NEW TITLES

Birds and hedgehogs, cake and superheroes are just some of the subjects touched on in this month's range of picture book reviews for children across all ages, with some innovative approaches to non-fiction.

I say Ooh You say Aah
John Kane

Templar Publishing

ISBN 9781783708727

Well, what fun I had sharing this picture book with an individual child and a group of training teachers. But be warned - practice it before you share or you will trip up, as I did even with a couple of readings under my belt! The premise is that the child helps the adult to tell the story. So, it begins with the instruction - 'I say OOH You say AAH'; 'If you see the colour red, pat your head'; 'When you see an ANT, you say UNDER-PANTS'; 'If you see a CLOUD say your name out LOUD'. Children will become completely hooked on following the instructions - they will need prompts about the actions from the person sharing the book - as they follow the story about a donkey, some ants and a pair of missing underpants. There is lots of humour in the story, but the real fun is to be had when your collaborative efforts go wrong! I love this - I am sure others will follow! Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by ReadingZone.

I say Ooh You say Aah
3, 2, 1, GO!
Virginie Morgand

Thames & Hudson Ltd

ISBN 9780500651544

This is a great picture book that counts forwards to 20 and back using animals as sports stars. A fab book for encouraging children to count and introducing them to competitive sporting events, each page is engaging and interesting to look at. The vocabulary is largely simple but does introduce some adjectives and subject-specific terminology - thus providing a fantastic opportunity to learn new words. This would be a fab book for an Early Years setting with a topic of 'The Olympics' or 'Animals'. Slightly older children could be inspired by it to create their own counting books. It's got a charming, vintage feel to it, the pages are matte and the pictures bright and clear. 48 pages / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Lizi Backhouse, teacher.

3, 2, 1, GO!
Bug Hotel
Libby Walden

Caterpillar Books Ltd

ISBN 9781848576575

A fantastic book from Clover Robin; see also Bird House. This lovely non-fiction book is packed full of information about different types of insects. There is a double page on each type of bug including ladybirds, spiders, snails, beetles, butterflies and bees. Each section gives information about different types of a species, where they live and interesting facts that are unique to the species. The book is filled with beautiful pictures with flaps that hide more information. At the end of the book, it even explains how you can make your own bug hotel and the materials you will need so you can observe critters in your own garden! A great book, I know the children in my class will absolutely love it! 14 pages / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Lucy Newton, Teacher.

Bug Hotel
Cake
Sue Hendra, Paul Linnet

Macmillan Children's Books

ISBN 9781509827435

From the duo that brought you Supertato, Barry the Fish with Fingers and other laugh-out-loud gems comes Cake; you (and your children!) will never see a birthday cake in the same light again... Cake is excited because a party invitation has just arrived and he has never been invited to a party before. What he needs is a hat, but he can't find the right one until the hat shop assistant finds him one that is just right! (careful readers will have spotted the bakery next door to the hat shop - but Cake remains clueless!). Now, with his beautiful icing and candles, Cake is all set and when he arrives at the party, he is made to feel welcome: 'A party isn't a party without CAKE!'. He has a brilliant time - until everyone starts singing 'Happy birthday' and Cake can't shake off the feeling that something isn't quite right.... (don't worry, rescue is at hand!) This is a colourful, dramatic picture book that will have children both horrified and in stitches as they recognise the dangerous situation Cake is in... There is lots happening 'behind the scenes' that careful readers will pick up in the pictures, too. This is a great read-aloud for Reception and Year 1 classes and can also lead on to discussions about how children celebrate their birthdays and other occasions. Picture book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Kelly Hill.

Cake
Great Bunny Bakes
Ellie Snowdon

Simon & Schuster Childrens Books

ISBN 9781471166358

If you like 'Great British Bake Off' you'll certainly love this! Only this cakey contest is bursting with bunnies and a humble wolf named Quentin. This is a story that turns all of our preconceptions about nasty wolves on their heads, as this time we meet a friendly, pleasant wolf with a delicious talent for baking. Quentin would like nothing more than to have someone to share his passion for baking with of even a slice of chocolate cake over tea! After making sure Quentin was able to enter the Bunny contest, by working his magic in the costume department, it seemed as though he was a shoo-in to win the competition. That is until one scorned little bunny decided he was not going to let Quentin win without a fight! Let's just say meddling comes at a price, and our friend Quentin has more at stake than just a golden trophy. My year 1 class said this story was 'fabulous', 'fantastic' and that they 'really liked the part when you had to turn the whole book to see the big picture in the middle'. This story got some of my quietest children to sit up and take part, sharing their ideas and contributions with whole class. The illustrations are beautiful and so detailed they could tell the story on their own. My children really enjoyed reading between the lines and spotting the naughty bunny and the little hints at who the kind bunny was throughout the story (with his little teddy bear toy). It provides lots of opportunities for developing children's visual literacy. I hope to re-introduce this story a little closer to Easter to do some Easter bunny baking with the children and focus on instruction writing. Children could do some work on first person speech, writing speech bubbles for each of the characters as they decided to help the wolf fix his cake or design a contest of their own with a focus on time adverbials to sequence the rounds. Definitely not one to stay in the cupboard until Easter, though, a good read to enjoy all year round! Picture book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Nikki Stiles, teacher.

