NEW TITLES

This month's collection of picture books from our reviewers tackle many of the issues that young children are still learning about, especially understanding their emotions, difference, anxieties and sibling rivalries.

Storytime: My Colourful Chameleon
Leonie Roberts

QED Publishing

ISBN 9781784939380

A bright and colourful tale of how it feels to love and own a pet that can sometimes be a little frustrating. This lovely rhyming story tells the tale of a little girl who owns a very unusual pet - a chameleon. The problem is, that Mummy and Daddy are not quite so keen on the pet - 'but Mummy doesn't like her; she says that she's a pest!'. The naughty chameleon keeps changing colour and causing all sorts of funny mischief for the family, so that Mummy and Daddy become very frustrated and threaten to take the chameleon away. After a trip to the vet, Mummy soon learns that changing colour is what the chameleon is supposed to do and then learns to love the pet because she is so clever. Although the outline of this story seems very basic, it is very engaging and funny to read. Children will delight in the adventures and mischief the chameleon causes. As you read the story with your child, challenge them to spot the chameleon that has changed his colours and is hiding on each page. With a lovely rhyming narrative and a challenge to find the chameleon, children will love reading this story at any time of the day. The illustrations are big, bold and beautiful. The front cover is shimmering with all the colours of the chameleon and on every page the chameleon is hiding in one of the illustrations. One thing I particularly loved was that the chameleon is smiling and laughing in every illustration, despite the Mummy becoming frustrated and the little girl upset; the chameleon clearly loves his hide and seek game. A really lovely story, which is great fun to read as a whole family. Or in Primary setting there are a set of comprehension questions at the end so you can engage your class during carpet time and challenge them further. Picture book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Joanna Hewish, teacher.

Storytime: My Colourful Chameleon
Kevin
Rob Biddulph

HarperCollins

ISBN 9780008207410

Kevin is a beautifully written book which was an absolute pleasure to read. Rob Biddulph, author of Blown Away, has managed to create a text that is not only entertaining but also shares a valuable lesson for children. I enjoyed reading it myself but also with my class of Y1 children. The story revolves around Sid Gibbons, a little boy who finds himself in a touch of hot water after his mother catches him making bad choices once again. Rather than admitting the truth and taking the punishment as he should, he instead blames it all on Kevin....a clearly made up individual. Sid's mum does not believe this and sends him to his room. From here, Rob Biddulph uses a range of wonderful vocabulary to take the reader on a journey though an imaginary world of bright colours and decorations. It is here that Sid soon learns a valuable lesson and starts to make amends for his actions. I liked using this book with my class not only for the use of language, but also for the moral lesson that it taught along the way. I believe there would be opportunity for a mini unit of work to be made alongside this text with links to other areas of the curriculum, especially to teach PHSE skills around honesty and respect. The manner in which the book is set out allows you to build it up as you read it, stopping at points to conduct work around the characters of Sid, mum and eventually Kevin. You could also use it to build on inference skills during whole class discussions, dramatizing Sid's arrival into the imaginary world and describing the creatures he finds. A unit of work could be developed up to the children writing the book 'Sid', where they take the viewpoint of Kevin and how he makes up a friend called Sid. Alternatively, the children could easily innovate the text by creating their own creatures through a selection of lessons based around description e.g. word banks, paintings in art etc. As mentioned, detailed art work could be planned alongside it as well as music to accompany the new imaginary world - and even DT could be tied in through the creation of hand puppets. I would recommend this book to all KS1 teachers and to any parents who enjoy a good picture book. Top stuff. Picture book / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Kyle Matravers, teacher.

Kevin
Hibernation Hotel
John Kelly

Little Tiger Press

ISBN 9781848696761

A different and funny story which had my children in fits of giggles - Hibernation Hotel will be a guaranteed hit with young readers and they read a story about trying to find what you want and realising what you need. This story tells the tale of 'Bear' who is trying to hibernate, but is sick of being taken advantage of by over 20 of his forest friends who are also hibernating in Bear's cave - Racoon snores, beaver fidgets and Skunk doesn't smell too good. So Bear sets off to a fancy hotel, checks himself in and tries to get himself off to sleep - 'would Sir like a wake-up call?' 'Yes...March 1st'. But, there are many obstacles for Bear to overcome and he just can't figure out why he has a 'strange, empty hollow feeling' in his tummy and just what it is he is missing - his friends. John Kelly has created a wonderful narrative as we follow Bear's trials and tribulations to just get to sleep. Brenlla (the illustrator) accompanies the narrative with brightly coloured and busy images; there is much to spot on each page. Children will delight in finding all the animals and commenting on their facial expressions, especially the humans when they see a Bear checking in to their Hotel. Bear is very comical as he drinks from the toilet, eats all the snacks and stomps about the Hotel. This story has a wonderful message of friendship which can create many talking points with young readers. Bear thinks he knows what he wants, but it takes a while before he realises what he 'needs'. A lovely easy read with children aged 3+. Picture book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Joanna Hewish, teacher.

