NEW TITLES

There are some wonderful introductions to non-fiction in this month's selection of books for 5-7 year olds, as well as thought-provoking picture books that can lead on to a range of discussions and activities.

Bird House
Libby Walden

Caterpillar Books Ltd

ISBN 9781848576605

What a brilliant book! One of a pair, the other is called Bug Hotel and follows the same format as Bird House. This gorgeous picture book is filled with information about different types of birds and where they choose to live. Each page is covered in colourful pictures with flaps to open which reveal even more interesting facts. The book covers different species including owls, swallows and woodpeckers, as well as how some birds are part of the same families such as pigeons and doves. It also introduces bird baths, bird feeders and different types of nests, explaining their importance to keeping birds healthy and happy. A fantastic book, I know the children in my class will absolutely love it! 14 pages / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Lucy Newton, Teacher.

Bird House
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!
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
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
Rock Explorer: Rocks
Claudia Martin

QED Publishing

ISBN 9781784939656

The 'Rock Explorer' series of books are a great introduction to non fiction books for younger readers. Full of interesting facts and bright pictures, children will be able to access the information shared and learn about fossils, rocks, minerals or gems. I think this series will be a welcome addition to any school library and would prove beneficial to those year groups studying the topic of 'rocks'. Despite being targeted at a younger audience, I feel all children would appreciate these books as it would allow older children to conduct independent research and information retrieval. The books follow the standard format for a non fiction book and this allows teachers and adults to highlight the typical features really clearly. The text is presented clearly and is easy to read, with clear sub headings allowing the reader to find specific information. The photos used are of high quality and use landscapes from around the world, allowing the children to understand where the rocks could be found. A useful tool and resource for primary schools, I will be recommending this set to our school library and science coordinator. 24 pages / Ages 6+ / Reviewed by Kyle Matravers, teacher.

Rock Explorer: Rocks
Destination: Planet Earth
Tom Clohosy Cole

Wide Eyed Editions

ISBN 9781786030610

This book is a non-fiction book about Earth suitable for aged 7 upwards. It is also a non-fiction book masquerading as a lovely picture book and it is that feature which I think children will enjoy. The pictures are rich and involving and definitely get the 'oooh' from children. It is the sort of book that invites you to look at it due to the brightness of the pages and the detail worked into every one. Some of the pages have content featuring in many non-fiction books, like volcanoes and the water cycle. Others take a slightly different approach featuring tectonic plates or The Equator. All of the pages have child figures exploring the aspects being discussed and there are boxes of facts and information around each page. So, for example, The Poles has a box about melting ice caps and one about explorers and another about researchers taking ice samples. The text is quite complex and uses technical language but manages to make the ideas simple enough for younger children to begin to understand. On the page about the Atmosphere, for example, it explains the Greenhouse Effect, 'Like glass on a greenhouse, our ATMOSPHERE lets heat from the Sun in but stops too much escaping'. There are key words in capitals but sadly no glossary to go with them- in fact that would be my only criticism, there is no glossary, contents or index which further adds to the picture book feel, but would be useful to have. A big bonus for this book is a lovely double-sided poster at the back, one with a world map and the other side with a picture of figures standing on a sand dune - something I'd love to have adorning the walls of a classroom. The other highlight for me is the final page with its future thinking, an aspect of Geography so often missed out. Entitled Saving Planet Earth, this beautiful spread imagines a futuristic scene in which small changes like recycling have lead to bigger ones by reducing pollution. There is a list of achievable lifestyle changes, such a walking rather than driving and a green and flourishing cityscape. Many children may have watched the BBC David Attenborough series 'Blue Planet' and this book seems to follow on nicely from that. This book is a good addition to the geography canon of work for primary aged children. It is nicely presented, and each page makes you linger and read a bit more. This would make a good classroom resource and having seen there is another in the series on Space, shortlisted for the Blue Peter book award in 2017, I now want to go and see if that one is as lovely to look at and as interesting as this. 40 pages / Ages 7+ / Reviewed by Jacqueline Harris, teacher.

Destination: Planet Earth
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
The Waggiest Tails: Poems written by dogs
Brian Moses

Otter-Barry Books Ltd

ISBN 9781910959893

This is another anthology from the small and discerning imprint, Otter Barry Books. Their four annual poetry book showcase both well-known and up and coming poets. They have a keen sense for what's innovative, funny, deft and child friendly. This anthology is no exception. Whether you are a dog lover or not, you will be delighted by these irrepressibly doggy voices, so ably supported by Brian Moses and Roger Stevens (both of whom have dog-owning and poetic credentials!). Writing in the first person (of course - this is a consistently doggy lens), these clever poets (sorry, dogs) have given us a wonderful array of canine verse. The anthology takes its title from 'Dog Show' (p.74, Moses) which leads us through all the categories that this dog didn't win. These all have their own back-stories: imagine the fun children could have devising and illustrating the scenarios for 'the Obedience Class', 'Fastest sausage eater' and 'Temptation Alley'. And the final winner is, proudly bearing its No 1 WAG medal (delightfully depicted in Ed Boxall's illustration), 'The Dog with the Waggiest Tail'. There are dogs here that you'd love to meet: 'Bruno, the Smallest Dog' (p.22, Moses) whose 'quiet little bark / doesn't scare anyone,' and who likes it best when 'someone lifts me up // and finds that special place / for a vigorous tummy rub // You should see the grin / on my face. But you definitely wouldn't want to meet the 'Security Dog' (p.36, Moses):'Ain't got no time / for no yakety-yak, / we're primed and loaded, / out to attack...//. And you probably don't want to hear the dog in 'Call me Yappy' (p.18, Stevens): he's not 'nappy', 'lappy' or 'snappy' but - and it-s a big but - 'when my master says Sit/ I have to admit I'm a yap yap yap yap / yap yap yap yap yap yap / yap yap yap yap yap yap / yappy dog//'. As with so many of the poems in this collection, the potential for performance is immense (and in the case of this poem would be appropriately irritating!). If you're thinking of investing in a puppy, you would do well to heed the puppy's warning in 'Don't Wanna' (p.21, Stevens): 'I don't wanna go to bed / don't wanna get up / don't wanna stop chewing / that smelly sock/. A cautionary note is sounded in 'It's your Fault' (p.68, Stevens): 'If you're going to leave the salmon / in clear view on the table / If you're going to leave the pie / on the window ledge... Well, you deserve to have it eaten / That's all I can say.// There are shades here of William Carlos' 'This is just to say', (a poem by the way that Stevens has addressed - literally - in 'Please Note' from 'The Monster who ate the Universe'). As we would expect from these poets (sorry dogs) of this calibre, word play abounds and there are plenty of poems that offer models for the children's own writing. The list poem, 'I Love to Chase' (p.16, Moses), for instance makes clever use of nouns and adverbs: 'I love to chase / cows courageously / squirrels spectacularly - and / CATS of all kinds /. 'What I am' (p.17, Moses) draws on the ancient kenning tradition ('human walker / cat stalker / biscuit catcher/'), again a form that is ripe for children to emulate. It is not all humour: there are serious themes running through the collection as well. 'Rescue Dog' (p.82, Moses) takes the form of a touching appeal to a new owner: 'I come from a place / of bleakness and blindness,/ - So tell me again / that you realise / why my eyes are filled with fear./. The strands of humour and tenderness that permeate this collection are beautifully complemented by Ed Boxall's endearing line drawings. Full colour wagging tailed dogs adorn the cover warmly inviting the child reader in to this delightful anthology. Barking mad... not a bit of it!

The Waggiest Tails: Poems written by dogs