NEW TITLES

This month's picture book highlights includes some wonderful stories for reception children as well as picture books that can be used to spark discussions and inspire writing activities among older children in KS1.

Unplugged
Steve Antony

Hodder Children's Books

ISBN 9781444934151

Unplugged is one of my favourite books from this year. Steve Antony, the author behind The Queen's Hat and the Mr Panda series, has produced a story that offers many learning opportunities within school but also will deliver clear messages with parents at home. The story is all about Blip, a little robot who has spent her life plugged into the computer. Being plugged in is enjoyable for Blip as it allows her to learn new things, play games and visit far away places. She can do this all day, everyday. That is until there is a unexpected power cut, leading to Blip tripping over her own wire and falling down the stairs and out the house....becoming unplugged in the process! Before she knows it, Blip is outside and soon finds she can still do all the things she loved on the computer. She even makes new friends in the form of a duck, rabbit and deer. As the day ends, Blip decides its time to return home and back inside. Once plugged back in, Blip realises that although the computer can be fun, it is nothing like being unplugged. The message delivered by the book is one that is certainly applicable today with such emphasis on technology and I think it will strike a chord with many parents - that everyone (adults and children) need to take the time to unplug themselves and realise the beauty of nature. I'm certain children would enjoy replicating the activities Blip partakes in when outside during their own outside provision within school. Despite being a picture book, I think the same message could be delivered through this book to older children within the primary school setting. One of the things I also enjoyed about this book were the illustrations and how the use of colour is slowly introduced to show the difference between outside and inside. Parents and teachers will also enjoy images on the computer screens, some of which made me reminisce about games I used to play myself. I can't recommend this book highly enough! Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Kyle Matravers, teacher.

Unplugged
I Want to Be in a Scary Story
Sean Taylor

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406363463

Monster wants to be in a scary story - but is he brave enough? As he realises that scary stories have creepy witches, creaky stairs and dark hallways in them - maybe a funny story would be better after all? This is a great book that, as well as an entertaining and interactive storyline, teaches children how a story can develop, from thinking about the setting, the characters, the mood of the book and of course the conclusion. It encourages simple discussion and questioning and shows how ideas can evolve and change depending on how the story unfolds. This is a truly inspirational book which can be used in so many ways to develop early writing. It is also a lot of fun with its twists and turns and changes of direction and motivation. Jean Jullien's bold and fun illustrations will keep every young reader captivated. Picture book / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Louise Gahan, teacher.

I Want to Be in a Scary Story
You Can Never Run Out Of Love
Helen Docherty

Simon & Schuster Childrens Books

ISBN 9781471145681

A sweet picture book with some lovely illustrations to explore with children, our favourites were those of the families spending time together. The story lists many scenarios where you can run out of something and keeps coming back to the simple message that you might be able to run out of all of these things, but love is something different, 'it's there right inside of you, wherever you are - you can never run out of love'. I found the text didn't hold much for the children to understand on their own so the illustrations worked really well to accompany these rhymes to engage and prompt discussion. A heart-warming book to share with children at bedtime, and it could be used in EYFS supporting discussion in PSHE. Picture book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Nikki Stiles, teacher.

You Can Never Run Out Of Love
Spider!
Alison Steadman

Hodder Children's Books

ISBN 9781444933505

Spider is a bright and enjoyable offering from Alison Steadman about a boy's new friendship with the house spider living behind his TV. The premis behind the book is to try and deter people from the thinking that spiders are scary and we should get rid of them from our homes. The children in my class enjoyed the story of how Rafael befriended the eight-legged mini beast and all made the 'Spider Pledge' (a nice touch at the end of the book). The book was very relatable as the children were keen to share their experiences of spiders in the home and how they are dealt with. The children also enjoyed the pictures and how the story had a happy ending. Of course, any book which mentions the word 'bottom' is likely to be a winner with a group of five year olds! As for me, I was left feeling a little let down buy the story itself. I felt like the story was missing some content, a bit more padding if you will. There is nothing wrong with following such a simple structure and journey though, especially with the clever use of 'facts' on every page. This allowed readers of all age to learn something about spiders and most of the facts were in line with the context of the story section. I think this book would be an enjoyable story time read for a class working about the mini beast topic and could even offer some research based sessions when retrieving spider facts. I am sure the children in my class would happily pick this book up again and enjoy it over and over , and at the end of the day, that is what really counts. Picture book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Kyle Matravers, teacher.

