NEW TITLES

Our reviewers have highlighted a range of picture books this month, from those for the very young to stories for older children aged 6+.

Flip Flap Snap: Jungle
Carmen Saldana

Templar Publishing

ISBN 9781787410602

Young children will love finding out about jungle creatures with these smart 'snappy' pop-up books. Each of the five spreads features a pop-up bird, animal or reptile (a crocodile, hippo, toucan, orangutan and a leopard), but the pages are split so you don't know which mix of animals you will find - which will make children giggle and, I am sure, reach out to find other funny pairings. With younger children, you can share the noise the creature makes; there are also notes in rhyming text under flaps that share some facts about that creature. The pop-ups are nicely produced, very sturdy, and would certainly add to any displays you're doing around the topics the books cover - Jungle in this book and a sister title, Farm. 10 pages / Ages 2+ / Reviewed by Carol Bright

Flip Flap Snap: Jungle
Play
Jez Alborough

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406380071

Play is the latest book in the series that follows a little chimp, Bobo, who gets up to all sorts of mischief as he introduces very young children to different ideas. The earlier books are Hug, Yes and Tall and they each use very minimal text to explore the word of the title. In Play, it is Bobo's bedtime, but he's far more interested in playing that in sleeping. Each time his mother settles him for rest, he finds another friend to go and play with but his exploration comes to an unexpected end when the playmate goes to sleep. How will Bobo get home now? Luckily, another friend comes to the rescue and the story ends reassuringly with Bobo safe in his mother's arms. The pictures in this story are a real treat and really depict Bobo's mischievous nature and his strong bond with his mum. I loved the last spread where Bobo wakes up his sleepy mum with the word 'Play' as the sun comes up over the horizon.... A lovely story to share with children and to talk about their favourite games - and a reassuring nighttime story! Picture book / Ages 2+ / Reviewed by Alice Young.

Play
Ellie and Lump's Very Busy Day
Dorothy Clark

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406380866

This is a wonderfully energetic story for toddlers and pre-schoolers, which builds up to all the excitement of a special celebration through its bouncy text, busy sounds and exuberant young characters. From the moment Ellie and Lump wake up, they are on the go - bouncing on the bed, eating breakfast, whizzing around the shops, and blowing up balloons. But what is the celebration? It's a surprise for someone special on their birthday... This picture book captures so well the unbounded enthusiasm of young children, especially when there's a special occasion on the way. While the young elephants are doing ordinary things - getting up, going to the shops and coming home - the text builds the excitement through the sounds it shares: 'We're going into town. "Anoraks on!" says Mum. Rustle...Rustle...Zzzip! Zzzzip! Pop! Pop!' and so on. Children will love joining in with these noisy sounds and the illustrations beautifully depict these colourful, messy toddler moments. A lovely story to share if there is a special celebration coming up, and to use to encourage children to talk about their own special occasions. You could also extend the story by thinking about what sounds they hear during the day and perhaps building your own story around those sounds and activities. Picture book / Ages 2+ / Reviewed by Alice Young.

Ellie and Lump's Very Busy Day
Raj and the Best Day Ever
Sebastien Braun

Templar Publishing

ISBN 9781787412347

Raj and his dad are going on an adventure. They have written a list of all their ideas and Raj knows it will be the best day ever! Starting with choosing a new book at the library, they'll drive a tractor at the city farm, watch the boats go up the river, visit the art gallery, go to the cafe and come home on the bus. Raj helps Dad to pack everything into his green monster backpack and they set off. But disaster strikes when they get to the issue desk at the library - Dad has forgotten his wallet! Not having any money means that they can't do the things on the list. But what threatens to be the worst day ever is transformed by the power of imagination and Dad's ingenuity. This is a delightful picture book which celebrates the relationship between father and child in a warm and affectionate story. The bright, expressive pictures are full of detail, with several busy scenes which should give lots to talk about, and humour, including the reactions of the monster backpack to some situations. Perfect for Father's Day, but also one to share at any time with children of 3+. Picture book / Ages 3-6 years / Reviewed by Jayne Gould, librarian.

Raj and the Best Day Ever
Me and My Dad
Robin Shaw

Hodder Children's Books

ISBN 9781444928129

This is a charming book that follows a little girl and her Dad as they walk to the 'Best bit at the end'. Every page has a beautifully illustrated picture that is colourful and imaginative, the little girl in the story turns the every day things she sees and hears on her walk into something magical - the trains roaring over the viaduct become dinosaurs walking, the house with an overgrown front garden has a sleeping princess inside and so on. Finally, we reach the 'best bit at the end'; a bookshop cafe where she snuggles down with her Dad to read a story. This is a good story for encouraging story-telling skills; it promotes fictional writing and how to make things exciting. It could be used to encourage older children to write their own story about a journey, like the child who sees the magical in the ordinary. Picture book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Lizi Backhouse, teacher.

