NEW TITLES

There are some sophisticated picture books for children aged 5+ in this month's selection as well as some great young fiction as they move on to longer illustrated stories.

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
10 Reasons to Love An... Elephant
Catherine Barr

Frances Lincoln Childrens Books

ISBN 9781847809421

These books, which include 10 reasons to love an elephant (or a turtle in the sister title), are the most lovely non-fiction books I have read recently. The pictures are beautifully and carefully drawn. The books give children 10 reasons why each animal is amazing, and five things they can do to support its conservation. Each picture has a little extra message which lends itself to discussion about conservation. For example, there is a picture of jelly fish where a turtle is happily munching but included in the image is a plastic bag, which is then highlighted as a danger to them. An image of elephants gliding through a farmer's fields in Asia is used to show how the animals and humans have to work to survive together. The 10 reasons are easy to read and understand even for young children and will prompt lots of discussions among older children. I am looking forward to sharing these lovely books with my class. 24 sturdy pages / Ages 4-8 years / Reviewed by Lynnette Voisey, teacher.

10 Reasons to Love An... Elephant
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
A World Full of Animal Stories UK: 50 favourite animal folk tales, myths and legends
Angela McAllister

Frances Lincoln Childrens Books

ISBN 9781786030443

This book allows you to travel the world as you learn the folk tales and origins behind some of the animals that inhabit the each country. Accompanied by beautiful illiustrations, these short tales are easy to follow and understand, even for children as young as five. The mixture of well known and new stories also works well to make sure anyone can access the book. For example, many children will be familiar with the story of The Three Little Pigs, The Three Billy Goats Gruff and The Ugly Duckling and will enjoy reading them again but they will equally enjoy learning about different cultures through the telling of other stories such as How the Kangaroo Got Her Pouch, Why Hippo Lives in the Water and The Nodding Tiger. This collection of stories was used well in a topic about 'Around the World' and, being short in their length, we were able to read many of the stories when we had a few spare minutes in our day. Primarily used to help us learn about countries in the world and where to find them, we also found good quality links to English and PHSE through working with this book. The children enjoyed locating the countries and continents once they had heard their stories and making comparisons to stories they had already heard. The children even worked towards writing their own country themed stories in an attempt to create their own book for our own library. The morals within some of the stories allowed for deep and meaningful circle time discussions. Overall, this book is a wonderful collections of short stories which would only improve any library it becomes part of. 127 pages / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Kyle Matravers, teacher.

A World Full of Animal Stories UK: 50 favourite animal folk tales, myths and legends
Safari Pug
Laura James

Bloomsbury Childrens Books

ISBN 9781408866405

What a lovely book! The first thing that struck me were the illustrations in green and yellow, with their echoes of Dr Seuss. Seuss-like too was the way the story meandered and rambled through various unlikely scenarios, and yet it somehow still had one paw in reality. As I am used to reading books with 'messages', it was nice here just to read a book for sheer enjoyment and to enjoy the silliness of it. I think I have fallen in love with Pug, and I'm looking forward to finding out what he and Lady Miranda get up to next! 112 pages / Ages 7+ / Reviewed by Rachael Salmon

Safari Pug
Rabbit and Bear: Attack of the Snack: Book 3
Julian Gough

Hodder Children's Books

ISBN 9781444938173

I loved this book! Sadly I've never read any of the other Rabbit and Bear stories but I certainly will now. This beautifully illustrated book tells a very funny story of the unlikely friendship between a rabbit and a bear. It's an ideal choice for early readers ready for a 'step-up' from picture books. One summer's day, Rabbit and Bear are enjoying a cool dip in the lake when suddenly something whizzes through the air and lands with a splash in the middle of the lake. What could it be? This hideous creature, is it a Trumpwig? A Taxbill? A Wetfart?& The story follows the two friends as they work together to try to find out what the 'thing' is that has spoilt their day. Is it a tiny fluffy owl, or a huge hungry monster? This is a tale of friendship, acceptance, and finding out just what you can do with blueberry poo! Now as someone who usually detests the use of 'toilet humour' as a way to get children reading, this laugh-out-loud story is a real winner for me! I couldn't wait to get it into school and share it with my current Year 3 children. 112 pages / Ages 7+ / Reviewed by Sam Phillips, teacher.

