NEW TITLES

Here are some picture book highlights chosen by our reviewers this month, covering ages from three to 7+, and themes of nature, friendship, fears - and superheroes.

Caterpillar to Butterfly: Open Out and Create a Giant Life-Cycle
Frances Barry

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406383485

There are a lot of books about the life cycle of a butterfly for young children but what I liked about this one - published in association with the RSPB - is that the pages fold out as you cover each stage of a caterpillar's growth - so, by the end of the book, you have a beautiful butterfly surrounded by flowers and leaves. This helps to keep children's attention as you move through each stage. The rhyming text is perfectly pitched for this age range, it is simple and clear ' 'Caterpillar, spin a thread. Now you will become..../ a green and golden chrysalis, hanging in the sun./ For older children aged 4+ there is a more detailed explanation of the life cycle of a butterfly when you reach the final page, including words like chrysalis, metamorphosis and proboscis, as well as the timings for each stage of growth. I think this would be a really effective learning tool as well as a lovely book to share for carpet time. It can also be used to inspire children's own 'life cycle' displays. Picture book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Ellen Green.

Caterpillar to Butterfly: Open Out and Create a Giant Life-Cycle
Ziggy and the Moonlight Show
Kristyna Litten

Simon & Schuster Childrens Books

ISBN 9781471145803

Ziggy the striking zebra is in awe of the forest's spectacular Moonlight Show and looks forward to its arrival on a Saturday every week. This particular Saturday, Ziggy discovers a bird who had lost her chick and kindly offers to help find her. This seek and find story follows Ziggy and the bird in a race against time, encountering different animals as they try to find the lost chick. Ziggy is sure he's spotted the lost chick 'by the water's edge', and 'hiding in the long grass', but all is not as it seems and we are reminded that Zebras are not the only striped animals in the wild. This picture book is a great treat for little minds. The shadowy pictures are bold and simple yet effective. Children will enjoy the repetitive pattern of the striped print throughout. The double page spread of the Spectacular Finale was an exciting surprise and really unexpected. Children love books where you have to turn the page around to get an even better view. Although there were little hints dotted throughout the book (unbeknown until the end), you really are bubbling with excitement and eager to find out what this long-awaited Moonlight Show is all about. The text changes in size for emphasis and includes an enjoyable amount of onomatopoeia for the children to join in with. It is a good book to use when teaching children about animals in science. The children could produce fact files on some of these more unknown animals or maybe research other stripy animals of their own. It would also be nice to see children exploring the artistic style of Kristyna Litten with the rose tinted pictures, focused on lots of shading and shadows and overlapped with a bold black and white image. Picture book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Nikki Stiles, teacher.

Ziggy and the Moonlight Show
Lemniscates

ISBN 9781633225138

Chloe lives in a magic garden and she doesn't even realise it. From caterpillars becoming butterflies to bees making honey, this beautifully presented book shares the real life magic nature offers us all each year. The illustrations are fun and vibrant and allow for information to be retained. The book addresses this changes in nature through rhyming couplets but then offers a more in depth explanation in the back of the book. As the book unfolds, you are taking through journey over the course of a year where you are reminded of the wonder of nature. The children I read this to enjoyed the sharing their own experiences of what they had seen and made links to our science learning in class. They also made connections to their own life experiences when they had seen butterflies or noticed changes around them. The book linked in wonderfully with our topic about wildlife and produced some interesting conversation starters and misconceptions. A very handy book to use with wildlife topics and as an engaging starting point for teaching around seasonal changes in the world around us. Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Kyle Matravers, teacher.