Hibernation Hotel
Tiny Tantrum
Caroline Crowe

Little Tiger Press

ISBN 9781848696778

A story every parent can relate to! A toddler who tantrums at every little thing and the invention of monsters who talk in rhyme to calm the little girl down. I can't help but feel those monsters are a wishful thinking of the parent Tiny is a very happy little girl, as long as she is getting her own way. When it comes to putting on her coat, getting in the bath or sharing her toys, Tiny has an explosive tantrum causing windows to rattle and birds fall out of the trees. One by one, a friendly monster comes along to help Tiny regain her composure and teach her that having a tantrum will not always lead to her getting her own way. The monsters each arrive in turn with a rhyme and become firm friends with Tiny, until it is bedtime and it is Tiny's turn to teach the monsters a lesson - 'I'll count to five, you'd better shake a leg, the last one in and snuggled down's a stinky, rotten egg!' With a good narrative, this story is fun to read, but more for parents who can relate to each scenario and often leaves children questioning Tiny's mood. The illustrations are original, particularly the monsters, but it feels a little tired and dated in places. My children were not as engaged with this story as we have been with others from Little Tiger Press. Although generally a good story, I feel more could have been done to liven it up and make it more engaging for its readership. Picture book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Joanna Hewish, teacher.

Tiny Tantrum
Blue Monster Wants It All!
Jeanne Willis

Little Tiger Press

ISBN 9781848698314

Blue Monster wants it all! Ever since he was a baby, Blue monster has liked new things; they make him happy and so he demands them often - only, they don't stay new so he quickly demands something else newer! One day, Blue Monster leaves his family to go and buy the new things that make him happy. He buys lots of fantastic things before realising that one of the 'old' things he had, made him truly happy - his family. This is a fun picture book that teaches children to appreciate what they have and the value of family over materialistic things. In class, I'd use this in a PSHE lesson, to discuss what makes us happy and how important good relationships are. This would also be a good text for KS1 children to re-write about their own monster, as it has a simple structure with good extended sentences as models. Picture book / Ages 3-6 years / Reviewed by Lizi Backhouse, teacher.

Blue Monster Wants It All!
Storytime: I'm Bigger Than You
Lucy Barnard

QED Publishing

ISBN 9781784939397

A lovely story of love and learning what it is to be a sibling. This is a perfect story to read with your toddler if you are expecting another baby soon or if you have recently had a baby and your toddler is struggling to cope with the change. This humorous tale will delight both children and their parents with its very relatable content. The tale tells of a hamster family - George and his little sister Lottie. There is nothing more George loves doing than reminding Lottie that he is much bigger than her. But, as soon as they arrive at the fairground, George realises that there are some things even he is not quite big enough for yet. A very supportive and loving Mummy and Daddy show George that it is okay to be little and a bit scared - 'There are some things you aren't quite ready for yet and some things that you may never be ready for.' Lottie and George learn to look after each other and love each other no matter what their size. With big, beautiful, clear and colourful illustrations, this tale makes it accessible for very young readers who will delight in the fairground fun with George and Lottie. I found this great fun to read with my four year old who is constantly talking down and fighting with his two year old sister. A teachable tale to read with your child when the sibling fights begin. It can also be used with classroom topics around family. Picture books / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Joanna Hewish, teacher.

Storytime: I'm Bigger Than You
Words and Your Heart
Kate Jane Neal

Simon & Schuster Childrens Books

ISBN 9781471168536

This is the first book I've read by the author Kate Jane Neal and I think the message is a very important one: Your words have the ability to change someone else's heart and how they feel. It's a message suitable for anybody and for children of any age. Young children may be surprised by the power their words can have. I love the illustrations in this book and I spent a long time looking through the illustrations. The limited range of colours (mainly black, white and red) makes the pictures seem more vibrant and special. This book could be used to support the teaching of personal, social, health education, citizenship, art or thinking skills. But please share this book with a child you know to remind them that they can make the world a better place if we all use our words to look after each other's hearts. What a lovely message! Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by K Kaur

Words and Your Heart
What Makes Me A Me?
Ben Faulks

Bloomsbury Publishing PLC

ISBN 9781408867259

What Makes Me a Me? is a beautiful picture book written by Ben Faulks (Mr Bloom - CBeebies). It is the story of one little boy trying to work out who he is. He compares himself to everything from inanimate objects like a jumper for size and shape, to a volcano for temperament. Along the way he discovers that yes he is similar to so many things, but not like them in so many other ways, because 'my jumper is a lazybones - it won't do anything unless I do it too' and so many more wonderful analogies. So simple to explain to children how unique they are and that nothing and no one is like them. David Tazzyman's illustrations are perfect all the way through and bring such a sweet innocence to the book and clearly represent how the imagination of a young mind works. I will be highly recommending this to reception teachers for their 'All About Me' topic, when the children start school next year. I have wanted to get this for a while now and am so glad to finally have a copy. Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Fiona Dula-Chandu

