NEW TITLES

Poetry, space and migration are some of the subjects touched on in this month's range of books for 5-7 year olds, together with some fabulous picture books for older children.

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
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
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
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
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
The Great Big Book of Friends
Mary Hoffman

Frances Lincoln Childrens Books

ISBN 9781786030542

This book is a fantastic way of introducing friendship into school or addressing problems both in school and at home. It enables adults to address difficult problems with friendships, including being different, accepting that we cannot get along with everyone and imaginary friends. At a time when mental health and well-being is prominent, this book is a great way to start in Key Stage 1 and at home. The book is appropriately targeted for both children and adults, and split into easy to find and read sections, each dealing with a different friendships and issues. It also has a hidden game throughout and lots of little jokes to make sure it is light-hearted and fun to read. It is also packed with thought-provoking questions and places to start discussions. I would thoroughly recommend this book to both teachers and parents for dealing with friendship issues or for PSHE/Life skills lessons as it is easily accessible and easy to understand and read. These books are part of a series, The Great Big Books, which deal with different situations children may face and allowing a channel for adults and children to talk about these. 32 pages / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Lauren Maidman, teacher

The Great Big Book of Friends
If All the World Were...
Joseph Coelho

Frances Lincoln Childrens Books

ISBN 9781786030597

If All The World Were is a beautiful picture book for talking about children's relationships with grandparents or an older person in their lives, and the subject of death. It's no surprise to learn that Joseph Coelho is a poet when you read the lyrical, evocative text as the relationship between a girl and her grandfather is developed, drawing on colour, cycles and the seasons. As we move through the seasons, the girl builds memories of her and her grandfather and discovers more about the things that makes him special; they have a close and loving relationship, which also helps her to better understand his earlier life in India and indeed her own Indian heritage. Eventually, though, as the seasons change we move into winter and she revisits the grandfather's room - his familiar figure is missing. We understand that he has died but instead of focusing on her grief, the story builds on the girl's memories of her grandfather through the objects she finds in his room. These are beautifully depicted in a 'kaleidoscope' full-page image of colour with flowers, pencils, butterflies - all the things her grandfather has shared with her. This would be a lovely starting point for children to create their own 'kaleidoscope' of images of things that remind them of older family members, or friends, and to talk about those special people in their lives and what we remember most fondly about them. A gorgeous, layered picture book that handles a sensitive subject with beauty and joy. Picture book / Reviewed by Sue Chamber / Ages 5+

If All the World Were...

ISBN 9781780898360

Starting with a timeline of space exploration which runs alongside Libby Jackson's introduction to the book, A Galaxy of her Own then introduces the reader to a wealth of wonderful women who reached for the stars! The books is organised chronologically into sections from the origins to the future of space travel, concluding with a 'Your Mission' section for the reader to complete. From start to finish, it is completely absorbing, celebrating a wide range of women and valuing them for the many and varied contributions they have made to space exploration. The concise biographies are inspiring and lend themselves as a starting point for further research if desired. Each biography has been illustrated by a student or graduate from the London College of Communication, giving each a style of her own. Although I appreciate the talent involved, I do think it's a shame that most of the books available at the moment introducing us to significant women - and men - do not show photos of the real person as well. An excellent book! 144 pages / Ages 7+ / Reviewed by Sue Wilsher, teacher.

Wild World
Angela McAllister

Wide Eyed Editions

ISBN 9781847809650

A trainee teacher recently asked me if I had any recommendations for good cross-curricular poetry. There are, of course, many such poems to be found in different anthologies. However, it was a delight to meet this gloriously illustrated collection of poems by Angela McAllister, carrying a single, clear conservationist message. Each double-page spread presents a different environment with a poem. The first is the rainforest: Hot wet rainforest / Spreads a green roof high above the earth, /. Surrounded by, and encroaching on the poem is the hot, lush canopy studded with the animals mentioned in the poem. Seeking out the 'poisonous frog', the 'slithering python' and the 'bright birds' will add to the child's potential engagement. One turn of the page and the reader is transported, shivering, to the cold, icy world of the Arctic, depicted in blues, greys and white: 'a crystal kingdom' and 'a fractured world of drifting floes'. And so it goes on - through prairies, woodland, a coral reef. McAllister's free verse conjures up the inhabitants of each habitat vividly (although I am not clear why the animal names are in italics: children will search the illustrations without such a prompt). Different narrative voices add texture: the Arctic is seen through the third person lens of the white bear; in 'Woodland', the reader is addressed directly ('They see you'); 'Mountain' is in the first person whilst 'Mangrove' addresses the tempestuous hurricane that is threatening the forest. In addition to the quality of the writing and illustration, the final double-page spread gives information about each of the habitats, spelling out the dangers faced by these animals and ecosystems. This is a beautiful book which will enrich children's understanding of conservation issues. 32 pages / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Alison Kelly, consultant.

