NEW TITLES

From starting school to stories about animals and friendship, the environment and fairy tales, this month's picture book highlights offers a range of great picture books for the classroom and in homes.

Hole in the Zoo
Mick Inkpen

Hodder Children's Books

ISBN 9781444931709

At Upalongdownalong Avenue, in the garden at number 2 there's a hole in the wall that belongs to the Zoo and things have started coming through... This story is such fun to read! Every day, different animals in different amounts come through the hole in the wall! Each page has charming, fun illustrations of a variety of wild animals until eventually the man from the zoo comes through the hole and sends them all back! The story is easy to follow and the language simplistic so easy to understand. There are lots of chances to engage children with the story, counting the animals on the pages, discussing what they are, the sounds they make and so on. I've read this story a number of times to my class of four and five year olds (They keep asking for it!) and they love it! Picture book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Lizi Coombs, teacher.

Hole in the Zoo
Thank You, Bees
Toni Yuly

Candlewick Press,U.S.

ISBN 9780763692612

This is an inspiring story that teaches children about nature and its impact on us. The narrative is simple and straightforward, but delivers a gentle message of gratitude to the world and nature. The purpose of this story is show and encourage children to respect nature and be grateful for the gifts that nature delivers to us - 'sun gives us light. Thank you, sun. Bees give us honey. Thank you, bees.' The connection between resource and product is clear to even the youngest reader and by the end of the story, the child is seen peacefully sleeping thanking the world for his home. In a busy world full of technology and with so many children glued to screens, this story offers even the youngest reader opportunities to look up and study the world around. Its simplicity is what makes this story perfect. With clear, colourful illustrations this story offers children connections to the natural world and raises awareness of the planet. Striking colour contrasts on big clear images will appeal to very young readers. Each page has big, bold, black letters and, with a maximum of four words per page, it can be read to very young children and enjoyed by all; it almost reads like a prayer. Thank you Bees is a delightfully uncomplicated story that offers plenty of opportunities for adults to continue the narrative and discuss other resources and products of the world with children. Picture book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Joanna Hewish, teacher.

Thank You, Bees
Follow the Track All the Way Back
Timothy Knapman

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406360592

A wholesome story combined with beautiful illustrations, this story will be a favourite of all young children. There is certainly a vintage feel to this book as it tells the tale of Little Train going out into the big wide world for the first time by himself. On his adventure exploring the tracks, Little Train goes through a great green field, across a bridge, up a steep mountain, beside a roaring river until he reaches the end of the track. Caught up in the excitement of his adventure, Little Train has soon forgotten the last words of Mummy and Daddy Train - 'No matter how far away you are, just follow the track all the way back.' But, as night-time draws in, will Little Train be able to find his way back home safe to Mummy and Daddy Train? The digitally-enhanced, beautiful hand drawn illustrations sit perfectly as an accompaniment to this family story. Bright and colourful with carefully placed details, Ben Mantle's illustrations capture the emotions and expressions of Little Train as his journey progresses and children will emphasise and delight as his narrative develops. Timothy Knapman incorporates a variety of vocabulary to stimulate a young person's mind through the sound effects of Little Train - 'Clumpety-Clip' and 'Zippety-Zoom'. This is a story about becoming more independent, but always knowing your way safely back home, and Knapman bestows this message in a beautiful way. Heart-warming and sweet, this story will be enjoyed by parents, grandparents and fully engross your child. With a popular child's toy -trains - as the main character, this is a story that will be asked for again and again at bedtime. Picture book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Joanna Hewish, teacher.

Follow the Track All the Way Back
The Adventures of Egg Box Dragon
Richard Adams

Hodder Children's Books

ISBN 9781444938401

The Egg Box dragon was created by Emma out of (you guessed it!) cut up egg boxes and one night, after being put to bed under the moon, he comes to life! The dragon is a friendly, but mischievous creature who has a fantastic talent - he can find anything that has been lost.... Word of Egg Box Dragon's talent travels far and wide, until even the queen requires his help to find her missing diamond. This is a lovely story with beautiful illustrations by Alex T Smith; each page is engaging to look at with lots of details that would be enjoyed by boys and girls alike. It's a good choice if you are looking at projects using recycled materials, or indeed recycling; children could craft their own egg box dragon or other junk-modelled animal. It offers opportunities to talk about recycling and reusing, as well as taking care of our own possessions - we don't have an egg-box dragon to find them! Picture book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Lizi Coombs, teacher.