The Wardrobe Monster
Bryony Thomson

Old Barn Books

ISBN 9781910646366

All children have a fear of the dark, of monsters, of shadows at night. Thomson (Author) turns those fears into a wonderfully crafted story which will have your children laughing and all fears forgotten. The Wardrobe Monster is a story that focuses on the classic fear of the monster in the wardrobe. Dora is a little girl who is afraid to go to bed, she thinks up every excuse 'until Mum got cross then she had to go'. Dora is grumpy from the lack of sleep all caused by a loud 'BANG!' that persists throughout the night. Except this time, Lion (cuddly toy) tells her she has to be brave and face her fears. Eventually Dora approaches the wardrobe only to discover that what was in the wardrobe is actually a big, lovely cuddly green monster who was just as afraid of the noises outside of the wardrobe, as Dora was of the noises in the wardrobe. Dora has overcome her fears and in doing so has made a new friend. Uniquely illustrated, this story stands out as less conventional than other stories for young children and therefore makes it more intriguing to read. The illustrations are hand drawn and convey such intimacy in the emotions of the characters. Dora has a lovely relationship with her toys and each toy has different qualities that help Dora overcome her fears. From a parent's perspective, this tale is a wonderful find to assuage fears of those noises in the night. Thomson has added other qualities to her tale - the lion's bravery, the encouragement of her toys and the comfort her toys provide her when she is afraid. There are lovely moments of humour which help alleviate rising tension of the monster in the wardrobe and I couldn't help but smile at Dora's polite reference to the monster as 'Mr Wardrobe Monster'. For me the constant affection and intimacy between the characters which is reflected in the both the narrative and the beautiful illustrations, are what makes this book special. A charming tale that teaches children to be brave and overcome their fears; if they do, there might just be something exciting to discover. Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Joanna Hewish, teacher.

The Wardrobe Monster
Cannonball Coralie and the Lion
Grace Easton

Frances Lincoln Childrens Books

ISBN 9781786030313

Cannonball Coralie is a charming story of friendship. Coralie is alone and longs to join the circus so she can show off her skills. Then one day a whole host of circus performers march past her in the woods - including a lion! Coralie bravely follows the parade of performers until they arrive at a place of lights and colours, like none she has seen before. Mesmerised by it all, Coralie asks if she can stay and share her skills. The ringmaster agrees but unfortunately does not believe Coralie is skilled enough to do anything other than be the human cannonball. Coralie musters all her strength and completes the trick to the amazement of the crowd, however, the ringmaster is not so impressed and banishes her from the circus. It is at this point where Coralie realises she is no longer alone as her new friends come to the rescue. She soon finds that her life is now full of friends who share her talents and what to be around her. The children I read this to really connected with this part pf the story and wanted to to express their own experiences of when friends had been there for them. Many of my children also really enjoyed making links between the book and 'The Greatest Showman' which they had recently watched and enjoyed. Grace Easton has written a book that not only uses language to engage and enthuse readers, but also to share an important message about friendship. The illustrations that accompany the book are beautiful and are certainly in keeping with the style of the book. Reading it you can really feel yourself becoming emotionally connected to story and feeling great satisfaction when the ringmaster gets taught a valuable lesson. I would recommend this book to be used in schools in circle times when discussing making and maintaining friendships. Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Kyle Matravers, teacher.

Cannonball Coralie and the Lion
The Coral Kingdom
Laura Knowles

words & pictures

ISBN 9781910277379

This book grabs the reader's eye immediately with a beautifully flowing rainbow front cover illustrated by Jennie Webber, and the enormous level of detail continues on the informative and stunning end papers depicting (annotated) coral and sea life. The Coral Kingdom is at once a lesson in sustainability and diversity in our oceans and a charming rhyming story which also investigates the variety of colour the oceans can offer. Focusing particularly on coral and the effects of coral bleaching, there is a fold-out page at the back extending the image of a coral reef at its finest and, on the reverse, information on the topic alongside links to find out more. An enjoyable read with a clear and important but gently-introduced message. I would recommend this book to anyone reading to children aged 3+, especially those with a love of anything nature. Picture book / Ages 3-7 years / Reviewed by Rhiannon Cook, school librarian

The Coral Kingdom
You're Safe With Me
Chitra Soundar

Lantana Publishing

ISBN 9781911373292

Through the amazing illustration of Poonam Mistry a story of childhood fears unfolds. From lightening to clouds to frogs croaking, the little animals' fear is put to rest as Mama Elephant explains the noises and sights as nothing to be frightened of but that they all have their purpose in nature. It is however the power of the illustrations that really captures the reader. Each page stops you in your tracks, draws you in to take a closer look, to interpret every detail, every fear and then to see the picture as a whole and see all its wonder and beauty. The simple questioning and storytelling compliments the intricacies of the illustrations perfectly, creating a balance between the visual and the oral power of storytelling. Adults and children alike will not fail to be mesmerised and captivated by this book and most importantly, children will be reassured as this is ultimately a book about trust, safety and security.

