adventures they got up to this time. This story starts like the previous two. A young boy wakes up to find it is sunny, very sunny; the hottest day of the year! And on this day the boy and his grandfather decide to go on an adventure. They pack provisions and set off to find the perfect picnic spot. The illustrations are vibrant and enticing and ooze heat in their yellows and oranges. Grandad and the boy stop and start on their journey looking for the best spot, 'a shady spot, somewhere with a cool breeze' - until eventually they find the perfect picnic place but somebody has got there first! The watercolour images are brilliant and set the scene perfectly. The colour gets progressively darker as the story goes on and this could be explored with the children. This text could be used as a stimulus for art work, how different colours make us feel and different shades of colours. Children could produce their own weather paintings in the style of Sam Usher. This text could be a good resource to support geography work using maps/plans. Looking at the school grounds or local area, I would ask children to imagine we were going on adventure like the boys and if we had to find a shady spot/ a picturesque spot etc, where would we go? Children could plot these on maps and plans. This story has a repetitive pattern lots of children will enjoy joining in with; an NC KS1 target to be able to join in with predictable phrases. Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Nikki Stiles, teacher.

Sun
Dreamweaver
Claire Freedman

Templar Publishing

ISBN 9781783707997

Dreamweaver is one of the most beautiful books I have had the pleasure of reading recently. Claire Freedman, most famous for being the author of the 'Aliens love Underpants' series, has created a text that is just perfect for bedtime - which is exactly what it's purpose is. The story is all about the Dreamweaver, a magical fairy who flies around the world with her sack of dreams, trying to drift sleepy animals in the world of sleep. As a stand-alone read aloud book, this is just wonderful as the pictures help make it so beautiful. My year 1 children enjoyed spotting things within the picture and making connections with the dreamweaver. The girls within my class certainly enjoyed it and it was refreshing to read a book with a female lead character to them. Although maybe not the first book the boys would have picked, I do think they enjoyed listening to it. The rhyming couplets used throughout help the text flow from page to page and the language use is amazing. This in itself would make a wonderful English lesson as children could explore the use of imagery within. My children also liked being able to connect to the dreamweaver on a personal level as she used phrases their own parents used at bedtime. I think this book could be used to create a wonderful reading corner project in a school or community library and would be great to read as a 'bedtime story' event to try and inspire parents into a regular bedtime reading routine. I also found myself thinking that lots of wonderful art and music work could be planned and completed through using the book. Primarily aimed at the younger children in a primary setting, I could see this picture book being used well in KS2 also. Very enjoyable. Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Kyle Matravers, teacher.

Dreamweaver
Kitty's Magic 4: Star the Little Farm Cat
Ella Moonheart

Bloomsbury Childrens Books

ISBN 9781408870983

Kitty has a very special magical secret - she is able to transform into a cat! Wearing a silver locket with a picture of a cat engraved on it, Kitty has to recite a rhyme that her Japanese grandma taught her and she becomes a little black cat. In this form she can understand cat language and has become an important part of the local Cat Council, as Guardian. This means that they can come to her with problems and she will try to help them. At the beginning of the summer holidays, Kitty is going to spend a few days at Strawberry lane farm, with her aunt, uncle and cousin Max. She is understandably a little nervous, not having seen them for a while or spent any time in the country. Star, the old farm cat, offers some wise advice when Kitty meets him in her cat form. She is excited to discover that she can understand all animals, including puppy Daisy, and comes up with a clever solution to the mice problem which is threatening the livelihood of the farm. This is the latest of Kitty's adventures in a gently whimsical series, which is ideal for newly confident readers. Children need series like this to build reading stamina and excite their interest in books. I would recommend this to Year 1 and 2 fans of animal and magic stories. 128 pages / Ages 6+ / Reviewed by Jayne Gould, librarian.

Kitty's Magic 4: Star the Little Farm Cat
Evie's Magic Bracelet: The Sprites' Den: Book 3
Jessica Ennis-Hill

Hodder Children's Books

ISBN 9781444934410

This is the third book in the Evie's Magic Bracelet series, in which Evie receives presents of magical bracelets from her grandmother. Each bracelet gives Evie a different magical ability, from being able to see magical creatures in the first book to being able to imagine things into being in this adventure. But each story also draws on issues around friendships and family. In this story, Evie's grandparents' garden has been trashed and Evie and her two friends want to find out who or what is responsible. Evie is delighted to receive a new bracelet from her grandmother and decides to use it to help solve the mystery. However, in doing so Evie neglects and upsets her younger sister Lily and the story follows how she can put things right. The books are beautifully laid out for readers gaining in confidence with text that is well spaced and doesn't cover the full page, and illustrations interspersed throughout. The text, which is co-written with author Elen Caldecott, flows well and there's plenty of action to keep young readers engaged. I know that girls love the covers and the books are a great addition to class libraries for years 3-4. 134 pages / Ages 7+ / Reviewed by Vanessa Swift.

Evie's Magic Bracelet: The Sprites' Den: Book 3