The Adventures of Egg Box Dragon
Supertato: Evil Pea Rules
Sue Hendra

Simon & Schuster Childrens Books

ISBN 9781471144066

The ghastly green super villain is back and determined to stop his nemesis once and for all. Evil Pea is set on ruling the supermarket once and for all, and has a dastardly plan to put Supertato out of action for good. With his plans underway to turn the supermarket into his very own ice kingdom, can Supertato save the day? A fabulously fun and festive offering from the Dynamic Duo Of Picture Books! Supertato has it all; a hero to root for, a vile villain and it's brimming with adventure and laughs. The gasps of delight from Year 6 when I opened my book post just goes to show you are never to old to enjoy a good picture book! What Bedtime Bookclub thought...'Evil Pea is so funny. If he could learn how to be nice, I think he'd be a really fun friend!' 'I loved it when the fruit and vegetables woke up, and saw what Evil Pea had done. His reaction was the best part of the whole story.' 'This is my favourite Supertato story because the pictures make me laugh. I loved everything about Evil Pea Rules.' Huge thanks to ReadingZone for sending me a copy to review, and to my Year 3 Bedtime Book Club for sharing their thoughts! Picture book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Nicki Cleveland, teacher.

Supertato: Evil Pea Rules
Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth
Oliver Jeffers

HarperCollins

ISBN 9780008266165

When you spot J.M. Barrie's quote '...always try to be a little kinder than is necessary...' tucked away at the beginning of a book, you can almost be certain it's going to be a must-read for children. Especially in world where we seem to see so much unkindness. But that's not the world Jeffers focuses on in 'Here We Are'. In fact, he looks at humanity and our planet positively and hopefully, encouraging his readers to re-envision what they see around them. Of course, these 'notes for living on planet earth' are inspired by the author's son so the optimistic standpoint is one of childish naivety, and that's OK. Adult readers will understand the negatives behind the positive statements - the book provides a stimulus for adults to discuss world events and issues with children at an age-appropriate level. The book has excellent Science and Geography links - Jeffers, in his inimitable style, illustrates the solar system, the night sky, the human body and species of animals providing engaging starting points to several areas of the national curriculum. In fact, so good are these that you'll be crying out for an Oliver Jeffers 'How Things Work' style non-fiction book to use in all aspects of the STEM curriculum. First, 'Here We Are' is a celebration of the planet on which we live; it encourages awe and wonder as we notice and learn about the world around us. Second, it gently urges its readers to look after the things around them - the environment, others and themselves. A double page spread beautifully illustrated with an impressive variety of different-looking people serves as a great talking point alone - how should we treat those who look different to us? Even though we look different, are there similarities? These are such important questions for young children to be discussing if our societies are ever to be more empathetic. C.S. Lewis said 'A children's story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children's story in the slightest' and Oliver Jeffers never fails at this. Adults reading this book will be reminded about what life is really about and will be inspired to ensure that in all the areas the book touches upon that they are good role models to the children in their life. 'Things can sometimes move slowly here on Earth. More often though, they move quickly, so use your time well.' is definitely advice needed by adults more than by children. If there were to be one overarching theme I'd say it was wellbeing. And not that selfish kind that only says look after yourself, but the type that celebrates the positive impact of caring for the wellbeing of others. In fact, the five ways to wellbeing are clearly all celebrated in this book: Connect ('You're never alone on earth'); Be Active ('...when the sun is out, it is daytime, and we do stuff' accompanied by a gorgeous yellow-tinted illustration of all kinds of activity); Take Notice ('There is so much to see and do here on Earth...'); Learn (the whole book is about learning new things); and Give ('just remember to leave notes for everyone else.'). What parent wouldn't want wellbeing for their children? Basically, this is essential reading and needs to be a staple on library shelves and in schools and homes. Books do have the power to change perceptions and this one is something like a manifesto for how children will need to operate in order to change the way things are going in the world. But, I'd even recommend this to adults who might never read it with a child - it could be the gentle reminder they need to adjust their lives for their own wellbeing's sake. Picture book / Ages 3-adult / Reviewed by Aidan Severs, teacher

Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth
Baabwaa and Wooliam
David Elliott

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406378559

A fun and stimulating book that is a delight to read with young people. Taking inspiration from the more traditional 'Big bad wolf' story line, this story is juxtaposed with very a humorous outcome. Baabwaa and Wooliam are very contented sheep, happily knitting and reading. Until one day, they decide they need a little more adventure in their lives, 'we should have an adventure of our own....and so the two friends set off.' So they go for a walk around the field, stopping to eat when suddenly they are approached by another sheep (or wolf in sheep's clothing). Wooliam, being very well read, soon spots the wolf for what he is 'it's the wolf in sheep's clothing I've read about' and the two friends try to escape. Soon the uneducated Wolf wants to know what Wooliam has been reading about him and eventually the sheep teach the wolf to read and to knit, occasionally stopping for a chase around the field. This is a story about unlikely friendships and teaching each other something new when we open ourselves to making new friends. For the grown-ups, this is a story about getting yourself (and your friend) out there, diminishing your routines and putting some spice and excitement back into your friendship. The adult humour is what I enjoyed the most about this story. Although a fabulous narrative and thoroughly enjoyable story to read with my children, I couldn't help picking out humorous elements of more settled middle-aged parents in the characters of Baabwaa and Wooliam - 'Which way?' Asked Wooliam. 'You decide' Baabwaa answered. 'Left, then' said Wooliam. Baabwaa thought they should have gone right. Such moments reminded me of conversations with my husband! David Elliott (author) is a very talented writer; humorous and appealing to children and adults alike, this book is a winner! Accompanied with beautiful watercolour illustrations by Melissa Sweet, the characters will come to life and be a most treasured story to be read at any time of day. A huge success. Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Joanna Hewish, teacher.

Baabwaa and Wooliam
On the Night of the Shooting Star
Amy Hest

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406377330

Bunny and Dog are neighbours. They live very private lives and never say hello to each other, not even hi. As the seasons come and go they become increasingly curious about each other's lives. On a sleepless night the neighbours venture outdoors to watch the stars. Both Bunny and Dog are secretly worried that their animal acquaintance next door is lonely and in need of company. When the sky brightens with the light of a passing star both Bunny and Dog see it. Their shared experience brings them together and they share coco and biscuits together under the stars. The neighbours agree to be friends and for the rest of their days and nights they become the very closest of friends. Amy Hest's simple narrative is beautifully paired with Jenni Desmond's delightful illustrations in this sweet children's picture book. The text has a wonderful sense of repetition that will engage younger readers and the simple detail contained in the pictures will keep keen eyes immersed in the story. Readers will be drawn to the charismatic smiles of Bunny and Dog as they go about their lives, sensitive to the feelings of the animal next door. This is a great story to read to encourage empathy for others and bravery when forming new friendships. It is particularly suited to children in the EYFS or lower KS1. Readers could explore character feelings or ask what they think the characters should do to make friends at various stages in the story. They could also reflect on the things they could say and do to be friends with others around them. Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Emily Beale, school librarian.

On the Night of the Shooting Star
The Secret Life of a Tiger
Przemyslaw Wechterowicz