Great Bunny Bakes
A Year in the Wild
Helen Ahpornsiri

Big Picture Press

ISBN 9781783707966

This is an extraordinary book and I children will be fascinated to learn what can be achieved with some dried flowers, leaves and seeds. The illustrator Helen Ahpornsiri has used petals, leaves and seeds to create birds and butterflies, hedgehogs and frogs. As you turn the pages, you want to look closely to see how the flying swallows and hibernating hedgehogs are created. What a great inspiration for children to make their own pictures from the things they gather during their nature walks. The text is gorgeous, too, swooping through the seasons from spring to winter, touching on concepts like migration, hibernation and life cycles as it introduces creatures for each of these seasons. Informative, beautifully written and gorgeous to explore - I'll definitely be using this before our nature walks with our children! 64 pages / Ages 6+ / Reviewed by Kelly Hill.

A Year in the Wild
Juniper Jupiter
Lizzy Stewart

Frances Lincoln Childrens Books

ISBN 9781786030238

Juniper Jupiter is a real life super hero. It is no big deal really. But this superhero cant help but feel there is something missing from her life as a caped crusader...a side-kick! Lizzy Stewart has created a fun and feisty book all about friendship which can be enjoyed as both a reading book but also a focus for a PHSE circle time. Throughout the book, Juniper is on the hunt for the side-kick, identifying all the traits a good companion needs (loving ice cream being the priority). After many failed interviews and audition, she is about to give up but then she realises that her side-kick has been there the whole time. This story is great to prompt class discussions about the importance of recognising what makes a friend special and allowing children to really think about the talents and skills their peers have that should be acknowledged. It also reminds us to never forget that sometimes the answer to what we are looking for can be right in front of us, we just need to open our eyes. Juniper soon learns this by the end of the text. The text flows around the beautiful illustrations and allows the book to flow nicely. The illustrations give clues to the final outcome of the story; the more eagle-eyed children may twig what is to come if they study the pictures as they go through it. Unusually for a story based on a superhero, the lead character is a girl. This interested the girls in my class from the start and they enjoyed seeing this twist of stereotypes. There is also no strong male character within the book at all, with Juniper having many interactions with mum. This may go over the head of the younger audiences but adults and older children would appreciate this. I think this book could be linked to some learning opportunities in the form of advertisements, diaries and role play. As with most superhero-themed books, the children of my class enjoyed this text. It was, however, nice to see more girls engaged than usual. Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Kyle Matravers, teacher

Juniper Jupiter
Neon Leon
Jane Clarke

Nosy Crow Ltd

ISBN 9780857638076

Neon Leon is not your average chameleon. He's easy to spot amongst his inconspicuous friends, whether or not he's hanging around in a leafy jungle, a sunny desert or a craggy rock pile. Whilst he may look like all of the other chameleons, lizard shaped with tong-like feet and an incredible curly tail, he is very different. Leon lacks the ability to change his colour and camouflage himself to his surroundings, like the other chameleons. He is also permanently coloured a striking bright neon orange. He's certainly not difficult to spot in a crowd! Chameleon's aren't meant to be different and as Neon moves though the story we realise he isn't happy being the odd one out and he needs some help. Every environment he tries to live in just makes him more and more miserable. When the other chameleons complain that his bright colour is keeping them awake at night, he decides to look for somewhere else to live; somewhere he can fit in. Leon thinks he has found the perfect companions when he discovers a flock of dazzlingly coloured birds but their friendship doesn't last long. Finally, Leon finds a habitat where he really blends in; a place where all the plants are as radiant as he is. But there's one thing that would make Leon even happier - a friend and finally he finds the perfect match. This is a wonderful interactive book, which speaks directly to the reader, asking questions, counting, clapping, smiling and offering encouragement to think empathically. Readers will enjoy the simple colourful illustrations as they follow Leon through a variety of terrains until he finally finds the perfect home. Count the camouflaged chameleons on each page and watch for Leon's changing moods and expressions. After the story has finished readers could think about what makes chameleons such special creatures. They could design an environment for Leon to live in or ponder how Leon feels, 'standing out from the crowd'. Jane Clarke writes about Leon's experiences in several different environments and readers could describe these further and think about how Leon would feel trying to live under the sea, the North Pole or out in space. Readers could also explore recreating Britta Teckentrup's illustrations by printing, blowing paint and cutting out leaves to make their own jungle environments for Leon to live in. Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Emily Beale, school librarian.