You're Safe With Me
The Story of Tantrum O'Furrily
Cressida Cowell

Hodder Children's Books

ISBN 9781444933802

Cressida Cowell has written a gentle narrative about a mother cat, Tantrum O'Furrily, telling her three kittens a story about Smallpaw, who is a young cat well looked after and cherished but seeking adventure with the stray cats who live outside her home. Her owner, Mrs Worrykin, does not like the stray cats nor does she like stories. Poor little Smallpaw grows bored with her cozy secure life and one night she creeps out of the house through the open cat flap, seeking a story to be told. Once outside the security of her home, Smallpaw meets a sly gentleman fox who has evil intentions but she is saved from the fox by one of the stray cats. She is reassured by this cat that: 'A cat with courage makes her own story'. At the end of the night Smallpaw returns home to the delight of Mrs Worrykin. The story is written in poetic language that reads aloud well and the soft charcoal illustrations add to the narrative's atmosphere. There is a great deal to talk about and predict with young children as the story is shared with them, in particular what is meant by 'A cat with courage makes her own story'. Picture book / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Fiona Collins, consultant

The Story of Tantrum O'Furrily
Monty and Sylvester A Tale of Everyday Super Heroes
Carly Gledhill

Orchard Books

ISBN 9781408351741

Monty and Sylvester is an amusing story about two unlikely best friends who want to be super heroes. They have been researching how to become a super hero by reading a manual on the subject. They kit themselves out ready to save the world and wait anxiously for the phone to ring. Suddenly it rings and they bravely go out to do their stuff: save a cat that is stuck up a tree! Ingeniously Monty comes up with an idea of using a vacuum cleaner to suck the cat down. First mission is successfully completed although the cat is left in the vacuum cleaner. The two heroes, with their tried and tested hoover, then go onto solve various problems. However, they are suddenly confronted by a mean looking character who turns the tables on them and uses the vacuum cleaner to suck them up. Now the pair are squashed together in the vacuum cleaner along with everything and everybody they have rescued. How will they escape? Carly Gledhill's quirky cartoon-like illustrations and interesting layout, with text scattered around the page, adds humour to the story. This picture book would work well with slightly older Key Stage 1 children, although some might need superheroes and their characteristics explored with them in order to understand the funny side of the story. Boys in particular might enjoy this adventure. Picture book / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Fiona Collins, consultant.

Monty and Sylvester A Tale of Everyday Super Heroes
The Match
Russell Ayto

Bloomsbury Publishing PLC

ISBN 9781408893456

The Match by Russell Ayto is an ideal two-minute read for anyone who has even the slightest interest in the game of football. In fact even those few strange folk who, like me, just can't see the appeal of 22 grown men chasing after a small ball, will love the Wallace and Gromit humour of this great, little book. In The Match, Ayto begins the story by poking fun at the mundane nature of the working week, with the only bright spot being the weekend footie on the TV. Man and dog sit side by side enjoying their dinner in front of the TV while watching the game. Needless to say their team doesn't always win and dealing with the defeat week after week begins to wear the two down, something must be done... This book will show any reluctant reader and or writer in any primary classroom the impact that can be created using only a few words. Even without the fab, simple yet detailed illustrations, that support this story, this book reads brilliantly. It's poetic style would be a great read aloud and I am sure that there will be a number of my teaching colleagues who will enjoy reading this to their classes, while I can also imagine no end of hesitant readers keenly volunteering to read aloud from this book too. The super short and punchy sentences also make this an ideal read for children who have yet to recognise the significance of punctuation in the written word. Some may classify this as a picture book but even with so few words it has so much more. A must read for every classroom, home and individual, whether they like football or not! A great read, I can't wait to share it with a few of my friends. 32 pages / Ages 6-adult / Reviewed by Sam Phillips, teacher.