Wild World
We Travel So Far: Small Stories of Incredibly Giant Journeys
Laura Knowles

words & pictures

ISBN 9781910277331

We Travel So Far tells the migration stories of animals on land, in the air and under the water. From the gigantic to the tiny, 25 creatures feature alongside fascinating factual snippets which will delight and intrigue children from 5+. Chris Madden's illustrations have a lovely texture and clarity which give a real sense of movement - particularly on the desert locust page - and the scale of each animal's journey. The images work very well with the poetic, rhythmic language used by Laura Knowles to provide just enough information on each page to whet the appetite for more knowledge. The combination of well-known migratory creatures, such as the polar bear, and more obscure ones like the Galapagos land iguana, makes the book even more fascinating. A particularly favourite of mine was the Caribbean spiny lobster which travels across the sea floor in conga-line fashion, an image which Chris Madden has captured in all its playful glory. For those looking for hard facts, migration data can be found at the end of the book along with a map of the world, which helps in the visualisation of each journey's distance. We Travel So Far gives an excellent insight into one of the most intriguing aspects of the natural world and provides a springboard for early readers to find out more. 64 pages / Ages 5-9 years / Reviewed by Rhiannon Cook, School Librarian.

We Travel So Far: Small Stories of Incredibly Giant Journeys
THINKER: My Puppy Poet and Me
Eloise Greenfield

Tiny Owl Publishing Ltd

ISBN 9781910328330

It's not often that I get to review poetry collections written by a dog. It feels like no time ago that I was chuckling over Moses' and Stevens' Waggiest Dogs anthology and now the delightful Thinker has arrived. This unusual collection (Pub: Tiny Owl) opens with 'Naming me' in which a new puppy is unable to contain himself when he hears 'Let's call him something cute. / My eyes popped open, and I said, 'Uh-uh! No way! No way! / I'm deep and I'm a poet. No! / A cute name's not okay.' / So it is that the name 'Thinker' comes about, chosen by Jace who is also a poet. As the publisher, Tiny Owl, says, Thinker isn't just an average puppy. He's a poet. So is his owner, Jace, and together they turn the world around them into verse. The poem is propelled by a gentle narrative as Thinker interacts with the family, visits the park (where he coins a haiku or two) and, eventually, gets to accompany Jace to school on Pets' Day. Despite reminding himself of the rule: 'watch, think, bark. / No poems. No talk. /', he just can't help himself, 'And the next thing I know, / I'm jumping up and running, / running to the front / of the room, and I start / reciting a funny poem./' To the delight of Jace, the children and the teacher this precipitates a wave of un-pet like behaviour as 'the cat starts singing opera, / and the frog is walking upside down / and the three goldfish / are dancing in the fish tank, /.' The award-winning poet, Eloise Greenfield, offers authentic voices for Thinker and Jace. Writing about the collection she says: 'The characters grew on me, and I fell in love with them, with their love for each other, and especially with Thinker, this puppy who loves words.' She makes apt use of a range of forms, rhyming and free, finishing with a joyous final rap: 'Going to the house now, / going to close the door, / Got to say goodbye now, / please don't ask for more./ Going in the house now, / my good friend and I, / got to say goodbye now, / Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye, / GOODBYE!' Tiny Owl is the first publisher of Greenfield's work in this country. Formed in 2015, they say of this collection that it forms part of its wider programme to promote under-represented voices and cultures in literature, and to produce beautiful picture books for everyone. And a beautiful book it is too! Eshan Abdollabi's vibrant illustrations are a perfect accompaniment to the poems. Abdollabi's depiction of Thinker is charming (not cute!) and it is this representation as well as the stylised, collage like illustrations that are so distinctive and make this a very special book. The illustrations are boldly coloured in contrast to the pastel-pretty endpapers depicting Thinker running through blossom as a bird soars away in the sky. This is probably a book that teachers will want to introduce to children poem by poem before adding it to the class book collection. Once there, you can be sure that children will want to revisit it. 32 pages / Ages 7+ / Reviewed by Alison Kelly, consultant.

THINKER: My Puppy Poet and Me
The Book of Comparisons: Sizing up the world around you
Clive Gifford

Ivy Kids

ISBN 9781782405580

This lovely book, with great illustrations by Paul Boston, is packed full of the sort of facts children love. The large pages are stuffed with extraordinary details, comparing everything from animals, to space to machines. Aimed at 7+, this seems like a book that could last for years, as it is so full of interesting little tit bits. Did you know that a cheetah and a Porsche, for example, can both accelerate from 0-70 mph in just 3 seconds? And here is the one that blew my mind; the moon is only slightly narrower than the width of Australia!!! I think it is the combination of all the facts and comparisons with the mass of detailed illustrations, that makes this book so fascinating. There is a page of tiny animal drawings comparing the weight of different animals. All done using pictures you can see that a rabbit weighs the same as 5 hedgehogs or that an elephant weighs the same as 5 rhinoceroses. The facts alone would be interesting but coupled with the pictures it kind of elevates the whole book into something to be pored over and studied intently. There are also some great surprises; on the title page is the drawing of a Goliath bird eating a spider drawn at it's actual size (it is huge!!) and then some pygmy possums on the next page drawn at their actual size (smaller than the spider). There is a useful contents and index and a page of further reading. If you are looking for non-fiction to be read for pleasure than this is the book to do it. Children love these sort of facts; wouldn't you like to know which creatures do the biggest poos? I suspect this book will become a much-enjoyed book in many classrooms. 96 pages / Ages 7+ / Reviewed by Jacqueline Harris.

The Book of Comparisons: Sizing up the world around you