Spider!
The Queen's Present
Steve Antony

Hodder Children's Books

ISBN 9781444925647

The Queen's Present (now available in paperback) is another triumph for Steve Antony. I am a huge fan of this range of books. And this third edition of the Queen's adventures is a fabulous Christmas story all about the Queen's trip around the world to find the perfect present for her grandchildren. As with all Steve Antony's books, his mixture of fantastic illustrations and wonderfully descriptive language captivated the readers and this book doesn't fail to impress. I love how he uses elves in this book as he does policeman in the other books to follow Father Christmas and the Queen around the world. As always the Queens butler is always somewhere on the scene and my son really enjoyed Trying to find him on every page. This book would be a great stocking filler this Christmas and if you've never read a Steve Antony book, do also look at the Queen's Handbag and the Queen's Hat. As for a book to use in school, The Queen's Present is a perfect addition to the round the world topics as each page has another of the wonderful world sites which could be explored and researched. I am so glad to have this new story as part of my collection. Picture book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Marie Berry, teacher.

The Queen's Present
Toad Has Talent
Richard Smythe

Frances Lincoln Childrens Books

ISBN 9781786030115

A wintery Moonlight Pond at full moon is the atmospheric setting for this entertaining picturebook about a group of woodland animals gathering for their annual talent contest. All of the creatures look forward to it and practise their special talents all year long in anticipation of the great event. Tortoise and Squirrel dance, Fox sings, Spider juggles, the White Mice are acrobats, however, one creature does not look forward to the event. Toad hides in the shadows, watching the other acts jealously, wishing his arms and legs were not so long and clumsy so he could dance or he was not always so grumpy so he could be funny like Snake. Snail draws the judges' attentions to Toad, whose clumsiness leads him to falling on the ice and he ends up performing a dazzling ice-skating routine and to his surprise, he is announced the winner. Toad now enjoys instructing the other animals how to skate and perform tricks with the motto 'you never know what you can do until you try' at the forefront of his teaching. The illustrations in this picturebook are engaging and colourful with lots of little details to look for as the large group of characters enjoy the competition. There are many touches that young readers will enjoy spotting such as one of the young mice pulling on the tail of one of its siblings or the beaver sweeping leaves from the pond with its tail. Alongside the obvious messages of everybody being special, having unique hidden talents, and trying new things; this is a good book for young readers to identify a wide range of creatures that live in a woodland environment.

Toad Has Talent
Charlie and Lola: A Dog With Nice Ears
Lauren Child

Orchard Books

ISBN 9781408346136

Lauren Child has created another excellent Charlie and Lola adventure in A Dog With Nice Ears. In this story, Charlie explains how his sister Lola really wants a dog. She plays dogs, pretends to be a dog, pretends Charlie is a dog and talks endlessly about the type of dog she wants. However, the fly in the ointment is that mum an dad don't want a dog! Instead they tell Lola she can have a rabbit. However in typical Lola fashion she assures Charlie that she'll get her dog from the pet shop when she goes with dad. I always enjoy the turn of phrase that Lola comes out with when describing things, and this book doesn't fail to have its fair share of 'Lola-isms'. As with all Lauren Child books, the unmistakeable illustrations and mixture between photo and illustrated images make her books engaging and enchanting. My kids found the part when Lola is thinking of her name for the dog really funny and Marv's reaction to Lola's description of her really, really weird dog got a chuckle too. Charlie and Lola is a firm favourite in our house and A Dog With Nice Ears will be added to the favourite pile. In the end, as Lola brings home her new 'pet dog' (which is actually a rabbit) she doesn't give up her description of her new dog, and Snowpuff turns out to be just the right name! Highly recommend this one to add to the Christmas book list - it will be enjoyed all around. Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Marie Berry, teacher.