Rabbit and Bear: Attack of the Snack: Book 3
The Birthday Surprise (Dotty Detective, Book 5)
Clara Vulliamy

HarperCollins

ISBN 9780008248413

Dot is a stationery-mad girl with a fondness for coding and detective and each of the brilliant Dotty Detective books shows her solving a mystery at school or at home, with the help of her best friend Beans - and of course McClusky the dog. In this latest story (the fifth in the series), however, Dot's friendship with Beans is threatened by the arrival of a new boy in their class - so who will help Dot solve the mystery of the teacher's missing present? And how will Dot find out what her mother has planned for her birthday? Each of the mysteries Dot needs to solve are close to home and carry plenty of appeal for younger readers aged 7+. These stories are an artful, simple introduction to the detecting genre as well as managing to explore a child's everyday life including issues around friendship, siblings and school life. The text is delivered in very manageable chunks and each page is laid out as if it's Dot's journal - so lots of snapshots, doodles, codes etc. These stories are great fun, perfectly pitched for the younger reader, and full of warmth. Do check them out for your class library! 176 pages / Ages 7+ / Reviewed by Elsa Woods.

The Birthday Surprise (Dotty Detective, Book 5)
Witch for a Week
Kaye Umansky

Simon & Schuster Childrens Books

ISBN 9781471160905

Elsie helps out in her family's shop, the grandly named Pickles Emporium. Unfortunately, the grandest thing about it is its name and it struggles to win customers and sell its wares. On one run-of-the-mill afternoon, however, the shop is visited by Magenta Sharp, a local witch looking for a caretaker for her home while she visits her sister. Elsie somehow ends up employed for the task and makes her way to the forest the very next day, where she makes the acquaintance of the tower (the witch's home) and Corbett (the raven). Elsie is determined not to try out magic but cannot resist for very long and, in response to a plea from Sylphine Greenmantle (known to everyone apart from herself as Aggie Wiggins), creates a love potion that ends up causing no end of trouble, but, thanks to her new-found skill in creating a storm in a teacup, Elsie saves the day. This is the first in a new series by the very popular author whose engaging stories are enjoyed by many young readers. The characters are appealing, the language accessible for the newly independent reader and the magic of the humorous variety (who would not like a larder that produced cake if you just asked for it?!) 192 pages / Ages 7+ / Reviewed by June Hughes, school librarian.

Witch for a Week
Bee Boy: Clash of the Killer Queens
Tony De Saulles

Oxford University Press

ISBN 9780192763877

Melvin Meadly doesn't have many friends, most of the other children at school don't like the same things Melvin does, they just don't get him! Melvin spends most of his time looking after his bees with his next-door neighbour Dan, or at least he did before Dan moved away and now the bees are the sole responsibility of Melvin. Melvin Meadly lives with his Mum at the top of a block of flats and rather than keep his bees in a hive at the bottom of the garden, as most bee-keepers would, Melvin's hive is on the roof of the Meadow towers, the block of flats where Melvin lives. When Melvin has to stand up in front of the whole school and tell them all about his bees, the other children fail to understand the value of his buzzing collection. Some even think he should 'get rid of the bees', thinking only of their potentially painful sting. In a puff of smoke Melvin takes on the role of 'Bee Boy', superhero and defender of the hive. This story is one boy's attempt to convince his local community of the benefit of bees, while defending the Queen Bee and her workers from other predatory insects. A fascinating work of fiction, packed with interesting facts about bees and bee-keeping. True to the bee and its distinctive colouring, this book is published in black, white and yellow and written and illustrated in a style similar to many current popular, 'journal'-style works of fiction. This would undoubtedly make a enjoyable tale for many lower Key Stage 2 children. It's published format makes this book appear, at first glance, an easy read, however the 'bee speech&', 'Zum cells full of pollen! Zum wizz honey! And zum wiz babeez!' may distract a less confident young reader. A great book to accompany a class topic on mini-beasts. 192 pages / Ages 7+ / Reviewed by Sam Phillips, teacher.

Bee Boy: Clash of the Killer Queens