Me and My Dad
Happy Hatchday (Dinosaur Juniors, Book 1)
Rob Biddulph

HarperCollins Children's Books

ISBN 9780008286385

Rob Biddulph does it again with this highly readable picture book about dinosaurs, being the youngest, and birthdays....or 'hatchdays' if you're a dino. Hatching somewhat later than his eight siblings, Greg (short for Gregosaurus) feels left out; all the other dinosaurs have paired up to do painting, baking, playing music and blowing up balloons. "Two's company but three's a crowd" says Greg, beneath his little black cloud and with tears in his eyes. What Greg doesn't realise is that his siblings have been planning a party just for him and there is a lovely spread with this 'Surprise!' waiting for him, so there is a happy ending in sight. Small children will easily relate to Greg and to that feeling of being left out when other children are already in the middle of a game, so this is a great story to encourage children to talk about what to do when they feel like this. It will also help children recognise when others might be feeling left out, and what they can do about it. The story is perfectly-pitched for youngest siblings, too, who might feel they are being left out because they can't yet do what older siblings can. Biddulph's rhyming text makes this a great read aloud and his images are fabulously eye-catching. There are lots of opportunities for counting, too, as you turn the pages. Definitely one to add to your Rob Biddulph collections! Picture book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Susan French.

Happy Hatchday (Dinosaur Juniors, Book 1)
Oh Me, Oh My, A Pie!
Jan Fearnley

Nosy Crow Ltd

ISBN 9781788001038

A funny picture book with an unexpected ending about manners, sharing - and pie! Grandma Bear makes a pie but while it is cooling on the shelf, Fox comes along and steals it. "I'll sneak it back into my lair and, quickly, I'll devour it there." But while the fox looks forward to having the pie all to himself, he trips and now a hungry mouse gets the pie. But it is soon in cat's paws - until Dog snatches it. "This pie is mine. Don't like it? Tough!" Then Owl makes off with the pie - but drops it and it lands back at Grandma Bear's house, who kindly agrees to share it. Unfortunately the animals still haven't learned their lesson and they squabble so much that Grandma sends them home without any pie - and eats it all herself. I wouldn't normally give away the ending of a picture book like this, but if you're looking to compare stories and endings, this is a great picture book to compare with the folk tale Little Red Hen, who eats the loaf all by herself because none of the other animals would help her. Here the focus is on manners - nearly all of the animals are rude and selfish - so you could also cross-refer it to Steve Antony's picture book, Please Mr Panda. A great picture book with fun rhyming text that will read aloud well, and provoke discussions about manners, being kind and sharing. Picture book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Susan French.

Oh Me, Oh My, A Pie!
Picking Pickle: Which dog will you choose?
Polly Faber

Pavilion Children's Books

ISBN 9781843653554

What a gorgeous picture book - any child who has or who longs for a dog will love this story and there is also a beautiful message for young children about appreciating the skills in others but also valuing one's own uniqueness. On the first page we, the reader, are greeted by an energetic if slightly scraggy dog: 'Hello! Have you come to choose a dog? How exciting!' We soon realise we're at a rescue centre, and the dog takes us off to meet all the other pooches waiting for homes because 'picking can be tricky'; this little dog tells us it has 'been here the longest' so it knows everyone. There's Harvey who is BIG, Dumpling who is clever, Matilda who has 'marvellous teeth' and Dibble who 'can round up anything' among the selection. So, which one would YOU choose? When the dog realises that the family has already chosen the pooch they want, it claims to be happy for them but the images of the dejected doggy taking itself off to its basket say otherwise - truly these pictures would soften the toughest of hearts and they brought a tear to my eye. Polly Faber's text conveys all the enthusiasm and energy of doggy pets while Clara Vulliamy's pencilled illustrations capture each of their characters beautifully - and especially the feelings of the pooch at the centre of the story. Happily, it is this dog - Pickle - that the family chooses. It's a lovely story to share with children from 3 to 6 years and can be a great introduction to talking about pets they have or would like, and to introduce rescue centres and how we look after our pets. But it is also a lovely story to encourage children to think about what makes each of us unique and special. Highly recommended. Picture book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Carol Bright.

