NEW TITLES

From great picture books to funny young fiction, here is a range of new titles for children aged five to seven years.

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 Smythe

The Rhythm of the Rain
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!
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
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
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)
Dog Diaries
Steven Butler

Arrow (Young)

ISBN 9781784759629

Junior is very excited to be able to tell his story through the pages of his diary. He has been adopted by the Catch-A-Doggy-Bone family [a most appropriate name for new human pet pals] and is the particular friend of the youngest, Ruff. This family might be better known to some readers as the Khatchadorians, with Rafe the central character in the Middle School series by James Patterson. Junior guides his readers round his new kennel, exploring all the new spaces including the Sleep Room, the Food Room and the Picture Box Room, as well as the Backyard and the Hallway Closet. He introduces his new human family and doggy friends in the neighbourhood before describing his experiences at obedience classes. Despite being determined to show how clever he is, Junior is quite easily distracted, especially when raccoons are involved, so these don't always go to plan. However once Junior realizes what is expected of him, and with the threat of being sent back to doggy prison hanging over him, he does try his best to work with his person-pal, Ruff. Lively and funny, these illustrated chaotic canine capers will keep young readers entertained and eagerly anticipating further installments of Junior's diaries. 208 pages / Ages 6+ / Reviewed by Jayne Gould, school librarian.

Dog Diaries
The Bolds in Trouble
Julian Clary

Andersen Press Ltd

ISBN 9781783446308

Told with Julian Clary's distinctive warmth and affection, The Bolds in Trouble is a very enjoyable romp with a clear message about the human impact on nature and consideration for the world's animals. In this wonderfully silly story, the Bolds hit a snag: there's a wild - and not especially nice - fox on the loose in Fairfield Road, threatening the family's way of life. While they try to keep their secret (that they are not really humans but animals in disguise), the fox in question is stealing food from the neighbours and suspicion quickly mounts! There are some challenging themes in this book, aimed at it is for a 5-8 audience, but the seriousness is broken up by many of Mr. Bold's hilarious jokes, an element of the book that all children will enjoy and which gives the series a unique selling point. As a first time reader of The Bolds, there were a few things that were not my cup of tea. Firstly, I was quite distracted by some words on each page highlighted in different fonts for no reason that I could discern. Also, I found the way that the character of Miranda the marmoset monkey spoke - in a sort of baby voice - quite grating at times. Finally, the narrator's voice frequently interjects which I found both took me out of the story and broke up the narrative, but not in a good way. That said, I adored the illustrations by David Roberts. He really brings the whole book to life and his representation of Miss Paulina, the rather saintly otter, was an absolute highlight. A fun family read. 298 pages / Ages 7-9 years / Reviewed by Rhiannon Cook, School Librarian.

The Bolds in Trouble
The Oceanic Times
Stella Gurney

Frances Lincoln Childrens Books

ISBN 9781786031501

The Oceanic Times is very different from any other non-fiction books about marine life that I have read. It has been designed to echo the layout and style of a newspaper, however this is a newspaper with a difference, for its readership appears to be sea creatures themselves! For example, 'complete the quizzes...and send your answers in via whale song to win a year's supply of zooplankton!'. My team of Year 5 reviewers thought it was hilarious. What better way to learn, than when you are laughing! This book contains activities such and mazes and word searches, so would be a fun option for use at home, however it has real potential as a classroom resource, in particular for writing non-fiction texts, where it could provide inspiration and ideas for the creation of pupils' own newspapers or magazines. Whilst many of the activities to fill in are fairly simple, this book is a genuinely rich source of information on marine life, covering such topics as bioluminescence, the increasing acidity of our oceans and the journey that salmon undertake in order to breed. Without a conventional index, research would have to take place in the form of browsing, but my young reviewers were delighted by the facts that they uncovered whilst reading. 32 pages / Recommended for ages 7-11 / Reviewed by Emily Marcuccilli, School Librarian

The Oceanic Times

ISBN 9780711239265

The latest instalment from this popular duo, (The Stick Book, The Beach Book, The Wild Weather Book) is, as expected, packed full of creative, fun and practical ideas for kids to get stuck into the great outdoors. With 15 or so activities for each season, there is plenty to get children outside and keep them busy throughout the year. From a Wild World Book day, to New Year's Day challenges, and from baking bread over a fire, to blindfold leaf games, there is a vast range of activities, such that any child will surely find something to their tastes, even if not everything suits everyone. The compact format means the book can be popped in a backpack on an outing, and bullet points and small amounts of text present one activity per page, accompanied by plenty of colour photos for explanation and inspiration. Some activities could be carried out spontaneously or by children alone, while others require some preparation and adult supervision; helpful safety guidelines are included at the back of the book. Whilst many of the activities would be easier for those with ready access to 'the great outdoors' there are also plenty for urban dwellers which could be done in a park or garden with a bit of thought or adaptation. For families and readers of 8+ (although many of the activities are suitable for children of any age). 128 pages / Ages 7+ / Reviewed by Lucy Russell, teacher.