words & pictures

ISBN 9781910277249

You may think you know how the tiger spends his days but think again. This fearsome feline is actually more of a pussycat. He may have a mouth full of sharp teeth and claws that can kill but he'd rather think of himself as brave and cheerful. Tiger welcomes you to his jungle and hopes you will spend the day with him in this fabulously funny tale about the secret life of a tiger. During the day, Tiger enjoys chatting with friends and spending time with his neighbours. He naps, relaxes, as he listens to the sounds of the jungle, and occasionally looks for a bite to eat. There are vicious rumours going around the forest that Tiger is partial to the taste of people, especially passing explorers, but he swears that is just gossip. However, there does appear to be more to tiger than meets the eye. By day he looks like any other big cat but at night his secret life unfolds. You'll never believe it but he is a gourmet fruit salad maker, a brilliant barber and even finds the time to consciously hatch eggs. Tiger is an ant enchanter, a light footed dancer and a real snake charmer! He's a friend to all he meets, bringing life to the jungle and spreading a little love everywhere he goes. You simply wouldn't believe the things he gets up to in the dead of night. Tiger hopes that that now we know how he really spends his time we will see him in a more favourable light. His secret life really is more fantastical then you could imagine! This is a beautifully illustrated whimsical take on the life of the tiger. A humorous nod to looking beyond the exterior and setting aside our preconceived notions of how an individual should behave. A reminder that we need to take the time to really get to know a person, especially if they are as fancy footed as Tiger with culinary skills to match. Przemystaw Wechterowicz's hilarious dialogue is wonderfully matched with Emilia Dziubak's comical illustrations. This is a book to enjoy again and again, and if readers ever do tire of this story, they can imagine the secret lives of the other animals that live in the jungle with Tiger. Picture book / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Emily Beale, school librarian.

The Secret Life of a Tiger
How the Sun Got to Coco's House
Bob Graham

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406373455

The light of the winter sun travels around the world to Coco's house in this classic tale. Beginning in the icy polar North it journeys across the sea where it reaches a fisherman's boat. As the sun swiftly moves west it briefly catches the eye of a passing whale and moves on to cast shadows in frozen forests. The sun meets migrating birds in flight and passengers in planes, mid journey. As the sun crosses a city it marks the dawning of a new day for its inhabitants. Animals too are woken by the warmth of the sun's rays. Over a barren desert the sun meets the rain and forms a beautiful rainbow. In a small mountain village the warmth of the sun melts the ice and in the biggest cities it warms the windows of office towers. Finally, the sun makes its way to Coco's street where it turns off the street lights, welcomes the paperboy and bursts through her window. The sun follows Coco around her home as she prepares to go out in the winter snow and stays all day with her as she plays with her friends outside. This a beautifully simple story, told skilfully by author and illustrator Bob Graham. The personification of the sun engages the reader and pulls them into the narrative. Where will the sun travel next and whose lives will it touch? Language is used cleverly to describe the sun's movements; it creeps, skids and tumbles. From day break to day's end this book charts the course of the sun over multiple countries illuminating brief moments in time. This book is a charming look at the earth's rotation around the sun and at first glance would be best suited to KS1 classrooms but after greater investigation could be equally enjoyed for its linguistic qualities by children in KS2. Picture book / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Emily Beale, school librarian.

How the Sun Got to Coco's House
Snowboy and the Last Tree Standing
Hiawyn Oram

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406358254

Snowboy and the Last Tree Standing is a parable about the dangers of not looking after the environment. The story begins with Snowboy playing in the forest, Greenbackboy approaches and suggests a new game. The new game, he explains, is called 'KA-CHING' and it begins in the forest. Snowboy is tempted by the idea of the game but when he discovers it involves chopping down all the trees he decides to secretly hide one. Greenbackboy's game involves swopping the trees that have been cut down for lots of gold shiny pennies- KA-CHING. Not satisfied with merely felling trees, Greenbackboy's greed turns to the sea. He persuades Snowboy to help him net some fish. However, Snowboy quickly realises the error in catching all the fish and lets a couple slip back into the water. Greenbackboy sells the fish to be tinned and returns with more golden KA-CHING. A storm begins and rages unobstructed by the forest trees which usually keep it bridled. The food is wasted and the KA-CHING is next to useless because it cannot be eaten. Snowboy leaves Greenbackboy to his own devices and returns to the land which was once forest. He finds the tree that he hid and lovingly cares for it, aiding it to thrive and grow. Seeds from the tree begin to take root and Snowboy celebrates the possibility of the forest returning. The fish in the sea are also flourishing. Sadly, Greenbackboy returns, suffering from hunger. Snowboy is quick to forgive him and offers him aid. The story ends happily with Snowboy satisfied that the world has been saved, at least for now. Beautiful illustrations and a simple storyline make this a lovely tale. The parable is easy to understand; when you look after nature, it will look after you. Snowboy discovered that looking after the trees and the fish in the seas was the biggest reward and Grennbackboy's KA-CHING proved to be quite useless when weathering a storm. Readers might be encouraged to think up their own nature inspired superhero names and consider ways that they can help protect the world around them. Picture book / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Emily Beale, school librarian.