Charlie and Lola: A Dog With Nice Ears
Luna Loves Library Day
Joseph Coelho

Andersen Press Ltd

ISBN 9781783445486

When it is Luna's library day she remembers to take her books to return, her library card and her book bag. She looks forward to all the adventures she will find on the shelves and between the covers of the books, but best of all is seeing Dad. Library day is the day that she spends with him; he's always there, waiting with his head in a book. Together they discover books large and small about dinosaurs, bugs and magic tricks. Dad knows how to disappear and Luna would especially like to learn how to bring him back. They share a book about the place dad grew up in, as well as a fairy tale, which echoes the relationship between Luna's Mum and Dad, and they share lots of hugs. This is a gentle, joyous and inspiring celebration of all that is to be found in libraries, from magic to information, refuge and memories. Luna and her father clearly enjoy their visits to the library where they can bond over books to enjoy together. The inclusion of a book within a book adds an extra element to discover, along with the quirky additions to the library shelves! This is an ideal readaloud as an introduction to libraries and the wonderful world of books. Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Jayne Gould, librarian.

Luna Loves Library Day
Lucie Goose
Danny Baker

Hodder Children's Books

ISBN 9781444937404

Lucie Goose is a great story by Danny Baker. It tells the tale of Lucie the Goose who has lived on her own for many years. In fact she has never met another animal. So when one day she come face to face with a big bad wolf, his roars mean nothing and rather than be scared, she invites him in for a cup of tea. Lucie Goose has no idea that geese should be scared of wolves and the wolf is none too pleased by Lucie's lack of fear. After he storms off, the next visitor is an enormous bear. Again he tries to scare lucie with a giant roar, but again Lucis is not scared and thinks the idea of running away from the bear screaming is a silly one. In fact she tells the bear how comfy and nice she thinks he seems. Later, when a fierce lion approaches and echoes his loud roar, Lucie isn't remotely scared and offers tea and cake again. When Bruce Goose arrives later he explains to Lucie that no one is ever scared of geese but is happy to join join her for tea and cake. Then, as the sun sets, three animals come running to Lucie's house telling her how they really do like tea and cake, and in the background something even bigger has appeared to scare them all...a dragon! I really enjoyed this book with my children. It was funny and well written with lots of exciting vocabulary. The illustrations by Pippa Curnick are really lovely and there are lots of different things to discuss within each page. I'd recommend reading this book with your children I think that they will really enjoy and engage with the story. Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Marie Berry, teacher.

Lucie Goose
Tug of War
Naomi Howarth

Frances Lincoln Childrens Books

ISBN 9781847808509

Tug of War is a beautifully illustrated story with an important message.....no matter your size, you are still brilliant. The story is set in the African jungle where we meet the main character tortoise and join him in his attempts to make new friends. He asks two of the biggest and toughest animals in the jungle and his request for friendship is laughed at and cruelly thrown back at him. Feeling dejected and sad, tortoise receives advice from another creature on how he can get his own back and teach the mean animals a valuable lesson. I enjoyed sharing this story with the children in my class and it was very relevant for a circle time session as they had been experiencing friendship problems in recent lunch times. It was nice to see the children make links to how the tortoise was feeling and identifying that how mean and unkind the other animals were being, there were even gasps of disapproval from the children as they listened to what the animals had to say. The illustrations that accompany the book are beautiful and really help set the scene. I would recommend this book to all ages within the primary age range as a great tool to support discussions about friendship and self worth. Picture book / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Kyle Matravers, teacher.

Tug of War
You Choose in Space
Pippa Goodhart

Puffin

ISBN 9780141379296

Nick Sharratt and Pippa Goodhart have written a great book in You Choose in Space. This is the first You Choose I have read and I have to say I was very impressed with it. As a stand-alone read, it was a great one to share with my children and generated lots of discussions and chat about the pictures and using imagination to talk about what life in space might be like. I can see how this read would be different every time and how children would get something different from it during every read. I think this would be a great book to use as a guided reading text in class with KS1 and lower KS2 children as a way to generate discussion and speaking and listening skills. I would definitely use it as a stimuli for sentence writing and there is a vast scope for its use with descriptive writing. I will certainly be looking up other You Choose books as I think they will be a great resource to use in class and with the unmistakable Nick Sharratt illustrations, this will always be a popular choice. Picture book / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Marie Berry, teacher.