The Match
Square
Mac Barnett

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406378658

Square is the follow-up book to Triangle by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen, in which Triangle plays a trick on his friend Square. This latest picture book takes us into more philosophical territory, exploring the nature of art and what makes an artist, and is again beautifully illustrated by Barnett. Square has a secret cave and each day, he goes into his cave, takes a block from the pile inside, and pushes it outside to join the other blocks he has already removed from his cave. 'This is his work'. However, when Circle sees his latest block, she believes it to be sculpture. "It looks just like you!" she says, and demands he makes a sculpture for her. But when Square does start to carve the rock, it falls apart. "Whatever is the opposite of perfect, that is what this is!" Square bewails. But something happens overnight that makes Square's efforts seem 'perfect' to Circle. Square has, accidentally, created a work of art - at least, that is what Circle believes because to Circle, it is perfect, and this can make a brilliant start to sharing different kinds of artwork with children and exploring the question of what makes something 'art', and subjectivity. So although the story and its humour can be shared with younger children, and open up discussions about what is 'work', it can also be used with older children aged seven and up to begin a much more sophisticated discussion around what is art? This can be taken forwards to explore sculptors like Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth who, like Square, also sculpt with stone. And because Square is such a hapless artists, the story can be used to encourage children who don't see themselves as 'artistis' to make their own 'soap sculptures' or paper mache shapes. In short, Square is itself a 'perfect' story for discussing art that can be taken in many different directions. Highly recommended. Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Ellen Green.

Square
Ada Lovelace
Isabel Sanchez Vegara

Frances Lincoln Childrens Books

ISBN 9781786030757

I am a huge fan of the terrific 'Little People, Big Dreams' series. Celebrating the lives of extraordinary women, they inspire and empower young readers (girls and boys alike) to dream big. This particular title transports us into the world of Ada Lovelace, whose fascination with mathematics and vivid imagination led to her creating the language that computers would go on to use a hundred years later. The charmingly gentle illustrations and simple text make this an ideal book to read aloud with 5 to 7 year-olds. In addition, the very useful and informative timeline at the end of the book makes this a good option for research with Key Stage 2 pupils. 32 pages / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Emily Marcuccilli, school librarian

Ada Lovelace
Joan Procter, Dragon Doctor: The Woman Who Loved Reptiles
Patricia Valdez

Andersen Press Ltd

ISBN 9781783447411

What a delightful book about a pioneering young woman from the 1920's. This story is about Joan Proctor who, during the First World War, became the first woman reptile curator at the National History Museum in London. Fascinated by reptiles from an early age, Joan wasn't interested in the normal girlie things, she had a passion for slithery, scaly, unusual animals that eventually led her into an internationally renowned career at London's Zoo and the Natural History Museum. The book introduces the reader to a young, curious Joan, holding tea parties with reptiles while her peers preferred dolls. (wish I had been around to take tea with her and Sumbawma)! As Joan grew, her interest did not wane, so at 16 years old she received a pet crocodile as a birthday gift! The story is told in a easy and humorous way, making the book a great introduction to non-fiction for a wide range of primary readers. The story will delight children who are fascinated with snakes and lizards. Whether a parent reads it out, a beginner reader or a struggling older one, along with the wonderful illustrations it will be read again and again. At the end of the story, there is further detailed information for parents and older readers on Joan and of course the wonderful Komodo dragons. I personally, think that the book would have benefited from some original photos to also support the text, but that's an adult mind for you. This is a wonderful introduction to non-fiction for young inquiring minds. 30 pages with well written manageable short paragraphs for younger readers (paperback version) with beautiful illustrations that reflect the era in which Joan lived. Picture book / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Linda Brown, school librarian.

Joan Procter, Dragon Doctor: The Woman Who Loved Reptiles