Snowboy and the Last Tree Standing
Going to School
Rose Blake

Frances Lincoln Childrens Books

ISBN 9781847808981

Going to School brilliantly documents a fun filled day in the life of a little girl and her friends as they go to school. At each stage of the day, differences are celebrated and beautifully illustrated. The day begins by travelling to school, by either scooting, walking, or riding and luckily the children arrive just before the school bell rings. We are introduced to Miss Balmer, the teacher, and cots and bags are hung on pegs. By nine o,clock the school day is ready to begin and the register has been taken. The first lesson of the day is geography and the children learn about the world around them and where their friends and families come from. The next lesson is art, a favourite with the children, and they make collages and masks, paint pictures and construct models. At breaktime the children play a variety of games and join in lots of outdoor activities, everyone seems happy and has a friend to play with. After break, there are more lessons - reading, writing and maths. The children enjoy listening to stories where their imaginations are ignited and solving real life number problems. There is just enough time for a P.E. lesson before lunch. Lunch is everyone's favourite time of the day and with so much to choose from and so many delicious things on the menu, it's difficult to see why not. The afternoon's lessons are science, computing and drama. In the science lesson the children learn about growing and changing, they grow cress and sunflowers and watch the tadpoles in the class tank. The children are able to choose from a variety of activities in their computer lessons and in drama everyone acts out their dream job. At the end of the day, when the little girl is picked up from school and asked what she did today, she responds nonchalantly 'not much'. However, secretly she can't wait to go to school again tomorrow. Rose Blake's beautiful vibrant illustrations bring this story to life, making for a wonderful engaging journey throughout the school day. This is not only the most engaging transition to school book I have read, helping to ease fears before starting school, but also a wonderful depiction of how wonderful school can be. Blake effortlessly represents school as a preparation for later life, as pupils develop independence and practice skills they need to develop for future occupations. There are clues throughout the book to challenge the reader to discover what the children hope to be when they are older, the end pages illustrate the answers. The book also provides the perfect opportunity to discussion lesson content, for example which countries flags are represented in the geography lesson and why are the children practicing their maths skills in real life situations? Readers are encouraged to think about their own school day and reflect upon their own favourite things to do.

Going to School
The Glassmaker's Daughter
Dianne Hofmeyr

Frances Lincoln Childrens Books

ISBN 9781847806765

An enchanting story about Daniela; a Glassmaker's melancholy daughter. Set in the beautiful city of Venice, this story dates back to the 16th Century when glassmakers were important figures in the city, in charge of closely guarding the secret recipe for making glass. Daniela, despite her father's numerous attempts to cheer her up, was always 'gloomy, glum and bored'. In a bid to please his daughter, Daniela's father promised a glass palace to the first person who could make her smile. Many tried their best but unfortunately failed to please her, except one; Angelo, a young glassmaker who had something new up his sleeve. Angelo makes the first looking glass. This not only makes her smile but seeing her own glum reflection turn into a smile makes her laugh, which in turn makes the whole town laugh along with her until she laughs so hard and so much that the palace smashes to smitherines! The illustrations by Jane Ray are so delightfully rich. The double page spread of the palace exploding is by far one of the best illustrations I've seen recently, as you turn onto that page, it just blows you away with its vibrant foils and collage pieces of glass splintering out. This book has a beautiful message - that happiness is comes from within. This is a good book to use to teach PSHE throughout the primary school setting, discussing the fact that material things will only make us happy for a short while but we can all make ourselves happy. I read this book with my six-year-old daughter and when I asked her 'what could you learn about?' with this story, she instantly suggested 'Art'; making a looking glass of your own using foils, or children could design and make their own smiley masks like those made by Donna Violetta in the story. Picture book / Ages 6+ / Reviewed by Nikki Stiles, teacher.

The Glassmaker's Daughter