You Choose in Space
Red and Lulu
Matt Tavares

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406376920

Red and Lulu is a beautiful and wonderful tale of love, dedication and companionship that I would recommend to anyone who loves a good book. I opened the envelope with this book with with my year 1 class and what followed was one of the best book discussions we've had. The children were completely hooked and immersed in the story of Red and his search for his beloved Lulu. The addition of wordless pages allowed for deeper thinking opportunities and really made the children consider what the author is trying to say without saying it. The illustrations are part of what makes this books so special and they allowed the children to make links to their learning as well as give them clues to where the story was heading. From start to finish, the children simply loved this book. It didn't matter one bit that we read this Christmassy tale at the start of October and I am sure the children will be requesting it once more when we get closer to the big day in December. What I also found lovely was the additional information about the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, which gave the story a real context and something the children wanted to learn more about. I would happily add this to my Christmas story collection and think everyone else should do the same. Picture book / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Kyle Matravers, teacher.

Red and Lulu
Man on the Moon: a day in the life of Bob
Simon Bartram

Templar Publishing

ISBN 9781840114911

Republished for its 15th anniversary, this colourful story quickly became an absolute favourite in our house! Requested over and over again by my three and six-year-old daughters. The superb illustrations giving them both so much to see and find. Bob has the best job! Bob is the man on the moon, keeping the moon in ship shape and entertaining its daily visitors from earth. The story follows Bob's typical day as though it is an everyday average job, told in a short and sharp way that is easily accessible to children. The humour throughout is great keeping both adults and children entertained. Bob doesn't think aliens exist and surely he would know, but readers will soon decide he is mistaken, giving children focus throughout the story to prove Bob wrong. This story is jam packed with potential to get high quality work out of children, motivated and engaged in both Maths and Literacy easily spanning over at least half a term. Lots of links to be made with time in maths, children could create a timetable for a day in the life of Bob recording what he does throughout the day and at what times, solving time word problems. Bob gives a talk to the tourists, children could plan and write a presentation of their own to perform including their own research/facts about the moon in the form of a non-chronological report. I would also use this book to look at recount writing, writing in role as Bob recalling his day, as the story is well structured making it easy for the children to sequence parts of his day. It would be great to link in some DT work, children could design and make their own souvenirs from the moon using maybe junk modelling/clay etc. A definite favourite in class and at home! Picture book / Ages 4-8 years / Reviewed by Nikki Stiles, teacher.

Man on the Moon: a day in the life of Bob
Bob's Best Ever Friend
Simon Bartram

Templar Publishing

ISBN 9781840119398

The sequel to Man on the Moon (a day in the life of Bob), re-issued by Templar to celebrate 15 years of Bob! Knowing and loving 'Man on the Moon' we expected 'Bob's best Ever Friend' to be great but was a little apprehensive it may not live up to expectations. So pleasantly surprised, this picture book was just as witty and delightful. Bob, the man on the Moon, is feeling lonely. He has completed all of his daily tasks maintaining the Moon, there are no tourists visiting today and his friends Billy and Sam are off exploring Pluto in the hope to see alien animals. Most upsetting of all is that Bob has no-one, no best-ever friends to bounce on his bouncy castle with. Feeling a little glum, Bob goes about his normal day, all the while hoping he might find the one, a best-ever best friend. Little does he know that the perfect chum for Bob would instead find him! The illustrations are great, vivid, full of character and with so much to see, every time we read this book we spot something new. The illustrations work as a story by themselves following the journey of Bob's canine friend and his alien antics, so there is lots for the children to infer from the pictures alone. Again, Bob works as a stimulus for lots of great writing activities. Fantastic to use as a focus on writing character descriptions, children could design and describe their own alien animals that may be available in the 'Cats, Rats N Bats' pet shop. Children could write their own advert in role as Bob - Man on the Moon looking for his best-ever friend including descriptions of the qualities he is after, linking perfectly to discussions with the children about what makes a good friend, how can we be a good friend to someone in our class? Picture book / Ages 4-8 years / Reviewed by Nikki Stiles, teacher.

Bob's Best Ever Friend