What Makes Me A Me?
Willy and the Cloud
Anthony Browne

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406373837

Willy (hero of many stories by Anthony Browne) sets off for a stroll to the park om a warm, sunny day. However, his pleasure is spoilt by a persistent cloud which follows him everywhere, steadily growing. The cloud hangs over him, ruining his time in the park and forcing him back indoors whilst all the gorillas soak up the sun. Wily tries a to hide, tries to escape, appeals for help, but nothing works - until he stands up to the cloud. Using a familiar character, Anthony Browne explores how easy it can be to become overwhelmed by something. The cloud starts as a tiny smudge in the sky, but grows and grows as Willy focuses on it until it is all he can think about. The cloud could be interpreted as depression; however, it could also represent any problem a child might have. Which ever way it is seen, this is an excellent book for encouraging discussion and empathy. The illustrations carry all of Browne's usual charm and humour. The gorillas sport swimsuits patterned by famous artists and a sofa looks like it was designed by William Morris!. Children adore exploring his pictures and finding tiny details to enjoy. I love the spread of Willy'singing and dancing in the rain' 32 pages / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Sue Wilsher, teacher.

Willy and the Cloud
The Bad Mood and the Stick
Lemony Snicket

Andersen Press Ltd

ISBN 9781783446421

The Bad Mood and the Stick is a good book for everyone with a moody toddler or child. Lemony Snicket has written a very amusing book which captures exactly how a bad mood spreads and grows all over the place and what simple things snap us out of our bad moods. The story starts with Curly who is in a bad mood and who, by using the stick to poke her brother, starts a cascade of the bad mood passing on to other people, her mum, Lou, and Napoleon - but the stick always has a way of being in the right place at the right time to help those moods fly away. There is quite a lot of humour dipped throughout the story and Matt Forsythe's illustrations add another dimension to the story which help to bring it to life. I felt this book would be good to use with our children in school as part of the PSHE programmes we do surrounding managing emotions. The only thing I would say is that the story wasn't easy for younger children to follow and I think it would be more suited to children in KS1 and lower KS2. 38 pages / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Marie Berry, teacher.

The Bad Mood and the Stick
Hide and Seek
Anthony Browne

Doubleday Children's Books

ISBN 9780857534910

With their dog, Goldie, missing, Poppy and Cy are unhappy. To cheer themselves up, they head into the woods to play hide-and-seek. Cy hides and as Poppy looks for him, what else might she find? In Anthony Browne's 50th picture book, the reader is drawn into a game of hide and seek. Each spread contains things to be found - in the shadows, in the trees... Some things are easy to find, but some offer plenty of challenge, making it a great book to share and to return to again and again. A sense of foreboding is built through the story - the trees become taller, closer and darker, the carpet of leaves almost lava-like with a hint of a witch's hat at the edge until the joyful ending spreads warmth and light glowing across the pages. Sure to become a family favourite! 32 pages / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Sue Wilsher, teacher.

Hide and Seek
Du Iz Tak?
Carson Ellis

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406373431

Du Iz Tak? follows a year in the life of a group of insects. Using a made-up bug language, the story is told in the dialogue between the creatures as their world changes. Because the story follows events shown in the pictures and some phrases are repeated, guessing what the bugs are saying is satisfying, but it also allows emergent readers to interpret the text on an equal footing to adults. The triumphant 'Ta ta!' of the caterpillar dangling upside down from a twig is later repeated by others so what might first be read as 'ta-da' later seems to mean 'bye bye'. The illustrations are wonderful and each spread offers plenty of details about life in the bugs' world - a twig is not a twig, a toadstool grows, insects serenade one another under a moonlit sky - the circle of life continues. The book offers a fabulous bugs' eye view of the world and its wonders with plenty of untold stories to explore. 48 pages / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Sue Wilsher, teacher.

Du Iz Tak?
The Elephant in the Room
James Thorp

Templar Publishing

ISBN 9781783707737

This surprising and striking book appears to stand alone in today's picturebook market - there certainly aren't many books like it, illustrated in an psychedelic style reminiscent of the Beatle's Yellow Submarine film but with an even trippier colour pallete. This is a book which aesthetically stands out a mile and it's eye-catching design will draw children in, keen to know what this strange-looking book is all about. Featuring a rhyming text (and a rather nice, but perhaps not always child-friendly Art Deco typeface), the story gets as bizarre as the illustrations themselves. But this bizarre story will be all too familiar to adults who, with a wry smile, will read this aloud to children and recognise the narrative: something gets broken and the culprit makes up all sorts of excuses in order to escape punishment. This story concludes however with a stronger moral message for adults as Father Giant realises that maybe he had been too busy and the accident had happened because he hadn't been with the children. It is certainly food for thought for the grown up who might be reading this to younger children. However, subtext aside, children hearing the story and taking it face-value will laugh uproariously at its silliness and witty wordplay - lots of lovely alliteration and rhymes (rowdy cloudiness, yucky yakkiness) and made up words (squinching) will delight young minds ready to soak up new and imaginative language. They will identify with the protagonists and the feeling of guilt that comes with accidental misdemeanours and might even begin to question the folly of not telling the truth in such situations. The Elephant in the Room, a title which bears multiple significance, is like one of those brilliant children's films which is clearly intended to entertain adults just as much as the kids. As 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'. James Thorp and Angus Mackinnon have produced a good children's story. Highly recommended. Picture book / 48 pages / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Aidan Severs, teacher.

The Elephant in the Room