NEW TITLES

Troll Wood
Kathryn Cave

Frances Lincoln Childrens Books

ISBN 9781847802385

Ever wanted to dare to do something or go somewhere but weren't sure? Would it be too scary? But then being a little bit scared is also exciting? Troll Wood is exactly as the title suggests. A wood where trolls live. Are you brave enough to enter? Come on. With each turn of the page the reader sees a little more, but does the family in the book? This is a mysterious and fantastical book, full of suggestion. It can't but fail to capture the imagination of young readers who will be needing to, wanting to see a glimpse of those scary trolls. Or are they? On each page, as we see the family going deeper and deeper into the woods, we see images of trolls along the borders - behind the trees, under the bridge or looking out from the shadows - giving the story a hint of 'other worlds' and Troll Wood would provide a very useful stepping-stone into studying fantasy stories, which are part of KS1 narrative units. The language in the story is also kept very spare and simple, and so children can mimic it in their own creative writing, perhaps describing their own walk into the woods. There are elements they can change to make the story their own - instead of a troll, perhaps, what was found in the woods? What would they do if they were in the wood themselves? There is much to anticipate as each page-turn questions what we will find on the next page. This is an atmospheric and beautifully-presented story with useful curriculum links. Reviewed by Louise Gahan, KS1 teacher.

Troll Wood
My Humongous Hamster
Lorna Freytag

Piccadilly Press

ISBN 9781848123144

Keeping to the slightly surreal storyline is My Humongous Hamster, in which a child imagines what might happen if his hamster grew and grew. It's a story of imaginative consequences: what would happen if hamster kept on eating, and growing. Would he eat trees as if they were broccoli? How far could he see? Where would he sleep? What if he got angry - would he be scary? And would he miss his young owner? There are several opportunities here for imaginative writing - what happened if their own or imagined pet grew and grew? - and also for photographic montages using their own photographs of home and pets, and giving them surreal or out-sized backgrounds to make them appear huge. Some of the vocabulary from the story is highlighted in bold or larger text such as 'bigger', 'enormous', 'criminals' etc which could be built into a word bank for the children to draw on for their own stories. Reviewed by Louise Gahan, KS1 teacher.

My Humongous Hamster
Croc and Bird
Alexis Deacon

Red Fox Picture Books

ISBN 9780099451228

Croc and Bird begins with two eggs on sand. From one hatches a crocodile and from the other, as the title suggests, a bird. At first you wonder if Bird will survive the encounter but Crocodile takes Bird under his wing, so to speak, and they become 'brothers' who share every growing-up experience, from singing and nest-building to floating and catching buffalo. When they meet a host of other 'croc and birds', however, they have to re-think their identity and decide how important their friendship is to them. This is a simply told but also beautifully detailed picture book whose strength is in its warmth and humour. There are certain images that just stand out, such as Bird getting 'dunked' while he's learning to be a 'log' and Croc trying to climb a tree. Because of their friendship, they both persevere with actions that are completely alien to their nature and while giving us a chuckle, this dedication is also where the warmth of the story lies. Reviewed by ReadingZone.

Croc and Bird
Grendel: A Cautionary Tale About Chocolate

ISBN 9871406339093

Another well timed book just as we return to school after Easter and after perhaps a bit too much indulgence in chocolate! We have here a perfectly judged cautionary tale with a very endearing main character. Grendel, with a traditional mythological monster name, is actually the cutest little monster you have ever seen, with a face that goes from glee to glum in an instant and is very reminiscent of Homer Simpson both in expression and in enthusiastic greed. So when his Mum gives him a chocolate egg and he finds a paper inside which says 'You have three wishes', he simply wishes for MORE chocolate. When that actually works, he decides he must be sensible and rather than wish the whole world was chocolate, he settled for wishing everything he touched turned to chocolate. Children who have been introduced to the Greek myth of King Midas will know just what is coming! When first his beloved pet dog and then his beloved Mum are turned to chocolate and then begin to melt in the hot sun, as children will indeed expect from science lessons about changing materials, poor Grendel learns very rapidly what things are much more important than chocolate. But unlike Homer Simpson Grendel thinks very carefully and uses his third wish very wisely and now Mum cannot believe the change in Grendel, who really is her good little monster now. A delightful, witty tale with some unexpected curriculum uses! Reviewed by Joy Court, School Library Services.

Grendel: A Cautionary Tale About Chocolate
How Dinosaurs Really Work
Alan Snow

Simon & Schuster Childrens Books

ISBN 9780857073143

This quirky look at dinosaurs - which is full of dinosaur facts as well as some amusing images - would go down well with KS1 as well as KS2 pupils, especially given how keen many children are about the idea of dinosaurs. With each spread focused on a particular type of dinosaur, you could take a page a day for younger pupils and explore each creature one by one, including the extra information provided in the speech bubbles and captions around the edges of the main picture. This includes references to how much the dinosaur weighed, its length and its height, so you could look at things like the relative sizes of their brains etc for numeracy. There are also opportunities for children to draw and design their own dinosaurs and also for some junk modelling sessions around the theme of dinosaurs. Reviewed by Louise Gahan, KS1 teacher.

How Dinosaurs Really Work

ISBN 9781847802668

Home, by Nigerian Ifeoma Onyefulu, is a carefully-photographed document of what 'home' means for traditional villagers in Mali, West Africa. It is a great resource for anyone tackling the theme of home at KS1 and Reception, and reminds us how different homes can be all over the world so can also be used in discussions around cultural diversity. In this home, the stove is outside, on the ground, stools are beautifully-crafted wooden objects and there are items like a pestle and mortar which don't feature in most Western homes. The photographs are left to tell the story, with text kept to minimal single word descriptors such as 'broom' and 'washing board'. You might also want to explore Onyefulu's first book, A is for Africa, which also celebrates through photography what it means to be African.