Neon Leon
Bird Builds a Nest: A Science Storybook about Forces
Martin Jenkins

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406355130

Bird Builds a Nest is a science storybook about forces. It is a story about bird who builds her nest using all the different forces necessary to get her nest built in time. The key vocabulary of pushing, pulling, turning and lifting is skilfully coupled with simple illustrations which compliment the text beautifully. It's a book where key vocabulary can really be exploited; used to created word banks, perfect for an introduction into forces and positional language and all wrapped neatly in a story about Bird! It is sure to delight and capture any young readers interest as well as provided them with the all important lesson in key vocabulary and meaning. Picture book / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Louise Gahan, teacher.

Bird Builds a Nest: A Science Storybook about Forces
10 Reasons to Love... a Bear
Catherine Barr

Frances Lincoln Childrens Books

ISBN 9781786030153

This wonderful non-fiction book tells children all about bears through a list of 10 reasons as to why you should love them. Each page is charmingly illustrated and the facts are introduced through simple headings, with more information underneath. This is a great book for introducing children to the different varieties of bears in our world, whilst also telling them about the different habits of bears....did you know that if a bear is happy they hum? On some pages are some further activity ideas for you to 'show you love a bear' - activities such as watching bears scratch their backs on trees via videos on youtube, or encouraging the reader to share bear facts with their friends. This is a nice introduction to non-fiction texts and would engage readers from 5 up. In class, this book would link wonderfully to a topic about bears (obviously!) as well as talking about environments for different creatures or perhaps global warming. From this text, older children could write their own facts about an animal in the style of this book, or perhaps make a poster using the facts about bears they've learned. 24 pages / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Lizi Backhouse, teacher.

10 Reasons to Love... a Bear
Say Hi to Hedgehogs!
Jane McGuinness

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406374605

What a gorgeous picture book for finding out about hedgehogs - what they eat, where they live and hibernate, how they look after their 'hoglets' - all presented in beautiful, colourful spreads. Alongside the main sections of text telling us about this particular hedgehog are further notes of explanation about their prickles (5,000 of them), what nocturnal means, and what they eat (frogs!). At the end of the book are useful notes for children about how to make their homes hedgehog-friendly, and websites to do further research. There is also a short Index to help children gain familiarity with using non-fiction texts. Picture book / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Angela Green.

Say Hi to Hedgehogs!
Paradise Found
John Milton

Graffeg Limited

ISBN 9781912213641

Paradise Found is a story about Albie, the farmer's dog who wakes up one morning to find that his friend Nellie has disappeared. From there on we are taken on a journey through the many different features of the local community. Milton writes about every colour, sound, smell and feeling in detail. The power of the story lies in Milton's ability to make us wake up; to alert the senses and to stop and appreciate the beauty and wonder of all that is around us. This would be a great story to share with a key stage 1 class (6+), before they embarked on a journey around their local community. It would inspire every young reader / writer to not be in such a rush, not to take for granted the everyday things that can so easily pass us by without a second thought. Together with Elliot's vivid and colourful illustrations, this book can make the ordinary and everyday into something quite extraordinary and wonderful. A great stimulus for story writing using the everyday as a path to creative and descriptive writing. 36 pages / Ages 6/7+ / Reviewed by Louise Gahan, teacher.

Paradise Found
The Fox on the Swing
Evelina Daciute

Thames & Hudson Ltd

ISBN 9780500651568

The Fox on a Swing is a book about a boy who didn't want to miss anything, he always had his eyes open and took in all the wonders of the everyday world wrapped in everyday routine. But what he liked best was the old swing in the park. Not because he swung on it but because of a fox who liked to sleep and swing there. Through the relationship that builds between the boy and the fox, we witness life's ups and downs, the good times and the bad times and asks the question; What is happiness? Is it a fox swinging on a swing, or is it all things orange, or is it what is right in front of us? This book would be great to use in PSHE or as a reading comprehension where inferred meaning and symbolism could be explored, particularly in Key Stage 2. Younger children could simply discuss and share ideas about what makes us happy; is it the same for everyone, can we expect happiness to exist at all times or will it disappear or move on as is the case with the fox and boy? It is a book which explores change and the feelings of loneliness, isolation and transition. What can we do in times where happiness is not swinging on the swing? Or is it that it is always there in everything and everybody around us but there are times when we simply cannot see it? Lots to think about and to discuss. Picture book / Ages 7+ / Reviewed by Louise Gahan, teacher.

The Fox on the Swing