Picking Pickle: Which dog will you choose?
We're Getting a Cat!
Vivian French

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406372915

With its mix of story and cat facts, We're Getting a Cat! provides a lovely introduction to getting a new cat as a pet - but I would also recommend it as an early introduction to non-fiction for young children. While the main text is an account by a child of what happens when her family decides to get a cat from a rescue centre (to catch mice - which it singularly fails at!), there is also advice given in a distinct font about how to look after the new pet, including cats' likes and dislikes, how to feed them etc. There is an additional final page with more advice, links to websites, and an index to look up information about cat things like cat flaps and grooming. We're Getting a Cat! is nicely laid out with plenty of illustrations to support the text. While it has more text than your average picture book, it is simply written in a child's voice and reads aloud well. Together with the busy illustrations, it could also work for some reluctant readers who have an interest in animals or cats. Nice to see a multicultural family represented, too. Picture book / Ages 3-6 years / Reviewed by Carol Bright.

We're Getting a Cat!
The Rhythm of the Rain
Grahame Baker-Smith

Templar Publishing

ISBN 9781787410145

This is a stunning picture book, and there are so many ways it can be shared with children. The story follows Issac and the jar of water he empties into a pool, from where it takes the reader on a journey following those drops of water through rivers and into seas, across oceans to frozen landscapes and then to jungles and towns, down into the deepest parts of the ocean and 'as it has done for millions of years', up into the clouds where rain forms, and falls back down on the flowers by the pond where Issac plays... Each spread is stunning, hugely evocative of the world waiting to be explored, and reminding us how precious is each drop of water. This is a gorgeous story to share and discuss, there is so much to explore on each page and the text is lyrical and opens up questions around our world. It can also be used alongside topics about water, rivers and habitats. Above all, the story reminds us about our environment and how precious it is and could lead into discussions around the environment; preserving water and keeping our oceans clean. Picture book / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Helen Smyth

The Rhythm of the Rain
My First Book of Nature: (with wipe-clean spotting cards)
Camilla De La Bedoyere

Templar Publishing

ISBN 9781787410695

My First Book of Nature is a really gorgeous large-format book that, as its title suggests, offers an introduction to a range of plants, creatures and habitats, as well as touching on life cycles and changes such as metamorphosis. From bugs and plants to animals and ocean life, the spreads are beautifully illustrated and informative, offering much for the young reader to dip into and for the adult to explore with them. There are sometimes surprising facts that adult and child might not know, such as bumblebees sleeping underground in winter, or that spiders can taste with their feet! The information is provided in short sections of text, often in a step by step format such as for life cycles, or how a spider makes its web - so it is not overwhelming. The colourful painted illustrations add to the pages' appeal. Lots to enjoy and find out and a perfect book for dipping into. While there isn't an index - making this a book for browsing rather than using for topic work - there is a useful list of 'nature words' at the end, including a simple description for example for insect, nectar and larva. There are also wipe-clean boards that children can use to record what they have spotted - a bug, plant, bird or animal - and which can be used by children in groups during nature walks, or copied and handed out. 64 pages / Ages 6+ / Reviewed by Maria Mace.

My First Book of Nature: (with wipe-clean spotting cards)
Ocean Meets Sky
Eric Fan

Frances Lincoln Childrens Books

ISBN 9781786032058

From the duo who created The Night Gardner comes an equally elegant and poignant picture book that tackles bereavement and memories. Like The Night Gardner, the book has a other-worldly feel to it, this time taking shape through the dream world of a little boy whose grandfather, we learn, has died. 'Finn remembered Grandpa's voice. Telling him stories about a place far away where ocean meets sky.' We see the Grandpa's study, the empty chair, and notice images and carvings of boats, balloons and whales; all of which resurface in the following pages. To honour has Grandpa's memory, Finn builds a boat 'fit for a long journey' - one they had planned together - but falls asleep. When he awakes, the journey has begun and the boat sails through cloudscapes of whales and elephants and other amazing seascapes in the company of a great, golden fish, to the place 'where ocean meets sky'; a place of giant whales, ships and airships, and a place where Finn can say goodbye to his beloved Grandpa. This is a gentle, dreamy book that can be used to encourage children to share their memories of people they love and what helps them to remember them. It is also a visual treat, there is so much to explore in the images - the mix of land and sea, shaped by the boy's memories of his grandfather and what he loved, the gradual shifts in colour from sepia tones to the full, brilliant colours of the dream world, from the tiny details of Finn's memories to the vast landscapes of the dream world. This would be a lovely book to use when talking about families and the special people in our lives, as well as a creative and visually compelling story to explore dream worlds and journeys. Picture book Ages 5+ Reviewed by Carmen Smyth.

Ocean Meets Sky